She hasn't lost any of her pizzazz though. When we go into town, she is as vivacious as ever and can turn her old charm back on at the click of a finger.
As for me, Bairn continues to teach me how to have fun. I'd never realised how grey and serious I was until I met Bairn. I wonder why that is. What is it that makes some of us so sober and others so gay?
Either way, we've both learnt some very valuable lessons from each other. A little bit of my sobriety has rubbed off on Bairn and some of her frivolousness has brightened me up too. Dare I admit that I am feeling happier than I have done in my entire life? Not that I was unhappy, but I certainly wasn't enjoying life.
And talking about enjoying life, last night we went to see Bella Dinares perform at BeJazzled. She's a really great Jazz singer with a very powerful, sultry voice, very reminiscent of Nina Simone and Amy Winehouse. Her performance was fantastic. She got a standing ovation and performed another three numbers as an encore. The outcome was that we left really late and were making our way back to the Academy through the gardens.
They truly are beautiful and there's a large fountain where Bairn and I have often picnicked. It has a deep edge that's perfect for sitting on, and you can stare into its waters rippling and bubbling away under the waterspouts for hours, they are so mesmeric. At night, the whole area is subtly lit. Even the water is illuminated from beneath giving it a fairytale like quality.
The heat of the day had died down, but the night was still warm. Suddenly Bairn kicked off her shoes and ran over to the fountain. She sat on its edge and looked mischievously at me.
"Shall we?" she dared.
Normally, we would never dream of dipping our toes in the water for fear of upsetting Boothby, but it was late. He'd be in bed and nobody would know.
As I ran over to join Bairn kicking off my shoes at the same time, Bairn swung her legs over the side and dipped her toes into the tempting waters. I laughed as I copied her.
We sat there for ages, chatting and giggling like silly schoolgirls, wiggling our toes in the water that was still warm from the day, and then we became aware that someone was watching us.
About twenty meters away was a stand of bushes and trees, rhododendrons and silver birches. Among them stood the shadowy figure of a man.
"Who's there?" shouted Bairn at the silhouette.
I froze thinking it must be Boothby, but it wasn't. Boothby would have come out and told us off, but this figure just lingered there.
"Come on! We can see you!" she continued angrily.
Realising that he couldn't bluff us by standing still, the figure emerged from the shadows and approached, his hands thrust deep into his pockets. As he came into the full light of a lamppost, I saw him smirking at us.
"Rutter!" I exclaimed. "What the hell are you doing here?"
"I wasn't aware you had a monopoly on the Academy gardens."
"I meant spying on us!" I blurted.
"Stalking? Don't flatter yourself, Terran," and he laughed ... jocularly. His voice lacked the disdain I usually detected there ... and he was smiling. Was this the Bairn effect?
"So what are you doing here?" ventured Bairn.
"Same as you."
"We're paddling. You're not paddling," teased Bairn, her eyes bright with excitement.
"Technically, neither are you, you're just dipping your toes. I mean I've been to see Bella Dinares at BeJazzled, just like you."
"I didn't see you there," smiled Bairn coquettishly.
"I saw you though," and he smiled back at her.
Bairn bit down seductively on her bottom lip.
"Wanna join us?" she said lifting one foot and wiggling her toes at him. She was in full Orion attack mode. I gave her a hard nudge with my elbow and she yelped. Rutter turned his head to hide a smirk.
"Not this evening," he said, turned and began to walk away.
Bairn positively pouted with disappointment.
"Awww!" she whined. "That's never happened to me before!"
At that moment, Rutter turned around, walking backwards and said, "Mind the green doesn't wash off!"
Bairn gasped and her mouth fell open. "The cheek of it!" And then he was gone.
"Well, that's just rude!" she said.
"You're just not used to a fob-off! Stick with me Bairn and you'll get fobbed off by the best of them."
"That's not the point. He's so—" and she bit her tongue.
"He's so ... what?" I queried, and Bairn looked away to avoid eye contact. I swear she blushed!
"You like him!" I screamed.
"I do not!" protested Bairn.
"Yes you do!" and I got up, grabbed my shoes and ran off singing, "Bairn loves Rutter! Bairn loves Rutter!"
"Oi! You little oik!" shouted Bairn, picking up her shoes and chasing after me.
As we ran through the gardens, she was very fast and I was in danger of being caught so I sought refuge in a big, old oak tree, scaling up its rugged trunk with ease. I've not climbed a tree since I was a little kid, but it seems you never forget how to do it.
As I settled myself in the crook of a big branch, Bairn stood breathless at the bottom of it.
"Oh, that's not fair!"
"Yes, it is. You can climb too!"
She studied the tree and scratched her head.
"I've never climbed a tree before. Where do I start?"
I laughed at her, but it didn't take Bairn long to master the art and she was soon sat beside me. It was a bit of a squeeze so we wrapped our arms around each other and then revelled in her mastery of tree climbing.
For an hour or so, we sat huddled in the tree watching the stars and discussing our hopes for the future, our dreams and expectations. The black sky softened, the stars faded and the sun began to rise ... and that's when we realised it. We'd been out ALL night!
Urgently, we climbed down from the tree and jogged back to the dorm to arrive just as the alarm clock was going off. I don't know about Bairn, but I've been yawning all day. Tonight, it's definitely an early one!