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Monday November 20th

Edward Drummond was nervous. He had been called two days ago by his old Economics and Politics teacher, Mr. Robert Peel. The man, who had been newly named headmaster at Worthington's, had offered him a well-paid job as an office assistant.

The prestigious school was located in the Cornish countryside close to the town of Callington. It was owned by the Coburg family and was attended by 800 children ranging from 4 to 13 years old.

Few things were asked of the school’s employees: a flawless conduct, good references, no cellphones during the day and most importantly; it was strictly prohibited to date between staff members. 

To Edward, these rules seemed easy enough to follow.

He wasn’t particularly attached to his phone, he had great references—after all Peel had called him personally—and he had not dated anyone for the last three years.

How wrong he would be…

***

Drummond had never once in his life ventured this far out of London and was surprised by all the woodlands that were surrounding his new work place. It was as if this little parcel of land had been preserved in time.

He was renting a room in a Bed and Breakfast owned by one of his distant relatives on his mother’s side. It was a fifteen minute walk from his job; since he did not own a car or even knew how to drive, he was grateful.

He rearranged his shirt collar to look as sharp as possible before he cleared his throat and knocked on the school’s front door.

He felt a bit nervous, as was expected on a first day at work, but was extremely confident in his ability to make himself quickly at ease in his new work environment.

As he entered the building, everything was quiet in the vast hall. It seemed a bit surreal but was in fact only normal since the children were in class at this hour.

A short young woman with soft brown eyes and golden blond hair rushed towards him.

“Hi! You must be Edward! My name is Wilhelmina, but everyone around here calls me Mina. I’m one of the school’s secretaries.” She smiled at him as they shook hands. ‟If you please, I’ll show you to Mr. Peel’s office.”

Edward followed suit and glanced around. “I believe we will be called to work together quite often, am I right? Mr. Peel told me my desk would be in the same room as yours.”

“Absolutely!” She stopped in front of a dark, wooden door on which she knocked twice before she turned the handle and opened it. ‟Here, you are. If you don’t mind, I’ll get back to the office. We are in a rather, shall I say, delicate situation right now.” She checked around them and whispered: “By which I mean there’s vomit everywhere on the floor.”

The brunet forced a smile “Oh, it sounds terribly nice! I can’t wait to be in there with you.”

She smiled one last time before she pushed him into Peel’s office.

The latter was sitting at his desk and looked extremely busy. Everywhere Edward looked, papers were lying atop furniture and a phone was incessantly ringing in the background.

Nonetheless, his former teacher looked up from his work and smiled warmly at him.

“Ah Drummond, my lad!” The older man got up and clapped him on the back. “I’m so glad to see you. I’ve been trying to put all these papers in order and there’s not five minutes where I’m not interrupted by misbehaving students, overly dramatic parents, and exhausted teachers. I trust you will make yourself at ease. I desperately need your fantastic brain.” The phone began to ring yet again, and Peel sighed as he sat back down. “You’ve signed your employment papers, yes?”

“Yes sir, I’ve signed them. I’m glad you thought of me for the job,” replied the brunet as he nervously began to rub the back of his neck.

The headmaster smiled at him one last time before he returned his complete attention to his paperwork. He had never been the kind of man to lose his time in idle chit-chat. “Now lad, I’ve already placed some urgent files on your desk back in your office. Have a look at them as quickly as possible, will you?”

‟Absolutely sir,” Edward said before he flashed his superior one last smile and walked out of the room.

***

Luckily for him, the vomit had already been cleaned up when he arrived in his new office. The two small windows in the room were also open, which had no doubt helped to chase the bad smell away.

Then the brunet spotted his desk. The whole thing was covered in a messy pile of folders from which papers were sticking out everywhere at various angles. 

He sighed. The day promised to be long.

Wilhelmina was at her computer and she smiled at him as he tried to move some of the folders away.

The secretary had a big cup of coffee and a picture frame on her desk.

He was about to comment about the state of his desk, when she gestured to him to remain silent with her left hand, as she pointed their other colleague with her left one.

The other secretary, who sat at a desk next to hers, was busy talking on the phone. To Edward’s great surprise his other colleague wasn’t a woman, as he had expected it to be.

It was a man. 

A strawberry blonde haired, and extremely good-looking, man. He was well dressed and had the longest eyelashes Edward had ever seen in his life.

In fact, he was positive that man was the most gorgeous one he had ever laid eyes on.

Edward was certain he was gaping—and probably drooling—by now, so he shook his head and decided to focus on his files instead.

“Certainly. I’ll get the message to Mr. Peel as soon as possible. Have a nice day Mrs. Johnson. It is always a pleasure to speak with you. I’m already looking forward to our next conversation. Yes, I agree.” The gorgeous blond sighed as he finally put his phone down.

“Oh MY God! I thought she would never hang up!” he exclaimed as he rolled his eyes. ‟Mina, my dear, I say it’s time we take our break before the recess hits us with its usual casualties and sorrowful little victims pouring blood everywhere.” He turned to Edward and flashed him a nice smile “I’m Alfred by the way. I’m absolutely delighted to meet you!”

He flashed the brunet a lovely smile before he got up to close the office’s door. As he walked by Wilhelmina’s desk to get back to his, the little secretary firmly squeezed his butt.

“I do love those pants on you. You have such a nice ass, I can’t resist.”

“I know darling, that’s why I wear them.” He winked at her as she blew him a kiss.

Edward was absolutely staring at this point—and wished he had been the one squeezing the blond’s arse, honestly—but somehow, he found the strength to resume his work.

Were those two dating? After all, Peel had been adamant about the no-dating policy. Would he need to denounce them on his first day at work?

He took a sip of his ice-cold coffee as he felt a headache creeping up. It wasn’t even 10.00 yet.

Chapter Text

Edward’s first morning was satisfactory. He tried to organise his desk as best as he could, but he was always being distracted. If it weren’t by kids coming in and out of the office, it was by the phone that kept on ringing on and on or by teachers who went into the office to talk rubbish with Alfred.

If all of this wasn’t already distracting enough, his brain was also working against him. It seemed he couldn’t stop himself from ogling his new co-worker. Even worse, it seemed every time he looked at Alfred, the man was staring back at him with his bright blue eyes.

Those pants should be illegal! How is one supposed to work with such a nice ass on display?!‘ He thought as he bashed words out on his keyboard.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the bell rang for lunch. 800 hungry children poured over the school’s corridor and the brunet thought his eardrums would explode from all the noise.

“I’ll see you two in an hour,” Alfred said as he flashed his colleagues a grin and left.

“Alfred works on Mondays and Wednesdays during lunch hour. He’s responsible for the kindergarteners,” Mina explained as she was putting her coat on. “I’ll get a sandwich from the coffee shop. Do you want to come with me?”

“That’s awfully nice of you Mina, but I think I’ll just check the staff room for now. Maybe some other time.”

***

Drummond finally found a way to cross over the children running around the corridors and entered the small room Mina had told him was supposed to be the staff room.

It was crowded. There were three distinct tables in there, already mostly full. He was about to retreat when a good looking brown-haired man gestured to him.

‟You can sit with me, if you like. There are three different cliques in here; you don’t want to be associated with the wrong ones.”

“Well thanks, my name is Edward Drummond.” They shook hands.

“I’m Ernst Coburg. Yes, I know what you are thinking.  I’m part of the administrator’s family. The place is owned by my uncle, Leopold. I teach music here.” The tall man had a very greasy pizza, fries and a Soda for lunch. He saw Edward stare at his lunch but waived him off. “We all have to die of something. Your mom made yours, I presume?”

He smirked. “What gave it away? The radishes cut into flowers or the fact that my sandwich is cut in four?”

Ernst laughed “She must have felt very distressed to see you leave. Are you an only child?”

“I am!” He rolled his eyes. ‟She cried as if I were going abroad for the rest of my life. I’m pretty sure she’ll have called ten times by tonight.”

Ernst scratched his nose and avoided his stare. “Well, last time I went abroad, I came back with an STI.”

There was a pregnant pause. What could you even answer to that?

“On another train of thought, we are missing a couple of teachers here. Can you believe it? Almost 30 teachers in total work here. Some of us eat in our classrooms, Mr. Peel in his office, and Coke and Paget often eat in theirs as well.” Ernst looked around to see if anyone was watching them. “You know, I’ve bedded my way around much of the good-looking ones. I could tell you which are worth it, if you’re interested.”

Edward almost choked on his sandwich. “I thought we weren’t allowed to date between staff members?”

“Who talked about dating? Sleeping with someone once or twice never killed anyone. Plus, you see that couch over there?”

Drummond looked at said couch. “Do I really want to know?”

“Well you probably don’t. I’ve never slept with Coke. She’s not really my type. She tried to get me to, but I don’t know. She and Paget are always up for a night out though.”

It was Edward’s turn to look around and to whisper. “They seem pretty close. Are they… you know…dating?”

“They are just good friends, that’s all. They live at Wilhelmina’s aunt’s house. They have a little flat on the second floor.” The music teacher dipped his fries into his Soda and popped them into his mouth. “That old crow is something. Trust me, you don’t want to cross her. Plus, Paget bats for the same team, if you know what I mean…”

“Oh, I see.” He cleared his throat. He was rather pleased about this information. “Is it known or do I have to keep this a secret?”

“Oh no, he’s out. It’s not a secret. When we go out to the bar the next town over, he sometimes dances with other men, but that’s about all I know.”

Unwanted images of his petit co-worker dancing in a suggestive way immediately swarmed Edward’s brain; he shook his head to clear his mind. Ernst glanced at him curiously.

Some teachers chimed into their conversation to introduce themselves to Edward.  By the time the latter had finished his lunch, the staff room was almost empty and Ernst was checking his phone.

Drummond took his own out and saw that his mom had already called six times. He also saw he had received an e-mail from ‘Paget, A.’ It was a list with the name of every employee at the school and their phone number, which was supposed to be used in emergencies.

Edward keyed in Wilhelmina and Alfred’s details into his phone.

You know, just in case an emergency should present itself. It absolutely wasn’t because Edward was already dreaming of shagging his new co-worker.

Nope, not him.

He sent a text to Alfred to thank him for the e-mail.

Edward D. at 12:50

Thank you for the list! I’ve just added your number to my contact list. Drummond

Alf P. at 12:52

Nice. I’ll save yours too.

***

Mina at 12:56

So, did you text him?

Alf at 12:57

No. He did!

I wanted to save him under the nickname nice prospect, but I changed my mind, just in case.

Mina at 12:57

Well I thought he would be your type.

Do you think he likes men?

Alf at 12:58

Dark haired, broad shouldered, tall, big feet so probably well-equipped…

He’s 110% my type.

Mina at 12:59

Aw, you! Don’t do anything stupid before I get back!

***

His afternoon looked a lot like his morning.

Except with more staring and smiling.

“Alf, I’ll go and get the attendance cards, if that’s alright with you,” Mina said as she got up and pushed her chair in.

Alfred winked at her. “I’ll try to manage, but don’t be too long, just in case. You know I can be very naughty.”

Edward breathed and tried hard to stay focused on his computer. He could feel a drop of sweat rolling down his back. Was his colleague flirting with him?

If concentration were an Olympic sport, he would never have a chance at Gold.

Suddenly, someone came to his rescue and threw the office door open. It was one of the teachers he had met during lunch break. A tall, beautiful brunette called Harriet, if he remembered correctly.

“Alfred, please, can you come help me? I’m about to wreck that horrid machine.” The woman curled her fists into balls and groaned. ‟I swear! That damned copy machine will be the death of me!”

Alfred got up at once and put a reassuring arm over her shoulders. “Don’t worry Harriet. I’ll help you settle the matter. I’ll grab a club just in case, so we can wack some sense into it if I fail. I’ll even let you hit it first!”

She sighed “Alfred, you really know how to talk to women.”

***

With Alfred gone, Edward thought he might finally manage to get some work done when something or rather someone grabbed his arm.

It was a little boy.

“Excuse me, sir, my teacher sent me. I’m looking for Mr. Paget, but I can’t find him.”

“He’s busy somewhere else. He’ll be back soon,” Edward replied, glancing at him once before he got back to work.

The little boy ignored him.

“I have to give you this.” He handed Edward a rolled wet piece of something that looked like a rag.

The brunet didn’t know what to do, so he grabbed the rag.

He stared at the boy—who looked as though he was waiting for something—and missed Alfred’s return in the office.

“Oh Arthur! Don’t give your clothes to someone else! You need to put it in a bag yourself. Nobody wants to touch them when you’ve had a little accident in them.”

Edward was totally freaking out. He was holding something that was drenched in pee and it was way too much. He had never signed for this. He was suddenly taken by a sudden urge to wash his hands one or ten thousand times.

Arthur started to cry as if it was the end of the world. “I can’t help it... I forgot to go. My mom will be very mad about this. I don’t even have spare underwear this time.”

“Oh, don’t cry Arthur, here,” Alfred dabbed the little boy’s nose with a tissue. “That’s better. Now, I've got a secret to tell you...Sometimes I don’t wear undies either.” The blond winked in Drummond’s direction.

Edward gaped, blushed, and quickly left the room. He bumped into Mina on his way out, who sighed at another eventful moment in the office.

Chapter Text

“Is it working?”

Edward sighed. “Yes, mom.”

It was 8:00pm on a Friday night and Drummond was talking to his mother on the phone. Even that presented a problem in itself—the lack of a social life. However, the main problem was that she was struggling with her phone and Edward’s patience was fleeting.

“Hello? Hello? Edward!”

Edward sighed yet again. “Mom! It’s working, I can see you.”

“Something probably is wrong. Edward? HELLO?”

“Mom, turn up the volume.”

“Edward? Now I think it’s working… How was your first week at work?”

“It was fine.” Well he thought it was anyway. He was beginning to think Alfred was flirting with him, and that was a good thing.

“How is the room where you’re stay?”

“It’s fine. The food is good.” He tried to think of something else to say. “We can’t invite anyone over though, it’s very strict.”

There was a pause on the other side of the line. “Why? Have you met someone?”

No, mom.” He cleared his throat and looked at his nails. “Why are you always asking me that? I’m never seeing anyone.”

He could hear his mom smile. “Good, because there’s a nice girl who moved in with her parents yesterday. I’d like you to meet her, she’s-”

“I’ve got to go mom. I’ll call you soon! Bye!” He hung up the phone and sighed.

It had been a difficult week. He was struggling with the impossible amount of work Peel was asking him to do in a very short amount of time.

He also found it hard to concentrate on his work with the constant interruptions in the office. Alfred shamelessly flirting with him for one, kids crying, Alfred looking at him, the ever-ringing phone, Alfred breathing…

He wasn’t exactly fighting fit and he definitively was mentally exhausted. Even talking to his mom—which usually cheered him up since he was such a mommy’s boy—was failing to hit the mark.

He was experiencing a real inner conflict.

On one hand, he wasn’t out to his mom yet. He had slept with men, but had never dated anyone so had never felt the urge to do so. Add that to the fact that he had just signed a contract in which it was specified he wasn’t supposed to date any of his co-workers, and he really didn’t feel the need.

On the other hand, Alfred definitively was attracting him both physically and romantically, which had never happened to him before. It might prove to be much more than just a one-time thing. In fact, Alfred had a lot of major traits he was looking for in a boyfriend. He was cheerful, had a great ass, witty, kind-hearted, had a great ass, spoke like a dictionary, had a very nice smile, had a great ass, and so on.

He was just laying there looking at the ceiling, certainly not thinking about Alfred, when he received a text from the devil himself.

Alf P. at 22:15

Excuse me, I know it’s a bit late.

Edward D. at 22:16

It’s alright. I’m not sleeping. I’m certainly not thinking about us having hot steamy sex, not I.

Alf P. at 22h17

Good. ; )

Edward D. at 22:17

Yeah!

Alf P. at 22:20

Tomorrow night we are going grocery shopping at a bulk store (it’s an hour drive from here). We do that once a month. Afterwards, we are going to grab a bite. Nancy (she teaches the kindergartners), Ernst and Mina will be there too. Would you like to come with us?

The brunet looked around in his room.

He had the smallest fridge ever and a microwave.  That was about it.

Edward D. at 22:25

Sure! Where are we meeting?

Alf P. at 22:25

After work, 3:00pm.

Edward D. at 22:26

I’ll be there

Alf P. at 23:00

 :) ˂3

Edward at 23:00

 ;)

***

Alfred and Mina lived on the second floor of Mina’s aunt’s house. On one side, there was Mina’s bathroom and her bedroom. On the other, there was Alfred’s. In the middle of their flat, they shared a kitchen and a tiny living room. There was a door on the outer living room wall, but the stairs to get to it were very sketchy. They rarely used them.

They were supposed to be used in emergencies only and Alfred already said he’d felt safer by throwing himself from his bedroom window than going down them.

“Mina you’ve got to help me out!” Alfred knocked on his roommate’s door and turned the handle.

“What is it?” Wilhelmina was reading, she had her pink pajamas on but was happy to accommodate her best friend. She moved a bit on her bed as he climbed and sat next to her.

He sighed, about to make a mountain out of a mole hill. “Drummond is coming with us tomorrow and I don’t know what I’m going to wear.”

Mina rolled her eyes. “What? What do you mean you don’t know what you are going to wear? We are grocery shopping and we will be five people in all, Alfred. Don't get your hopes up, this is not a date…”

“I know,” he shrugged. ‟I think I’m running a fever.”

Mina sighed once more as she pressed her hand on his forehead.  “I think you literally are in heat.”

Alfred lied down next to her and sighed once more. “I think I’ll die if everything stays this way. My whole body hurts when I look at him.”

She seemed unimpressed and turned the pages of her book. “Whole body is a code name for your dick, right?”

“I’m not joking for once! This is serious!” He slapped her playfully on the shoulder and she snorted. ‟Do you think I should be more forward with him?”

“How could you possibly be even more forward? By stripping in front of him? By putting your hands directly into his pants?”

He rolled his eyes. “Good idea, I’ll keep it in mind, just in case.”

“I’m sure you will.” She was still looking at her book.

They had been living together for five years and she was used to him and his drama by now.

“The thing is, he’s sending me mixed signals. It’s not complicated. Either you are interested or you are not. I hate being in limbo.”

“Maybe he doesn’t know what to do,” she sighed. It seemed she wouldn’t be able to read tonight. She closed her book. “Maybe he likes you too but he’s shyer than you, which wouldn’t surprise me, honestly. You are pretty shameless, Alf.”

“Don’t get my hopes up like that Mina. If nothing happens tomorrow, I’ll leave him alone and marry you instead.”

“I’m sure you will. Now, if I help you choose an outfit for tomorrow, you’ll do all my laundry for the next two weeks, including the folding.”

Alfred tried to look offended; she wasn’t impressed. “Agreed, but I get to sit next to him in the car.”

“Deal.”

***

Alfred started prepping up for the grocery shopping at far too early, at 1:00pm.

What he wasn’t aware of was that four blocks away, Drummond was doing the same thing.

After Edward tried on all his outfit options for the third time, he finally deemed himself ready. He had chosen a fitted shirt with a cardigan to go over it so he wouldn’t have to wear a coat.

Never had he been in all his life as excited to go grocery shopping as he was now.

Thirty minutes later, when Ernst finally arrived to pick him up at the school with his car, Edward was almost frozen solid.

It probably wasn’t the best idea not to wear a coat in November, but beauty was pain after all.

He was about to open the door to sit next to Alfred—who flashed him a very lovely smile—when Nancy got out of the passenger seat and pushed him in her place. “Just take my seat Drummond; you are broader in the shoulders than me. It won’t be as crammed in the back seat that way.”

Edward sighed and felt his heart sink as he sat next to Ernst.

***

The one hour drive seemed to last an eternity. Nancy kept talking about her boyfriend—who was away at a culinary school—with Alfred while Mina was reading her book. Ernst was singing off key to every song that played on the radio.

Edward’s only consolation was that when he looked in the rear-view mirror, he could look at Alfred’s cute face until his heart was content.

The latter was absolutely stunning with his dark skinny jeans, his red high-top converse shoes, and his suave fitted blue shirt that wasn’t buttoned all the way up.

When they finally pulled up in front of the store thirty minutes later, Nancy decided to take the lead of their shopping expedition.

She had snatched Alfred’s arm—which would certainly make it difficult for Edward to talk to him alone—as soon as Ernst had parked the car. Ernst was already busy looking at hot women and went his own way.

***

Every time Alfred would come closer to Drummond, one of the girls would snatch him back. It was getting more and more frustrating by the minute.

Ernst had already given out his phone number to three ladies he’d met when the girls in their group finally left Alfred alone to get to the fruit section.

In a blink, the blond was by his side. “So, Drummond, are you enjoying yourself?”

Edward’s heart skipped a beat. It was proving rather difficult to breathe every time Alfred was talking to him. His blue eyes were glinting and it seemed he was batting his eyelashes at him.

To be honest, he found it rather sexy…

‘Stay calm, breathe, try to be cool…’ the brunet thought as he flashed Alfred a smile and scratched the back of his neck.

He was about to say something, when Enst—who seemed to have mysteriously appeared out of thin air—grabbed them both by the shoulders.

“Gentlemen, while the girls are away, I suggest we make a quick stop to the health department. I need to buy one of those big boxes of condoms.” The seducer winked and gave them a knowing look. ‟With all the new phone numbers I’ve just got, I might even need two.”

Alfred smirked. “Drummond, do you think I should get one too? Hopefully, it’ll be useful soon.”

Edward gaped. Was the blond implying what he had just said or was he just hallucinating things now? He wasn’t sure of anything except that his brain had stopped working. Alfred was definitively batting his eyelashes at him.

“Something’s wrong with your eyes, Paget. I don’t know about you, but Drummond should absolutely get some.” Ernst winked and clutched the brunet’s shoulder. ‟There are a couple of teachers who wouldn’t mind getting better acquainted with him, lucky bloke.”

Alfred rolled his eyes. ‟I’m sure Drummond’s impatient to learn more about those ladies Ernst. I’ll leave you two to it.”

Ernst waved him off as he walked away from them, to Drummond’s despair.

***

After the grocery shopping was done, our little squad stopped to eat at an Italian restaurant that was located close to their town. Alfred was pouting and had barely touched his food, to Mina's dismay.

Ernst was sitting next to Edward and was talking animatedly about his life, which pretty much revolved around his various sexual exploits.

The little blonde decided to take matters in her own hands. After all, she wasn’t sure she had enough patience left to deal with a pouting Alfred back home. The sooner those two love-sick idiots talked, the better. She cleared her throat. “Nancy, can you come with me?”

Nancy cocked her head but got up and followed her anyway.

As soon as they were out of sight, Mina asked her to come closer and began to whisper. “Alfred’s got it hard, both literally and figuratively, for Drummond.”

“Well I know that, but what do I have to do with this?”

“Well, you’ve been pushing them apart the whole day. Alfred’s expecting something to happen or else he’ll die/faint/explode.” She shrugged. “You know how he is.”

Nancy snorted. “I'll text him and tell him I won’t interfere anymore. Thanks for telling me!”

***

Alfred was pushing his food around his plate when he felt his phone buzz. He sighed as he pulled it out of his pocket. He frowned.

Nancy S. at 19:35

Mina told me everything! Sorry! Stop pouting!

Alf at 19:36

I’ll try, but Ernst is still rambling on.

Nancy S. at 19:37

I’ll take care of him, you’ll see.

Alfred quickly hid his phone and a couple of minutes later, both girls were back.

The blond gave Nancy a nice smile and she winked at him before she slapped Ernst on the shoulder. “Hey Coburg, stop rambling!”

Ernst turned around to face her and shrugged. “What? Can’t we have a nice manly conversation here for once?”

Nancy rolled her eyes. “Well, it's certainly not my business, but that girl over there keeps looking at you.”

“Really?”  Ernst checked said girl; she flashed him a smile. “Yeah, you’re right. If you’ll just excuse me…”

***

Free at last from Ernst’s boring and slightly disturbing conversation, Edward turned to Alfred.

The blond was just getting up to switch places to get closer to him when he accidentally hit the young server that was standing behind them.

The poor sixteen-year-old, startled, dropped the bottle of wine he was holding and completely ruined Alfred’s shirt in the process.

The teenager gasped and panicked at once. “I’m so sorry sir!” he exclaimed as Mina got up and tried to help Alfred wipe up his shirt with paper towels.

Sadly, it was to no avail.

“It’s okay, I guess.” Alfred sighed. ‟I’m positive, this is one of the worst days of my life. We should all head back home.”

Nancy nodded. “Ernst, are you coming?”

The seducer already had his arms wrapped around his new conquest and did not seem to be in a rush to leave. “No, just go. I'll grab a cab!” The girl smiled and began to toy with his hair.

Nancy rolled her eyes. “It's your stupid car!”

Ernst waved them off “Just get my keys! I'll come back for them later!”

While Nancy was arguing with Ernst, Edward cleared his throat and scratched his neck once more. “Look I’ll lend you my cardigan.”

“It's awfully kind of you Drummond, but you’ll freeze outside. It’s alright.” Alfred waved him off and flashed him a smile.

“Well, I insist; I still have a dry shirt underneath, can’t say the same for you.” He took his cardigan off and gave it to Alfred, who stared at him appreciatively.

Drummond’s shirt was large on his petite frame—something Alfred thought was utterly adorable.

Mina tried to look elsewhere as she felt her presence was not needed now. Nancy on the other hand, cleared her throat and broke the moment. It was getting late anyway. “Let's get to the car, shall we?”

***

The ride back home was definitively the best part of Alfred's day. He was wearing Drummond’s cardigan—which was infused with its owner’s scent—over his ruined shirt and they both sat in comfortable silence in the back seat of the car, thighs and arms pressed against one another.  

Nancy and Mina were talking together in the front and he was somewhat following the conversation.

His hand rested on the seat just behind one of the grocery bags when he felt a light brush on his fingers.

He thought he might be imagining things, but the brushing resumed.

Then, slowly, he felt fingers creeping over his hand. Soon, both his and Drummond’s hands were firmly locked together.

As if on cue, they briefly looked at each other then stared out of their respective windows. A smile crept on his lips as he looked outside.

His day had drastically improved.

Chapter Text

On Monday morning, Drummond felt extremely happy. He had done a lot of thinking and he was now sure dating Alfred was what he was always meant to do.

He checked himself in the mirror twice before he left for work.

Upon his arrival, he left his lunch in the staff room and went straight to his office. He greeted Mr. Peel—who was still very busy—on his way.

When he entered into the small office, Mina was typing on her computer. Her hair was loosely tied and more orderly after their night out. She flashed him a quick smile before she turned her attention back to her screen.

Alfred, working at his desk, looked stunning as always.

“I’ve spent the night with your shirt. Sadly, I’ve left it in my bed.” The blond pouted before he smirked. “I’m afraid you’ll have to come and get it yourself.”

Edward smirked back. “Is that a wish or a request?” 

Alfred, always ready to flirt, leaned against his desk and tilted his head on the side. “What? Are you going to make me beg?”

“No! No! No!” Wilhelmina looked absolutely horrified. She quickly got up and closed the office door. “We are at work and it’s certainly not the place to have that kind of conversation. We need to at least get something done. Might I remind you there are children around here.” She pointed a finger in her best friend’s direction. ‟Alfred, it’s your turn to get the attendance cards. Calm your dirty mind and go.”

Alfred rolled his eyes as Mina grabbed him and pushed him out of the room. He stuck his tongue out at her as he was turning the corridor. Then, defiantly, she pointed her finger in Edward’s direction. The brunet acted as though he were the perfect picture of innocence.

You, get some work done. I swear, you’ll both be the death of me. Today is not a day to mess with me. There are parent-teachers scheduled for the next two nights; Alfred and I are going to work 40 hours in the span of three days. He has to act as if he’s using the head on his shoulders, not the one on his dick.” She sighed as she sat back behind her desk.

Edward sighed too. Something would need to happen soon or else he was going to snog the living daylights out of his co-worker during his work shift.

***

Mina at 12:00

Nancy, please come by and save me.  It’s even worse than last week.

Nancy S. at 12:15

I’ll come and rescue you during my free period.

***

It was the middle of the afternoon when Nancy finally came to Mina’s rescue. The teacher wore a lovely dress for the parent-teacher meeting. The sound of her heels clicking in the corridor sounded like music to Mina’s ears.

The boys were still massively flirting with each other and she wasn’t sure how much longer she would be able to stand it. Nancy glanced at Alfred and at Drummond before she winked at the little secretary. “Mina, can you come check something with me, please?”

“Sure!” Mina got up at once. ‟Alfred, stop staring and get some work done.” She glared one last time at both boys before she moved to follow Nancy through the corridor.

The two men looked around, saw they could speak freely, and snorted. “Wow, it’s hot in there. Is there a problem with the heating system?”

“It’s not even on!” Mina shouted as she reached the office door. “And, before you ask, the window is open…. I think it’s caused by all the lusting going on in there.” She sighed and looked to Alfred’s guilty face. “Look, Mr. Flirty McFlirt is doing it again.”

Nancy, curious as to what Mina was referring to, turned back to the office door and looked through its window just in time to see Alfred sucking on his pen in a very inappropriate manner, while looking at his co-worker and talking on the phone.

Nancy whistled, “Well that’s what I call multitasking. I’ve never seen him like that, he’s got it bad.” She looked at Mina.‟I can’t see Drummond since he’s in the other corner of the room, but he must find this is a rather challenging work environment.”

“Well to put this simply, I think it’s best he’s behind a desk because I’m pretty sure with the kind of pants he’s wearing I would be seeing things I don’t necessarily want to.”

Nancy laughed. “Something will have to happen soon, else one of them will spontaneously combust or Mr. Peel will suspect something.”

Mina shook her head, “I better get back in there before Alf finishes his phone call.”

***

Nancy S. at 21:00

Alf, Charles will be back for the break. We should hit the dance floor on Wednesday night. You could invite Drummond! It could be nice, since Thursday is pedagogical, and we have Friday off. Are you in?

Alf at 22:00

I’ve just left work with Mina.

Sounds like a plan.

We’re gonna get some extremely unhealthy food; do you want something?

***

Drummond was failing to sleep—a new bad habit—when his phone buzzed. He looked at his phone at once. He had just received a picture of a bed with untucked blue sheets. In the middle of it was his cardigan. He was about to reply something when he received another text.

Alf at 22:45

Your poor shirt is still my prisoner.

Edward D. at 22:46

I thought you were sending me a naked pic.

I must say I’m a bit disappointed…

Alf at 22:46

Really? Well you’ll have to see me naked in the flesh first. Which hopefully will be soon…

Do you want to go out on Wednesday night? We are going to hit the dance floor with Mina and co. Would you like to join us?

What! Dancing?! He’d never particularly enjoyed it but he certainly was horrible at it.

He could think of a thousand things he’d like to do more than dancing.

Wait, had Alfred said he hoped he was going to see him naked soon? He zoned out as images of his naked colleague flooded his brain before he finally sent his reply.

Edward D. at 22h48

I'll be there. Send me the coordinates

God, the things he would do just to be with that man.

***

Tuesday was worse than Monday; Mina and Alfred spent their entire day literally running around the school.

While some parents were glad to meet their children’s teacher, others weren’t. Since Alfred and Mina were at the front reception, they were yelled at for no reason at various times during the day.

Wednesday had been even worse—if that could even be possible. The kids were extremely agitated since they had a couple of days off and the sound they made in the corridors was enough to cause the staff members blistering headaches.

It was almost the end of the day when a young girl came into the office, carrying cupcakes in her hands. The icing on some of them clearly looked as though it had been licked off. She wanted to give one to Mina, but the secretary kindly declined her offer, stating she was allergic to sugar.

The little girl, still smiling, then went to Alfred’s desk. “Mr. Paget, I’ve brought cupcakes for everyone in my class. I’ve even brought one for you.” She said as she handed a cupcake over to the blond.

“Oh, thank you Clara. This is just what I needed to get me through the day.” Without further ceremony the blond bit into the cake as Mina gave him a meaningful look that probably meant: ‘Don’t come crying to me if you catch gastroenteritis.’

The little girl beamed. “I’ve done the icing myself!”

Alfred glanced back at Mina. ‘I can already feel it coming.

Mina sighed. ‘Told you so.’

Clara, absolutely pleased, wiped her nose with her left hand and walked to Drummond’s desk. “I’ve a cupcake for you too, Mr. Drummond!”

The brunet didn't seem too thrilled about it. In fact, he had the same opinion as Mina on this type of things: You don’t eat food that’s been cooked by children.

Clara nonetheless handed him the cake, which she accidentally dropped on the floor in the process.

Naturally, it fell on it’s icing.

Without hesitation, the little girl picked the cupcake and handed it back to him.

He sighed.

Clara was looking at him with expectation in her eyes. Behind her, Mina was making a face as though she was about to be sick. Edward inhaled deeply and took the smallest bite possible in the cake. He tried not to make a face and it seemed somehow, he had succeeded, since the little girl smiled from ear to ear and so was Alfred behind her. The latter's smile was absolutely worth every bacteria he had just eaten.

***

The day had finally come to an end and Edward was ready to meet everyone at the club. He had struggled to find the right clothes to the last minute, but finally settled on a gingham shirt with jeans. He was already running short on time when his phone rang.

It was his mom and it was the third time that day she had tried calling him. He sighed because he couldn’t really put off talking to her indefinitely.

“Hi Mom!”

“Edward! What are you doing? You’re not answering your phone and it’s been days since we’ve talked. What’s going on?” His mom sounded a bit angry.

He scratched his nose. “Not much Mom. I’m just busy. In fact, I’m going out and I’m already running late.”

His mom sounded surprised. He didn’t usually go out. “Oh really, where are you going?”

“Um…Dancing.”

“What?! You? dancing!?” She seemed even more surprised.

He looked at himself in the mirror and carefully combed one of his curl back. “Um…yes…”

“What’s her name?”

This conversation was going exactly where he did not want it to go. “Um…I’m not seeing anyone mom.” There was a silence on the other side of the line. He looked at his watch. He was now officially late.

“There certainly is a girl behind this. Don’t lie to me, Edward! What’s her name?”

“You know what; I’ll call you later mom! I’m late...”

“EDWARD CHARLES DRUMMOND, you won’t get away this easily! I insist you give me her name. I’d like to see the girl!”

“Sorry mom, something’s wrong with my phone.”

Edward sighed and hung up. One day, he would have to come out to his mom and thinking about that was stressing the hell out of him.

***

Charles Francatelli was Nancy’s boyfriend. He was a very decent bloke and he was almost done with his culinary studies. It was only a matter of months before he would open a bakery of his own in town.

He was talking with Ernst when Drummond finally arrived. The latter was a bit out of breath, since he had run all the way from the B&B to the club.

Charles pulled him up a chair and the two shook hands.

“I see you are not dancing?”

The music was loud, and the dance floor was crammed. Drummond tried to spot Alfred, Nancy, and Mina, but failed to do so.

Charles shrugged before he ordered him a drink.

“I’m not really into dancing. I need a couple of shots to get going. Nancy is enjoying herself down there. I’ll meet her later.” He showed Edward the three empty glasses that were on the table.

The brunet frowned. “Where are they, I can’t see them?”

“Just there,” Ernst said, pointing to the right corner of the dance floor.

Edward saw Alfred was dancing—in a very inappropriate way, to say the least—with Nancy and Mina.

His breath caught in his throat. That man was going to be the death of him. His drink arrived; he decided to sip it very slowly, just to keep his mind from straying from the conversation.

“Alfred is a real chick magnet. They all want to dance with him. It’s the perfect way to catch some girls,” Ernst said as he ordered another drink. “You’ll see Drummond, we’ll find some nice ones later on this evening.”

Charles, who was smarter than Ernst, looked carefully at Edward. “Or not. See that guy over there, Drummond? He seems to have set his sight on our little Alfred.” He smirked as Edward slammed his drink down—almost spilling it in panic, mumbled and apology, and made his way through the dancing crowd.

Ernst shrugged. “I guess he saw a nice looking chick. Do you think he’ll mind if I finish his drink?” Without waiting for an answer, Ernst grabbed Edward’s glass.

Charles laughed. “He probably won’t. You know, you are quite the observer, Ernst!”

***

When Edward finally reached Mina, Nancy, and Alfred on the dance floor , the random guy was still trying to get the blond to dance with him. He seemed a bit insistent.

Edward, an inch taller than him, touched his shoulder and clenched his jaw. “I’m with him.”

The guy looked at him apologetically. “Oh, sorry!” As simply as that, the guy left, and Alfred was finally right in front of him, smiling and looking absolutely gorgeous, as always.

Alfred cocked an eyebrow at him and bit his lip. “So you are with me now?” He got closer to him. ‟I’m glad you showed up. I thought dancing wasn’t your thing?”

Edward’s heart started to beat faster. “No, but you are.”

***

At first, they danced with the girls, but as the evening went on, the brunet started to feel more and more confident with his dancing skills.

Charles had joined them and had started to dance with Nancy. Mina, feeling as though she was third wheeling, excused herself and left the dance floor.

As soon as she was away, Alfred took Edward’s hand and led him in various dances.

The music got louder, if that was even possible. The room went dark and the blond grew more and more daring as he closed the distance between them. He bumped and grinded against Edward on various occasions, which was a bit too much for Drummond to handle.

After all, there was only so much a man could bear without reaching his breaking point.

He grabbed a smiling, sweaty, and breathless Alfred by the hand and dragged him out of the dance floor. “I need some air. Let’s go outside!”

***

Mina, tired of dancing, saw the boys leave from her position back at the table with Nancy and Charles. She was a bit concerned for her best friend. “Alfred and Drummond have just left the floor. Do you think I should go and tell them where we are?”

Nancy shook her head. “Mina, you should just let them be. I’m sure they will easily find us if they want to.” Mina shrugged and ordered another drink. After all, Alfred was a big boy. He could handle himself.

***

The air was cold against their damp skin as Alfred and Edward exited the club. They were still holding hands as they walked further from the pounding club music. The moon was high in the sky and it made Alfred’s skin glow.

The blond was a bit out of breath. “What a lovely evening! I’m really enjoying my-”

What he was about to say was cut short by Edward; he pulled him by the shoulder and let the hunger for Alfred’s lips overtake his ability to resist. Alfred’s lips were soft, warm. The kiss was brief but charged with desire. The two pulled apart and Alfred looked slightly dazed. Edward only needed that beautiful smile on Alfred’s face and the sense of timelessness in the air to give him permission to give into temptation again. A longer, less hungry, but equally passionate kiss that felt like it only lasted a few moments, but in fact, had gone on for several minutes.

It was then that they broke apart and looked at each other, untangling the racing thoughts and emotions running through their heads. Their lives had been changed forever. They knew, without any doubt, they had each just found their second halves.

***

It was now Alfred’s turn to kiss him; his soft lips crashing on his. Edward was so happy he thought his heart was about to explode. He pushed the blond against the wall and deepened their kiss; their hands grasping at every inch of skin possible as they clung to each other. They weren’t aware of where they were anymore until someone yelled loudly at them.

“HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEY! You, there! GET A ROOM. BLOODY HELL!” Naturally, it shocked them both. They abruptly pulled apart and just stared at each other.

Their lips were swollen, Alfred’s trousers were unzipped and somehow Edward’s shirt was missing half its buttons.

Alfred cleared his throat as he tried to put some order in his appearance. “I think we should go to my place.”

Edward avoided his gaze and agreed to it.

It was usually a fifteen minute walk to get back to his place, but Alfred was sure this time they had made it in less than ten.  They walked in silence, barely looking at each other, their blood still rushing through their veins.

After what felt like an eternity, they stopped in front of a small house. Alfred looked at him for the first time since they had left the club’s parking lot. “Don’t make a sound. Mina’s aunt is horrible; if she catches us it’ll put a damper on our night.”

As silently as possible, they made their way upstairs with their shoulders brushing along the way. Alfred got his keys out from his back pocket and unlocked the door. As soon as the door was closed behind them, the frantic kissing resumed.

They started to undress in the kitchen and Edward was sure his heart —if nothing else— was about to burst. Alfred managed in between kisses to breathe out that his room was the one on the left.

They bumped into a chair—which fell with a thud on the floor—and somehow, the blond ended up half naked in the other’s arms. Edward had stripped off everything by then, and so little remained between them.

It had been a real miracle they made it to Alfred’s room since the kitchen table was in the way. Even though making use of the convenient table seemed extremely tempting, they had made it to Alfred’s bed and all that remained was to simply enjoy one another.

Chapter Text

It was almost midnight when Charles and Nancy dropped Mina in front of her aunt’s house. She took her keys out from her handbag and crept upstairs. She wasn’t sure if Alfred was back home yet. She had texted him a couple of times during the evening but hadn’t received a response. She was a little worried by his silence, but Charles had rolled his eyes and had laughed at her. He knew that Alfred was in good hands.

Mina was opening her flat’s door when she spotted the clothes strewn everywhere over her kitchen floor. She shook her head and rolled her eyes as she picked the discarded clothes up. Obviously, her roommate had brought someone home. She smiled, grabbed something to eat from the pantry, and tiptoed to her bedroom.

***

Their first time had been quite rushed. The feeling of all that built up tension finally leaving their bodies after all those days of lusting at work had been extremely welcome. Out of breath, but with their initial desires finally satisfied, they had taken their time to look at each other’s bodies. They each discovered every inch of one another, kissing and stroking as they had been wanting to for the last week.

When the teasing and touching had been too much, lying side by side they had looked into each others’ eyes. Everything sped up from there as they had reached their peaks as one, muffling the pants and moans into each other’s necks as they could hear Mina in the kitchen. Sweaty, happy, and exhausted they fell asleep curled up against each other.

***

It was around 4:00am when Edward woke up. He couldn’t feel his right arm but didn’t dare move since Alfred was resting on it, looking like an angel in his sleep. He tried to fall back to sleep, seeing it was early, but his thoughts kept returning to Alfred and to what they had done earlier that night. He forced himself to close his eyes and to count to ten as he tried to distract his mind by thinking about his work.

“How long have you been awake?” He opened his eyes just in time to see Alfred stretch out, his state of sleepiness endearing and precious to Edward. His heart started to beat faster.

“You. Are. Driving. Me. Absolutely. Crazy, Alfred.”

The blond smiled. “Am I now? I could say the same about you.” They kissed, perhaps to shut each other up. “You know, I’m not always like that.”

Edward smirked. “Like what?” Alfred’s head was tilted on the side and as he ran his finger on Edward’s chest.

The brunet found he could scarcely breathe. He was pretty sure the blood flow to his brain had decreased dramatically, favoring another part of his body. He thought that certain part was already well supplied, but as of late he’d encountered more than that one surprise.

“You know, shamelessly making inappropriate advances on my new co-workers. Having sex on the first date…”

Really, he was at a loss for words, his eyes getting wide as Alfred rolled on top of him and bit his bottom lip.

“You know Drummond, I usually wake up around 6:00. It would be a shame to go back to sleep now,” said the blond as he began to kiss his neck in the most delectable of manner. “I wonder…what could we do to pass the time?”

“My God, you are such a tease.” Drummond rolled over to get on top, Alfred letting out a little moan in the process. “We could always play a game of chess.”

“Very well, but I’m playing whites…’ They kissed and Alfred pulled him closer, deepening the kiss with his tongue and making the first move of a very serious tournament of chess.

***

Mina wiped her eyes, looked at her clock, saw it was not even 5:00am, and sighed. She didn’t know why she had been woken up at this precise moment but brushed it off and tried to go back to sleep. That is, until she heard a loud thud. She thought something might have fallen in the kitchen, but on hearing it a second time she realised the banging kept on repeating itself and had an unmistakable rhythm to it.

She facepalmed and cursed as she realised all that ruckus was caused by her roommate’s headboard banging on the kitchen wall. She put her pillow on her head to tone down the noise. She was determined to fall asleep again until her roommate’s moans rose over all the banging, breaking any thought of peace.

“ALFRED PAGET, YOU ARE SUCH A NOISY SLUT!” she yelled. She swore she would wring her best friend’s neck until finally, the flat went back to silence.

Little did she know it was to be short lived.

***

“I think I’ve just died and woke up in heaven. That was amazing,” Edward breathed out as he rolled off his lover.

Our favorite couple was a complete mess; dishevelled and out of breath. They continued to hold hands and look at each other, giddy with love.

“Edward, I love you,” said Alfred as he curled up against Edward; his head resting on his boyfriend’s chest as Edward closed his arms around him.

The two were relaxing and enjoying the moment, when a loud voice coming from downstairs could clearly be heard through the floor.

“ALFRED PAGET, YOU BETTER NOT BE DOING WHAT I THINK YOU ARE DOING OR I’LL KICK YOU OUT OF HERE SO FAST YOU WON’T KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENED TO YOU.”

Alfred sat bolt upright in bed and Edward frowned. “Oh my God! It’s the old crow! You’ll have to run for it. She can’t catch you here or else she’ll kill us both.”

Both in panic mode, they tried to dress as fast as they could. Edward bolted to the bedroom door as he remembered he had left his clothes on the kitchen floor. Seconds later, the determined footsteps of Mina’s aunt could be heard coming up the stairs.

In a flash, Edward, barely dressed, ran out by the living room door. He flashed his lover a grin and bolted down the stairs.

Alfred was just finishing to put his shirt on when Mina’s aunt opened the door with her spare key.

The blond smiled at her. “Hi, Auntie!”

The old lady groaned and frowned at him. “Don’t you dare auntie me! What were you doing?”

Alfred, the real picture of innocence, shrugged. “Jumping on the bed, that’s all.”

She looked at him suspiciously. “At 5:00 am on a Thursday morning? Your hair is sticking out in weird places, your eyes are bright, your lips are swollen, there is a suspicious mark on your neck and I can smell it on you. I may be old, but I’m not blind. I-”

Mina, who was just coming out of her bedroom, cleared her throat and interrupted her aunt’s interminable rambling. “Is there a problem, Alfred? Auntie?”

Her aunt squinted. She clearly wasn’t in a good mood. “Alfred brought someone here.” The old lady pointed an accusing finger to his face. ‟You better not be hiding things from me, or else.”

Alfred shook his head and backed out a bit “I wouldn’t do anything you prohibited.”

Mina glared at him and turned her attention to her aunt. “Alfred was alone auntie. You know us, we never bring dates here.”

She looked at them both suspiciously. “Mina, you’ll come downstairs with me, while Alfred gets his things in order.”

***

Mina at 6:15

So…?

Alf at 6:15

Third time was the charm… Best sex EVER!

Mina at 6:16

What?! 3 times on a Wednesday night? I think Drummond will soon realise you are very high maintenance…

By the way, you are lucky Aunt Buccleuch missed your performance. She only heard some thudding. 

I can’t say the same for me, you woke me up and I heard you two going at it forEVERR.

Alf at 6:16

What? Sorry, but not sorry. It was that good.

Mina at 6:16

It went like this: Oh oh oooooh! EdwaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaard! Yes, YES YEESSSSSSSS.

It was all very high-pitched, and I swear you stressed the “a ” for like 10 minutes.

Alf at 6:18

I certainly did not

Mina at 6:19

Babe, sorry to break you the truth that way, but you are a noisy slut!

You should take example on your new boyfriend. He didn’t make a sound.  If it hadn’t been of your headboard knocking against the damn wall, I might have thought you were alone in there.

Alf at 6:20

I’ll move the bed away from the kitchen wall.

Mina at 6:22

Or you could just tone it down a bit.

Alf at 6:25

Or not.

Mina at 6:27

*LOUD AND AGRESSIVE EYE-ROLL*

***

Nancy S. at 7:50

I’ve seen your face this morning. Looks like someone got an extra helping of sausage for breakfast.

Alf at 7:55

I don’t know what you are talking about, Nancy.

I’m too tired to argue with you. I was up all night long. ;)

Nancy S. at 8:00

You poor thing. 

***

When Mina entered into the office with Alfred later that morning, Drummond was already working at his computer.

“Morning, Drummond! Nice hair. I trust you slept well?” She winked at him.

“It was rather a short night,” replied the brunet as he flashed a smile to Alfred. He blew a kiss back before he got some folders out from his drawer.

The three were working in a comfortable silence when Mr. Peel entered the room. He greeted both of his secretaries before he went straight to Drummond’s desk.

“Ah, Drummond, my lad!  Are you feeling a bit overwhelmed? I’ve discovered some minor issues with your work.”

The brunet looked up at his boss. “Oh, my apologies, sir!”

“Do not worry yourself over this. We are going to look at it together.” The older man pulled himself a chair. “And you know what, I’ve been young too. You probably are thinking too much about that fiancée of yours. Florence, isn’t it?”

Mina gasped loudly while Alfred dropped the folders he was holding, sprang from his chair and disappeared from the office, mumbling a quick apology on his way out.

Chapter Text

Mina was wide-eyed, and she felt as though her heart had skipped a beat. What was this all about?

Did Drums really have a secret fiancée?

Slowly, so as not to draw attention to herself, she got up and left the office, leaving her computer running and snatching her bag on her way out.

The school was unusually quiet as she ran straight to the staff’s restroom, quickly guessing Alfred probably was hidden in there. She wasn’t sure in what state she would find her best friend, but she guessed the latter would probably be either extremely angry or totally devastated.

She looked to her left and her right before she knocked on the door.

“Alf, it’s me! Open up.”

No reply.

She sighed before she knocked once more. It seemed it would be the second option then.

“Alfred, come on! I know you’re in there.”

This time, the door finally opened, revealing her roommate.

The latter seemed to be trying to pull himself together with all his willpower and it seemed he wasn’t succeeding very well.

It was clear he had cried and was trying to cover it up.

He cleared his throat. “I’m fine, really. Don’t worry.” His voice cracked a little while saying so.

“Blimey, Alfred. I’m so sorry…Just breathe. That’s it. Good. Now, another one.” She inhaled and exhaled a couple of time with him. ‟Try to calm down while I go and tell Nancy we are leaving.”

Alfred shook his head and his eyes grew wide. “But I’ve got-”

She glared at him. “No buts; we are going home. You’re going to put your sweatpants on and we’ll eat ice cream. Then, we will binge watch some crappy tv show and you’ll sleep a couple of hours. Trust me, this is all going to be better!” She tried to sound cheerful, but she wasn’t extremely convincing. She hugged her best friend and closed the door behind her.

She felt as though her heart had just crumbled in a thousand pieces. Alfred was the only one she had in her life and it killed her to see him in such pain.

***

As Mina turned the corridor, loud music was coming from Nancy’s classroom. The latter was getting her things done quickly and was looking forward to the nice evening she was going to spend with her boyfriend Charles.

Mina knocked faintly on the teacher’s door.  Nancy heard the faint knock and lifted her eyes from her work just in time to see her enter in her classroom.

Mina began to fidget with her bracelets. “Nancy, I’m sorry to bother you.”

Nancy flashed her a grin. “Hey Mina. I thought it was Alfred coming in to tell me all about his night of debauchery.”

Mina cleared her throat as her face changed.

Worried, Nancy turned down her music and shut her door. “What’s wrong?”

Mina sighed. “Mr. Peel said Drummond had a fiancée.”

Nancy cursed and kicked the leg of her desk.  “Damn, poor Alfred! He was completely besotted...How is he?”

Mina felt overwhelmed and sat down. “Worse than I’ve ever seen him. I’m taking him home.” She grabbed a tissue on Nancy’s desk and blew her nose. ‟Could you please go in our office and turn our computers off? Tell Mr. Peel Alfred has come up with gastroenteritis or something in the meantime.”

Nancy nodded as she sat down next to Mina. “It’s the least I can do.  I’ll come to check on you later today.”

Both girls sighed. This really was unexpected.

***

Edward tried hard to stay focused on what his boss was saying, but his mind was elsewhere.  He kept thinking about how Alfred had looked upon hearing Mr. Peel mention Florence.

It was true Edward had once been engaged to a girl named Florence —he barely knew her, and he had done it because his mom seemed to really like her—but a couple of months into his engagement he had had an epiphany.

He was in fact attracted by men and thus had broken up with Florence, saying it wasn’t her fault, it was his, and all that crap.

In fact, his mom had been more heart-broken than he by all of this.

He was anxiously waiting the return of his (ex?) boyfriend when the door opened.

 His breath caught in his throat.

He couldn’t stop himself from groaning out loud when he saw it was Nancy who entered the office and not his Alfred.

Nancy smiled at her boss and pointedly avoided to look at Edward. “I’m sorry to bother you, Mr. Peel, but Alfred was suddenly taken ill. Wilhelmina has taken him back home.”

Peel shuddered at the mention of an illness and rose from his chair. “Thank you, Ms. Skerrett. Now, if you’ll excuse me Drummond, I’ll go back to my office. I’ve no doubt my voicemail will be full.”

Nancy smiled at her boss and waited for him to leave. She was just closing Mina’s computer when Edward cleared his throat to catch her attention.

“Has he really left?” 

She frowned at him. “He certainly did!”

Edward felt his heart sink even deeper.

Angrily, Nancy pointed a finger to his face. “You better stay away from him from now on.”

Edward looked at her with surprise. “But-”

Don’t you dare!” In a flash, she was standing next to his desk with a hard expression on her face. ‟I have a mind to call his six big brothers. They’ll beat you into a pulp in a matter of seconds.” She glared at him one last time before she turned around and left the office, shutting the door with a loud bang behind her.

Edward stared blankly at the door. What was he going to do to fix this?

***

Charlotte Buccleuch was working in her garden when she saw her two tenants making their way back home. She was surprised to see them come back so early from work, and she quickly saw something was wrong with Alfred (who was doing an extremely bad job of hiding his feelings). He wasn’t smiling, his eyes were puffy, and it seemed the spring he usually had in his step was gone.

When they arrived at the house, Mina gave her aunt a pleading look, but the old lady wasn’t of a mind to listen to her.

She shook her head in Alfred’s direction and made a disapproving sound with her tongue. “Are you still going to tell me nothing happened last night?”

Alfred sighed and looked at the ground. It seemed he was at a loss for word, which was a rare occurrence.

I knew it!” The old lady gave Alfred a dark look. ‟ That’s what happens when you sleep with a stranger! At least prostitutes get money for it. What did you get out of this? A sore arse and a broken heart and that’s about it!” She spat on the ground and Mina facepalmed.

 “Auntie…it may not be the best of time for this kind of discussion.”

The old lady looked outraged. “I’m not done yet, Wilhelmina!” She glared at her niece and then stared back at Alfred. ‟ You should be ashamed of yourself, my boy! In my times we waited until after the wedding to do anything. The only positive thing about this is at least we don’t have to worry about you being in the family way…”

Alfred rolled his eyes. “It certainly is a relief…”

Luckily, the old lady was done with what she wanted to say, and our two roommates finally managed to get past her.

As soon as they had closed their door, Alfred let down his façade and let out a loud wail.

Mina sighed. It was going to be a very long day.

***

Mina at 11:22:

We are back home.

Nan at 11:35:

How is he?

Mina at 11:37:

You can’t even imagine how bad he is…

Nan at 11:45:

Bloody hell! I told Drummond what I thought of him.

Mina at 11:50:

And, what did he say?

Nan at 11:52:

Nothing. He just stared at me and blanched.

I might have threatened him a bit though.

I might have told him the Pagets would take care of him.

***

Back at the flat, Mina, ever the good friend, had run her grief-stricken roommate a hot bath with bubbles in her own bathroom, since he wasn’t quite ready to face the mess of his own bedroom.

She had then gone into his room to grab some comfy clothes, had thrown his bed sheets in the wash and had opened his windows to air out the room.

She was contemplating her work with satisfaction when she heard Alfred’s phone buzz from the pocket of his discarded trousers.  She retrieved it and while doing so, saw he had received 15 calls and various texts from Drummond. She took the time to send the latter a reply before she closed the phone.

No one was messing with her best friend on her call. Certainly not Edward Drummond.

***

Back at school, Edward was pacing back and forth in the office as he tried for the umpteenth time to reach Alfred.

He was getting more and more desperate with every failed attempt.  Suddenly, he felt his phone buzz, as if answering his prayers. Quickly, he got it out and with the faintest of hope saw he had just received a text from Alfred.

Alf P. at 11:45:

Stop texting me. I don’t play second fiddle. I don’t care a bit about you.

Edward D. at 11:47 :

Alfred! I swear it’s been ages since I’ve broken up with her.

Mr. Peel got his facts mixed-up.

There is only you. I swear, I love you. Please.

But the text never got through. Alfred had probably blocked his number.

***

At noon, Edward sat like a zombie in the staff room. If he was being honest with himself, he was as close to crying as he had ever been in his life. He put his head on the table, closing his eyes (and pushing back tears in doing so).

“Did you catch it, too?”

He looked up just in time to see Ernst waiting for his answer at a careful distance.

Edward sighed. “No, I didn’t.”

“Good, then.” The seducer sat in front of him. “You still look like shit, though.”

Edward sighed once more. “I don’t just look like it. I feel like it, too.”

Ernst smiled and patted his shoulder. “Right, you shouldn’t get yourself this worked up over a girl. There are plenty of fish in the sea. You can trust me, seeing as I’m a seasoned fisherman.”

Edward wasn’t really convinced.

***

It was the end of the afternoon when Nancy knocked on her co-worker’s door. Mina’s aunt glared at her from behind her blinds but opened the door anyway.

The teacher climbed the stairs, and Mina quickly opened her flat’s door.

Nancy seemed concerned and glanced around the flat to see if Alfred was in the living room. “How is he?”

Mina sighed. “He’s sleeping in my room. Not much to do but let the time pass. He’s ashamed of what he did. He said he thought Drummond was his soulmate.”

Nancy rolled her eyes. “I know how he is with all that romantic nonsense.” She handed Mina a small box. “Here, Charles baked this especially for him. He was surprised when I told him what happened; he thought Drummond was a nice bloke.”

Mina shook her head with disbelief as she grabbed the box. “We all did.”

***

Back in his room at the B&B, Edward was still feeling extremely miserable.  It was barely 6:00 p.m., and yet all he wanted to do was to crawl back in his bed and do nothing. 

His phone started to ring.  He looked to see who the caller was, not even thinking it might be Alfred at this point and sighed when he saw it was his mom. He answered the call.

“Hi mom!” He tried to sound cheerful, but it clearly failed.

 “What’s wrong with you, Edward?” His mom seemed suspicious.

“A big misunderstanding at work. No need to worry. How are you?”

Frances was not going to let the matter go this easily. “Is it about the girl you met at the dance?”

He sighed. “There’s no girl, Mom.”

Edward, I know perfectly well you are hiding something from me. Stop lying and tell me what’s going on.”

He groaned. Why would she never let go?

“You know what you could do to make things right with your new girlfriend?”

“NO, MOM, THERE IS- What would you do?”

“Just send her flowers and a nice note to make amends. It always did the trick for me…”

“Thanks mom.”  He hung up.

Well, Alfred definitively wasn’t a girl so he wasn’t sure if his mother’s idea would work, but desperate as he was, he was willing to give it a try. Looking at his watch, he cursed and saw the town’s florist was about to close. It would surely cost him a kidney to buy a bouquet and get it delivered by the end of the day, but it seemed a fair price if it meant he would get his heart back.

***

 Back at the flat, Alfred, Nancy, and Mina were sitting on the couch in the living room.

“You know what, I almost feel fine now,” Alfred said, his voice still shaking as he took a bite out of another one of Charles’s homemade cookies. “I can’t say the same of my waistline after tonight, though.”

Nancy playfully slapped him on the leg. “Shut up, Alf, you’ll manage.”

‟He just wants you to compliment him on his tiny waist.” Mina added as a knock could be heard at the door.

She went to get it as the two others got up and trailed behind her.

Upon opening the door, Mina came face to face with an elderly woman in uniform, holding a nice bouquet of flowers in her hands.

She thanked the lady, grabbed the beautiful bouquet and closed the door.

The bouquet was huge, and was composed of ivies, lilies, and stars of Bethlehem. All the flowers were white, making it look very simple and elegant.

The two girls sighed loudly as Alfred shrugged.

Mina smiled and handed the bouquet to Nancy. “I believe this is for you, Nan! Charles probably sent it to you since you’ve missed your night out.”

Nancy smiled. “Ooooh! I’m so glad! He never gets me flowers.”

Mina got a vase from her cabinet, while Alfred grabbed another cookie. “There’s a note attached to it! How about you read it to us?“

Nancy, blushing, quickly opened the envelope and proceeded to read the note:

Roses are red, violets are blue

I swear I’m not lying to you.

Alfred, I’ll tell you everything if you just let me, please.

I love you and I miss you being a tease.

Yours,

Edward

Chapter Text

“Well, that was awkward.” Mina looked at her feet while Alfred blinked repeatedly. He clearly was taken by surprise. 

Nancy sighed with disappointment. “And here I thought Charles was beginning to be romantic.” She handed the note and the bouquet over to Alfred, who scratched his nose.

“I know I’ve been crying my eyes out for most of the day, but I’m still not so sure I’m over him.” He looked at both of his friends and cleared his throat. ‟Is that a bad thing?”

Nancy frowned. “Well, it’s awfully nice of him to send you flowers with a poem that seems to have been written by a seven-year-old, but what if this is just a plan to get back into your pants just to have some fun while his girlfriend is away?”

The blond scratched his nose once more and decided to get another cookie, but Charles’ box was empty. He cursed and walked straight to the pantry.

Nancy looked at him weirdly as she sat on the couch.  He had grabbed the first thing he had found to eat —a box of uncooked pasta— and was now popping some into his mouth.

“Well, it’s a bit weird he’s sending you flowers instead of giving you a call.”

Mina glanced around and began to fidget with her sleeve. “I might have turned your phone off and possibly have sent him a text on your behalf.” She avoided her roommate’s eyes.

For a moment, all that could be heard in the room was the crunching sound Alfred’s stress induced eating was causing.

“You mean he texted me?” Alfred sighed with relief. ‟I feel better already.”

Mina gave him a warning look. “Alfred don’t get your hopes up!”

The blond shrugged and closed his box of uncooked noodles.

Now wasn’t the time to eat junk passively anymore. It was time to text his Edward and to clarify the situation.

***

Edward thought the time was going by twice as slowly as usual this evening. It was almost 9:00 and the flower shop lady had assured him his bouquet would be delivered before 8:00.

Yet he still hadn’t received any news.

When his phone had buzzed fifteen minutes earlier, he had almost dropped it in his haste, thinking it was Alfred texting him back.

But no. It turned out it was his mom sending him pictures of her friend Danielle’s grandchildren with the following message:‘ Can’t wait to have mine! I hope the flowers worked! Love, Mom.‘

Why was his life filled with so much drama?

Edward had then thrown his phone in rage across the room —without answering his mom, let it be said—and the latter was now stuck behind a wonky looking bookcase. 

His mind was a mess, his life was a mess. Hell, at this point he was a mess too.

He thought by now it would probably be a good thing if he changed his middle name.

 Edward I’m-a-Complete-Mess Drummond, was what he should be named from this day forward.

Agnes, the kind old lady who rented him the room at the B & B, had told him an hour earlier his plate was waiting on the table downstairs, yet he couldn’t bring himself to eat.

He needed to get Alfred back. Without him, his life felt empty and sad.

It felt as though a part of his soul had been ripped out, which when he thought about it was bonkers, since a couple of days ago he had no idea who Alfred was.

What was happening to him?

***

Alf at 20:48:

I’ve received your flowers.

Alf at 20:50:

I might be crazy and will probably regret it later, but I think we should talk.

Alf at 21:00:

Mina was the one who sent you that text earlier, not I.

***

Mina and Nancy were watching a movie when Alfred, who had retreated to his room to call Edward, left it and ran straight back to the kitchen.

It seemed his phone call had probably not gone well.

Both girls looked at each other without saying a word as Alfred walked back to the living room with a giant ice cream container in his hands.

He sighed. “Edward’s not answering. I’ve texted him and called him twice. Nothing.” He sat in between his two friends, putting his feet on the coffee table.

Mina pressed her hands to her eyes and sighed as she looked at Alfred, who ate spoonful after spoonful of ice cream. She felt responsible for the miscommunication between the boys.

Why didn’t she mind her own business in the first place?

***

Edward was now sure of it, the best way to get his boyfriend back was to go and visit him directly at his house.

 He grabbed his favorite hoodie and left the B & B, his heart beating strongly in his chest as he ran through the street of Callington.

Upon his arrival at the house, he wondered if he should knock at the front door, or if he should just go straight up to the second floor by using the backyard’s staircase.

The staircase was sketchy and seemed a bit life-threatening, but he had managed to use it this morning without killing himself, which was all he needed to be convinced.

He jumped over the old white fence that circled aunt Buccleuch’s house and proceeded to climb the steps two by two.

He was about halfway up, when one of the steps broke under his foot. He fell backward onto the grass, hitting his head and both of his elbows in his fall.

He cursed loudly since he was in pain.

Even worse, he probably looked like a big idiot too.

As if that wasn’t already enough, the backyard light lit up, revealing Mina’s aunt. The old lady had opened her door to check what was causing all that ruckus and did not seem pleased one bit to discover a stranger resting on her grass.

She was clad in a frilly nightgown and had a baseball bat in her hands. In a flash, she was next to him, pointing the club to his face. ‟Who are you, young man and what are you doing on my lawn?”

Edward was in so much pain he couldn’t bring himself to answer.

It seemed his horrible day could still get even worse.

***

Inside the flat, Elizabeth Bennet and  Fitzwilliam Darcy were dancing together at the ball for the first time on the TV screen, when our three friends heard some loud cursing and a boom coming from outside.

Nancy pressed pause on the movie as Mina and Alfred got up quickly from the couch to check what was going on by the window.

They were surprised to see the figure of a man lying on his back in the grass at the bottom of the stairs with the old crow looming over him.

“Edward!” exclaimed Alfred at once.

He pushed Nancy and quickly went out the back of the flat, rushing through the stairs.

***

In all the fuzz that was his brain, Edward clearly saw Alfred rush to his side, like an angel in the night with the backyard light creating a halo around his head.

He felt some relief before he thought he probably had bumped his head harder then he thought in the first place.

Alfred, worried, knelt next to him. “Edward, are you alright?”

Edward smiled faintly. “Now I am!”

Nancy rolled her eyes as she watched the scene from the balcony.

 “Who’s this?” Mina’s aunt was still looking suspiciously at Edward. ‟Kids these days. They have no respect for anything!”

Alfred helped the brunet to sit up. He glanced darkly at Mina’s aunt as he spoke. “Those wretched stairs! I knew they were dangerous.”

Edward, finally regaining his wit, grabbed his saviour desperately by his shirt. ”Alfred, I’m so sorry. Mr. Peel got his facts wrong! I swear I’m not with Florence anymore. I can explain it all.”

Mina, who had followed Alfred downstairs, looked at Nancy who just shrugged, left the balcony and got back into the flat.

Mina’s aunt seemed extremely annoyed by the situation. She was frowning and squinting so much, her eyes were barely visible.

Edward looked contritely at Alfred and then at the old lady. “I’m sorry if I’ve disrupted you or your garden, Mrs. Buccleuch, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and I needed to talk to Alfred as soon as possible.”

Charlotte Buccleuch grunted as Mina pointedly looked at her in the hope of shutting her up. “We should get inside before you catch a cold, Auntie. Here, I’ll help you get back inside.” She turned to Edward. “Drummond, you should come upstairs. We’ll warm you up and give you a cup of tea.”

Edward felt extremely relieved. Alfred was holding his hand and was smiling, as if nothing had happened that day.

Well, that was until the blond remembered he was supposed to be mad at him and let go of his hand as the two got back inside the flat.

***

Nancy and Mina resumed their movie as the two boys sat in the kitchen. Alfred had poured Edward a simmering cup of tea and the two sat close to each other, their knees brushing under the table.

The brunet glanced around and began to rub behind his neck, something he did when he was feeling nervous. “I swear I’ve got no girlfriend back home. It was all a horrible misunderstanding. Mr. Peel knew I was dating Florence back at uni, but I ended that relationship years ago.”

“I see.” The blond took a sip of his own tea. “I guess I might have freaked out a little bit too quickly. I’ve been a bit forward with this relationship and I think we should just slow things down. It’ll probably be best if we get to know each other better before we go back to a more physical side of things.” He was blushing a little. “Well, if there ever is one.”

“Oh, I agree.” Edward glanced around to maintain his countenance, as he remembered how Alfred had looked while he had called his name in pleasure earlier that day. “May I suggest we go out for dinner tomorrow night?”

Alfred tilted his head. “On a date? Seems lovely.” He flashed him a gorgeous smile and looked at him from the corner of his eyes.

He was such a flirt…

“Why don’t we go at Ciro’s? We could meet there at six.” While saying so, the brunet got up and pushed his chair to the table.

Alfred stood up and accompanied him to the door, though that was barely a meter away. 

“Right, so tomorrow at 6:00 p.m.” Edward was now on the landing and Alfred leaned on the door frame. “Oh, and Edward, thanks for the flowers. I rather enjoyed your little poem.”

The brunet turned around and flashed Alfred a grin before he left the house.

He felt butterflies fluttering in his stomach all the way to the Bed and Breakfast. Alfred was his again.

***

When it appeared Edward had really left the house, Alfred closed the door, looked at the girls to see if they were still entranced in their movie and did a little victory dance. 

Then, as casually as possible, he went back to the living room.

 “So, what’s going on?” Nancy looked at him. ‟I’ve finished the ice cream if that’s what you wanted.”

“No, I’m good for now. Thank you both for your support; I appreciate it.” He smiled at them.

Mina slapped his best friend playfully on the arm as he walked past her to get to his room. “I hope you’ll be more cautious next time. It might be a good idea to take your time before you go all out with a new crush, if you get my meaning.”

“I do, I do. But hey, hear me out ladies: we are now starting this relationship the proper way. I can assure you Edward won’t be back into my bed for a long time. I’ve learned my lesson.”

With all the dignity he could muster, Alfred entered in his bedroom and closed his door behind him.

The girls looked at each other and tried to stifle their laughter, as they couldn’t pretend to keep a straight face anymore.

“Well, he seemed determined.” Nancy drank a sip of her tea. “I bet you 20 bucks they’ll be back to shagging before the end of the month, so that leaves them roughly two weeks.”

Mina looked at her and grinned. “You have more faith in him than I. I’m pretty sure it’ll be before the end of the week.”

Chapter Text

The next morning, a Thursday, Wilhelmina was brushing her hair in her bathroom while listening to her favorite song when she heard something fall on the ground with a loud bang and some cursing.

She left her room and quickly went to her roommate’s, guessing the commotion was coming from there.

Without knocking, she opened the door.

Alfred was on the floor picking up the pieces of a trinket he had broken.

In one glance, she saw he was in the middle of shuffling his furniture around.

She sighed. “Alfred, are you really moving your bed? I thought you said you would wait before you had sex with Edward again! Have you already lost your resolve?”

He pulled a face at her. “Who’s talking about bringing him over? I just needed some changes around here. I think I would sleep much better with my headboard on the other wall. You know, feng shui and such.”

Right… ” Mina wasn’t really convinced.

 She saw he had placed his bouquet on his nightstand and that Edward’s poem was taped on the vase.

“Anyway, if there is someone who should have something to feel bad about, it’s you! You didn’t even knock before entering! I could have been naked or something...” He tried to look outraged, but it seemed more likely he was just trying to change the subject.

“Right, as if you had anything I have not seen before.” She kneeled and helped him pick up the shards.  “Might I remind you Christmas 2015?  Me, you, one bathroom, and food poisoning?”

He snorted. “Oh, right! Fun times. That was a bonding experience, to say the least.”

They laughed together, clearly remembering a glamorous part of their communal past.

Alfred shrugged and looked at his best friend innocently. “Well, since you are here, you could always help me by grabbing the other side of my bed, can’t you?”

***

Mina at 9:35:

You should get your £20 ready.

 Alfred moved his bed from the kitchen wall.

Nan at 9:45:

I have faith in him

***

Nancy S. at 9:47:

Alfred, don’t forget what you told us yesterday.

Alf at 9h:52:

Why would I? Do you doubt me?

***

Alf P. at 10:00:

*sending a picture of his bouquet* Mamaaaaaaaa!!!

Charlie P. at 10:05:

O-M-G! We clearly have some catching up to do, son!!!

Call me later today. I’m helping Richard with his laundry. You know how your brother is…

Alf P. at 10:06:

I can’t… I’M GOING ON A DATE!!!

***

Edward was distracted as he headed to Ciro’s.

He was thinking about how the date would go, what Alfred would wear, if they would kiss, if…

Suddenly, a car drove past him at a crossing, almost hitting him in the process.

As the angry driver made a very rude gesture in his direction, his heart skipped a beat and he felt short of breath.

Crickey, I must be more careful, he thought. That would be stupid of me to die just minutes before my date. Poor Alfred would think I stood him up. ‘  

He shook his head to clear his mind and was extremely careful the rest of the way.

Dying moments before his date wasn’t in his plans for today.

***

Upon his arrival at the restaurant, Edward saw Alfred was sitting with his back to him.

The latter was looking out a window, clearly lost in his thoughts.

Edward’s heart started to beat faster as he approached the table. He put his hand on Alfred’s shoulder, startling him a little. 

The blond smiled. “Oh, Edward! I’m glad to see you!” He looked ravishing, as always.

“As am I.” Edward took his coat off and sat on the chair across from Alfred. ‟Seems like a nice restaurant; do you often come here?”

Alfred raised an eyebrow at him. “As in do I often go on dates, or…?”

There was an uncomfortable silence as Edward rubbed the back of his neck. “Eh… No.”

 Soft music was playing in the background as Alfred took a sip of water.

 “Well, I don’t. It seems I have the ability to find the worst boyfriends to have ever graced the earth, and every time I end up having my heart crushed before long. Mina could tell you all about it.” He unfolded the serviette that was on his plate and carefully placed it on his knees. ‟My parents bring me here when they come to visit.”

Edward took a sip of water too, as he glanced around the room. “I see… Well, I’ve never actually dated a man before. I’ve been with Florence, as you know, but it wasn’t a warm relationship. I don’t know how to say it.” He sighed. “My mom can be a bit pushy and I might have done it to please her…”

Alfred smiled with a mischievous glint in his eyes. “Well, I’m glad you figured out you liked men better.”  

“Trust me, I do, too. ” He smirked and stared lovingly at Alfred. ‟It’s even better when they look as gorgeous as you.”

Alfred smiled back and threw him a seductive look as he bit his lip.

A server called Françis came and took their order. Alfred ordered oysters and champagne.

Since both were aphrodisiacs, Edward thought the evening might be heading to a nice ending.

 The fact that Alfred’s foot was playfully touching his under the table was also a good sign.

Edward brushed one his curl from out of his eyes. “What do you do except work?”

“Well I like music. I play the piano, I love to dance. I like to party and hang out with my friends…”  The blond drank a sip from his glass. “I’m pretty outgoing, as you can see. What about you, Edward?”

The brunet laughed. “I can assure you I am of the most boring kind.” Alfred quirked an eyebrow at him. “I used to think reading and watching politics on tv was the coolest thing ever.”

Alfred laughed. “Do you still think it’s the coolest thing ever?”

“I’d say spending time with you might be even better.” Edward smirked as their eyes locked, and both drank a sip of champagne at the same time.

Their conversation continued pleasantly as the evening went on.

Alfred talked about his friendship with Mina and with his friend Victoria (who was now happily married and had moved to Germany), about growing up in a very large family, and about how he had decided to quit his hometown and moved here to work at Worthington’s.

Edward spoke about university, the books he had read and getting to grow up with only his mom (his dad had passed away when he was young) in Scotland.

When their plates were finished, the conversation grew sparser as their stares grew in intensity.

The tension between them was almost palpable.

Alfred’s foot was now brushing higher and higher on Edward’s thigh, making it hard for the brunet to concentrate on their conversation.

The blond had ordered a chocolate cake for desert, while Edward felt he couldn’t eat anymore. For a petite-framed man, Alfred had quite an appetite. “You should taste this! This is heavenly!” Alfred made such a lovely face upon tasting his dessert for the first time that Edward had to use all the self-restraint he could manage not to just jump on him. He decided he had drank enough champagne and decided to sip at his water glass.

“I can tell by the look on your face,” Edward smiled and stared at him with desire in his eyes.  “You’ve got something on the corner of your mouth. Let me just-” He brought his right hand closer to Alfred’s face, brushing the chocolate off with his thumb.

Their eyes locked. Alfred closed his beautiful blue eyes, and as they lent forward to kiss-

“Drummond, Paget. What a nice surprise! ”

They sprung apart so fast, Alfred almost fell from his chair.

“Mr. Peel!” they both exclaimed in unison.

Edward was sure he was about to pass out from stress, and Alfred was looking everywhere, a weird smile plastered on his face.

Their superior seemed oblivious to the situation that was unfolding in front of him, but his wife had a very curious expression on her face. “This is my wife, Julia. I’m glad to see you are feeling better, Paget.”

“Better? Was I…?” The blond tried to rack his brain. “Oh yes! I’m done with throwing up and such.” He shook his head to emphasize his words. “Sadly, it’s Wilhelmina who has it now. She was supposed to come with us.” Now it was Edward’s turn to nod.

Peel smiled at them both. “Poor girl! Well, I’ll leave you be, then. It’s already 9:30, and we are a little late.”

Once their boss had left their table, they let out the breath they’d been unconsciously holding and burst into laughter.

“I’d say this is our cue to leave.” Edward gestured to the server, who quickly brought them their bill. 

He insisted on paying, but Alfred wouldn’t let him, so they split it in two. They grabbed their coats, waved in the Peels’ direction, and left.

***

 “Don’t you have a no-dating policy at work?” Julia Peel was eyeing her husband’s employees as the two men got up and left the restaurant.

Her husband quirked an eyebrow at her. “Yes, why?”

“It looked as though they were about to kiss.” She shrugged. It seemed obvious to her something was up between those two.

The older man snorted and shook his head. “No, no, my dear. Drummond has a lovely fiancée back home. Now, what would you like to eat tonight?”

Julia seemed to highly doubt her husband’s words but decided to drop the matter for the moment as she continued to browse her menu.

***

“It was a lovely evening. Well, aside from meeting the Peels.” Edward and Alfred were walking close together, their arms brushing every now and then.

The night was a bit cold and they could see their breath as they spoke.

After a short walk, they stopped at a corner where they were supposed to split, since Edward’s room at the B &B was a few streets down on the left, while Alfred’s flat was a few streets up on the right.

Edward scratched the back of his neck. “You know what, I think it would be better if I walked you home.”

Alfred smirked. “If you insist…”  

They resumed their walking as their hands intertwined.

Upon arriving at Aunt Buccleuch’s house, Alfred let his hand go and turned to face him.

“I’ve really enjoyed my evening.” He smiled, and Drummond thought a smiling Alfred was by far the best thing he had ever seen.

They kissed once, then twice. They pulled apart, their eyes lingering on each other. Alfred was still in Edward’s arms and did not seem to be in a hurry to leave.

“I know I said we were supposed to wait before going back to a more physical side of things.” Alfred began as he playfully toyed with the hem of his coat. “Would it be a bad thing if I told you I might have changed my mind.” He bit his lip.

Edward gasped. “I dare say we already waited long enough.”

They kissed slowly, smirking at each other.

As silently as possible, Alfred turned his key in the lock and opened his door.

The lights were off, and Mina seemed to be her room. It was a good thing, since Alfred wasn’t sure he wanted her to confront him about the fact he was bringing Edward over.

Still holding hands, they tiptoed to Alfred’s room.

 It seemed this date was an absolute success.

Chapter Text

The morning after the date, Mina was painting her nails in a beautiful shade of pink as she waited for her roommate to exit his room.

She glanced at the clock on the kitchen wall every once in a while. She was wondering if she had won her bet.

Mina at 11:00:

Alfred might be dead. He’s usually up early.

Nan at 11:15:

The suspense is killing me. Just open the door, take a quick peek, mumble an apology and leave.

Do you want me to come over? I don’t mind checking.

Charles says we are crazy.

Mina at 11:30:

If he’s not out by two, I might.

Nan at 12:00:

Don’t forget to snap some pictures.

***

Around one, as Mina was preparing herself something to eat for lunch, Alfred finally came out of his room.

He was wearing a t-shirt she had never seen on him and his usual colorful underwear.

He looked as though a bomb had exploded in his usually carefully combed hair.  Edward, clearly wearing last night’s date clothes, was in tow.

Mina quirked an eyebrow at her roommate and gave him a knowing look.  “Well well, look who’s here. If it’s not Mr. I’ll-wait-because-I’ve-learned-my- lesson.” She snorted and took a sip of her tea.

“I get it, I’m a slut.” Alfred just shrugged and checked what she had cooked. “Is there enough food for two well-shagged but hungry men?“ He tried to grab something from her plate but she slapped his hand, gesturing with her chin food that for them was on the counter.

Edward glanced at the two as he was still awkwardly standing in the middle of the living room.

“Drums, you can come and sit with me.” Mina pointed at the other chair. ‟ You shouldn’t be so shy about this. It’s not as though I’ve seen anything.” She took a bite. “Heard it, absolutely. Seen it, nope.”

Edward pulled the chair across from her and shily smiled at her as Alfred shoved an indecent amount of food onto a plate and grabbed two forks on his way back to the table.

“Thanks, Mina. I owe you my life, as always.”  He dropped the plate in front of his new boyfriend, who blushed and pulled him onto his lap.

“You’ve got only two chairs, so…” mumbled the brunet has he snaked one arm around the blond and grabbed a fork with the other.

Alfred seemed absolutely thrilled and winked at his best friend, who rolled her eyes.

“You’re lucky I’ve not kept a list of everything you owe me Alf.“ She took her phone out.

***

Nancy was walking hand in hand with her boyfriend in a park when she felt her phone buzz.

She grinned as she checked the text and the photo Mina had sent her.

It was a picture of Alfred siting on Drummond’s lap in Mina’s kitchen. The two were kissing.

Domestic bliss at it’s best. Can’t wait to get my £20 ; )

Nan at 14:10:

Alright, you won! I’m glad for Alf, although you are going to get an earful on a regular basis now.

Mina at 14:15:

I know… :(  

 

Facebook alert at 14:20:

Alfred Paget changed his Facebook status from single to in a relationship.

***

Keeping their new relationship a secret at work had been a very hard thing at first. The fact Alfred had changed his Facebook status had got rumors going.

The new couple thought rightfully that the less people knew about it the more they had a chance of keeping it a secret from their boss.

Some congratulated the secretary about it, while others tried to pressure him into revealing who his boyfriend was.

Alfred, always at ease while in the hot seat, would always playfully find a way to dodge the pushy questions of his co-workers, as Mina would smile knowingly in Edward’s direction.

The latter always tried to seem extremely focussed on his work every time it happened. He found he could concentrate on the tasks at hand with more ease now, knowing he would be able to shag Alfred senseless at the end of the day.

Since the date at Ciro’s, Edward had spent almost every night at his boyfriend’s flat.

He found himself more and more entranced by Alfred as each day passed; a fact that was both exhilarating and extremely frightening at once.

Agnes, the Bed and Breakfast lady, had even almost called the cops a few days ago, thinking he had been kidnapped or something, since he hadn’t slept there for a week.

Mina seemed to be okay with the fact that she had inherited a new roommate.

At first, Edward had been a bit nervous about the fact she was always around them.

Two weeks into their relationship, Mina had cleared her throat and told them that if they wanted to bang they had her blessing. She was happy for them and assured them she had already heard them go at it so many times that she wasn’t even minding it anymore.

 Alfred had shrugged and laughed about it, while Edward on the other hand, had felt extremely self-conscious.

The feeling had vanished quickly, though, since an hour after Mina’s speech, he was holding a moaning Alfred in his arms and he swore he hadn’t been happier in his life then of now.

Still, Edward hadn’t come out to his mom, and that lie was lurking over him like a time bomb.

 He had carefully avoided her calls, only answering once in a while and staying vague about his whereabouts.

Twice he had answered her calls while Alfred was snuggled against his chest after they had sex, and still he couldn’t really manage to tell her he spent every night except Tuesdays and Thursdays with him.

He was still renting a room at the Bed and Breakfast and had invented a lie as to explain why he was sleeping there only two nights a week.

 Agnes seemed to think something was fishy, but since he paid his room even though he wasn’t there, she waved it off.

 The last thing he wanted to happen was for Agnes to call his mom and to tell her what was going on.

***

Alfred and Edward were watching tv with Mina or rather they were making out in front of the tv while Mina was trying to watch her series when Alfred’s phone started to ring loudly.

He retrieved it from his back pocket and checked who the caller was —which to Mina’s amazement was quite a feat, since he hadn’t stopped kissing his boyfriend while doing so.  

Edward groaned as his boyfriend pulled away to get the call. “Hi, Mama! You are on speakerphone. Mina and Edward are listening.”

“Hi, Charlie!” Exclaimed Mina, clearly happy to hear the voice of Alfred’s mom.

“Hello, honey! Baby, it’s getting quite difficult to reach you!  Seems every time I call, you don’t answer. Your new boyfriend is keeping you busy, then?” Alfred’s mom was giggling on the line.

“Absolutely! We’re going at it like rabbits.” Alfred winked at said boyfriend, who blushed and grabbed his glass of water, quickly taking a sip to hide his embarrassment. “I’m sorry, Mama, I should have returned your calls.”

“You sound happy.”  They heard something fall on the other side of the line and his mom stopped talking. A man was complaining in the background, but they couldn’t make out what he said.

 Mina stifled a laugh as Alfred’s mom cursed loudly.

“Your papa is being your papa.” Charlie sighed loudly and seemed aggravated. “Will you come and visit us next weekend? I’ve not seen you for so long and I would be delighted to meet your new boyfriend. Mina dear, I hope you’ll join us, too?”

Alfred looked questioningly at his boyfriend, who shrugged.

Edward took another sip of his drink as he tried to understand what was happening in Mina’s series —he had clearly missed more of it than he had thought at first.

“I’d be delighted, Charlie!” exclaimed Mina.

Alfred smiled and looked extremely pleased by the thought of seeing his family. “We will be there, Mama! I can’t wait to see you!”

Charlie cleared her throat. “Now, let’s get to the point of my call before your papa manages to wreck the house. Sexually speaking, is your boyfriend a 7 or an 8 out of 10?”

Edward spat his drink. Clearly, it was way too much for him.

Mina, hardly containing her laughter at this point, closed the tv and put both hands over her mouth.

“What, Mama!!?? Really?” Alfred seemed offended by his mother’s question. He got up and started pacing the room.

They seemed to have reached the end of that awkward conversation, and Edward started to breathe more easily.

He decided to take a new sip and literally choked on it as Alfred loudly exclaimed “I can’t believe it! I told you it’s bloody amazing and you score it at 8?! More like 12 out of 10!”

 “Oh, really? I can’t wait to know more about it. ” Charlotte had a conspiratorial tone and seemed delighted by her son’s answer.“ I’ll let you go now; your dad is looking at me as if he’s having an aneurysm again.” She hung up.

Mina patted the brunet’s back as he loudly coughed. “Wait until you meet them at dinner; you might as well pass out.” She smirked.

***

Edward was awaiting with dread the Pagets’ family dinner.

As if meeting your boyfriend’s parents wasn’t already stressful enough, Mina had told him the Pagets were very outspoken and loved to talk about everything at the table, something he was extremely uncomfortable with.

But tonight, was not the time to dwell on that matter.

 It was a Tuesday, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays Edward spent the evening with Ernst at the gym.

The mustached man was still unaware he was dating Alfred and was glad to spend some quality time with his new co-worker.

Hitting the gym was Ernst’s idea. He swore they would be so ripped by the end of winter that sexy girls would swoon upon seeing their muscular bodies.

Edward was highly doubtful about it, since it seemed Ernst spent more time chatting with him and staring at girls working out than doing the actual exercises….

Also, he couldn’t really tell him he was exercising mostly for two reasons and making ladies swoon wasn’t one of them.

First, he was doing it to spend time away from the flat, since Mina had asked him to leave her some alone time with Alfred.

And second, his boyfriend had told him he had always fantasised being carried upstairs, thrown savagely on his bed, and then be properly ravished.

Alfred was a lightweight, but he still had some work to do if he wanted to achieve it.

If Edward was honest with himself, he was only doing it for the second reason.

But Ernst was just sitting on a weight bench while he was tying his shoes.

 The music teacher took a sip out of his water bottle. “Alfred told me he had received a call from Charlie!”

“We’re supposed to go visit her next weekend,” Edward sighed. “With Mina, of course.”

Ernst shook his head. “If I could, I would go with you all, but I’m going to my uncle’s. I hope Charlie will send me food.”

Edward was about to tell him he was anxious about that particular dinner, when a guy interrupted them.

“Excuze-me gentlemen. If you don’t mind, I would like to uze zhis apareil to train.”

The stranger was taller than the two of them, was very dark-haired, and had chiseled features.

 Ernst shrugged. “We were done anyway, right, Drums?”

The guy snickered. “Right, I can see zat.”He rolled his eyes.  ‟Amateurs.”

Edward wasn’t sure why yet, but he disliked the man automatically.

***

Finally, Saturday afternoon crept by, and since the Pagets’ house was located three hours away from Callington,  Alfred’s parents had sent their chauffeur to pick their son and it’s friends up.

During the trip, the blond had slept most of the way. He was tired since flu season had picked up at school and he had to cover every lunch for the kindergartners since everyone was getting sick all around.

Edward had looked outside his window for most of the way, his face blank and his jaw clenched as he dreadfully awaited meeting his potential future in-laws for the first time.

Mina had read her book in peace as she fidgeted with her bracelet.

She seemed a bit nervous, but Edward was oblivious to it.

***

Upon seeing the Pagets’ mansion, Edward’s jaw had dropped.

He knew Alfred’s family was wealthy, but he never thought they were THAT wealthy.

The house was enormous. It had three floors and windows everywhere. There was also a gigantic garage adjoined; in it were a dozen of extremely costly cars.

Alfred told his boyfriend he had no interest in cars, but his dad would probably be delighted to show him his collection the next day if he asked. Since his brother, Henry Jr., had crashed both the Bentley and the Rolls Royce on the same night, the Paget brothers tended to stay away from the garage.

The grounds around the house seemed boundless. 

Richard, one of Alfred’s brother, had honked at them while passing them upon their arrival.

He lived in a guest house that was located so far away from the main house he had to drive a golf cart to go from one place to the other.

“He lives there since he doesn’t have a job as of now. He’s too busy playing Pokémon Go on his phone to find something,” Alfred shrugged. “The guest house is near the stables, which is my favorite place. Oh, and also-”

Edward gasped and cut his boyfriend short” You mean there is more?”

Alfred was about to answer, when a very beautiful middle-aged woman came to join them outside.

Charlotte Paget was a small woman of 4’ 10”. She was brown haired, and Edward observed at once she had Alfred’s blue eyes. She was impeccably dressed and seemed to be kindness incarnate.

She quickly grabbed Mina in her arms and kissed her on both cheeks. “I’m so happy to see you! Mina, you are beautiful, as always. “

Then, she turned to face Edward.

“You must be Dumdum. You are handsome. No wonder my son has been babbling on about you for the last weeks.” She stood on the tip of her toes and pinched his cheeks.

Edward, not used to this kind of behaviour, blinked a couple of times. “I’m pleased to meet you Mrs. Paget. You can call me Edward, if you please.”

“Just call me Charlie, Dumdum, everyone does around here.” She turned to her son who was beaming. “And at last, Plumpy, my baby. ”

“Mama!” Mother and son hugged and kissed, as the brunet tried to hide his laughter.

Mina turned around and whispered to him, “You can laugh; I used to. She has horrible pet names for all her boys. Alfred had massive cheeks when he was a baby, thus the nickname.”

When the greetings were done, they followed Charlotte inside the house.

The rooms were decorated with taste. Everywhere Edward looked everything seemed expansive, rare, and fragile.

Charlotte, joined by her husband Henry, quickly invited their guests to sit in the dining room, as their personal cook, Mme Rosalina, brought an outrageous amount of food to the table.

Henry, Alfred’s father, was in a very festive mood. He opened a bottle of champagne and served everyone around the table.

Mina sat next to Charlotte and Henry, as Alfred and Edward sat across from them. The brunet nervously glanced around the table, wondering if Alfred’s numerous brothers would join them.

Charlotte seemed to understand what he was thinking.

”George will join us later. Richard said he was too busy to come eat with us.” She shrugged.  “William is away at university. Clarence has been deployed with the army, and Septimus is lost somewhere in the far end of Brazil. He’s there doing humanitarian work…That reminds me Mina, I have things for you. They don’t have phone signals there, as I understand it, so he was not able to join you. “Charlotte got up from her chair and left the room, bringing back a bag with a giant pile of letters and a little parcel in it. ‟He sent those for you.”

Mina blushed while taking the bag, as Alfred smiled at her knowingly.

They were just starting to eat when Charlotte, after taking a sip of champagne, smiled at her son. “So, you told me the other day you judged Dumdum to be a twelve. Why don’t you tell me more about it?”

Edward stopped chewing his food. He certainly was having problems with his hearing.

“A twelve, really?” Henry asked conversationally as he was cutting his meat.

Nope, it seemed Edward had not misheard.

Mina buttered a piece of bread and started to eat it as fast as possible, eyeing Drummond in the process.

He was visibly paler then earlier.

‟Might even be a 13 as of now.” Alfred shrugged. ‟I’ve been bottoming a lot lately, so I can’t really compare with my exes. Can you pass me the salt, Papa?”

Edward dropped his fork but did not make any move to retrieve it. He was sure he was about to pass out.

Henry handed the salt over to his son while Charlotte looked quizzically at her youngest. “I thought you liked to top better, Plumpy?” She raised an eyebrow at him.

Alfred shrugged and drank a sip of champagne, as Henry smiled and continued to eat.

Mina chimed in, seeing Edward was turning a bright shade of crimson. “Let me tell you he’s a bossy one, at that! All I hear every night is ‘Edward, right there, harder, don’t you dare stop,’ and such…”

Alfred arched an eyebrow at her and grinned as his mom started to laugh.

Was it possible to die of shame? Edward wondered, as he tried without success to gulp the bite he had taken earlier. His throat was dry, and he was sweating.

The Pagets seemed to be oblivious to his discomfort.

“He always was a noisy thing.” Added Charlotte, wiping a tear from her left eye.

Henry snorted. “Well the apple didn’t fell far from the tree. You’re one to talk, Charlotte!”

The Pagets and Mina laughed at this, clearly sharing a memory that Edward wasn’t aware of—and honestly, at this point, he didn’t want to know about it either.

‟How does he fare compared to Brandon Templeton?” Charlotte asked, winking at her son.

Mina spat some of her drink and started to laugh heartily.

Alfred glanced at his boyfriend for the first time since the dinner had started and cleared his throat before answering. ”I’m pretty sure this is making Edward uncomfortable.”  His dad quickly refilled his glass as the blond leant forward and whispered loudly “I can assure you he’s well-equipped, Mama.”

The Pagets all laughed to tears.

Edward was pretty sure he was experiencing the symptoms of a heart failure. Should he call an ambulance now or just die here to put a stop to this conversation?

Mina tried to calm down, as she was almost certain she was about to wet herself with laughter if that discussion carried on.

Henry clapped Edward strongly on the back, still laughing. “Nonsense! Nothing to be ashamed of; we’re family.”  

“Oh, god! I almost forgot about Brandon Templeton,” added Mina, as an afterthought.

Alfred had probably drunk too much champagne because he loudly exclaimed: ‟Poor Brandon. I swear his dick was both a blessing and a curse. Took so much work to get him hard, then it would barely last more than-”

The dinning room door opened, and a loud voice exclaimed: ‟Who? Are you talking about massive dick again?”

It was George, Alfred’s oldest brother, joining them for dinner. He was a taller and broader version of Alfred and had his dad’s brown eyes.

‟Poor guy. I saw him at work the other day. I couldn’t stop laughing. “Henry poured George a glass of champagne too, as the latter filled his plate. He winked in Edward’s direction. ‟ Sorry to break you the truth pal, but Plumpy is a slut.”

It seemed George had a peculiar sense of humor. Alfred sighed and rolled his eyes at his brother, who pulled his tongue out at him.

Edward was getting downright angry by now. Not only was Alfred sharing personal information about their couple, he was now also divulging things from his past relationships, something he wasn’t good at dealing with.

Alfred seemed to sense something was wrong with his boyfriend and patted him on the shoulder. “Don’t let Gege fool you. I’ve had three boyfriends in all and that was about it.”

It was supposed to help, but it clearly didn’t. Three boyfriends were not what Edward wanted to think about, being jealous by nature.

George shrugged as Edward pushed his plate. He had barely eaten, yet felt he was not hungry anymore.

The conversation went on, as Henry spoke about his work. Edward wasn’t listening at this point. He was clenching his jaw and got lost in his thought.

Henry winked at him. “So, did you get a taste of Alfred’s inheritance?”

Edward cleared his throat and stared blankly at the older man. ”I beg your pardon?”

Alfred, George, and Mina started to snort and to laugh in the background.

Charlotte, sensing Edward was not understanding the question smiled sweetly at him as she clarified what her husband had meant. ‟It’s a swirl done with the tip of the tongue, sweetie.”

“I bless my wife everyday for that tongue trick. Would have been a shame if it had not been passed down to the next generation,” added the patriarch as he raised his glass.

Mina, who had probably drunk too much, cut him short.

“Pretty sure he had a taste of it a couple of nights ago. See, those two go to bed early now and I watch tv or I read in the living room, which is next door. Drums never makes a sound when they sleep together but let me tell you he was vocal that night.”

George laughed heartily as Alfred shrugged. ‟There’s nothing wrong with having a talented mouth, right?”

***

Finally, after what had felt like days, the dinner was over, and it was time for everyone to go to bed.

Edward was supposed to sleep with Alfred in the latter’s childhood bedroom.

He clenched his jaw and felt tense as he looked around the room. The Pagets hadn’t changed anything to the decoration of the room since Alfred had left their home almost six years ago.

There were pictures of good looking men—all of them dark-haired— plastered on the walls. A giant rainbow flag was hanging on the ceiling over Alfred’s bed and old gossips magazines were laying everywhere on the floor. There were trophies on a shelf and tons of little frames with pictures of Alfred and his friends on the walls and on the furniture.

In fact, if Edward hadn’t been feeling so angry, he would probably have been tempted to look at them, but he wasn’t feeling like doing it just now.

While Alfred was brushing his teeth in the bathroom, he got under the covers and turned off the light. He then turned to face the wall and brooded.

Alfred, done with his evening routine, undressed, not even keeping his underwear on, as he joined his boyfriend under the covers.

He was in dire need of some loving and he turned around to snuggle against his boyfriend. “Since when are you wearing pyjamas to bed?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you should ask your parents?” Edward answered coldly.

“What? Really? Can I get a goodnight kiss if it’s not too much to ask, Mr. Edward We-can’t-talk-about-sex-even-though-we-are-always-going-at-it Drummond?” Alfred tried to kiss him and to tickle him, to lighten the mood, but Edward just pushed him away as he continued to angrily face the wall.

Edward groaned. “I can’t believe your parents asked all those stupid questions over dinner, and you answered them all. Anyway, seems Mina bloody hears everything we do because you can’t keep your voice down like normal people do when they have sex. I don’t need your parents or your brother to hear you scream your head out too. Why don’t you call Brandon Templeton while you’re at it?”

“Oh, right…” He felt Alfred move away from him. ‟Good night then.”

He was absolutely pissed and, still facing the wall, he pretended he was asleep.

A couple of minutes later, someone knocked on the door. It was George.

‟Sorry, just keep on banging boys!”  George had a flashlight in his hand and he pointed it on the bed.  “Oh, I thought you would be making out or something. I know Mom and Dad are.” He snickered. “I forgot my bag in your restroom. Do you mind if I get it?”

Alfred sighed. ‟I’ll get it,” he replied before he got out of bed. “Edward is sleeping anyway.”

Damn well I am, thought the latter.

George pointed the light at his little brother, concern clearly visible on his face. “Have you been crying Plumpy? Your face is weird, “ he groaned. “Did he beat you like your ex?”

“Nooooo!” Alfred rolled his eyes and seemed annoyed. ‟Clearly everything is fine here! One of my lashes poked my eye and I had to rub it to get it out, that’s it.”

Edward was starting to feel bad and hoped George would just leave so he could talk this over with his boyfriend. He did tend to overreact, after all.

George didn’t seem completely convinced and pointed his flashlight at his brother once more. The latter was picking his clothes up from off the floor.

“You do have the longest and thickest eyelashes I have ever seen on either men or women, so I could be tempted to trust you, but I still don’t.” George frowned and whistled. “Wait, do you really have a heart tattooed on you arse?”

Alfred nodded as both brothers tried to stifle their laughter. ‟That thing was literally a pain in the ass Gege-” Alfred began as both brothers left the room, closing the door behind them and leaving Edward behind to brood to his heart’s content.

Chapter Text

Mina had just finished reading the letters Septimus had sent her when Alfred barged into her room.

She turned her head to look at her best friend and arched an eyebrow. “Well, look who’s here.” She moved to allow him some room in the double bed before she went on. ‟Why am I not surprised to see you come to my bed?”

Alfred sighed, climbed in the bed, pulled the covers over his shoulders, and turned to face her, resting his head on his right arm.

“Edward’s pissed.” He simply replied before he sighed once more. “Seems I might have revealed too much information over dinner. He’s also angry about Brandon and his big asset.” 

Mina rolled her eyes. ‟You broke up with Templeton years ago. Just give Drummond some time to cool down.  He is a good guy, after all.” Doubt seemed to seize her. “Or is he?”

Alfred gave her an annoyed look. “Why are you all thinking that? Just because I had a crazy boyfriend once doesn’t mean it’ll happen again.”

 “Well, I remember how it was with Benjamin, and I don’t want to relive that situation ever again.” She turned off the light and turned on her left side to face the blond.

There was a pause, as Alfred yawned before he resumed their conversation. “How were your letters?”

She pulled at the covers and began to toy with her bracelet. “Septimus says Brazil is peculiar. Seems it’s complete chaos over there.”

Alfred grinned. “So, he’s thrilled and he’s managing everything all by himself?”

Mina smiled in a simple answer.

“Does he say when he’ll be back?”  He scratched his nose.

“Probably for summer.” There was a pause and Alfred wondered if his best friend had not fallen asleep. Mina cleared her throat. ‟He asked me if he could take me on a date when he’s back.”

He cooed. “Really? What did I tell you!” He slapped Mina playfully on the arm.  “I hope you’ll tell him we are already engaged!”

She laughed. It was a running gag to them both. They had been living together for so long now they almost felt married at this point. “That’s exactly what I’ll say: Sorry, Sep, but I’m already engaged to your baby brother.”

Alfred smirked. “Don’t forget to tell him that I’m better looking and that I have better taste in clothing, too.”

She grinned back before she kissed him on the cheek. “I will. Now stop worrying about Drums. It’ll be better tomorrow.” She yawned.  “Now I suggest we catch up on our beauty sleep. I’m sure you’ll want to look your best when you’ll face Drums in the morning.” 

***

It was almost two in the morning, and Alfred still had not come back to his bedroom.

Naturally, Edward hadn’t been able to catch any sleep since he had been replaying their argument in his head for the last couple of hours.

He still was angry about what Alfred had revealed over dinner, but he guessed the worst had probably been said by now.

What made him feel even worse was the fact Alfred had told him on their first date he had had the worst of exes, but he had never imagined in a thousand years that some of them were physically abusive to his boyfriend.

Just thinking about it made his blood boil, and he involuntarily curled his fist into a ball. Alfred was such an angel, he couldn’t figure out how people could act this way with him.

He decided to send a text to the latter, since it seemed a logical step in solving their argument.

I’m sorry. Where are you?

Edward had just sent the text when he heard a whistling sound coming from the restroom that was adjoined to the bedroom.

He groaned out of frustration and annoyance: Alfred did not have his phone on him, and that meant he would have to get up and find him.

***

Edward tried to be as silent as possible as he tiptoed through the corridors of the Pagets’ mansion. He remembered vaguely Alfred had said Mina was supposed to sleep on the second floor, but he couldn’t remember where the stairs were.

Since it was pitch black, he used the flashlight app on his phone.

There were trinkets on literally every possible surface of every piece of furniture he encountered.

He had just located the stairs after finding out the Pagets also had a lift (to what purpose, he couldn’t say) when he came face to face with Henry Paget, clad only in his underwear with a bottle of champagne and a can of whipped cream in his hands.

If he had thought the evening was already awkward, it had now peaked.

Henry looked around and seemed a bit uncomfortable. “Oh…Eddie.”

Edward began to rub the back of his neck with insistence. He was freaking out. “Mr. Paget, sir. Ehm…”

The older man scratched his head as Edward tried to look everywhere except at him.

There are things in life you don’t want to know or imagine and thinking about what Henry was doing strolling around the house in his underwear was certainly one of them.

After an eternity —or what felt like it anyway— Henry cleared his throat. “Let’s both agree we have seen nothing here and continue on with whatever we were doing.”

Edward sighed with relief. “Done.”

Henry went on the left, while Edward went to the right.

After making his way upstairs and looking in three different rooms —which to his relief were all empty—Edward found the guest room where Mina slept.

As he suspected, Alfred was in there, too.

He turned off the light on his phone and just stood in the doorway, wondering what exactly he was going to do, when Alfred sighed.

“Are you planning on awkwardly staring at me for the next hour, or…?”

Edward could hear Alfred was cross by his tone of voice.

“I thought you were sleeping,” he answered with hesitation.

“I was, but Mina snored just seconds before you entered the room.”

“Right.”

They both stared at each other in silence, as they listened to Mina’s regular respiration.

“What do you want, anyway?” Alfred asked rather coolly, breaking the silence.

“Emh…” Edward scratched his head, still awkwardly standing in the doorway.

Alfred made an annoyed noise with his tongue. “Gosh, Edward, just come and sit down next to me.”

The latter did as he was told and sat on the bed.

Alfred moved a bit and got closer to Mina to allow him some space.

Edward sighed. Discussing about his feelings wasn’t one of his favorite thing to do. “I’m sorry if I’ve been a bit harsh. I’ll simply say I’m not used to having my private life displayed and discussed like that.”

Alfred shrugged. “I might have been a bit blunt about it. I saw you were a bit uncomfortable during dinner, but I’m used to discuss all of those things very openly with my family.”

Edward scratched his nose as he avoided his boyfriend’s stare. “I might have been a bit aggravated about your exes, too. Is it true what George said?”

The blond winked at him. “About what? Me being a slut? The tattoo on my ass? I think you saw it plenty of times already.”

Edward rolled his eyes, a grin spreading on his face. “Hahaha! I’m being serious here. Is it true your ex lay a hand on you?”

Alfred pouted. It was his turn to avoid his boyfriend’s stare. “I don’t usually go around talking about it, but yes it’s true. I stayed six months with him.” He shrugged. ‟I was stupid, and I thought he loved me”.

“I’m so sorry about that. I just can’t imagine anyone being able to do that to you. It made me feel so thoughtless. I don’t want to hurt you again, after what happened because of Mr. Peel. I really like you and-”

“Listen to you, Mr. Feels! Aren’t you sentimental tonight?” Alfred pulled him close, their faces almost touching on his pillow. “I can forgive you if you can get over the fact my parents are curious and that I’m always happy to comply.”

Mina made a sound in her sleep that sounded suspiciously like a snort. Both boys looked at her before they resumed their conversation.

“I still hope you’ll learn to be a little more secretive.”  Edward smirked. “Oh, and before I forget about it, I did not mean what I said earlier. I really like it when you get loud.”

Alfred snorted “Really? I thought you said you didn’t need my parents or my brother to hear me express myself when I’m having fun?”

Edward smirked and blushed. “Well, I’m an utter twat. I can tell you it turns me on.”

Alfred pulled him closer, so their foreheads were pressed together. Edward could feel his boyfriend smile in the dark.

“I’ll be happy to resume the practice of my vocals daily, then.” Alfred added seductively.

“I think you’ll have to postpone your practice for tonight.” Edward pointed at Mina with his chin. ‟If you move a bit closer to Wilhelmina, I’ll be able to lie down, too. After all, I can’t leave my little Angel baby all to himself.”

“Oh no, you can’t,” Alfred snickered as they kissed.

Mina, who they thought had been asleep all along, burst out laughing, making the mattress shake. “I just can’t! I literally just can’t! I think I’ve just died.’”

Edward blushed furthermore, his face now a very bright shade of red.  He was sure it was showing in the dark. “I ehm… didn’t knew you were awake.”

Alfred chimed in. “That’s private stuff, Mina. I would appreciate it if you could just go back to sleep.” With that said, he kissed his boyfriend firmly on the mouth, moaning and pulling him over him in the bed.

Mina rolled her eyes. “I see you’ve learned your lesson about private stuff, which is a nice thing.” She absolutely was being sarcastic here. “With that said, I don’t want to be a cockblock or anything, but might I remind you I’m trying to sleep. Either you shut up and sleep, or you go back to your room.” She pinched Alfred’s butt as she felt he might not be listening to her. “Whatever your choice is, you better make it quickly or I won’t be held responsible for my actions.” She readjusted her pillow and kicked him behind the knee.

Alfred pulled his tongue out at her, as Edward settled into the bed.

***

A buzzing sound woke them all in the morning.  Mina sat up, startled, and promptly hit the snooze button of the alarm clock that was on her nightstand, kicking Alfred in the shin in the process.

The latter groaned and tried to put his pillow over his head.

Edward, who had spent the night spooning his boyfriend on the edge of the bed since Mina had slept sprawled like a starfish, felt his back wasn’t in the best of shape and winced with every move.

“Gosh it’s 10! We might as well be dead.” Mina pushed Alfred once more. The latter mumbled an incomprehensible protest, turned around, and buried his face in his boyfriend’s chest.

The little blonde tied her hair and stretched. “Time to get up, Angel baby.”

Alfred turned his head and looked at his best friend grouchily. “Don’t you dare!”

Mina was about to reply, when George barged into the room. “Hey, why wasn’t I invited to your slumber party?” He yanked the covers as Alfred cursed, his face still buried in Drummond’s chest.

“Sorry George, it was a bit last minute. Your invite must have gotten lost in the mail.” Mina smiled at the oldest Paget as Edward wiped his eyes.

George shrugged. “Time to get up, Plumpy, or Mama is going to be really pissed.” With that said, he grabbed his brother’s ankles and yanked him out of bed.

***

Upon their arrival in the kitchen, Charlotte seemed slightly aggravated since Mme Rosalina, the family’s private chef, was nowhere to be found.

Mina offered to cook the family some pancakes and enlisted Alfred’s help to do so.

Henry was reading his journal in his chair in the corner of the room, while Richard was playing on his phone —something he seemed to be doing quite often. The latter was broader than George and had his mother’s brown hair.

Edward tried to smile in his direction, but Richard didn’t seem impressed and merely raised an eyebrow at him.

Being a mommy’s boy, Edward turned to Charlotte. “Might I help you with anything, Mrs Paget?”

She smiled and pinched his cheek. “It’s Charlie, sweetie. You can help me put on the silverware if you want.”

***

Soon enough the pancakes were cooked, and everyone sat down around the table to eat them.

The conversation was flowing and was decent —to Edward’s relief—compared to last night’s dinner.

Richard and George were eyeing with envy the last pancake that was left on the table, when Alfred dived for it and decided to give it to his older brother, sticking his tongue out at Richard while doing so.

Richard gaped at his siblings as the two sneered at him before he loudly exclaimed, “Mama, Al has a tattoo on his butt!”

He had a smug look on his face as Mina snorted and Charlotte glared at her youngest.

Alfred looked at his older brother with shock on his face. “Gege, you dumbass, you were supposed to keep that a secret.”

George just shrugged, still chomping down on his pancake.

Charlotte got up and pulled down her son’s pyjama pants to get a glance at said tattoo.

She was fuming. “Why did you do that?”

Alfred shrugged. “I lost a bet with Nancy Skerrett.  She got to choose what I was supposed to get and where it was supposed to go.”

Mina thought it was probably not the time to mention that Alfred was, in fact, the one who chose where the heart would go in the first place, so she took a sip of her coffee and remained silent.

“ALFRED PAGET! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU DID THAT.” Charlotte yelled loudly as she rubbed her forehead. “I swear I have a mind to put you in time out. Henry, don’t you have anything to say about this?”

Henry took a sip of his coffee and shrugged. “He’s an adult, Charlotte.”

Her husband’s answer seemed to make her even more cross.

She looked at her three sons who were all silent and were avoiding her furious stare. “Alfred, I am very displeased by your attitude. Tattoos are vulgar. George, when someone asks you to keep a secret, you keep it.  And Richard, I told you many times not to rat on your brothers.” 

Edward smirked as Alfred winked at him. He was beginning to truly appreciate the Pagets.

***

The rest of the day was pleasant. Edward visited the garage with Henry —who proudly showed him his grand and expensive collection of cars—while Alfred spent his time racing horses at high speed against George, recklessly winning every time.

Soon enough, the afternoon came to an end.

Charlotte was teary-eyed as she bid goodbye to Mina, her precious baby boy and Edward. “Why do you live so far?” She asked before she smiled as she seemed to remember something. ‟We are planning on going south for Christmas! Will you all join us?”

Mina jumped excitedly with Alfred while Edward began to rub his neck. He looked clearly embarrassed to burst their bubble. “I would love to, but I have to visit my mom.”

Alfred beamed at him. “Oh! I could come and visit her with you!”

“Or you could bring your mom with us?” exclaimed Charlotte excitedly.

Edward gulped, feeling panic rise in the pit of his stomach. “Erh…We’ll see!”

It seemed to please everyone for now, and the matter was dropped. Charlotte and Henry kissed them all before our three friends took place in the Paget’s car.

When the car began to move, as Bob, the chauffeur, pulled off, Edward felt relieved the weekend was finally over.

He had survived in meeting the Pagets for the first time.

Chapter Text

 

On Monday morning, the epidemic of gastroenteritis that was severely affecting the staff working with the kindergartners had reached its critical phase. Substitute teachers were all booked, and Alfred had to spend the day watching one of the classes.

There were only two weeks left before Christmas, and the staff was eager to go on holiday.

Well, everyone except our poor little Edward, since he wasn’t sure what he was going to do about the Paget’s family trip over the Christmas holidays.

He still had not come out to his mom and was still unsure about how he would do so. She was regularly sending him pictures of their neighbor’s daughter and her sister’s grandchildren, to his growing horror.

With Alfred away from the office, Mr. Peel had enlisted the brunet’s help to put up the Christmas tree at the front of the school. The two secretaries were usually the ones to do that job, but with the both of them over their head in work, Mr. Peel had no other choice than to put him on the task.

Which was the reason he was standing on a chair in the hallway, fighting with a string of lights at 9.00 on a Monday morning with Mr. Penge, the school’s grumpy janitor, as his helper.

The older man was mumbling under his breath as he was putting ornaments on the tree and seemed aggravated. He had a good reason for being so, since he had already been called three times since the beginning of the day to clean up vomit in three different classrooms.

Edward had finally managed to put the lights on the tree when the dark-haired guy he had seen the other day at the gym entered the school.

The stranger was wearing a nice coat and seemed to identify him at once. The man sneered in his direction as Mina came to greet him at the door.

Upon seeing him, she blushed a little and tried to adjust her hair which was tied in a bun.

“You must be the new French teacher. My name is Wilhelmina; I’m one of the school’s secretaries. If you don’t mind following me, I’ll show you to Mr. Peel."

He smiled charmingly and kissed her hand “Enchanté! My name is Vincent Leclerc.”

She laughed as Edward rolled his eyes. That guy is such a douchebag he thought as he clenched his jaw and paused what he was doing.

Mr. Penge groaned. “Are you done with those wretched lights, lad? I’d like to be finished with this stupid task before the end of the year.”

***

Mina was pleasantly talking with Leclerc (who she thought was very handsome) and waiting for Mr. Peel to open his office door when Alfred passed them, followed by the kindergartners as they were on their way to the library.

The kids were all in line and acting as if they were fishes in the sea, moving their arms as though they were swimming and opening their mouths as if they were breathing underwater.

Alfred winked at his best friend and tilted his head to greet the man who was speaking with her, as the kids followed him to the end of the corridor.

“Joli petit cul!” exclaimed Vincent in an undertone upon seeing Alfred for the first time.

Mina smiled and looked at him sweetly. “I’m sorry, I don’t speak French. What did you just say?”

Vincent shrugged. “Oh, I was just saying zhose students seemed to like zheir teacher.”

“Oh, he’s substituting today. He usually works with me in-” As she was saying this, Mr. Peel opened his door and gestured to Leclerc to come in.

“ Interesting,” the black-haired man answered, his eyes still following Alfred as Peel greeted him.

***

The tree was finished—to the children’s delight— and Drummond was finally back at his desk and working on his beloved Excel spreadsheets when the bell rang for lunch.

He glanced at his colleague. “Mina, who was that guy who came in earlier?”

She sighed dreamily. “He’s so handsome, right?”

Edward shrugged as a simple answer.  

“He’ll be working with the 5th graders after Christmas since Mrs. Dufort is going on maternity leave. He seems very competent, and he’s friendly, too.  I’m sure you’ll like him.”

“Right...” He still could not say why, but he did not like that guy. Not one bit.

 

***

On Monday night, Alfred was absolutely knackered by his day spent with the kindergarteners and decided to go and lie down right after supper.

The brunet was wondering if he should just leave to get back to the Bed and Breakfast—and pretend he was independent and wasn’t completely smitten with his boyfriend—or if he should stay, as he usually did on Monday nights, when Mina gestured to him to come and sit with her on the couch.

She smiled at him as he sat down. “Which one do you think would suit me best?”

She was shopping on her phone for a swimsuit for the Pagets’ trip.

She showed him two pictures. The first swimsuit looked like a dress and was purple, and the second one was a blue tankini with a weird pattern.

He scratched his nose. “I don’t know. They both seem personable, I guess.”

She sighed. “Right…Alfred is better than you with this. It’s a pity he’s asleep.” She put her phone down. “I’m glad, though, because I wanted to talk to you about something in private.”

He looked at her questioningly.

“So, you guys have been dating for-” She grabbed Alfred’s phone from the coffee table and unlocked it within seconds. “27 days, 22 hours, 15 minutes, and 36 seconds, according to that damn app he put on his phone.”

Edward grinned and took his phone out to check if he had received any e-mails, looking at her while doing so.

Mina put Alfred’s phone down and started to nervously fidget with her bracelets. “Are you going to move out with him?”

“I don’t know. Why?” He shrugged.

“I don’t want to seem weird or anything. I’m not scared of being a spinster and all; it’s just Alfred is the only person I consider family and I don’t want to lose him. “She scratched her head, as she avoided his stare. ‟My parents died when I was a teenager and I moved here with my aunt. And let me tell you she’s not fun to live with. But then I started to work at Worthington’s, and Alfred arrived just months after me. I liked Ernst a lot at that time and he did not return my feelings. Alfred was there to help me cope with it and we basically became best friends. We moved in together and have been inseparable since then.”

She cleared her throat and wiped a tear.

“Listen to me being all melodramatic. What I want to say is, why don’t you just move in?”

“I’m not sure Alfred would-”

“Would what? He’s always ranting on about you and how you are his soulmate and all that junk. I mean he has a folder on his phone which is full of pictures of you. Plus, he spends his Tuesday and Thursday nights crying about the fact you aren’t here.” She rolled her eyes.

“I don’t mind moving in, but aren’t you tired of us always making out around here?” Or not being able to? he added mentally.

Since Mina was often there, they had only managed to have sex on the sofa twice, and that kitchen table had been nagging at his brain since their first time.

“I guess I’m used to it by now. I’ve even learned to tune Alfred out. Soooo, when are you moving in?” She smiled and playfully slapped him on the shoulder as she resumed her swimsuit shopping, sending pictures of the ones she liked to Alfred.

“I’ll ask him if he would like me to, and if he says yes, I’ll talk to Agnes about leaving my room.” A grin crept on his face. It was the first time he was moving in with someone since he had almost moved in with Florence, and that was something.

‟ Perfect! Count this as your Christmas gift from me to you, because I’ll have to deal with my aunt about this and let me tell you it’s not going to be a piece of cake.”

***

An hour after his talk with Mina, Edward decided to go check on his boyfriend.

The latter was sleeping, curled up in his bed.

He turned off the light and joined his boyfriend in the bed.

“What time is it?” Alfred groggily asked as he rolled over and dropped his head on Drummond’s chest. The latter circled him with his arms and held him tightly.

“It’s 9.00.”

 “I thought you would have gone back to your room.  I’m sorry to be this boring tonight.” He yawned.   “What did you do?”

“I’ve spent some time looking at random stuff on my phone. Mina tried to ask my advice on swimsuits, but I’m bad at it. She sent you 10,000 pictures on your phone.”  He kissed the top of his boyfriend’s head.

 “I’m a fashion genius.”

“She asked me if I wanted to move in because she doesn’t want you to move out.“

There was a pause.

‟Are you going to?” Alfred tentatively asked.

“What do you think?“

“I would like it very much.“

“That settles the matter, then.” Edward couldn’t stop smiling and felt butterflies in his stomach.

There was no doubt about it, he was done for.

Alfred yawned. “If I wasn’t that tired, I’d do you.”

He smirked. “Would you, now?” His question stayed unanswered since Alfred had already drifted back to sleep.

***

The next morning, upon waking up, Drummond saw his boyfriend wasn’t curled up in his arms, as he usually was.

The blond was lying on his belly with his head under his pillow on the edge of the bed.

Mina knocked on the door impatiently. “If I have to, I’ll come in and drag you out just like your brother does, Alf! We are running late, and I certainly don’t want Mr. Peel to be mad at me because you two lovebirds can’t seem to fall asleep at appropriate hours.”

Alfred groaned as she entered the bedroom, as Edward looked at him puzzlingly.

“I feel awful. It’s like I’m hot and I’m cold at the same time and I’m not talking about that Katy Perry song.”

Mina shared a look with Drummond. “I think he’s bonkers. Well, more than usual.”

She put a hand on her roommate’s forehead.  “I’m pretty sure you are down with a fever, Alfred.”

The blond groaned miserably. “Work with the kindergarteners, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.”

Edward bent down and kissed the top of his head. ‟I’ll check on you later. Just try to sleep it off.”

“If you ever get bored, I’ve sent you pictures I’d like you to look at!” called Mina over her shoulder, as she followed the brunet out of the room.

As she closed the door behind them, the secretary turned to him and pointed a finger in his face. “I hope you don’t get down with it, because I don’t think I can deal with two sick men at once.”

 Edward shrugged. He wasn’t one to get sick anyway.

***

Over the recess, Mina left the office and brought her phone to the bathroom to see how her roommate was doing. She was feeling a bit weird, too, but she tried to shrug it off.

Mina at 10.15:

How are you?

Alf at 10.17:

I’ve been throwing up as if my life was depending on it for the last hour.

I think I’m going to die.

Mina at 10.20:

I’m not feeling at my best either. I’ll come and check on you at lunch.

***

 

Edward D. at 12.03:

How are you babe?

Bae at 12.05:

I’m still alive.

I’ve been laying stone cold dead on the bathroom floor in my underwear for the last 2 hours.

Wait Mina just arrived to save me.

Bae at 12.45:

Mina is going down with it too.

It’s her turn to throw up now. I’m holding her hair up as I gag reflex.

Edward D. at 12h46:

Sounds fun.

Do you need anything? I won’t come over tonight.

Bae at 12.48:

Obviously

Edward D.  at 12.50:

If you need anything, text me. Love you Xxxxx

Bae at 12.52:

I will if I survive. Love you more Xxxxxxxxxxxxx

***

Ernst pulled a face. “I heard Coke and Paget caught the kindergartners’ stomach bug?”

Edward shrugged. “Yep, they did. Alfred is done throwing up now. He managed to eat something. Mina is still throwing up, though.”

Since it was Tuesday night, he was exercising with Ernst at the gym.

For once, they really managed to do something, since the gym was almost empty and Ernst had stayed focused on exercising instead of checking out girls.

Leclerc was there, too, at the far side of the gym, chaining push-ups as if there was no tomorrow.

“Nice!” the womanizer sarcastically replied as he wiped the sweat that was dripping down his face with a towel. “I heard from Nancy you’re supposed to move in with them?”

“Hum, yes. News gets around fast.” He tried to avoid the other man’s gaze. ‟ I am.”

Ernst smiled.

“I guess by moving in with them, you’ll be able to see who Paget’s boyfriend is? I’ve bet some good money on this and I hope I am going to win.”

Edward took a sharp intake of breath and rubbed the back of his neck before he answered.

“Ehm…Well, in fact, I am his emh… boyfriend.”

 

Chapter Text

“You are kidding me, right?”

Edward could feel his heart beating through his chest as Ernst looked at him weirdly.

“No.”

Ernst groaned angrily and knocked on the treadmill’s board with his fist.

“I can’t believe I’ve just lost £500 to Francatelli! That bastard always wins!” The womanizer shook his head. “Now I understand why you guys often have the same lunch at work.”

“Yes, that we do.” There was a pause in their conversation. “So, are you cool with this?”

“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?” Ernst grabbed his shoulder in a friendly gesture.

Edward shrugged. ‟Let’s say I’ve not disclosed that information to a lot of people so far.”

“It only means more girls for me. I had absolutely no clue you were gay by the way” As Ernst got down from the treadmill, he added as an afterthought, “I’ll keep this to myself. I’m pretty sure you don’t want Peel to hear about this.”

“Indeed. I would like to keep both my boyfriend and my job if that’s possible.”

The brunet drank a gulp of water as Leclerc came near, not even sparing them a glance as he took Ernst’s place on the treadmill.

***

A week had gone by since Mina and Alfred had been sick, and  Edward was officially moving in the next day.

The roommates were supposed to leave for Puerto Vallarta with the Pagets in three days.

Edward had declined his potential future in-law’s invitation, stating he had to visit his mom during the holidays.

He had also lied and told the Pagets she was too sick to go on the trip with them. 

Finally, he had carefully convinced a pouting Alfred to go with his parents and have some fun in the sun, using Mina —who wanted to go on the trip very badly— as a scapegoat.

She had managed to convince her aunt it was a good thing to let him move in, which had been a feat close to a miracle.

Saying the couple owed her big time was an understatement. 

Edward was getting fed-up with his web of lies, but figured he would set everything right over the next week.

He currently was out with Ernst at the pub, while his roommates were packing their suitcases.

Stuff was laying everywhere in the living room.

Sun lotion, hats, and flip-flops were lined in front of Alfred’s suitcase, as Mina was still struggling to choose which garments she was going to bring.

 “Do you think I should bring this dress or that one?”

Alfred shrugged “Why don’t you bring them both? We’re supposed to be there 12 days. You know my saying: the more clothes, the merrier.”

She smiled in his direction and was just putting the dresses in her suitcase, when Nancy barged into their apartment.

“Stop what you are doing and come sit with me. This is an emergency” exclaimed the latter as she sat excitedly on the couch.

The two best friends looked at each other with surprise and sat on either side of her.

“Hold on to your butts!” Nancy paused. “I’m almost 100% sure Charles is going to propose over the holidays!”

“What makes you say that?” Mina asked cautiously, as Alfred quirked an eyebrow at her.

‟Harriet said she saw him shopping for a ring the other day.” She clearly was very excited by the news. Her voice climbed a few octaves, dangerously reaching the frequency that could make glass shatter, “I’d say it’s time we looked at wedding dresses.”

As she was saying this, she pulled a pile of magazines out of her purse. Mina excitedly grabbed one as Alfred rolled his eyes.

“Such a stereotype! Do you really think I want to look at this? I’ve never really cared about weddings in the first- O-M-G have you seen that suit? AND THAT ONE!” he exclaimed loudly as he pulled the magazine out of Mina’s hands while Nancy giggled uncontrollably.

***

On Wednesday night, Alfred was as excited as a five-year-old on Christmas morning. He had barely been able to get through his normal day at school as he kept reminding himself his Edward was moving in with him that very night. 

He had dragged his boyfriend to the mall the previous weekend, and they had spent an afternoon looking for a new duvet together.

Alfred had insisted that since they were going to share a room, they needed to buy stuff together.

He had woken up extra early that morning just to put it on the bed.

He had also arranged his clothes in his wardrobe to allow his boyfriend some room for his.

When the clock had finally struck six and Edward had knocked at the door, he had jumped with excitement from the sofa and almost slipped twice on his way to the door. Mina had rolled her eyes at him so much she was almost certain she had permanently damaged her optic nerves.

After an hour of talking and unpacking —really, Edward had very few belongings since most of his stuff what still at his mom’s—they were cuddling under the covers.

“I would have loved it if you could have come with us on the trip.” said Alfred regretfully for the fifth time, his head snuggled on his boyfriend’s chest.

‟I know, but I can’t. Not this year.” Alfred sighed as Edward kissed his forehead. “We could maybe go together next year? Just the two of us?”

“Ooooh, sounds like a plan. We could skinny-dip in the ocean, take long romantic walks on the beach, make love in the sand…”

“Well, it’s true we don’t have sand, but...”  said Drummond, as he grabbed Alfred—who giggled and wriggled—and pulled him under him. “Eh…why is there a giant pile of wedding magazines on your nightstand?”

“Oh…that’s Nancy’s. I was supposed to look at things for her,” Alfred laughed nervously.

“Right.” For a moment there, he had a flashback of Florence and how things could have turned out if he had not broken his engagement with her. He shivered.

“Look, Edward, I didn’t know you had commitment issues.”  Alfred pulled the covers up to his chin and turned his back on him.

“I don’t! I just had a traumatic experience, that’s all!”

“Oh yes, Florence.” Alfred rolled his eyes.

“Are you jealous?”

“No, you are the jealous one. I’m just a bit disappointed.”

“I thought you said it was for Nancy?”

“It is.” Alfred yawned and nestled in his boyfriend’s arms.

“Right.”

It took a while for Edward to fall asleep as he replayed that awkward discussion in his head repeatedly.  Was he misunderstanding something?

***

Mina at 18.37:

We have just arrived at the resort. Alfred’s phone is dead.  He’ll call you later.

Drums at 18.45:

There was a snowstorm and your aunt woke me at five, so I could shovel her way out.

She watched me and critiqued my shoveling the whole time.

When I was done, she went back inside and said she decided she did not need to get out after all.

Mina at 18.50:

Sounds like something she would do. She’ll probably make your life a living hell for the next 10 years. It’ll get better afterwards.

***

Alfred had just sent Edward some pictures, and the worst thing was that the latter was on a bus on his way to his mom’s house.

Just by opening the first one — a simple picture Mina had taken while they were out in the middle of the ocean on a boat— he had been turned on. 

Alfred was lying on his belly, looking at the camera ardently with his hair slicked back, his body still wet from the ocean as the sun made his skin shine. George was laying next to him, pulling a very ugly kissy face at the camera.

He wanted to check the other pictures but knowing who his boyfriend really was behind his angelic face, there certainly would be inappropriate ones in the lot.

That thought started to nag at his brain as he nervously tapped against the window sill.

Five minutes later, he decided he was done with waiting, and since it seemed the little old lady that was sitting next to him seemed to be asleep, he looked at his phone again.

Obviously, Alfred had sent him naked pictures of him on the beach.

He was looking at a very nice view of his boyfriend’s rear end—on which there seemed to be a sunburn—when he heard the lady sitting next to him whistle.

He quickly closed his phone, almost dropping it in his haste.

He wanted to die right there.

She grinned at him as a drop of sweat ran down on the side of his forehead.

“That’s one hot boy you got there, laddie.  Is he your boyfriend?” The old lady winked.  “You can act as if I wasn’t here. I wouldn’t mind looking at those pictures again.” The brunet smiled awkwardly at her, mentally swearing he would never check his stuff while on public transportation ever again.

***

His mom had asked him to meet her at a local restaurant where she often went right after work.

Since he was a good son, he had stopped on his way to get some flowers to surprise her.  

He was looking at his phone  and mostly at pictures (a family photo of the Pagets, the Paget brothers fighting on the beach, Henry and Charlotte kissing under the stars, a picture of Mina pulling a weird face since she discovered there was a naked beach on the resort, Charlotte and Alfred dancing on a table in a club) when someone touched him on his shoulder.

 It was a girl around his age with short brown hair and very dark eyes.

“Are you Edward?”

“Yes. Why?” He frowned.

“My name is Carolina. I was supposed to meet you at six, but I’m a little late.” She pulled up a chair and sat in front of him.

“I don’t know you. I’m waiting for my mom.” He raised his eyebrows, clearly wondering what was going on.

“Well, she set us up.” Carolina started to browse her menu, clearly indifferent to him.

“That’s awkward.” He scratched his head.

“Look, I’ll be honest with you.” She started to tap on the table as she looked at her watch. “I have a girlfriend and-”

“What? Really?” He snorted.

“You seem like a nice guy, but…” She sighed and rolled her eyes.

“No wait, you don’t get it. I have a boyfriend.”

Carolina put a hand over her mouth, supressing a laugh. “Now that’s what I call fate. I take it your mom doesn’t know?”

“Nope.”

“Mine either.”

The server came and took their order. Carolina ordered a plate of pasta, and he chose a burger with fries.

They grinned at each other. “Are you planning on telling your mom?”

“I don’t think I have a choice, since I moved in with my boyfriend.” He checked his watch before he resumed his conversation. ‟ I still don’t know how I’ll manage to do it, though.” He sighed.

“Well, you are braver than me, then. I’m not planning on coming out for a while.”

He shrugged as the server brought them their plates.

Carolina opened her phone and showed him a picture of a red-haired girl. “Here’s  a picture of my girlfriend. Her name is Brianna.”

“She seems very nice,” he said, as he pulled his own phone out. “Here’s my boyfriend.”

Carolina grabbed the phone. “Wow! He’s a real cutie.  He has a very lovely smile and his eyes!”  She started to scroll through the pictures. “That one is hot. Love the fact he took the time to write This might give you a boner on it.”

He almost choked and quickly snatched his phone back. “We’re lucky you didn’t scroll any further, because that would have been awkward.”

She laughed. “Seems he might be quite a handful. Would you mind if we took some pictures and sent them to my mom? She’s growing extremely suspicious about me and it might help. ”

The brunet shrugged, clearly not thinking enough about this.

They snapped three pictures with his phone.

In one of the pictures, Carolina was smiling as he kissed her cheek.

In another, she blew him a kiss as he handed her the flowers that were meant for his mom.

In the last one, she was feeding him some of her food with her fork as they looked entranced by each other.

They laughed about the pictures, as Edward sent them to her phone, saving her number at the same time.

They spent a nice evening together and soon enough, Edward’s phone started to ring. It was his mom telling him she was waiting for him in the parking lot.

“I’ll have to go. My mom has come to pick me up. Would you guess I’m almost 30 by the way she acts?”

Carolina snorted. “I’m glad to have met you then, Edward. Good luck with your cute boyfriend and your mom.”

“Same for you and your girlfriend, Carolina.” He flashed her a smile as he left the restaurant.

***

The drive home with his mom had been pleasant. Alfred had tried to call him twice, but he had closed his phone.

 It certainly wasn’t the time to talk with him while his mom was standing a mere meter away from him.

They were now sitting together in the living room. His mom had just brought him a big glass of water and he was sipping it as they talked.

 “So, did you had fun with Carolina?” asked Frances as she was dusting off the shelves of her bookcase.

‟It was a real surprise to meet her instead of you, Mom, but yes, I did.”

Frances Drummond smiled and hugged her son. “I’m glad you did. I love you so much, honey. You are so precious to me.”

“Me too, Mom.” He was starting to feel very nervous again. “Mom, would you mind sitting down? I have something very important to tell you.”

“Are you already engaged to Carolina?” She gushed excitedly.

He blinked twice and was a bit taken aback. “Eh…no.”

“ By the way, I still have Florence’s ring just in my possession, and my sister gave me some baby clothes she knitted herself. Of course, I’ll knit some when the time will come, too. But just listen to me, ranting again. I’m all ears now, what do you want to tell me?”

Chapter Text

Edward gulped loudly as his mom looked at him earnestly.

“I’m… What I want to say is I’m…” He cleared his throat and started to bite his lip as he felt his anxiety build-up. “I’m… not staying at the Bed and Breakfast anymore!”

Frances looked surprised. “Oh, really?”

Edward nodded. “I moved in with two of my co-workers.”

Frances was literally beaming at this point. “How lovely, you already have friends! You were so discreet as a young boy, I’m so happy to hear you are finally coming out of your shell.”

Coming out—and not only from his shell—was exactly what he was supposed to do, but felt he could not bring himself to do it.

“Absolutely.” He was so stressed out, he was sure he was about to faint.

“Is this what you wanted to tell me?”

He shook his head affirmatively.

“Well, I did not need to sit down to hear that. You always make everything sound so dramatic.” Frances laughed, unaware of the inner turmoil his son was experiencing.

He laughed nervously. “That I do, Mom. That I do.”

He spent the next two days at his childhood home, spending quality time with his mother.

The fear of her finding out about his homosexuality had multiplied by ten since his arrival.

She had started to turn his room into a nursery and the thought of breaking her most cherished dream was making him apprehensive to the point where he barely answered Alfred’s texts and had not called him for the last three days, which had been the longest period of time he had spent not talking to him since the two had started dating.

He felt so uneasy he showed his mom the pictures he had taken with Carolina on their date before leaving.

Needless to say she was very happy to see those.

 

***

Alfred sighed dramatically. “Edward has not answered my texts again. I wonder if he’s doing alright.”

“Maybe he found a nice girl and forgot all about you.” Said George as he drank a can of soda in one big gulp—burping loudly seconds after finishing it.

Mina glared at George as she applied a large amount of sun lotion on Alfred’s already very sunburnt back. The blond winced as she did so.

“Maybe his mom is at the hospital or something. He did say she was very sick. If so, they might have asked him to shut his phone.”

George shrugged. He was as red as a lobster and had decided to stay under the shade of their parasol until the sun went down, resulting in him being bored and looking for various ways to entertain himself.

Teasing his youngest sibling had become one of his favorite activities.

It seemed the Pagets, with their porcelain skin, were very sensible to sun exposure.

Charlie and Henry had decided to stay indoors for the day, as well as Richard (who without any doubts was playing on his phone), and Junior.

They could see William in the distance, scuba diving along the coastline, as he was searching for a very rare crustacean. 

“Or he’s sleeping with another man. Hotter and hornier than you,” added George.

“Gege, I hate you.”

“I’m older, which means I hate you more.”  He kicked some sand in his little brother’s direction. In response, Alfred threw Mina’s bottle of lotion at his face, almost getting him on the nose.

Mina sighed, clearly tired of being solely in the company of men. “It’s no wonder none of you are married or in a steady relationship.”

 At this point, she did not know how Charlie had managed to raise seven boys without sinking into madness.

Excuse-me, I’m in a steady relationship. I’ve been dating Edward for 1 month, 13 days, 7 hours, 26 minutes and 16 seconds as of now, thank you very much,” Alfred replied sassily as he put his sunglasses back on.

George groaned. “Edward this, Edward that. We have been here more than a week and It seems you can’t talk about anything else. You are clearly obsessed, Plumpy.”

Alfred looked at him over his sunglasses, clearly annoyed.

“I’m not. It’s called being in love, George. You might experience it one day if you stop being such a dick, which I doubt.”

George smirked. “I’m a dick now, am I? Guess that explains why I’m your favorite brother, then.”  

Alfred lunged at his brother as George decided to run for it, pushing Mina—who grabbed his ankle in the process.

A tussle ensued, ending in laughter and with sand getting stuck in weird places.

***

On New Year’s Eve, Edward was alone and back at his flat.

He had not managed to tell his mom he was dating Alfred and had profusely lied to make sure she would not find out about his relationship.

He had just turned the tv on and was flipping through the channels, waiting for the clock to strike midnight, when Mina and Alfred, covered with snow, and their luggage in tow, arrived.

“What are you both doing here? Weren’t you supposed to be back at the end of the week?” exclaimed the brunet, as he jumped from the couch in surprise.

“I was missing you too much and I’ve had enough sunburns for now. Plus, I wanted to be there to kiss you at midnight,” exclaimed Alfred excitedly, as Drummond eagerly kissed him.

“And I was too tired of dealing with the Pagets. I’ve missed you and your quietness, Drums,” added Mina as she kissed her roommate’s cheek.

 

All three of them decided to sit on the couch as Mina told Edward funny stuff that had happened during the trip.

The latter was vaguely listening to Mina’s retelling of how George had been burned by a jellyfish on his chest, seeing he was more interested in thoroughly kissing his boyfriend—whom he had missed very much.

”-And then William just peed on him. It was hilarious! But what about you, Drums? How was it at your mom’s?” asked Mina, as she opened a bag of chips and popped some into her mouth. “Alfred, let the guy breathe; seriously!”

Alfred sighed. Clearly his best friend did not know when she was not needed in a room. “Don’t you have anything else to do, Mina? You could take a walk to your room or get lost on your way to the restroom, for example.”

“How about you get lost?” She pushed his feet which were now touching her thighs since he was sitting sideways on his boyfriend’s lap.

Edward scratched the back of his neck as Alfred began to toy with the buttons of his shirt. “Yes, everything went fine with my mom. She was very pleased to learn I moved in with you two.”

“She seems very nice! You should ask her to come visit us when she gets better!” said Mina, as she grabbed the remote and chose one of her series to watch.

“I can’t wait to meet her!” Alfred joined in, smiling at him.

“Yeah, she’s impatient, too,” fibbed our dear Edward, as he decided to get back to kissing his boyfriend to avoid any further questioning.

***

Nan at 23.45:

ALFRED! WHY ARE YOU NOT ANSWERING ME? I’ve texted you 15 times during the last hour. What are you doing?

 

***

It was scarcely two minutes after midnight when Alfred came out of his room and plopped down next to his best friend on the couch.

Mina arched her eyebrows at him “Well, I’m surprised to see you’ve decided to come and sit with me.”

“What kind of best friend would I be if I left you all alone on the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve?” They exchanged kisses and good wishes. “I’ve postponed the rest of my evening.”

Mina smirked. “Will the rest of your evening come and join us or-?”

“Let’s say he is slightly dazed and will join us in a minute.” He winked at her and increased the tone of his voice “But this is private stuff, Mina! I won’t tell you anymore about it!”

He winked and gestured exactly what he had been up to, as Mina stifled a laugh and mouthed I bet you did!

The two fists bumped as Mina’s phone started to ring. She checked who was calling and answered.

“Oh hey, Nancy!” She turned her camera on, as Alfred got closer to her so Nancy could see both on her screen.

Nancy seemed crossed. “Alfred, why are you not answering my calls, you bastard?”

Alfred rolled his eyes at her, as his flushing boyfriend exited their bedroom and sat next to Mina on the couch.

Nancy pulled her tongue at him.

“I can’t talk too long because I’m with Charles’ extended familia, but look at this.” She showed them her hand where a nice golden ring was glinting on her fourth finger.

Mina gasped, as Alfred’s face broke into a grin.

“That’s right guys, I’m engaged! Guess who’s going to go wedding dress shopping next week? THIS GIRL!” Nancy loudly exclaimed as our three roommates congratulated her.

It seemed the new year was going to be auspicious.

***

January came and went without any hitches.  Mina was still single and was yet again brilliantly dealing with Alfred and Edward’s over-exposure of love.

In February, Mrs. Dufort went on her maternity leave, and Vincent Leclerc became a new member of the staff at Worthington’s, to Drummond’s growing annoyance.

The fact Leclerc was visiting the secretary’s office under every little pretense was getting on his nerve.

The worst of it was since Vincent had discovered Alfred could speak French, the two of them were having long discussions in it over lunch, and he could not even understand a single word of it.

The only thing he could do during those moments was glare at the black-haired man, as he in turn would give Drummond the stink eye.

 

The two men’s enmity took a turn for the worse around mid-February.

On that particular morning, Alfred and Mina had left extra early for work since they had a meeting with Mr. Peel before the school’s regular hours.

Upon his arrival at work, Edward had wondered why everyone—staff and students alike— were wearing pink or red garments. He might have missed a memo or something. Upon seeing the big heart poster that was plastered on Mr. Peel’s office door, he was hit by the realisation that it was Valentine’s day and he had completely forgotten about it.

He had to work in his boss’ office all morning, checking the school’s finances and reflecting on what a bad boyfriend he was. Alfred, coming by on his usual coffee run, had smiled expressively at him while handing Mr. Peel his cup of coffee.

Edward was still wondering an hour later what had put his boyfriend in such a good mood as he sat down for lunch in the staff room.

He was taking a bite of his meal absently when he heard the two teachers sitting next to him mention Alfred’s name.

“Did you see that? Alfred received a box of chocolates and a dozen roses this morning. Lucky guy. I’m so jealous. I wish Tony would do the same for me.”

“Yes, his boyfriend is so romantic. I wonder who he is?”

He swallowed his mouthful with difficulty. He certainly had not been the one who had sent his boyfriend roses.

“Do you think it might be the new guy? Vincent? They look so cute together!”

That was enough. He groaned, grabbed his lunch in a hurry, and rushed to Ernst’s classroom.

***

Three minutes later, he rushed into Ernst’s classroom and closed the door behind him.

“Ernst, do you know if that Leclerc guy might be interested in men?”

The latter, who was busy tuning his piano, shrugged.

“Are you really asking me that question?”

Drummond sighed. “I had not thought this through.”

“Aren’t you supposed to come equipped with a gaydar or something?” wondered the seducer.

“Mine’s clearly out of order.” He rolled his eyes. ‟I think he’s trying to steal Alfred from me. I’m pretty sure he was the one who sent him flowers this morning.”

“Oh, I thought you did.” He cocked an eyebrow at him.  “Why don’t you ask Leclerc if he did?”

“So he’ll know I’m dating Alfred and he can tell Peel?! No way!”

Ernst scratched his chin, clearly trying to find a solution for his friend. His face broke into a grin as an answer dawned on him.

“Just lie and pretend you sent those. Just take credit for it and beat the guy at his own game.”

“You know what, Ernst, I think I’ll do that.” Edward smacked him on the shoulder in a friendly manner.

“I shall be known as the official agony aunt of Worthington’s from this day forth!” proudly exclaimed Ernst, as the brunet was already leaving his classroom.

***

Mina at 12.05:

Thank you for the flowers. Love the card too!

Alf at 12.45:

What flowers?

Mina at 12.50:

You are the only one who would think of me on this wretched day. I love you too. If you ever get tired of Drums, we could still get married :)

Alf at 12.55:

You are the first one on my list! XxX

***

As soon as the door of their flat was closed, Mina went to her bathroom to wash her hands, as Alfred quickly hugged his boyfriend.

“Thank you for the flowers. I feel spoiled.” He kissed him sweetly on the lips.

Edward avoided his stare. “Yeah. Did you get a card with it?”

Alfred pulled back and rested his chin on his boyfriend’s shoulder.

“No. Did you write me another poem?”

Edward grinned. “I did, but it must’ve gotten lost.” He would have to tell Ernst he was a genius and that his plan had worked without any problems.

Mina, back from her restroom, asked the boys to help her prep dinner. Alfred agreed to help her in a minute, kissing his boyfriend first.

 “Well, since you’ve been a very good boyfriend, I’ve arranged a little surprise for you.” He pulled back and smiled saucily at him before he whispered into his ear. “I told Mina we were going on a date on Saturday. She kindly agreed to spend the night at Nancy’s, which means we’ll have the flat all to ourselves.”

Chapter Text

“You are on fire tonight! What’s gotten into you?” asked Ernst, out of breath, as he looked at his training partner who had been chaining crunches for the last 20 minutes without showing any sign of getting tired.

Edward chained five more, then stopped and grabbed his water bottle.

“I can’t tell you a lot about it, but I have plans for Saturday night which might involve some lifting.”

Ernst wiped his mouth and smiled at him.

“What are you planning on moving? I can help you if you want.”

“Erhm…I won’t need help with that particular task. Thanks for the offer anyway.”

Ernst furrowed his brow. Suddenly, realisation dawned on him.

“Wait; does it have something to do with Paget?”  He looked at Edward weirdly.

The latter grinned. “Who else?”

Ernst just shook his head. “You are whipped, Drums; I’m telling you. Next thing you know, you’ll end up in front of the altar with Paget on your arm.”

Edward smiled at him. “You know what? I might just do that, Ernst.”

***

Since he was further along in his training compared to the womanizer, Edward offered to go fill their empty bottles with fresh cold water.

He was filling Ernst’s bottle at the tap when he saw Leclerc—who seemed to be living at the gym since he was always there—appear behind him in the mirror.

The dark-haired man cleared his throat noisily to get his attention.

“I don’t like you, Drummond. Do you know what happened to zhe flowers I sent at the office? Did you have zhe impudence to take credit for them?”

Edward stared blankly at the other man in the mirror. “I don’t know what you are talking about, Leclerc. Surely you are confused.”

Leclerc closed the distance between them, stopping only inches from him.

“Are you the one he’s dating?”

Edward frowned. “I don’t know what you are talking about, Leclerc. You must have hurt your brain while doing all those push-ups.”

Leclerc sneered at him, towering over him with his height.

“He’s out of your league.  Paget needs a real man to handle him, not just a little mommy’s boy like you.”

“Alfred is a grown man. He’s old enough to choose who he wants to be with, and it seems it’s not you. Seems he prefers mommy’s boys to douchebags.” He turned around to face the French man, a victorious smile on his face.

“So he’s dating you, then! What did you do with my card?”

“What card?”

 “The card I sent with my flowers, you dumbass. You’ll pay for zhis, I’m telling you. I know your secrets, Drummond. It’s only a matter of time before Paget will learn the truth about you.”

Leclerc pushed him roughly, and for a moment, Edward wondered if he should punch him.  

The two men glared at each other, neither one of them wanting the other to think he had won their argument.

“Eh…. Excuse-me lads, but I would like to get a sip of water… If that’s not too much to ask.”   Said an elderly man, clearly scared of being caught in between them as he tried to get to the tap.

As Edward moved to let the older man pass, Leclerc grunted, turned around, and left the room angrily.

He apologized once more, grabbed the water bottles, and went back into the gym to find Ernst.

***

When he got back to his apartment after his work-out, Alfred and Mina were already asleep. He undressed and got under the covers, spooning his boyfriend—who mumbled in his sleep— before setting his pillow under his head.

Around three in the morning, he realised he still had not slept a wink as he looked crossly at the numbers on his alarm clock.

He kept thinking about the argument he had had with Leclerc earlier at the gym, and somehow it was making him uneasy.

What did Leclerc mean by “I know your secrets?”

What about that card? Had Alfred seen the card?

If so, why did he not tell him he knew he had lied?

He sighed. He would have to make things right and sort out his lies, because he was clearly going down the wrong path. He was now sure of it: something bad was about to happen.

***

Mina at 12.45:

There is snow to shovel and my aunt would like you to get to it as soon as school is over.

Drums at 12.50:

Isn’t it supposed to be Alfred’s turn to do it? I did it last time!

Mina at 12.52:

Nope! Last time it was Alfred’s turn and you traded it off or something. Now it’s really yours.

The shovel is already downstairs, waiting for you!

 

Edward D. at 16.53:

Next time, it’s your turn to shovel all that snow! I won’t take anything in exchange for it.

YOU WON’T BUY ME WITH THE PROMISE OF A BLOWJOB THIS TIME AND I’M STICKING TO MY WORDS.

Bae at 16.54:

Really?! How about two?

Edward D. at 16.56:

DEAL!

***

It was Thursday, and Mina was tired of her week at work. She needed to find an important document for Mr. Peel. Her boss was adamant he needed the document NOW! Sadly, it was nowhere to be found.

 The said document was supposed to be on Alfred’s desk, but since the latter had been substituting a lot in the last few days, his usually clean desk was now looking like a complete mess as documents were piled everywhere, waiting to be handled.

She sighed and cursed under her breath. She hated to feel under pressure. As she was moving things around on her co-worker’s desk, an unopened small red envelope fell to the ground. She picked it up and looked at it more attentively.

There was no name on it.

Curiosity got the best of her, and she decided to open it.

The envelope contained a simple piece of paper, folded in two.

She looked around the office and, seeing Drummond was absorbed in his work, decided to unfold it.

 

Pretty flowers for a pretty man. I hope that someday I can make you mine- V L.

 

Mina frowned in confusion. Wasn’t it Drums who had sent his boyfriend those flowers?

Was it possible he had lied, and the sender of those roses had been Vincent Leclerc, that cute French teacher?

Edward stared at her from the top of his computer screen. She smiled at him and placed the card in her coat pocket.

She would have to show this to Alfred later, because something fishy was going on.

***

 Finally, their work week came to an end, and Saturday morning crept by.  

A heavy snowstorm was raging outside, and it made the perfect excuse for sleepy, toe-curling sex under the covers—or so thought Edward, who had decided to get an early start on their date day.

It was barely six, and Alfred usually protested at being woken up early on the weekend, but he had been looking at his sleeping form for the last half hour and had decided he could not deal with his lusty thoughts—and his erection— any longer without acting.

Slowly he moved closer to his boyfriend, gently nibbling and kissing the back of his neck until Alfred’s sleepy protestations were replaced by little sighs, which Edward decided were his cues to carefully and slowly slide into him.

Then, propped up on his elbow, he started to slowly thrust into him, as Alfred turned his head to look at him with sleepy eyes.

Slowly, their mouths found each other in the dark, and they started to kiss, modeling the pace of their deliberately slow love-making.

It was not long before their kisses grew longer and deeper, as every new thrust brought them closer to ecstasy.

The sun had just started to rise when Edward’s thrusting became more frantic. He was panting, and Alfred was now getting very noisy, which usually meant he was beginning to greatly enjoy what they were doing.

Edward closed his eyes, trying to make this delicious moment last a while longer. He felt Alfred’s hand clumsily grab his hair, pulling his face closer to his.  He stopped his movement as they shared a look full of lust and desire.

Seeing on his lover’s face what his action was doing to him was a bit too much for Edward. He bent down to resume their kissing, and it only took two last deep thrusts before he was done for. He tensed, pleasure washing over him as he reached his release, his moans muffled against his boyfriend’s mouth.

That drove Alfred over the edge, too, as the blond turned his head and climaxed moments later, screaming his lover’s name with pleasure.

No doubt Mina would mutter about this at breakfast later this morning…

Edward, out of breath, kissed his boyfriend one last time, before he let himself fall back on the mattress.

He quickly grabbed his lover and held him close, kissing the delicate skin at the base of his neck.

After what seemed like an eternity, Alfred turned to face him, a ray of sunshine lighting his face and making his hair glow.

Edward was sure his heart would burst, as his lover looked at him with a small smile on his face, his eyes half closed as he was still enjoying post-coital bliss.

The brunet sighed, feeling slightly dazed as he turned to rest on his back.

Alfred rolled toward him and laid his head on his chest, clutching him tightly around his torso.

 

 Outside, the snowstorm had subsided, but they could still hear the cold wind howl. Edward pulled the covers up to their face, shielding them from the cold.

 As he held his lover tightly, his chin resting on the top of his head, he wished they could spend their day like this.

Sadly, Wilhelmina was now up and about in the kitchen, and without any doubts, she would soon be knocking at their door, asking them to help her with the usual weekend chores.

 

Alfred sighed languorously. “I wish we could always wake up like this.”

“Hm…” he agreed, as he was still simply enjoying the moment.

‟How much do you love me?”

Edward paused, thinking a moment about his answer.


“I love you so much that my love for you isn’t something I can measure or compare to the size or breadth of something tangible.”

Alfred snorted “Blimey, it’s too early for that type of language.” He snuggled closer. “But keep talking nerdy to me.”

Edward grinned and kissed his head. “Why are you asking? Are you worried about something?”

“No. I was just checking whether you would be on board with our life plan.”

“Our life plan?! You mean you have actually planned our future life together?” asked the brunet with amusement.

“Mm hmm,” agreed Alfred. “First, we will buy a house. No more Mina third-wheeling around. She’ll buy the house next to ours, you see.”

“Will she, then?”

 “Yes, she will. And she’ll move into that house with my brother, Septimus,” Alfred yawned, “but we will get married before them. That’s very important, because I want to rub the fact into her face as much as possible.”

“I see.”

The blond turned on his belly, his chin resting on his boyfriend’s chest.

With his hair sticking up and his face still flushed from their earlier activity, Edward thought his boyfriend really looked like the wicked angel he was.

“And then, we will have a cat or a dog. I’m not sure which one it’ll be. I might let you choose. I’ll see.”

“How gracious of you.” They kissed, and then Alfred stared at him with seriousness.

“And then I want a baby.”

Edward stared back, a bit puzzled by the last part of his boyfriend’s carefully devised plan. He was wondering what he would answer to this, when Mina broke into the room, startling them both.   

He quickly checked that the covers were covering his naked body, as Alfred groaned with annoyance.

It did not seem to bother Mina at all. She rolled her eyes. “ALFRED! You’ve got laundry to do! If you don’t get a move on, I won’t have my stuff ready on time, and I won’t be able to sleep over at Nancy’s. You’ve been warned!” She glared at her best friend, then looked apologetically at her new roommate.  “Sorry, Drums. I’m not looking.”

Needless to say, it burst their little bubble of intimacy.

Alfred grumpily got up and started to work on his tasks— mumbling about his roommate as he did so—as Edward sighed, got dressed, and prepared himself to go outside to shovel some more snow.

***

 

One of the best part of going on a date, thought Edward, was to watch Alfred get ready for it.

Let’s be honest, Alfred Paget was always handsome and always made sure he looked his best on every occasion, but when he was going out on a date, he put a little extra effort into it and went all out.

It was the reason why our favorite office assistant had grabbed a book and pretended he was reading for a good part of the early afternoon, when in fact he was just watching his boyfriend getting ready, as the latter had carefully chosen which clothes to wear, fixed his hair with care, and selected a cologne to complete his look.

Edward sighed as a grin crept to his face, his heart swelling with love and pride.

Was there ever a luckier man on Earth than him?

Suddenly, what Leclerc had said earlier that week came back to haunt him.

Alfred was worth everything he had ever possessed in his life, and he simply could not risk losing him over stupid lies.

He was now sure of it: he would have to set everything to right before the end of the weekend. He certainly could not let that Frenchman ruin his perfect relationship.

***

Frances Drummond was sitting on a coach bus that was going from Scotland to Cornwall.

 She looked at her watch and sighed.

She had wanted to arrive earlier, but a misunderstanding of the bus schedule had forced her to leave an hour later than what she had envisioned.

She had decided she would surprise her son—whom she was missing dearly—by visiting him at his new flat.

It was with a smile that she got a cab at the bus terminal.

 She was impatient to meet her son’s co-workers, particularly that Alfred, whom she had heard so much about.

***

 

Around three, our favorite couple had left their flat and walked together to the cinema. A new movie had just come out, and Charles had highly praised it.

Upon their arrival, they both turned off their phones.

The room was crowded, and Edward feared some of their co-workers could be there, too, but as soon as the lights had been turned off, Alfred had grabbed his hand over their popcorn bag.

The latter was very easy to entertain, and was one of those people who liked every movie, whatever the genre, while on the contrary, he was rarely impressed by movies in general.

 Edward just enjoyed going to see Alfred’s reactions to what happened on screen. As he looked distractedly at the movie— a thriller—he began to think of how he was going to broach the subject of his mom and of Valentine’s day to his boyfriend.

***

Wilhelmina was about to leave her flat to go to Nancy’s place, when she heard the bell of the downstairs door ring. Her aunt was visiting a relative in London, so she went downstairs to answer the door.

 A lady in her sixties, well dressed and with a small suitcase, smiled at her as she opened the door.

“Hi! I’m Frances Drummond, Edward’s mom. I came here to surprise my son.”

A smile spread on Mina’s face. “I’m so pleased to meet you! I’m Wilhelmina Coke, one of his roommates. Please, do come in. He’s currently out, but you can come upstairs and I’ll try to contact him.”

Frances smiled and followed her swiftly. She looked around the flat as soon as she got in —probably thinking it wasn’t clean enough—and sat on the couch, as Mina texted her roommates. She had no doubt about it: the boys would be a bit shocked upon hearing Edward’s mom had showed up as she was heading out.

 She knew first hand what Alfred had in mind for tonight—since he was always telling her everything, really—and having Drums’ mom around would definitely put a damper on the steamy night he had envisioned.

Mina at 17.15:

Drums’ mom is here. I’ll show her around.

Mina at 17.30:

Nancy, I might be delayed a bit. Wait for me.

Nan at 17.45:

Good thing you told me, I was about to prep our drinks! Send me news as soon as you leave!

***

“Aren’t you cold without a hat on?” asked Edward, as he arranged his own on his head and made sure it covered both his ears.

When their movie had ended, they had decided to go for a stroll in the park. Edward had made a reservation for dinner later that evening, and they still had some time to kill before getting there.

 The wind had lessened compared to that morning, but the air was still growing cold, as the sun was beginning to set.

“Don’t you know beauty is pain? I like my hair better without a hat on,” answered Alfred, as he winked at him. “Plus, I have you to keep me warm.”

Edward grinned. “That you do.”

Alfred pulled him by his scarf and stood on his toes to kiss him passionately on the mouth.

He was a very talented kisser and by their third kiss, Edward’s brain was starting to have some difficulty working properly.

Alfred pulled back and grinned.

“You know what? Screw dinner. I think we should order in instead. We could eat in bed…”

Edward’s eyes grew wide as a smile broke onto his face. “Sounds like nice a plan. You know you are far too cute for your own good, right?”

Alfred cocked an eyebrow at him, tilting his head to the side, a grin on his face.

“Am I in trouble, then? I hope you won’t be too hard on me…“

***

 “It’s quite cozy in here. It’s very lovely,” said Frances, as she explored the living room and kitchen of their small flat.

Mina smiled politely in her direction. Her texts remained unanswered, but she figured the boys’ movie might not be over yet.

“But where does my son sleep? I see there are only two bedrooms here? Are you his girlfriend?”

Frances was looking at her questioningly.

Clearly, she was not aware her son was dating Alfred, and Mina, clearly thinking ahead, feared she might not even know he was into men.

The secretary exhaled loudly and tried to smile to keep her countenance. “Would you like a cup of tea?”

 

Mina at 18.15:

ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! Alfred, seems Drums’mom is not aware you two are dating.

AVOID BEING IN HIS FACE / ARMS / PANTS LIKE YOU ALWAYS DO UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE!

***

“I’m not guaranteeing anything, but I think I can manage to carry you in my arms upstairs.”

Alfred looked at his boyfriend with a grin on his face as they both stood in front of Aunt Buccleuch’s house.

After two different tries, Edward finally managed to get a solid grip on him and lifted his boyfriend up, as the latter wrapped his arms around his neck.

“I’m impressed!” exclaimed the blond, as he gave his boyfriend a very steamy kiss in reward.

Edward pulled back and shook his head.

“You’ll have to stop kissing me like that, or my brain is going to shut down and I’ll have to ravish you on the landing.”

“Well, we do have the place to ourselves…”

Chuckling all along, they had to stop at three different places during their climb before they finally made it to the door.

Alfred pulled their flat’s keys from his boyfriend’s back pocket and unlocked their door.

***

Frances had finished her cup of tea, and Mina had still not received an answer from Al.

“Would you mind if I used the restroom, dear?” asked Mrs. Drummond, as she got up from the couch and walked in the direction of the boys’ bedroom.

Mina quickly followed her and put a gentle hand on her shoulder.

“Why don’t you use mine? You know how men are! Mine’s probably cleaner.”

She looked at her phone while Frances was using the restroom and groaned when she saw she was still not getting any replies.

As Frances left the restroom, her gaze lingered on some drawings and crafts children had given the secretary at school.

They were looking at those as Mina told her the funny stories that were linked to them when they heard the door open with a loud thud and some giggling.

Frances smiled. “Sounds like my son is back. ”

Mina cleared her throat. “Just wait here, I‘ll go and check on them. It’ll make a bigger surprise.” And I’ll at least be able to warn Alfred too, she added mentally.

Frances brushed it off. “Nonsense, I’ll come with you! I can’t wait to see my son’s face when he sees me.”

I’m not sure I’m prepared for this, thought Mina, as she slowly walked to her door and turned the handle. 

***

 “Dinner’s served,” exclaimed Edward as he dropped his giggling boyfriend on the kitchen table. “I can’t tell you how many times this table has nagged at my brain.”

“Why don’t you turn your desires into reality, then?” Alfred answered simply as he pulled him closer by his scarf and kissed him hungrily.

Edward pushed his boyfriend down on the table as the latter wrapped his legs around his torso and tried to pull him down with him.

“You are wearing too much clothes for my taste.”

“Then undress me and make me beg for more.”  The blond cocked an eyebrow suggestively at him.

“Alfred Paget, you are such a minx. You’ll be the death of me! ”

Drummond started to kiss his boyfriend’s collarbone—the blond already sighing loudly as he did so—as he tried to unfasten the zipper of his jeans.

 They were so engrossed by each other that they did not heard Mina’s door open, as Mrs. Drummond and Mina walked in on them.

“EDWARD CHARLES DRUMMOND!

The brunet’s heart stopped as he froze, paralysed by his mom’s voice. He looked at her, his face blanching more with every passing second. What was going on?!

Chapter Text

Edward just gaped at his mother as if he was about to faint. Alfred, still laying on the table, slowly got his legs off Edward’s torso, got up, and tried to tidy his appearance.

It certainly wasn’t how Alfred had envisioned his first meeting with his potential mother-in-law would go.

Frances was looking intently at her son, her face getting redder by the minute. Her lips were moving, but no sounds were coming out of her mouth.

Mina, glued to the spot, just wanted to disappear and wondered if she should call an ambulance now, because she was almost sure one of the Drummonds would soon need medical attention.

The air was thick with tension.

Alfred scratched his nose out of nervousness.

“Well, it’s something to know your son is dating a man, but getting to see the actual thing is always, shall we say…surprising, to say the least! Two of my brothers had some difficulty with me being gay at first, but they got used to it very quickly.” He paused to see if he had managed to lighten the mood, but neither Drummond seemed to be in a better state, and Mina kept glaring at him so he kept babbling on. “I’m sorry if I’ve shocked you. I’m the infamous Alfred Paget your son’s been dating for the last 3 months. I’m absolutely pleased to meet you!”  He smiled charmingly, as he outstretched his hand at the older woman, who ignored him completely.

Mina simply said in a small voice, “I guess I’ll make some tea,” as she went to her room instead of actually going to the kitchen to do what she said.

***

 

Mina at 18.20:

Nancy, I don’t know if I’ll come.

Drama is unravelling here.

So much awkwardness, I just can’t!

Nan at 18.22:

What’s wrong? Do you want me to come over?

Nan at 18.30:

I tried to call Alf, but his phone is off. What’s going on?

Nan at 18.35:

?????

***

 

“Edward, is this a joke? If so, I really don’t know why you’re doing this to me!? This is so bad on my nerves!” Frances was trying to understand what was going on, but clearly she was not reaching the right conclusions.

Edward, who finally seemed to get some of his senses back, groaned and facepalmed. “Why does this have to always happen to me?”

Mina came back from her room since she had regained her composure and began to prep tea and coffee. Very strong coffee.

Alfred looked at his boyfriend, feeling a bit annoyed. “What exactly have you told your mom?”

Edward shrugged, clearly avoiding his stare. “Nothing. She knows nothing.”

“What should he have told me?” Frances looked at both men, her brow furrowed with incomprehension.

Alfred cursed and shook his head in disbelief. “Wow, Edward! I don’t know what to say! I can’t believe this.”

The brunet sighed and started to scratch his arm nervously.

“I’m sorry you had to find out this way, Mom, but I’m dating Alfred. I should have told you earlier, but I chickened out.”

Frances did not seem to take the news very well. Her eyes started to water, and her face reddened once more, as she was overcome by emotion. “But you can’t!”

“Here’s a nice cup of tea, Mrs. Drummond.” Mina handed the cup over to the older woman, but the latter’s hands were shaking so much she could not hold her cup still.

“I don’t want tea. What I want is my son to tell me the truth!” Sadness and incomprehension were now being replaced by anger, and Frances’ tone of voice changed. “What about Carolina?”

Edward groaned. It seemed he was absolutely doomed tonight.

Alfred looked at his boyfriend suspiciously. “Who’s Carolina?”

“She’s a friend, that’s all.” He tried to grab his boyfriend’s hand, but Alfred pulled away from him.

Mrs. Drummond suddenly got up and pointed a finger in her son’s face. “It’s not what you’ve told me! You said you were thinking of dat-”

Edward shook his head vehemently. “Mom, don’t! Alfred, I can explain!”

Mina looked at everyone. Then, suddenly, she remembered something.

She ran to her room and came back with a red envelope in her hand. “I’m not sure he’s to be trusted; look at this, Alf.”

Drummond’s eyes grew wide. It probably was the note Leclerc had spoken about.

Crickey, it certainly was not his night! Could it be worse?!

Mina handed the note to Alfred, who grabbed it, read it, and sighed.

The brunet saw his boyfriend was getting more aggravated by the minute. His porcelain skin was turning red and his eyebrows were squeezed together.

“I…I can explain!” stuttered our poor Edward.

Frances was now very angry and walked up to her son, as Alfred tore the note he was holding into pieces. “But what about those pictures of your date?”

“What date?”

Now both Alfred AND his mom were looking at him angrily.

It just kept getting better and better, really!

“I’ll explain everything later, babe. Mom, just calm down, okay. I don’t want to upset you.”

“Well, I can tell you, son, you’ve completely failed! I’VE NEVER BEEN THIS ANGRY IN MY WHOLE LIFE,” yelled Frances, as she went past her son and to the door.

“Anyone want some cake or something?” asked Mina in a little voice.

She hated arguments, and she was already having second thoughts from having shown the note to her best friend.

“WE’LL TALK WHEN YOU’VE FIGURED OUT YOUR LIFE, EDWARD!” exclaimed Frances, as she slammed the door behind her.

Edward looked apologetically at his boyfriend and was about to go after his mom, when Alfred got in his way. “What pictures?”

“No, wait! I’ve got to go after my mom. I-.”

But the blond was not having any of it. He grabbed his boyfriend’s phone, quickly unlocked it, and started to scroll through his Facebook conversations.

Sure enough, Alfred quickly found Edward’s conversation with Carolina.

She had recently sent him some pictures with a simple “Hello boyfriend!” as a message.

On the first picture, he could see Carolina wearing a very tiny swimsuit with a red-headed girl on her arm (probably her best friend or something).

Then, as the blond scrolled down, he found the pictures Carolina and Edward had taken on their fake date. The ones they had taken for her mother.

Edward cursed his stupidity under his breath.

How come he had not thought of showing these to his boyfriend before?

It seemed fate really had something against him tonight…

Slowly, Alfred gave his boyfriend his phone back without looking at him.

“You know I’ve never checked your stuff. I have always trusted you entirely. Now I don’t know what to think anymore.” His voice was as cold as ice.

“Alfred, babe, I can explain!”

The blond just sighed, turned his back on him, and walked to their room.

Edward, who had been in a state of panic for the last half hour, was now feeling his anxiety had reached completely new levels.

“ALFRED, IT’S NOT WHAT YOU THINK!”

 “IT’S DAMN WELL WHAT I THINK! First, you fail to tell me your mom is not aware of us dating, then there is that fishy Valentine’s day thing, and then this girlfriend of yours!? I should have been more careful after that Florence incident, but nope! I’m such a dumbass!”

“No, you are not! I know there are lots of things against me here, but- What are you doing?”

Alfred had pulled out a bag from his wardrobe and was now actively grabbing his boyfriend’s clothes and shoving them in it. He then threw the bag at Edward’s feet. “Go! I don’t care where you go, but you are going right now!”

Drummond shook his head vigorously as he tried to gently put his hand on the Alfred’s shoulder, but the latter just backed away from his touch once more.  “No, I’m not going!  Just listen to me first.” He could hear the underlying desperation in his own voice now.

“FINE! I’ll go then, and don’t you dare follow me!” In five strides Alfred was at the flat’s door and slammed it shut on his way out.

***

Edward just stood there in the middle of the room, his mouth hanging open, his heart beating strongly in his chest. He was overwhelmed by so many emotions he had some difficulty standing and thought he was about to throw up.

Mina was at the table, pouring herself a third cup of coffee, when Nancy entered the flat unannounced.

She clearly was aggravated and had undoubtedly met Alfred on her way up.

In three strides, she was in the boys’ room, which was a real feat since she had very short legs.

She quickly walked up to the brunet, who was sitting on the floor, stunned.

“I saw Alfred on my way up!” Nancy pushed the office assistant in the chest. “YOU GET OUT OR I WILL THROW YOU OUT MYSELF IF I NEED TO.”

Edward was not so sure how he should react anymore, and slowly got up.

“Why don’t you mind your own business?”  

Nancy looked at him, her mouth slightly open and daggers in her eyes. “Not my business? NOT MY BUSINESS?”

 He quickly backed out of the room, as she had begun to grab his things one by one and throw them at him.

“IF YOU DON’T GET OUT QUICKLY, I’LL THROW EVERYTHING OUT THE WINDOW! YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!”

Mina, still in the kitchen, sighed and started to drink her fifth cup of coffee. What a night…

***

Twenty minutes later, Edward had ended up at Ernst’s place. As he was laying on Ernst’s passably clean couch, he reflected upon the horrible night he was living through. The very damn night he had initially intended to reveal everything to Alfred, and he had thought they would spend doing each other instead of fighting and yelling.

He was staring around the room, his thoughts a complete mess, waiting for Ernst to come back from his latest date.

There were dirty clothes and dust everywhere. Ernst was clearly living the real bachelor life, unhealthy food, beer and all that jazz.

After he was done looking around, he had no other choice but to get back to his dark thoughts.

Not only had he messed things up with the love of his life, his other half, his soul-mate; he had messed things up with his mom, too, and he would have to call her tomorrow to make amends.

Real tears were rolling down his cheeks when Ernst finally came back from his date and sat next to him on the couch.

He quickly wiped his eyes with his sleeve and cleared his throat.

Seeing how red the brunet’s eyes were, the womanizer felt overwhelmed.

Dealing with feelings and emotions wasn’t one of his strong points.  He scratched the back of his head as Edward told him what had happened earlier that night.

 “-and then Nancy showed up and threw my stuff everywhere…I can’t believe how my life has been turned into complete chaos in such a short amount of time. Sometimes I feel as though I am the main character of a poorly written fiction or something.” He sighed, as he secretly tried to wipe a couple of new tears.

“Bah, nonsense! Who would want to write a story about you?”  Said Ernst grinning, but clearly his friend was not in the mood for this. “Just joking there. Just let things cool down and I’m pretty sure it’ll turn out f-”

He was interrupted by both of their phones buzzing at the same time. The two men looked at each other as Ernst grabbed his phone to check the message that had just popped on his screen. He read it aloud:

Alfred Paget has changed his Facebook status from In a relationship to Single. ”

Edward groaned and buried his face in his pillow. Ernst was pretty sure he heard the other man sob, but decided to ignore it and cleared his throat. “Well, it might take a little more time than expected, but still…”

Chapter Text

On Monday morning, Edward simply looked like a complete wreck when he arrived at work. His clothes were all rumpled and he had dark circles under his eyes. He had not had the energy to shave for a while, and as a result he was starting to have some serious stubble on his face.

He had spent the last two nights at Ernst’s place.

The latter’s couch wasn’t the best place to sleep, and if he compared it to Alfred’s bed, where he had grown accustomed to sleep curled against the warm form of his boyfriend, he just wanted to cry rivers.

He had done as Ernst had suggested and had let Alfred breathe and calm down, even though it had taken all his willpower not to grab his phone and call the blond for all of Sunday.

He had also tried to settle things up with his mom. After he had tried to call her for the third time, she had finally answered her phone.

 She had taken a coach bus back home first thing Sunday morning, and she was not pleased with him. She told him she needed some time to think and that she would eventually (when, she couldn’t say) come around to the fact he was into men.

She expressively told him she did not like Alfred, though, which was a shame, because Alfred was the cutest and most lovable person Edward had ever met in his entire life.

He needed to find a way to get his boyfriend back, and he was ready to do anything to do so.

***

Edward had been sitting at his desk for the last 30 minutes, anxiously waiting for Alfred to get into the office so he would finally get a chance to talk to him, when Mina entered the room first. She cleared her throat and smiled shyly at her co-worker.

After all, she felt a bit responsible for what had happened, since her timing for showing the note she had found might not have been the best.

Edward tried to smile back, but did not manage to do so, as his mouth fell open when Alfred followed her into the office.

The latter looked absolutely stunning. He was well-dressed, his hair was impeccable, and he was radiating confidence and joy. He did not even spare Edward a glance as he sat behind his desk and started to get to work.

Clearly, Alfred did not seem half as affected by their break-up as he was.

It was complete torture, really, to work in the same room as him, without being able to talk to him, to hold him, to kiss him, or to contemplate the thought that he would be able to do so after work.

***

Around ten, Alfred told Mina he was going outside to take a break and left without having uttered a single word to him.

He sighed and rubbed his eyes. He was not going to cry again.

“I’m sorry, Drums, that I showed the note to Alf,” said Mina in a small voice as soon as Alfred had turned around the corner of the corridor.

He glanced at her and sighed. “The only person to blame here is me. I just hope I can get him to listen to me. I-”

He was cut short by Nancy and Ms. Cleary coming into the office.

The two women were giggling uncontrollably.

“Hello Mina. Drummond.“ Nancy smiled warmly at her friend and barely acknowledged the office assistant. “I was taking a stroll through the school with Ms. Cleary when we stumbled upon a very dreamy sight outside.”

Cleary giggled again, as Mina got up and made a small pensive noise as she looked outside through the window. Edward, curious to know what was so interesting to look at, got up and looked outside, too.

He groaned when he saw Alfred standing next to the bicycle parking rack with Leclerc at his side.

Both seemed to be greatly enjoying their conversation.  

“Are you alright, Mr. Drummond? You don’t look well,” said Cleary with concern.

“I think I caught a cold or something.” He smiled at her—or at least he tried to. “Since when has Alfred taken up smoking?”

“He goes back to it when he doesn’t feel good at all. It’s one of his coping mechanisms—a very bad one if you ask me. Charlie would be very angry if she learned he is back at it, yet again.”  Mina stopped talking as it seemed she was contemplating the idea of calling her best friend’s mom to rat him out. She put a reassuring hand on his shoulder. “It doesn’t show a lot if you look at him, but his heart is broken to pieces right now.”

“Oh yes, I saw he had changed his Facebook status.” Cleary chimed in.

“Yes, his boyfriend was such an idiot,” Nancy joined in, as she looked Edward in the eyes. “That’s what happens when you lie and you’re not faithful…”

“I heard first-hand his boyfriend was absolutely faithful to him,” Edward replied. ‟It was all a big misunderstanding.”

Nancy shrugged, but Mina looked at him intently. 

Cleary did not seem to be interested in the conversation and continued to look outside. “O-M-G! Girls, just look at this! Do you see how cute those two are together?”

Outside, Leclerc had just pulled out his lighter from his pocket and was lighting Alfred’s cigarette with it.

“Cute?! I’d say hot as the fires of hell! I told Al he should sleep with that guy and get over his ex. Leclerc is all muscles: he’s got large, strong hands, broad shoulders.... Plus, he clearly looks like he wouldn’t mind taking Alfred on a long, hard ride, if you know what I mean…”

Both teachers laughed, as Edward felt absolutely horrified. He was starting to get very graphic images of Leclerc touching his boyfriend intimately and it made him want to punch a hole in the wall.

Mina pushed him gently away from the window. “Alfred is not like that. He doesn’t sleep around.”

Nancy snorted. “We all know he had sex with his last boyfriend on his first date.” She looked pointedly at Edward.

“Well, if they do sleep together, they should tape it. I would die to watch this on loop,” added Cleary as she sighed dreamily.

Their fangirling was interrupted by their new favorite ship coming back into the office.

The two men were chatting animatedly in fluent French as they entered.

Leclerc glanced at Drummond as he went to Alfred’s desk to get a document. He smiled in a very condescending manner as Edward forced himself to sip a gulp of his coffee to prevent himself from getting into an argument with the French man.

“I didn’t know you were a smoker, Alfred,” said Cleary, as she looked covetously at Leclerc.

“We all have our little secrets, don’t we, Drummond?” replied the blond. “If you’ll excuse me, I have to show these to Mr. Peel.”  He got up and showed them a pile of folders as he walked slowly to the door and left.

As soon as Alfred was out, Nancy grabbed Leclerc’s shoulder in a friendly manner. “Leclerc, you should ask Alfred out. You two would make such a hot couple.”

“It is true I am a collector of pretty little things...” the French man said simply as he glanced victoriously one last time at Drummond—who literally growled—and left the office with Cleary and Nancy in tow.

Mina shivered and shook her head disapprovingly. “He’s just like Benjamin, but version 2.0. Nothing good will come of this.”

***

“He didn’t even say a word to me all day. I opened the door for him, gave him the last cookie from the staff room, brought him a nice cup of coffee…” The brunet sighed. “Nothing worked. He just acts as though I’m invisible.”

“He liked your flowers a lot last time, get him some more. It might work, no?”suggested Ernst.  

They were eating soggy ramen noodles directly from the plastic container as they watched tv in the latter’s flat.

“I’ll try.” The office assistant did not seem convinced but still he was willing to try anything if it meant Alfred could be back in his arms and not into Leclerc’s.

“I mean, you could still find another man, though. I don’t see why you’re clinging that much to Paget. Is he that good in bed?”

Edward opened his mouth to answer, but Ernst cut him short. “You know what, I don’t want to know. There are things that are better left unsaid.” He burped loudly, as if he needed to reaffirm his masculinity. “Now the real question I’ve been dying to ask is: should we watch rugby or cricket tonight?”

***

The next morning on his way to work, the brunet had stopped at the florist and bought a very expensive bouquet of blue roses.   

He had left it on Alfred’s desk with a simple note of apology attached to it.

He felt pretty confident his plan would work, since Mina had given him the thumbs up when she had spotted the flowers on her arrival.

 It seemed like a good sign, right?

When Alfred arrived later that morning, he rolled his eyes upon seeing the bouquet on his desk.  He sighed, grabbed the note, crumbled it, and threw it in the trash. Mina, who had stopped her typing, looked at him crossly.

“I get so many flowers these days, I don’t seem to know who’s sent them to me anymore,” the blond said simply as he had handed her the flowers. Drummond’s heart crumbled some more as Alfred left the office to collect the attendance cards.

Mina put the bouquet into the vase she always kept on her desk and smiled compassionately at her co-worker. “How about you write him another poem? I remember that last time he liked it very much. Get nerdy with him and you’ll sweep him off his feet in no time.”

***

 Obsessed with Mina’s idea, Edward had skipped lunch and spent three hours writing a goddamn poem, which had been a real task, since he had all the difficulty in the world finding rhymes with the words idiot and mate.

The brunet had even gone to the length of buying special stationery and a nice pen to write it with.

He was finally done when a first-grader named James O’Sullivan entered the office carrying a big jar full of muddy water.

Upon entering, the little boy went to Mina’s desk first. “Do you want to see my toad, Ms. Coke?”

As soon as she saw James approaching her, Mina put her hands in front of her and gestured to the boy to stay away from her.

Saying she did not like amphibians was an understatement.

‟No, no, James, just stay where you are! Just show it to Mr. Drummond there, will you? Or even better, wait for Mr. Paget; he will probably be delighted by it!”

The little boy smiled and trotted to Drummond’s desk. The latter had just folded his perfect poem—which, without any doubt, would make Alfred realize he was the best boyfriend on the surface of  the Earth that one could ever have —and smiled at him.

He saw, as James inclined his giant bottle, that a very fat and ugly toad was swimming in the middle of the jar. 

“What a nice toad you’ve got there, James! What’s its name?”

James grinned from ear to ear and jumped with joy at the interest Edward was showing.

In fact, it proved too much for James and the little boy lost his balance. With a loud bang, his jar fell onto the office assistant’s desk.

Everything then seemed to happen in slow motion. As Edward grabbed his computer and quickly lifted it off his desk to save it, the dirty muddy water spoiled his latest attempt at poetry, while the toad flew into the air and landed in the middle of the floor.

Mina immediately started to scream and climbed on top of her desk, as the evil toad jumped closer to her.

Alfred—who was back from debugging the photocopier once again—ran into the office, alerted by Mina’s scream, and quickly grabbed the murky toad, as James ran to him.

The crisis was over as Mina got down from her desk and tried to gain her dignity back. She drank her tea in a gulp, while Drummond, cursing, tried to sponge the water off his poem.

Sadly, it was to no avail.

‟Now my toad has no water left in it’s jar! Is it going to die?” asked James to no one in particular, as he was getting more worried by the minute.

“We’ll go and fill its jar up with water from the tap. I’m sure it’ll like it!” Alfred paused and tightened his grip on the toad. “Or, I could kiss it! I wonder if it might turn into my Prince Charming?”

“You mean a princess?”

“No, a prince.”

“Oh.” The little boy wiped his nose. “That’s a good thing, then. If it’s a princess, I can keep her, and if it’s a prince you can keep him.”

“Sounds like a plan, James!” said the blond, still firmly holding the toad, who croaked as James followed him out of the office.

Drummond groaned and bumped his head on his desk, getting some mud in his hair as he did so.

Mina cleared her throat, left her desk, and patted him softly on the shoulder.

 “What we need here is the help of a real professional. I’ll call him, and trust me, Drums, with his help, you two will get back to making out and getting on my nerves in no time.”

Chapter Text

Mina at 18.15:

Pleeeeeeeeease, we really really need your help with this! It’s a matter of life and death, I swear.

Francatelli at 18.20:

I think you might be exaggerating things here.

Mina at 18.22:

Slightly.

But think of them as soulmates! You wouldn’t want soulmates to be forever separated, would you?

Francatelli at 18.25:

Such a sad prospect; but still, I can’t. Nancy doesn’t want me to.

If I don’t listen to her, it’s going to be me that’ll need help!

Mina at 18.35:

I hate you so much right now!

But I’ll still be at your wedding with Alf.

Without Drums, probably…

***

On Thursday morning, when Mina first walked in the office, Edward gazed at her expectantly. He looked a tad bit better and had shaved, which was a nice improvement. He seemed very confident about the fact that today was going to be the day he would finally get his boyfriend back.

After all, the secretary had almost sworn on her own life that everything would turn out for the best and get back to normal in no time with the precious help of her relationship expert.

It was what she had planned. Sadly, reality doesn’t always go the way you want it to.

She started to fidget with her bracelets as soon as she sat down in her chair, and immediately avoided her co-worker’s gaze. “Well, the good thing is I spoke with my relationship professional last evening.” She took a sip of her tea, as Drummond looked intently at her, eager to know more.  “The bad thing is he said he won’t be able to help us out, since Nancy is pretty pissed at you. You see, he doesn’t want to get in trouble a mere six months before his wedding day.”

Edward groaned. “Are you telling me Francatelli was the love expert you were relying on? I could have told you yesterday he would say no.”

Mina smiled sheepishly at him. “We’ll figure something out. After all, Alf can’t pout for the rest of his life now, can he?”

She was certainly right about this.  Alfred probably would not pout for the rest of his life, but he still spent the rest of the week without talking to Edward once.

***

It seemed the weather was as glum as Edward was feeling and it rained for days on end.  The snow that was covering the town melted as February passed by and March came rolling in. Spring seemed like it had arrived early, as the weather grew warmer and the new hot topic at work turned out to be all about what the school’s fundraising campaign would be.

This year’s goal was to raise money to buy new schoolyard games and Mr. Peel had called a staff meeting after work on Tuesday evening, to collect everyone’s ideas on the subject.

Edward was barely listening, as he sat next to Ernst, who had started to doze off only minutes after the meeting had started.

Alfred was sitting two chairs across from him and Leclerc’s arm was resting on the back of his chair.

“We could do a scavenger hunt,” proposed Harriet.

Some teachers sighed loudly because it meant a lot of preparation and work would be needed.

“We could sell handmade cards,” suggested Nancy.

Some shrugged, while others looked at their watches. The meeting was dragging on and everyone just wanted to leave.

“I think I speak for everyone here. We want to have the smallest amount of work, but still get the most money out of it, right? I’ll be honest, I’m not sure the cards are going to sell,” said Gabriella, a sixth-grade teacher.

The majority agreed on it, as Mr. Peel looked at each of his employees in turn. He scratched his head.

Alfred, who had been doodling in his planner, looked up and smiled. “How about we host a Zumbathon or something? One of my ancient dance partners has her own class and she owes me one. I could call her and ask her to come for free.”

It seemed to interest everyone, and some teachers started to talk animatedly.

“We could sell tickets for£5 and some refreshments through the night!” chimed in Nancy, thrilled by her friend’s idea.

Mr. Peel looked at his employees over the top of his glasses. “Who’s in favor of a Zumbathon?” The clear majority of the staff raised their hands. Mina shook Ernst in order to wake him up so he could vote, too. The latter, slightly drowsy, blinked twice and raised both hands.

“We’ll go with Paget’s idea, then. We’ll need some members of the staff to show up and to help plan this event. Who’s going to come?” asked the headmaster, glad his meeting finally seemed to go somewhere.

Mina raised her hand timidly. “I can sell the tickets and the refreshment throughout the evening.”

Ten other members of the staff seemed interested in the idea of working out and dancing at the same time. They were all females, including Nancy and Cleary among them. With Alfred and Mina, almost half of the staff of Worthingtons would be present at the event, which seemed to bode well.

Peel looked seriously at the three men that were part of his staff. “I hope some of you will come, too. If men showed up we could get fathers to come to the event and make more profits.”  

Leclerc sneered as he got up and quickly mumbled a never in a thousand years to his neighbor.

Ernst shook his head negatively and Edward tried to avoid his boss’ stare. It was Alfred’s idea, but dancing was not his thing and there was absolutely no way he was going to dance in a crowded room full of parents.  

“I hope some of you will change their minds.” The headmaster took off his glasses. “It’s a pity my heart condition is preventing me from joining you. I have no doubt this will be a very fun evening,” he quickly added, before someone asked him to be present at the event, too.

 

***

Two days before the infamous Zumbathon, Mina and Alfred had a ton of work to do, because the registrations for the next school year had already started. They had appointments with parents all through the week and they were working extra hours to accommodate everyone.

It had been two weeks since our favorite couple had broken up and the brunet still wasn’t over it. He felt more desperate with each passing day, but Alfred kept on ignoring him.

It was barely 8.00, and Mina was already at work with appointments.

Mrs. Chadwick, a mom of four, had just pulled up a chair in front of her as they were exchanging pleasantries, when they had to stop talking because they couldn’t hear each other over the loud tumult that was coming from outside.

“What’s all that noise? Who could be crazy enough to get their motorcycle out when the snow has barely melted?” said the outraged mother, as Mina got up from her chair to look outside. She made a small surprised noise and quickly closed the window blind.

“I know, right? ”She laughed nervously as she sat down.

Drummond groaned. “Don’t tell me it’s Leclerc.”

Mina took a sip of her tea as Alfred made his remarkable entrance into the office.

 He was wearing his sunglasses, a white shirt with a leather coat over it, his red converse shoes, and skinny leather pants so fitted they were probably deemed indecent in half the countries of the world.

Edward just gaped over his computer screen—his brain immediately shutting down upon seeing his ex—while Mrs. Chadwick ogled Alfred and fanned herself with her hand.

Mina rolled her eyes. “I thought you had thrown those out when you broke up with Benjamin?”

“I thought I had too, but it seems I did not after all.” The blond turned around as he took his coat and sunglasess off.  “I found them behind my desk when I cleaned my room after I kicked you-know-who out.” He looked directly at Edward for the first time in two weeks.

Mina sighed but made him turn around another time as both Drummond and Mrs. Chadwick stared at him. “They do look good on you, though.”

“You make it sound as though I don’t always look good!” the blond said cockily, before blowing a kiss to his roommate. “The best thing is they still fit after three years of not wearing them. The bad thing is I don’t think I can eat anything before I’ve taken them off, because I’m pretty sure they are going to rip.”

“Is it just me or it just got hotter in here?”  said Mrs. Chadwick, her cheeks flushed, as she pulled some papers out of her handbag.

***

The three co-workers were working in amiable silence. Drummond was working on the school’s finances once again, Mina was scribbling notes down, and Alfred was busy sorting papers, when Mr. Peel entered the office.

“Ah Paget, I’m glad to see you! I just wanted to tell you I saw you arrive on the back of Leclerc’s motorcycle this morning.”

Alfred smiled pleasantly at his boss. “Ah yes, he picked me up this morning.”

Drummond groaned from behind his computer screen and Mr. Peel looked in his direction, before shrugging and returning his attention to his secretary.

“Well, I don’t want to play Cupid, but if you two ever wanted to date, I wanted you to know the rules of non-dating don’t apply to him, since he’s not a permanent employee.”

“That’s a good thing to know. Thank you, Mr. Peel.” the blond answered simply, as he got back to work. Drummond felt he had finally hit rock bottom.

Mina scratched her head. She would have to come up with something-and quickly-before things seriously started to get ugly.

***

Ernst was just hanging up his phone after ordering a pizza when someone knocked at the door of his apartment.

Edward, still looking glum, was sitting on his couch and was busy reassessing the events of the day, so the music teacher decided to leave him to his thoughts and got the door himself.

The seducer was happily surprised to be faced with George Paget, a smile plastered on his face and three large boxes in his hands.

“It’s Captain George to the rescue! I’m off work for a week, and Mama’s sending you food, as always! I’m supposed to check on my baby bro, too, because he’s not answering his phone and mama is getting worried.”

“Food at last! Have I already told you how much I love your mom? I’ve been eating junk for the last few weeks and it’s starting to show. ”Ernst slapped George on the shoulder and moved aside to let him in. “Come in and join our wild party!”

George dropped the boxes on the floor and saw Edward sitting on the couch. “Hey, Drums, what are you doing here?”

“I’m staying here for the moment,” the brunet replied simply as he tried to smile in his direction.

George frowned upon hearing the underlying despair in his potential brother-in-law’s voice.

“They’ve broken up,” said Ernst, as he quickly opened one of the boxes, eager to see the delicious homemade food it contained.

“Oh, really? I take it my brother was too much? He can be so bossy at times.”

“No, it was all my fault,” Drummond simply answered, as he quickly narrated all the events surrounding his break-up to the oldest Paget son. When he was done, George whistled, impressed.

“I think you could be nicknamed Bad Luck Drums at this point. I don’t see why Alfred is pissed at you, though. Have you told him that?”

The brunet sighed. “He doesn’t want to talk to me.”

“Alfred can be a little bitch, alright. When we were kids once he pouted and refused to talk to Junior for two whole months. My mom thought she would go crazy, but it eventually passed.” He patted the other man on the shoulder. “You are lucky I’m here to help. I’ll figure something out in no time, you’ll see!”

Drummond wanted to smile at him, but since George was the third person to tell him just that in the last two weeks, he found it hard to believe.

Time would tell, he guessed.

***

“Alfred, your favorite brother’s here,” exclaimed Mina, as she opened the flat’s door and gestured to George to come in.

The blond ran up to the door and hugged his older brother, as Mina kissed the tall brunet on his cheek.

“I just dropped by Ernst’s place to drop off food and I saw Drums was there.”

Alfred rolled his eyes. “I bet he is.”

“You could at least listen to what he has to say. ”

“I won’t. Not in a thousand years. I’m done with his lies,” Alfred sighed, while his brother pulled up a chair and sat down.

“I thought he was the love of your life or something along those lines. At least it’s what you kept rambling on about while we were in Puerto Vallarta.”

“Guess I was wrong,” the blond said, as he poured his brother a large glass of water and handed it to him.

George scratched his nose. “Do you mind if I hog your covers for a couple of days before I get back to the parents’ place? I need some distraction before I get back to my boring bachelor life.”

“You absolutely can! There’s going to be a Zumbathon at school tomorrow night. We’ve decided with the kindergartners the theme is going to be Rainbow Party.” George snorted, and so did Mina. “We could all wear matching outfits or something.”

 “Good idea. Sounds like fun. I’ve never been much of a dancer, but I’m pretty sure there will be girls everywhere, so you can count me in.“George smiled.

The older Paget had just been struck by inspiration. He knew how he would help Edward and his brother get back together.

Chapter Text

Gege P. at 21.30:

Prepare yourself Drums, cause you are going to wiggle your bony arse on wild beats at the Zumbathon tomorrow night!

Drums at 20.10:

Dancing is not my cup of tea. Are you sure there’s no other way?

Gege P. at 20.15:

I’m positive.

Plus, even if my plan fails, you’ll get to watch my brother twerk for two hours straight.

Trust me, he can shake his butt like there’s no tomorrow.

We’ll meet at the school’s entry for 18.30. I’m going to wear a pair of pink leggings.

Drums at 20.18:

What’s your plan exactly?

Gege P. at 20.20:

Just be there and have some faith!

***

George had done all he could to reassure Edward about the next night. He was proud of his brilliant idea but had barely had time to tell everything to Mina before the evening ended.

He had to wait for his little brother to go take his shower to finally talk to her alone.

Mina had gladly agreed to help him, feeling relieved that she could at least do something to make things right since she felt a bit responsible for the break up.

George had asked her to be discreet about his plan, which was something she was not good at.

In order to keep her mouth shut, she went to bed early.

The two brothers had soon decided to do the same, since Alfred was supposed to have a very busy day tomorrow.

He had various appointments for the registration, had to cover lunch for someone, and needed to stay after school to prep the gym for the Zumbathon, which he also needed to dance through, since it was his idea after all.

Which was why it was barely 9.00 and yet, George was already rolling around in his brother’s bed.

George sniggered. “You’re not going to snuggle against me, right?” He winced as Alfred poked him with his cold feet. “Did you wash your sheets? Seems like they smell funny to me…”

 “You are an idiot, Gege, did you know that? I hate you. I’ve a mind to throw you out of my bed and just let you sleep on the couch.” He stuck his tongue out at his brother. The latter pushed him to the edge of the bed in retaliation.

“Would you like me better if I told you I will pack and bring your bag at work tomorrow? I’ll even stay after the Zumbathon to help you clean the place. I’m sure you’ll have things to move and stuff to pick up, right?”

“Sounds like a plan. You may stay in my bed, then, but don’t push your luck.” Alfred yawned as George smiled in the dark.

 Operation Bring Drumfred back was officially on.

***

It was finally Friday, and everyone in the school talking only about the infamous Zumbathon.

 Every class had participated in decorating the gym for the occasion, and there was rainbow everything hanging from the walls and ceiling.

Sixth-graders had even tied rainbow ribbons from the two basketball nets that were on either side of the gym.

Edward had felt anxious throughout the whole day. He had absolutely no idea what George had in mind. 

He was also annoyed and stressed by the fact Mr. Peel had asked Leclerc to help Alfred shuffle things around the gym, which meant the Frenchman had spent most of the day alone in the latter’s company.

Finally, when the bell rang to signal the day was over, he got back to Ernst’s place to eat something and get dressed for the evening.

What were you supposed to wear for a Zumba party, anyway? 

He decided to put on his gray sweatpants and a black t-shirt.He sighed as he looked himself in the mirror.

 Why was he doing this, again? Was Alfred worth all of this?

The answer popped clearly into his mind: He bloody was.

He would need to man up and live through this wretched evening, even if it meant he might have to pull some weird dance moves in front of some of his colleagues.

As he left the restroom, Ernst looked at him doubtfully.

“I thought the theme was rainbow party? Black and Gray don’t look very festive to me.”

Edward smirked as he pulled the leg of his pants a little over his ankles, revealing the rainbow socks he was wearing.

Ernst snorted and gave him the thumbs up as he opened the door and walked to the school to meet George.

If all went well, he wouldn’t sleep on that stinky couch ever again.

***

 

Baby bro at 17.15

WHY IS THERE LUBE IN MY BAG? I dropped it on the floor when I took out my outfit to change and now everyone is looking at me oddly…

They probably think I’m a pervert or something. IT’S ALL THANKS TO YOU!

Gege P. at 17.17:

By everyone, who are you referring to?

Baby bro at 17.20:

Nancy, Cleary, Harriet, Mina…

Gege P. at 17.22:

No big deal, then. They already know how depraved you are.

 I thought your boss had seen it or something crazy like that.

Baby bro at 17.25:

You would have already been dead by now if that had been the case.

WAIT, I’M NOT DONE!

Why did you put two changes of clothes in my bag? AND JUNK FOOD? Chocolate bars, candies, chips; you name it, it’s all in there!

Also, a blanket?!

DON’T YOU THINK I HAVE A REPUTATION TO UPHOLD?

Gege P. at 17.30:

I know! I was surprised to see it all fitted in your purse!

I’ll be there shortly. I’m struggling with my leggings.

Baby bro at 17.42:

It’s a man bag, by the way.

I bet you do, if you keep eating all that junk! One last thing, Cleary keeps telling me to “tape it.”

TAPE WHAT EXACTLY?

Gege P. at 17.45:

I have no idea, but I’m having very disturbing images in my head.  I’ll be there in 10.

***

When Edward arrived at Worthington’s, Mina was already sitting at a table at the gym’s entrance and busy selling tickets.

When she spotted him, she flashed him a reassuring smile as she handed a water bottle over to Harriet.

She had told him earlier she was not going to dance through the event, and he was having serious thoughts about doing the same.

The hall quickly got crowded.  All the people who had turned up for the Zumba party were, as was expected, women, and many had brought their overly-excited children along.

Edward quickly started to feel a bit out of place as he looked around. That was, until he finally spotted George, who had shamelessly decided to wear pink leggings, a black t-shirt, and a rainbow headband.

The tall brunet waved at him, and in four strides he was standing next to him.

 They were the only men in sight, except Alfred, of course, who was animatedly talking to his friend, Angelina, at the front of the gym.

He was wearing black leggings with a small pair of blue athletic shorts over them (which was a good idea, because the more Drummond looked at George, the more he thought leggings were a crime against fashion) and a blue t-shirt.

To say the latter had decided to fully embrace the rainbow theme was an understatement, since he was wearing rainbow socks, had rainbow bracelets on both wrists, and even had rainbow shoelaces on his shoes.

His ex looked good in his outfit.

Really good.

In fact, women were already ogling him, and he had not even started to dance.

Edward was ogling him, too, when Alfred suddenly turned around and smiled at him.

His heart stopped. Had George already set everything right?

He just gaped as Alfred waved at him and winked. A smile broke on his lips, just as Leclerc pushed past him to wave back at Alfred. “Sorry, Drummond, you are in zhe way.”

George pushed Leclerc in turn. “Watch where you’re going, dude!”

Leclerc raised an eyebrow at him, emitted an undignified noise, and just pushed forward through the crowd to exchange some words with Alfred.  

When the Frenchman was done, he walked straight to the gym’s entrance and left, which was a good thing.

Excited students were everywhere, and when 7.00 struck, the music started.

It was very loud, and Angelina waved around as she explained how the night would go.

“I’m so happy to be here with you tonight! I just want to thank my good friend Alfred Paget for inviting me here!” The crowd cheered as she smiled and resumed her speech. “Zumba can be difficult, but just do your best.  Carefully watch my moves, follow the beat and, most importantly, enjoy yourselves!” With that said, she started to dance around slowly with a big smile plastered on her face.

George snorted. “How can this be hard? Pretty sure this will turn out as easy as pie.”

***

 It seemed easy at first, and George gave Edward the thumbs up as he started to pull some moves, but soon, the two men were quickly overwhelmed by Angelina’s choreography.

She was chaining leg movements while waving her arms in the opposite direction and moving her hips in time with the rhythm of the music.

It turned out impossible for Edward to follow the beat, since he had the grace and flexibility of a wood board, and he quickly decided to stop making an idiot of himself and to just sit on a bench, next to a crying toddler and his mom.

George was a bit more persistent.

His brow was furrowed in concentration as he tried to mimic Angelina’s dance moves.  

After another 10 minutes of Zumba, he decided to call it quits too and joined Edward on the bench.

George cleared his throat and looked around the gym as he sat down. “It’s not that difficult. I’ve just hurt my leg a bit. I’ll just take a small break for now.”

“Right,” answered Edward, as he watched Alfred dance next to Angelina.

The latter was in his element.He was smiling and chaining every movement as if it was nothing.

 His skin was glowing with sweat already, and his eyes were half-closed as he moved around in sync with the music; a nice combo of grace, cuteness, and hotness all in one.

In fact, Edward was glad he was not wearing George’s leggings.

The older Paget rolled his eyes. “Close your mouth, Drums! I swear you are drooling, and Harriet is staring at you.”

Edward tried to keep his composure and took a gulp from his water bottle, though frankly all he wanted to do was to pour it over his head to help him get his senses back.

George clapped him on the shoulder, as a new rhythmic song started, and Alfred and Angelina started to shake their hips wildly.

George shrugged. “Told you shaking his butt around was Alfred’s signature move.”

Edward answered something that sounded like “Asmnnsbl” and George stopped talking to him for a while.

***

When the evening came to an end, the cheerful crowd of parents and students quickly left, since it was getting late. Some of the children were crying out of tiredness, exhausted by their day at school and all the physical activity they had been doing for the last two hours.

All in all, the Zumbathon had been a real success, and many thanked Angelina on their way out.

The tall brunette stayed to talk a bit with Alfred and told him that if he ever wanted to teach class with her, she would absolutely love his help.

 She then checked her watch, commented on the lateness of the hour, kissed both Paget brothers on the cheek, and left.

At that point, Mina, Alfred, Edward, and George were the only ones left in the gym.

Mina deposited the money they had earned in Mr. Peel’s office, and quickly decided to put her coat on, as Alfred, still avoiding Edward’s stare, asked George to help him pick up the gym mats to put them back in the gym’s storage room.

“Sorry, Plumpy, my arms are hurting from all that crazy dancing.” The older Paget shrugged and sat on the floor with his water bottle. ‟Guess Drums will have to help you pick these up.”

Alfred groaned and rolled his eyes at Edward. The latter shrugged and picked up one side of a mat, as Alfred picked up its other end.

As the two were in the storage room to put the mat back on the top of the pile where it belonged, George swiftly closed the door and ran to the gym’s entrance.

He then quickly gave Mina a thumb up, which was her cue to activate the school’s alarm system.

***

Back in the storage room, Alfred sighed as Edward helped him place the mat back in its place.  As he turned around, he saw George had closed the storage room’s door.

He rolled his eyes and yelled: “You are dumb, Gege! The storage room is connected to the gym teacher’s office, and the door is unlocked, my bag is in th-” He was cut short by the a series of bips signaling someone was activating the school’s alarm system.

He groaned. “OH NO, HE DIDN’T! ”  He ran to the door, but it was too late.  

Both men clearly heard the last warning bip that meant the alarm system was on.

Alfred sighed and looked moodily at his ex. “Now we’re stuck here for the night. You can be sure Mr. Peel is going to be pissed off if we get the alarm going. Did you ask George to do that?”

Edward shook his head. “No, but at least you’re talking to me, which is an improvement!”

Alfred stared at him darkly. “Why would I want to talk to a damn liar?”

“I know I messed up, but if you could just listen to what I have to say, you would understand it’s probably not as bad as you’ve imagined it to be.” Edward rubbed the back of his head.

“Really? Please tell me how I’m making things up! The first time I met your mom you were on the verge of banging me on the kitchen table.”

“True, that was awful! I should have warned you she did not know anything, but I freaked out. Not everyone is as comfortable as you are to talk about these things.”

Alfred groaned and started to pace around the room. “And your girlfriend? Am I imagining her, too?”

“The date with Carolina wasn’t real. We just took pictures for her mom. She has a girlfriend.” Edward sighed as his eyes followed the other man around the room. “Anyway, you are one to talk ! You’re all over Leclerc!”

“All over Leclerc? ME?!” Alfred stopped his pacing and looked at him crossly.

“Oh yes, you are. YOU ARE! You always dress nicely for him. You always talk with him. I MEAN, HE ACTS AS IF HE OWNS YOU ALREADY!”  Edward started to lose his cool as he remembered the way Alfred had been acting around Leclerc for the past two weeks.

“Owns me? OWNS ME? I’M NOT ANYONE’S PROPERTY BUT MINE, EDWARD CHARLES DRUMMOND.You are just too jealous for your own good.”

“Jealous? ME? IT’S GOT NOTHING TO DO WITH JEALOUSY! I’M TALKING ABOUT RESPECT!”

Alfred mocked him. “RESPECT? That’s rich coming from you, Mr. I-used-someone-else’s-present-to-make-up-for-my-mistake.”

Edward could feel his blood pumping in his head as he got more and more caught up in their argument. “It was a mistake, OK! A MISTAKE!”

The two men stopped talking and just stared at each other, their faces only inches apart.

Alfred was looking at him with daggers in his eyes now.

His hair was sticking in weird places since it had been drenched with sweat from all the dancing he had done during the Zumbathon, and somehow Edward’s brain decided he could not take it anymore.

 On an impulse, he quickly pulled the blond into his arms and kissed him roughly on the mouth.

Alfred quickly pulled off and pushed him away.

His cheeks were flushed with anger, and he opened his mouth to protest, but Edward just stared at him and kissed him again.

Alfred tried to break away again from his embrace and to push him out of his way at first, but soon he answered feverishly to his kiss as his lips started to move against Edward’s.

Soon his tongue was in his mouth desperately searching for his and their angry kissing turned into a full blown make-out session, with moans and hands pulling at clothes and searching urgently for skin as Edward gently pushed his lover down on the pile of gym mats.

***

Mina was a bit worried, as she could hear Alfred and Edward arguing loudly from the gym.

“You sure it’s a good idea, George? I should maybe tell them the alarm is on, but that I’ve not activated it in the gym and in the hallway?”

“I’ll text them later.” George shrugged and stopped talking. They couldn’t hear any more sounds coming from the gym, which was a bit suspicious.  “Do you think one of them killed the other? My bet is on Alfred killing Drums, but we could be surprised.”

They heard a loud bang, and Mina looked frightfully at George.

She was about to go into the gym to see what was going on, when they clearly heard Alfred’s voice echo through the hall.

“OH GOD EDWARD, I MISSED YOU SO MUCH!”

George and Mina looked blankly at each other.

“Oh yessss Edwaaaaaaard ILOVEYOUILOVEYOUILOVEYOU!”

George cleared his throat. “Guess you were right; my brother is way too loud! How do you even manage to live with those two?”

“I LIED, I’M YOURS… I’M YOOOOURS, JUST TAKE ME NOW!”

Mina shrugged and rolled her eyes. “I know, right? Guess I’m just a saint or something. I think it’s safe to say your plan was a success. We can leave them be and head back home.”

They clapped hands and walked to the door to leave, while various moans and unintelligible cries could still be heard coming from the gym.

***

Outside, Vincent Leclerc was waiting close to the school’s entry.

Upon seeing Mina, he smiled at her. “Paget is not with you?”

“I’m here,” replied George, as he cocked an eyebrow at the Frenchman.

“I meant Alfred.” Leclerc looked at him from head to toe. “I didn’t know you were related.”

“I’m one of his 6 older brothers. He already left.”  George tried to look menacing. He was a tad bit taller than Leclerc, which helped because the Frenchman was larger than him.

“But-”

“He already left. Good night!”

Leclerc hesitated, then turned around and left. Mina glanced at George as both walked silently back to her flat.

***

 

Alfred never thought he would spend a night at work, in the gym’s storage room, on a smelly mat, with his boyfriend, and yet, there he was, and he would not trade it for anything in the world.

He was laying against Edward, his face against his lover’s neck, with the blanket they had retrieved from his bag draped over them.

“I think you ripped my shirt.” He snuggled closer. “Feel free to rip any of my clothes in the future, because that definitely turned me on.”

Edward turned his head and looked at him from the corner of his eyes. “That is duly noted. Now, you’ll have to explain something. I’m naked, but I’m still wearing my shoes. How did you manage to get my pants and underwear off?”

Alfred shrugged. “I’m an expert. Plus, your socks surprised me there. I never would have imagined you’d own a pair that wasn’t just plain black.”  He stretched his right arm and grabbed a chocolate bar from the messy heap he had formed with all the contents of his bag. “I might need to get down there to look at them more attentively.”

Alfred tried to look thoughtful as he took a bite of his candy bar.

He had already burned a lot of calories this evening and he felt as though he might need some extra energy soon.

George had really thought of everything, hadn’t he?

“As far as I’m concerned, you can get down there and check everything to your heart’s content.” Edward shrugged nonchalantly. “You may even touch, kiss, or lick anything you might find suspicious while you’re at it. I can assure you I won’t mind.”

Alfred snorted as he quickly shoved the rest of his chocolate bar in his mouth. ‟How selfless of you...”

He gave his boyfriend some very rewarding kisses before he pulled back and grabbed another chocolate bar. Edward sighed with disappointment.

Alfred cocked an eyebrow at him. “Were you seriously that jealous of Leclerc?”

Edward sighed. ‟Well, yes! You were always with him. Even Mr. Peel was pushing you into his arms!” He was momentarily at a loss for words and just gaped, as Alfred had randomly bent down and had just started to lick his chest.

Alfred quickly pulled back and shrugged. ‟Sorry, I’d dropped some chocolate on you. You were saying?”

Edward breathed deeply. His boyfriend was such a tease. How did he even live through these two weeks, really?

 “Might I add that how you dressed these whole two weeks was pure torture!? Gosh, I thought I would be the first person in the world to die because of loss of blood to the brain caused by a permanent state of arousal.”

Alfred propped himself up on his elbow and looked at him suggestively. “I might have done all of that on purpose. Just to anger you. Trust me, Leclerc has nothing that compares to you down there.”

The brunet felt a sudden rush of anger. “WHAT? Did he touch you or anything? I’ll kill him!” He tried to get up, but Alfred pushed him back down.

“Wait, calm down, Romeo! I can take care of myself, thank you very much.  I just have eyes and I happen to know where and when to look to get my answers, that’s all.  I can tell you, these two weeks were painful for me, too. I was starting to get serious withdrawal symptoms from all that awesome sex I’ve been used to getting.”

Edward snorted, before they kissed languorously. “So, you can fend for yourself and you don’t belong to anyone, right? It’s weird because I’m pretty sure I heard you say otherwise earlier.”

Alfred smiled and winked at him.” I’m yours. I’m only yours. Never break my heart again, or else. “

“I swear, I’ve learned my lesson! There will be no more lies between us, never.”

“And I’ll make sure you stick to your words.” Alfred scratched his chin in a distracted manner. ‟There’s only one problem, though…”

Edward looked at his boyfriend with puzzlement. ‟What?”

“I don’t know if I can fix my app. Now it says we’ve been dating for 4 months, 10 days, 8 hours, 22 minutes, and 56 seconds, but we broke up for two weeks. Its count is rubbish now.”

Edward laughed. “Do you know I love you very, very much?”  Alfred rolled his eyes and smiled as they pressed their nose against each others.

“I don’t mind you telling me that many times every day.” They kissed before Alfred pulled back and turned around to get up.  

Edward was having none of this, though, and quickly grabbed him by the waist to pull his boyfriend back down, pinning him under him.

“Wait, where do you think you are going like that, Angel baby?”

***

Gege P. at 8.30:

Are you dead? We thought you’d be back by now!

Drums at 8.43:

My whole body is aching from the Zumbathon and the fact that I slept on a gym mat, but other than that, I’m fine.

Gege P. at 8.44:

You slept on the gym mat. Really?

Drums at 8.45:

Yes. Why?

***

Gege P. at 8.45:

So, I heard from Drums you had a good night’s sleep?

Alf at 8.47:

What sleep?! WE BANGED THE WHOLE NIGHT! On the floor, on the pile of gym mats, up against the wall, on the gym teacher’s desk… E.V.E.R.Y.W.H.E.R.E.

Gege P. at 8.50:

Sounds more like it!

 I hope you’ll remember it was all thanks to my brilliance that you two are back together.

I expect your endless love and gratitude from now on.

You can also build me an altar and worship me for eternity.

***

It was close to 10 in the morning when Mr. Penge, the school’s janitor arrived at work. Seconds after he had disarmed the school’s alarm system, he was surprised to see both Paget and Drummond emerge from the gym.

Paget flashed him a smile. “Good morning, Mr. Penge! I had forgotten something from last night’s event and Drummond here accompanied me to retrieve it!”

Both men seemed to be in an excellent mood, and the janitor grumbled an incoherent response as the two walked past him to get to the school’s front door.

 Paget had such a spring in his stride it seemed as though he was about to take flight.

 It was too much joy to take in so early in the morning, and the janitor spat on the floor.

 After all, he was the one cleaning it, so he might as well dirty it.

He was halfway done with his cleaning when a thought crept into his mind.

He was pretty sure the school’s alarm system was still on when he arrived this morning.

So, how come Paget and Drummond had been able to enter the school without disarming it?

He just shook his head and went back to his cleaning.

He would have to talk to Mr. Peel about this.

 

Chapter Text

“I can’t tell you how relieved I am to see you back with Drums,” exclaimed Mina as she took her slippers off and climbed into bed.

“Well, that makes two of us then. It would be even better if I could sleep with him, but I figured you wouldn’t want to sleep with George, so…,” Alfred yawned.

“Nope, I don’t. It would just be plain weird,” Mina shrugged, then turned on her left side to look at her friend.

Since George was still staying at their flat for a couple of days, our three roommates had decided that Edward would be the one to sleep with him in Alfred’s bed, since Mina did not want to share hers with anyone except her best friend.

Our favorite couple wasn’t too thrilled by their temporary sleeping arrangements.  

After all, they had spent the last two weeks apart and felt a burning desire to be in each other’s company….

What were three more days of waiting, really, after that awesome night they had spent in the gym storage?

A bloody pain, that’s what it was, honestly.

But Alfred, being a gentleman, had still agreed to sleep with Mina.

So, there he was, laying in bed with his roommate.

He scratched his nose and yawned a second time. “He snores, and he stinks, too. It’s no wonder he can’t keep his girlfriends for long.”

Mina snorted. She turned off the light and rested on her back.

The two friends stared at the ceiling in an agreeable silence as both were deep in thought.

Alfred was thinking about how Edward had looked when he had torn his shirt last night as they were both submerged in the throes of passion.

He was just imagining how his boyfriend could be kissing him and stroking him everywhere just now, when Mina cleared her throat and poked him in the shoulder.

“I have something to tell you. “

He sighed. “What?”  It seemed a guy couldn’t even fantasize in peace around here.

He looked at her. “You are pulling the exact same face you had when Edward prepped food for us the first time and you weren’t sure if you were going to eat it or not.” He smirked.

She rolled her eyes and slapped him with her right hand.

“Aunt Buccleuch called.”  

“And…?” The blond was waiting for her to explain what had been so important about that call.

She sighed. “She wants to sell the house.”

Alfred gasped in surprise. “What? Are you telling me we’ll have to move?”

Mina scratched her head and tried to avoid his stare. “Well, she asked me if we would be interested in buying it, actually.”

“What did you say?”

“Well, seeing we were both single when she called, I told her we wouldn’t; but now that you are back with Drums, it could be interesting.”

There was silence as Alfred was considering the possibility of buying the house with Mina.

He groaned. “Damn! you should have told me before I went on that shopping spree! I certainly would not have bought all those expensive clothes if I had known. How much money do we need, and when?”

“Well, not too much… Just £60,000 before the end of June.” He whistled. It was a very substantial amount of money. “We could split the house if we buy it. You could take downstairs and I would take upstairs, or vice-versa.”

“Well, I can help Angelina with her class and do some more hours at work to earn some extra money. I’ll check with Edward if he thinks it might be feasible.” The blond sighed. “Now, how am I supposed to sleep with all of that?  I have so much stuff to think about! What color should I paint the living room? Blue?”

“Alfred! You’ll have to discuss this with Drums first. Then, we’ll need to find the money. You are not going to paint anything for a very long time, so I think it’s safe to say you can try to get to sleep.” She paused, before she pushed him in the ribs. “Why does everything have to be blue with you?”

He rolled his eyes and turned his back on her.

She closed her eyes and was about to drift into sleep when the blond poked her shoulder. “Blinds or drapes for the bay window?”

“Good night Alf.”

***

“It’s our first night together. How lovely! I swear I’ll be gentle with you.” George winked in Drummond’s direction. The latter sighed.

He liked George but would have been happier if it were the youngest Paget brother that was resting next to him.

In fact, they probably would not just be sleeping next to each other right now.

“Don’t tempt me, Paget! I do tend to cuddle in my sleep. I’ll remain on my side of the bed and you’ll stay on yours.”

George laughed, but put a pillow between them just in case.  He fell asleep quickly, while Edward felt restless. He was thinking about last night’s event and quickly felt hot and bothered when he remembered how Alfred had looked in his work-out outfit.

He sighed and tried to think about work, because he was pretty sure Mina would not like it if he showed up in her room to shag Alfred next to her.

Damn night…

He finally succeeded in calming down and had just closed his eyes when George started to snore loudly.

It seemed he was in for another solid 8 hours of non-sleeping.

He sighed and got up.

***

Alfred could not sleep.

He had turned around in the bed a couple of times and decided to go and get a glass of water. After all, it might help settle his mind.

He had already decided in what colors he would paint his kitchen, his living room and his bedroom and was proud of his brilliant choice.

He was tiptoeing to the kitchen when he spotted a sleeping form on the couch.

He whispered. “Edward? What are you doing on the couch?”

The sleeping form raised its head. “Your brother snores, and I couldn’t sleep anyway. My brain is plagued by images of you.…”  

Edward moved a bit from his resting place as his boyfriend smirked and laid down against him on the couch.

There was not a lot of room to move, and Edward quickly circled his boyfriend with his arms, preventing Alfred from falling on the floor.

The two were facing each other and Alfred’s heart started to beat faster as he buried himself into the warm embrace of his loving boyfriend. “Why aren’t you sleeping?”

Edward was whispering, too, and Alfred snorted when George’s loud snoring prevented him from hearing his answer.

“I’ve been thinking about how we are going to paint our living room and such.”

It was Edward’s turn to snort. “Why? Did you forget to tell me we were getting a house?”

Alfred quickly explained what Mina had told him about Aunt Buccleuch’s call, as Edward kissed the top of his head and started to massage his lower back. “- reason why we could get a whole floor to ourselves. Our own place with locks and a guest room for when your mom or my brothers come to visit! We would not need to sleep apart ever again.”

Edward nodded as he tried to get his hands underneath the elastic band of his boyfriend’s pyjama pants while Alfred started to tell him how he planned to decorate their place.

Truth be told, he heard and understood what Alfred was saying, but he had other priorities in his head and the color choices for every room or how they would place some pieces of furniture in each room were not on his list.

He finally managed to get his hands where he wanted them to be, and stroked his boyfriend’s silky skin, tracing the outline of the heart tattoo the latter had on his butt cheek with his fingers when he realized Alfred had drifted off to sleep.

He sighed and pulled the blond closer, as George’s snores grew louder.

It seemed he would have to dissect a quadratic formula to finally get to sleep.

 

***

It was Sunday morning and Julia Peel and her husband were supposed to go out and enjoy a nice brunch with four of their grown-up kids and some of their grandchildren.

But, to Julia’s irritation, her husband had been on the phone for the last twenty minutes, talking about work (everything was always about work with Robert) and they were running late, as usual.

 “Yes, Penge. I’ll call and check with the maintenance team. Thank you for giving me a call.” Robert smiled apologetically at his wife as he hung up.

She sighed loudly, as she started to tap with her fingers on the table. “What is it? What could be so important to make you spend your time on the phone instead of with me and your family again?”

“The alarm system of the school might be faulty.” He scratched his arm and looked at his watch.

“What happened?  Do you have to pay a fine?”

“Luckily, no, because we would have had to use all the funds we collected with the Zumbathon to pay it and I don’t know how I could have justified to the parents the fact that we have not been able to buy all those new toys we were supposed to get. Penge said Paget and Drummond were able to enter the school without disarming it.”

“Aren’t they the ones we saw at Ciro’s?”

Her husband nodded as he put his coat on.

 “What could they be doing together at the school on a Saturday morning?”

Robert shrugged. He had no answer to his wife’s question.

Julia frowned as a shocking idea crept into her mind. “Do you think they might have spent the night there or something?”

Peel looked at her with bewilderment and then roared with laughter. “Don’t be ridiculous, Julia. Drummond is dating Florence Kerr. Now, I thought you wanted us to get to the restaurant as soon as possible?”

Julia pursed her lips as her husband opened the door for her.  They both walked to the car in silence.

 

***

Alfred and George were playing a video game together while Mina was looking at one of her magazines, when Edward felt his phone buzz in the back pocket of his jeans. He quickly pulled it out and sighed when he saw the call was from his mom.

He left the living room and went on the balcony to get the call, closing the door behind him.

 “Hi, mom!” He tried to sound extra cheerful, but he could already feel his anxiety building up. He had not spoken often with her since her surprise visit, and their relationship was still at a weird place.   “I was about to call you! I was wondering with Alfred and Mina if you would like to come over for Easter?”

“No.” There was a silence on the other side of the line. “But you could still come over to visit me. Alone.”

Edward sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “I don’t think I’ll have the time to go visit you. We only have a couple of days off, and a friend of ours is opening his bakery the following week. He asked for our help and we agreed to make some extra money.  Maybe we could meet halfway and eat at some fancy place?”

It was Frances’ turn to sigh. “I think it might be a nice solution. Oh, and Edward?”

“Yes?” he asked hopefully.

“I love you, son.”

“I love you too, mom. Don’t you want to tell me anything else?” She had not mentioned Alfred once in all their conversations, and he hoped she wasn’t still holding a grudge against his boyfriend.

Frances seemed to think Alfred was responsible for his sexual orientation, which was ridiculous.

“No. Don’t forget to say hi to Wilhelmina, that’s all.”

Still not a word about Alfred. It was now a certainty she did not like his boyfriend, and it was all because of him.

Easter dinner was bound to be a catastrophe this year.

***

 

After his phone call, Edward had helped Mina with some of the household chores they usually did during the weekend. He was the one in charge of the laundry this week, which he hated, but Alfred had said he would be the one to iron all their shirts when he got back from grocery shopping with George, which was a relief.

He was sprawled on the bed with the firm intention of reading Tony Wright’s book about British politics —whom Alfred had deemed as boring as watching paint dry— when the latter tiptoed into their room. He had a smirk on his face as he closed the door behind him.  

“I have about 15 minutes before George realizes I’m missing. I thought we might have a little fun together.” The blond looked at him suggestively. “That is if you are in the mood for it, since I see you have just picked up your tedious book.”

Edward did not need his boyfriend to tell him twice.

He threw his book on the floor and just gaped, as Alfred hopped on the bed, pushed him back gently with his hands and straddled him, pinning his hands above his head with his right hand as he leaned down and slowly kissed him.

Their kiss deepened as Alfred’s tongue slid into his mouth and began to play with his.

Edward felt his brain quickly turning into goo as the blond’s left hand began to toy with his hair.

Now, that was a nice way to wait for the washing machine to stop….

Their kisses grew in intensity, and he groaned when Alfred pulled back to stare down at him.

Alfred brushed his fringe out of his eyes.

He looked beautiful with his flushed cheeks and Edward took advantage of his inattention by firmly grasping his butt with both hands and getting him to lean back down on top of him.

He could feel his boyfriend’s erection against his and thought it was time to get things going to the next level.

But the blond smiled at him, pushed himself back up, grabbed his hands, pinned them back over his head, and repositioned himself, his knees firmly grasping his hips on each side.

Edward groaned. “I thought you said we only had 15 minutes.”

Alfred pushed his tongue out and leaned back down, slowly kissing the side of his boyfriend’s face until he reached his ear and whispered, “I still have 9 minutes to go.”

He then proceeded to slowly undo every button of his boyfriend’s shirt, bending down over him and alternating kisses between his mouth, his neck, and his collarbone.

When he was finally done with the buttons, Alfred took Edward’s shirt off.

“I like what I see,” he said appreciatively, before he started to kiss and lick his way down the brunet’s chest.

Edward arched his back as Alfred’s kisses got lower and lower and the blond unzipped his pants and began to kiss and lick his hipbone.

Edward curled his toes with anticipation as it finally seemed his boyfriend was about to kiss him where he really wanted to be kissed, when Alfred pulled back yet again.

He groaned more loudly this time as Alfred looked down at him from the corner of his eyes.

“How impatient you are today, Mr. Drummond!”

“Could you stop being such a tease, Mr. Paget, and put an end to my misery?”

Alfred winked. “Your wish is my command.”  

Edward’ s breath caught in his throat as his boyfriend carefully slipped his fingers underneath the elastic band of his underwear.

Alfred smirked at him one last time before he closed his beautiful blue eyes; his lovely ebony eyelashes brushing his cheekbones as he looked down at him. He slowly licked his lips and Edward thought he would just die with anticipation.

It seemed the 15 minutes had turned into an hour and he yearned to feel his boyfriend’s mouth on him.

Alfred finally pulled his underwear down when Wilhelmina opened the door with a loud bang, startling them both.

“Hey Drums, the washing machine is done and-OMG!O-M-G!” The little blonde turned around and her heart started to beat faster. She felt extremely bad, as her face turned as red as a tomato within seconds.

It was something to hear about her roommate’s sex life, but it was another one to witness it.

 She turned her back on them, as Edward quickly rolled around on the bed and struggled to cover himself while Alfred just jumped up from his spot and stared at Mina with daggers in his eyes.

“MINA, CAN’T YOU KNOCK?”  He pushed her out of the room as she yelled back at him.

“IT’S 2 IN THE BLOODY AFTERNOON.”

Alfred closed the door behind them.

They would need to move out of here, and the sooner the better.

***

From: Worthington’s social committee

Recipient: Skerrett, N.

Object: Party!!!!

Dear colleagues,

To thank you all for the hard work you’ve been doing and to help us get through the end of the year, your social committee has decided to plan a special soirée.

Mr. Peel has kindly agreed with us that we are in desperate need of distilled drinks and fun and rented a room at the Four Corner hotel (come and say hi to the gorgeous blond who works at the secretary’s office to get the precise address). This is going to be a themed event, so you’ll need to come disguised.

You’ll need to wear a disguise or an accessory that represents your true personality. THIS IS FOR FUN, NO ONE WILL GET GRADED ON THIS ( HA HA HA!)!

The best costumes will get prizes (a.k.a., more booze). The more original you get, the better!

We are hoping to see you in large numbers (which means Gabriella, you’ll have to show up, too).

Your social committee

***

Mr. Peel was reading the memo about the party his employees had planned for the start of April, when someone knocked on his door. He quickly opened it.

“Mr. Peel, I’m sorry to bother you.”

“Ah, Leclerc. Please, do come in.” The headmaster gestured to the Frenchman to sit down on the chair in front of him.

“I was wondering, since Gabriella’s husband can’t accompany us on Zhe fifth and sixth graders’ field trip if we could ask someone else to come with us?”  Leclerc looked attentively at his boss. He had one name on his mind but waited to see how this conversation would turn out before saying it out loud.

Peel scratched his chin. “Ah, he can’t? Why don’t you ask Paget about it? He told me he needed extra income.”

Leclerc smirked at his boss. “It would be a nice alternative, without a doubt.”

Chapter Text

It was the night before the field trip and Alfred was packing his bag while Edward sat on the middle of the unmade bed, looking at him as he rummaged through his wardrobe.

‟Are you going to sleep in the same room as him?” asked the latter for the fifth time in the last hour or so.

To say Edward had been displeased when he heard about Alfred agreeing to go on the fifth and sixth graders’ field trip was an understatement.

To be clear, what irked him the most wasn’t the fact Alfred was going on that trip; it was the fact that Leclerc was going, too.

Alfred sighed. “You have nothing to be worried about. I’ll sleep with Harriet. I love you and I am only doing this so we can get more money to buy the house.”

He grabbed two more shirts, quickly folded them, and shoved them into his bag.

Edward sighed. “Why can’t we just ask your parents for the money? I’m sure they would help us if we asked.”

Alfred glanced at him, smiled, and returned his attention to his wardrobe.

“I don’t want to ask them now. I’m keeping that for when we will be ready to have a baby. A surrogate is costly and-”

Edward made an annoyed noise as Alfred quickly stuffed the last items of clothing into his bag and zipped it shut. “Alfred… I’ve not said yes to that part of our life plan yet.”

“But trust me, you will in due time!” Alfred just stared at him with his puppy dog eyes and Edward sighed, because there was absolutely no way he could resist his boyfriend when he used that tactic.

“We’ll see,” said Edward. Alfred gave him a sweet kiss on the lips. “You will be the death of me, Alfred, you know that?”

“Nonsense. Besides, what would I do without you?” The blond grinned. “Who would shovel the snow during winter and do all of my chores when I don’t want to adult?”

“Now I see why you are keeping me around.” Edward tried to look offended, but it failed. “Still, what will you do if Leclerc makes a move on you or tries to kiss you? I’d feel better if I could come.”

 “Don’t worry, I can fend for myself.” Alfred winked at him. “What do you say we go out tonight? There’s a new movie I’d love to see. We could stop to grab a bite on our way back, and now that George is gone we could go to bed early. ” He raised his eyebrows suggestively and smirked.

“Sounds like my kind of evening.”

***

If there is something worse in the world than having to sit on an uncomfortable school bus seat for a long ride, it’s to do it with 72 over-excited kids between 10 and 12 as your co-passengers.

Gabriella had already stated she was going mad, and they weren’t even halfway there.

Two kids had already thrown up everywhere on the floor, one had dropped his phone on the highway (and had wailed since then), one was having a full-blown panic attack because she wasn’t used to sleeping away from home, and to make matters worse, Alfred was sitting in the back with the older kids and had begun to sing that awful “the wheels on the bus” song to entertain them and many kids were now singing along with him.

It had now been almost an hour since they had begun to sing, and they did not seem to be ready to stop anytime soon.

Harriet sighed, too. Why did they always end up going on these trips every year even though they swore each time they would never do it again?

She felt a headache creeping up on her, as Leclerc just glanced at Alfred and listened absentmindedly to what a fifth grader had to say about his dog.

Matters took a turn for the worse when Adam started to throw up right in front of her and Alfred decided to change his song.

“Clarence and Lydia sitting in a tree K-I-S-S-I-N-G…” he intoned, as she decided to inhale deeply.

Nope, she definitively wasn’t paid enough to deal with that stuff…

***

 

Bae at 15.14:

We just arrived at The Manor House. Gabriella is pissed. Harriet has a headache. Vincent is pulling a weird face.

I think it’s safe to say that bus ride was a big win!

Sending you kisses EVERYWHERE!

Edward D. at 15.20:

Already missing you! Can’t wait for you to get back. Xxxxx

 I’m going to paint all evening.

 I’ll be a pro by the time we move downstairs!

***

While Alfred was away, Edward had decided he would help Charles (who had now successfully completed his course as a master baker) to prep his bakery for its grand opening that was scheduled two weeks later.

Nancy had been very grateful for his help and had begged him to forgive her for the way she had acted when he and Alfred had temporarily broken up.

“You know what, guys, I really appreciate all the help. That bakery will be ready in no time!” exclaimed Charles, as he handed each of his helpers a cold beer.

Ernst had come to help them, too. The three men were sitting in the middle of the newly painted shop as they waited for the paint to dry before they could apply a second layer.

“Just give me food and I’ll kindly do all the work you want, Francatelli!” said Ernst, as a grin spread across his face.

“You might regret saying that later, Ernst!” said the Italian as he playfully slapped the music teacher on the shoulder.

Drummond grinned, took a gulp of his beer, and took his phone out as he felt it buzz. He quickly read what Mina had texted him and sent her a short reply.

While he did so, a little box fell from his pocket and thudded on the floor with a soft bang.

Charles bent down to pick it up, as Ernst frowned. “What are you doing with that in your pocket? It looks like a jewelry box…”

Edward smiled sweetly. “It is. I stopped at the jewelry store on my way here. I’ve just bought a ring while Alfred is away. I think I’m going to propose.”

Ernst looked shocked. “Are you sure?”

Charles chimed in. “Yeah, did you not propose to that girl before, your ex, and regretted it afterwards? How long have you two been dating, anyway?”

Edward scratched his nose. “Well… it’s been a while, close to 6 months now.”

Charles and Ernst shared a look.

“Look pal, I waited 3 years before I proposed to Nancy.”

Edward looked puzzled. “So, you guys think I should wait?”

Ernst nodded. “I mean, once you give him that ring, it’s game over for you, Drums. Do you really want to be stuck with Paget for the rest of your life? Aren’t you scared by that prospect?”

“Haven’t you learned your lesson?” added Charles, as an afterthought.

Edward took a gulp of his beer. He might have to do some more thinking before he did pop the question, then.

***

“I’ve just checked on the boys. They unsubtly tried to hide the fact they had taken pictures of the girls in their bathing suits with their phones while I was there.”

Harriet snorted. “Boys will be boys, I guess. You can be damn sure Mrs. Wolligan will kill us if she hears about this.”

“I picked up all of their phones,” continued Gabriella, as she grinned and turned her attention to Alfred, who was beaming as he was looking at his. “I think I’ll do the same with you, Alfred. You’ve been on your phone all evening. I’m taking this from you, young man.”

Alfred rolled his eyes, smiled, and slowly dropped his phone in Gabriella’s bag. “My mom will hear about this!”

Harriet snorted “I would be scared if I was you, Gabriella! Charlotte Paget is not a woman you want to mess with.  By the way, Alfred, does it bother you if I sleep in the girls’ room? Tatyana would feel better if I was there.”

The blond shrugged. “You hog the covers anyway!”

“Speaking of covers, we should all go lay down, because it has been a tiring day and you can all be assured tomorrow will be the same.”

They all rose from their chairs, and Harriet yawned. Leclerc slowly pushed his chair and walked a bit behind his three colleagues.  

Gabriella quickly entered her room and bid goodnight to her co-workers.  Alfred stopped on his way to his room to check on the boys, who were all asleep (or seemed like they were), while Harriet sighed and went into the girls’ room for the night.

A few minutes later, as Alfred was closing the boys’ door behind him, he saw Vincent was waiting in the corridor.

“Il te manque quelque chose, Vincent?” (Are you missing something, Vincent?) he asked as he walked up to the other man.

Leclerc smiled. “Oui, toi.” (Yes, you.)

Alfred tensed a bit upon hearing his answer (he wasn’t expecting this, honestly) and shook his head. “Sorry Vincent, but that won’t work. I’m flattered really, but as you know, I’m already taken.”

“He doesn’t need to know I’ve been in your room.” Vincent looked him up and down with desire.

“What?” Alfred frowned as he tried to get past the Frenchman.

“Just think about it, just the two of us. I’m sure I can make you forget about him.” Leclerc nudged Alfred against the door and firmly grabbed his right arm. “Je suis certain que tu le veux autant que moi…” (I’m sure you want this as much as me).

Alfred shook his head, stared at Leclerc’s hand on his arm and then looked at him with a hard expression on his face. “Sorry, Vincent, but I’m not like that. I would appreciate it if you could just let go of my arm.”

Slowly, Leclerc seemed to study his options and finally let go of Alfred’s arm.

The blond looked at him one last time, unlocked his door, and went into his room.

It seemed Edward had been right all along: Leclerc wasn’t as nice as he thought he was.

***

After Alfred had gone into his room, Vincent had decided to go back down to the living room.

He couldn’t believe Alfred had refused him.

Vincent was good-looking. Usually, men begged him to be with them. He wasn’t used to it going the other way around.

All of this was because of that lowkey office assistant; he was sure of it.

He would eventually get Paget, one way or another.

Edward Drummond, that idiot, would soon learn that If you mess with Vincent Leclerc, you’ll pay the price.

Suddenly, an idea crept into his mind as he spotted Gabriella’s bag.

It was the bag that contained all the boys’ and Alfred’s phones.

He sneered. This would be perfect.

He knew how he would ruin Drummond’s life.

Alfred would be in his arms in no time; he was now sure of it.

***

When Alfred came back from the field trip, he did not tell Edward any of what had happened with Leclerc. The brunet already hated the Frenchman a lot and Alfred feared his boyfriend, who was prone to do rash things, would be so angry by it all that he would do something at work about it, thus blowing their cover off and revealing their relationship to everyone.

Plus, he felt sufficiently overwhelmed by the prospect of going to Easter dinner with Edward’s mom that he did not need to add any more drama on top of that.

They were already running late as he decided to change his outfit yet again.

His meetings with Edward’s mom had been the first time in his entire life that his legendary Paget charm seemed to be failing, and he did not know what to do to fix this. The situation made him feel anxious and he did not like to feel that way.

The three roommates arrived late to the restaurant and Frances was already seated when they went in.

Her face lit up when she saw her son walk toward her.

“Hi, mom!” Edward bent down and kissed her on both cheeks.

Frances smiled. “Hello, son! Mina, I’m so glad to see you.”  She kissed the little blonde to greet her, as Mina giggled and sat down.

Then the older woman turned her attention on Alfred, who smiled warmly at her. “Hi,” she simply said, coldly, without making any warm gesture toward him.

Alfred cleared his throat, as Drummond smiled contritely at him. He clearly was in for a rough night.

They took some time to look at the menu and ordered their meal before they pursued their conversation.

 “We are all glad to see you, mom.” Edward smiled at everyone and took a sip of the wine the server had just poured in his glass. “Alfred brought you flowers.”

The blond flashed the older woman his trademark irresistible grin as he handed her a nice bouquet.

Mina had been sure it would help soften the dark mood of the older lady, and she smiled as she took a sip of wine.

Frances coughed politely. “I don’t like daisies. They give me urticaria.”

The server chose that exact moment to come and bring everyone the meal they had ordered.

There was an uncomfortable silence, as they began to eat.  Mina placed her hand on Alfred’s thigh under the table to assure him of her support.

She smiled pleasantly. “I’m sorry. I was the one who chose those flowers.”

“No problem, my dear, thank you for that kind gesture,” replied Frances as she adroitly avoided Alfred’s gaze. The latter sighed.

Edward glanced at his boyfriend and cleared his throat. Ask her something nice, his eyes seemed to say.

This is all your fault, Edward Drummond, you are sleeping on the couch tonight, Alfred’s seemed to reply.

The blond persisted nonetheless. “How is the weather in Scotland, Mrs. Drummond?”

“Bad,”replied Frances, cutting their conversation short.

Edward cleared his throat, put his arm on the back of Alfred’s chair, and began to pat his boyfriend’s back.

The older woman quickly turned her attention on Mina, who sat on her right. It was clear the affectionate gesture between his son and his boyfriend was making her feel uncomfortable.      “Mina, I love your earrings; they are lovely, my dear!”

Mina blushed and got her hair out of the way to let the older woman get a better glance at them.

“Thank you, Frances. It was a gift from Alfred. He has such good taste.”

“You mean luck,” replied the older woman softly, as she pushed her empty plate out of the way.

“We have something very important to tell you, Mom!” began Edward, as his mom turned her attention back on him. “We are actually going to buy the house we live in! I’m going to move downstairs with Alfred.”

The two men stared at each other and exchanged a glance so full of love, Frances felt a bit faint and almost dropped her glass on the floor. “I need to go to the restroom,” she said before she quickly got up and left the table.

Mina watched her go and decided she needed more wine to deal with this. She refilled her glass and downed it in one big gulp.

“I think I’ll just get a head start and wait for you at the bus station,” said Alfred before he got up, pushed his chair, grabbed his coat, and left without glancing back at the table once.

Edward sighed and facepalmed as he was wondering if he should go after Alfred or just stay here with his mom. “I think it’s safe to say he’s really upset right now.”

“On a scale of one to ten, it’s safe to say he’s probably at fifteen,” replied Mina as she spotted Mrs. Drummond walking back toward their table.

Edward smiled at his mom, who had stopped at another table to talk with someone, and finished his glass of wine. “What do you think I should do to help him feel better?”

“Well, you should never underestimate the therapeutic effect clothes shopping has on him.”  The tiny blonde checked her watch. “I’ve also learned that getting him a new pair of shoes works miracles,” she added confidently as she smiled at him, got up, and ran to catch up with Alfred.

Chapter Text

With Alfred and Mina gone, Edward was having some second thoughts about how the evening had gone. It was now clear as day: he should have stood up for his boyfriend, just like Mina had done all evening.

In fact, it was ridiculous of him not to have done so in the first place.

He drank another gulp of wine to give himself some more courage, as his mom finally sat back down at their table.

The older woman smiled pleasantly upon seeing her son was now alone with her.

 She did not mind that lovely Wilhelmina being there, but that Alfred was another thing…

 It was obvious that young man was a bad influence on her son.

“I’m sorry to see your friends had to leave so soon, Edward.” It was clear by the tone of her voice she did not feel sorry at all. “Are you sure it is a good idea to buy something as important as a house so quickly with your… friend?”

Edward cleared his throat and rubbed the back of his neck. “He’s not just my friend, Mom-” he paused and stared directly back at her.  “He’s my boyfriend.”

Frances made an annoyed noise with her tongue. “Edward, do you have to use that word? It might just be a phase you are going to grow out of and-”

Edward glared at his mom, silencing her on the spot.  

He then quickly got up, grabbed his coat, and pushed out his chair. “It’s not just a phase. I’m born this way. I just happen to have recently come to terms with it.” He gestured to the server—who was chatting with one of his colleagues—that he wanted to pay and was ready to leave, as Frances made that annoyed noise with her tongue again.

He glared at her. “Alfred is my boyfriend, and I did not appreciate the way you treated him tonight. I should have stood up for him earlier, but I didn’t.”

His mother looked at him pleadingly. “Don’t do anything rash, Edward. I just want you to think about this. You can still change your mind.”

The server came to the table, and Edward quickly paid as Frances began to gather her things.

“You know what, Mom? Next time you see us, there’s a good chance Alfred won’t be my boyfriend anymore…. “

Frances let out a sigh of relief. It seemed her son had finally come to his senses. “I knew it.” She got up and smiled.

The brunet put his coat on and began to walk toward the doors as his mother frowned at him. He had not even kissed her good-bye.

France began to walk at a faster pace to catch up with him. He stopped close to the door, turned around, and looked directly in her eyes. “He’s not going to be my boyfriend anymore, because he’s going to be my fiancé.”

She froze on her way to the door, stunned, as she watched him leave.

***

He still felt a rush of adrenaline in his veins, as he ran to the bus station. He was proud of what he had just done.

And terrified, too.

When he arrived at the station, he saw that Mina and Alfred were deep in conversation with a tall, good-looking guy.

Upon seeing Edward, Mina smiled and turned to greet him. ”Hey, Drums!“

Alfred nodded in his direction, too, but the smile he gave him was a bit forced.

He was still angry about tonight’s events, and he had good reasons of being so. The quicker Edward could tell him what had just happened with his mom, the better.

The tall man, who also had brown hair, held out his hand to shake Edward’s.

“So you are the famous Edward Drummond that Alf and Mina have been talking so much about?”

“Indeed”  Edward smiled and shook the taller man’s hand. “And you are?”

“Brandon. Brandon Templeton.”

That name reminded him of something, but what?

Oh right, he was one of Alfred’s exes. It seemed fate had something against him yet again tonight.

Edward had a sudden vision of his infamous dinner with the Pagets, as he remembered Brandon was the one Charlotte and George had gushed so much about.

He was the boyfriend with the famous asset.

Don’t look there, he thought, as he tried to fix his eyes on Brandon’s face.

“B offered to drive us back home,” Alfred said as Brandon smiled enthusiastically, grabbed him by the shoulders, and showed them to his car, a brand-new Rolls Royce.

Edward gaped as Mina jumped in excitement as she wanted to get into the car as soon as possible.

It was now official, fate ABSOLUTELY had something against him.

***

They were back home in record time because Brandon liked to drive exceedingly fast.

Edward had clenched his jaw during the whole ride.

He had secretly compared himself to Brandon the whole time, and Mina, sensing something was wrong, had glanced at her friend two or three times, but had decided to let the matter be.

She was pleased to see Brandon and had laughed a good part of the way.

Honestly, the more things he heard about Brandon, the more it seemed the latter had everything in life: a ton of money, a good career, a nice body, a loving family with a nice mom and a supportive dad, a charming smile, expensive cars, a big home that was well-furnished and ideally located, and lest he forget about it, since Brandon liked to point it out, a huge asset in his pants.

Everything. He just had EVERYTHING.

Alfred was in a better mood after the drive and his pleasant chat with Brandon.

He seemed to have already forgotten about that horrific supper with Frances, which was a bit of a relief, since Edward was now the one who felt downhearted.

He quickly got into bed while Alfred and Mina bid their farewells to Brandon outside.

He was laying there, looking at the ceiling and thinking about the unfairness of life, when Alfred finally came into their bedroom, closed the door and quickly went past him into the restroom to brush his teeth.

“Alf, why are you dating me, really?”

The blond stared at him from the threshold of the restroom and shrugged. His toothbrush was still in his mouth. “E’cau’e I o’e u!”

Edward raised an eyebrow at him and mentally noted that existential conversations should never occur while one partner was unable to answer properly to the other’s questions.

Alfred went back into the restroom to put away his toothbrush, turned off the light, and finally got next to him under the covers.

The blond got close to him and laid on his right side to stare directly at him. “You know, I should be the one feeling all gloomy tonight, not you.” He poked him in the chest and smiled, but the brunet was not in a mood to laugh.

“Really, Alfred, why are you dating me? You could have anybody. Everyone wants to date you.” He sighed, while Alfred rolled his eyes.

“Well, I think I once met someone who was not interested in dating me, but I might be mixing things up.”

Edward sighed again and kept on staring at the ceiling. “I have no money; my mom hates you, and now she hates me, too. I don’t own a car, I literally own five shirts and three pairs of pants, I-”

“You are absolutely right, Edward; I’m leaving you. Go grab your coat, I’m throwing you out this instant,” exclaimed Alfred before pulling his boyfriend close and snuggling into his chest. “You are not rich, but we manage. Watch out: we are going to buy this house in no time!”

“Hum…,” replied Edward, as he snuck his arm under his boyfriend’s shirt.

“You don’t have a car, but I like to walk together. Driving is overrated anyway.” Alfred shrugged against him, which made him laugh a bit.

He was now starting to feel a little better.

“Now, I’m sure I know what’s bothering you the most.” Alfred rolled his eyes as a smile began to creep onto Edward’s face.

“I’ve already told you, and I know I’m repeating myself, you are well-equipped. And best of all, you know how to use what you’ve got down there, while Brandon doesn’t.”

Alfred gave him a very steamy kiss that left him breathless, before continuing his tirade.

 “As for your look… Sadly, we can’t change anything about it. Luckily, I can be handsome for the both of us.”

Edward snorted. He felt a bit childish for letting Brandon get into his head like this.

Alfred yawned. “Now that you are feeling better, let’s go to sleep. It’s already way past 2 a.m., and we have to help our dear- I’m being polite here- Aunt Buccleuch to pack tomorrow.” He yawned a second time before quickly turning onto his left side. Alfred fell asleep almost instantly as Edward held him closely in his arms.

He was feeling way better. Everything was now clear in his mind.

Never mind Ernst’s and Charles’ ill advice; he needed to propose, and the sooner the better.

***

The next day, Mina’s aunt ordered them around a good part of the afternoon, since she had decided she needed to move to her sister’s place in London the next week.

The older woman was in a bad mood once again and seeing as they would probably need to get more boxes and wrapping tape to finish packing, Alfred quickly volunteered to go buy some more, stating he needed help to bring all the new boxes back.

Mina and Edward had looked at each other, but Edward had been the quickest to answer, jumping first on that golden opportunity to escape.

The look Mina had given him at that precise moment was probably going to haunt him until the end of his life, but it had absolutely been worth it.

 The two lovebirds had taken all the time in the world to buy the stuff they needed before they decided to head back to the flat to rescue Mina.

They were animatedly chatting together as they walked at a fast pace, when Alfred unexpectedly spotted something —or rather someone— that was going to change his life forever….

 “We’ll need to repaint everything, that’s for sure. I mean that flat is literally fifty shades of beige, I wo-EDWARD! DO YOU SEE THAT?”

Alfred stopped walking at once, as he excitedly pointed at a little puppy that was standing in the front window of the town’s pet shop.

The little puppy, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, seemed very excited to see Alfred, too. It began to bark enthusiastically and scratch at the window to catch the blond’s attention.

Edward glanced at his boyfriend first, then at the tiny puppy. “Alfred, no-” he began, but it was already too late.

The brunet sighed as his boyfriend dropped the boxes he was holding and quickly entered the store.

Edward picked up the boxes and followed him inside, resigned.

The cute little puppy was ecstatic and began to bark more loudly as it saw Alfred getting closer to its cage.

“EDWARD, LOOK!” repeated Alfred, completely in awe.

A middle-aged man who did not seem too thrilled by his work nodded at Edward.  “Hello sir, would you like to see her?”

Edward sighed and shook his head. “No, we don’t.”

The employee was not in a mind to listen to him, it seemed, as he walked to the cage anyway.

“You are in luck, gentlemen, we just got her yesterday. She’s three months old and ready to leave the store as soon as you want her to.”

Edward shook his head as the employee delicately took the puppy from her cage and handed her to Alfred, who quickly squeezed her into his loving arms and kissed her head.

The puppy’s fur was tricolour: black, white, and tan. She looked extremely soft and had a pair of cute soft brown eyes.

 “I want her. I need her. I love her already, ”said Alfred joyously, as both he and the puppy looked pleadingly at Edward.

They looked ridiculously cute together.

Edward scratched the back of his neck and sighed. “Alfred, we can’t get a puppy, and that is final....”

***

Mina at 15.35:

The guys have left me to die alone and I need help if I want to keep my sanity. Can you come over, PLEASE? I’M BEGGING YOU!!!!

Nan at 15.42:

I must prep stuff for MY FIANCÉ, but I’ll come over as soon as I can. Xx

***

 

“I thought you said you were supposed to bring back boxes and tape. Not a puppy,” Mina said when the boys arrived back at the flat more than an hour later.

The little blonde was very angry at them for leaving her alone with her aunt for such a long period of time. She looked at them resentfully.

She had managed to finish some more boxes, with Nancy’s help, before her aunt had ordered them to leave, stating it was time for her to watch her tv show and that she needed some peace and quiet.

Alfred had beamed from ear to ear as he returned to the house, Edward and his new little puppy in tow.

The puppy wagged her tail playfully, as she looked around the flat and went to sniff Mina’s feet. “She’s 3 months old,” Alfred said excitedly, as Mina began to pet her.

Nancy glanced at the dog from a distance, as she tried to take a picture of her to send to Charles.

“She’s a real cutie. I thought you were more of a cat person, Drums?”

The brunet shrugged as he sat down and began to prep food for dinner.

Getting a puppy wasn’t in their plan and it had been a bit costly, considering they were still short on money to buy the house, but then again, how was one supposed to say no when Alfred Paget used his infamous puppy-eye look?

The puppy made a cute sound as Alfred and the girls cooed loudly over her.

“What are you going to name her?” asked Nancy, as the puppy began to lick her hand.

Alfred looked at his friends very proudly. “It was a hard choice, really, but I think I’ve finally settled on Emma Alexandra Paget-Drummond.” Nancy and Mina glanced at each other and tried very hard not to laugh, which proved extremely hard. Nancy took a gulp of water to calm herself.

Alfred did not seem to mind one bit and continued to talk. “Her nickname is Princess, though.”

Nancy spat water everywhere, as she couldn’t hold her laughter in anymore. Alfred raised an eyebrow at her, while Mina excused herself, saying she had to go to the restroom NOW.

***

“Hey, I thought it said in that memo I would get to see a gorgeous blond in here?” exclaimed Gabriella, as she pushed the door of the secretary’s office open.

Mina shrugged as she took another bite of her sandwich. “The gorgeous blond is out for lunch, sorry.”

“That was false advertisement. I’m suing,” added the sixth-grade teacher, before she winked at Mina. ”Can you give me the address for next week’s party?”

”Here,” said Mina with a smirk on her face as she handed Gabriella a piece of paper with the party’s address already scribbled on it.

***

Alfred and Edward had decided to head out to the school park to eat together under the sun. Spring was now officially here, and many flowers were in bloom, which was a lovely sight.

Edward was glad to eat with his boyfriend, but was disappointed about the fact that he couldn’t hold him or kiss him while at work.

Alfred was so gorgeous under the sun, with his hair shining like gold. He had to repress a sudden urge to kiss him as he spotted Leclerc in the distance. Seeing the latter reminded him he had not seen the Frenchman speak with Alfred in a while, which was a bit odd.

 “You’re not eating with Leclerc anymore. Did something happen at the field trip that you forgot to tell me about?”

Alfred blinked twice, took another bite of his salad, and shrugged. “Nothing, really. I’m going to take Mina out on Friday, if that’s okay with you? I think she’s in dire need of a night out. I want to spoil her a bit.”

Edward nodded as he took a gulp of his soda.

“Plus, this means you’ll get to spend some alone time with Princess. Lucky you, you’ll be able to enjoy some daddy-daughter bonding time!”

Edward sighed. Spending his Friday night alone with Princess wasn’t what he had in mind.

Chapter Text

The week had gone by swiftly at work, and Alfred had decided to take Mina out on Friday night for a nice evening. The little brunette had carefully chosen a cute dress to wear, painted her nails a lovely shade of lilac, and tried on a new lipstick for the occasion---the type of which had grown rarer since Alfred had begun dating.

The two best friends had decided to share a nice meal at a fancy French place before going to dance at their favorite club, while Drummond was back at home with Princess.

Now, Mina was finishing her dinner as Alfred was checking the dessert menu.

“Should I go with the crème brulée or the Clafoutis?”

Mina shrugged. “Pick one and I‘ll take the other. We can share.”

“Sounds like a plan.”  Alfred smiled at her and gestured to the server that they were ready to order. She rapidly came to their table, wrote their order down, and quickly left to give it to the kitchen. “I can’t believe your aunt is finally gone, Mina!”

“Me neither! It’s just too good to be true!” The young woman let out a sigh of relief. “I can’t believe we managed to get all that money in such a short time.”

Alfred shrugged. “Well, we did make a lot of sacrifices, and I don’t think I’ll be able to eat pasta before I turn 40; but still, I regret nothing.”

“If all goes according to plan, you’ll be able to move downstairs by June!”  exclaimed Mina, as the server already brought their desserts to the table.

Alfred winked at his best friend, raised his glass, and proposed a toast. “To us, adulting successfully and becoming home owners.”

“Cheers!” said Mina, as she raised her glass and drank it in one gulp.

***

While Alfred was gone, Edward had been pacing around the flat, trying to quickly put together the last pieces of the fantastic proposal he had planned. Princess had happily followed him around the flat during a good part of the evening and been rather good with him this time.

She was not fully listening to him yet, but she had only chewed on one of his shoes and peed on the floor just once all evening, which was a nice improvement.

She was a sweet puppy, but she still was a bit jealous of Alfred’s affection towards Edward.

 Drums at 19.15:

Hey George, can you call me back? You’ve not told me if you did what I asked you to do? We are supposed to leave tomorrow.

Gege P. at 20.15:

Oh right! I had forgotten all about it; sorry! I just made the call you asked me to do two weeks ago. It’s not the same place you wanted at first, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Drums at 20.20:

This needs to be perfect George. I’m not sure I should have trusted you with this…

Gege P. at 20.25:

Welllllll, since I’m the one lending you money at a very small interest rate…

***

When Alfred and Mina came back from their night out, it was safe to say they were a bit drunk. Both felt as though the ground wasn’t stable under their feet and climbing up the stairs proved to be quite a challenge.

It was a relief that Aunt Buccleuch had already moved out, because both friends were giggling very loudly as they reminisced about funny things that had happened to them over the years. It was clear the grumpy old lady would have been extremely displeased by their not altogether respectable behaviour.

After three failed attempts, Alfred had finally succeeded in unlocking their door, while Mina, crying with laughter, had collapsed on their kitchen floor with a loud bang.

Princess quickly emerged from the boys’ bedroom to investigate what was going on, and barked joyfully upon recognizing her master.

 “Princess, you are such a good girl. Papa loves you,” Alfred said loudly, as he picked up his puppy into his arms and kissed her on her head.

Mina was still in tears as she continued to laugh and tried to get up. She finally managed miraculously to get to her room without breaking anything, while Alfred and Princess got to theirs.

Luckily, Edward had not been woken up by all the ruckus they had made.

 Alfred installed Princess in her little bed that was located at the foot of his own, and then crawled under the covers still half-clothed since he had almost fallen over on his face when he had tried to get his socks off.

He quickly fell asleep as he curled up against the warm sleeping form of his boyfriend, unaware that he would sleep roughly four hours before Edward would wake him up.

***

After a good five minutes of poking him in the back and shaking him from the shoulders, Edward finally succeeded in waking his boyfriend, who groaned loudly while his face was still buried in the mattress.

“Alfred, get up!”

“I’m dead.”

The brunet snorted. “You are not. You need to get up, because your parents sent their chauffeur to pick us up.”

Alfred finally looked up from the mattress as his brain processed what his boyfriend was saying. His fringe was sticking out at a weird angle and he blinked several times because the light was hurting his eyes-and his brain. “What? Why? My parents aren’t even home for the next two weeks, why are we going there?”

“I’m taking you to Scotland,” said Edward, as he smiled widely.

Alfred scratched his head and frowned. “What, why? We were supposed to paint our living room this weekend.”

“Well, it’s going to have to wait for next week, babe.”  The brunet kissed his boyfriend sweetly on the lips, got up, and quickly went to the kitchen to fix them breakfast.

***

 “Why are we going to Scotland again?” asked Alfred, as both were sitting in the back of the Paget’s main car. Roger, the family chauffeur, had been driving for a couple of hours and they seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.

The blond had slept for most of the trip, to Edward’s relief, because he did not want to spoil his surprise. He had been thinking about this since their meeting with Brandon, and now was not the time to ruin it.

The brunet smiled innocently. “This is for our 6 months anniversary.”

Alfred looked at him suspiciously. “Hmm, but we are closer to our seven-month anniversary than our sixth. After all-” he paused as he checked his phone, and Drummond sighed because he knew damn well his boyfriend was still checking his countdown dating app on a regular basis, “-we have been dating for the last 6 months, 25 days, 7 hours, 36 minutes, and 13 seconds.”

“Right…” Edward avoided his boyfriend’s gaze. He racked his brain and quickly thought about something to use as a diversion. “You know what? The more I think about this, the more I think you were right with our bedroom. Green is a bad choice of color, let’s go with grey…”

Alfred gaped at him “Really? I’m so glad you changed your mind! What do you think of that Granite Grey shade I showed you last week? Or that Basic Grey?”

Their conversation about paint shades had been going on for a while when Roger finally left them in front of a shoddy looking Bed and Breakfast that was located near the town of Muir of Ord, which was close to Glasgow, but still seemed to be in the middle of nowhere.

The gardens around the Bed and Breakfast were lovely, but the inside of the property was grubby and smelled weird (more precisely, of a curious mix of mildew and wet dog).

The old lady at the front desk of the inn was extremely surprised to see her guests had really showed up for once, and enthusiastically walked them to their room as Alfred looked around the place doubtfully and Edward mentally swore he would probably kill George the next time he saw him.

It absolutely wasn’t the type of place he had asked the older Paget son to book for an unforgettable romantic weekend getaway.

Both men thanked the old lady before they closed the door behind them and looked more closely at their room.

It was as bad as the rest of the little inn. There were cobwebs everywhere and a couple of suspicious stains on the bedspread.

The dampness level in the room probably was a health hazard.

It also seemed something that looked like moss was growing on the wall and the carpet on the floor clearly seemed like it had seen better days.

Edward decided he did not even want to venture in the bathroom.

Alfred whistled as he sat on the bed. It was hard and lumpy, and the springs made a cartoonish ‘boooooing’ sound every time he moved an inch. “We are certainly not having sex on this unless you want to catch the Plague or some old weird disease that has not been caught since the last two centuries.”

“And here I thought you were always willing to try new things without any second thoughts...”

They both looked at each other and burst out laughing.  

Needless to say they were out of that place in a heartbeat.

***

 “I’m sorry this trip is not turning out as I had originally planned it,” said Edward, as he sighed and gave his boyfriend’s hand a squeeze.

Alfred flashed him one of his trademark grins. “I always thought sleeping under the stars was romantic. If we end up freezing too much, we can still go back to our room.” he shrugged. “We’ll just need to sleep on the blankets we just bought and remember to burn our clothes before we go back to our flat.”

After leaving (hopefully forever) the disgusting Bed and Breakfast, the pair had decided to look around to find an available room for the night.

Sadly, they had quickly discovered everything was booked for the weekend, all due to a special performance of a local Scottish band, the Beatties.

They were about to call Roger to pick them up, when a local, seeing how lost and desperate they seemed to be, had assured them the weather wasn’t too bad to sleep outside for a night.

He had then proceeded to sell them —at a ridiculous price, really— some blankets his wife had stitched with her own hands.

They had then decided to go for a walk to take in the beautiful Scottish scenery.

As they strolled hand in hand around a stunning and mesmerizing woodland, they had stumbled upon a calm little pond.

Seeing they were alone, Edward had quickly suggested they go for a swim, and had proceeded to undress under the bewildered gaze of his boyfriend.

The water had been extremely cold at first, but as they fooled around in the water, hugged and kissed, the sun had warmed them a bit.

When Alfred’s lips had begun to turn blue, they had gotten out of the water and decided to lay back on the mossy bank, where they kissed and cuddled under the warm sun for a while.

 

As the sun had begun to set, they decided to put their clothes back on.

Alfred had then exclaimed he found those late spring evenings enchanting. His skin was now covered with little freckles that had appeared everywhere as the sun had lightly tanned his skin, and Edward felt a strong urge to just kiss them until the end of time.

 “We should maybe go back to grab a bite and figure out where we are going to sleep tonight, don’t you think?” said the blond, as he turned on his right side and stared at his boyfriend, light blue eyes looking intently into dark brown ones.

“Before we leave, I have a poem for you-” began the brunet, as Alfred smiled and stared attentively at him.

Edward cleared his throat as his heart began to beat faster.

“If I could have just one wish,

I would wish to wake up

Everyday to the sound of your breath on my neck,

the warmth of your lips on my cheek,

the touch of your fingers on my skin,

and the feel of your heart beating with mine.”

His heart was now beating strongly against his ribcage as he got up, pulled out the small jewelry box that was hidden in one of his pockets, and got down on one knee. Alfred sat down and gaped incredulously at him.

“Alfred, will you marry me?”

***

Mina was reading a fascinating book about a nurse who had spent her entire life working in one of East London’s poorest boroughs as a midwife, when her phone began to ring.

She was enthralled by her book and ignored it at first.

After the third call, though, she had no choice but to pick it up. Princess, who was sleeping at the foot of her bed, yawned and looked at her questioningly.

She was surprised to see it was Alfred trying to video-call her.

She frowned as she clicked on her skype app and allowed the video-call. “Is there something wrong?” she asked at once.

“Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiina!” Alfred said excitedly.

He had such a big smile on his face, the little brunette was pretty sure his cheeks would get sore from it.

She sighed as Princess barked excitedly upon recognizing her Papa’s voice. “What? It’s almost 2 in the morning. What’s going on?”

“Miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiina!” repeated Alfred more enthusiastically as he changed the angle of his camera, to allow her to see both his face and his hands on her screen.

Mina sighed more loudly. She loved her best friend, but hated it when he acted this way. “What? You are holding your phone wrong.” She groaned as Alfred moved his phone again. “Alf, all I can see now is your hand and I-WHAAAAAAT? IS THAT REALLY WHAT I THINK IT IS?” The secretary had finally spotted the new gold ring that was glinting on Alfred’s fourth finger.

“IT IS!!!! I’m engaged! YOU BETTER GET READY, WILHELMINA: I’M GETTING MARRIED, AND YOU ARE GOING TO BE MY BEST WOMAN!“  exclaimed Alfred, as Mina squealed loudly with joy.

***

 “She’s thrilled, and so am I. I can’t believe this is happening,” said Alfred, as he snuggled closer against his boyfriend’s chest and looked at the new ring that was resting on his fourth finger.

His heartbeat was just getting back to normal now. He had felt so much joy when Edward popped him the question that he had thought his heart was about to burst.

He had shakily said “yes,” and had even cried a couple of tears of joy as his boyfriend slid the gold ring on his left hand.

Edward, feeling relief wash over him, had grinned widely as Alfred had pulled him close and began to kiss him languorously.

A couple of hours had then passed before a proper conversation occurred between the two.

Alfred had called Mina, and here they were now, tightly wrapped in the blankets they had bought earlier.

The night was cold and even a bit freezing, but the burning love they felt for each other was enough to keep them warm.

Edward kissed his boyfriend’s head as he stared at the endless stars that were illuminating the beautiful night sky. “I’m relieved you said yes, even though this proposal was a bit rubbish, honestly.”

“Quote me some poetry and I’ll agree to anything,” said the blond as he slowly drifted to sleep, lulled by Edward’s breathing.

 

***

The boys had come back very late from their little romantic getaway in Scotland, both smiling giddily, high on love and, if it was even possible, more engrossed by each other, which quickly got on Mina’s nerves.

It was sickening, really.

Their love seemed to have reached such a high level, she was fearing for their sanity as well as hers.

Alfred had showed everyone at work his engagement ring (and updated his Facebook status from In a relationship to Engaged) and it had quickly turned into the newest hot topic at school.

Well, that and the infamous staff party that was scheduled for Friday night.

Work was hard, sick students were everywhere, the report cards were coming up fast, parents were getting angrier by the day, and the nice weather was very tempting as everyone wished they could just leave and bask under the sun until September.

Nonetheless, the week had come to an end, and the promised party was finally here.

Alcohol was flowing freely, and many teachers were already drunk barely two hours after the party had officially started.

Mr. Penge, the janitor, was flirting outrageously with Ms. Lehzen, who oversaw the school’s daycare service. Harriet, dressed as a princess, was dancing with Vincent Leclerc and seemed to enjoy herself, while Ernst was eyeing her in the distance with desire.

Nancy, helped by Gabriella, had just finished setting up a projector at the front of the room and had begun to display funny pictures of the staff that had been taken over the school year.

Everyone was staring at them distractedly; smiling and laughing at some funnier pictures.

So far, the costume idea had been a complete success. Mina, who had decided to dress herself in beige from head to toe with strips of papers glued on various spots of her outfit, had to explain a couple of times she was supposed to be wallpaper.

She smiled as she drifted over to the music teacher’s location.

“Hey Ernst, what are you supposed to be with that ugly unbuttoned shirt and all that disgusting fake chest hair?”

Ernst snorted and winked at the tiny blonde. “I’m a womanizer. And a very virile and irresistible one at that.”

“I thought the theme was secret personality or something like that?” she replied as she waved at Drummond, who was walking toward them with a glass of wine in his hand.

 The brunet was wearing a gingham shirt with black suspenders and a bowtie. His hair was awkwardly combed on the side.

Ernst pulled a weird face at him. “That’s one big ugly pair of spectacles you got there, Drums. What are you supposed to be? A scientist?”

“I’m a nerd,” the brunet replied simply as he pushed the massive glasses-which had tape on them- further up on his nose.

“That costume is not very flattering. Those glasses are absolutely atrocious.” said Ernst jokingly, while Edward smirked at him.

“On the contrary, Ernst.  Seems they are very much to someone’s taste, and I’ve not had a proper night’s sleep since I’ve gotten them.…” He winked.

“Why are you not sleeping, Drummond?” asked Gabriella, as she joined their conversation.

The office assistant blushed. “Ehm… Insomnia. I’m struggling with insomnia,” he replied, before he excused himself and went to talk with Nancy on the other side of the room.

Alfred, who had been pleasantly talking with his boss, looked in Mina’s direction as Gabriella gestured to him to come over.

A funny picture of Cleary and Nancy acting as though they were swooning was shown on the screen and a lot of people started to laugh.

Gabriella snorted as Alfred walked up to her. “Wicked angel, right?”

“You know I am!” said the blond as he looked at his colleague suggestively. He was wearing a cute white shirt with his customary skinny jeans and his red converse shoes. He had a makeshift halo clipped to his hair and a devil’s tail.

“Why don’t you show me that ring of yours?” Alfred happily complied as Gabriella grabbed his hand to look at the ring more closely. “Too bad your fiancé couldn’t come tonight. I would have loved to see him.”

“He’s a busy man.” Alfred pouted and shrugged as he looked vaguely at Drummond who winked at him in the distance. He quickly avoided his boyfriend’s gaze and drank a gulp of his champagne to keep his countenance because seeing his boyfriend wearing those glasses was definitively making him feel weak in the knees.

“What does he look like, Mina? Is he good looking? ” asked Gabriella, as some of their colleagues began to mutter in the background.

A picture of Edward holding Alfred by the waist was being projected on the screen and it seemed some people were beginning to put two and two together.

How come that photo was in there? It was curious, because Alfred was pretty sure he had never been held by Edward like that while they were at work….

Who had taken that picture, anyway?

Realisation suddenly dawned on the secretary as another photo of him and his lover, this time showing them in a tight embrace and staring at each other as if they were alone in the world, was shown on the screen.

It seemed someone had somehow scrolled through the contents of his phone and decided to out their relationship to everyone.

“Thank god I’ve not kept our sex vids on my phone,” Alfred muttered under his breath, as Mina raised an eyebrow at him.

Leclerc was smirking in the background, as Harriet put her hand over her mouth.

Another picture appeared on the screen, this time showing Alfred pulling Edward down by his scarf and kissing him senseless.

At this point, Cleary, dressed as a paparazzi gasped loudly. “O-M-G! Forget about Lefred! I’m shipping Drumfred so hard now!”

Peel gaped at the screen as he emerged from the restroom, and silence fell over the room.

Chapter Text

 “I’m shocked! I can’t believe what I just saw. You both know very well, there was supposed to be no dating among staff members.” Peel shook his head in disbelief. “How long has this been going on?”

Alfred opened his mouth to answer, but Edward cut him short. “It won’t please you, Mr. Peel, but we began dating a mere week after my arrival at Worthingtons.”

As soon as Mr. Peel had seen the picture on the screen of the two of them kissing, he had quickly asked both men to follow him out of the room while everyone was whispering, staring at them, and already gossiping.

The three were now in a small conference room that was located close to the entrance of the Four Corner hotel.

Hotel staff were looking at them every time they walked by the window of the room, which was a bit unnerving.

Peel made an annoyed noise with his tongue. “I see. And what about your fiancée, Drummond? I hope you were at least honest with her.”

Edward stared at his boss intently.  “Alfred is my fiancé now, Mr. Peel. I broke up with Florence almost 2 years ago.”

Peel sighed with relief. “You could maybe break your engagement? I know how career and work are a value dear to your heart, Drummond, my lad. Surely if you two ended this relationship, I could still lie and cover this…indiscretion.”

Both men winced at the word and stared blankly at their boss. “I’m sorry, Mr. Peel, but I have no interest in ending this relationship. We are getting married in roughly 7 months and as a matter of fact, I want to resign.”

Peel blinked twice and was at a loss for words. “You want to resign?”

“Absolutely. I’ll sign the papers as soon as you’ll want me to,” replied the brunet confidently. “Is it possible for Alfred to keep his job, seeing we won’t be working together anymore?”

The headmaster did that annoyed noise with his tongue once again. “I should not do this. Rules are rules.” He sighed. “Seeing as Mr. Paget has been working with us for the last 6 years and is dearly beloved by everyone, I don’t think there is another choice in that matter but to keep him with us.  It’ll cost me to see you go, Drummond.”

Alfred let out the breath he was unconsciously holding, while Edward put a comforting arm around his shoulders.

“I guess the matter is settled, then,” said Peel before he shook each man’s hand and walked to the door.

As he was turning the handle, a distressed looking Mina pushed into the room. “Please don’t fire them, Mr. Peel. If Alfred leaves, I’ll quit, too. ”  

Peel raised an eyebrow at her, while Alfred got to her and squeezed her shoulder. “You are a pearl amongst women, Mina.” said the blond as she looked at him questioningly. He was not in tears, which was a good sign. “Luckily, you don’t need to quit your job, because I really don’t know how we would have managed to pay for that house with no salary between the three of us.”

***

Our favorite couple had decided to leave the soirée after their meeting with Peel.

After all, it was completely understandable that they did not feel like partying anymore.

Without a doubt, their secret relationship and how it had been outed would be the next hot topic at work.

Roughly one hour after Edward had decided to resign, the two were laying in bed, cuddling and reassessing the events of the evening.

“What a night! I’m sorry you lost your job all because of me. The worse part is this is not the best timing…” Alfred looked up at his boyfriend. “We could maybe postpone our wedding. It’s not as if a date has been officially set.”

Edward raised an eyebrow and pulled him closer.

“Not happening. I want to start the new year with you as my husband, and no one will change that.” They kissed and smiled at each other.

Princess made a little whine in her sleep and Alfred looked at her at once to see if she was alright. Seeing his puppy was just dreaming, he relaxed and put his head back down on Edward’s chest.

“You know what? The more I think about it, the more I think this is a good thing I lost my job…”

Alfred frowned at his boyfriend. “Why?”

”It was way too difficult to focus on my work with you sitting merely meters away from my desk. After all, who would prefer to stare at an Excel spreadsheet when they have the opportunity to stare at your gorgeous profile instead?” Alfred snorted, as Edward rolled on top of him to resume their kissing session.

***

A good Saturday was usually a Saturday that began with a steamy make-out session- or so it was in Edward’s book.

Alfred was still peacefully sleeping when the brunet decided to get Princess out of the room.

The puppy was beginning to get used to this, but she nonetheless glanced indignantly at Edward as he closed the door behind her. He also decided to put his false glasses back on before he got back under the covers and began to kiss his boyfriend as the latter began to stir in a very seductive manner.

“Have I told you those glasses are even a better aphrodisiac than oysters and champagne?” the blond said sleepily as he turned around to look at him.

 “Just 10 or 100 times since last week,” Edward smirked. “I can quote you poetry, too, if you need a better incentive.”

It seemed poetry was not, in fact, needed, and things got steamy in record time; which might explain why our two lovebirds were unaware of the commotion going on outside their room.

Alfred, who was now definitely awake and already completely naked, was straddling his boyfriend, when someone —who for once wasn’t Mina— unexpectedly burst into the room without knocking first, which seemed to be the custom in this flat.

“Stop what you are doing right now, boys! Last time I checked, decent couples waited until after the wedding to do the deed,” exclaimed George Paget. He winked exaggeratedly as Alfred rolled his eyes and Drummond cleared his throat and checked that the blankets were decently covering him. He was beginning to be a pro at this, which was both good and bad news. “Mama and Papa are in the kitchen, by the way! Should I tell them to come in? “

Alfred gave his big brother an annoyed look before he got back down from his position (with all the dignity he could muster, which wasn’t much in this particular situation) and sat back down on the bed, under the covers. He then looked straight at his older brother. “Have I already told you how much I hate you, George?”

“Many times,” said George, as he smiled sweetly and pulled up a chair to sit down in (which only irked his baby brother more). “By the way, I still think this tattoo is hilarious, but I’m not so sure about that hickey on your hip.”

Alfred groaned and threw a pillow at his brother’s head, which only encouraged the latter to continue his teasing.

“From what I just saw down there, Drums, Brandon Templeton’s got almost nothing on you. Size definitely matters to you, Plumpy,” added George as he burst out laughing. The older Paget quickly got up from his chair and rushed to leave the room, as an angry Alfred was getting up to kick him out. The blond slammed the door behind his brother, while Edward just gaped and turned even more red in the face.

***

Five minutes later, Alfred was out of his bedroom with Edward in tow. The two had quickly gotten dressed and had decided to postpone their interrupted make-out session to greet the Pagets.

As soon as Alfred was out of his room, Princess quickly ran to him. He bent down to pick her up.

Charlotte, Henry, Mina, George, William, and Richard were all sitting in the small living room.

Richard was playing on his phone, as usual, while William was reading a thick and boring looking book. George was drinking a glass of wine, even though it was barely 9 in the morning and Mina, still wearing her pink pajamas, was showing some pictures on her phone to Henry who looked very interested by it all.

Charlotte’s face broke into a grin as soon as she saw her youngest son, who quickly ran up and jumped next to her on the couch.

“Maaaamaaaaaa!” exclaimed the youngest Paget as he showed her his engagement ring. “Look how pretty it is. ”

Charlotte whistled admiringly as she looked more closely at the ring. “You’ve got really good taste, Dumdum, that is for sure. ”  She brushed a tear out of the corner of her eye. “I can’t believe my little baby is getting married.”

Henry got up from the couch to shake Drummond’s hand and slapped him on the shoulder at the same time. “Congratulations. I’m glad to be getting a new son.”  Edward smiled warmly at the older man, while Henry pointed a finger at him. “I must admit I was a bit cross at first. You have not asked me my blessing to marry my son!”

Edward scratched the back of his head with embarrassment. “Oh, I’m sorry, I did not-”

Henry erupted into laughter. “It’s alright son! I’m just kidding.”

“Henry, stop messing with your son-in-law! I want to know everything about that proposal, sweetie,” gushed Charlotte as she hugged her youngest.

William turned the page of his book, while Richard rolled his eyes.

”Is it true the food looked like it was pre-chewed and tasted like slag?” asked George at once as Alfred frowned at him. “I hate it when folks exaggerate their reviews online.”

Edward sighed, while Henry and Charlotte looked at each other. “Are you telling me you booked that disgusting venue on purpose?”

“I absolutely did.” George shrugged. “Alfred said yes anyway, that’s the important part. I just tried to simplify things for you Drums. I got a refund, so you don’t need to give me my money back.” Princess barked at him as he made a kissy face.

Edward groaned and reddened. “George! It was supposed to be a secret between me and you.”

“George can’t keep a secret. “ Chimed in William as he pushed his glasses farther up his nose and continued to read his book.

Charlotte gently slapped her oldest behind the head.

Alfred sighed with relief. “At least we don’t need to give you money. We are going to be a bit short for the next weeks.”

Henry frowned as Mina got up to make some tea. “How come, son?”

“Edward lost his job,” said Alfred before he explained to his family what had happened last night at the party.

Everyone listened, while Mina handed each a steaming cup of tea. She then sat next to Alfred on the couch, and Princess jumped on her knees.

“Why would that guy hold such a grudge?” George raised an eyebrow at his little brother. “I mean he’s French and all of that, but still; that’s not a reason to steal private pictures and to show them to everyone.”

Alfred cleared his throat and avoided Edward’s gaze. “He was pretty insistent on our school trip and I might have said no to his advances.”

Charlotte frowned at his son while Mina refilled Henry’s cup.  “What do you mean by insistent?”  

Richard, still busy on his phone, did not look up but muttered dramaaaaa under his breath.

“Ehm…,” began Alfred, as Charlotte looked at him with concern and Edward clenched his jaw.

“Insistent as in ‘let’s be more than friends, but I only want to hold your hand’ or in ‘I’d like to bone you, you sexy little thing’?” asked George, who was beginning to get angry at that Leclerc, too.

Mina quickly took a gulp of her tea, since she did not want anyone to know Alfred had told her all about that incident.

Alfred smiled pleadingly at his boyfriend: Please, don’t be mad at me.

Edward stared back: Why did you not tell me?

“Seeing those intense stares you are sharing, boys, I bet it was the second one,” said Henry as all the other Pagets groaned angrily.

Since Alfred was the baby of the family, everyone felt a strong urge to protect him.

 “Well he can’t treat you that way, Plumpy. Same goes for Drums,” said George with determination, as Richard nodded.  “We need to make that Leclerc pay for what he did.  Behold, common folks, George the magnificent has come up with an amazing plan. I’ll need everyone’s help to pull this one off, though.…”

“Will I need to take my ring off?” whined Alfred as George told everyone the details of his cunning plan.

***

Alfred P.  at 10.55:

Vincent, I dumped Drummond. I changed my mind and I would love for us to go on a date.

That is if you still want to, of course…

Vincent L. at 11.00:

Is it really over? Are you free tonight?

Alfred P. at 11.03:

Since I’m very single now, I am…

Vincent L. at 11.05:

I don’t know if I’m still interested. Will you sleep over?

Alfred P. at 11.10:

I will come over afterwards, but I hope there will be no sleeping ; )

Vincent L. at 11.15:

I don’t think this will be a problem, I can absolutely stay up all night…

I’ll pick you up at 19h00.

Alfred P. at 11h16:

Can’t wait!

***

Gege P. at 11.00:

Sept, if you pick up any signal from where you are, call me. If you don’t, I might go to jail!

***

Drums at 11.06:

Ernst, did you say you once dated a police officer?

Ernst at 11.07:

More than one! Why?

Drums at 11h.07:

I’m calling you right now to tell you all the details…

***

Alf at 11h.00:

Nan, call me ASAP, darling! We have important matters to discuss. Xx

We need the help of your future Hubby too, if you can get him to call me subito!

Chapter Text

At 6.30 pm, Alfred quickly left his flat and waited for Leclerc to come and pick him up as they had agreed earlier that day.

He tried to look as nonchalant as possible as he sat on the front porch of his house.

If on the outside he looked cool and composed, on the inside he was screaming. His hands were clammy, which was very unusual for him, and everything was getting on his nerves.

He even looked crossly at a bird that was chirping too loudly for his taste… Needless to say, it wasn’t very effective, and the bird continued to chirp to his heart’s content.

At 7.15 pm, Leclerc had still not come to pick him up and he was beginning to have serious doubts about George’s plan.  He was about to go back inside when he looked up just in time to see Mina smile and give him a thumb up from one of their flat’s windows, which reassured him a bit.

Finally, at 7.30 pm, a loud rumbling noise could be heard coming from far away, and sure enough, a couple of minutes later Leclerc stopped his motorcycle in front of the house.

He was just taking his helmet off when Alfred decided to get up and walk over to him.

“I thought you wouldn’t come,” the blond said coolly, as he raised an eyebrow at the Frenchman.

“Pardonne-moi mon beau, mais tu m’as fait patienter bien assez longtemps toi-même.  (I’m sorry, pretty boy, but you kept me waiting long enough yourself.)  The faster you hop on this bike, the faster we can get to the nice stuff.”  He looked suggestively at Alfred as the latter flashed him a seductive smile and put on the helmet Leclerc was handing him.

***

“Alf just got on the back of Leclerc’s motorcycle,” said Mina, as she closed the curtains and sat back down on the couch next to Richard, who was setting up Alfred’s computer on the coffee table. “I’m texting Charlie.”

“Hmm.” Replied Richard as Mina sent her text.

She scratched her nose. “Do you want me to open your soda, or would you prefer something else to drink?” Richard seemed focused on what he was doing and did not reply to her question. She cleared her throat to get his attention. “Do you want me to log you in? I know his sec- Guess you knew his password, too.”

Richard made an annoyed noise with his tongue. ”Why am I not surprised to see what his wallpaper is…?” He groaned as Mina rolled her eyes. “It surely took him an eternity to do that ridiculous collage of his boyfriend. I can’t believe no one busted them at work before yesterday.”

Mina shrugged. “Charlie texted back to say they’re waiting for them at the location.” She looked at the screen and frowned upon seeing the obscure web pages Richard had just opened.  “What are you going to do exactly, Rick?”  

He opened his Soda before he glanced at her sideways. “We are going to do a background check on that Leclerc. I’m sure I’ll be able to find stuff against him.”

Mina began to fidget with her bracelets, as she started to feel more nervous by the minute. “Sounds great, but I really don’t know how we are going to manage that from here. Isn’t this information supposed to be locked down? “

‟I have no choice but to blow my cover for this...,” he sighed. “I’m not really unemployed and doing nothing except playing Pokemon Go on my phone all day.”

Mina raised an eyebrow at him. She was a bit puzzled by his affirmation. “What do you mean?”

“I’m a spy for MI6. Finding stuff about people is what I do everyday.”

“Oh,” replied Mina with surprise as Richard began to type more rapidly on his keyboard.

***

“Je n’arrive pas à croire que nous avons dû nous stationner aussi loin!  (I can’t believe how far from this place we actually had to park). How come there are so many cars parked in front of Zat restaurant when the place is almost empty?” said Leclerc, as a young waitress greeted them and showed them to their seats.

It was true Ciro’s was usually a very busy place, but that wasn’t the case tonight. The only other customers present in the room were an elderly couple who were sitting at the back of the restaurant and two friends— a blond girl and a dark-haired young man— who were talking animatedly in a mix of French and English and were sitting in front of one of the restaurant’s windows.

Alfred smiled as he sat down across from Leclerc. “Me neither, but I’ve always loved to walk.”

Vincent scratched his chin. “The weird thing is that all of those cars seemed to have an Italian flag sticker on their trunk…”

Alfred shrugged innocently. He knew fairly well all those cars belonged to the Francatellis. He had been the one who asked them to park there in the first place. “You know how Italians are. Maybe they’re all here for a wedding or a football game.”  He flashed Leclerc a lovely smile before he picked up the menu to peruse it and put an end to that dangerous conversation.

***

“Good evening!  Where would you like to be seated?”

“We want to sit close to those two young men,” said Charlotte Paget, as she looked distractedly around the room. She was wearing her sunglasses inside and so was her husband.

The server thought the couple looked a bit odd but did as she was told anyway.

She showed the Pagets to their table, and the couple sat down. From where they were seated, Leclerc had his back turned to them, which was a good thing.

Henry cleared his throat to get his son’s attention. Alfred spotted them at once.  He inconspicuously acknowledged he had seen them with a small tilt of his head before he resumed his flirting with the Frenchman.

“I feel as though I am playing a part in a spy movie,” Charlotte said excitedly, as she winked at her husband over the top of her sunglasses.

“In a way, we are, honey,” Henry replied sweetly before he groaned loudly. “So that’s Leclerc, eh? I don’t like that man one bit. I still think we should have broken his nose or something. It would have been easier. Just the thought of him trying to seduce my son is-”

Charlotte cut him short, as she put a reassuring hand on her husband’s arm. “Calm down, Henry. Think about your blood pressure.”

“Well, you don’t see what I’m seeing now, Charlotte. That dirtbag is touching the inside of our youngest’s legs with his foot.”

“I’ll kill him,” exclaimed Charlotte, getting up at once.

Henry looked around and saw the elderly couple looking at them oddly, as he pulled his wife back down to her chair. He smiled at them politely and muttered between his teeth. “Easy now, Charlotte, or else we will get busted…”

***

George Paget whistled admiringly. “Your friend Francatelli really has a big family. I think there are at least 16 cars parked here.”

“He apologized on the phone to Alfred, because he said only a small part of his family could show up tonight,” Edward said, as William glanced at them both.

The three had just walked past Ciro’s and were now looking for Leclerc’s motorcycle.

 A good 10 minutes later, Edward was adamant they had found the right one.

“Are you sure this is the right bike, Drums?” asked William as George spat on the pavement.

“Yes, it’s that one. I remember vividly how Alfred looked on the back of this thing.”

“Now is not the time to talk about your fantasies, Drummond…” George said as William snorted and Edward blushed. “I’m going to move that beast to the middle of the street. Did Ernst tell you when his policewoman would show up?”

“He’s supposed to meet her at 8.00 pm, so it’ll probably be around that time.”

George moved the motorcycle into the street and returned to the sidewalk with Edward and William.

“Might be her right there,” exclaimed William, as he pushed his glasses farther up his nose and pointed at a good-looking woman in uniform who was walking towards them.

She spotted the motorcycle at once and looked at the three of them suspiciously. “Does this bike belong to any of you?”

The three of them shook their heads in unison.

She sighed as she looked at her watch and took her ticket pad out of her pocket.

She began to file one but stopped what she was doing in mid-movement as she glared at them. “You guys look suspicious. What are you doing here?”

“Hanging out,” George replied quickly, as Edward nodded and William flashed her the trademark Paget smile.

“Well, go and hang out somewhere else,” she added before she resumed what she was doing.

The three conspirators looked at each other and were about to leave when they spotted Ernst walking towards them.

The music teacher waved at them.

“Hey, gents! Oh, Livia! I’m happy to see you.” The seducer flashed the officer a nice smile before he pulled her close and kissed her on both cheeks. “I see you are still the expert at giving tickets.”

“It’s an easy thing to do when folks park like idiots around these parts,” she replied, as the four men nodded.

***

Back at the flat, Richard was drinking his second can of soda as Mina looked more and more incredulously at what he was showing her on the screen.  “That’s what I thought!” he exclaimed loudly, as he pointed to something that was written in tiny characters. “He’s missing important documents to prove his teaching licence is in order. He probably used false documents to get hired by Peel.”

“Are you sure of this?”

Richard grinned at her like a madman. “I’ll send that —anonymously, as you’ve guessed— to Mr. Peel.”

Mina felt her phone buzz in her pocket and pulled it out to see who had texted her.

She cursed upon reading the message.

“Your mom says Leclerc tried to get his hands on Alf and he’s having some difficulty pushing him off.  We all need to hurry before he decides to skip dessert and tries to drag him back to his flat.”

Richard cursed, too, and resumed his typing at once. “Now on to his criminal records….”

***

George whistled admiringly for a second time as he read the details of the ticket that was now stuck on the window of Leclerc’s bike. “That Livia did not fool around! Loading zone: £51, No Saturday parking: £100, Expired meter: £48, and No motorcycle parking: £50.”

William laughed joyfully, as Edward looked at his watch. It had been almost an hour since Alfred had entered the restaurant with Leclerc, and they still had things to do before they could call it a night. He was beginning to think the plan was a bad idea.

“William, can you check around and see if there’s anyone looking?” said George, as he grabbed the handles of the motorbike. “Drums, if you could just unclench your jaw and maybe chill a bit, it would help.”

William closed his book and looked carefully to their right, as Edward turned around and looked to their left. “No one’s watching on my side.”

“Coast is clear here, too.”

“Here. I. go.” George exclaimed triumphantly, as the motor of the motorcycle began to roar loudly.

Edward looked at George with bewilderment. “How did you manage to do that without the keys?”

George smirked as William reopened his book. “I’m a professional, Drums.”

***

“Someone filed a sexual harassment complaint against him in 2015. Because of delays in the way the case was handled, it was all closed down without any judgement made.” Richard was on his fourth soda now and Mina was getting worried about the level of sugar the latter had in his bloodstream. “I’m sending this to Peel, too.”

The small blonde looked at her phone as it buzzed once again. “George texted to say they are now in the park with Leclerc’s bike.”

“Hmm…,” Richard replied without glancing at her. “I just wrote down the address of all the places he used to live since he’s born. Might be useful at some point.”

“Right.” She was having some doubts about this and was about to argue with him, when her phone began to ring. Surprised by who the caller was, she picked it up at once and put the speakerphone on so Richard could hear the conversation.

“Hello, Mina!”

“Hey, Septimus.”  She blushed and tried to fix her hair, even though her camera wasn’t on.

“Is George already in jail? I had to travel almost 40 miles to catch some Wi-Fi, but I’m glad I did because I can finally hear your lovely voice.”

Richard rolled his eyes. “Hey, Sept, George is going to burst the tires of a motorcycle. Can you back us up if things go wrong? “

There was silence on the line. Mina wondered if it was because of the bad signal or because Septimus wasn’t pleased by this info. “Why?”

Richard shrugged as he wrote other things about Leclerc on his Excel spreadsheet. “The dude pulled an unwanted move on Alf.”

“He should scratch his paint too,” replied Septimus at once, as Mina nodded.

 “Makes perfect sense. It’s what I think we should do, too, but Drums doesn’t want us to....”

***

 “This is the perfect spot to hide this thing,” said William as he turned the page of his book. “The coast is still clear by the way, George.”

“This is so sad for our poor Leclerc… It looks like his bike has just run out of gas,” said George as he grinned wildly. “Do you want to be the one to pierce his tires, Drums? I can show you where to do it. It’ll be impossible for anyone to know we did it; it’ll look accidental.”

Edward glanced at William and then at George. “I don’t want to do it.”

George patted the tall brunet on the shoulder before he bent down. Without any further ceremony, he busted both tires of the motorbike. “You are a good boy, Drums.”

William handed his book to Edward before he pulled a small bottle out of his pocket. “I’ll wipe our fingerprints and we’ll be done here.”

He quickly started to wipe the handles of the motorcycle with a very thick and stinky greenish substance as George got up and brushed the dirt off the knees of his trousers.

“I used the saliva of a Balaenoptera Acutorostrata and of an Achatina Fulica to prep this.  I could have used a Demospongiae, but you know, we can’t always do what we want in life.” William snorted as George and Edward glanced at each other with confusion.

“Remind me to never get on your bad side, guys,” said Edward, as the three left the crime scene to head back to Ciro’s.

***

 “He’s grabbing his arm, Henry! If he forces my baby to follow him against his will, I swear I’ll tear him to pieces,” said Charlotte, as she looked intently at her husband.

“There will be no need for that, my dear. William just came in.” Henry grinned at his wife while Charlotte looked as discreetly as possible at her son.

Sure enough, she saw at once her William was sitting close to the restaurant’s entrance with his favorite book already open on his lap.

Henry winked at his wife. “Are you ready for our theatrical exit?”

He slowly got up and staggered at once, as Charlotte, looking panic-stricken, let out a loud scream.  “HELP ME, MY HUSBAND IS NOT FEELING WELL!”

The six other customers in the restaurant looked at the couple as the waitress quickly came over to them.

“Do you want me to call an ambulance?” she asked at once, as Charlotte waved her off.

“No, it won’t be necessary. He probably drank too much….”

The waitress frowned at her as Henry staggered once more. “He only had half a glass of champagne.”

“It runs in the family. We can barely hold our alcohol.” The Paget matriarch shrugged and looked intently at her youngest. “That man over there will help me.”

“Me?” said Leclerc as he looked at the couple —who looked oddly familiar to him—with disgust.

Charlotte groaned and rolled her eyes. “No, not you! That blond man sitting across from you.”

Before Leclerc could protest, Alfred got up and helped his dad out of the restaurant, as the elderly couple shook their heads with disapproval and resumed their dinner.

Finally, after what had felt like an eternity, Alfred was out of the restaurant.  His dad and his mom quickly hugged him as his brother George gave him a thumb up.  Edward was outside, too, anxiously waiting for him to get out as he looked at his phone.

Alfred cleared his throat and his boyfriend looked up at him at once.

As soon as their eyes met, the blond felt all the worries of the evening disappear as his boyfriend quickly appeared at his side, grabbed him firmly by the waist, locked his lips against his and literally swept him off his feet. His hands instinctively reached up and curled against his boyfriend’s neck as Edward deepened their kiss.

***

Leclerc groaned and was wondering what was taking Alfred so long as he scrolled angrily on his phone.

Surely, helping a drunkard wasn’t supposed to take more than 15 minutes, right?

Damn, did you see that, Andy?!” the small blond woman exclaimed loudly while looking out the restaurant’s window.

“O-M-G, it’s like that picture of the V-Day kiss in Times Square, except with more tongue and gayer,” agreed the brown-haired young man sitting with her.

The Frenchman looked up at once and cursed under his breath as he recognized who the kissing couple was.

Without any doubt, it was Alfred with that damn Drummond.

He quickly got up, feeling anger rise in his body.

As he walked furiously toward the door, he tripped on something and fell face first on the floor of the restaurant.

“I’m so sorry, sir, I did not see you walking up here. I was too enthralled by my book,” said a blond, bespectacled young man as he pushed his glasses farther up his nose.

Leclerc groaned at the young man —who also looked extremely familiar— and pushed his way past him.

As he got outside, both Drummond and Alfred had disappeared.

He cursed as he decided to get on his motorcycle.

Surely, those two couldn’t have gotten too far.

***

He found his motorcycle almost two hours later. It was hidden in the park, and both tires were flat. To make matters even worse, a very costly ticket was stuck to its window.

After spending two hours with the police, it was determined no one had seen anything suspicious that evening, and after verification there were no fingerprints on the bike.

A police officer even insinuated he had done it himself just to claim money from his insurance company….

He punched a hole in his wall out of anger before he crawled back under his covers, alone.

 

The next morning, as he got up, he saw he had received an e-mail from his boss and that he needed to meet him first thing in the morning.

He took a cab to get to work and quickly went to Peel’s office.

To say his headmaster was angry at him was an understatement….

His boss knew all about the false documents he had provided for his teaching licence and about that sexual harassment complaint that had been filed against him three years ago.

Peel had given him no other choice. He had to resign, or else he would turn him in to the authorities.

 

As he left the headmaster’s office, he came upon Alfred and Drummond, who were kissing in the middle of the school’s entrance.

Miss Cleary was looking at them dreamily while pretending to be making copies for her class. 

Leclerc looked at them both with loathing as they slowly pulled apart. Drummond stared back at him menacingly as Alfred tightened his grip around his boyfriend’s waist.

“This is not the last you are seeing of me. I know you are behind all of this, Drummond, and you can be sure my wrath will be boundless,” said the Frenchman as he got to the threshold. He turned one last time before he crossed it and looked longingly at Alfred. “I’ll be back for you, too, Paget. You will be mine. ”

-Two weeks later-

“You were absolutely right, babe, granite grey is THE perfect color for our bedroom,” said Edward, as he put his paintbrush down and pulled his boyfriend to his chest.

“When am I not right?” Alfred replied cockily, as he flashed one of his gorgeous smiles. “Seems you’ve got paint on your face, Mr. Drummond.” He brushed it with his thumb as Edward leaned down to kiss him gently at first, but soon with more passion as he opened his mouth and sighed with pleasure.

George, still carrying his paintbrush, walked into the room and groaned at the sight of them.

“Please, I’ve just had breakfast!” he exclaimed with exasperation, as our favorite couple broke their kiss but stayed with their foreheads pressed together.  George acted as though he were gagging and about to throw up. “Mama and Papa are making out instead of painting your kitchen, Mina is doing nothing and walking around while she’s talking on the phone with Septimus. Oh, and William just ran out to catch some weird bug he spotted in your backyard.  Why should I continue to paint under these conditions?”

Alfred rolled his eyes at his older brother and kissed his boyfriend one last time before he broke out of his loving embrace. He then slowly walked up to George and patted him on the shoulder.

“You know what, Gege? You are my favorite brother,” said Alfred as he slowly walked to the door, turned around, and winked very suggestively at his boyfriend. “In fact, Gege, you are doing a fantastic job, which is absolutely perfect, since Edward and I suddenly feel drained. The only solution for it, I’m afraid, is for us to go upstairs for a quick nap….”

“And by nap he means we’re going to bang like there’s no tomorrow,” added Edward as he shrugged and followed his boyfriend out of the room.

George rolled his eyes. “Seems you are beginning to speak like a true Paget, Drums.” He sighed as Princess, who had just come in the room, barked joyfully at him.

The tall brunet looked around to see that no one was looking at him and carefully grabbed the little puppy. “You are a very lucky girl, Princess,” he said.

As he kissed her on the head, a loud bang, a snicker, and a moan could clearly be heard coming from upstairs.

 

THE END