A love to remember
The darkness dissipated like a distant memory, as tapered light filtered through the blinds, warming his face. His eyelashes fluttered, knowing the sun had made an appearance, but he chose to ignore it. That is until he heard a faint buzz come from his bedside cabinet. He shot up, adrenaline and anticipation suddenly making his breath short and his heart expand.
He knew what that buzz meant.
As quickly and quietly as he could manage, he dressed, made sure he was decent, and hurried out through the garden door.
The early summer sun had turned the hills gold and green, with spots of white where sheep grazed in the fields.
He started running. No matter how fast he ran, he felt that he simply couldn't catch up to his heart. The cool air smarted his skin while the hillside sped past him, his cottage home at the top of the hill disappearing behind him. Once or twice he narrowly avoided tripping because his galoshes slipped on the dewy grass. The roar of the wind was glorious, and the feeling of lightness was, he knew, the closest he would ever get to flying. The birdsong that accompanied the rising sun cheered him along, like a race in which only he was competing. He clattered into the village, wellington boots slapping hard against the cobbled streets to the beat of his heart, but he no longer cared; past the post office, past the church until-
Thump. He collided with someone warm and tall who wrapped their arms around him.
"Wow, Ellis! Bit eager aren't you." Said the figure, grinning. The youth rolled his eyes.
"Just shut up and kiss me." Ellis said impatiently.
"Whatever you sa-" the taller of the two never finished his sentenced because his lips were suddenly occupied. Ellis pushed him until they were up against a tree under the shade of its branches.
Gawain, he thought, pressing closer into him. Gawain tugged at his lips with his own, making him dizzy. Ellis had never figured out how his boyfriend could have lips that soft, or how he seemed to permanently smell of rose. But some things simply couldn't be explained.
Nostalgia and melancholy mixed with the exquisite thrill of the kiss, burning in his chest, as his reddening cheeks and the hands in his hair reminded him of the time before Gawain. Ellis stood on tip-toe, anything to crush any distance between them; yes, he had been alone, then.
He remembered what it had been like clutching his fist to his chest when he fell asleep, shivering in the cold of the winter, piling blankets on his bed hoping that it would quench his loneliness. He would snuggle Ted, his stuffed bear, an unoriginal name he knew, despite his knowing that he was far to old for one. But it had helped, sometimes.
Gawain's hands were on Ellis' hips. The shorter of the two was certain the other sighed with happiness as the kiss deepened. In the corner of his mind he heard the gentle patter of summer rain, but they ignored it.
Ellis also remembered the first day he saw Gawain. It had rained then too, but not the light droplets that hung like crystals on flower petals; it had been the grey drizzle of autumn. The kind that steadily seeps into your clothes, leaving your socks cold and damp.
Ellis had been sitting between the window and Vivian, his best friend from school: normal day at school. However Mrs Philips introduced a new student. Ellis knew that whatever had been occupying his thoughts melted away when he saw him.
Gawain wasn't extraordinary in that he wasn't the most handsome bloke on the planet. He was definitely decent, no disagreement there, but the basic bone structure wasn't all that remarkable. What made him remarkable to Ellis was the way he was. Gawain seemed out of place, exotic and as they found out he was from the city, not a country lad at all. Ellis had only ever known the fields and pastures of his home town.
Yes, Emma and he had secretly tried on her makeup and jewellery, and it was possible that Ellis watched youtube clips of Rupaul's drag race on his phone in his bed at night, but at heart he was a child of the farm and cottage. His soul had grown from the sheep grazing in the fields and collecting eggs from the hens in the morning or just helping his family on the farm, and he cherished it.
But Gawain was everything he had dreamed of but never dared to touch. Dark hair flopped over his forehead, and a small silver band glinted from the top of his ear. His almond eyes were dark but twinkled, and Ellis couldn't be certain if he was wearing eye-liner or if his eyelashes were just thick. The way he wore his uniform was subtly other as well, still within school rules but more relaxed, styled and adapted to the wearer. Most of all he radiated confidence and comfort. Unlike Ellis, the soft spoken, pale, freckly redhead.
"Gawain, you can take a seat there behind Ellis, I'm sure he'll be more than capable of getting you acquainted with the school." That was the trouble with being a well spoken, well behaved and able student, responsibility was thrust upon you. Gawain grinned lopsidedly and thanked the teacher.
"Hey mate, nice to meet ya." Gawain whispered once he had sat down. "You're Ellis, right?" Ellis nodded.
"Cool." Gawain grinned again.
Ellis felt Gawain's lips twitch up against his.
"Nothing," Gawain said pecking Ellis on the lips "I just thought, there are no clouds over the hills. So… do you want to got to our place?"
"I just came down the hill, and now you want to go back up it?"
"I never asked you to run down, but you do every single time anyway." Ellis blushed and said nothing. Gawain was right, and he would keep on doing because he loved it.
The trek was not too long, and the view was worth it. Their place was moor like plane that stretched out above the village, and even Ellis' house. Everything was visible their for miles on end. It was also where Ellis and his family took the sheep to graze.
Ellis remembered the first time Gawain had seen it. Back then they didn't know each other as well. Gawain, charming that he was, become friends with Ellis and Emma. They discovered that he did indeed wear eyeliner, that he liked badminton but hated football and had an obsession with old obscure music. He introduced Ellis to Judie Tzuke and Janet Kay. Emma and he bonded over their passion for Lana del Rey. It made a change from the classic rock and fifties jazz that Ellis' parents listened to. Within a few weeks of knowing each other, the three were swapping playlists. Once, while Ellis' parents had been out and Emma and Gawain had jammed out to old Gaga songs that Ellis had on his playlist.
He remembered it had been cold that afternoon, mist hung over the moor and the sky billowed grey. Ellis had been on his way home, when Gawain bounded up to him.
"Hey, do want to hang out?"
"Sorry, I promised I would look after the sheep for my parents."
"Oh." For a split second Gawain looked dejected, but his grin swiftly returned, "why don't I come with you?" Ellis raised an eyebrow.
"You sure, I mean the weather's not great and it's just sheep."
"Of course." Gawain tilted his head to the side happily.
Gawain had never seen what his parents did for a living, although he had told him about it. For some reason Ellis had felt apprehensive, despite the fact that, as he had put it, they were only sheep.
The air hummed with tension, despite it being damp and chilly. Ellis had lead the way up the hill, passed his house. Their sheepdog Ajax trotted up behind him.
The sheep were grazing in the plain, and still had their coats, unlike now because they were shorn for spring.
"It's beautiful here." Gawain said, staring off over the plains and the grey sky. One of the sheep bopped him on the behind with her nose.
"Alberta!" Ellis exclaimed. Alberta was by far the senior sheep, at a stately fifteen years of age. Considered field royalty, all had to get her seal of approval. Gawain knelt down before her and patted her neck.
"There girl, there." Alberta bleated happily and turned to Ellis as if to say "I like him". Ellis blushed knowing that he was thinking "I like him too".
"So, what's the story behind Alberta?" Gawain asked. Ellis pulled from his reverie told him that she was the oldest and most stubborn of all the sheep.
"I like her, she's cool." Gawain grinned, again. Alberta, having finished her civic duties joined the rest of the herd, while Ajax circled them keeping them in line. Ellis and Gawain stayed their for a couple of hours before it was time to get the sheep back in their pen. Ellis commanded the sheep with Ajax' help, while Gawain watched. Ellis would never admit it, but he was showing off a little. It was getting dark by the time all the sheep, and last but not least Alberta, were safely home. Gawain was sitting perched on the wooden fence when Ellis closed the gate. The sun had turned red as it was slowly swallowed by the horizon. A blazing halo lit Gawain dark hair like fire. Ellis started to fidget.
"I guess you need to head home now?" he asked. Gawain said nothing, but hopped off the fence, strode towards him and cupped his cheek in his hand. Ellis had realised he wasn't breathing until Gawain had been kissing him for almost a minute.
"I've been wanting to that for a while." Gawain murmured, staring at his shoes, once they broke apart.
"Me too." Ellis answered.
That had been Ellis' first kiss. When he finally told Emma she had squealed for a good ten minutes on the phone, which embarrassed Ellis and amused Gawain immensely. And as it happened it was only the first of many as they were doing just that as the spring sun hit the hilltop, and Alberta, now fully shorn, looked down upon them with approval.
Ellis woke up with his face nuzzled in Gawain's back. His slow breathing told him the other was still asleep. He had always felt so pale next to Gawain, as he compared his white freckled skin to the caramel coloured back in front of him. He always seemed so warm, whereas Ellis' hands were always cold. He traced his index along Gawain's spine as he came to a realisation.
"I love you." he said with his nose pressed against the other's nape. He still smelled of rose. He noticed, however, that Gawain had stopped breathing suddenly and suddenly turned around. Gawain looked him straight in the eye, not grinning.
"I love you too." He whispered. As soon as the words were out of his mouth his face broke into the brightest smile Ellis had ever seen. And as Gawain hid his face in the crook of Ellis' neck to conceal his embarrassed blush, Ellis knew it was smile he could never un-see. A smile he would not be able to help but remember.