Prologue

His kisses stain your skin, like ink from love letters he never sent; you believe him when he says he loves you.

Some days you wish you could just click your heels and find yourself where he is, because he makes you believe in the impossible, and it really is very hard to dislike yourself when somebody adores you so obviously. You can hear it in every subtlety of his voice, every nuance and inflection of his tone. It is in the catch in his throat when he looks you in the eyes; it is in the depth of his hello and the way you can hear him smiling as he says your name. You can feel it in the way he holds you, as if you will break, as if you are waltzing to music that nobody else can hear because nobody else has ever felt this way, not ever. He is no Johnny Castle, but that's okay, because the world is in love with Jonny Castle and the boy is yours, all yours, for keeps. Isn't he?

You know you love him, too, as if it weren't obvious enough by now. You know it because even when he turns up drenched from the rain, laughing at his own damn foolishness, that smile of his still takes your breath away exactly as it did the night you met him. And every love song on the radio ceases to be enough, because there is no crescendo big enough to match the way your heart swells every time he holds your hand, and there are no lyrics to describe the way he makes you feel without trivialising it all, because he is everything, everything and more. You love him in the way that if he ever stopped loving you back, you'd just have to let him go, because no matter how much it would break your heart to give him up, his happiness has somehow surpassed your own in your list of priorities. You love him, and it isn't simple or easy, but it is so much more than worth it.

You don't want this moment to ever end, but it will, you realise that. His eyes scream it every time you mention September and his mouth doesn't try to defend him; he steals kisses instead, desperately clinging on to a life preserver that is deflating by the second, a bubble of euphoria that has been cruelly burst by the sharp needle that is reality. Because you know it and he knows it; love is never like the movies, and you are forever running out of time, and maybe, just maybe it will conquer everything but the likelihood is that it won't, and you have to learn to live with that. He will leave, and like you promised, you will have to let him, and he will have to try to remember how the music goes, how the dance feels, how your hand fits in his, and it won't be easy.

It won't be fair, either.

And one day, you will look back on this and forget exactly what shade of blue his eyes were. You will fail to remember much beyond the 'way you look tonight' kind of memories. He will seem so much farther away than the sixty-two mile route that the two of you spent hours figuring out how to deal with. He will call you on the phone and he won't say "it's me" like he always used to because he is afraid that you won't recognise his voice. He will be terrified that everything has changed back home, that he can't see your face every day to read the reassurances in your eyes, and you will feel exactly the same, just ridiculously jealous of this new place that is bound to tempt him away and make him fall in love all over again... it will get easier, and you will resent that even more, hating that it can feel normal not to hang out in the garden and talk philosophy, or write him updates about your day while he showers after work. He will find a new girl and a new dance and a new forever, and it will kill you but you will no longer be able to reach out and touch him, and eventually he will no longer be able to do the same to you.

Almost imperceptibly, the universe will shift.
And maybe, probably, eventually, you will move on from your teenage romance.

...And his kisses will stain your skin like ink from love letters he'll never send, and you'll believe him when he says he loved you.