December Challenge

The theme is 'Period Piece', meaning it must be set in the PAST. A and B are best friends/enemies who are the binary opposites of each other. Unexpected circumstances bring them to realise they are attracted to each other.


Must be set BEFORE 1960

Must use the words: starlight, raven, vermillion, fragility, mania, balderdash, antique, feather, December, obscurity.

One character must say: "Kiss me…"


The story must at some point feature A injuring B


No mentions of numbers.

No mention of literature

No mention of sports of any kind

This story is dedicated to my amazing Grade 8 American history teacher, who recently came out of the closet. Congrats, Mr. G.

Gavin whirled around, his arms straining as he blocked what would have been a hard blow to the neck. He attempted to spin his weapon around to hit his opponent in the side, but his hit was easily deflected, his blade knocked from his hands. He knew then, that he would be defeated; and sure enough, he was on his back, his opponent's weapon at his throat.

John's eyes lit up, and he laughed gleefully. "So it appears that I have won again," he taunted.

Grumbling, Gavin answered, "What did you expect? Now, are you going to help me up or not?"

John laughed again, and pulled Gavin back to his feet. "Don't feel bad, friend. It's not like anyone actually uses swords anymore."

"Right," Gavin said darkly, rubbing at a bruise that John's wooden sword had left on his side. "Then why, again, did you feel the need to challenge me to another spar?"

Staring at him incredulously, John responded, "To train, of course!"

"Beg pardon, did you not just say that no one uses swords anymore?" Gavin asked, torn between amusement at his best friend's antics and a stab of pain, or disapproval, or something of that sort at the mention of his "cause". And a hint of worry, though he would never have admitted to that.

John chose to ignore that. "I should go back to work; Mr. Dalton is coming in to have his tooth pulled, and Father said I can watch. Shall I meet you later?"

Waving him off, Gavin answered, "I will have to open the shop soon. I suppose I shall be there all day. Farewell."

"Farewell," echoed John, staring as Gavin walked away. He was, for some reason, unduly fascinated by his best friend.

The young man was an utter mess of contradictions; his dreamy nature had been mistaken for fragility on more than one occasion, but he was certainly no weakling. He should have been lacking strength, the tailor's intellectual apprentice, but he had come close to besting John, the blacksmith's apprentice, earlier in a fight. Certainly, he was a quandary. John stood there for another moment, watching his friend's deceptively slim body retreating towards the tailor's shop, before he turned away, shivering in the cool December air, to return to his home, where his father worked.

"Gavin! Did you hear?" John shouted excitedly the moment he caught sight of his friend.

Sighing, Gavin responded, "What is it, John, that I should have heard?"

"In Boston! You know the Governor has been stubborn and refusing to send the tea ships back? Of course you do, you know everything. Well, the Patriots fought back! They sent those crates of tea back where they belong; to the bottom of the ocean!" John could hardly contain his enthusiasm, his words coming out far too fast.

On the contrary, Gavin frowned. "That will cause trouble, no doubt. I don't understand this whole anti-British mania. Truly, I don't. They have done nothing to us that they haven't been forced to."

Scowling, John answered, passionately, "Nothing? Balderdash! They have treated us as slaves, nay, worse than slaves! We have been denied the most basic rights, those that ought to given to all people! Gavin, you're smart; how can you not see what is right in front of you?"

"You see what you wish to see, John. Think with your head. You will understand." Gavin shook his head. "You hardly sounded like yourself, right then, my friend. You might have been one of the leaders of the rebellion. What if the world knew of you, my friend? Such a fiery speaker, wasting his talents here in obscurity!"

John laughed, forgetting his momentary anger. "But then they might snatch me away, and what would you do with yourself then?" he teased, ruffling his friend's raven hair.

"I wonder, sometimes," Gavin whispered softly, not entirely sure whether he wanted John to hear or not.

Gavin stood in the field, just looking at John. He had been going to meet him, as they so often did, though he was reluctant to feed the fire that was John's resentment towards His Majesty the King, but had to stop abruptly to stare. His friend was bathed in starlight, his profile clearly defined by the glow. It was hardly a word commonly used to describe John, but the only one that came to Gavin's mind was beautiful. He swallowed hard and turned away, back towards his home. He would talk to John tomorrow. Tonight...tonight he had to clear his head.

John tore into the tailor's shop, startling Gavin, who had just dipped his feather pen into the vermillion ink so favored by his master. "Really, John, I might have broken it! And I'm supposed to be working!" he scolded, trying to forget about the curious incident that had led him to ignore his friend the night before.

"I can't help it, Gavin, I'm too excited. You'll never believe what the British have done now."

Gavin sighed, setting the quill down and resigning himself to take the reprimand that he would undoubtedly receive later in the day. "Would it have anything to do with closing the ports of Boston?"

John gaped, clearly startled that his friend had heard such news before him. "Well, yes. But Gavin, don't you understand what this means? Surely, even you must see the light now! War is imminent! We must band together!"

Gavin sighed again, exasperated by the debate that he and John had had so often, the debate that seemed before them yet again. "John, the Bostonians deserve it. They knew of the consequences of their little tea party, but they let it take place anyway. Anyway, the demands of the crown are hardly unreasonable. Why shouldn't they ask to be reimbursed for their ruined goods? That man, John Hancock, he would surely be able to pay the debt many times over."

"Gavin, that's hardly the point. It's the principle of the matter! Surely you ought to be the one to see that? My friend, you are the one of us who thinks below the surface; I'm the one who acts before his brain catches up with him. You're the one who should know this kind of thing," John argued, reaching towards his friend, though he hardly knew why.

Once again, Gavin sighed. "That would be the difference between us Loyalists and you rebels. We think logically and agree with the British, and you...your brains are just catching up to you now."

His jaw tightening, John said, "I refuse to believe that. Moreover, I refuse to believe that you believe that." With that, he dramatically turned on his heel and exited the store.

John hurried down the road, hardly able to contain his excitement, when he suddenly slowed down. He veered left, towards the miller's field, where he and Gavin had used to meet. He and the other man had not spoken, besides the necessary, in more than a year, not since the Intolerable Acts had been passed. He vividly remembered their last argument, Gavin's cavalier dismissal of the horrors that the good people of Boston were being forced to endure, and his own knowledge that he would never forgive his once best friend for what he had said.

Yet...there they were, Gavin in the middle of the field, John making his way to him, as if not even a day had passed. Why he was still so drawn to Gavin, despite the other's antique, outdated loyalty to the British, he had not an idea, had not been easy, the past year, despite his various other friends, friends who agreed with him. He had missed...whatever it was that fascinated him about Gavin, whatever it was that kept his attention on the slender man. Besides, he tell Gavin about this, this bit of information of the revolution about which he had spoken so eagerly to him in the past.

"Gavin," he called softly, trying not to startle him. Gavin had always been so skittish.

Surprisingly, Gavin seemed not to be surprised at all. They had ended their friendship so long before, yet he seemed to have expected John that night, expected him as he had always done.

"Gavin, I've...I've enlisted. In the Continental Army. I'm to leave as soon as possible," he stuttered, nervous despite himself.

Gavin's eyes dimmed. "I had hoped...I had hoped that it would not come to this. There isn't anything else that you could do, is there?"

John swallowed, shook his head.

Sighing heavily, Gavin answered, "There is truly no way to avoid war, is there? I suppose that I must enlist as well. But...but not on your side."

A sudden stab of pain ripped its way through John's chest. Gavin...Gavin had ceased being his friend a year before, and he had abstractly considered the idea of Gavin being his enemy, but the thought of Gavin truly being his enemy, of him and Gavin standing on opposite sides of a battlefield, shooting at each other...his heart constricted.

His heart. And John in that moment understood what it was that had kept him by Gavin's side, kept him pining away for months.

John loved Gavin. The whole idea was horrifying. Gavin was a man, a Tory. Love....John could never love Gavin, not in the way that he was imagining. And yet...

John and Gavin had always stood together, despite their opposing natures. The most enjoyable moments of John's life...all of them involved Gavin. Even in the past year, John had not been able to help staring at his former friend, marveling at the way that he moved, the way that he smiled. Love...John could never imagine a world in which he did not love Gavin.

", you mustn't," he whispered desperately, unable to bear the idea of Gavin being his enemy after his epiphany.

"I..." Gavin's voice was raspy, as if he was crying. He cleared his throat and continued, "I must. John...the thought of hurting you...I can't imagine it. And I can't imagine hating you. But I can't be you. I could never be you."

"But..." John started helplessly. He reached out, impulsive, to touch Gavin's face.

Without seeming to think about it, for once, Gavin leaned into his hand, filling his palm with his cheek. John caressed him lightly and his voice came out in a whisper. "But I love you."

Gavin closed his eyes, breathing deeply. "You can't."

"I do," John breathed, moving closer.

"No, you don't understand," Gavin said, making no attempt to move away. "You can't because I love you. If you love me back...if you love me back, all of my reasons to stay away from you will have collapsed."

"Gavin," John murmured, staring into his eyes. Gavin seemed, on that night, to be more beautiful than ever before. Unthinking, he leaned in, feeling Gavin's warm breath hit his lips, instinctively weaving one hand in that lovely dark hair.

"John," Gavin forced out through his quick pants for breath. "You have to stop. If I kiss you...if I kiss you, I will know that I love you. I...if I kiss you, I won't be able to stop. I'll need you. Forever."

John smiled, just slightly. "Kiss me..."

A/N: Well. That was weird. And extraordinarily late. It's only still January in some parts of the world. A very small number of parts. That don't include the one that I live in. Sorry! Real life struck!

A quick rundown of when each event took place:

The first scene...actually, I'm not sure when it took place. It's not long before the second scene, however. The second scene refers to the Boston Tea Party, which occured on December 16, 1773. It probably actually took place a few weeks later, because John and Gavin don't live in Boston, so they wouldn't hear about it all that fast. The third scene takes place the day before the fourth scene, which refers to the Boston Port Act, which was enacted on March 31, 1774, so the scenes were probably in mid April. The last scene is around November, 1775.

I tried to keep all the history accurate, but I might have messed up some. Sorry.

The title refers to a quote from Admiral Augustus Keppel, who, though being a loyal British man, opposed using force against the Americans, saying, "I cannot draw the sword in such a cause." It's not the best title, but it seemed to fit.