Due to the parochialism and divisiveness of this society, Sephy and Callum must keep their friendship a secret as it would be frowned upon by both noughts and crosses. Sephy descried this: ‘If only Callum and I didn’t have to sneak and creep around’. Callum who is an extremely solicitous character tells Sephy in the exchange below:
‘I don’t want you to lose any of your friends because of me. I know how much they mean to you.
You’re my friend too.
Not when we’re both at school, I’m not.’
We see the disparity between the two in terms of their ages in the beginning of the novel when Callum asks Sephy to kiss him. Sephy is a couple of years younger and is more naïve and is somewhat repulsed by the request: ‘Yeuk! I mean Yeuk!! I wrinkled up my nose’ and yet she agrees to go along with it, teasingly remarking: ‘Ok! Ok! I frowned, adding ‘The things I do for you!’
It is clear that they are both very protective of each other especially Callum of Sephy. This is clearly apparent when Jude taunts Callum about his friendship with Sephy: ‘Don’t you call my best friend that…. Say that again I’ll knock you flat’.
We see this reciprocated when Callum begins in Heathcroft, when Sephy must choose between Callum, her nought friend or her cross friends. In a show of solidarity to Callum, Sephy makes the difficult decision to sit beside Callum, knowing that there will be repercussions. As a result of this decision she is socially ostracised by both noughts and crosses. This was an extremely difficult thing for Sephy to do. Sephy describes how she ‘was going to do anything out of the ordinary, so why was my heart bumping in such a strange way’. She describes how all those at Callum’s table ‘all looked so shocked, it wasn’t even funny’. The headmistress Mrs Bawden happens upon the scene and berates Sephy for not sitting with ‘her own kind’. The tension is clearly palpable as Blackman evokes the tension through her adroit use of violent verbs and similes:
‘Mrs Bawden grabbed me by arm and pulled me out of my chair. I was still holding on to my tray, and everything on it went flying…………… Mrs Bawden yanked me away from the table and dragged me across the food hall. I tried to twist away from her, but she had a grip like a python on steroids’.
Like all normal relationships, Callum and Sephy fight and have arguments. Both characters can be querulous at times towards each other especially when one of them have been hurt. Sephy is extremely hurt over the canteen incident and accuses Callum of being ‘ashamed’ of being seen with her.
Callum rebukes Sephy for drinking alcohol, accusing her of being a drunk: ‘No you’re worse. You’re a drunk. A lush. An alcy’. They are constantly challenging each other through the novel.
Their relationship evolves into a more mature, intimate relationship when the Liberation Militia abduct Sephy. Tensions are running high and Callum and Sephy end up sleeping with each other. However, because of the parochialism and prejudice of society, the crosses interpret this development in Sephy and Callum’s relationship as rape. The cross community cannot understand how Sephy would willingly sleep with a nought. Sephy repeatedly states that she loves Callum. She defiantly refuses to be coerced into having an abortion. Ultimately, Callum and Sephy are denied the opportunity to be together because of the racial prejudice and bigotries that exist in their society. Their relationship is ultimately doomed because of the colour of their skin. Callum pays for his relationship with his life. Sephy remains loyal to Callum declaring over and over that she loves him. She tells Callum that their child will love him too. She names their baby daughter Callie Rose McGregor in memory of her father.