There are secrets almost everyone knows.
Knox is writing page after page of overly romantic, sentimental poetry for and about Chris. He's getting better at it, slowly, at least now he's moved past the stage of feeling the need to rhyme love with dove at least once in every verse.
They all know, maybe even Knox, that it's hopeless, and that the girl will break his heart, sooner or later, probably sooner. But his infatuation is entertaining and provides endless amounts of teasing opportunities, so they all play along. They cheer him on, nodding thoughtfully as they listen to the latest work of flowery verse, assuring him that it's a certain way to win the girl's heart. Hellton is a very dull place, after all, and every distraction is a welcomed one.
Knox has always been the nice, sensible one. He found his role to play early on, as a young boy in his first year at Hellton. He looked at his new friends, the passionate Neil, the bold Charlie, the brilliant Meeks and realised what they needed from him. He's been true to his part for years, carrying the discipline banner with pride. But it changed when he saw Chris open the door, it had to change. He's tired of himself. He won't be cautious, won't be disciplined, won't be sensible anymore. He's invincible.
There are secrets some people know.
Neil is spending every free moment, and quite a few of his occupied ones, going over Puck's lines. When he reluctantly tries to fall asleep, the by now well-worn copy of A Midsummer Night's Dream is resting under his pillow. Sometimes, when sleep refuses to find him, he stretches his hand out, until his fingertips touch the edges of the book. It feels safe and exciting at the same time, and he bites his lower lip to keep from laughing aloud.
"If we shadows have offended, think but this, and all is mended, that you have but slumbered here..." Neil interrupts himself, looking annoyed, "slumbered here..."
"...while these visions did appear," Todd mumbles, without lifting his eyes from the chemistry book he's so intently studying.
"Very impressive, Todd," Charlie laughs. "Planning to steal Neil's thunder?"
Todd looks up then, with confused eyes. "What? N-no," he stutters but relaxes when he sees the smiles on the other boys' faces. He shakes his head slightly and turns back to his chemistry book. "I've just heard it often enough by now," he mutters. "Sometimes he says them in his sleep." He's trying to sound annoyed, but it's almost painfully obvious that he'd do anything for Neil, and they all know it. But it's all right, because it's Neil, and he would never take advantage of a thing like that. They others might, Cameron would, maybe Charlie too, but never Neil. They don't know whether to admire him of despise him for that.
Todd's mother is horrible at remembering names. She can go through a whole list of relatives before getting his name right, calling him by the names of uncles and cousins. When she finally reaches the correct name, there is always a slight disappointment in her voice, as if with the name she remembered who he actually is. She's never once called him by his brother's name.
Todd has never known anyone like Neil. He never had friends at Balincrest. When the boys noticed how shy and quiet he was, they gave up on him pretty quickly. He'd expected the same thing to happen at Welton. What he didn't expect was a roommate who refused to let him be, whose friends asked him over and over to join them, and when he finally did, refused to let him go. He still can't quite believe how lucky he's been.
There are secrets two people know.
Charlie is kissing Meeks in the privacy his room while Meeks is trying to explain the finer points of trigonometry. Charlie's kicked Cameron out, claiming that the colour of his hair was distracting Charlie from his important studies. Meeks blushes and protests, just like he always does, but after remarkably little persuasion he gives in, just like he always does. There are sweetly flavoured kisses and hands clutching at shirts. Never more than that. But it's enough.
It's a secret well kept, because neither of them are willing to face the consequences if it was revealed. They share other secrets instead, to strengthen the one they share together.
Meeks is happiest when he's at Welton. Unlike most of his friends, Meeks, as an only child, is genuinely loved by his mother and father. He loves them back, but there is something almost suffocating about being at home with his parents who are so impressed, so proud of their son that they don't even know what to say to him, fearing it might sound too simple for their intelligent boy. He's relieved every time a new semester starts, because strangely enough, it's at Hellton he feels free.
Charlie wouldn't mind being a banker all that much. Handling money all day long seems like a rather nice way to make a living. He isn't stupid, he knows that he has to do something with his life. A bank is just as good as any other place. He would like to be given a choice, though. So, he's protesting mostly out of principle, but partly because he doesn't want to be anything that reminds him of his father.
There are secrets one person knows.
Cameron knows they don't like him very much. He pretends that he doesn't notice, but of course he does. How could he not? He tries so hard not to let it get to him, and most of the time he succeeds. When he doesn't, he vows that he will show them all one day, show them that they aren't better than him, like they seem to think. He'll find a way.
Pitts doesn't need much sleep anymore. He taught himself how to survive on only a few hours of sleep very early on, back when he first realised that he needed a lot more time to learn the things his friends seemed to grasp instantly. Tonight, like every other night, he waits until Meeks is asleep, snoring softly, before he gets out of bed and sits down by his desk, turning the light on. Like so many nights before in the last few weeks, he opens a book to page 542, reading the first few lines, before closing it again with a sigh and putting the book on the bottom of the pile. There just aren't enough hours in a day as it is. He doesn't have time to gather any rosebuds.
Mr. Keating is watching them leave from his window, a mix of pride and nostalgia in his heart. Seven silhouettes in the moonlight, running towards the woods, towards the cave. He doesn't know them anymore, the boys of the Dead Poets' Society of his own time. Friendships that were meant to last forever faded away and turned to dust as everyone went their separate ways. He looks at these boys, seeing reflections of another time, and wishes them better luck.
He doesn't know the impact he's already had on them, doesn't know how many times the phrase Carpe Diem has been written down. It's scribbled in notebooks, traced in the mist on the mirrors in the bathrooms. It's written in big block letters with chalk on the wall in the cave of the Dead Poets' Society, carved into the wood of a bedpost. If he only knew.
The first snow falls during the night before the premiere of Neil's play. In the morning, the world is white, and all the students are suddenly 10-year-old boys again. Before breakfast, the yard is filled with people, snowmen and lanterns already beginning to be built. At the north wall, the beginnings of a castle can be seen.
A snowball from Charlie's hand that was supposed to hit Cameron but hit Knox instead is the start of a big free for all. They're all covered in snow that's starting to melt on and under their clothes when Neil suddenly comes to a still and watches them all, one after one.
"You're all coming tonight, right?" he asks, looking uncharacteristically uncertain, nervously brushing snow from his gloves.
Charlie frowns at him. "Of course we are."
"Where else would we be?" Todd says, nudging Neil carefully with his shoulder, still, despite everything, unsure of the friendship.
The others all nod their agreement, but Cameron looks doubtful.
"We are?" he says. "Maybe..."
The rest is drowned in a collective groan, and Pitts, who is the closest, stuffs the snowball he had in his hand down Cameron's collar.
The bell rings, and they start moving towards the main building, towards the day ahead of them.
There are secrets no one knows, not yet. They're hiding in the future, lurking on the edge of the present, biding their time. They're hidden under the snow, in the back of minds, in books, in drawers. They'll be revealed soon enough. They have time. They can wait.
But not for long.