Finding the Perfect Companion: Chapter Four

In this chapter: David starts attending classes, where he is introduced to Edgar Laurelhurst and his gang, where Edward is a victim of their crimes. David learns more about Edward’s life as well as paying a visit to Mr Garrison to discuss his final year.

6th September

Before David attended any classes that morning, David was to attend Mr Garrison’s office. Following breakfast, George escorted David through the building and up to the second floor, walking around the entire square until he reached the headmaster’s office. Outside the office in the corridor was a bench. George dropped his bag onto the bench and took a seat.

“I’ll wait for you out here. You shouldn’t be too long.”

“And what if you’re late to class?”

“The teachers know of my duties so they won’t say anything.”

“Fair enough.” David went on through, who explained the scenario to Garrison’s personal assistant, who allowed him to continue through to Garrison’s office. Knocking on the door,  a soft voice came from inside the room. “Come in.”

Garrison was in a cheerful mood and was eager to know of how David was settling in. A man of his fifties, he was a slightly plump man with thin grey hair. A pair of thick-rimmed glasses hung on his face. Although it was only the start of the year, he looked tired and warn-out. Because he was in a hurry due to starting an assembly  – he always wore his cloak when doing these – he wouldn’t keep David long, knowing that he had form and classes to attend. David took one of the two chairs on the opposite side of the desk. Garrison finished writing up some notes, pushed them to one side for his personal assistant to collect and distribute, and turned his attention to David. “Mr Chamberlain, how are you finding things so far?”

David shifted in his seat. “It’s alright thank you.”

“And I suspect Mr Crofts is helping you find your way around the school as well as settle in?”

“He’s doing his best. He escorted me up here this morning and is waiting outside at the moment before escorting me down to my first class. He’s already  started to get me familiar with the building, but for now he drops me off before going his own way – that’s if we’re not in the same class. Although if anything – this in unrelated to George – I just wished that people would keep things to themselves.”

Although Garrison might be out of contact with many of his students, he would always listen to any concerns, and intended to make sure each student was happy. Garrison fully turned his attention to David. “Such as ?”

“Miss Howard was trying to persuade me to eat more carrots at dinner last night, which I politely refused. I ate more than my usual amounts, but then came the cake, which was something that I wasn’t expecting. She tried to make me eat the cake on top, which for me is too much. I’d already had lunch earlier that day.”

“Well, if you’re full then you’re full. To keep them happy just eat little things during the day.”

“Let me finish.” Garrison kept quiet, allowing David to go on. “So she was trying to persuade me, but because she pressed on – you’ve probably  been warned about this – I lost my rag and went off in a huff. I didn’t break anything, but I needed to calm down.” David never responded to the question, but took the idea into mind for further assessing. Meanwhile, Garrison had other questions to ask.

“And have you mad e any friends?”

“It’s only my second day. Other than having the acquaintance of George Crofts, I’m also acquainted to Edward McArthur.”

“I see. I will say for Mr McArthur to have a friend, or at least an acquaintance is rather strange, but it will benefit the both of you, and I presume you’ll make more as time goes on. Now, the main thing I wanted to talk to you about was the considerations of taking a different subject come next term. I heard that you have already gained your Spanish GCSE. Now you have a choice. You can either take on an additional language or aim for a higher grade, even though a Grade B at your age is wonderful.”

“Can’t I change Latin for something else? I’m not really keen on that subject?”

“No, Latin is mandatory, and at the same time, it might benefit you at university. Say, what are you hoping to become?”

“I’m not quite sure yet, but I have in mind that I’d like to go into medicine.”

“Latin is incredibly handy for that, especially if you want to become a good doctor. McArthur has the impression of going among the science fields, so maybe you could help each other out?”

“Hmm, maybe, but what are the other languages that are studied here?”

“Welsh, Irish, French, Latin and German. I already know that you’re fluent in Welsh so the exam is going to be easy for you.”

“Would Portuguese be acceptable or Italian?”

“Italian can be studied. In f act both can be studied, providing you can put in the extra work, but for now let’s see how you do in the forthcoming examinations in January.”

Garrison looked at his watch, knowing that he had a few minutes to get down two floors and hold the assembly in time, and so pressed on a bit. “Fair enough. So I’ll take on Italian now, and then providing all goes well, I shall take on Portuguese.”

“Okay, I will let the subject coordinators know.” Garrison got up from his desk and walked to the door, David following. Locking the door, she shook hands with David. “Well, I better get going. I’ve got two floors to run down and hold an assembly within a minute. Good luck.” Running off towards the stairs, George escorted David back down two floors where the English classrooms were.

Although the morning started off well, David able to keep his head up and easily approach others through his subjects, David would soon find himself in trouble for intervening with things, which in David’s case, was one step closer to returning home.

Providing that lunch was over, George and David having theirs at the house (at lunch it was a buffet style and you come and go when you wished during the hour), George walked David from the house back into the school building through the main doors, a sharp turn left up the stairs onto the first floor and down the corridor to the language rooms. He then went to his own class. Waiting for the teacher, David was minding his own business as Edward came along and waited by the same classroom, but before he was able to greet David, a group of students came along and began to harass Edward.

Edward was one of those suitable lads that anyone could get along with, however one thing that David learned that day was the burden of Edward’s life, he was an orphan. To Edward’s disadvantage, since that night when he found out about his parents death, word had got around the school and along with his superior intelligence, he has been bullied ever since. Most students by now don’t bother to take notice of him, but some couldn’t leave matters alone.

As he was waiting to go inside, one of the students in a gang purposely tripped him over as they rounded the corridor, sending his equipment across the hallway. The other students nearby glanced at Edward and then continued with their conversations, as if nothing had happened. As for David, he tried at first not to get involved, wondering where this was all going, but none were going to help the poor soul and so came away from the wall and set to work picking Edward’s things up.

The gang was of five lads . The one who tripped him over snarled and shoved him in the rib with his right foot. “Are you sure you’re not blind McArthur? There’s a nice opticians in the town waiting for you.”

Gritting his teeth, Edward churned out an insult. “Piss off!” Now the leader of the gang began to talk, standing tall over him as if he were the master and Edward the slave.

“Now McArthur, I thought one like you wouldn’t swear? Now get up onto two feet and collect your belongings like a good little boy.” A few sniggers in the corridor could be heard, and the student continued. “I’m sure that is one thing a mother is supposed to tell you, but then again, you don’t have one so no wonder you’re stupid.”

Finishing collecting the items together and placing them back into his bag; David outstretched a hand so that Edward could get back up, a smile forming. Noticing his friend as he glanced upwards, Edward’s hand clasped David’s and eventually he was standing again, smiling back. The gang of five noticed this encounter, and then continued to harass him, having fresh material to work upon.

“McArthur’s got a little buddy,” one of the gang announced.

“It must be his boyfriend. No wonder he’s never with  a girl. Then again, he’s never with anybody.” The leader of the group then turned on David, pointing a finger towards him, backing David into the wall he was leaning against to begin with. “And who are you? I haven’t seen you around before.”

“I’m no one. I’m just helping someone who doesn’t deserve to be harassed by a bunch of dicks!”

“Yeah well, whilst on the subject of dicks, I’d stay away from him if I were you. If you end up attached to him then he’ll take you, if you know what I mean.” Two of the five members were imitating a couple having sexual intercourse, the gang chortling as they continued to mock him. David turned to Edward, whose embarrassed expression came with mouthed apologies. Embarrassment soon coiled into anger as Edward grabbed the main member by his blazer collar and shoved him against the wall.

“You’re such a pansy,” the main member smirked, shoving a knee in between his knees and rubbing.

“A pansy is a flower Edgar. The last time I remember, I physically don’t have the resemblance of a flower. But then at the same time a flower is very attractive. Are you trying to tell me that I’m attractive?” David kept his mouth shut.

“That’s another thing that your parents forgot to teach you. What you can and can’t say to people.” Edward delivered a blow to the face, and Edgar was lucky he weren’t bleeding, the famous smirk still remaining in its place. The other four lads were on their feet and howling. “Go on McArthur. Kiss him like you know you want to!”

David then opened his gob. “Now lads, can we not fight?”

Edward cut him off. “Now I’ve met some attractive people in my life, and I mean really attractive, but even I can do better than him.” Despite that the group constantly bullied Edward, he had quite some nerve to remain sarcastic around them. “And I better not kiss him; he’s probably riddled with all sorts.” Edward turned to David. “Do you want to kiss him Chamberlain?”

“Na, I can manage thanks.”

The gang continued on. “That’s only because you’re kissing each other!”

David turned to them, which they soon shut up. “All tell me lads, what’s wrong with two guys kissing each other? We’re not dating so you can keep your mouths shut, and even if I find Ed here extremely attractive – well he did but he weren’t exactly going to tell them that – , which to say he isn’t bad looking I must admit, we met yesterday. I’ve been here two days, don’t you think it’s illogical for that to happen?” The lads remained silent.

Edward glanced to David, where David wondered whether he’d put the right words forward, Edward whispering ‘thank you’ as he continued. “I know,” Edward turned to the rest of the gang, “Why don’t one of you kiss him since as you hang around him so much? I’m sure that at least one of you has the urge to taste his wet filthy tongue against yours and to touch him in all the right places.”

“No, we’re good thanks.” The others backed away in disgust, shuddering, but before any more could be said, their language teacher had arrived. Unlocking the door, the students followed him in. Because it was free choice on seating, David remained next to Edward. Edward was shocked to find that David stayed with him. “What was that all about?” David asked Edward as they unpacked their things for the session.”

“I’ll tell you later.”

The teacher dropped his materials onto the front desk, and took some chalk to write out the date and title on the board, leaving enough time for the students to prepare themselves and settle down. Placing the chalk onto his desk, the teacher drew his attention to the class. “Bon après-midi.”

The class replied back. “Bon après-midi, Monsieur Pierre.”

Then Professor Pierre went on about how their skills needed to be improved before they all took their exams in January. Because the entire class had been working on all 6 subjects for a year, if David wanted to gain a good pass in each of them then he would have to work twice as hard. It was a good thing he was fluent in Welsh, and Edward could help him pass the Gaelic GCSE, providing the kept their companionship strong and tried to stay out of trouble.

To begin the lesson, Pierre began a starter activity. In French he would ask various students questions based on their summer, and the student had to reply in French, which he gave them feedback on their replies afterwards. Pierre would stroll across the classroom picking random students. The finger had landed on Edward. “Edward, où êtes-vous allés en vacances cet été?” Edward replied in French with that he spent his summer in New York. “Good, we just need to work a little on the pronunciation.” Then Professor Pierre went to ask David a question.

“Très bien. Bienvenue à Hounslow, David, où venez-vous?” Which was welcoming David to the school and asking where he was coming from. David replied with “Originaire de York, mais je vis à Londres,” means that he originally came from York but was living in London. “Again, same with McArthur. You’re words are correct, and we’ll need to boost up your language skills between now and January for every language you’re to study – other than Welsh of course – , but your pronunciation needs work. We need to hear the French tongue there, not the Yorkie lad. Other than that, a good start.”

Pierre then collected a wad of paper from the front desk and handed a sheet to each student. The idea of the activity was to sharpen up their skills of when one talks about their families. Edgar predicted the topic through the pictures and commented on it, knowing that it would only make things worse.

Edgar scrunched up a bit of scrap paper and threw it in Edward’s direction. Sighing and completely ignoring it, he tapped on Edward’s shoulder and muttered to him. “Well, McArthur, there’s no point in you completing this task then, considering you don’t have one to talk about.” To Edgar’s disadvantage, Pierre was nearby and could hear extremely well.

“Something wrong that you’d like to share with the class, Laurelhurst?”

“No need sharing sir, everyone already knows, including his little boyfriend Mr Newbie over here.” Edgar’s left index finger was aimed at David, who by now was well known through Edgar. Although David had heard about the loss of Edward’s mother from Edgar, he didn’t know the true story.

“Knows what?” David went to question, twisting in his seat to turn to Edgar, sitting directly behind him.

“Whatever it is, keep it out my classroom!” Before Pierre could finish off, Edgar had already spilled the beans.

“You don’t know David? Shame, what type of boyfriend is Edward? There is simply no point in Edward joining in because he doesn’t have a family to talk about, other than you of course.”

“Everyone has a…” Before mentioning the word family, Edward had already got up out of his seat, grabbed him by his tie and punched him, which because Edgar already didn’t have the chair on four legs, it sent the chair tilting over, Edgar’s head smacking into the desk behind him, which he cut his head and the punch gave him a nosebleed, following the first failed attempt.

Edward was trying to hold back tears, allowing the many years of frustration bottled up seep out. Edward got out of the chair and went to Edgar, who was lying helplessly on the floor. “I’m sick to death of hearing your bullshit, Edgar! Surely there’s someone else you can annoy for once? If anything I should tape your face up so none of us have to hear your crap! Just because I don’t have any parents, it doesn’t mean I don’t have a family. Now shut up before I choke you!”

Two words would cause Edward to nearly kill his enemy. “Homo orphan.”

Edward hovered above Edgar as the tie was pulled tightly around his neck, Edward trying to suffocate Edgar, Edgar having difficulty to breathe. Professor Pierre was trying to hold back Edgar’s gang, and David pulled Edward off Edgar and away as he loosened up the tie, Edgar choking from the lack of oxygen.

Edward yelled at David. “What the hell did you do that for? The bastard deserves to die!” With the tie loosened up, David grabbed onto Edward to keep him away. Through Edward’s violence, David could see how his actions at home affected his parents when they were concerned, and alongside his violence the night before at the dinner table, he knew now he needed to change, as did Edward.

“Abuse! Report him! Have him expelled!” David yelled to stick up for his only friend. “Shut up you idiot! The little shit bloody deserved it!”

Pierre looked around for sensible enough students to send for help. “Higgins. Go down and get a first aider. Johnson, go and get us some staff to keep the crowds separated.”

“Sharp, Vernon, Talbot, McKeith, McArthur and Chamberlain, Garrison’s office now!”

Edward unclasped himself from David and turned to Pierre. “Piss off!” Edward then grabbed his items, bagged them and left the classroom, heading towards the other set of stairs. David grabbed his own items and followed him out, managing to catch up by running, grabbing his arm to stop.

“Ed!”

“What are you…?” David grabbed Edward’s blazer collar and threw him against the wall to stop continuing on down the corridor, David leaning in to pin him to the wall. “What are you doing? Let me go!”

Hands had gone to both of his shoulders to pin him against the wall, David liking how Edward’s shoulders moulded in his hands and his body flush against him. “Have you lost your mind? You can’t just and punch someone when you feel like it!!” Gradually their shouting became soft words.

“Says the man who almost wrecked the dining hall last night!”

“I suffer from depression, mental health problems and a supposed eating disorder! I can’t help that!”

“Bullshit! I’ve been a victim of bullying all my life and this is called standing up! And who are you to tell me? I don’t need them, and I certainly don’t need you!” Edward’s hands went to David’s shoulders, trying to shove him away, David having a tiny bit more strength in him than Edward.

“I’m a friend trying to help and yes you do need me because that in there was exactly how I acted before I came here and met you. Your actions today gave me a calling that I need to change for the better and so do you. I need you and you need me. We need each other.”

Edward gave up trying, and listened to what David was telling him, but Edward was unsure of whether he could trust David. “I thought last night was a one off?”

“No, I’ve been like that now for ages, and I want to help you. I want be there for you when something goes wrong, to pick you up and get you back up onto your feet. I want to be there when you smile and you’re happy. I want you in my life, and I want you as my friend. Can we at least be that?”

“I suppose.”

“So tell me, what is it between you two?”

“Is there any point in saying it?”

“What?”

Edward lowered his voice and re-told the story. “Ever since that first parent’s night, that’s when it began. I’m an orphan all right! That’s the main reason why I’m on the scholarship. I’m thankful of my grandparents to raise me.”

“I’m sorry, I didn’t know. When Edgar mentioned it, I thought he was lying just to torment you further. He never mentioned your dad. I shouldn’t have held you back.”

“It’s not your fault. You’re only doing what a friend does, and you’re the first person who’s actually helped me to calm down in a situation like this. On previous occasions, Miss Howard usually just lets me be alone for a while until I’ve calmed down.”

“That’s what my mother does.”

Tears spilled down Edward’s cheeks as his voice cracked, his arms snaking around David as he broke down, David opening to him. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry Dave.”

David’s one hand went into Edward’s hair to soothe him, the other wiping the tears away as they hugged. “Ssh, it’s okay. It’s going to be okay.” The whimpers gradually faded, Edward knowing that sobbing in the middle of the corridor wasn’t the best of plans.

“But are you going to release me now?”

“Yes, if you’d like me to. You don’t have to sit in silence you know. There’s always me to talk to, like what you did with me last night.” David let go of Edward and moved away. Edward didn’t move. A smile grew to his face, David beaming back.

Edward came away from the wall and straightened up his uniform. “Are you going to Garrison’s?”

“Might as well scoop up the news. How about you?”

“I’m going to my thinking spot.”

“I think its best you come. You might as well come with me.”

“Thinking spot later?”

“Yeah all right, whatever that is.”

Edward grabbed hold of David’s hand and pulled him back the way they came, past the language room and up to the stairs to the second floor, describing and explaining on the way his thinking spot. By the time that both of them were there, Garrison had just finished dealing with the final of Edgar’s gang. Instead of waiting outside the office, David and Edward barged their way past the door.

“Ah Mr McArthur and Mr Chamberlain how nice of you to come. I better speak to David first.”

“Can you speak to us both at the same time? We technically both committed the same crime and you’d be saving time as well for more important things.”

“You’re a persuader, David. I don’t usually agree, but in this case I will. Both of you sit down.” Both walked in and took the empty seats, Garrison working out a conclusion for their punishment.

“Both of you are incredibly lucky, especially you McArthur that neither of you are suspended nor expelled. As for you Chamberlain, you’ve only been here two days and I think this isn’t going to work out. I was almost certain this morning, but now I’m not so sure.”

David clasped his hands together and prayed. “Please send me home. Please send me home.” Edward and Garrison both glanced at David.

“Why?”

“Because I can’t stand this place and wished I never came here. I want to be home in London where I’m used to things. Where I’m happy and I know the people, even if I don’t get on with them. I want my other friend back and here to help me when I need him, and when he needs me.”

Garrison let out a chuckle. Many of the new students ended up like this to begin with, and had dealt with many of David’s kind before. He knew that once they had been given a while away from home, things soon begin to flow. This was the usual behaviour for any new student. “That’s not going to happen. You need to try new things and to think what your parents would say if they had to lose their jobs because of you. Where would you be then?”

“Well technically it’s their fault I’m here in the first place. They shouldn’t of dumped me here and get the extravagance of America all to themselves.” David said no more and let Garrison continue. “Look at it this way, is there any reason at all you’d stay?”

“One.” David glanced over to Edward, who also had a bright look on his face, knowing what David was going to mention. “Him here. I wouldn’t want to lose him and lose our friendship.”

“Well, I’ve come to an arrangement. Both of you are going to receive counselling, and I’m pairing you together as roommates. Mr Crofts has agreed to change over, and Edgar will be away for a few days getting stitches to his forehead, thanks to your blow to his head. He’s on the nebuliser as well to try and steady his breathing.” Garrison’s tone morphed from charmed to stone cold. “You’re let off for now, but if I find one more crime with your names written across it and you’re expelled. Now leave my office!”

Silently they both walked out, not bothering to greet Garrison’s PA so that they were back in the main corridor to the school. Edward then grabbed David’s hand again. “Where are you taking me now?”

“Thinking spot.”

Edward led David down the two flights of stairs back to the ground floor, taking him across the corridor until they reached the back entrance. They passed the tennis courts as they crossed the fields and went towards the woodland at the farthest edge of the school grounds. No one ever went there, minus the caretaker to manage the woodland. This provided perfect comfort for Edward to review his thoughts and be out of sight from anyone else. Sitting down into the ankle-high grass, he pulled David down as he silently broke into tears. Gingerly, David carded an arm around his shoulders, and handed him the pack of tissues from his blazer pocket. “It still hurts doesn’t it? After all this time, your mind always traces back to the thing you want the most but know is gone.”

“Of course it does. I’d do anything to have the people I love the most back.”

“Need a hug?”

“Please?” Edward shuffled closer so that David’s arms could properly embrace him, Edward’s head resting in the small space between shoulder and chin as David stroked up and down his arm. “I like your hugs. They’re warm and knowing, like you truly understand and care.”

“That’s because I do care. I care about you. Like what I said upstairs, I don’t like to see you upset. If you cry then I’ll cry.” Edward let out a small chuckle and continued listening to David. “I want to help you and make you happy again.”

“I’m upset but I’m also happy. I’m happy I’ve met someone like you.” David squeezed him as a way to say thank you, almost squeezing too tight. “Okay don’t kill me!”

“Any better?”

“A little.”

“Cheeky sod!” David released his arm as Edward laughed, Edward shuffling closer still to lean on him. David’s arm soon went back.

“I have a question.” Edward glanced up at David. “If it were anyone else who was in my boat, would you stand up for him or her?”

“Of course. No one deserves to be a victim of bullying.”

“Thank you.” Edward buried his nose deep into the scent of David, not knowing exactly what that meant. David had an idea on how to stop Edward from trembling, and straightened out his legs.

David met Edward’s eyes and then glanced down to his lap, Edward’s following. “Lie down.” Edward’s head came up to meet David’s. “What?”

“Lie down. Rest your head on my lap. I’ve got an idea. My friend always does this to help me calm down when I’m like this.” Edward gave it a go and shuffled so that his head was in David’s lap, eyes on each other. David brought his hand down and started stroking the soft dark curls. David lowered his voice to make things more intimate, knowing that this was between them only and no one else had the right to know their secrets. “Does that help?”

“It’s nice, I like it. Your friend is a genius and your fingers are so soft, like stroking silk or velvet.”

“Your hair is soft. You must keep it in great condition.”

“Like you then.” For a while that’s how they remained, until Edward looked up towards David in question.

David spoke softly. “Yes?”

“It’s like how you said; no one deserves to be a victim of bullying. Does that mean to say that everyone is also beautiful?”

David was puzzled, face scrunching up in question, trying to work out exactly what Edward meant. “I don’t follow.”

Edward let out a sigh and then explained. “Basically, I know I’m a nosey bugger, but what I want to know is actually why you don’t eat? Now I know how you’re not gaining enough nutrients and that you’ve got an eating disorder but I want you to tell me. If I can trust you with what I’m going through and my life, can’t you trust me?”

“What? How do you?” David went silent. “Promise you won’t tell?”

Edward attempted to shrug his shoulders. “Who would I tell?”

David paused for a moment, working out how exactly to confess. Confident enough, he began. “I’m worried about how I look. No one had ever taken notice of me, and I was bullied through school because of my frame. As I grew up I was tall but a bit chubby, and the girls always went for the same type of guy. I wished I were noticed. I was first suffering from anorexia, but then my parents noticed the change and notified the doctor. They made me see a councillor but that didn’t work. I began to eat more but then would force myself to throw up, suffering from bulimia. How do you know?”

“I saw you this morning throwing up after you’ve eaten. I heard you this morning after breakfast and then at lunch.”

David continued to stroke, hands going in deeper. A smirk came to his face. “Are you watching me?”

“Eating disorders are eating disorders Dave, and you don’t need to change.” Edward raised himself up to meet David, a hand cupped David’s face to make sure he was paying attention as he leaned in. “You’re beautiful, absolutely beautiful and you need to know that and be proud of who you are.”

“No one has ever called me beautiful.”

“That makes me the first then, and you are. So stop worrying about how you look.”

“So we both have problems. You and your orphanage, relenting to violence and the constant gay-bashing you receive, and me and my self-conscience and confidence, as well as relenting to violence.” Edward lay back down. A moment of silence passed.

Following that silence, David turned to Edward, who also had questions. “Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Are you gay?”

“I don’t know. I’ve never loved anyone; men or women quite like that. I’ve never had a crush either, but sometimes there’s things I find about people that I find attractive. How about you? Have you kissed anyone?”

David pondered on whether he should tell Edward about Jason, but if Edward was going to be honest, then so should he. “I’ve never kissed a woman before, had a crush on a few in the past though.”

“So, you’ve kissed a man?”

“One, my friend Jason. We’ve known each other for six years. I didn’t even know I liked him.”

“What was it like getting kissed by him? They say it’s unnatural, but if it feels right then what’s to worry?”

“It was electrifying. Like a million fireworks are going off at once and you can’t concentrate, but you focus on the most beautiful one of them all. It was meant to be a departing kiss. We met the night before I was coming here, so two days ago, and after calming me down, I told him I didn’t want to leave. He said I’d give you a departing kiss if you like. I thought he was joking but he was serious. He pulled me in and once his lips touched mine, I let myself go and got lost in him and oh that tongue and what he can do with it. Things went a bit overboard though.” Edward shifted slightly. “What do you mean?”

“Well I touched his arse, which is lovely. Sorry if this is too much info.”

“It’s fine. Please continue.”

“Okay, so when he broke away he mentioned about it and I said I couldn’t help myself. He then went to kiss me again and touched my own arse, bringing us closer together.”

“So much for a departing kiss. Wait what’s wrong with that?”

“He has a girlfriend.”

“Oh. Well maybe even though he likes the girl, he’s dating her because he’s unsure of himself. Do you like him?”

“I.. I don’t know. I don’t really know what I like. There’s something I like about him and as much as I’d like to be in a relationship with him, I don’t think I could spend the remainder of my life with him.” Feeling a little uncomfortable, Edward shuffled about to try and remain comfy. “Sorry if my head is uncomfortable on you.”

“It’s fine. I like being like this. How did you manage to find the woodland?”

“When I first found out the news of my parents.”

“I see. Are we even allowed here?” David hadn’t realised up until this moment that he was still fingering Edward’s curls, which if he didn’t watch it; it would soon lead to a temptation. “It’s part of the school grounds, so yeah.”

David’s pulse began to quicken. “If I was, you know, would you it offend you?”

“No.” Thank goodness for that. “The same for me?”

“No. I’m surprised you called me beautiful.”

Edward raised himself again, a hand going through David’s hair as their heads touched, Edward whispering to David. “Dave, you’re divine. You’re caring and humble; you listen to people and help them. No one has ever stood up for me before. You could have got yourself hurt or expelled even and all because you don’t like seeing someone in pain. Anyone would be lucky to have you as their man.” I certainly would, Edward thought to himself, but that was for another time.

David felt his wrist watch slide along his skin, which reminded him about classes, and went to check his watch. “Shouldn’t we be getting back to classes?”

“Not if you want round two with Edgar’s gang, and we’ve missed nearly half of it already.”

“Better not then. Shall we stay here or go back to the house and prepare to change over?”

“Stay here for a while. It’s not often that you get to do this on a nice warm afternoon. Just don’t get into trouble next time yeah.”

David relaxed his head against the tree, closed his eyes and thought of home. “I still want to go home though.”

“And leave me here?”

A thought came to mind, a way in which he could have the best of both, although it would be impossible to accomplish. I’d take you with me, David thought to himself. “I know, come with me.”

“I can’t, and you know it wouldn’t work either. They’d soon find us.”

“Then I have a reason to stay. Keeping you protected.”

“And I have finally a reason to be happy. You.” David really did feel like kissing him then, but decided it might not be a brilliant idea, especially since they hadn’t known each other all that long.

A little while later they went to back to Ashbury House, where Miss Howard was preparing dinner. Dinners on the weekdays were smaller as they already provided a heavy lunch during school hours, so David could get away with eating a little less tonight.

“Afternoon Miss.”

“What are you pair doing out of class? Oh never mind, I’ve received the news about the room change. Edward, we can make the change in a few days, by then Edgar will be out of hospital. You’re lucky you didn’t kill him.”

“Thank you, and I’m sorry if I’m being rude and grim, but sometimes he does deserve it.”

Miss Howard dropped the knife she was holding and placed it onto the chopping board. “No one deserves to die.”

“If they torture people enough then they do.”

“Right, anyway Shepherd’s Pie tonight lads. Can I trust you’ll eat some more tonight David and not cause a scene?”

David was starting to feel a little uncomfortable, but Edward grabbed David’s hand and began to soothe him, fingers entwined as the thumb stroked his palm, reminding him of not needing worry about looks. “I’ll try my best.”

“Good to hear.” They left Miss Howard with the dinner preparations, and went upstairs to change, going their separate ways to their rooms. Edward was a much quicker dresser than David, especially with David taking the extra time to remember where all his clothes were housed. David was almost out of uniform and into his own clothes when Edward forgot himself and walked in on David, still not fully dressed.

Edward, from the scene he had walked in on, went to back away until David was ready for him to enter. From a distance he could see David’s naked torso, and noticed the damages, which he already looked fine from how he was. If only he could instantly cure him. “I… sorry. I’ll just wait out here.”

David muffled under his shirt. “It’s fine, you can come in, actually Ed, can you help me? I’m a little stuck. You don’t mind do you?”

Secretly, Edward was pleased, meaning that he could touch skin. Indeed, he found David attractive. “No.” Edward crossed the distance and told David to stay still as he undone the knots, hands flying all over the place as he finished dressing the other. Having the knots undone, Edward pulled down his top, his knuckles stroking their way down David’s sides, sparks and shivers going through both of them.

Both dressed, they sat on the edge of David’s bed, then a knock came and Miss Howard walked in, holding a letter. “This came for you today David.”

“Can you place it on the desk for me?”

“You lazy bugger, but just this once.” Placing it on the desk, she left the room and went to continue with dinner.

“Read it. I’ll go if you want to read it.”

“It’s alright, I’ll read it later. Right now it’s just us.”

“Until about 10 minutes time and then everyone else comes back, meaning a distraction.” Dave lay down on the bed, shuffling up so that Edward could lie next to him, where their minds drifted to other topics.

During the evening at dinner, Edward made sure he sat next to David at the dining table. The plates were passed along with a helping of pie, a veggie option available for veggies and vegans. David felt fine with eating the helping he already had, but persuasive and sneaky Edward managed to gradually sneak a few extra helpings of peas on his plate so that David ate more without noticing. Next came the cake, a coffee cake this time. David carved a small slice for himself and gradually wedged it down with the pie, Edward constantly reassuring him every time David felt he couldn’t eat no more.

After dinner when George and David were in their room, George dressing himself for bed and David writing in his journal, and writing to Jason at the same time, George wondered about David and Edward’s friendship. George was halfway dressed when questions began to seep past George’s lips.

Trying to get out of his trousers, George began to ask. “Question for you David. How long have you and Edward known each other?”

“Two days. We met on the train coming up from Paddington. Why?”

“You seem a little more than friends and that you’ve known each other for a lifetime. Is there something you’re not telling me?”

“No, and it wouldn’t be any of your business anyway.”

“All right, I was only asking! Calm down. It’s just like you act as if you’ve known each other your entire lives.”

“He’s my first proper friend, as I am for him. Okay, I have Jason back at home, but that’s it.”

“Who’s Jason?”

“A friend back home. That’s who I’m writing the letter to.”

“Let me see.”

“No way. Too much information.” David placed his journal away, Edward proposing the idea of David keeping track of how much progress he could make overcoming his eating disorder. “What do you have against Edward?”

George placed his uniform away and flopped onto the bed, removing the duvet for him to slip in beneath. “Nothing, but I’ve kept my distance because it wasn’t my business. I wouldn’t know what to talk to Edward about.”

“Give him a chance, you’ll probably find something in common. Just even the hi and how are things would help.”

“We’ll see.”

“Lights out!” And all was silent.

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