Ellen gets up early to finish reading Jane Eyre before she has to go clothes shopping with her mom. She loves it.
She's still pretty wrapped up in the "are they or aren't they" question about Link and James's coupledom. On the one hand, duh, it makes so much sense. On the other hand, though, if they are a couple, then why are they hiding it? And why would they encourage her crush on James if they knew it to be a cruel impossibility?
Since she can't ask them directly, she decides to ask her mom on their shopping trip. She'll know.
When she drops the maybe-Link-is-gay-bomb on her mom, it seems like she's both a bit blindsided and has expected it for a while. Her mom takes her to tea (and they get cake, obviously) in order to talk about it.
Unlike everyone else in their family, Mom is willing to talk about the matter directly. She doesn't know if Link is gay, but if he is then she's fine with it: whatever makes him happy. Their father, on the other hand, will care very much, and not in a positive way.
Mom thinks Ellen should ask Link herself, to show him that she cares. And she should ask James, too, because if she wants to know, asking them directly is the best way.
When they get home, Link has a headache from his "Maths for Freaks" class, and her father is doing his method of relaxation: reading a three-volume novel in German. He's been doing it for years, no end in sight, and to say it's "relaxing" seems like a stretch.
Link and Ellen go to James's house to hang out and watch another foreign film.
Ellen goes for it; she asks them if they're a couple. Link wants to know why she's asking, so she tells them that Adena called them a couple, and she was wondering whether it was okay to agree with her.
James says yes… but Link says no. Link gets really angry, in fact, and says that James is gay but he isn't. You can tell this hurts James's feelings. The difference, according to Link, is that James has actually slept with men.
Link doesn't want to have this conversation, so he gets angry and storms out. Ellen stays, despite Link's wishes, because she senses that she'll finally get answers if she talks to James.