I remember it so clearly like it was just yesterday, yet it was so long ago, the day my rut was broken, the day things changed. For years now everything had been exactly the same, although most would have said I was lucky for that, I knew I was but I don't think it was as easy as everyone else seemed to think.
The war had taken so much from everyone, it had changed everything for everyone, only few were not effected by it, me being one of those. I lived just off to the edge of a small country side town, a five minute walk up the country lanes. My manor house stood on it's own on a large plot of land, complete with a large lake, completely untouched by anyone of anything, there, you could never even tell the war was going on at all. The truth is the real world had always been too much for me to handle, I had been fighting in a war for most of my life, I was used to escaping, to staying away, locked up in my house, ignoring everything around me.
I was swimming outside in the lake behind the house, as I did every morning, it was my favorite way to start the day, the way the water made me feel, like I was no longer myself, like when it surrounded me I could be anyone I wanted to be because I was no longer on earth, I was anywhere I wanted to be, until I pulled my head up to find a familiar shadow casting over me, pulling me back. It was Mr Penny, the butler.
Mr Harold Penny was the head of the house, in charge of everything, he was very strict and never really seemed to smile very much but maybe it was just that no one ever saw, because it was hidden underneath his large gray mustache that wobbled when he spoke. He was a very tall man but still quite filled out with a plump belly, the hair on top of his head was very thin and fair and his face was very square and always quite red, like he was always angry with his icy blue eyes, making him look rather scary, but once you got to know him he wasn't at all like that. After a while it becomes very obvious that he is the way he is because he cares, he was a bit of a perfectionist, he couldn't stand a single thing to be out of places, making him very good at his job.
“...Sir, you have a guest” he told me after clearing his throat to get my attention, in the all so unfamiliar way he would always address me, despite my very vocal objections. I had known the man my entire life, I was closer to him than my actual father and I was sure he felt the same way, perhaps that was the problem, my father, his master wouldn't have liked the informality from one of his house keepers, not like he would ever be around to hear.
We so rarely had guests visit the house, the only people that would ever turn up were workers from town. I hadn't had a guest in years, not since my parents had gone away, apart from the exception of the occasional family member but never anyone I actually enjoyed the company of. Was that something I would be able to do again, I had gotten so used to being alone.
Did I even remember how to talk to someone that didn't work for me? I recall at my auntie Judith's last visit the words, feral and social re close were tossed around a fair few times, I hadn't never been the most social individual around to start with, I liked my own company.
“I've told him to wait in the sitting room and that you'll be joining him shortly, so hurry...” Mr Penny said as quickly as he could before turning his head away from my naked bum peeking out the water as I floated, a look of slight discomfort plastering his face, as his prude nature revealed itself as the overpowering, obvious thing it was. Without another mere glance from him, his eyes glued to a nearby tree he held out my towel for me with a clearing of his throat.
He stayed that waiting there for me as I very quickly wiped down my naked body, just enough to stop the drip before throwing on the clothes I had left by the edge, my beige trousers and my white long sleeved shirt, everything else I carried in my arms.
I dried my face as I followed Mr Penny across the grass back towards the house and through the backdoor, my dark curly, forever scruffy hair still dripping water down my then damp, half done up shirt.
“Where did you say he was? In the sitting room?” I asked as my bare feet rushed across the cold tiled kitchen floor, grabbing at some of the left over bread from breakfast that our cook Mr Morrow hadn't yet thrown out.
“Yes, in the sitting room” he cried as he turned back to me giving me his usual look of disgust, a look I could very rarely do something without getting.
“Alright well, thanks, I think I could probably get there by myself, I need to look like I actually live here don't I? Like I'm the man of the house, which I am now” I said happily, I hated how he always hovered around me so much, it suffocated me a little, I needed space to breathe, I think he already thought me to be a savage, he couldn't leave me alone for any longer than he did otherwise I would completely turn against him, erasing all hope of turning me back into the once half civil boy I was.
“No, you sir need to go and clean up before anyone sees you, you see, you can't be trusted to look after yourself, until you can I will not treat you like you are” he said bluntly before his head turned back to the hall as he held the door for me. “With all do respect sir, you've become a real animal” he told me looking down his nose.
I couldn't disagree, it was true, I had really embraced the artists life, only ever really washing in the lake water, keeping the same clothes on for days at a time and sleeping rarely, I would say it agreed with me, it wasn't like I usually had anyone to impress.
“So, who exactly is it in there? Please don't tell me it's a girl, you know how I feel about those” I asked curiously as we past the door.
“I do Sir, it's not a girl” he muttered honestly, I could by his face, he was feeling the truth.
It had taken long enough to get the message, the last thing I wanted was a girlfriend, it had been over a year since he or Mrs Penny had even mentioned a girl to me.
Just as I was about to place my first foot onto the step with Mr Penny's gently push, the door opened behind us, stopping me.
A handsome man appeared in the hallway. “I thought I heard a noise” he said with a sweet childlike grin.
Mr Penny looked back to me after a second with a glare, he wasn't too happy that his plan hadn't worked out, ashamed that he had failed at his job of taking care of me, that everyone would soon know of it. Not only his reputation as a home keeper but mine, he was so afraid of allowing me to cast shame upon my well respected family.
Although I barely payed him much attention at all, my sparkling eyes were glued to our attractive guest, I was infatuated with him.
“...You must be Mr Evermore?” he cried with wide eyes, holding his hand out to me.
Mr Penny didn't look at all pleased, he was always such a stick in the mud, so prim and proper, he never dared to stray from the path, bend the rules and he utterly detested anyone who did.
I stared for a moment before responding, embarrassed by my appearance, my shirt was then see through, half the down up buttons were in the wrong holes and my weedy body was showing. I thought I had gotten over that, I had always been so thin and tall, unlike the other boys in town, I was always so insecure about it, it wasn't enough that I was already so different from them inside as well. As I had gotten older it stopped bothering me, it wasn't like anyone ever really saw me anyway, I rarely went into town and if I did it was practically a ghost town anyway with only women around, but just a second in that hallway, along side him all my insecurities were back and beaming.
It didn't help that I knew exactly who he was. How had it taken that long to register? He was older and definitely much more filled out and muscly but he hadn't changed much. Embry, Embry Evans, however had I forgotten about him? I was practically his biggest fan as I boy, when he lived across the lake, I recall spending hours studying him, painting him, I was obsessed, I thought he was the most beautiful boy alive.
I remember the last time I saw him, I was sixteen, earlier that day at breakfast my parents had been talking about how all the young men would be heading off to the war, inducing the young man next door, Embry.
I had no intention of ever heading off to the war until I found out Embry would be there but of course my parents would have never allowed that. I had mourned for Embry, I thought I would never get to see him again, only to still be able to lay my eyes on my many paintings of his near perfect face, his thick hair which all always seemed to point up, the very hair I had always imagined to be soft to touch, his thick dark eyebrows accentuating his beautiful black eyes that held so much mystery, every secret ever told, so solid and hard to read, pulling me in, willing me to more in closer and spend hours trying to decipher them, his plump dark pink lips being framed perfectly by his short, dark briskly, beard, highlighting his chiseled jawline.
Dressed in some gray wool trousers and a long white t-shirt, with just a few decorative bottoms at the top and on his feet some black army boots, looking far muddier than the housekeepers would have liked to see.
Embry Evans had no idea who I was, he had no idea about any of it, I had to contain myself, although I was so completely thrilled that I he was once again reflecting in my eyes.
“Please, call me Ambrose” I told him with a smile, with just a second of hesitation before I eventually shook the mans hand. I needed a moment to get a hold of myself so I wouldn't say anything stupid, so I wouldn't let out any of the weird things going around in my head. I spent all that time watching him, admiring him from out of my window, but I had never said a word to him, never touched him, after all the time it was finally happening, what I had spent half my life fantasizing about, I couldn't let him know any of it, I knew it was creepy, if he ever found out I would have been mortified.
I wasn't completely delusional, there was a reason behind all of it, why I had never introduced myself, why I felt I had to stay away. I knew Embry would never feel the same about me, I knew he would never like me in the way I liked him, if at all, but that didn't mean I had to stop did it? As long as it stayed a secret, as it had only ever been. I wasn't an animal, I could be around him without having to act on any of it, I could control myself.
“It's a pleasure...Ambrose” he gently muttered.
A look of disgust grew on Mr Penny's face.
Maybe I was wrong, as I held his hand in mine I could feel it, feel everything I had ever felt rush back to me, an unnatural, high pitched squeal echo throughout my bones, my blood glistening like the warm lake water in the summer sun. it was if I was that strange sixteen year old boy watching from the window every morning as Embry waited at the bus stop for school again.
For just a second I lost it, time had stopped for me but not for everyone else, as I stared wide eyed at the man of my dreams the others watched on in real time.
Mr Penny then cleared him throat “I do apologize for him Mr Evans, it must be the lake water” he said as he glared at me.
Embry gave him a polite little laugh before he then turned back to me, he seemed more curious anything, it seemed that I could keep my mouth shut, I could lock away all the thoughts but nothing to help the sparkle in my eyes that appeared each and every time he looked my way.
“It's perfectly okay” he muttered after a moment.
“Well, alright” Mr Penny said with a nod. “..Mr Evans will be staying here for a short while sir, so you will have plenty of time to stare later, right now you need to shower, you smell like the fishes” he added before going to rush me up the dark wood staircase.
“...I wasn't staring” I cried in embarrassment as I glanced back at Embry at the bottom, he seemed quite amused by it all, looking to me with a smirk, causing my cheeks to turn pink.
“So, why exactly is he staying?” I asked Mr Penny once we were safety upstairs in my bedroom with the door closed behind us.
“Your parents invited him to stay, just until his house is restored, the roof collapsed from that terrible storm last month” he told me as he waited by the door, while I went behind the screen to get changed and dry off a bit better with help from Mrs Penny, Mr Penny's wife, the housekeeper.
Mrs Mauve Penny had the kindest face, there was something very comforting about it, very motherly and gentle, the complete opposite of her husbands, her pink rosy cheeks were always filled with a sweet smile and her gray eyes were always sparkling as if they were recently polished, she was a very petite woman, far stronger and durable than she looked. My hands down favorite thing about her was her warm gray hair, it had always fascinated me, how if unraveled I'd imagine it would touch the floor, yet she always managed to get it all rolled up, perfectly in a large head sized bun at the back of her head, I had never once seen it look any different.
“...My parents? Why would they do that?” I asked in confusion, thinking out loud.
My parents were many things but charitable wasn't one of them, they were very selfish people, they most definitely wouldn't invite any old stranger into the house, not even while they weren't there to see them, not out of the goodness of their hearts anyway.
“...I thought you knew who he was sir?” Mr Penny cried over the top of the screen, his voice seeming closer than it actually was, despite never moving from the door.
“Mr Evans is a hero” Mrs Penny told me with a smile as she helped do up my sleeves before we both emerged from behind the wood.
“What?” I laughed as I joined Mr Penny back at the door, all dried up in some fresh tan trousers and matching waistcoat as Mauve brushed with her fingers, making it look a bit tidier.
“...It's true” Mr Penny confirmed with a confident nod.
“What did he do?” I asked with a grin, it definitely intrigued me. It was the first time it didn't seem so scary, that I actually wanted to get to know him, the real him, not the version I had created.
“You can ask him all about it, can't you sir? I'm sure it will do just fine as general conversation” he added as he opened the door for me.
“No, I wouldn't do that if I were you Mr Evermore, I'm sure he's tired of talking about it by now. You should just talk to him like you would anyone else, get to know him, be his friend, I'm sure he'll appreciate that, it'll make him feel at home and it would be good for you too, you need more friends...” Mrs Penny quickly cried.
Mr Penny glared at her for a moment.
“...Mr Evans is not here to be his friend” he said with a sigh.
“Doesn't mean he can't be does it? All that time alone isn't good for him, he can't only be around you all the time, it's not good for him, he'll lose his beauty and he'll start doing jigsaws for fun like you, what terrible thing that would be” she told him sternly.
“I'll find him a suitable friend, if that's what he wants, not someone that could be shipped off overseas at any moment, I won't allow Mr Evermore's heart to be broken” Mr Penny told her, neither of them paying any attention to me in the background.
“Why would his heart get broken? What a silly thing to say. It's not like he's asking him to marry him, I just think it would be nice if the two of them could get along” Mrs Penny cried, I could tell she was beginning to get annoyed.
“Because Mr Evans won't be staying for long and it's not like he'll come back to visit or Mr Evermore could go and visit him. All your doing is hurting him, making him think they could become that good friends in just days” he explained.
By then I had detached myself from the argument. I wasn't even sure if I wanted a friend, I hadn't thought much about it, but I began to wonder if Mrs Penny was right, maybe that was what I needed, it didn't matter how long for, I had never had one before, well, one that wasn't imaginary and I was curious.
They often did that, they both claimed to care so deeply for me, that I was the son they never had, but they could never quite agree on the right way to do it, they were both two very strong, opinionated people. I understood why they felt like that, why they were so overprotective, I needed that from them, I couldn't look after myself but that didn't mean I didn't want to try, to learn. Not once did it ever occur to them that maybe I could decide something for myself, that if they let me maybe I would surprise them, maybe they were just too scared to find out what would happen. Still, I didn't need their help for every little thing, I was going to prove that to them, that I wasn't as fragile as they thought, that I could function perfectly normally without them, without any of my coping methods, cold turkey, I would dive straight into the real world and see if I could swim.
I rushed down the staircase, feeling confident, maybe it was a little misplaced but that was a good thing, even the illusion of confidence helped. I made sure I wasn't being followed so their would be no one to stop me or make me believe otherwise, I was sure I could do it, that was until I arrived outside the sitting room door where Embry was still waiting, I was so close, only a plank of wood separated me from reality, from everything I had been hiding away from, I had gone that far, I had manged to get there but for a moment I wasn't sure if I could go any further.
If I couldn't talk about the war what would I talk about? Was I able to have a regular conversation with the man or would I just stare at him again? My head was too full of worries to focus on anything else.
After a moment of staring at the wooden door I took a deep breath, it wasn't like I could avoid him the whole time he stayed and even then, I don't know what I was so scared of, why did I care so much if he liked me or not, he would never like me in the way I liked him, we would either end up being friends or not, I had nothing to lose, nothing at all.
I creaked open the door peeking in at him before he looked to me with a smile as he stood up.
“Sorry for the wait” I told him slightly nervously as I walked further into the room.
I had surprised myself, how I was able to act like an actual human being, how I could control myself, that was definitely something I had problems doing and put my thought to the back of my mind and breathe. I had always had issues with anxiety and panic attacks, I always got so worked up over the smallest things, I would think so deeply about things and find faults in everything. The real world had always just been a little too much for me, I was too fragile, too small compared to it as my mother would say. I had created a world inside that house, within the grounds, a place where I felt safe and secure, my comfort zone and I very rarely left that. I didn't think I could handle it, the change in schedule, the different circumstance I found myself in, one that I would usually try to avoid. Despite everything that was going on inside, that not all was to do with Embry, things I dealt with on an everyday basis, I seemed okay, I seemed alright, maybe I was better, maybe I had gotten braver without even realizing, maybe spending all that time avoiding the world had given me some time to get better.
“...That's alright” Embry said with a polite smirk. “I've just been enjoying your house, I haven't been anywhere quite like this for a while, it's nice” he told me as he looked around.
“What do you like about it?” I laughed as I sat down on the sofa opposite to him in the large spacious room.
“The large fire place, the pictures on the walls, the rug...” he listed. “The things I associate with home I suppose” he told me sweetly.
I immediately felt at ease, he was so easy to talk to, he seemed happy to talk to me, happy to make friends. That was one thing I often feared, not only that I would embarrass myself, causing him to find out how obsessed I once was with him, all it took was me for me to say one thing that I shouldn't have known for him to become curious, but also that he just wouldn't want to talk to me, that he wasn't at all interested in me, that would have been worse, him not even giving me a chance.
“I'm sorry to hear about your home” I told him sympathetically.
“Thank you, but honestly, it doesn't even feel like mine anymore, I barely remember what it looks like” I could tell it bothered him more than he said.
“Do you know if they've started working on it yet? I shouldn't imagine it will take too long” I asked curiously.
“Actually, no one is working on it...” Embry admitted. “...Don't worry though, I won't be here forever, I'll find somewhere else to stay, I'll rent somewhere”
“What? There's no need for that, you can stay as long as you want” it's no problem” I cried. The truth is I didn't want him to leave at all, especially now I could see things working out. “...It's just, don't you want your own home back? That's where you grew up isn't it? That's where you belong” I added, making sure I didn't come off desperate.
“Embry just laughed.
“That's very kind of you” he muttered after a moment with an admirable smile. “...My family no longer live there and I have no attachment to it so there's no need for all of that work”
“Just don't feel like you need to leave, we really don't mind having you hear” I told him honestly just as Mr Penny walked into the room, only just catching what I had said, he still seemed undecided about our potential friendship.
I began to feel very hot all of a sudden, too hot, I wasn't entirely sure what had changed, except for Mr Penny's presence, maybe it was him that brought it all down to earth, him being there separated me from the dreams, he made me ever o more aware that the moment was actually happening, that it wasn't just all in my head like usual, he made it ever so more clear that it was real. That my actions had consequences, that whatever I said couldn't just be erased, that it was all completely set in stone, that alone terrified me, it brought back the pressure, the nerves, the anxiety that I had deluded myself into thinking was extinct. My body seemed to be failing at keeping in all the very strong emotions inside me or maybe I had been given enough time for reality to really set in, it started leaking from me at an alarming rate. I began to fear that I'd soon look as if I had been swimming again, this time fully dressed. The room began to suffocate me and the very comfortable atmosphere Embry had helped create seemed to be water in the palm of my hands, I couldn't hold onto it, it was slowly running dry. I couldn't handle that every time I looked at him I still saw the person I had always imagined him to be, not at all who he actually was. I had always seen him as this perfect human being, who had no flaws, no faults, someone it wasn't at all possible for him to live up to. Every time I looked at him, every time I opened my mouth to speak I had to remind myself that I was a stranger to him, that all the history that I remember, that laid down neatly behind me in the path, was all in my head and none of it existed in his, to him, I was a blank canvas and to me, he was a work of art, a sculpture I had been calving for many years.
“...Mr Evans would you like some tea?” he asked as he cleared his throat, placing the tray onto the coffee table between us, turning to Embry. “We weren't sure when you last ate so there's some sponge cake there to if you'd like some” he told him.
“Oh, thank you so much, yes, I would love some” Embry muttered as he leaned forward slightly closer to the table, with a quick smile up at me.
“...Mr Evermore?” Mr Penny said as he looked to me, it took me a moment to be able to pull my eyes off of Embry to see what was really in front of me in that moment, before I looked to him blankly. “Tea?” he cried with subtle glare, secretly warning me, he had made it clear how he felt about the situation and I had gone against his wishes, sided with his wife, he obviously wasn't going to be happy about that.
“Yes, please...I'll take it with me though, I've got something to do” I lied, all I had to do was get out of that room. “You'll be okay here won't you Embry?...make yourself at home” I said after a moment, once my drink had been poured, before rushing over to the door at the first chance I could.
“Yes, I'll be fine, I wouldn't want to stop you, don't feel as you have to babysit me” he said gently, seeming sincere.
I wasn't sure if leaving him was the right thing to do no matter what he said but he would be staying a while, he was right, I didn't have to be with him ever second of the day, I'm not sure how much my heart could handle.
“...Mr Evermore? Is everything alright?” Mr Penny cried as I ran past her, by the time I heard her I had already crossed the hall, over to the small door towards the back, my art studio.
I swung open the door before before turning back to her in the doorway, breathing heavily.
“Ambrose? Are you having another panic attack?” she cried after a second of watching me.
I didn't say anything, I let go of the door handle and walked further into the room, leaving the door open for her to follow as I sat down on my wooden hair.
“...I can't do it, I can't do it, I can't do it, I can't do it” I cried as I sat there blankly grasping my tea in my hands, not even noticing it burning my hands.
“Alright, I understand, I know it's hard, I know it is” she whispered gently as she crouched down in front of me, trying her best to comfort me.
“No, you don't understand” I muttered as I jumped to my feet, pacing the room. “I can't be his friend, I thought I could but I can't” I told her with watery eyes.
“That's fine. That's okay. You don't have to be Ambrose, I'm sorry I said that” Mrs Penny continued, as she stood there watching me walk back and forth.
“I want to be his friend, I really want to be his friend” I told her, standing still for a moment, staring at her. “I'm not sure I can do that, just sit there talking about his life, normal things like I'm a normal person, I'm not a normal person Mauve, I can't live here like that, I don't like it, I want to go back” I muttered as I rushed to a recent painting I had done of the trees outside. I would never create things the way they were, I couldn't handle them that way. I liked to give them a fantasy twist, the brightest colors I could find, bringing out the beauty. It was a way of coping, knowing I was surrounded with beauty, that not everything was ugly, that not everything in this world was cured and blasted.
“What do you want me to do Ambrose? How can I help? Do you want more paint? A drink?” she asked gently placing her hand on my shoulder as she appeared behind me, watching me I stayed there firmly glued onto the painting, my eyes climbing inside.
“...How can we be friends if we don't even live in the same world?” I whispered, my voice wobbling as I dropped my head down, closing my eyes in self pity. “Drugs, I need drugs, I need to escape” I told her. I didn't want to do that, I hated doing that but I could see no other way out, I had no over option, I couldn't stand seeing everything so clearly, there was a reason I had always tried my best to avoid everything.
“...But first, just one thing sir? Did you ever stop to think that maybe he would like that to?” Mrs Penny muttered at the last second, turning to me as I listened. “Think about it, how he's been living these past years, fighting to survive, seeing the very worst of humanity, with all do respect Mr Evermore, you haven't seen anything nearly as bad, think about how much worse it is for him, think about how nice it would be for him to be able to escape too, even for just a while” she explained.
I'll admit, it intrigued me, I had never thought of it like that, I so desperately wanted to be apart of his life, to have something real between us, because it was what I wanted I thought the option was for me to make it happen, to enter his world, to insert myself into it to fetch it, not once did I what he may have wanted, only what he didn't, not once did I think of pulling him into mine.
I still wasn't entirely sure how it would work out, even if I could persuade him in, I wasn't sure if he'd like it or if he'd want to stay, it was so neatly tucked away from everything else, quiet and isolated. I wasn't at all sure how it would work out or how to do it in the first place, but it definitely sounded much more likely to happen, there was no way I could live in his.
I stood there silently for a moment with my thoughts.
“Look, Ambrose, the point is, you don't have to leave, you don't have to do anything you're uncomfortable with, all you have to do is talk to him, just like you talk to Mr Penny and I, tell him about your art, your project...” she told me after a moment of trying to read my face.
“...I can't talk about him, I don't want to know anything about him, not the real him, I don't think I can ask him anything about himself, how could he be friends with someone like that? It will just highlight how fake everything is, I don't know him, I'm blatantly aware of that now and I hate it” I told her without thinking.
“If you tell him about your situation, if you explain it all he'll understand, he'll probably have questions, he'll be more interested in talking about you, you won't have to worry” she told me confidently. “...What do you mean? Of course you don't know him, you've never met him, you do know that right sir?” she asked warily as she processed it.
It wasn't the first time I had seen things that weren't there, not even close, there was a reason I liked drugs, they made things more interesting, they distorted the world I hated so much but there had been a few occasions that I didn't need the drugs for that, a time of my life when I was far worse than I was then, a dark time in my childhood.
“Yeah, I know, I know that” I told her with a sigh, knowing full well it was time to come clean, preparing myself for her reaction, she already knew I was crazy, it wasn't like it would be a surprise, it's just that I had never told anyone before, the only reason behind it being that it made it seem more real, when it was just me . “Although it was the first time I have met him, it wasn't at all the first time I had seen him..” I told her after a moment as I walked over to my rack of old paintings, I kept them all behind a locked door in the corner of the room, hidden away from everyone else.
Mrs Penny followed me over with slight hesitation, watching my every movement like a hawk.
“He was my first ever crush...” I told her as I slowly moved out the way so she could see all of my hidden secrets.
There were around thirty paintings all stalked up in there, all of Embry, all portraits, there wasn't at all much difference between them all, they were all nearly identical, I'd paint a new one every time I noticed something new around him, it could be a mole I had missed on his left cheek, or scar o his arm or something more obvious like a change in haircut.
Although I was embarrassed, beyond mortified to show her in a weird way it was liberating, like a weight of my shoulder. It wasn't like I had added a new one to the collection recently, I hadn't painted one for years, I stopped much before Embry had left for the war, it was something I would do to pass the time as a kid. Painting helped me to relax, when I painted I felt lost to the world, I could paint somewhere and be there, I would allow myself to get completely consumed in the colors, in each stroke, it was just another way of escaping, of being someone I wasn't.
I watched as Mrs Penny looked through them, pulling one out at a time, after a moment she seemed to get the message and began to pull them out much faster, stopping before she got to the end. It definitely freaked her out a little, of course it did, it was disturbing, I knew that, I had always known that but she seemed to understand.
“...Oh Ambrose” she said with a sympathetic smile, the same she always had when she felt sorry for me. “You really like him don't you?” she muttered giving me a comforting look as she placed her hand onto my bearded face.
“...Would do I do?” I asked her gently. All of a sudden noticing how much I had calmed down.
“...I think, I think you should tell him, I mean, not everything, don't do that, but tell him how you remember him from when he lived here and that you looked up to him or something, just, whatever you do, don't, don't tell him about this, I don't want to see you get hurt Ambrose” she told me. “I just think you should be honest with him, if you want to connect with him, if you want him to know you, he needs to understand you first. Even if it's hard, tell him your struggles, your fears, just let him in Ambrose, even if thing don't turn out the way you want, even if nothing comes of it, at least it will be good for you” she spoke a lot of sense, like usual. Mrs Penny was always the one that knew what to say, that knew what to do, even more so than my own mother, my parents were always very overwhelmed by me, they didn't have the slightest clue, it was always her who'd manage to get me out of bed, to encourage me to get dress, who'd convince me to go outside because it was unhealthy to lock myself completely away, even if it was only a walk to the front gates.
Not once had that ever occurred to me to be myself, that maybe he would actually like me, despite all the problems, she was right, I shouldn't need to hide things, I shouldn't need to hide myself, if Embry really was who I had always thought him to be
it was never just getting to know the real Embry, the fear of disappointment, the fear of losing all I held so tightly to my chest, it was being rejected, it was being cast aside and ignored, just like everyone had done my whole life, even my own parents had left me because they didn't know what else to do, because they couldn't fix me and I couldn't be who they wanted, that what I was so scared of, I was making up excuses. I wasn't at all sure exactly how I was going to tell him everything but I couldn't see any other options.
Mrs Penny soon left the room to go back to work, leaving me alone for a while to get straighten out. I soon picked up a paint brush and began to finish up my latest painting, it was just missing a few little details. It was just turning spring so I had been painting a lot of flowers and wildlife, that particular painting was the view from across the lake were all the flowers had sprung up. It very quickly calmed me and before I knew it my mind was clear and I had forgotten everything from the previous hours before, all of my worries had just dropped away. Not all days were like that, usually they were far more relaxed, as long as I got to stay in my own head I was fine, as long as I could just do what I wanted and didn't have to think too much about anything I was fine. It was just that so much had changed so quickly, I had been thrown into a situation with no warning at all, that was were most of the problems sprung from, all I needed was a plan, which I had more or less and some preparation, hopefully now that I had had that I could function at least slightly better.
It wasn't until a while after when I heard a knock on the door that my soul even returned to the inside of my head, it had been let free and that's when I always happiest, but even with it I felt far better than I had before, much more capable.
As I turned away, over to the door I saw Embry, his head was peeking through the door. I found myself blankly staring at him, it always did take a while for my eyes to clear and for my feet to become grounded again.
“I'm sorry, do you want me to leave? I don't want to bother you, I'll go” he muttered shyly as he started to back out of the room.
“No, wait” I cried loudly, before I even knew what I was saying myself. “...You don't have to leave Embry, please, come in” I told him. I was impressed with myself, it was a huge improvement from earlier, it seemed it was only the worries holding me back, that as long as I relaxed things seemed to work out much better, it made sense, it was all that was in my head that was holding me back, as long as I continued to ignore it, to pretend it wasn't there I was fine.
Embry watched me for a second as a delighted smile slowly crept up onto his face, until it was fully formed and he joined me in the room, closing the door behind him.
I didn't say anything for a moment, I just observed, watching him with a smile it was all very fascinating really, a sort of self discovery for me, an entirely new experience for me, which was something I usually stirred well away from, in a way it wasn't at all, I had done it all before, it's just this time I wasn't completely in control, although that scared me it was surprising exciting, it was something I had always wanted and my confidence actually seemed to be returning to me, only this time it wasn't just a delusion. I felt much more comfortable around him, although I did feel slightly naked I was looking forward to it, I was going to feel vulnerable, exposed but maybe that's what I needed, maybe it would help me get not only what I wanted from the situation, but what I needed. I needed to be able to feel relaxed around him, I needed to be honest with him.
I wasn't at in a rush though, it wasn't something I felt I needed to blurt out straight away, to get it out the way, it was something I had very recently decided on, something I was still getting my head around, what mattered was now that the awkwardness of it all was gone, I knew I could tell him when I was ready, that it wasn't something I had to struggle to keep inside, I no longer had to watch what I said, everything I had bottled up was no longer locked away, the lid was half unscrewed.
“...Did you get bored?” I asked as I watched him walk around the room, taking a look at the many painting that lined the walls.
“Sorry what?” he muttered after a second turning to me. “No, I was just curious to see what you were doing, I was told it was okay for me to come and visit you in here...Did you paint all of these?” he told me sweetly, then asked me with a grin, pointing to the walls.
“...Yeah, I did” I said as I wandered slightly over to him.
“Wow, they're so amazing, truly beautiful, you really do have a talent” he told me honestly.
“Thank you” I mumbled humbly, withdrawing slightly. “...And, and you, I like your hair, it's very... nice” I told him, instantly waiting to die the second it came out of my mouth.
“Thank you” he turned to me with a smile, he didn't seem at all freaked out by it and I would have been able to tell if he was, that was most people usual reaction to anything I would say, it was different with him. He was doing it again, I began to think that maybe I all those years I had actually been right about him, he was a nice person, he was different from all the others.
I remember the first time I ever noticed him was one day when he had walked past the gates, I was having a bad day, staring blankly out of my window, most likely highly medicated, I rarely felt much as a child, I was always only ever half alive, until Embry came into my life, when I was about thirteen years old. He wasn't doing much, he was just hanging out with his friends, he was just being himself, that's what I loved about him, how he was able to do that, how he was able to be so present in the world, yet still have the strength to keep moving on, just by his always sparkling eyes I could tell just how much he valued live, how much fight, how much passionate, how much love he had for it. It was the look on his face, the huge grin he always seemed to have no matter what, no matter how gray the sky was, whether it was pouring with rain or the coldest of winters the same smile would always be there. His eyes would light up the entire road like headlights, lighting the world as he walked upon it, I had always thought him to be a magical beast, he was the only one that could make me feel anything, in those times, the darkest of them, he was the only one.
There was just a second of silence after that as I had no idea what to say next.
“...My mother was a painter” Embry told me, thankfully taking control, once again helping me feel more at ease.
I hadn't known that about his mother, I didn't know much about his family at all, I knew was that he had a younger brother, I'd often see them walking down the street together, but everything else I had made up, I hadn't even known Embry's name before I heard he was going off to the war, he was always a bit of a mystery. For the very first time me not knowing that didn't bother me, for once what I saw in front of me was real, not how I imagined him to be, not who I would have liked him to be, just who he was and so far, I didn't hate it, I wasn't disappointment. All I ever really wanted to be true was that he was nice person and I already had some idea about that from the very first time I saw him, of course there were things that I made up, his hobbies, his likes and dislikes, I wanted him to get along with me but those things didn't necessarily make a difference. Now I had gotten over my initial reactions, my slight fear that he would in fact disappointment, I didn't actually mind getting to know him, but of course most of the issue was me, I had been all along, would he be able to accept me for who I really was? Would he be put off when he found out everything? Either way I had no choice to explain myself, I hated hiding away, I had to tell him something if I was ever going to be completely comfortable around him.
“...I remember her always having paint on her hands too, no matter how hard she tried, not matter for how long she scrubbed at her hands she could never quite get all the paint away, I see you have that problem too” he told me with a half smile, filling in the silence as I watched him blankly through my blurry thought filled eyes, before taking my hand in his.
I stood there in front of him for just a second longer before I came back to life, my eyes dropped down along my arm until they reached our hands, my eyes widened and I immediately pulled back. For a moment I could have sworn I had lost myself inside of my head, that now of it was really happening, it was just in my head as always but I soon began aware that it in fact wasn't. It felt different to how I had experienced it before, it felt as if I had been blind my whole life and had miraculously gain the gift of sight, like the world had grown so much bigger in just that second. I don't know why I pulled away, whether it was the guilt of hiding my secret or simply just the bigger world seeming frighting to me, maybe both. I hated that I had this undying urge to be completely honest with people, as if I didn't tell them I felt something bad would happen, I was scared of getting hurt, that's what it was, lies, secrets, from my experience all they ever did was hurt people, I didn't want anyone to get hurt.
“Sorry” Embry quickly cried, for the first time he had been in the house his smile had disappeared. “...I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable, I didn't think” he explained himself.
I couldn't let him take the blame, I couldn't let him feel bad for my problems, I wasn't ready but I had no choice, I was making far too big a deal about it all, it was better for everything one if I just came out and declared my insanity.
“It's not you, don't worry, it's me, I'm the problem” I told him with a nervous little laugh.
He didn't say anything, he just stood there watching me, trying to figure it out.
“...I just have these issues” I muttered, looking down to the floor.
“What do you mean? Like quirks?” he asked curiously.
“It's kind of hard to explain but yes, I guess, many many quirks, I just don't, I don't deal very well with things that's all, I get very frustrated, very overwhelmed and over think... I prefer to live in my own little world, where things are easier” I explained as best as I could without having to go into too much detail before pulling my nervous head back up to him.
Although I suppose it was hard for him to judge, I hadn't been too precise, there was no way he could understand even half of it he didn't seem at all fazed by what I had already told him.
“...Is that why you ran off earlier? Was I making it worse?”he asked after a second as the questions began to pile up in his eyes.
“Yes, sorry about that, it was just a lot for me you know, there was nothing you could have done” I told him, feeling slightly guilty about it. “...It didn't help that I remembered you from when I was younger, maybe if you were a complete stranger it wouldn't have been so bad, it wouldn't have brought up the past” I told him subtly after just a second of hesitation.
“You remember me?” he asked with an unexpected grin. “I remember you too” he added.
I wasn't entirely sure how to react, I didn't know what he was talking about, to my knowledge we had never met, it possible that he could have heard of me, many people in the area had, I was the only son of a wealthy family, people were nosy, they liked to talk. It wasn't a rare occurrence that my mother would come home from town, forced me down from my room or the studio to tell me how embarrassing I was, how everyone liked to talk about the boy who'd never leave the house, her son that felt the real world was too much for him, too hard for his fragile mind, so decided to lock himself away. I wondered whether Embry had heard all the gossip, I was sure I had never met him, I would have remembered.
“...You, you do?” I muttered as my face screwed up.
“I remember you from the window” he told me casually.
My screw up face immediately ironed out as my eyes widened wider than I ever thought possible. It was only then that I remembered a day that was unlike any other, a day that the view from the window changed, just one particular day a group of teenagers gathered in a crowd outside the gates, I remember my father screaming at them and casing them away. They told me that they were only there because they were told we were giving out money, which was obviously a complete lie, they were clearly there for me, I remember how they all looked up, laughing and pointing at the broken boy. After I learned that there had been a new rumor added to the collection, one far more ridicules than any other, even more so than me being part animal. People were saying that the reason I never left the house, that I never left the window was because I was a ghost and my spirit was tied to it, they did all soon lose interest though once the next rumor had taken it's place. It was ridicules of me to think that Embry hadn't heard anything at all, he would have had to been death.
“I always used to see you sitting up there when I'd walk past, not to sound too condescending but I also thought you were very interesting, I'd often find myself wondering about you” he told me sweetly.
“You'd wonder about me?” I cried with a suppressed smile, I wasn't entirely sure if it was a good thing, but my hope was strong enough to give weigh. Of course that was what I focused on.
“I'd wonder about you too” I told him with a smirk.
“I can't imagine there was ever much to wonder about” he laughed. “You always seemed like such an interesting person, I remember always thinking, I want to be where he is, it looks so much better than here... You're a dreamer, I always wanted to be like that” he told me honestly, I could tell he really meant it and he wasn't just being nice, I had gotten good at that, so often when people tell me things, they'd compliment me, try and make conversation and it was always so obvious how much they struggled, it always seemed so forced, so insincere, it wasn't at all like that with Embry, it seemed so natural, so genuine.
“...So, what is it like there?...In the world you live in? I have a feeling it's spectacular” he asked after a moment with sparkling eyes and a grin.
I watched him for just a moment, my face full of admiration and enchantment before managing to pull my eyes away as I cleared my throat and took a step backwards.
“A lot like this I suppose” I told him with my arms opened wide, displaying the whole room where all my paintings and artwork resided.
I began to walk slowly around the room as Embry followed me as if I were the guide and he a tourist, with his hands tucked away I his pockets as he enjoyed the exhibit. I talked him through a few of the painting as he listened carefully, I took so much pride in my work, it was nice to finally be able to share the feelings they gave me, the feelings I got when I painted them, the feeling of freedom and peace.
“...This is definitely a place I wish I could visit” Embry told me as he took a long at one specific painting, a painting of the garden in the spring, that had always been my favorite season, where everything wakes up and is reborn, it's the most magical of all, so naturally the painting portrayed that, with the brightest green grass filled with the biggest yellow and pink flowers, the sky full of yellow and the puffs of dandelions floating through the air depicted the cool breeze.
“You can...” I told him surely.
Embry turned to me with a a blank look.
“...How?” he asked with a smirk.
“You just need to change your point of view” I explained with wide alluring eyes before turning away, leaving Embry there in his confusion.
I must have been just that few feet away from him for a couple of seconds before he followed, popping up behind me.
I smelt him before anything else, I couldn't be sure the last time he had showered, he had been on the road a few days before turning up at the manor and it was clear he hadn't washed that day but still he smelt so good, a warm comforting kind of smell, like freshly baked cake or cinnamon, a sort of homely smell which was ironic because I wasn't entirely sure how that smelt, only how I imagined it to. The way he smelt filled me with desire, it wasn't particularly sexual, I just wanted to hold him, feel him against me. Although the idea was only a thing of dreams, if any of it would have actually ever happened maybe I could have chosen the real world over my own as there would be no line between them.
I couldn't help but smile as I sensed him there, he wanted to be with me, he wanted to listen, he didn't have to, he wasn't being paid, it was his own choice and that hadn't really ever happened to me before, it was a nice feeling, being wanted.
“...So, which ones your favorite?” he asked me curiously over my shoulder.
I didn't have to think for longer than a second before a half smile formed on my face as I walked him across the room once again.
It was a painting of what I would see everyday out of that window, it was a setting Embry knew well but he had never seen it like that before, he had never seen it from my eyes I think it gave him a better understanding of the way I see the world. Unlike the others it was ugly, dirty and dark, I hadn't made anything more beautiful than it actually was, I hadn't made it better but whose, as that was the only painting I had done of outside the grounds, a painting of the world outside the gates, where all the horrible people lived, all the bad, scary parts of the world that I would stay away from, it was a reminder of what was out there in case one day I ever forgot. The world before Embry as he was the only one that made it seem not so bad.
“This, this is what you see when you look out that window?” he cried in almost disgust as he turned to me after a moment of exploring the art. “...No wonder you never moved away from that window” he told me. It was the first time it seemed like someone understood, the look on his face, it was the same look as mine.
I didn't say anything I just nodded to confirm. It was strange for the first time looking at that painting I was visited by own emotions, by the dread and fear that had plagued me in the moment of creating it, I wasn't reminded of how terrible it was, how sick I was at the time, I saw the better side of things, how much better I had become. Although I still prepared to stay locked away, the outside hadn't scared me for years, I just saw it as another world, a world that was different and somewhat inferior to my own that I preferred.
“...You don't still see it like that anymore do you?” Embry asked, his voice full of concern as he rest on the edge of pity, still in that moment sturdy but could go either way with just a step in either direction.
“Not quite like that” I told him honestly with a smirk as I thought more about what I had just figured out.
“What changed? How do you get of there? How does one escape hell?” he asked with a quick glance back to the painting he didn't seem to want to look at again.
“...You find something or someone to help you” I told him vaguely with a sweet smile.
I could see my words echoing around Embry's head as he thought more about it, trying to figure out exactly what I meant.
“Like you, I found you” I told him with sparkling, thankful eyes.
His curious eyes beamed up to me almost in surprise, although he remind silent I could tell his tongue was heavy with questions, but before he had time to ask any we were interrupted.
I pulled my subtly amused eyes away from him and looked to the door that was slowly opening after the knock that had caught my attention.
It was Mr Penny. “Sorry to interrupt” he cried after he cleared his throat and took an usual pause before softening his very stern staring eyes. He was very rarely that unprofessional around others, he was very good at hiding all feeling, emotion and personal opinion, until I was left alone with him and he'd give me a peace of his mind. Seeing him like that was saying a lot, he obviously had a lot to say about Embry and I together, I couldn't be sure if it was good or bad but I had an idea.
“Lunch is ready” he said after a moment, his eyes flickering between us before turning back to the door as he waited for us to follow.
Embry looked to me for a second with a smile before following Mr Penny's lead. I didn't bother moving a step I knew exactly what was about to happen, there was no point.
“...I just need to have a word with Mr Evermore, if you just wait there it won't be a moment” he told Embry, pointing him to the seat in the corner of the hall before turning back to me and closing the door.
I didn't say anything but I made sure my unspoken words were written on my face as I looked to him.
“What is it?” I cried with a dreading smile and a sigh after a moment.
“It's just, do, do you think this is a good idea sir?” Mr Penny asked.
“Do I think what is a good idea Mr Penny?” I asked knowing full well what he was talking about.
“Being friends with Mr Evans...” he mumbled slightly, unable to look at me.
“And why not?” I continued, purely to watch him struggle to avoid the eggshells he had already scattered around his feet, actually almost enjoying it.
“I just, I just...” he muttered.
“Why does it bother you so much? Is it because you know I like him? Is that it? That you think if we become friends things will develop between us?...I thought you accepted me for who I am Mr Penny?” I cried, it bothered me that he couldn't just say what he thought straight to my face, I knew whatever the reason was it was because he cared but that didn't make it okay.
“No, No, Mr Evermore, I do, of course I accept you, I wouldn't changed you for the world, I just...” he told me sincerely before he started to babble again.
I wasn't entirely sure he knew what the problem was, maybe there were more than a few reasons, maybe he was just having difficulty adjusting to the change... or maybe it was something else entirely. Either way I had to trust that he would tell me eventually, when he felt able to, but in that moment he seemed to have turned quite pale and fidgety all of a sudden, I couldn't watch him continue on like that, I had no choice but to step in.
“...Look, I know you care about me, I know you think you're helping but I'm sorry, it doesn't feel like you are, it feels like you're holding me back, please Mr Penny, try to understand ” I told him honestly. “...Now, Embry is waiting” I said after a moment as I walked past him, making my way to the door.
Mr Penny stood there still for a minute while I joined Embry in the hall. His eyes lit up the moment he saw me as he jumped to his feet with a sweet smile, if that didn't make ignoring Mr Penny's wishes I don't know what did.
“Shall we go to the dinning room?” I asked him with a grin as I had already begun to make my way across the hall with just a quick glance back at the studio door that Mr Penny was still behind. I tried my best to forget about him and push him out of my mind, trying to figure him out would have ruined my time with Embry and if it was going to be short, I didn't want to waste it.
We both sat down at the full dinning table. Mr Morrow filled our bowls with soup and shortly after left the room, leaving us alone again.
“...So, what did you mean before?” Embry asked after a moment as we began to sip our soup.
“Hmm? What?” I muttered as I looked up to him from my bowl which I had been deeply staring into for the past minute in concentration as I allowed passing thoughts to run lose in my head.
“What you said before, you said that I you found me to help you, how did I help? I didn't do anything?” he explained with a smirk, amused by the statement.
All of a sudden I was entirely present in the room. I had already forgotten I had told him that, I didn't regret it but it was all a bit of a shock, when I had first told him I had it all built up in my head, what I was going to tell him, what I was going to keep quiet but it had all gone out the window and I wasn't at all prepared anymore, I was a little uneasy and slightly panicked. I hated having to think fast, to jump straight in, I liked to plan things, I was an over thinker, that was what I was most comfortable doing.
“That's not true” I told him with a nervous smile as I took the plunged. “You did so much for me, just seeing you out there everyday really helped me” I explained, slowly gaining more confidence in what I was saying, even managing a smile.
“But, how?...” Embry asked after a moment of thought.
I took one deep breath before opening my mouth again. “Seeing you there, seeing you there...” I began to tell him before I started to lose myself in the moment, my face filling with a large grin as my eyes sparkled thinking about it, fully letting the feelings back in. “It just showed me that not all was lost, that if someone like you was out there smiling it couldn't be that bad” I told him, almost laughing at myself, it was something very personal I was sharing but somehow I felt sure enough to tell him. I couldn't be sure how he would react or take it but there was just something inside me telling me I was doing the right thing, reassuring me, it was something I had never really experienced before.
Embry didn't say anything but he had a sweet smile on his face as he watched me for a moment.
“...I know, it's weird, sorry, I shouldn't have told you, you think I'm mental now don't you?” I told him quickly as I attempted to laugh it off, before I made myself look any worse.
“No, I don't, not at all” he told me, his eyes still stuck in the same place.
“Really?” I asked with a smirk, secretly relieved.
“I just, I had no idea, I wish I would have known, just maybe I would have come up to that window” he said with a half smile.“It actually makes me really happy you know, I'm glad you told me. How I was helping you but never knew it, I like that” he added as he pulled his eyes away to his lap.
“Why would you come up to the window? What would you do?” I asked curiously after a moment.
“I'm not sure exactly but I would have liked to be friends with you, I like you, I think it would have been good for the both of us, I have no idea why I never did, the thought never crossed my mind” he explained, his eyes slowly climbing up again.
“Well, we can be friends now can't we?” I told him as I leaned over slightly to get into his eye line. Just the idea filled me with a glowing warmth.
“...I'd like that” he said with a grin.
“You like a lot about me don't you?” I muttered, thinking out loud.
He didn't reply he just watched me for a second as the smile on his face remained and he slightly withdrew back inside himself again like a shy little boy.
“There's something about you Ambrose Evermore” he whispered, his face not giving anything away. “...and I desperately need to know what it is” he added just a second later after a quick heavy breath, all of a sudden his voice sounding more serious and intense.
“How are you going to do that then?” I asked with a smirk. It all utterly intrigued me, it was all so new, no one had ever shown so much interest in me before, I had never felt what it was like for someone to be so invested in my life like that, I barely knew him, he knew me less but I soon felt like he'd know me best of all, I felt like I could be myself around him, I knew he wouldn't judge me, he didn't seem to have many strong options at all, he was quite indifferent, nonjudgmental, it was refreshing and I actually felt it would be good for me.
“I suppose we'll just have to get to know each other better...” he said with a smile as he leaned back getting more comfortable.
“What do you want to know?” I asked with a smirk.
“Everything” he whispered with wide eyes.
For the first time I felt like that was possible, I had told him all about myself already, things that I wouldn't tell many, he knew about me but not much at all of who I was, as a person, as a man, although I had many troubles, there was far more to me than just that.
We sat there for hours, yet it didn't feel nearly as long, it was strange, how we spoke all of that time without talking about the past, we spoke mostly about the future, our hopes and our dreams, I told Embry all about how one day I'd like to sell some painting or publish a collection of poetry, a way for people like me to be able to escape, to give them a safe place. Embry told me about his hopes for the world, what he wanted to achieve with the army, the reasons why he joined. He wanted to help make the a better place, to win the war, to stop it, so others wouldn't have to. Embry wanted to give people something to smile about again, to give the world peace and harmony once again, he was willing to sacrifice himself to do it.
It was lovely seeing him like that, to see the passion in his eyes, how he talked about it with such love, it was truly incredible how selfless he was. It helped me understand him more, convinced me that my first impressions of him were right. I believed if anyone could do all of that, if any one person could help achieve that, it would be Embry, he could restore the love, the laughs, the smiles, the hope in the world, just like he was already doing for me, just like he had helped once before.
We sat there for so long that when dinner came around we didn't have to move. I really felt by then that I could say that I knew Embry Evans.
Over dinner the conservation seemed to have died, whether that was because we had run out of things to say or because Mr Penny kept interrupted I wasn't sure but he definitely didn't help. The meal was mostly spent with quick glances up at each other with the odd little smirk or giggle to break the deafening silence.
Mrs Penny hated anyone being up and around the house in the dark, she liked to get to bed early and didn't like anyone up making mess while she slept, apparently she had some sort of special ability and could tell when mess was being made and it would wake her up, so as soon as we had finished eating and the sun had began to set we all made our way upstairs.
It must have been around nine o'clock when Mrs Penny dragged Embry and I upstairs while Mr Penny stayed behind to clear up and finish his last few jobs. Mr Morrow and the rest of the staff would usually go about doing their own thing, staying out the way for the most part.
There were four floors to the house, downstairs, the second floor where I'd stay on my own, where my parents and family would stay when they were around, then the third floor was for the staff, they had a kitchen and a living room up there so there was no need for them to be hanging around the house when they weren't working, and the very last floor, the fourth was the attic that was rarely visited.
I very rarely went to sleep before three, I never seemed to need very much sleep at all so I'd often sit up in my bedroom, drinking endless amounts of tea writing poetry or sketching images that I found especially vibrant in my brain.
“Hey, are you alright?” I asked as I notice Embry's face as we all walked down the hall together. He seemed slightly on edge, quite uncomfortable all of a sudden for some reason. “...Yeah, I'm fine, I just don't think I've seen this many doors in my life, I'm worried I might get lost” he told me hesitantly with a nervous laugh.
I had no idea what was going on with him, he had been fine all day, I had been piratically stuck to his side and I couldn't think of anything that happened that would have made him like that, especially how quickly it had happened, so out of the blue.
“...Well, I don't think you have to worry about that, it's really not that complex, it's pretty much just a straight line” I told him after a moment with a smirk, choosing to ignore it, it was probably just me seeing things that weren't there, things had been going so well, we were getting along, just like I wanted, of course I would sabotage myself like that, it wasn't at all out of character.
“I think he means he's worried he will forget which room he's in Mr Evermore, dear, not how to get here” Mrs Penny told me with a giggle as she glanced at Embry.
My mind was too busy elsewhere to think of that, I couldn't help but feel embarrassed, although Embry seemed to have found it funny as well.
“...Maybe it would be easier if we put you right on the end then, that way you'll only have to remember what side you're on” Mr Penny cried as she stopped in her tracks, half way down the corridor, ready to turn back around and retrace our steps back to the first rooms.
“No” I cried out by reflex, I was thinking out loud, there was no other reason than me wanting to be closer to him, for just a second I panicked, wondering how I was going to talk myself out of it, until I realized that at exactly the same time Embry had cried out the same thing, it was so simultaneous that I hadn't even realized at first.
“...Alright then, whatever you like” Mrs Penny muttered as her wide eyes bounced between us, her face glowing with a smile.
I turned to Embry after a second, all I could do was smirk, laughing it off, I figured that way he would just laugh too and not think too much about it, although I definitely was, I knew why I had said it, but why had he? It wasn't like I could ask without having to admit my own reason, so even with all my curiosity, all of my questions, it was the best way.
He seemed to be happy to go along with it as he smiled back at me, it was clear he didn't want to have to admit anything either, as I watched him for that second his smile soon faded and the look from before started to break through once again just as he turned his head. Although it was slightly different that time, it was almost like he seemed scared, maybe he didn't like the idea of being all alone in the dark, in a strange house, maybe that's what he was scared of, I couldn't blame him even ignoring everything he must have seen, what he must have been through no one ever really likes the dark.
“...Those rooms are not nearly as nice, no one ever stays in them, he should stay in Henry's room, beside mine” I suggested, giving her a sweet smile. If I was right about Embry I felt bad for him, I couldn't stand there and let him admit his reasons or watch him struggle to make one up, he clearly didn't want anyone to know and by helping him I also got what I wanted. “And then if he needs anything I'm right there to help, it's better like that” I added as I watched the look on Mrs Penny's face, her eyes sparkled as she listened, I had a feeling she at least knew my reasons behind it.
“...Yes, maybe that is better” Mrs Penny said confidently with a suppressed grin as she turned back around before making her way to the chosen room. “I'm so sorry we don't have a room already made up for you Mr Evans, I feel so terrible about that, it's just, it was all very last minute” she muttered as she held the door she finally manged to open while her arms were still full of all the fresh bedding.
“Wow, I'm definitely going to get a good night sleep tonight” Embry cried as he inspected the large bed before walking off to explore the rest of the room with wide childlike eyes.
I watched him for a minute or two as Mrs Penny made the bed before following him over to the chest of drawers in the corner. “...Hey, are you alright?” I asked gently as I watched him looking at an old photo.
He turned to me with a smile that soon faded when he saw my concerned face. “I'm fine Ambrose, why wouldn't I be?” he smirked.
“...No reason” I muttered after a moment shaking my head and managing a half smile, I felt much more sure of myself, he seemed far more convincing that time, I almost believed him, but decided it would be best to leave it there for now, I didn't want to come across too fixated on it and make him uncomfortable.
“Are you alright?” Embry asked hesitantly after a second with a slight smile.
“Yeah, I'm fine” I told him honestly with a smirk before I shyly turned away to find Mr Penny in the doorway, seeming to be staring at me before abruptly turning away once I had noticed, pulling his head down and approaching his wife.
I listened carefully to what he was saying, I couldn't quite hear everything but I was sure it had something to do with the fact Embry's room was so close to mine, I could tell it involved us by the way he kept glancing over at us.
They secretively whispered like that for a good few minutes before Mr Penny approached us.
“...Mr Evans, I'm sorry to say but your luggage has yet to arrive sir” he old Embry seeming quite uncomfortable about it all as his wife watched on.
“Oh, it's okay, I'm sure it will arrive soon, I suppose I'll just have to sleep in my underwear tonight then” Embry told him calmly, not seeming at all bothered by it.
I couldn't help but react to what he had said, my eyes perked right up as the imagine drew itself in my head, I quickly tried to wipe it away as I knew exactly how Mr Penny would feel about it all but it was too late, he had already noticed, I was sure of it, the utter redness of his face told me all I needed to know, it was actually rather amusing.
“No, that's simply not acceptable” Mr Penny cried. “...Mr, Mr Evermore will lend you something, won't you sir?” he added after a second as soon as the idea had found it's way into his head, turning to me.
I wasn't really sure how to react, Mr Penny was the only one who seemed to have a problem with it, Embry and Mrs Penny were fine, but I felt pressured to, it wasn't like he was going to change his mind, it was easier just to go along with it.
“Erm, yeah, sure, I'll go and get you something now” I muttered as I turned to Embry with a suppressed grin, I couldn't help but find the whole situation quite amusing.
By the look on Embry's face it seemed he had realized what I had and seemed to be keeping quiet as I went off to the other room, before quickly returning with some of my blue button up pajamas, back to the room that seemed to have been placed on pause while I had been away. “...Here, I'm sorry, this was all I could find” I muttered as I placed the clothes in Embry's arms. “You're much more toned than I am, so it might be a bit tight, but I'm sure if anyone could pull it off it would be you” I told him cheekily at the last second after a quick glance back at Mr Penny, giving Embry a smile so he would be able to see what I was doing.
“...Thank you, I'm sure it will be fine” he said with a smirk, keeping firm eye contact for a good few seconds.
Just as I had expected I soon felt a heavy hand on my shoulder.
“Alright come on then, I'm sure Mr Evans is exhausted, we should let him sleep” Mr Penny cried sternly over me. “...Goodnight sir, I hope you sleep well” he said with a nod before his grip got slightly tighter, twisting his hand to direct me out of the bedroom.
“Goodnight Embry” I muttered with a playful grin as I quickly turned back before following the others out of the room.
“Alright, alright, you can let go of my now” I cried once I had closed the door behind me, pulling away from Mr Penny's grip, which was now tight around my arm, making sure I stayed right by his side while Mrs Penny left us to it, giving me a lighthearted look as she rushed off to the other bedroom to get things ready for me.
Mr Penny glared at me with a disapproving scowl as he slowly let go.
“...What? I'm just being friendly” I told him honestly. Sure, maybe just a little too friendly, I couldn't help myself, it was just a game.
“Mmm” he mumbled in disbelief. “You better stay away from that bedroom sir, stay away from that boy, if I hear otherwise don't be mistaken Mr Evermore, I will sit outside your door all night if I have to” he told me before closing the door between us.
I just laughed, shaking my head, not taking him too seriously, it was my own fault he was like that, I had brought it upon myself, it wasn't like I had planned on doing otherwise anyway, in fact I hadn't even thought about it until he had brought it up, so I happily did exactly what Mr Penny had said.
I stayed in my room minding my own business, quietly writing in bed, for a while it was almost like Embry wasn't there at all. That was until around what must have been 12pm when I was deep into a new poem. I heard a noise coming from Embry's room, that immediately broke my concentration, something that was quite hard to do. I couldn't quite make out the sound for a minute but I soon recognized it, it sounded like, crying. I had no idea what to do, whether I should have gone in to comfort him or if it was better to just leave him alone, it didn't start straight away, I had assumed him to be asleep, so although I couldn't be sure I figured he must have thought the same of me, if that was true he must have been waiting, holding it in, that meant he didn't want me to know, that he wanted it to remain a secret. I choose to ignore it, or to at least try, I didn't want to make things worse, I felt as if I had no other choice, that there wasn't anything I could do so I stayed away. I soon got into bed myself but it was fair to say, I didn't at all much sleep that night.
Before I knew it it was morning, I wasn't sure how much I had actually slept that night, I remember being awake and then, not, but everything else I remember. My eyes had barely been open for a second before my mind went back to Embry, I began right where I had left off, but now it was morning there were more I options to explore, not that I knew which was the right thing to do.
I had gotten used to waking up at exactly 7am so I could be up and wide awake, with everything I needed to be done done before breakfast at 8, that way I could go straight out to the water afterwards, I wasn't sure if Embry would be awake at that time, especially after his what I knew to be sleepless night.
I didn't like the idea of potentially waking him but there was no way I could stay there, sat in my room with him just next door after what I had heard last night, so I jumped up to get dressed to find out how he was.
Just as I had finished up buttoning my shirt, there was a knock on the door, I was wearing the exact same clothes as I did everyday, only occasionally substituting different colors, I'd alternate between brown, beige and on special occasions, cream, I was comfortable in what I wore, I saw no need to wear anything different, it was quite freeing not having to worry about things like that.
“...Come in” I cried out as I made my way towards the door, fixing her hair on the way.
“Embry” I cried with a smile the second I saw him.
“Good morning” he smirked, seeming to find my delight in seeing him amusing. “I wasn't sure you'd be awake but it looks like you have been for a while” he told me acting as if nothing was wrong, nothing had changed.
“Not really, only long enough to get dressed quickly, what about you? Have you been up for long? Is that why your here? Did you get bored on your own?” I asked curiously.
“Well I'd never be able to tell, you look great” he said sweetly with a little smile and a friendly tap on my shoulder as he squeezed past me, making his way further into the room. “...I'm just an early riser, always have been, life's not long enough to spend all day sleeping, I guess I just hoped you were too” his voice echoed through the room.
I took a moment to react to what he had just said before taking a breath, closing the door and turning to him as he explored my messy bedroom.
“This is not at all what I was expecting your room to look like” Embry muttered with a smirk.
“I don't like anyone to touch my room” I told him as I very quickly began top rush around grabbing at all the dirty clothes over the floor, the numerous pieces or paper, pencils and old tea cups that lined the floor like an ocean. There were a few things I didn't want him to see, one thing in particular that I was frantically searching for, sketches of him and poems about him, I had drawn and wrote last night in my notebook that I couldn't seem to find anywhere.
“Is this what your brain looks like?” he asked curiously.
“Something like this” I smirked as I thought more about it. “So...how did you sleep?” I muttered glancing up at him blankly for a second.
“Really well thank you, I can't remember the last time I slept that well” he said as he turned to me with a confident smile.
It scared me a little how naturally lying seemed to come to him in that moment, it would have definitely convinced me if I hadn't have known any better. Only straight after he quickly turned away, pulling his eyes from me and gluing them back to my notebook, he clearly felt bad about it, as far as I could tell he didn't want to lie, it seemed he felt he had no choice. “...You?” he asked hesitantly after a moment.
“...You know, not at all very well actually, I was awake for most of it” I told him subtly, watching him closely just before I found my sketchbook, it was right next to his foot.
His eyes immediately widened, I could see the fear in them, he knew.
“...Really?” he muttered after a moment with his last essence of hope as I tried my best to subtly pick the book up without him noticing.
“Yeah, really” I told him with a smile as I stood back up, grasping the book tightly in my arms.
“...Does, does it have anything to do with...this?” he cried as he went to grab it from my hands, avoiding the conversation.
I was taking all it very seriously, I wanted to help him, I was determined but that didn't mean I was about to let him see it, so naturally I went to dodge him, abruptly pulling away without even a second thought.
“No, it doesn't” I cried sternly, trying not to look him in the eyes. “Embry, look, I, I kn...” I tried to tell him what I knew, tried to focus on what mattered, but once again he went to grab the book causing me to jump back onto the bed to get away.
“Come on, let me see” he cried as knelt up on the bed beside me.
“Embry...” I cried with a nervous grin, he was making it very difficult for me to take the situation seriously that my uneasy grin soon turned into giggles. “Seriously Embry, stop it” my voice wobbled through my laughter.
“Why won't you let me see inside? What are you hiding?” Embry asked curiously as he leaned over my bent up knees, reaching for the book.
“I'm not hiding anything, I just don't like people looking at my unfinished work” I told him, it wasn't completely untrue, it just wasn't the main reason.
“...I will find out Ambrose Evermore” Embry said quietly as he rolled over, laying down beside me.
I watched him for a moment with wide sparking eyes while he just looked to the ceiling as he caught his breath, not even realizing.
In that moment I couldn't have cared less if he had caught me, if he recognized the admiration in my eyes, luckily that never happened, I was stopped before it was too late when out of nowhere a loud sound caught my attention, knocking me out of it and filling me with sense, my eyes instantly jumped back on reflex pulling away from Embry.
It was Mr Penny clearing his throat, standing very up right and proper in the doorway, only highlighting the closeness of between Embry and I. “...I did knock” his voice rumbled.
“I bet you're allowed to see all of Ambrose's drawings Mr Penny” Embry cried out as he pulled himself up, placing his feet on the ground.
I just stayed silent still laying there, concentrating on the look on his face. He definitely didn't look pleased at all, I knew exactly what he was thinking, he had assumed he had walked in on something, I could tell by the awkwardness in his eyes, he could barely look at me, he looked as if he was about to run out of the room any second. It wasn't like I could tell him otherwise, put him straight, either way he wasn't going to be happy with the situation, he was too old fashioned, he believed that the only time two people should ever be even sitting on a bed together, male and female or otherwise is when they're married, any other time was completely inappropriate.
I could tell Embry had noticed the look on his face, that he knew something was wrong with Mr Penny but he didn't seem to feel the need to explain or even bring it up at all. “I've come to fetch you both for breakfast” Mr Penny stated before doing what he had wanted the entire time he had been standing there for, leaving.
Without another word Embry and I followed him out with me stashing the notebook behind my chest of drawers which was just beside the door at the last second.
We spent our time up at the dining table eating lunch in silence, I was mostly in y head, still trying to figure out what I was going to say to Embry, trying to find the best way of bringing the subject up without making him uncomfortable or allowing him to find away out of it again, what I was definitely sure of though was that moment was not the right time to do it, not only could his mouth being full be used as a perfect excuse to keep his mouth shut, it wouldn't at all have been private as Mr Penny seemed to be keeping an extra close eye on us after the previous situation. I needed to get Embry on his own, somewhere free of distraction and peaking eyes.
By that time I had noticed how much Embry seemed to despise being alone, whenever I would leave him he'd always seem to turn up sooner of later, I wasn't quite sure why that was, whether he just got bored easily, whether he felt awkward in someone elses house alone, he didn't like to be around Mr Penny, or, my favorite was that he lived me so much and just wanted to spend time with me, of course that's the one I was hoping for, either way it didn't matter, I was sure it would work. All I had to do was go out just like I did every morning to the lake for a swim, I wouldn't even arouse any sort of suspicion as everyone was so used to me doing just that, it would have done more harm if I hadn't have gone out.
There was a couple of problems with the plan however, one being I had to make sure Embry wouldn't follow me, no one could know we were out there together, especially Mr Penny, there was no way he would have just stayed inside as he usually did if he knew which would have ruined everything, the other being that Embry wouldn't know where I was to find me without asking someone and causing the same problems.
I soon found a way around it, first I had to finish before Embry, that way I could leave the room before him, once I figured that part out I quickly gulped down the rest of my food, downed my tea and stood up to leave the table. Second I had to excuse myself while subtly giving away my location, that was the easy part as it wasn't entirely out of character, besides it would have been rude to leave without a word to my guest.
“Right, I'm off to the lake” I simply declared to the room, giving Embry just a quick glance just to make sure he was listening.
He looked down to his full plate the second he had heard which was a good sign, it meant he wanted to come, he just couldn't, it worked out perfectly.
“Enjoy your swim sir” Mr Penny cried with a smile from the corner of the room where he was sat, over the papers he had in his hands, pretending to be working and that the only reason he was there wasn't just to spy on me.
I gave him a little nod before I quickly left the room, along the hall and out the back.
I took a seat by the water edge and just waited. I had barely been there for five minutes before I saw Embry slowly making his way towards me in the distance, I watched as he got closer.
“...Wow, it's so beautiful here” he muttered once he was close enough.
“Did anyone see you come out here?” I cried impatiently with wide wary eyes.
“No, I don't think so...Why?” he told me with a smirk after just a second of glaring as he sat right down beside me with an exhale of breath, looking to me with an awaiting smile as he crossed his stretched out legs and lent back on his hands behind him.
“...Because we need to talk” I told him sternly, blank faced. At that time I no longer cared about myself, all I cared about was Embry and if I had to talk about the real world, his life, everything that made me uncomfortable, if that could help him, if listening to him could help him, I would.
“Talk about what?” Embry asked curiously, not taking it very seriously at that point. “...I think we've probably talked enough” he said with a sweet smile looking up at me.
“...Yesterday, yeah, but what we need to talk about hadn't even happened then” I explained.
“What is it then? Tell me” Embry cried with a playful grin.
“It's about last night...i know Embry” I told him straightforwardly, making sure there wasn't any room for confusion.
I could see the look in his eyes change, his body language, I could tell he didn't want to talk about it, but as well as that he didn't seem completely against it, I think he knew he needed to, deep down at least, for a second I really though he was going to talk about it, that he was going to give in.
“...Sorry, I don't know what you mean Ambrose” he said sitting up after a quick pause which I assume in that time he considered it. “I, I think I'm going to go back inside now” he muttered as his face seemed to drain of all drops of blood.
Just as he was about to pull himself up before I knew it my hand was gripping on tight to his.
“Don't Embry” I told him with wide loving eyes. “Don't go, please” I added in a gentle whisper.
He stayed there knelt up for just a moment longer as his eyes flicked around in his head as he contemplated what I had asked before dropping back down, giving in with a little sigh.
“...Do you know why?” he asked after a deep breath, looking down to the floor.
“Not exactly but I can guess” I told him.
“Well...I guess it's not like I'm very mysterious is it? I'm very simple and easy to read...not like you, I'm not nearly as fascinating” he muttered with a nervous laugh.
“Mmm, I like to think I just know you so well...” I smirked, trying to make him feel better.
Embry didn't react, he just watched me blankly for a second before closing his eyes.
“...I haven't been completely honest with you Ambrose” he told me pulling open his watery eyes before quickly tunring his head to hide from me.
“What? What do you mean” I muttered with an uneasy smile, unsure of how to feel just yet in that moment, but what I was sure of was that whatever it was he had to say wasn't going to be easy to hear, but it seemed it would be even harder for him to say.
I had never seen him like that before, he was trying so hard to hide what was inside of him, to fight the pain that seemed to be growing stronger by the second, fighting harder to escape.
I watched him for a moment as he sat there looking away, composing himself with deep breaths and what I imagine him to be straightening out his thoughts.
The next time he looked up to me the fragile look seemed to be fading, he no longer looked as if he was about to split in two, but his face grew ever so more pale, I could practically see it creeping up, all the words, all the emotion he was keeping locked away was causing him more harm than letting it out ever would.
“The reason I left the army wasn't because I had reached my max time there, a break was well overdue, but I ignored all of the orders to go home, that was the last thing I wanted... that wasn't it” he confessed before taking another moment to catch his breath, it was if he was summoning the extra strength he needed to get the words out. As I sat there completely absorbed in ever movement of his lips, engrossed in what he was saying I noticed something change in his eyes, as if they had almost glazed over, as if he was no longer there anymore and someone else had taken over, someone stronger, putting up a front while Embry just rattled around in the back. “I have seen so many things Ambrose, so many awful awful things, things that I looked past, things that I learned to forget, to erase from my mind because I knew that it was the price I had to pay, it was what had to happen, things are always bad before they get better. Many people couldn't handle it, they couldn't live like that, they didn't have what it took, they let it consume them until all the light was gone...” he said as tears rolled down his cheeks.
At one point I reached my arm out to comfort him just for a second, I was completely out of my depths, I was out of my own comfort zone, there was no way I could comfort him if I was just as scared, just as broken as he was in that moment, so I pulled back.
“It's okay...it's okay if you were like that Embrys, everyone has their limits, you shouldn't be ashamed of that, you did all you could didn't you? More than anyone else it seems” I told him gently after a moment, I couldn't handle seeing him like that, with each tear that dropped down his another one of my heart strings broke, in that moment all I thought of was him, my heart screamed for him. It was the first time in as long as I could remember that I was able to fully let go of myself, I was always so consumed in myself, it was always all about me but in that moment it was all him, I had no awareness of myself, where I was, what I was doing, it was as if I didn't exist at all, I was no one, I was nowhere and all I knew was Embry, all I had ever known was him.
“But that's the thing, it wasn't only me, I wasn't the hero, I shouldn't have been the last one standing Ambrose, it shouldn't have been me, it was never suppose to be me” he cried through the flood of tears that seemed to have slipped through.
Without a second thought I pulled his wet face into me, holding his head against my chest, gripping his hair in my ringed fingers while I rest my chin slightly on top of him, my face crinkled and my eyes closed shielding myself from the tears I would inevitably catch from him.
“It shouldn't have been me, it was suppose to be him, he was suppose to win” his shattered voice vibrated through my ribs as he let out every ounce of pain he had stored inside him, pulling up the roots as well as the tree he had desperately tried to bury.
He must have stayed there like that for five whole minutes, letting out all he had, every last bit until there was nothing left, his eyes dried up and his screams grew silent as his hands sunk to my back and his head became too heavy for his neck, sliding down my chest as gravity pulled it until he reached the bottom and went still, like a giant rock dropping onto my legs, that was too heavy to shift, he was frozen there in what was almost like recuperative coma.
In that moment I can honestly say I had never felt so close to another person, we were practically strangers, we had only really known each other for a day, how none of that mattered and he was still able of letting his guard down with me like that, able to be fully naked beside me, with his whole heart on show, completely vulnerable and fully exposed, it was as if we had known each other for years and I couldn't help but feel as if Embry felt the same. There was definitely something there between us, something more, but at that point I couldn't quite be sure what it was, all I knew is I wanted to explore whatever it was with him, I truly did feel something special would come from it, whether it just be a good friendship or something more than that.
After a moment Embry went completely silent, his breathing quieted down and his movement seemed to return before he eventually dragged his head up and off of my lap which it had fell into. He pulled away from me keeping his back very straight with very minimal movement to the rest of his body, his face blank as he gave me a glance, very unresponsive and cold before he pulled them away and to the ground, it was only after a second that I could be convinced he was human once again when he wiped a few remaining tears from his face, his breathing unordinarily under control.
“...I'm sorry” he whispered in a wobbly voice as his eyes beamed up, his face all of a sudden became very robotic, as if someone had flicked a switch and all of his emotions were washed away, like he was programmed never to show any. “I'm so sorry” he muttered before pulling away from me, turning his back to me as he hide his face in his hands.
“Embry, you, you have nothing to be sorry about, nothing at all” I told him gently, hesitantly reaching out to him and once again pulling away.
“I don't know why I did that” he muttered in a fragile voice. “Why I just lost it like that with you, it's so embarrassing”
“There's no need for you to be embarrassed, trust me, all you've shown me is that your human, just like me, like everyone, it's not like I'm some sort of superior species, most likely the opposite, you already know what lies inside me, I haven't seen nearly as much of you, you're still winning. Out of everyone in the world, trust me I'm the least likely to judge you?” I said honestly with a kind smile. “...Look Embry, whatever it is that's upsetting you, if you want to, you can tell me about it, it could help, I could help” I told him comfortingly.
“What if I start crying again, I won't be able to stop and I'll probably die of dehydration?” he said with a nervous smirk, as he turned just slightly, looking at me out of the corner of his eye, not wanting me to see his face.
“Well, it's a good thing we're sitting beside a lake isn't it?” I laughed.
“I, I think the problem is that I've been holding it in for so long, that's why I reacted so dramatically, I think that's what it is. I haven't said a word to anyone about it, I thought that maybe that way I would forget about it and then it would stop hurting but I never did, I can't and I'm not sure I ever will” he opened up to me.
“It won't, it won't go away you know that don't you? I don't know what it is but if it upsets you that much it's not just going to go away” I told him surely. “Maybe it won't help, maybe just telling someone, saying it out loud won't be enough, it's not like it's going to change everything, but you have to try right? You can't go on living like that and who knows if it doesn't maybe I will be able to help in a different way once I understand the situation”
I could see the hesitance in his face as he turned to me, his eyes were wide and childlike, he looked at me the way a child looks at their parents when they're scared, trusting and confiding, full of hope that they'll know what to do, that they're protect them and help them. He took a second to fully mull it over before taking one last deep breath.
“...His name was Jamie, he was my best friend...he was, more than that” he said as he slowly gained the confidence to look at me back, it was like he had been living in a cave for his whole life and I was the sun, all hunched over and very defensive. His eyes looked void of movement or moisture as he had tired them out as he was so focus on getting through it he hadn't blinked much. Eventually he let out a little smirk as he pulled his eyes away again, shaking his head as it lowered to the ground.
My eyes couldn't help but widen at the possibly misleading statement. “James Thompson, he was like a brother to me, he was with me that very first day and he never left my side after that, he was the one that helped sustain my hope, he would remind me of why I was there, what I was doing in those times I'd forget, he was there for me when things got hard and, I thought he always would be” Embry added as his eyes slowly got braver. By the way they sparkled I could tell how deeply he cared for Jamie, the way his face lit up when he talked about him reminded me or myself whenever I would speak of Embry.
He sat there for just a second longer before something seemed to click inside him, like his true magnitude of humanity had returned again and it had all once again become too much for him, I saw it in his eyes, how they slide back into the glaze. He went to jump up, to run away, I couldn't allow that, not with the state he was in so I summoned the small resources of bravery I had inside me, I reached out to him and that time I actually went through with it, I took a hold of his arm and secured him to the ground. Embry didn't take too much convincing, I think it helped, the way he looked at me seemed to change, I think touching helped connect us, in a different way than before, an emotion connection can be misread, without reading someone's mind you can't fully know how they really feel, what they're really thinking, but with a physical connection you can see it in front of your eyes. My hand gripped tightly around him showed him just how much I really cared, how desperate was for him to stay, it showed him just how much I wanted to help. It seemed that he could then finally believe the true extent of my willingness to help, that I truly meant it.
“He sounds like one hell of a guy” I muttered trying as I slowly let my grip on him go, for the first time genuinely feeling as if I could actually do something for him, I stopped doubting myself, although I still hadn't the faintest idea of what to say. One of the things it seemed he needed was to know that someone was there for him, that someone was there to stand by him and that was something I could definitely give to him.
“He was..” Embry laughed. “He was the joker, the only one who'd be able to make every one laugh on the nights when we were camping out on the cold muddy ground, just being around him, he just so much light” he told me with a big grin on his face as he seemed to relax a little, before sitting back down beside me. His legs stretched out with his elbows resting on his knees causing his hands to be the perfect level to hover over his mouth.
The grin on his face lasted just a few more minutes as his sparkling eyes left the world for a moment, almost clouding over as he left to a place I can only imagine James resided, or at least those memories of him, until eventually he returned to earth and the look began to fade.
I didn't say anything, I just watched, letting him figure things out for himself.
“I still miss him, I miss him so much, every second of the day, but especially at night, when I'm laying in bed I hear the silence, the silence that's not suppose to be there, the silence that's suppose to be filled with Jamie's annoyingly loud breath or non stop talking when I want to sleep, but it's not, not anymore” he said with a wobbly smile, pulling his watery eyes up to me as he tried his best to put on a brave face.
He then turned away for just a second before all of sudden his eyes changed, they no longer looked clouded, they no longer looked far away, they were back in the garden staring.
“What is it?” I asked giving him a funny look as I watched him for a moment. I wasn't sure how to feel, I had absorbed all of the emotions he had thrown at me in the last five minutes and been pulled into every word he had told me, it actually almost felt like I had known Jamie myself, I got lost in his pain, stuck down in the well of his tears and the all of a sudden it seemed he had jumped out and I was left down there, I needed a moment before I could follow him out.
Once I eventually managed to escape I pulled my eyes away from him and turn to the direction he was looking at to find that there at the window was Mr Penny watching us from above, like a hawk, watching our every move, he seemed very still and alert even once we had seen him his expression didn't seem to change.
“What's his problem?” Embry asked with a little sniffle, wiping his face, wiping away the last reamining proff that the last five minutes had even happened before looking back to me.
“I've often wondered that” I muttered mysteriously, giving him the first smile I had expressed in a while.
Embry managed to let out a little giggle as his body loosened up and he turned back to the lake, ignoring Mr Penny, seeming to be adding that to the list of things to erase.
“I'm not sure he likes me very much you know” he said blackly, not seeming too bothered by the fact, bringing me fully back to how we were before, before I knew everything.
“Why'd you think that?” I smirked, giving Mr Penny one quick glance before following Embry's lead and turning away. I could guess why but I wanted to hear it from him, Mr Penny wasn't particular warm to anyone so I was curious just what his reasoning was, whether he had picked up on the extra little something Mr Penny had been throwing at him, the cold glares and the struggles he had of keeping his mouth shut and trying his best to remain somewhat respectful.
“...He seems to stare at me a lot, like he's just waiting for me to do something wrong, like he doesn't trust me, a sort of look like I've stolen his favorite toy” he explained, smiling telling me how little he cared, I think it was more just his curiosity that brought the topic up.
“He's just overprotective” I laughed shaking my head.
“What, does he think I'm going to kill you? Because I could you know” Embry joked. “...You're a grown man Ambrose, you don't need to be protected, you can look after yourself, you're more than capable” he added after a second more seriously.
I watched him with a smile for a second with sparkling eyes, it was something only I seemed to think, no one else was able to see it but Embry did, he had known me for just a day yet he seem to understand me more than any of them did, he knew of my issues, my illnesses and still believed that. I know it wasn't the same thing, he didn't understand it nearly as well as Mr and Mrs Penny did. Embry hadn't seen the real effects of it himself like they had, what it could do to me, how it could at times completely destroy me, but still I liked it, it felt good, like for once someone was on my side and that I wasn't so alone, he cared about me, but in a different way to the others, he wasn't obliged to, it wasn't his job, he just did and I couldn't help but feel that despite it all his opinion was much more relevant, it was honest and untainted, I could be sure it was exactly what he thought, unlike with Mrs and Mr Penny, it was possible they had ulterior motives.
“You really think so?” I asked him gently, I could feel the warmth radiating from me as my eyes shined brightly towards him.
“I do, you're smart Ambrose, I know you are” he said giving me a charming smile. “...I think Mr Penny knows that too” he added after a moment, muttering as he turned back to the window for just a second.
Mr Penny was still there, still staring, still in the exact spot, showing no signs of leaving any time soon, he was persistent, relentless to no end as usual.
“How do you mean?” my eyes narrowed. He clearly didn't otherwise why would he act the way he did if he didn't think I needed it.
“Ambrose, he knows your smart, he knows you're more than capable, but he doesn't want you to know that, don't you see?” he said in a slightly hushed tone, secretively, looking quite uneasy, he knew Mr Penny's eyes were on him, he knew he was being watched and he didn't seem at all happy about that, understandably.
“What are you trying to say?” I asked with a nervous giggle, even more confused than I was to start with.
“It's like...he's...jealous? He doesn't want you near me because he wants to be spending time with you, that explains why he doesn't want me here, he probably thinks I'm stealing you or something...” he muttered after a second of thought as he searched for the words.“...I think he fancies you?” Embry cried with narrow, thought filled eyes, seeming to be extra engrossed with the idea, more so than I would have expected.
I didn't say anything, I was too surprised by the idea, of course it wasn't true, but imagining it was for a second gave me the creeps, I was more interested in Embry, curious to see what would come out of his mouth next.
“...It can happen you know? A man can fall in love with another, in the very same way he can fall for a woman...I've, I've seen it” he told me as he looked away in the distance, almost as if he had visited a past memory before quickly turning back to me, his wide eyes locking onto me as it past, like he had wished it away.
“...I don't think Mr Penny is in love with me Embry” I told him after a moment looking to the ground with a smirk. “I really don't”
“Trust me Ambrose, it's a real thing, it can happen” he assured me, his eyes still as wide as ever.
“No, it's not that, I know it is, I, I do, but believe me, it's not like that with Mr Penny” I told him again.
“Are you sure?” he watched me closely, observing my face. “...Do you really not think it's possible? That it could be? Think about it?” Embry added.
“I really don't” I cried with a grin, finding his persistence interesting, I had no idea what exactly had given him the idea in the first place,it had to be just more than Mr Penny simply watching us, it wasn't something I would have jumped to, I was curious to find out the reasons behind it, to find out what had given him the idea.“Embry, he's married, to a woman, he's like a father to me, I can safety say he most certainly does not fancy me alright” I told him confidently with a reassuring smile.
“Alright, if you're sure” he muttered giving in as he laid back down with a loud exhale of air.
I watched him for a moment with an amused smile, trying to figure him out before shaking my head and forgetting it as I followed his lead, laying down beside him, our feet tiptoeing the water edge.
We just lay there surrounded by all the nature, the chirping birds, crickets, the occasional bubble or splash in the water, relaxing, watching the world go by together, just the two of us, after a while I even forgot about Mr Penny at the window.
“You're so lucky to live here, it's so peaceful, so different from everywhere else” Embry said after a while of complete silence.
“...Because everywhere else has been touched by war?” I muttered not thinking before quickly realizing just what I had done and jumping up. “I'm sorry, I'm so sorry, I, I didn't mean to bring it up again” I told him honestly, feeling terrible.
“It's okay Ambrose, it's okay, it's not like anyone can avoid it, I know James is gone and that's not going to change, he wouldn't want it to effect my life, he wouldn't want me to let it tear me apart, he'd want me to carry on as normal and keep smiling...it's the world now isn't it? Not something than can be avoided” he said after a moment with a slightly fabricated smile. “I don't want you to have to step on eggshells all the time when you're around me and for it not to effect you either, especially you. I want you to feel comfortable around me Ambrose, at ease, well, as comfortable as you can be anyway, I know that's not easy for you” he babbled as I wasn't paying too much attention, my mind had gone off to another place as I thought about what he had said.
“...I did, avoid it I mean” I muttered looking down to the ground away from him.
It brought up old feelings, old memories, especially hearing what he had been through. It brought back my guilt, the guilt I had always felt for staying at home, how I wasn't out in the world fighting like everyone else.
“How, how did you even do that exactly?” Embry asked curiously as he too sat up again, leaning in to me.
“What, how did me, the very mentally unstable man not get into the army?” I responded sarcastically to cover the sadness I actually felt about it all.
“Yeah, sorry, stupid question” he said pulling his head away with a half smile.
“I wanted to you know, do my part, fight...” I confessed. “I knew I never could but I, I wanted to try, I thought maybe I could slide under the bar and no one would realize, I have good days and bad days, I thought that if it was on a good day then maybe it could work” I told him, laughing at my naivety.
“What happened?” Embry muttered, invested in the story.
“Well, I, I couldn't leave the house and I haven't, I haven't since... I wanted to prove my father wrong, show them I could do it, that I could get better but I guess that wasn't enough” I explained, reality was beginning to hit home, I tended to ignore most of the past, pretend it didn't exist, I would just focus on what I did have, do things I loved doing and avoid any sort of negativity, it was the only way I had found to actually work, living like that for the most part helped me to have an at least somewhat normal existence. I could function as any other could as long as I stayed to those strict rules and stayed comfortably inside my comfort zone, where I knew exactly where every edges was, even with my eyes closed, never to stray for any reason. I had partly broken them, I hadn't yet ran from it completely, but I was wandering, it was something I hadn't done in a very long time. I had no clue how it was going to effect me, but for once it didn't scare me, not with Embry there, I felt as if maybe, just maybe I could and live to tell the tale.
“When, when was the last time you did Ambrose? Leave I mean” Embry asked with narrow eyes. “I know you didn't often but I remember occasionally I'd see you out with your father, you never looked happy to be out but you were capable of it, is that even still possible?...What changed?...”
I could feel a pit forming in my stomach as the questions all flowed out his mouth, for a second I felt like I was going to be sick, my breathing began to speed up and my lungs began to feel heavy, as if they were full of water, I felt as if I was about to explode, the same way I did whenever anyone ever mentioned me going out, the very same way I felt whenever the thought would just lightly cross my mind, it weighed me down, like rocks in my pockets.
But then, something happened, something changed in me, the very second I felt Embry's hand in my lap, it was as if time had been rewinded to just a minute before and I was able to breathe again, I had been pulled to the surface, it seemed he was the cure I had always been searching for.
“...You don't have to talk about it if you don't want to” he said gently in a hushed tone, his face right beside mine, just inches away, his eyes locked tightly onto mine.
“We're both complete wrecks aren't we?” I joked, managing to laugh, making fun of it so it wouldn't feel as serious, it wasn't that I was avoiding the subject so much, I just needed a moment longer to figure out what I was going to say. I wasn't completely sure what to expect of him, how he would react to the news, he knew I had mental issues, he knew how much I couldn't stand reality, but I couldn't be completely sure just how much he understood of it all, there was far more to it than I could ever even tell him as some of it I didn't completely understand myself, it wasn't exactly something I could always put into words, not spoken anyway.
“...Some of us more than others” Embry said with a wink.
“What,” I laughed playfully.
“Me, obviously” he cried at the last second with a cheeky grin.
“I don't think so, sorry to disappoint you Embry” I said with a half smile. “...I haven't left these grounds for three years... I think I win” I told him faking confidence, when really I felt as if I had my eyes squeezed tightly shut and my jaw clenched, the way you admit something to someone that you have no choice but to say, hoping for the best and blurting it out before you have a chance to change your mind.
My smile quickly disappeared as I looked closely for his reaction which hadn't seemed to have arrived yet.
He just stared at me blankly, either in fear of my insanity or pity I imagined, neither of which something I wanted.
“You don't have to say anything...” I told him after a moment with a slightly forced smirk, it seemed as if he wanted to, in those few moments I had noticed a twitch in his mouth like his tongue was moving inside but he was still debating whether or not to go through with it.
“Do, do you want to? Is that something you would like to able to do? I mean I'd completely understand if it wasn't, it's nice here...I, I just need to know how I should be taking it, what I should do, if I should feel sorry for you and try and help or support your decision, or what?” he babbled, seeming to have lost control of his heavy tongue and just blurted everything on his mind, somehow still being able to make perfect sense of it.
“Support my decision?” I muttered giving him a funny look, finding the fact that that even being an option, or something he felt he needed to do amusing, I loved how that had even crossed his mind, my welfare, although it was unlikely it had much to do with me, I think that was just apart of him, his kind, caring nature.
“Is that what you want or is that a question?” Embry asked in the most hesitant, unsure voice.
“You don't need to do anything Embry” I told him with an appreciative smile. “The truth is, I'm not sure if I'll ever be able be able to leave here again and that doesn't bother me, not anymore, I've never felt trapped, stuck or held back, just safe, but if maybe one day I could, if I felt I was able to, I wouldn't mind that either, I think as long as I do what's comfortable for me there won't be a problem, as long as I do that” I told him honestly.
As I said it it made me think more about it, I couldn't recall a time when the concept ever bothered me, I had always seen inside being the place I would rather be, when I was out I always only wanted to go home, never once while I was there did I think the opposite. I wasn't sure if that had something to do with my mental health or if it was just the way I was, if it was something that could be cured or something that no matter what would always be the case, maybe that's why none of it had ever seemed to concern me, I never wished it to be any different, I felt no need to go outside, no desire or want, there was no reason for me to be there even if I could.
“If you needed help you'd tell me though wouldn't you?” he asked gently with sparkling eyes.
“If that's what you want”
“It is, I'd feel better knowing that, I'd worry less” he told me before turning away seeming satisfied with my response.
“...Embry, have, have you decided what you're going to do yet? I mean, will you stay here?” I asked curiously after a moment of thought, he seemed to be settling in very well and even thinking of the future, a future with me it sounded like. “...It's just, you never really gave me an answer before, not a definite one” I added, trying not to come off too desperate.
“If it's still okay then I, I'd like to stay” he told me after a moment as he locked his wide eyes onto me as a grin filled his face.
“Yeah, yeah, that's okay” I muttered with my slightly lips pulled in to hold back the full extremes of my smile.
I flicked my eyes to Embry quickly just to see his reaction without him noticing my what I imagined to be glowing face, he was looking away nodding to himself with smile that surprisingly almost matched mine.
“...and I do already you know?” I told him randomly, out of context as a thought came to him in the last few minutes of silence, something he had said before.
He looked to me as his eyes narrowed, of course he didn't understand, he didn't know what had been going on inside my head for the past while.
“I feel comfortable around you” I told him with wide eyes and a sweet smile, before pulling them away, feeling rather exposed and shy.
It didn't seem like he was expecting to hear me say that, it looked as if he took a moment to process it as a smile slowly crept up on his face, as he watched me closely for a second with sparkling eyes.
I must have glanced away for a second two or three times to find him still watching me before I began to reread the situation, it was more than just admiration, he seemed more than just pleased, there was something else there, something extra in his eyes that I was having difficulty reading.
I gave him a slight nervous laugh to fill the empty space as I rummaged through my thoughts, trying to match the look to an emotion. The laugh didn't change anything, he just continued to stare, his eyes mirroring mine, every slight movement, I soon began to feel myself getting pulled in closer and closer to him, as if our bodies were syncing up, our eyes moved together, our breaths forged together making a louder sound, every slight movement of his began to feel intensified. It was only then, once I felt we had truly become one that I could tell what was going through his head, I knew what he wanted, he wanted to kiss me, I managed to convince myself of it. At first my reaction was positive, of course it was, it was everything I had wanted for what felt like forever, everything I had always dreamed of, it would be a dream come true, I couldn't have wanted that anymore than I did, but there was another side to it, the side where things don't always go to plain, the side were all the very real thing live, things that could potentially get in if I were to creek open the door, if the two worlds were to ever collide, that scared me, the unknown. Within a second my head had been invaded, all the positives were wiped it, it was no longer about what I wanted but what I could have and I wasn't entirely sure what was capable anymore.
I managed to pull my eyes away from Embry, breaking the connection, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect when I looked back, whether it would have worked or not, I eventually apprehensively turned my head back to him to find a change in his face, he was smirking.
“What?” I muttered with a half smile.
He didn't reply, his grin got wider and wider and his eyes sparkled more than ever before he quickly turned away, pulling his eyes from me over to the window again. Before I could say anything else and barely had time to even blink let alone think, I found myself falling, screaming out as I plummeted to the water, it all happened so quickly.
I pulled my head up revealing the fact that I was in the lake, fully dressed, gasping for air, my nose full of water and every inch of me dripping as I turned back to the bank where Embrys stood safe and dry, laughing at me, he had jumped on me, pushing me in.
I was too surprised to react in any other way than to just smirk, letting out a puff of air as I held my arms out, my palms facing to sky in order to question him.
“You shouldn't, you can't trust me Ambrose” he cried laughing, looking very proud of himself. “You can never let your guard down, you can never turn your back away from me for even a second, you never know what could happen” he joked with a playful grin.
“Well, if anything, that makes it more exciting doesn't it?” I muttered with a smirk as I slowly waded through the water, moving in closer to him.
Every step I took closer to him he took one step back, he clearly didn't trust me and he had good reason too.
“No, stay away, get away from me” he giggled as he held his hands up as a shield as I climbed out of the water and picked up my speed.
“I'm not going to hurt you Embry, I'm a pacifist” I told him with the same cheeky grin. “I just want a cuddle, can I have a cuddle?” I asked as I continued to approach him.
“No, get away, you're all wet” he cried with smirk as he stopped moving.
“Come here” I whispered with my arms open.
“No, I know what you're doing, you want pay back, I'm not an idiot” he muttered after a second of watching me with an everlasting smile plastered onto his face.
“Does it look like I care? I wanted to go swimming anyway” I laughed, still trying to convince him.
For a second, just a second it seemed he had considered it, that was all I needed, right when his guard was down I grabbed hold of him, wrapping my arms around his waist and lugged him to the water edge as his feet dragged over the floor, trying his best to fight it as he laughed hysterically, playfully crying out.
“You shouldn't trust me either” I cried as I watched him fall in, standing over him as his head popped back up.
“I hate you” he muttered with a smirk as he swirled around in the green water, looking up to me as he breathed heavily through the water that dripped from his lips.
“You started it” I laughed before willfully jumping back in beside him.
As I pulled my head up to take a breath I noticed Embry closely watching me with wide eyes.
“What?” I asked with a grin after it had gone on for another 30 seconds.
“I'm disappointed in you Ambrose, I had never pegged you to be a liar” he joked as he pulled his eyes away.
“Well, there's a lot you don't know about me Embry” I told him, attempting to sound mysterious.
He watched me for another few seconds before shaking his head in disapproval, giggling sweetly before jumping on me, pushing me under the water.
Once I had pulled my head back up to the surface I took it upon myself to once again get him back, splashing him, jumping on him and play fighting, the pair of us laughing like children. It wasn't until he were interrupted that it showed sign of stopping.
“Hello boys” Mrs Penny's voice cried from above. She hovered over the water with a grin.
“Hello” I muttered, my face still pleasantly haunted by all of the fun.
She stood there quietly watching us a moment longer before clearing her throat and drawing back her smile.
“Mr Evans, there was a call for you” she told him more seriously, doing her job.
Embry's first reaction was to turn to me blankly for a second, of course I was just as clueless as him and he knew that so assumed he was just sharing the moment with me, something that I oddly appreciated.
“...What is it?” he asked hesitantly as he turned back to her.
“Oh nothing to worry about, it's just your luggage has finally turned up in town, it seems the instructions weren't too precise and it got lost on the way here, Mr Penny has just gone to fetch it, I just thought you'd like to know, it seems you will be in need or some dry, clean clothes shortly” she explained.
“Thank you so much” Embry cried as he moved in closer to her, towards the bank.
My eyes widened as I watched him leave, glancing at Mr Penny with a slight look of panic as if to ask her for help.
“You, you don't have to stop your fun just this moment sir, he won't be back just this second and lunch won't be ready for around an hour” she told him quickly, understanding what I wanted her to do.
“Oh I know, it's just, I'm very cold” Embry told her with a slight smirk as he pulled himself out, his teeth just beginning to chatter.
Mr Penny looked to me with a helpless defeat, her eyes apologetic and sorrowful.
I signed quietly to myself as there wasn't much else I could do about it, I had no choice but to let him leave, I had been having so much fun with him, I didn't want it to end. I had never really done anything like that before, I didn't exactly have the most normal childhood, I was rarely around anyone my age, I had no siblings or cousins, there were few moments when I remember being around any other children at all and even those times it was too late, I never really had any idea how to be a child, I spent all of my life around adults, I barely knew what fun was.
“...But you haven't even been defeated yet” I cried out with a giggle as I watched him with a cheeky grin, still floating in the water that I had grown so accustomed to as he ringed out his soaking wet clothes, his feet then firmly on the bank.
“Sweet Ambrose, that was never going to happen” Embry joked smiling as he glanced back at me.
“Why don't you go inside and get warmed up sir, Miss Daniels is waiting with dry towels, Ambrose never takes one out with him and get a nice hot cup of tea down you, it'll do wonders” Mr Penny suggested, giving him an overly sweet smile, even for her.
I stayed in the water watching as he got further and further away before turning to Mrs Penny who was staring at me with a grin glued to her lips.
“What?” I cried with narrow eyes as I pushed back, gliding through the water on my back, laying my head back so the water would smooth my hair back before I got out.
“Nothing, it's just nice to see” she said as she sat down beside the lake.
“What is?” I smirked as I pulled myself back up with a smile as I made my way back over to her, with already a good idea what she meant.
“Seeing you with him, smiling and having fun, I'm so glad you're getting along Ambrose” she explained.
“I really like him” I told her as I climbed out, feeling my face warm up as the thought of him filled my head.
“I can see” she whispered slightly with a admirable grin. “It seems he likes you too”
“...He's staying you know? He said he'd like to stay here with me for longer, that's okay isn't it?” I told her as I pulled off as many of my soaked items of clothing I could, whist still remaining respectable, down to my underwear and vest.
“Of course it is, I'm really happy for you darling” Mrs Penny said honestly as she stood up, reaching her arm out to me to take a hold of the wet clothes in my arms.
“I think, I think he might be good for me Mauve” I muttered to her as I watched the moving ground beneath my feet as I moved along it, making my way back to the house with a smile plastered across my warm cheeks.
“I think so too” she assured me with a smirk as we walked the rest of the way in silence, giving me a few sparkling eyed glances along the way as she watched the smile on my face persist.
As we walked through the door, just like Mrs Penny had said before to Embry, Miss Daniels was waiting at the door.
Miss Daniels was the younger staff member working at the house, she had only been here for a couple of months, she was just two years younger than me, a very pretty girl, a very conventional type of pretty, long blonde hair to her hips, pink rosy cheeks, large blue eyes, a very petite girl. She mostly worked along side Mrs Penny and the other housekeepers as she was still leaning. Things had been a little uncomfortable between us as once she did attempted to kiss me, of course I pulled away and explained the situation but it was blatantly obvious that it didn't change a thing, she didn't seem to care at all, her crush on me was a strong as ever, maybe even more so as now she saw it as a mission. I took my time to carefully explain it to her and put her down gently but it didn't appear to put her off, I knew what it was like to be a child longing for another, someone that you could never have, in a way I sympathized with her.
Since I realized she wasn't going to give up, the true extent of her crush, I'd always try my best to avoid her, everyone else was no help at all, it was just funny to them, even when one time I could almost be certain that I saw her watching me from a window one day when I went for my swim, she wasn't at all shy that was for sure, by that point it was no longer sweet, but really quite annoying.
“Here you go sir, I picked out the fluffiest one for you” she cried enthusiastically in her overly sweet, girly voice as she handed me a towel, giving me the same wide, staring, sparkly eyes she usually would, maybe more so as I was in fact almost naked.
“Thank you Katie” I muttered, practically snatching it from her before running out the room.
“Wait Mr Evermore, I was told to tell you that lunch is just being set up” I heard her cry out desperately at the last second.
“Alright” I yelled back before turning to the first person I saw in the hall who happened to be Mr Penny.
“Where's Embry?” I asked him with not a second to spare.
“Upstairs in his bedroom sir” he told me blankly. “I was just about to go and fetch him, lunch is ready” he said as I had already started to walk away.
“Yes, I know, it's okay, I've got it” I told him as I rushed up the stairs, giving himp no time to say otherwise. “Thank you” I muttered probably already out of earshot.
Completely honestly, I can swear on my life, the thought of knocking didn't even cross my mind, I just turned the handle and opened the door as I would do to my own bedroom.
The first thing I saw when I walked through the door was Embry standing there half dressed, in just his black turned up trousers, his chest completely bare. He was standing to the side so he couldn't see me but I could see a good amount of his toned, muscly torso.
I must have stood there for many thirty seconds, which of course felt far longer as time seemed to have stopped in that moment, a good while standing there staring with wide sparkling, lustful eyes, with even more desire than Katie could ever imagine, before I managed to pull my eyes from him, it wasn't like I had much of a choice, I felt that if I allowed myself to look any longer I would either die from lack of breath or my heart would literally beat out of my chest. I took just another second to compose myself, to wipe away any essence of the look before taking a quite breath.
“Oh, sorry, I should have knocked” I cried out, making it seem like I had only just arrived, while turning back to the door to leave.
“It's alright” Embry just laughed as he went to grab a white t-shirt from his case before quickly throwing it on.
“Are you feeling better now?” I asked as I hid my eyes from him, burying them into his suitcase which didn't seem to be very full at all.
“Yes, a little, thank you” he told me with a smile.
“Good” I muttered shyly as he just watched me, seeming to find it either endearing or awkward, I couldn't be sure.“...Oh, lunch is ready, so, we should probably go back downstairs” I blurted out the very second I found myself with the thought.
“Ambrose?” he muttered gently as if he was about to tell me something lovely, by the way he seemed quite shy about it, unable to look me in the eyes.
“Yes?” I cried with wide hopeful eyes, failing to cover my excitement.
“You, you might want to get dressed first, I mean, I know lunch isn't the most formal of meals but I'm quite sure only a towel covering your half naked body won't do” he told me, suppressing his real emotions, I could tell he found it hilarious.
My cheeks felt like a furnace, turning from white to glowing bright red in the blink of eye.
“...You're probably right” I smirked nervously, I had never been more embarrassed in my life.
“...I'll see you down there” Embry told me with a sweet smile before he past me, leaving the room. I could have sworn I heard him giggling to himself the whole way down the hall.
My face fell into my hands as I stood there for another second before letting out a hushed scream and rushing to my room.
I threw on the same boring clothes I always would before joining him the the dinning room, too embarrassed to look at him, let alone speak, until eventually I manged one quick glance, it was then that I noticed the state of him, he seemed to have taken a turn for the worst.
“... Are, are you alright? You're still shivering, haven't you warmed up yet?” I asked in concern as I looked over to him sipping his shaking tea, ignoring all of my previous embarrassment, something so silly no longer mattered.
“I'll be alright in a minute” he told me, faking confidence with a sweet smile.
“Embry, you really don't look too good” I added, getting more worried the longer I watched him, it wasn't only his shivering that concerned me, it was also his pure white face that seemed to be covered in sweat.
“Mr Penny” I called out as I jumped up from my seat, hovering over Embry.
“Ambrose, really, I'm fine” Embry muttered in a fragile voice, his drawn in eyes looking up at me.
For a second I froze there, unsure of what to do, feeling just slightly overwhelmed with fear, I hated being so clueless, so helpless.
It wasn't until Embry began to cough uncontrollably that I stepped up, although there still wasn't much I could do about it, I rushed up to him wrapping my arm around him and leaning over him to at least provide some comfort.
“Mr Penny, get the doctor” I yelled out again as I watched Embry closely with wide panicked eyes as I rubbed his back.
“Alright, maybe I'm not okay” his voice wobbled, mumbling through chattering teeth.
“What is it? What is it?” Mr Penny cried as he rushed through the door.
“It's Embry, I don't know what's wrong with him but he's not well Mr Penny, we need to call the doctor, we need to help him” I explained as quickly as I could, not wanting to waste another second whilst he suffered.
“Alright, alright, calm down, Dr Jones has been called, I'm sure he'll get here as soon as he can, but for now we need to calm down Ambrose, you're not helping anyone, you're just getting yourself into a state and creating more of a problem” Mr Penny told me bluntly. He was right, overreacting wasn't doing anyone any favors, although I was scared I had to put that aside, Embry needed me. As I looked back to him I could see a change in his face, he was no longer hiding his suffering, his eyes were flickering open and closed as he watched me as his short breath was getting louder and less frequent.
Mr Penny took control as I moved to the side, he bent down to his level, holding Embry's face in his hands and looked into his eyes.
“Mr Evans, look into my eyes okay? Just keep your eyes on mine” he told him as he further inspected. “It's important for you to stay awake alright, at least until we know what's wrong”
“He was perfectly fine earlier, it just seemed to come out of nowhere, please tell me you think he'll be alright Mr Penny” I muttered from the background.
“I don't think it's anything too serious, most likely the flu but the good doctor will tell us for sure” Mr Penny said as he pulled back, seeming quite sure of himself.
“Oh dear god, It wasn't my fault was it? I should have never pushed him into that water” I mumbled to myself as I thought more about it, his symptoms had only begun to show themselves after he had been in the lake, something that may never have happened if I hadn't have needed to get him back.
“Mr Evermore, come along, we should get him to his bed where the doctor can see him” Mr Penny cried as he had already scooped Embry up into his arms and wandered over to the door, all whist I was in thought.
I rushed after them up the stairs.
Mr Penny carried him all the way up to his bedroom and placed him on the bed, tucking him up to keep him warm before rushing off to the bathroom.
“Don't let him talk, it'll make him cough more” he cried out at the last minute before disappearing around the corner.
I stood over the bed looking down at his sickly face for a moment unsure of what to do, impatient for the doctor to arrive. I hated seeing him like that, so fragile and lifeless, he wasn't at all the Embry I had come to know. I soon felt tears come to my eyes as my fear started to return, all of a sudden I found my head full of pessimistic thoughts, although I had only known him for a very short time the thought of loosing him so soon pained me, at that point I had no idea if that was something I should be considering, if it was possible. As I thought more about it I started to realize that there had already been a change in me, that he had already effected me in a positive way, just like Mrs Penny had seen before, Embry was good for me, I wasn't only worried for him, but for myself too.
“The doctor will be here soon Embry, don't worry, you'll be better in no time” I told him reassuring after a little moan he had given me as his eyes found me.
He gave me a little smile just for a second until it was interrupted with a cough.
I quickly sat down on the bed
“Is it okay for me to be here? Do you want me to leave? Would you prefer to be alone?” I asked insecurely.
He didn't say anything as advised, he just continued to stare at me. “...I'll let you rest” I cried out after convincing myself of the answer.
“No, stay” Embry mumbled as he quickly reached out to me, taking a hold of my hand and holding it in his. “...Please”
I took just a second to let it sink in, looking down at our intermingled hands with a admirable smile before my eyes locked onto his. I didn't want to think too much of it, he was scared and unwell, he wanted comfort, nothing more, I didn't want to allow myself to be deluded into thinking anything more, if anything it was cause of even more concern, that he was so sick, so unstable and neurotic that he thought it was a good idea.
“Here, hopefully this will help relieve some pain until the doctor arrives” Mr Penny's voice boomed over me.
As soon as I heard him I immediately pulled back, letting go of Embry's hand, although I had a feeling it was too late by then as I had no idea how long he had been standing there I held onto hope. He would not have been happy to see that, the last thing I needed in that moment was another talk from him.
I couldn't tell by the way he was acting, he didn't seem any different but it was possible he was just ignoring it for the moment, especially with all that was going on. He made his way up to the bed and stood beside me as he leaned over and placed a cool wet cloth on Embry's head.
“Stay with him Ambrose” Mr Penny muttered with a stern look as he tapped me on the shoulder in an almost loving way, using my first name for once, he'd only ever do that when I was sick or upset and he would never touch me unless completely necessary, it seemed that for once he actually understood my very human reaction, to care for another human, whether I knew him well or not, I think he could sympathize, whether he understood the way I loved or not, that had nothing to do with my feelings in that moment. “I suspect the doctor will be here any second, I should be there to greet him” he told me blankly before heading to the door. I felt his presence there behind me in the doorway for a few seconds longer than I expected to, before I was alone yet again with Embry.
I stood there watching him closely until Mr Penny and the doctor turned up. I took a step back from Embry and turned to them in the door.
“This is Mr Evermore and this is obviously Mr Evans, the reason you're here today” Mr Penny introduced us.
He was a very handsome man, he must have been in his mid to late thirties, he looked exactly how you'd want a doctor to look, friendly with a large white smile shinning out from underneath his bushy brown mustache and big warm brown eyes, his white coat very clean and his clothes neat and well ironed and colorful, from what I could see under the coat he wore green trousers, a green shirt and a blue stripy sweater vest.
I approached him hesitantly, understandable impatient, not at all in the mood for pleasantries, only shaking his hand before quickly turning back to Embry, I didn't want to waste a second.
I watched as the doctor placed his bag onto the bed, beside Embry and began rummaging through it.
“Come sir, we should get out of the way” Mr Penny said softly as he wrapped his arm around my shoulder, gently turning me towards the door.
“No” I yelled out, pulling forcefully away, causing the doctor to very quickly turn his head to me.
He stared at me for a moment with wide watchful eyes, as he read my obvious face, my eyes were sparkling with the small tears that lay ready in the bottom of my eyes.
“He can stay” he cried blankly before turning back to examine Embry, as if somehow he understood every aspect of the situation, as if he was able to look into the depths of my heart, where things lay that even Embry had no idea of, or maybe I was wrong, maybe he could just see the desperation and had just decided it was easier to let me have my way, not to fight me.
“I'll be outside if you need me” Mr Penny muttered giving me a quick glance before leaving the three of us. There was definitely something different about him, his emotions were actually on show, I wasn't entirely sure why, he didn't like Embry or me being around him, even if he understood just how upsetting it was for me to see the man I had loved for years like that, I wouldn't have thought his ego could allow him to sympathize, even if it was only me that mattered to him, either way, it was a nice change.
“He's lucky to have someone that cares so much about him” the doctor told me gently with a smile once we were alone.
He didn't seem to do much, I don't know what I was expecting but I knew if it was me in charge I would have given him every test under the sun so I could be completely sure of what was wrong with him in order to cure him as quickly and as effectively as possible. All he did was listen to his heart, take his temperature and ask a few questions to Embry and I about when and where he started to feel ill..
“Alright, so, good news, it's nothing serious” he said with a smile as his sparkling eyes flickered between the both of us. “...Bad news, you'll have to stay in bed for the rest of the day” he added, giving Embry a smirk.
“So, what is wrong with him exactly?” I cried, unsatisfied by what I had been told.
“It's a flu, a pretty bad one but nothing to worry about, it will pass, it was probably brought on by the journey here, train carriages are the worst, my advice, stay well away from them, full of all those germy, sneezy people” he muttered. “Nothing a good rest and plenty of fluids can't cure, I'm sure Mr Evermore here will look after you just fine” the doctor added with a friendly smirk as he pulled off his gloves and began packing up his bag.
Embry looked up at me with a smile.
“...That's it?” I muttered in relief.
“I'm afraid so” he said as he swung his bag over his shoulder, preparing to leave.
Just like that my face lit up and my worries washed away.
“Thank you, thank you so much doctor” I cried happily as I vigorously shook his hand before turning back to Embry as he left the room.
“I told you it was nothing to worry about” Embry muttered with a cough.
I knelt down beside him, holding his arm in my hands giving him a delighted grin.
“Still, it's good to know” I told him with a smile before I continued to watch him with the sound of the doctor's and Mr Penny's voices in the background.
“...You're not going to leave my side are you?” Embry asked after a moment with a little smirk.
“Nope, I'm going to sit here until you get better” I told him stubbornly. I didn't care if it was serious of not, I wanted to be there for him in case he needed anything, I cared about him, I wanted him to know that, I didn't want the situation to discourage him from his decision to stay, I was scared that if he couldn't be sure of that it would scare him, that if something else ever happened to him, something more serious, he'd worry he'd have to go through it alone, I never wanted him to think like that.
I was confident it had worked as he soon fell asleep, he must have felt safe in my presence, especially with how closely I was watching him, in a way that would potentially freak out someone who had known me my whole life.
After a while Mr Penny returned, bringing in a chair from the hall.
“...You heard what the doctor said didn't you?” he whispered as he quietly walked in. “...He'll be fine, you know there's no need to hover over him like that, it's not like he'll get better any faster” he told me with what almost looked like a smirk for a second.
“I know, but I want to, I told him I would” I whispered with a quick glance up to him before my eyes bounced back to Embry where I expected them to stay until his eyes were open once again, only then could I relax.
“That's what I thought you were going to say so you brought you this” he said as he placed a chair beside me. “I thought it would be a little more comfortable” he muttered before shortly leaving, it wasn't like I was much company at the time.
Just like I said I would I must have been sat there watching over him for hours on end, at least six, as the bright daytime sky light began to dim, before Mrs Penny came to fetch me for dinner, managing to pull me away for fifteen minutes, before I went back to watch him for another four, five hours. I wasn't only watching for all of that time of course, I was drawing and writing to keep myself entertained, it was the perfect opportunity for a sketch, as well as occasionally changing the cloth on his head, playing nurse.
It must have been 8pm when Embry finally woke, already looking so much better, even still half asleep.
“...Have you been here all this time?” he muttered as he continued to peel his sleepy eyes open.
“Yeah, I haven't left your side once, I haven't even been to the bathroom...I'm quite desperate” I joked, with my extremely bad timing as usual.
He completely feel for it, it was probably his half asleep, exhausted brain but I liked to think I was just an incredibly convincing actor as I watched his eyes widen, a spring of life instantly filling his face.
“Well, I'm awake now, I'm fine, go now” he quickly cried out in a bit of a panic as he pulled him up slightly so he wasn't laying down completely.
I just laughed for a good twenty seconds.
“I'm joking” I told him with a giggle as a shook my head at him. “I've had dinner and everything” I added.
“Oh” he mumbled with a foolish smirk. “...I thought you cared about me more than that Ambrose, leaving me all alone here wile I'm ill just so you can eat, seems like a pretty dick move to me”
“Well, you actually are better aren't you,” I laughed. “...And I do, I care about you a lot, it's just, it would be pretty pointless watching over you as a a corpse, wouldn't it?” I defended myself, keeping the truth from him.
“Well at least that way we would have been in the same boat, we could have been twins” Embry said casually with a grin.
“You didn't look that bad, you could never, I think even after being dead for five months you'd still look better than most people” I told him with a shy smile as I looked to the floor.
He didn't say anything, he just watched me for a moment with a smile, before pulling himself up properly, perching on the edge of the bed in front of me. He watched me in silence with the same look on his face, a look that reminded me of how you'd look at the person who just bought you back to life, indebted. He must have been sitting there like that for well over a minute without moving, freaking me out slightly.
“Is there, anything you need? Anything I can get you?” I asked, breaking the silence as I moved back just a little in my chair, hoping to break the seemingly hypnotic connection.
“I'm, I'm starving” Embry told me with a sweet smirk.
“Really?” I cried with a grin. “Well that's a good thing, means you're feeling better”
“Yeah, but it's dark outside, I can't eat, not until morning” he told me blankly.
“Mmm, that's not true” I cried as I jumped up off of my chair and onto my feet, actually feeling quite enthusiastic about it. I distinctively remember one of my most frequent dreams I'd visit as I was drifting off to sleep was the idea of a midnight feast, of course it wasn't at all under those circumstances in the fantasy, they were much more romantic. I would sneak out of the house, out of my window, climbing down the vine and sprint down the country lanes to the house I imagined Embry living in, he too would sneak out and we'd go off together in a secluded area, an empty barn or sometimes in the middle of the field and share a picnic.
Embry looked up at me with wide, curious eyes as all of his teeth were on show.
“Well, come on then” I muttered, turning my head towards the door as I held my hand out to him, encouraging him up.
“Where are we going?” he smirked, full of adventure and intrigue.
“Operation get Embry some food” I told him blankly before pulling him towards the door.
“Seriously?” he giggled as he followed, watching me play spy as I checked to see if the coast was clear.
“Yes, seriously” I told him in a nonindulgent, serious way. “You do think you're up for it right? You're feeling well enough to move around?” I asked in concern as my new persona slipped slightly.
“Yes sir” he cried formerly before his grin returned.
Still holding onto him, I pulled him out the room and down the corridor, not stopping until we reached the ground floor, finally able to take a breath.
I took a moment to straighten myself out, before turning to Embry with a smile in the very poor lit room, then turning the corner, towards the kitchen.
“Everyone's in their rooms Ambrose” he muttered as continued to trail after me, as we reached the kitchen door where once again I checked the coast.
“You never know, once when I sneaked now for some extra tea when I was having a particularly busy night and my tea pot was running low I caught Chef Morrow in the kitchen eating a very large slice of cake in the dark, it was really quite disturbing” I told him, glancing at him for a moment before finally entering the room and turning on the light.
Embry just laughed to himself for a moment before following.
“What do you want to eat?” I asked him playfully, putting on a slight act, pretending I knew what I was doing, looking through the fridge when in reality, the only reason I ever went to the kitchen was to make tea and scavenge for snacks.
“I'm not really entirely sure what is appropriate to eat in the nighttime, if anything at all” Embry said with a smirk as he looked over my shoulder.
“Well, anything you want” I told him with a grin.
“Really?” his eyes narrowed.
“Yeah, anything, just name it, your favorite food, I'll make it for you” I cried with misplaced confidence.
“You cook?” he asked excitedly with a grin.
“Well, no, but, how hard can it be right?”
He just stared at me silently for a moment, giving me an assumed look.
“Maybe that's not such a good idea” he eventually muttered. “Here, let me take a look, I'm sure there's something that we can manage” he cried, taking over as he squeezed in beside me.
“Sandwiches...” he cried after what I would consider a slightly worrying amount of time for such a simple idea.
“Sandwiches?” I giggled.
“Yeah, do you think we can manage that? I mean there's the bread, there's the cheese, how hard can it be?” he added, pointing to the left over bread from dinner on the table
“Sandwiches it is” I cried after a moment, all of a sudden taking the idea much more seriously than I had at first, he was right, that was about as complicated as I could handle, I had been severely overestimating myself, still, it too, a moment for me to except that. “Are you sure that's alright?” my voice wobbled, sounding unsure, worrying about his happiness.
“It's fine” he cried, managing to fully convince me as he pulled all the ingredients out.
Within minutes I was sat up at the table with Embry, watching him tuck into his large sandwich, definitely not how I saw the night going, not how I had imagined it to go after all.
We didn't stay for long, as soon as Embry was finished we headed back upstairs, I could feel my eyes getting heavier as I walked Embry to his room, unlike him I hadn't been asleep all day so naturally I was getting tired.
“Thank you for that Ambrose, it was exactly what I needed” he said to me at the door with a sweet smile.
“Your welcome” I said with the same look before it was taken from me with a yawn. “Are you going to be okay? I mean I know you can't sleep very well as it is, it's going to be even harder if you've been asleep all day isn't it?” I asked in concern as I was about to turn to my door.
“I'll be fine, I think I still need to sleep off more of my flu, I still feel like I could sleep another eight hours at least” he told me confidently with a comforting smile.
“Okay, if you're sure” I muttered with a trusting smile. “Okay, well I definitely could use some sleep too so I'll leave you here...Goodnight, Embry” I added just before taking a step away.
“...Wait, Ambrose” Embry called out before I took another. “You don't, you don't have to go do you? It's just, I sleep better when you're here” he muttered, his eyes unable to focus on me for longer than a couple of seconds at a time, bouncing off the walls.
I immediately froze in my tracks, for a second, unsure if I had heard right or if it was my sleep deprived brain, it couldn't have been real life, it was like so many of my fantasies, it couldn't possibly be actually happening, the thought was ridiculous. I stood a moment to readjust, to pinch myself before turning back to see if he was actually standing there, making sure I hadn't hallucinated the whole thing and as clear as day, there he was, actually there, completely real, it had just happened, it wasn't a dream, my ears hadn't betrayed me, I was in shock.
I had no idea what to think of it, whether he was being completely innocent, that he actually just needed a friend, just needed to help him feel safe and I just happened to be there, after all, he was right, it had worked the first time, or, if it meant something more than that. Was it something that happened in this new world? Was it just me being so detached from it that I just hadn't heard of it before?
I could feel the butterflies swarming in my stomach, flying so fast and strongly against the walls it felt like it was doing flips. I found myself just standing there gaping at him, unable to react in any other way.
“...Right, yeah, it's ridiculous.. sorry, Shouldn't have asked.” he muttered with a nervous laugh, disheartened. “Don't worry about it, I know it's such a strange thing to ask you, so childish, I think, even despite everything I'm still a child sometimes, there is so much I still don't know, things I'm still figuring out... I'm a grown man, I can sleep by myself” he told me with a smirk, shaking his head as he turned back to his room.
“...It's, it's not ridiculous” I stuttered with a silence gulp. “...I get it, it doesn't matter how old you are, sometimes it's just nice not to be alone, not to feel lonely, just having someone there”
“Do, do you feel like that sometimes?” he asked curiously.
“All the time” I admitted with a half smile. “...I can stay if that's what you still want?” my eyes wide and hopeful as I moved closer to him.
He watched me for a second blankly, I had no idea what he was going to do next, whether he would just brush it off and forget it never happened and we'd never speak of it again, or if it was something that was about to happen, his face gave nothing away. He gave me a quick smile before finally revealing the future with just one little movement, he pushed the door slightly as he moved back, inviting me in, before climbing into bed, climbing into he far side, making room for me, his face almost seeming nervous, as if it was as much of a big deal to him as it was for me.
I hesitantly climbed in beside him, doing my best at concealing it all, holding every overpowering emotion deep inside, to such an extent it almost hurt.
Embry laid there on his side for just a moment longer, watching me, allowing me to get comfortable before leaning over my body to switch the lamp off, leaving us both in complete darkness before doing something I would have never seen coming, something I was so sure would destroy all of my self control and cause everything to finally overflow.
As he pulled back to his side, he stopped halfway there and he rest his head on my chest, not seeming as if he was about to move anytime soon. Without another word or noise, he just lay there against me, his eyes closed, his head on my heart and his breath on my skin, like it was a nature as breathing, like it was something so incredibly normal, it didn't require any sort of explanation, he stayed like that until he feel asleep. By the way he seemed to be acting so calm, so causal about it, it was almost as if it had been his plan all along, that he was prepared for it.
I couldn't help but let the thoughts in again, he definitely didn't seem like any of the other men I had known, I couldn't imagine Mr Penny ever resting his head in Chef Morrows chest like that, I actually found the imagine to be very disturbing, either way I knew I could never let Mr Penny hear of it.
The next morning when I woke up, I had almost forgotten what had happened the night before, for a second it was as if it had in fact never happened, as I had expected things to go. It was like a dream in the night that had just been erased the second I had opened my eyes, but it wasn't, I was right, it had happened, every second of it, I could finally be sure of it. With Embry laying there asleep beside me as the soft early morning sunlight beamed through the window, lighting him up, showing every speckle in his eye, every scar on his skin, every line on his lips, it couldn't have been anything other than real, no dream could have ever been that clear, so precise. Even with the amount of time I had spent looking at him, there was no way it could have been that perfect, there were still bits of him I had yet to observe, parts of him I had never seen as closely as they were in that moment in front of me, there were crevices in his body I had yet to of seen the depth of and all the little blond hairs that covered his glowing skin that I hadn't seen before.
I couldn't dream up the intensity of the butterflies I felt inside me each time my eyes fully opened after a blink, and he was revealed to me in his entirety, I couldn't dream up the way my heart fluttered each time he would inhale as remind me how real every second I lay there was, or the sparkling warmth of my blood as I felt the weight of him against me, reminding me of how it felt to be actually touched by him.
I laid there watching Embry beside me for a moment with a loving smile as I woke up a little more, he was laying on his stomach with his face faced towards me, his eyes closed and his mouth just ever so slightly open and his arm stretched out over me. In that moment as I watched him I was the happiest I could ever remember being, it was a moment of pure euphoria, something I often felt but never anything like that, it was better than anything I had experienced before, better than painting, better than dreaming, better than how it felt to be with him before. It didn't last for long though, as it always did, it soon began to fade as my brain kicked in, allowing me to once again see everything behind the smokescreen, all that was actually wrong with it all, the things I had previously been blind too. That had always been my problem, I had to see everything, I had to think so deeply about everything and everything, even the best of things always have a darkness to them, a way to be tarnished, I could always find it and once I had I could never escape it, it was always stronger, always clearer to me. I think it was just the way my brain worked, it always searched for fault, it was against me, as if it always wanted me to be miserable, that's why I liked to paint, to create, that way things could be exactly the way I wanted to be and they'd stay like that, there was no way they could change once I had seen them, they could remain beautiful.
I was back to being myself and it was all washed away, by my fear, by my worries, by my often irritating personalty. Although of course, I desperately wanted to there, there was no way I could stay in that bed, there were too many uncertainties for me to manage, uncertainties that would eat me up, making any similar situation unbearable, sadly, most situations were, there were too many things out of my control, the whole world was out of my control, that had always been the problem. I had to leave the room, Mr Penny couldn't find me there, there was no telling how he'd react, what he'd do, Embry couldn't see me there, I had convinced myself that maybe the morning would help him see clearly as well, just like it had for me, I feared he'd react badly, that he wouldn't be able to handle it, or it would be weird for him and ruin everything, maybe it would be better if we both just forgot about about that, things would have been easier. Is that what he wanted? Things to be easy? Or had the whole reason behind it simply be because he wanted the exact opposite? I started to become more paranoid the more I delve into the depths, it was possible Embry wanted something from it and not just comfort, it hadn't accursed to me before than that there was more that I could give than that, had I servery misjudged him? Had I been blinded by my love for him? Had Mr Penny been the only one to see clearly? Was Embry a bad man? Did he want to steal from me? Humiliate me?
No, It couldn't be, I had to remove the idea from my head, I was doing it again, being myself, I was ruining things, although a part of me knew that, apart of me acknowledged it, it wasn't seeming to be something so easily gotten rid of.
I soon left the room, I needed to be away from not only the uncertainties but myself, I needed to return to my own world that I had unknowingly been straying further and further from, I needed to find my way back home.
I went to the best place for that, my studio.
I'd often find myself wondering how anyone that didn't paint, or write, or create could live in that way, always being yourself, being exactly who and where you are, your head always being full with your own thoughts, always yammering away with no form of escape. It all sounded utterly exhausting, or was it that it was only me? That I had always been the problem, that no one else felt the need for the escape at all, as it wasn't nearly as tiring being them as it was for me to be myself, is that why I could never understand?
I picked up a paint brush for the first time in days, I wanted to start a new painting, I wanted to paint the lake hoping it would take me back to the day before, the day when things were looking up, before everything had to change inside of my head, at least that way if they never would be that way again between us I could find comfort in knowing that I could always go back to that time, always go back to those memories.
I had no idea what would happen when Embry would wake up.
I wasn't sure if I would have to act different, if that's what he wanted or not. I didn't know what he expected of me, whether what had happened actually meant something to him, if he expected me to know the answer to that, or if it all was just something he wanted to forget about, to ignore,
I couldn't function like that, it was emotionally and mentally exhausted, how things were so blurred, how I was so unsure of how to feel, how I had absolutely no idea how the future would go, how I had absolutely no control over any of it. I was beginning to remember why I had always been alone, why I had always hidden myself away, what was so bad about the real world, the reason behind why I would spend my days in my own world was clearer than ever. Without realizing I had been living in the real world, I had to be away from Embry to finally see, I had been living in the world that wasn't made from daydreams and imagination, the worlds had become so almost interchanging it had been hard for me to see the line, with him it felt like dreaming, but it wasn't, I had to be weary of that, I couldn't lose myself completely, otherwise there's no telling what would happen. I desperately needed some time away from everything, for my eyes to readjust, for the line to reform, but it was hard. My emotions were clouded, there were times in the real world that were so utterly amazing but I couldn't forget that that was down to Embry, not the world. Nothing had changed, the second he were to ever leave that was become obvious, my reasons behind why I had to stay inside were still there, they hadn't just washed away because of him, I couldn't forget about that, without him I was still lost, without him fear still existed, the very second he would leave me everything would come back in a swarm, I had to remember that, I couldn't get confused, I couldn't allow the lines to blur again.
I let the thoughts slip away as I got dug into my painting, making sure to hold onto that last bit, allowing it to run to he back of my head, to a safe place that could easily been found.
“...There you are” Embry's voice broke my concentration just moments after I was able to fully lose myself, startling my slightly.
“Yeah, here I am” I muttered with my unsure, slightly fearful eyes stuck to the painting, for the very first time I felt uncomfortable around him, I didn't know how to be so I withdrew a little.
“...How did you sleep?” he asked after a second, his voice getting louder the closer he got to me.
“Erm, alright I guess” I muttered with a monotone voice, with little emotion as it was all suppressed, hidden away.
“...I slept better than I had in years” he told me after a second with a nervous laugh, probably once he had fully caught on to my unwillingness for conversation, my reluctance, my new found shyness. Without seeing him I knew exactly what his face was doing, how he was feeling, he was lost, of course he was, he obviously hadn't caught my train of thought, what was going through my mind.
Embry didn't seem to have any confusion over what had happened, maybe because he hadn't thought nearly as much about it, he hadn't dissected every little part of it, of course he hadn't, he was a normal human being, to him it was likely nothing.
Embry was the opposite of me, he was always so relaxed, so calm and collective, the sort of person to just do what they wanted without thinking of the consequences, without thinking much at all. As it should be his mentality was to have fun, to spend his life doing what made him happy, what made him smile, he'd do exactly what he wanted to do, say exactly what he wanted to say in the moment, so simply, with not much thought process at all,other than, will this hurt anyone, whereas I seemed to be so destructive, so against myself, I was my own worst enemy, determined to eliminate any sort of positivity or happiness.
I didn't expect him to understand my reasons, why I was being so distant, why I was being so cold, he wasn't aware of my feelings, he had no idea just what the night before had done to me, no idea of the roller coaster inside me, that was throwing me side to side, trying it's best to knock me off while I held on for dear life.
“Ambrose, are you alright?” he cried as he reached out to me, placing his hand on my shoulder.
The second I felt him touch me my whole body tensed up, It was a defense mechanism, a way of protecting myself, from what I wasn't exactly sure, from the world, from pain, from him.
“I'm okay” I lied, sucking everything up as well as I could before hesitantly turning around to him, with a what I thought to be convincing smirk.
“Are you? Are you really? Because I don't believe you” he told me sternly but still with a softness to his eyes. “...Is it because of what happened last night? Did I, make you uncomfortable, I didn't mean to Ambrose, I'm sorry I didn't, I didn't think about it, was it, was it, weird?” he muttered, seeming to be feeling guilty about it, which in a way was quite amusing, if only he knew.
“No, no” I laughed shaking my head. “Well...” I whispered just a moment later, I had to be honest with him, I had to understand it, that's what was tearing me up inside, not knowing.
“Is that why you're being like this? Why things are awkward now, because of me?” he asked, with worry in his tilted eyes.
“...Why did you do it Embry? Why did you rest your head on me, what was that?” I asked him bluntly, I couldn't avoid it anymore, I had to know the answer.
“...I, I don't know” he told me looking to the ground. “I, I just wanted to, I was just thinking of myself, I don't know what was going through my head, I just, I wanted to be close to you Ambrose” he told me honestly after a second with a nervous smirk as he manage to pull his shy up to mine for just a second, I could tell how hard it was for him to lie just for that second before he explained himself, to not be completely honest was against his nature, against everything inside him.
I didn't say anything as my eyes widened, I hadn't expected that answer, it was interesting, it couldn't help but spark my curiosity. I watched him for a moment as a smile crept onto my face.
Was it possible he liked me like liked him after all? It seemed if he did he wasn't entirely sure of it but it was enough to spark my hope. Just that, just that small essence of hope made it all worth it, once again my insecurities were wiped away, my fear and worries, it cleared my mind, it focused me, just like it always was with him, he had a power over me, he made me forget where I was, he had the power to sweep me away, like no one else could, as long as I was with him I didn't care where we were, as long as my head was occupied with him I felt safe, it was the only time I did. I had a feeling in time he could even manage to get me out of the house.
“...It was selfish of me, I promise, I won't do anything like that again, I promise, I don't want you to feel weird around me, I don't want you to see me any differently” he babbled, desperately trying to hold onto me, terrified it seemed of scaring me away.
“You don't have to do that Embry, you don't have to promise me anything, you don't have to feel guilty, I should be the one feeling guilty, I should have corrected you sooner, I shouldn't have let you think that for a second longer than I did” I reassured him. “...Embry, you weren't the reason I was acting like that” I said with a comforting smile.
There was an instant reaction, an instant change to his face the very second I told him, the guilt in his eyes faded and turn to sparkles of relief.
“So, you're not upset with me? I haven't made you uncomfortable?” he asked gently with slight hesitance.
“No, not at all, not even a little bit...it's me, I'm upset with myself, I'm the reason I was acting like that” I told him.
His eyes narrowed. “What do you mean?”
“I mean, I'm insecure, I'm scared, I'm, I'm everything” I said honestly, my voice breaking half way through. “Embry, with all honestly, you terrify me, I don't don't know what you're thinking, I don't know what you want, I don't know what, what this is, between us”
“Ambrose, I, I...” he stuttered, clearly feeling bad but it seemed he still wasn't completely sure why.
“You don't have to say anything” I whispered calmly. “Please don't tell me you're sorry, there's nothing for you to be sorry about, all you've done is open my eyes, something that I probably have needed for a long time, I think I've been ignoring things for too long, for as long as I can remember, that's all, it's just, happening a little too quickly” I vaguely explained.
It had been said before, Embry was good for me, he had been able to do something I doubt anyone else would have been able to, he was able to give me all I ever needed, he was the only one with the power to grant my dreams, or at least bring me a step closer, but just that step was enough. Of course, things were still in no means perfect, he wasn't a genie, he was just hope and having that, it being there wasn't at all something I was used to. I was adjusting to it, badly I might add, but that was to be expected. I had fallen out of my tree, the tree I had been resting my entire life, just, out of the way, only just safe from everything around me and now, I was on the ground, exposed, where life was different. It was a place I could be hurt, a place where I was no longer in control, after so many years of hiding from that, it was a shock to the system, that was all, I was making it out to be hell, when in realty, literally, all it was was different and Embry was the knight who had come to rescue me. I had to remember, there was real hell out there, I was one of the lucky ones, I wanted to be braver, I wanted to get better, I wanted to be able
to live out there with him, but maybe it would take some time.
“...With you, Embry, only with you am I able to live away from my daydreams, with you I don't need them anymore and that scares me, I feel unprotected, naked right now” I told him with wide eyes.
“And...where do you want to live Ambrose? Where would you feel comfortable? Away from me? Away fro my world?” he asked curiously as he pulled his still slightly struggling to understand eyes up.
“No, not away from you, with you, I want to be with you, anywhere with you, I really do, just maybe once my head had time to settle first ... it's just, moving too fast, I feel like I've just moved to another planet, in the spear of the moment, after only a second to contemplate the location, that's the problem, I feel slightly disorientated” I said with a half smirk, still figuring it all out for myself. “You saw how I was before, how lost I was in a world of my own, it was my everything and now, it's been turned upside down” I explained.
“I think I get it, like with me and the war, I was practically dropped in it with no warning, I had no idea what I was doing, everything was new, there were so many emotions going round in me, fear, excitement... all at once, it was overwhelming, I imagine it must be the same for you, a change, all you've ever known? All you've ever thought, all you've ever seen taken from you”
I was actually shocked at the accuracy of what he had said, of course it was in completely different circumstances but it was all still very familiar to me.
“That's it” I cried with a grin. “You're the change, you're the newcomer to the system, you've changed everything for me...Maybe you've seen since you've been here, actually seen me change? …Mr and Mrs Penny, everyone here, they live in my world, mostly, they live in this house, I am literally the center of their world and you're an alien to us, to it all, you live out there, away from us, you bring the outside in when it's usually left at the door, it's, different, something I'm not used to, but it's something I think I could get my head around, in time, I hope I can”
I watched him for a good few minutes as all the information replayed in his head, allowing him to fully hear every word I said, to fully understand what I meant
“...Well, then, maybe, just for today, we can stay, I can visit the world you live in, I can adjust to it's customs, I can become apart of it... a world that you're the center of doesn't sound too bad to me” he said with a thought provoking smile.
I didn't respond, I just watched him, patiently waiting for him to enlighten me.
“...Maybe I could come to your world, you said you'd show me right? Then maybe, when you're ready, we can destroy it together, build something new in it's place, start fresh, instead of it being just you in the center, it can be the both of us” Embry added, explaining just a little more.
“...I'm not sure” I muttered, looking away after a moment of watching him with deep thought.
“Why not? A day won't hurt, I want to Ambrose, I want to be with you” he cried, moving In closer to me, resting a hand on both of my shoulders, looking at me through wide sparkling eyes as I slowly pulled my head up towards him.
“Well, what if you like it so much you never want to leave, never want to destroy it?” I asked, half joking.
I watched him as the idea echoed around his head and he tried desperately to find a response, a way around him before he just laughed, unable to.
“I don't, I don't want to go back there Embry, it's hard to get out, I don't want to be trapped there any longer, I want to be awake... can't we,can't we just, build a new world now? A half way world, one that's half here and half away, sort of in between” I asked with wide eyes.
I had only just realized I could have both, that maybe it was better like that, a mixture of the both, an equal measure of good and bad, I could be the person I wanted to be, as well as who I really was. When things got too much for me, when the darkness would become overpowering, there could still be a place for me to hide. When things weren't going too well, there could be a place for me to escape, a place where my imagination could run wild, a place where art could run wild, where I could still acquire my need for control, my need for all I desired without letting it consume me as it had.
Before, I was hiding my life away, I wanted to start living for once in my life and it was the best opportunity with Embry by my side.
It was Embry that had caused my spiral into the land of dreams, my disillusions of reality, all that time ago, it only made sense he was the only one capable of pulling me out.
“How would that work?” Embry asked, intrigued by the idea as his hands slipped down from my shoulders.
“Well, it would look exactly the same, it would be exactly the same as here, except when it gets too much, when we can no longer handle the bad parts, we can go to a place, in our heads, not a dream, or an illusion, a state of mind, where we ignore the parts we don't like, where we focus solely on the bits we do, on the beauty, the calm in the chaos, the peace behind the noise. Where we look more closely at the flowers and not the dirt it grows in”
Embry's eyes lit up as the idea filled them as he muttered. “A world where art is the air, where it's all we breathe” looking around the room.
“Exactly” I cried with a grin as my sparkling eyes admired him.
“Well, you're still going to have to show me, aren't you?” he muttered after a moment once his eyes had found me again.
My eyes narrowed as I continued to watch him.
“I'm not like you remember, I'm not an artist, a dreamer, I'm used of seeing what's in front of me, everything exactly how it is, I've had a front seat to the darkness, you're the lightest thing I've seen in years... what if I can't remember how to see past it? What if no matter what I do it still always stays with me?” he asked, disheartened. “I'm not sure how easy it's going to be, there's a lot of darkness I'll have to wash away, all I've done, all I've seen” he told me lacking confidence.
“You may not be an artist, but you already see the best in things Embry, you don't allow the darkness to control you, I think you already focus on the beauty, just, in a different way to me, maybe you don't realize you do it” I said surely. “I know what's inside you and I see that there's enough good in there for everyone in the world, I think you'll find you're amazing at it” I told him with a grin, pointing it out to him.
It really seemed that he had no idea, he had no idea how terribly brave he was, how strong he was just to be able to continue breathing, let alone still see the world for everything it was, not just all he knew it to be. Maybe he was damaged, maybe it had damaged him, all that he saw, maybe he still saw it, but that most definitely wasn't all he could see, he was able to live a normal life, a happy life, it wasn't that he ignored it all, he never forgot, it's just that he could see more, he could believe in the good, he had hope for the world, especially in the times that proved to be most difficult, it was amazing really.
The way I tended to see things is how I wanted to see them, how I wanted them to be, I would paint, draw, describe them, create them, to be perfect. I didn't necessarily always see them like that at first, I wish I did, it was something I had to pull up from me, it wasn't an instinct, it was a conscious decision, the way you can choose to wee the best in people, the way you can choose to see the rainbow instead of the gray clouds, it didn't come naturally to me, however, I did wish I could. I believed Embry had to make no effort at all, it's just the way he was deep down, something he couldn't help, a happy, positive person, I don't think he even realized that about himself, I wanted to coax it out of him.
He stayed silent for a minute as he smiled sweetly and his eyes beamed.
“Well, either way, could you show me how you do it?” he asked, smiling, seeming much more optimistic after what I had said, he seemed to have faith in me.
I watched him for a second before I turned with a smile. “Alright, come on then, we can start now, I guess, we can teach you how to be an artist” I cried as I walked off, with him quickly following behind me.
I was putting on a front, I had no idea what I was doing really, how was I suppose to teach him something I already thought him to know? He should have been the one teaching me, teaching me how to be happy with reality, how to ignore the darkness. All I could do was show him how I made the best out of bad situations, that was essentially all I did. Maybe just by making him think I had taught him it would allow him to see what was there all along, I could get him to paint something, write something in my way, but instead of me forcing the beauty, forcing myself to see it another way, he'll find it easy and he'll then be aware of his talents.
I decided to wing it, starting with poetry and the very best place for that was outdoors.
“So, how exactly are we going to do this?” Embry asked excitedly as he caught up to me with a large grin taking over his face.
“You'll see” I muttered mysteriously, so mysteriously even I had no idea, my eyes searched the area, hoping to find something that could answer his question, I needed inspiration, usually how it worked when I was on my own was I would search the area for the most beautiful thing I could possibly find in hope that it would consume me, that I would suck it all up and therefore be filled with it's beauty, washing out anything that didn't match it on it's way, then as I painted it, or wrote about it, I could relive that feeling, I could replay it and the effects would last longer, I'd repeat it over and over again. With Embry, all I needed was to find something nice, something beautiful he could focus on.
“...Ah, perfect” I muttered to myself once I had found what I was looking for, stopping in my tracks, looking down at the ground with my hands on my hips, pretending it was what I had been looking for all along.
It was a flower, just a simple flower, not much different from any over, the difference was, it was the only one that had been planted, a sunflower that had grown from a stray seed, it was there on it's own, surrounded by weeds, wild flowers, flowers that were just as beautiful, yet, seen differently. I wanted to see if Embry saw it like that too, the way most people did, the way I would have if I hadn't have tried not to, if I hadn't have thought deeply about it.
“What do you see?” I asked him curiously, glancing up at him from the ground with my fingers on my lips as I concentrated, listening carefully for his answer like a scientist waiting for the results of his experiment.
“I see, flowers...” he said blankly as he slowly turned to me, looking a but confused.
Flowers, he said, flowers, plural, I couldn't help but grin as I watched him for a moment, containing my joy. I had asked the same question to others before, not in the exact circumstance but every time they had answered wrong, there was more than just one, that one flower was surrounded in beauty but they could never see it, it was hidden, from them, they only saw what was right in front of them, what was so big they couldn't possibly avoid. If that one wasn't there, I was sure their answer would have been 'nothing' unlike Embry.
“...Good” I muttered blankly after a moment.
His eyes narrowed as a hesitant smile crept up onto his face, he was clearly proud of getting it right, even if he had no idea what he had actually done. That was what made him so different to me, he only saw it his way and I saw it both, at first my answer would have been nothing, but then the person I wanted to be would kick in, the artist in me and my answer would change as I consciously looked closer.
“What now?” he whispered, his eyes still squinted.
“...Now, now you stare at it until I come back” I told him with a suppressed grin. “Here, you can write something down, sketch something, whatever you feel if you want, just let yourself be inspired” I muttered as I handed him a notebook, a small, pocket sized one I'd always have with me, at all times, if I ever felt inspired.
“Why?” he cried with a smirk, clueless.
“You must let it absorb you” I told him vaguely as I went to turn away.
“What does that even mean?”
“Well, I suppose you'll find out once it does” I flashed him a smile. “...Look, art isn't only using your imagine Embry, it's managing to see what's right in front of you and being able to show it to others without them seeing it for themselves, to express your emotions, exactly how you felt at the particular time, portraying it, art is a way for others to understand you, to show them what's inside of you, so, go on, let the flowers fill you with emotion, let all the beauty in, that's the first step” I explained a little more, feeling just slightly guilty, encouraging him.
Although there was a purpose behind it, that there was actually something he might get from it, I wasn't certain he would manage to, I was just more curious to see how long he would do it for, it was a source of amusement.
“Seriously though? Is staring the only way?” he cried with a smirk, unconvinced as he watched me walk away, leaving him there in the middle of the garden.
“Seriously Embry, if you want to understand art, understand one of my greatest loves, to see the world differently, you need to see past what everyone else sees, see past whats obvious, you need to see, you need to feel what runs deep down the core, you need to observe every inch of it to fully understand it's beauty, to feel it in your heart as I do, you need to let it into your head, allow yourself to understand what it is, all that it is” I explained half turned to him, my eyes glued to the path I had already begun to take, speaking from my heart. I was sure he wouldn't last long at all, no matter how much he really did seem to want to learn, he was so blind to it, so blind to his talents, he had seemed to convince himself that he was full of darkness, he was so sure of it, I wasn't sure he'd be able to see past that. It was likely he would still feel the same as his mind wasn't open to the possibilities, he would never be able to see it if he kept clenching onto the darkness that still echoed around him, even if it actually could help, if it did, he was too convinced over wise he'd never know. I was quite sure that after five minutes he would get bored and come running back in to find me, claiming that it was all useless.
I stopped at the backdoor for a moment before entering the house, looking back at him, laughing to myself as he stood there doing what I had said, still looking confused, not looking like he wanted to be there at all, yet, still persisting. Just as I was about to take another step, he surprised me, I saw something change in his face, although it was still obvious he didn't understand my reasons, it seemed he trusted me enough to give it a try, his face seemed to straighten out, his eyes widened as he seemed to be relaxing, his shoulders dropped, he lightened him feet, leaning more stronger on the right, slouching slightly, before after just a second, he fully committed, sitting down crossed legged on the grass with a puff of air.
It was endearing how willing he was to listen to me,how determined he was to learn, to understand me, to do what I asked to make me happy, I'm sure the only reason he even sat down was because he knew it was what I wanted, if it was up to him he would have preferred to be anywhere but there, I imagined.
I decided to spend my time waiting in my studio, hoping to continue my painting of the lake I had started before, but instead, I found it hard to concentrate, it wasn't the same, I no longer wished to be there, I no longer wanted to turn back time to the day before. I had never experienced anything quite like it, for the very first time it wasn't a fabricated image I had in my head, it wasn't anything dreamed or distorted reality, it was a memory of something very real. I saw my painting of the lake as something to look back on in fondness, making it out to be more than it actually was, the time I had there was fun, but nothing like I wished it could have gone, there were still things I would have added to it, things I would have changed, things that I definitely would have painted, maybe not literally, but they'd be in mind with each brush stroke, unconsciously corrupting the painting, filling it with dreams and fantasy. If someone were to look at it, to really look at it, they'd be filled with undeserving, untrue emotions, their hearts, their souls would have been mislead, tricking them into believing the lie. Unlike the lake painting which I had scrapped, this new one was very much real, there was nothing fake, or exaggerated about my feelings about it, every emotion I put into it was real, it was full of hope, full of all the love I had for Embry, but also the lust, the need and ache I felt for him, a true reflection of our what was seeming to be complicated relationship, no lies or make believe.
What I was painting for Embry from that morning, him in bed, an image I couldn't escape, something that was so completely real, that actually happened, the closest I had been to perfection in real life, in that moment, there was nothing at all I would have changed.
It was seeming to be the easiest paint of my life, only five minutes in and it was already taking shape, it felt so natural, so genuine, unlike anything before, it made me feel alive. I was very much in the room as I painted, I hadn't climbed into the paint, I hadn't lost myself inside it, there was no need to, for it had already happened in front of my eyes, there was no need for imagination, what was on the paper wasn't unreachable, it wasn't impossible, I had proof of that. If I ever wanted to relive it, to feel all it was able to conjure up in me, all I had to do was delve into my memories and feel it all over again. There wasn't much need to paint it really, not for myself. The only reason was for it to be shared, for others who were not able to do as I could, to experience it, to understand from it what I felt, to feel just for a second, what it was like for me, the intensity of it, the purity of it, I didn't want others to want to be me, to feel as if they were when feelings all I felt, what I wanted from it was for them to understand me, to understand my love for Embry, so one day they could be sure to feel the same with whom they love, to show them how it feels so they won't ever be mistaken, for everyone deserves to feel like that and not to have the opportunity taken from them, to deluding themselves of love, deluding themselves that they have the real thing, when really they don't, to show them what it really is and that it can be so much better.
Just as I stood back for just a second, admiring the start I had made, taking a second to consult my brain, laying it all out clearly, my eyes were pulled away by a rattle of the door handle. I assumed it was Embry, he must have gotten bored and come to find me.
“There you are Sir” a very stressed, tired looking Mrs Penny surprised me as she cried in relief leaning through the doorway the second she saw me. “I've been looking for you everywhere, I was so worried, I feared something terrible happened to you, I looked out and I couldn't see you in the lake” she told me, still breathing heavily from her panic.
“I'm so sorry, that must have been terrible, I never even thought to tell you” I muttered, feeling guilty at what I had done to her. “But, you found me now haven't you? So it's all okay?” I said as I placed my paintbrush down and approached her to comfort her.
“No, no don't apologize” she muttered after a moment as her face seemed to lighten, looking up at me with wide eyes as a smile crept up, continuing to catch her breath, it getting lighter by the second. “There's no need” she told me surely giving me a sweet little smirk.
I watched her blankly for a moment as I tried to wrap my head around what had happened in the last twenty seconds, trying to figure her out.
“...Just, tell me you were with Embry?”
“What?” I cried with a grin.
“Yes or no” she glared.
“Yes, yes, I was with Embry, why does that all of a sudden make it okay? I feel terrible for worrying you” I muttered.
“Because that's exactly where I want you to be sir” she told me with sparkling eyes before turning away. “...Right, you missed breakfast, that's not acceptable, you must come and eat at once” she ordered.
“I, I can't” I told her gently.
“What? Why on earth not?” she cried. “Don't be silly, you need to eat, come along, where's Mr Evans? He needs to eat as well...it's the most important meal of the day you know, I'd be a simply terrible person if I allowed you to miss it”
“He's still out there” I told her blankly before turning back to my easel. “I can't eat without him can I?” I muttered, with only half of my attention still on her, I was more interesting in the fact Embry was still out there, in a way flattered really, by how he was trying so hard to share my interests, to be more like me, either that or he had fallen asleep from sheer boredom.
“Out where, where is he?” Mrs Penny asked as she made herself further into the room.
“He's in the garden, he can't be interrupted” I told her vaguely with most of my interest lost.
“What's he doing out there?” she asked in confusion as I continued to ignore her after allowing my eyes to glue back to the painting, I couldn't help myself. “This is ridiculous Ambrose, I'm going to go out and get him and the both are you are going to sit down in the dining room and eat your breakfast Chef Morrows made for you” Mrs Penny cried full of frustration from my lack of attention, if there was one thing she hated it was being ignored, not listened to, most of the time she was quite laid back, quite carefree. She would very quickly loose her patience.
“No, don't” I cried out after a second, forcing myself abruptly away.
“...What is wrong with you Mr Evermore? Why are you acting so strangely?” she froze, her unhappy eyes narrowing even more so, if they were to thin just a little more her eyes would have closed. “Did something happen between you two? Is, is Mr Evans actually in the garden at all?” she muttered as she tried her best to figure out the situation. Of course that was never going to happen, it would have been impossible for her to ever be able to do so.
“No, nothing happened Mrs Penny” I told her honestly, struggling at holding in my amusement. “Nothing happened” I told her again, looking into her eyes that time so she could be sure of it.
“So what on earth is going on?” she asked again after a moment of watching me, I was such a terrible liar and she knew it, all she had to do was look into my eyes and she'd be able to tell.
“I'm teaching him about art, he wants to learn” I muttered casually, continuing to paint, going back to only half listening. “Look, it doesn't really matter, I just don't want you to disturb him, he was already distracted enough as it is, he needs to concentrate” I explained, taking it all very seriously all of a sudden, if I was going to try, I at least wanted to do it right. After I had seen his potential, I had to admit, I was intrigued to see what would come out of it, if anything.
“He has to eat, Ambrose and so do you” she persistent, only that time seeming more understanding, not nearly as stern about it.
“Yes I know, but, a little while longer won't hurt will it?” I said with just a quick pause.
“What do you expect us to do with all of the food that's been prepared?” Mrs Penny asked after a little sigh, seeming to give in.
“Just, leave it there, it won't go bad that quickly will it? We can just eat it in a bit” I told her with a smirk.
“What about the hot food? There's eggs”
“Mrs Penny” I whined, not in the mood for her endless questions to which I really couldn't have cared less about.
“Sorry sir, sorry, I shouldn't be burdening you with all of this, it's not your job to worry about it all, I'm sure we can sort it out just fine” she said sounding as if she had just accused me of murder only to find out I had no part in it at all. “I know you hate to be disturbed while you paint” she added just before turning away like a guilty puppy.
I took just a moment to myself, to close my eyes and take a deep breath before placing my paintbrush down.
“Mrs Penny, wait” I cried out, turning to the door, feeling sorry for her, I couldn't see her like that, all she was doing was her job, she was asking for help, I couldn't turn her away. “...You can give the hot food to the workers, the ones that are here to fix the ceiling, I saw them walk by earlier, I'm sure they'd appreciate it if they're still here” I told her with a smile.
“That's a lovely idea sir, so very generous of you, I'll get right to that” she cried with a genuine grin.
Just as she was about to turn an idea popped into my head. “Mrs Penny” I cried again, stopping her. “As for the rest of the food, there's something I'd like you to help me with” I said with wide eyes.
“What is it?” she asked happily.
“Could you possibly help me pack it up? I'd like to eat it outside with Embry, in between the flowers, I think it would be nice” I asked, feeling slightly hesitant about it, my eyes bouncing from hers to the floor like I was watching a yo yo.
“Yes, yes, I could do that, we could put it in a basket, you could lay out a blanket, make a picnic of it” she said after a moment with large sparkling eyes and a grin, seeming to very much approve of the idea.
“Thank you” I muttered before clearing my throat, finally able to keep my eyes still, to keep them locked to hers.
“Come find me in a bit, I'll get the hot food to the workers first, before it goes cold” she told me with a sweet smile before leaving.
I did just that, leaving it a little longer than she said I quickly got back into my painting and got maybe just a little bit carried away, somehow managing to somehow forgot, it wasn't like it really mattered, the food would be fine and like I had said before Embry must have fallen asleep, there was no way he hadn't gotten bored or hungry, he would have come to find me.
I hadn't realized just how long he had been out there until I finally stopped and went out to the hallway, walking past the large center piece grandfather clock. It must have been close to an hour, at a guess as I hadn't checked the time I had come in, I was becoming more and more impressed by him, he deserved some food at that point.
I quickly went to find Mrs Penny, to get the food out to him as I began to feel slightly guilty about it, as I had more or less pressured him to stay there, I felt bad imagining him out there with his stomach rumbling just because he wanted to make me happy, to give my lesson a chance.
I soon found her in the dinning room, the very first place I had looked.
“Look what I found” she cried with a grin the second she saw me, standing there at the table with a picnic basket, along with a half empty table.
“Great” I muttered with a smirk as I slowly approached her. “You could have waited though, I could have done it”
“It's not a problem sir” she told me surely with a smirk before continuing as I added a few last things in.
as with every morning, Chef Morrows would lay out a large selection of food to choice from, just the usual breakfast options really, even when it was just me eating alone, he'd always go to great extents, filling the table with far more than he needed to, it was good having Embry there, to have someone to share it all with.
I was never really sure why he carried on doing that after my parents had left and I had never thought to ask before, he'd make eggs, bacon, sausages, mushrooms, fried tomato, the table would be filled with a variety of cereals as well, I was usually just happy with a couple of slices of toast.
With all the hot food taken away there was still far too much for just Embry and I to eat, packed away in the basket we had a whole stick of bread just between the two of us, with a selection of toppings, there were various jams, there was marmalade, marmite, peanut butter...everything you could ever want on bread.
“Mrs Penny, you don't think this is too much do you?” I asked with a nervous smirk as I watched her close up the fully packed basket, ready to take out. “...Like, he won't think anything of it will he?” I asked as my insecurity began to grow.
“What would he think?” she asked cluelessly with narrow eyes.
“I don't know, I'm not really sure... I just” I stuttered from over thinking. “It's not really a normal thing to do is it?”
“...Because it's in the garden? Well, I suppose most people eat at their dining table but people still do it Ambrose” she muttered blankly, I could tell by her tone she was still having trouble understanding my point.
“No, I mean, two men, eating outside on the floor together, with the sun shinning, surrounded in flowers...” I added, slowly realizing how paranoid I was being. “He's not going to think it's some sort of romantic gesture is he?” I cried out, thinking out loud.
Mrs Penny watched me blankly for a moment before letting out a slight smirk, not seeming to be taking me seriously at all as she pulled the basket from the table, before holding her arm out for me to take it.
“...Would it be such a bad thing if he did think that?” she muttered with a sweet smile, looking to the ground, being careful not to make eye contact, knowing full well it would make me feel worse and manage to change my mind.
“Well, I just, I don't want to scare him off, I want to be his friend at the very least, if that's all I can get, I'll take it” I told her, thinking more about it.
“Look, Ambrose, it could go two ways I see it, Mr Evans seems like a very sweet young man, very in touch with his feelings, kind and goodhearted, so he'll see it as nothing more than a sign of friendship, a nice thing to do, or, he'll see it as something more than that, but, only if you make it that, I doubt that would even cross his mind otherwise, unless you give him a reason to think so, or if that's something that he wanted as well” she told me gently, reassuring me.
“Yeah, you're right, you're right” I cried with a grin after a quick moment of thought as I happily took the basket from her. She had managed to completely convince me, she was very good at that.
“Mr Evermore? I really do hope that is something that he wants though” Mrs Penny yelled out at the last minute just as I was about to close the door behind me. I didn't turn back, I just carried on walking away smiling sweetly to myself with the thought she had planted, as I made my way to the backdoor, ready to go outside and see the conclusion of my little experiment of sorts.
I very quietly, very slowly opened the door, just in case Embry could hear from where he was sitting, although it was quite unlikely it was still possible, I wanted to be sure. I didn't want him to know I was there, I wanted to see his real, untainted reaction, to see what he was really doing out there without me.
As soon as Embry came into my eye shot I couldn't help but grin, he hadn't fallen asleep, he hadn't looked away as far as I could tell, he was exactly how I had left him, sitting there, crossed legged, looking at what surrounded him.
I stood there still for just a moment admiring him before I began to approach him.
“Are you having fun?” I cried out over to him with wide eyes, my grin now superglued on.
“...Did you forget about me Ambrose?” he yelled over with a laugh, pulling his sparkling eyes away and over at me. It was as if I had hypnotized him, cast a spell on him to do exactly what I had said, giving him no choice but to do so, at least until I would click my fingers, or in this case, speak to him to snap him out of it.
“I could never” I yelled back as I quickly got closer, making it sound more of a joke, as if I had actually which wasn't exactly true. “Why didn't you come and get me Embry?” I muttered curiously as I reached him, placing the basket down on the emptiest patch of grass near him, not wanting to squash any flowers.
“You thought I would didn't you?” he smirked, looking me up at down.
I didn't say anything but according to him I didn't have to, all I did was twitch slightly, my lips breaking the grin for just a second.
Embry shock his head, smiling to himself as he glanced away.
“You thought I would get bored, that I would soon become frustrated, that I'm not capable of learning from you” he muttered, looking just slightly disappointment by the what he seemed to have deemed fact.
“...That's not it Embry, of course you're capable of learning, it's the from me part that's the problem, I never thought you'd give up on learning, that that's the reason you'd walk away, I thought it would be more because you'd loose faith in me as a teacher, that you'd disagree with my methods” I told him gently, explaining myself clearly as he had already clearly set his mind on what he thought of it all.
“I didn't even get bored, I like it here, sitting here, just thinking, it's peaceful” he told me with wide eyes as he watched me begin to lay things out on the ground.
“And did you, learn anything? Do you feel any different?” I asked curiously, glancing up from what I was doing for a second.
“Mmm, I leaned that if I sit here for long enough I will get really hungry” he said with a cheeky grin as he looked as if he was about to get up and make his way over to the picnic.
“Oh, well, too bad, it's a bit of a shame actually, I hoped you would have that's why I brought the food, as a reward, if you haven't learn anything yet, you can't have the reward” I told him, teasing him.
“What? No, that's not fair, you can't bring it all out and just not let me have any” Embry cried with a playful smirk as he started to pull himself up.
I rushed over to him as quickly as I could and pushed him back to the ground.
“I mean it, you can't have any until you've mastered the task” I told him as seriously and as strictly as I could without laughing.
He watched me blankly for a second as I sat there, leaning over him slightly with my hand still on his chest from where I had pushed him back.
“...How am I suppose to concentrate on the beauty, let it fill me as you said without food to fill me? The sound of my stomach rumbling is very distracting” he said gently with an interesting smile as his eyes bounced between mine and my hand rested on him. There was definitely something there between us in that moment, the way he was looking at me, with attraction, an almost lustful look as I told him what to do yet again, a look that he very quickly stopped once he had seemed to become aware, probably tipped off by my very obvious reaction.
Embry cleared his throat. “I guess I'll just have to try if I don't want to die of starvation, won't I?” he muttered with a smirk, pulling away from me and resuming his crossed legged position.
“Yes, try harder” I said with a slightly hesitant smirk before quickly pulling myself back up and back over to the food to continue setting it up.
I must have sat there for another five minutes once it had all been laid out, on my own, digging into the food as Embry continued the potential impossible, that was as long as I could go without looking at him, although it was just a game, just a bit of fun I did feel mean eating without him, knowing full well he was hungry, still, the power I seemed to have over him fascinated me. What was it even all about? Why was he doing that? There was no reason for him to, so why was he so willing to listen to me?
“...Can I have some now?” Embry whined, looking over with jealous eyes the second he realized my eyes were on him.
“Nope, not unless you've done it... keep staring” I mumbled with my mouth full of bread, before I couldn't help but laugh. “Stare” I cried again, in a serious tone to reclaim the strict act I was putting on.
Embry just laugh, he knew it was a joke, he knew I was only messing with him, maybe he didn't at first, I couldn't be sure, but in that moment it was.
“...Do you know what? I think it worked, I think I have done it” he cried with faked enthusiasm and an extremely over the top grin. “Yep, it did, I have, I get it now, I can stop now” he added as he pulled himself up once again in confidence.
I watched him blankly, looking up at him from my food filled picnic blanket, looking like a page of an advertisement, not moving a muscle that time.
“It couldn't have” I glared at him in disbelief.
“Well, it has...so, I can eat now” he said, finally seeming to regain his control, breaking the spell as he rushed over to the blanket and dropped down beside me.
“...It was never going to work, this exercise was never going to work, you can't teach poetry Embry, you can't teach art, it's an ability you're born with, it's just, the way you are, you either have it or you don't, so I can guarantee that you haven't learned anything” I said with a suppressed smile, giving away what I had thought from the beginning. I watched him closely to see his reaction, he didn't seem the slightest bit shocked and not only because he was more interested in the food, it seemed more because he had always known, that it wasn't at all news for him, so then why did he stay that whole time? If that's what he believed?
As I took a second away with my thoughts, trying to figure out the answer to the question, Embry snatched a piece of bread out of my hands and happily starting eating, ignoring me.
“Hey” I cried out once it was already too late.
“You're the one that made me sit out here this whole time for absolutely no reason...you owe me” Embry laughed, not seeming to be holding any grudges.
“Actually, I didn't know if anything would come of it, I wasn't sure, but since you never leaned anything, obviously nothing did” I told him with a smirk as I turned to the food, buttering up another piece of bread.
“...You know, I don't really think that was completely pointless, I think I get it now, I think I get you” he said after a moment with wide eyes and a grin, looking up from his food.
“You leaned something?” I uttered in disbelief, my eyes rapidly narrowing.
“...Ambrose, I don't think you live in another world” he told me after a little pause to catch a breath and think a little more about it.
“...You know that's just an expression right? I mean, I'm clearly on earth” I told me laughing. “...It just means that I pay no attention to anything around me, I spend a lot of time alone, doing my own things, away from others”
“...I think the reason you like to hide away is because you are so aware of all the evil, it's not that you can't see it, that you can see past it, you can't. It's that you choose not to see it, you ignore it, you don't see things any different from others, you just block out one half of what they do see, focusing on the part you like, amplifying it” he explained his theory. “Ambrose, I think you're so aware of all of the darkness, more than people expect, more than most people, that's why it's worse for you, why it's harder for you... that's right, isn't it? That's what you meant before when you said you can't handle it? You can't handle reality, that's why you can't function outside of here? It's not an illness that stops you from leaving, it's yourself, It's something you choose to do because over wise, it's too much for you to bare, isn't it?” he muttered.
He surprised me, It seemed he understood more than I thought he did, whether that was achieved from his time alone that morning or he had always understood, I couldn't be sure.
“...I'm not a very strong person Embry” I told him as I looked to the ground. “...not like you”
“I'm not strong Ambrose” he told me gently with a hesitant smile.
“Yes, yes, you are Embry, just the fact that you're still here, sitting in front of me proves it” I told him confidently with a half smirk, trying not to think too much about myself.
“Still not as strong as people seemed to think...you know in the army, they'd be young boys coming up to me, newbies, they'd always come to me, asking me how I did it, how I was always so brave, so hopeful, so capable of everything, the truth is, I wasn't, I was just as scared at them, I was just good at hiding it” he admitted.
“The fact you manged to do that, even if you were scared, even when inside you were crying, the fact you manage to control that, to hold it in, that makes you strong” I said with a confiding smile.
“...But, holding it all in isn't good is it? It's unhealthy having all that go on and to never talk about it”
“Well, not all the time, never opening up or offloading it all, but it was the right thing to do, I imagine you doing that helped all of those young boys, being their role model, making them want to be brave just like Embry Evans, filling them with confidence...it's amazing Embry” I told him with wide honest, admirable eyes.
“...Then, afterwards I should have gone off and had a cry and wet my pants...?” he laughed.
“If that would have helped, if that's what you needed, yeah” I told him blankly with a half smirk. “There's nothing wrong with being scared, you'd be crazy if you weren't, you did what you needed to do, you were strong for them and that must have taken so much effort, it must have been hard but you did it anyway, I think you're stronger than you think, feeling is not weak, running away is, you could have done that, but you didn't”
“...I have no doubt you would have done the exact same, for the boys, you would have been strong enough to stay strong” he told me with a grin.
“In some sort of parallel universe” I cried with a smirk, unconvinced. I couldn't even make it down the road to sign up, let alone actually get there, let alone actually stand at the base, with the guns going off, all the blood, all the pain, all the brutalities of war surrounding me. There was in way if I ever did make it there I would have been strong, I would have been able to be brave, I would have most definitely burst into tears and drop down to my knees, unable to move, frozen.
“Not in some sort of parallel universe Ambrose, this one” Embry cried. It seemed he really believe it, he was doing his best to try and convince me.
“Embry, in this one I never leave my house” I told him more seriously, my smile starting to fade.
“...But, why not? Why can't you? I know why you don't want to but, why can't you?” he asked, knowing full well I couldn't give him a reason.
I didn't say anything, he was right, there was no reason, I had nothing. Of course I was still scared, after all of that time, even in a more positive mindset I still felt nervous about the idea, but there was something different this time, in a way I wanted to, I wanted to do it, to leave, to go out. I didn't want to be scared anymore, whereas before I was happy to be, as long as it meant I could do what I wanted, as long as it could mean I could stay where I felt safe, where I felt comfortable. “...Do you think if I asked you to go out right now you could?” he asked after a moment, with a slightly sug look, knowing he was right, seeming to think he knew best.
“...Why? Why do you think all of a sudden things would be different?” I muttered, feeling quite embarrassed about it all, unable to keep my eyes on him.
“Because I think you're get better Ambrose, I know you want to change, you said so before, you just want it o a little slower” he cried passionately, I could tell he was on my side, that all he really wanted was the best for me, he didn't mean anything by it. “Do you?” Embry added, asking again.
“I don't know” I told him after a moment, pulling my eyes up to him slowly with an unsure, slightly self pitying smile.
Embry didn't say anything for a minute, he just watched me closely as he munched on some food.
“...So, why exactly did you decide you want to change? Why did you all of a sudden decide you didn't want to live like that anymore? If you really can't handle it? If you think you never will be? If you really don't think you're strong enough? Why? After all of those years?” he asked curiously.
“...Because, because for the first time I feel that maybe I'm capable of it, although I'm scared, I think I could get past it, somehow it doesn't seem as intense anymore, more, bearable” I told him gently.
“Why do you think that is? When did you start feeling that way?” he asked, seeming more and more engrossed in the topic the more I said.
I knew exactly why, I knew exactly what had changed, it was him, not only had he inspired me to be braver, allowing me to believe in myself, he also made me feel less alone, he was there for me, by my side, despite the short time we had actually known each other, I could trust him, I felt as if I could rely on him, but did I want to tell him that? I took a moment to think about it a little more before deciding how I would do it, how I'd get around him.
“Because of you Embry” I told him bluntly, diving right into the deep end. Only after I had done that I could determine whether or not I needed to opt out and head for the shallows, a more safer place. I watched his face carefully for a moment, waiting to find out.
He seemed more confused than anything, he couldn't see what he had done, why he made any difference, a reaction I had expected, of course he wouldn't have understood, he had no idea how amazing he was, the effects he really had on me.
I gave him a second to see if he would be able to come up with everything but his confusion just seemed to grow, crossing over with a little shock as well.
“...Seeing who you are now Embry, what you've managed to do, if you can do that, so much more than I will ever do, maybe I can at least acknowledge the world. You've inspired me, more than you'll ever know” I said with a grateful smile, putting him out of his misery, swimming to the shallows.
His confusion quickly turned to pride, delighted by what he was able to unconsciously do for me, it wasn't the complete truth but it worked.
“Do you really mean it? You really want to get through it? You're sure?” he asked with wide eyes.
“I want to try” I told him honestly with a confident smile.
“Well, then, Ambrose, I will continue to do anything I can to help and I can't wait to see the final results, I'm proud of you” he said with a smirk before turning away, happy with the information he had received.
We didn't say much else for a while, we both simply sat there eating in peace, which was equally as lovely, being solely in each others company, listening to the birds and feeling the warm sun on our skin, until a thought pooped into my head.
“Embry?” I said with a grin.
“Mmm?” he muttered, turning to me as his face glowed in the light.
“Did you write anything in that notepad I gave you? I just remembered I gave it to you?” I asked curiously with wide eyes as I smiled at him.
He didn't say anything, he just simply reached into his pocket, pulling out the small book and handed it to me with a drawn in smile.
I gently pulled it from his hands, feeling quite lured in by the mystery as I flicked through with a eager sparkling eyes.
“A poem” he said after a moment of watching as I half looked up from the pages, only just found it scribbled in.
It was only a few lines, maybe four of five, I can't remember exactly what it did say, all I can remember is how completely terrible it worse, worse than I even thought possible, how could such a simple art form go so wrong? It barely made sense, none of it went together, it was like reading four lines of four completely different poems.
I manged not to laugh, I didn't want to insult him, to hurt his feelings but there was definitely no way I was going to lie about it, I couldn't possibly let him walk around his wrong life thinking he had some sort of gift for it when in reality, he had the complete opposite.
“So?...” he asked as he watched, patiently waiting for an answer.
“It's, it's different” I told him, trying to be as polite as I could, holding in all the initial expressions my face wanted to let out.
“Really? That bad?” Embry cried, laughing himself, knowing full well what I thought and not caring in the silence. “It's alright, I'll get better won't I? You'll teach me”
“Yeah” I said hesitantly, trying my best to be as hopeful as him. “Also, we'll have to work on your hand writing as well, it's truly terrible, almost as if you've never written anything before... you have, haven't you? Letter at least?” I joked.
“Yes, I have, I did go to school you know” he cried defensively with a giggle.
“...Anything in the past few years?” I added.
“Yes” he cried again. “I'd write letter to my girlfriend” he told me confidently.
I froze for a moment, my heart stopping. I had never even thought much about that, the possibility had recurred to me, but not recently, not since I had been spending time with him, why was that? He was more than likely to have, he was very good looking with an amazing personality, sweet and caring, through my eyes, he could do no wrong.
“Are you alright?” Embry laughed, waving his hand in front of my dead eyes.
“Yeah, yeah I'm fine” I told him, putting on a smile as my eyes came back to life.
“I haven't, I haven't, pulled up any old feelings or something have I? It seemed what ever you were thinking about was pretty deep down...” he muttered, watching me closely as if I was a riddle to solve.
“No, you haven't, I was just trying to imagine you with a girl...how sad it would be, poor girl, having to put up with you” I turned it into a joke.
“...That's it, I'm actually going to kill you this time” Embry cried with a smirk as we started back up our fight from before, with him pushing me down and pretending to bunch me. He lay like that hovering over me for a couple of minutes before eventually falling down beside me to catch his breath.
I turned to him slightly as my giggles faded out into nothing, his chest like a seesaw somehow helping to calm me.
“...What about you though... have you ever had a girlfriend to write poem to Ambrose?” he asked curiously. “I mean even if you have never gone out much, people come here right, they're girls that work here” he explained himself as obviously he knew it was quite unlikely, for reasons that were unaware to him but others too.
“Me? No” I told him with a smirk, seeing the joke in it. “...What about yours though? Are you, still together?” I asked after a moment, very curiously.
“No” he replied simply with an amused smirk. That definitely interested me, filling me with relief, giving me just a little hope, not nearly as much as I needed though.
“Really? What, what happened?” I sat up slightly, looking to him.
“She didn't like my letters, they weren't poetic enough” he told me snickering. It just made the situation harder read, I was no longer sure if he was joking or not.
“I can't blame her, you really are terrible” I joked, playing along, hoping he would reveal more, but not wanting to ask in case I came across too eager, or too interested, nothing to spark anything in his brain.
He didn't bite, he knelt up, leaning over me and started swatting at me as he laughed, play fighting.
“That wasn't even the reason, I was joking you horrible person, I am trying you know” he cried through his giggles.
My knees bent up and my arms shielded my face as I giggled along with him.
“Why are you lying to me then?” I cried with a grin.
“I don't know” he said like a child, innocently.
“...What about a boyfriend? Have you ever had one of those?” I asked hesitantly, before all of a sudden seeming to gain a sense of confidence, maybe because I wanted to know so badly, as I continued to dodge his swinging hands.
He immediately froze, casing me to soon regret it, he gradually went silent as he hovered there over me, his face slowly straightening up.
“No, not one of them either” he told me blankly. It was hard to tell how he felt about it, he was doing a very good job at hiding it, I had no idea what to think.
“...Jamie? You didn't love him?” I asked gently with my eyes bouncing from his to the floor.
He didn't react straight away, he just sat there looking at me, seeming as if he had to think about it.
“...Only, like a brother, nothing more” he said with a what seemed to be genuine smirk.
“Okay” I said with a nod, giving him a confiding smile, I believed him, I believed he was thought he was telling me the truth, it was still possible that he had a different kind of love for Jamie, that he did have more romantic feelings for him, he just didn't know it, but I wasn't going to push it, it was mostly just wishful thinking. “It's just, what you were saying before, about, how it's possible for a man to like another, romantically, it just made me think” I explained, making sure he didn't know my real reasons behind asking.
“I wasn't talking about myself” he told me with a half smile.
“Alright, well, good to know I guess” I muttered blankly, giving him a quick glance before pulling my slightly disappointed eyes away, looking to the floor in order to hide them from him.
There was a moment of silence before I finally looked up again to find Embry staring at me, seeming as if he was thinking deeply about something, concentrating on me.
“What?” I cried nervously with a hesitant smile, did he know, had he figured it out? I started to panic internally.
“...Nothing” he muttered as he quickly pulled away.
I took a second to think, trying to figure out what was going on before giving up, I was trying not to spend too much time in my head.
“...Right, next step then, it's time” I cried out, clapping my hands as I quickly pulled myself up, motivated and ready.
“What?” Embry muttered as he continued to pick at the food.
“Your lesson” I told him as if it was obvious. “Come on”
“...I thought you said you can't teach art?” his eyes narrowed and he seemed more than happy to forget about it and just continue eating.
“I'm not sure I can but I want to try” I told him as held my hand out to him.
“Why?” he muttered as he dropped the food from his hand and prepared himself to get up.
“Because you've kind of change everything Embry, you've managed to make me see clearer” I told him with a thankful smile. “...I don't want my art to ever been seen as a way to escape anymore, I want it to be seen as something to be shared, something that connects people, something that maybe that helps to create something, friendship, love, that sparks something between two people, that shows them that there is more to life that what is right in front of them, that, life's what you make of it” I told him passionately as my eyes gestured to my hand.
“...What you paint of it” Embry said with a proud smile as he happily took a hold of my hand and jumped up.
“What you paint of it” I repeated with a smirk before I began to make my way back to the house.
We both headed into the studio and spend most of the day in there painting together, I tried my best to teach Embry, I told him all about mixing colors, about which brushes to use, about textures, all about my favorite paintings...anything I could think of, before letting him try for himself, which soon all turned into a bit more fun, a lot less serious. Then the evening was spent in the library, reading up on art, which most of the books consisted of, until we eventually fell asleep in there together, his shoulder on mine with a book of art history on my lap.
Despite the very relaxed, chilled atmosphere occasionally, just occasionally I was sure there were certain moments of intensity, in a way he looked at me or the way he spoke so softly, although it did not much more than intrigue me at the time, it was too early at that point to make any assumptions.
It wasn't hard to avoid, it had pretty much been drilled into my brain that what I really wanted was never going to happen, I was strong enough not to allow just a few little things to delude me, but I was curious to see just what Embry would do next, if it would always be like that, or progress into something, for once, I had something to look forward to, something to really live for.