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All The Words We Didn’t Say - A New Year

Chapter Text

September 8th, 1984



Dear Professor Perlman,


I hope all is well in Milan and that Annella and yourself were able to settle back smoothly in the city, after what I am sure must have been as lovely a vacation as ever at the villa.
Thank you once again for letting me spend a few days with you in late June. Everything was just as I remembered, and I feel privileged for having had the chance to experience your wonderful hospitality one more time.
I hope all went well with this year’s houseguest. I heard she is a historian, so I imagine you had the chance to hold many an interesting conversation with her.

But let me move on to the reason I am writing, in the interest of not claiming any more of your precious time.

As I am sure you will have heard from Elio, I have some news. I have applied for a transfer to la Università Bocconi, with a place as a teaching assistant, and I was recently told the good news that I have been accepted.
As you can imagine, I am over the moon, and I cannot wait to get started! Bocconi is such a prestigious institution that I feel honoured, and no less that amazingly lucky, to have been given this opportunity. I am ecstatic that I will be back in Italy, this time for a longer spell. And of course, I am elated at the thought that perhaps I will be able to see the Pearlman family a few times during my stay!

But last but not least; while I was attempting to keep my wits about myself, and remain as level-headed and pragmatic as I should be; I know that I cannot hide, from you, the happiness that I feel when I think that I will be able to see Elio, often, if he, and yourself, will allow it.

I will never thank you enough for the gift you and Annella gave me this past summer, when you so selflessly gave up your time with Elio so that he could be with me in New York. For nearly two months, I was the happiest man in the City - no, perhaps the happiest man in the whole of America. Your son is like a bright star, shining and stunning and rare and strong, and I feel honored to have met him and that he was willing to share his time with me.

I hope his recount of our summer together reassured you that I am able to look after him as well as he deserves, or that I definitely tried, and would try even harder if needed; and that I would do anything to ensure that he is happy always, and that that beautiful smile of his is always on his face.

I apologize for this very wordy letter, and for keeping you from your work longer than I should have.

I do hope to see you and Annella soon once I am settled in Milan. At present, my arrival date is scheduled for October 10th.


With my very best wishes,



Chapter Text

September 13th, 1984


Dear Oliver,


How wonderful to hear from you!

We are well, thank you for asking. We are very happy to know of your news! Indeed Elio had mentioned it to us and we are overjoyed to hear of this well deserved success of yours. Bocconi is not easy to get into either as a student or as a teacher. Our heartfelt congratulations to you!

Thank you for looking after our son. He came back heartbroken and dizzyingly happy, just as I expected him to, and has been bouncing off the walls ever since, every time we mention you.

He will be in his final year of liceo this year, but I’m sure you’ll be able to see each other very often. He is very fond of you.

Please do let us know when you are here, and if you need any help settling in Milan and getting to know the city.

Very best from us and we look forward to seeing you soon.


Samuel and Annella Pearlman

Chapter Text

September 14th, 1984







“Hey, Elio.”

“I miss you.”

“Puppy. I miss you, too.”

“I’m not a puppy.”

“Oh, and what are you? A big, scary wolf.”

“Shut up. You’re silly.”

“I really miss you a lot.”


“I keep looking at our photos. At you in the photos. God I can’t wait to see you again.”

“And here I thought it was just me going crazy.”

“Are your parents out? Are you alone?”

“They are. Why? You know it doesn’t matter, I still have to be out here in the hallway, I don’t have a telephone line in my room. And they could come home any time.”

“I just wanted to talk to you. Tell you what photo I’m looking at... tell you what I’d do to you if you were in front of me now, looking like that.”


“Okay, fine, fine. But you’re missing out. I’m just going to, talk to myself after this. Imagine you’re here, close my eyes and pretend I can feel your lips...”

“You’re so bad. Oliver, you’re so bad.”

“I bet you can feel me smiling.”

“I can.”

“I’m just happy to hear you like this. I’m happy to hear you happy.”

“I am happy. But I miss you!”

“It’s not long now? Less than a month.”

“Still too long. How’s the apartment hunting going?”

“It’s going okay actually. One of the teachers from my faculty put me in touch with someone who did the exchange last year. He stayed in this place near Porta Ticinese, it’s small of course, but near the University. I think it will work out.”

“That sounds, it sounds great. Actually. Yeah.”

“You don’t care about the size of the apartment, right?”

“Oliver? Are you kidding me? I would stay in a tent with you.”

“Maybe one day we should try it. We can go camping.”

“Okay, Americano. No one goes camping in Italy...”

“We’ll be the first.”

“Ci sto.”

“Which I guess means.... deal? Okay? Great idea Oliver?”

“It means okay, yeah, deal, Oliver you’ll need to learn more Italian soon.”

“Oh well, looks like you’ll have to teach me.”

“Would love to.”



“I gotta go. Still have so much to fix at work. Say hi to your mom and dad for me.”

“I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Chapter Text

September 16th, 1984


Dear Marzia


I hope you’re doing okay.

How is Paris? How was the trip back? I know that you were a bit sad to leave. But Paris is Paris! I know you miss Italy but all our friends have left now, I have left too, there’s no one around. So you’re not missing anything!
And I think Paris is more interesting than Milan anyway.

I can’t believe you get to start university already and I still have a year of high school! Another problem of living in Italy.

Anyway, I am complaining so much about being in Milan but I’m actually really happy. Guess what? Oliver is moving here for a year! A whole year! He’s been accepted for a transfer and will be teaching at Bocconi University, and I’m so excited. I will be able to see him so often, well, if they leave it up to me I will see him every day! He’s just so clever and talented and I’m so glad they recognized it. I’m so happy. I was really sad to leave New York but I’m not anymore. And I will be even happier when he actually gets here of course.

This is really all the good news I have. The rest is mostly boring - I started school on the 10th, I already have a lot to study, stuff like that.

But I’m writing to you because I promised, so you can practice your English. I think you’ve gotten much better.

I’m going to go now.


Je t’embrasse



Chapter Text

September 21st, 1984


Dear Elio!


This is Marzia writing.

I’m ok! Thank you. Thank you for writing to me. I know we sent letters in the summer but it was in French the whole time so it’s better this way. You don’t need to improve in French!

Oh mon dieu that is wonderful that Oliver is coming! I’m happy for you, it is great. I was a little bit worried because coming back from New York wasn’t easy for you. So exciting! Yes Oliver is very clever if they accept him at Bocconi!

I think you will not think of anything but Oliver, isn’t it? Your heart is always with him. I hope he is good to you. You should not cry ever again.

Paris is fine. I started the university course actually. It’s really good and I’m interested in finding out more. I love fashion! I hope that one day I’ll become a famous stylist. Send me good luck, please!

Chiara also has started university again. Unfortunately she broke up with her boyfriend. She was a little sad, but we are going out together now so I am sure she will meet a new boy really soon.

Well, I hope you have fun with Oliver. Don’t kiss too much! I’m making a joke, I’m sure you two will not stop kissing for even one second. Let me know how it goes and if Oliver likes Milan. I wait to hear!

Gros bisous mon chéri



Chapter Text

September 25th, 1984


My Elio,

My love, how are you?


I am writing you this letter as I am leaving this evening to travel to my parents’ house in Rhode Island.

My mother has had issues with her back for a while, and has now decided to follow the advice of her doctors and undergo surgery - so she would like me to be around at this time and help her and my father while she recovers, especially as she knows that I am now going to be out of the country for a whole year.

In short, I just wanted to say that since I won’t be able to call you while I am with them (or indeed tonight, since it would be too late in Italy), I thought of sending you this note, so that you know of the situation and have something from me to keep you company in the meantime.

I think of you constantly, and can’t wait to see you again. Trust me, I am just as impatient as you are.

Having you with me in New York really spoiled me, and now I feel utterly deprived. I am happy you are back with your parents, and your friends, of course, but this doesn’t make the thought of you being away any gentler on my soul.
Every night I wish you were in my bed, mine to embrace and touch, your hair there for me to stroke my fingers through, and smell and kiss. Your full lips searching mine. Wanting wanting wanting.

I think of your desire for me and I feel so lucky. I ask myself, who decided that such a beautiful soul and body should be willing to be near me, willing to let me in, in every way possible? Who decided that you should belong to me?

And I wonder if I made it clear, to you, how strongly I return your desire.
I want you, even more than you want me. Being able to make love to you every day ruined me. I can feel your absence even more acutely now, when I turn in my cold bed expecting to see your soulful eyes, your lips (bitten, always bitten; I want to see them bitten and red, swollen by kisses), your black curls (‘every curl a whim’, didn’t you tell me this is how the Italian saying goes? I want to cater to your every whim. Your every wish); the miles long of your legs; the smooth paleness of your skin.
I want to hear you say that you will be mine forever. Even if you can’t promise me that; just say it. Say it anyway.

Time seems to be going so slowly; but before we know it, we will be together again.
You should know that I live for the moment I’ll be able to kiss you again. I live for the moment you’ll be back in my arms. I hope we’ll have time to be alone, really soon. I want to curl up in bed with you, and kiss you until we both can’t breathe. I hope I’ll be able to steal you away for the whole weekend. If you, of course, should be amenable to it...

I am sorry if I came on too strong here. Like you often say: I am going to post this letter before my self-conscious mind gets the better of me, and persuades me to destroy it in order to preserve my dignity and hide how much in love (and in lust) I am with you.

I won’t be able to talk to you in the next ten days or so, Elio, but we will see each other soon. I will return to New York on October 7th.

Please be well, be careful, look after yourself.

I love you.



Chapter Text

October 1st, 1984


Dear Oliver


I’m sorry to hear your mom is in pain. I didn’t know. It’s nice of you to go and help, though. I hope it all goes well and she doesn’t have to stay in the hospital for too long.

I know you said we’re going to see each other soon but I wanted to send a note just to say that, I’m sorry, about your mom, and also I miss you very much. This will sound like I am so self centered, I’m sorry. But I do miss you Oliver.

Will you call me when you get back to New York? If you have time? I just want to hear your voice and maybe you can tell me when your flight lands and we can make plans. Dad and I can come pick you up. Stuff like that.

School is boring and everything else is boring. I know you will tell me off now but this is true. I can’t wait for you to get here either and obviously you can steal me away, I want nothing else! I just want to be alone with you for the whole weekend.

And of course I am yours forever. Stop saying I can’t promise it. I can. And I am.

I think of you and I can’t wait to see you. I loved your letter. It’s hardly enough to tie me in until I have you with me, but it’s something. I’m sorry, I’m just a little anxious now. Just, because I know that - your mom and your dad... I don’t know.
I just. I want you to call me when you get back. Please. I know you’re more practical than me and you will just be getting ready, and packing and stuff, but please call me. Any time you can.

I will go now. I love you. I love you and I can’t wait to show you how much.

Yours forever


Chapter Text

October 8th, 1984



“Hey, goose.”


“Hi, hi. Are you okay?”

“Yes, yes, I - you always manage to catch me home alone...”

“Ooh. Are you suggesting something...?”

“N-no, I just meant - for me to pick up the phone...”

“I know. I was teasing you. Your dad told me he works late on Mondays. And I knew you’d be picking up the phone.”

“I was waiting for you to call.”

“Is everything okay? I got your letter.”

“Yes, yes, I’m sorry, I - don’t know what got into me, I’m sorry.”


“I didn’t even ask - uh, how is your mom? Is she okay now?”

“She is okay. It was routine surgery. She’s fixed now, at least for a while. Elio.”


“Will you answer my question now? Really answer it?”

“I’m, I’m fine. I promise. If you are okay. I was just overthinking. I just thought - I was worried that - because last time...”

“I was worried too, but just because I didn’t want to answer questions. I’d rather not have conversations with them, and if they don’t ask then I don’t mention, and that works for everyone. You know?”

“Yeah. Yeah. I know.”

“But they didn’t ask. They were distracted. So, all good.”

“Yeah. Yeah. Sure.”

“Elio...It’s not like last time. And I’m still sorry about that.”

“No, no, Oliver, I’m sorry. I know it’s not, I mean I don’t know why I felt this way, but I’m fine now. I’m sorry.”

“You’re the one apologizing now?”

“Yeah. I guess.”

“You have nothing to apologize for. I loved your letter - I will never get tired of reading you say that you love me. But I wanted to make sure you’re all right.”

“I am.”

“... you sure?”

“Yeah. Yeah! Of course. Yeah.”

“Good. Can we talk about something happy then? I can’t wait to be back in Italy. Feels like it’s been too long already.”

“Me too. I can’t wait for you to be here.”

“Mmh? I don’t know if I believe you...”


“Say it once more?”

“I can’t wait to see you.”

“Much better.”

“I really can’t wait. I can’t believe it’s happening. When do you land? Papà and I will come pick you up?”

“My flight lands in Linate at 2:10pm on Wednesday. But are you sure? I can get a taxi, no problem.”

“Even if I agreed with this plan, my dad wouldn’t. So we’ll come pick you up.”

“Okay. Well, if you insist.”

“I do. I love you, Oliver.”

“Goose. I love you too. But I can’t wait to tell you in person once again.”

“I’ll... I’ll let you go now. I’ll go... I want to get ahead with my homework, and I want to let you pack, and - just... I’m so excited, Oliver...”

“I know you’re wringing your hands now. You do that sometimes. I wish I was there already so I could kiss them. And kiss you.”

“I wish that too.”

“In two days.”

“Two days.”

“Bye, Oliver.”

“Bye, my Elio.”

Chapter Text

October 11th, 1984


My beautiful Elio


Sorry I have to go. I have to run to this meeting I mentioned last night. I’m leaving this next to your pillow, where hopefully you’ll see it. Maybe we can make this a tradition. 

I know I have already said goodbye when I woke you up earlier (sorry about that) to give you hugs and kisses (I cannot get enough of you).

But I wanted to leave a note to thank you for last night. You were incredible. I thought I knew how much I missed you, but I realize now that I wasn’t aware of the half of it.

I love you.





P.S. On a separate note, could you please apologize to your parents for me? I disappeared after dinner, spent the night in your room (was I even permitted to??), and I don’t think they’re around now for me to say goodbye. Terribly discourteous of me. I will apologize in person too next time I see them.

Chapter Text

October 12th, 1984




“Hey, dad? Can you hear me?”

“Yeah, all working now. Reception transferred you a minute ago but the line was so noisy, sorry. Is everything okay?”

“Yes, all good. How’s Sicily?”

“Still really warm. Not sure if I should complain or not! But today’s expedition has gone really well. And I have high hopes for tomorrow.”

“Oh. Good. Mom said we should check in. I’m glad it’s all going well.”

“And how are you? How is Oliver?”

“He’s okay. He’s fine. Good. Settled in to his apartment, and everything.”

“I saw he stayed over the other night.”

“Yeah, sorry. I mean - he wanted to apologize. He didn’t know if he could, but I said it was fine.”

“It’s not a problem for me. Nor for your mother. You know that.”

“Yeah. Thanks, Dad.”

“It’s fine. Just, make sure you use protection.”

“Dad! Dad, we - we don’t see anyone else.”


“We...we’re together, Dad. Like, officially.”

“Well, good. I’m very happy for you. The both of you.”

“I’m, I’m happy too. Okay. Well. Do you want me to get mom on the phone?”

“Sure. Unless there’s anything else you want to tell me?”

“No. No. Everything’s fine.”

“Okay. Let me speak to your mom. I’ll see you in a couple of days, Elli.”

“Yeah. See you, dad.”

Chapter Text

October 14th, 1984



“I hate that it’s Sunday, Oliver.”

“I hate it too.”

“But at least you don’t have to go to school tomorrow.”

“Ah, I think you’ll find I do.”

“Not as a student, scemo.”

“You know, my Italian will improve so quickly and so soon, and then I will understand all your insults for me.”

“Not an insult.”

“Mmh. Wasn’t it?”

“No. Kiss me?”

“How can I resist? When you’re lying naked in my bed...?”

“Good. Don’t want you to resist.”

“Mmmh. Mister Elio Pearlman. Will you let me make love to you again, before this glorious Sunday ends?”


“Will you?”

“Yes. Yes of course I will.”

“Are you spending the night, too? Or I can drive you back after, if you’d rather...”

“You’re sleepy. I wouldn’t make you drive anywhere.”

“It’s only because I’m so comfortable and warm here with you in my arms.”

“You know. I never want to go home.”

“I never want you to go home.”


“Elio, what is it?”

“Nothing. Nothing. I’m sorry, I’m - greedy, when it comes to being with you.”

“Nonsense. I invented greedy, in this relationship.”

“Scemo. But I wish this was us every day.”

“Mmh, what? Us complaining about Sunday night and having to go to school the day after?”

“You know what I mean.”

“I saw you rolling your eyes just now.”

“But you do know what I mean.”

“Yes. It would be really nice if this was us every day.”


“Is there really nothing at all that I can do to make you smile, right now?”

“I am smiling...”


“I’m sorry, Oliver. I don’t mean to be grumpy. I’m just spoiled and I can’t get enough of you, it seems.”

“I consider myself lucky for that.”

“Such a poet.”

“It’s only because you inspire me, my Elio.”

“Fuck me, Oliver?”

“Ah. I love this kind of inspiration especially...”

Chapter Text

October 15th, 1984



Dear Oliver 


I’m quickly writing this note while you are in the shower to say that I love you. I’m going to hide it under your pillow before we leave so hopefully you will find it tonight before you go to sleep. 

I don’t know if you’re actually going to like this message, because I want to tell you how much I loved last night and how much I love having sex with you. We have known each other for a year now and I feel that I am comfortable with you and I want to tell you everything that’s in my mind, and my mind right now is full of you and the pleasure I feel when I am with you. I never knew it could feel like this, and when I am not making love with you I think about it all the time. 

I love that you hold my hands while we are doing it, I love that you’re always kissing me, what we do is better than the best French romances I read in all my life and better than I ever expected. 

With you I learned not to be shy or worried or embarrassed. I will moan even louder in your mouth. All you need to do is ask. I will keep my legs open for you for as long as you want and I will cherish the ache afterwards because it will remind me of what we did. I know that what we do is private and secret and nobody else gets to experience it, and I walk with a fire in my belly when I think about it. A fire that you light up every time we sleep together. 

Don’t ever try to leave a mark on me if you don’t want others to see it, because I will let you, I will encourage you, even when I feel your teeth biting my skin, and I won’t cover it up, I will show it to everyone.  

Please tell me if I’m doing enough to make you happy? I want you to dream of me too, I want you to dream of us making love. What can I do? Should I move faster when I’m on you, do you want to press deeper? Do you want me to suck you off more often? You just have to ask. Or just push my head down. Put my knees over your shoulders and hold my wrists down on the bed. I love the pain and the pleasure, when it’s with you. 

You are not gonna like it now, either, because after I put this note away under your pillow I am going to throw my arms around you and kiss you so hard. And I’ll put your hand between my legs and under my pants and I will put my hand on you under your robe and I hope we can come one more time against the wall before we leave and before we separate for stupid work and school. I will cry out really loud against your chest for as long as you want me to and you will come so fast seeing what you’ve done to me. 


I love you with everything I have 


Yours, completely 



Chapter Text

October 15th, 1984 




“Hello, Annella? This is Oliver.”

“Oliver! Sweetheart, is everything all right?”

“Yes, thank you. I’m really sorry to be calling so late, but could I speak to Elio for a moment?”

“Let me check if he’s awake. Just one second.”

“Thank you.” 



“Are you okay? What’s up?” 

“Can I see you?” 


“I know it’s late, but can I see you? I need to see you now.” 

“Now? It’s nearly midnight.” 

“I know, I know. Can I come pick you up? Please?”

“Oliver, what is it? You’re worrying me.”

“Don’t pretend, you know exactly what happened.” 

“I- oh. Aah. I see.”

“You do, huh?”

“Oliver, you’re crazy.”

“I’m not crazy. Come on. I’ll come pick you up, I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

“I’m in my pijamas, Oliver...”

“I don’t care. I don’t care what you’re wearing, come on.” 

“What is your plan, even?” 

“I’m taking you back to mine? What do you think?” 

“I’m guessing you did like my note, then...”

“Elio. Do you want me to beg? I will. I need you with me right now. I am hard and dying for you. I’m desperate. You did this. And I want to bring you home and make love to you for two hours straight. Got it now? Please come.”

“I think I just will.”

“Smartass. If I didn’t love you so much I would be screaming at you right now.”

“I have my bag already packed for tomorrow. Hurry, scemo.” 

“I’ll be there in ten. God, I love you.”

“Counting down the seconds. I love you too.”

Chapter Text

October 24th, 1984



Dear Marzia!


How are you?? I hope everything is okay and that you’re enjoying your classes. Did you get to go to any fashion show yet?

I’m okay but I wanted your opinion on something. 

Oliver arrived about two weeks ago. Everything is fine. We see each other a lot. I miss him when he’s not with me. 

I’m starting to think of something and I’m worried I’m going a bit crazy. But I can’t talk to anyone about this, except for him, and for you. 

Ok, here goes. 

Do you think it would be too crazy if we I’m starting to wonder if Oliver and I maybe could move in together? Do you think it’s too crazy? 

We lived together in New York after all. Oliver has his apartment in Milan. We have to, drive from my house to his and back every time we have to see each other, so maybe, I was thinking that... I mean, I don’t know. 

What do you think? 

I haven’t mentioned it to anyone else yet. I haven’t mentioned it to Oliver either. So please keep it to yourself for now. I don’t know what my parents would say. But more than that I don’t know what Oliver would say. Is it too much? I don’t want to be too much. But I love him. And I want us to have a life together. And if we can’t get married then we can, maybe, I don’t know. Live as if we are? I don’t know. 

What do you think? I really need your opinion. Please tell me if I’m going crazy. 

Well. I will wait for your letter. 




Chapter Text

November 2nd, 1984



Mon cher Elio,



I’m okay, thank you! 


I’m bored of studying already but I like my course. I want the Christmas holidays already. Some things don’t change from high school to university, it’s sad. 

But wow, ok, when I read your letter I wasn’t sure what to think! It’s so good that everything is ok between you and Oliver and it’s good that you love him. It’s normal that you want to be with him.

But you just have to remember that you are only 18 years old which is really young. Are you sure you are ready to move in with him? It’s a very big responsibility. It’s a very adult thing. 

I think it’s beautiful that you love him so much that you want to do this but I think first ask yourself if you are ready. 

And then if you are, just talk to Oliver because he loves you too. He will understand, I think? Maybe he thinks about it too. 

I don’t think you have to be scared. Just think about it very well. 

“Amour veut tout sans nombre, amour n’a point de loi.” You know?

Let me know what you decide! 


I think of you





Chapter Text

November 12th, 1984




“So, ready for your Italian class, Professor Oliver?”

“Have been looking forward to it. And it’s the least you can do, since you’re leaving me tonight...”

“You know I don’t want to! But I have my physics test tomorrow and you know how bad I am at physics. I have to revise.” 

“Won’t make me stop grumbling.”

“I’m sorry. Sorry, Oliver. You know I would never leave otherwise.”

“I’m just kidding. Love, I’m teasing you. Of course I know. Come on. Teach me some Italian.” 

“Okay. Sure. So - I thought we should start with - names of parts of the body. It’s easier when we can point to them, don’t you think?”

“Absolutely agree.”

“Okay. So. You choose a word. I’ll translate.” 



“You have such beautiful eyes. Such a beautiful color. Thick lashes...”


“You have beautiful thick ciglia. They turn me on.”

“Mmmh. Next word, Oliver...”



“Curly hair?” 

“Capelli ricci.”

“I love to pull on your hair. Translate?” 

“Mi piace tirarti i capelli.”

“Oh. Elio...”

“Come on, come on Oliver. We only just started!” 

“Okay. Fine. Lips?” 


“I love to kiss your lips.”

“Amo baciare le tue labbra. Who is it that you’re planning to say this stuff to, eh?” 

“I don’t think I could find anyone with lips as perfect as yours, my Elio...Next word? How about throat?”


“Let me bite your throat, Elio.” 

“Ah. Next word, Oliver...”

“Chest. Nipples.”

“Petto. Capezzoli.”

“I will kiss your nipples now in lieu of ever being able to remember that word...”

“Next... Oliver, next...”

“Are you sure? I heard that the word for going down on someone is quite lewd in Italian.” 


“What? You know it’s true.”

“Of course you would have heard...” 

“Not my fault that I love doing it.”

“You love doing it, huh?” 

“To you, goose. I love going down on you.”

“I give up. Baciami, Oliver...”

Chapter Text

November 15th, 1984




My dear Oliver, 



I hope you’re doing well! 


I have been wondering how you settled in and how you’re finding Italy, so I thought of sending you a little note. You were so excited to go, it must feel like a dream come true! 

And how is your gorgeous Elio? I can only imagine how happy he is to have you there. And I’m very happy for you both. He’s precious! 

They’re asking about you here. Marcus, Jenna, Paul - they all want to know how you’re doing (I think they’re all a bit envious, too). 

And I wanted to tell you that Professor McCauley mentioned that he saw you this past summer. He said he saw you with a “young gentleman” in campus. Yes, he’s nosy as usual. 

I told him that was one of my summer  students who you were showing around - so don’t worry about that! It’s all covered. I have your back! 

Well, I will let you go now. 

I know you’re having the time of your life! I’m proud of you. 

Best wishes to you and Elio 


X Catherine X

Chapter Text

November 17, 1984












PS I’m sorry you have to read this on a note left under your door. I was too scared to ask you face to face. I tried! I promise! I kept chickening out. Please don’t think I’m an asshole! Sorry. 

I really love you





Chapter Text

November 20th, 1984






“Hey, baby.”

“What happened to you? I’ve tried to call you.”

“I’m sorry. I -“

“The past two days, Oliver, and it rang out and I even thought of calling you at work or, I don’t know, coming to see you-“

“I know, I’m sorry. It’s been so crazy. It’s exam session, I’ve come home just to sleep. I’m sorry.”

“Did you get my note.”


“I left you a note. Under your door.”

“I know, Elio. I’ve seen it. I’ve read it.”


“I was hoping we could talk.”

“Is this. Is this why you disappeared?”

“No. Elio, no. I told you why.”

“Just. Just please be honest with me.”

“Can we talk? In person? I’d like to see you.”

“Why can’t you tell me now?”


“No, tell me. Why? I mean, I think I know already.”

“I don’t want to talk to you now over the phone because you seem agitated. I don’t think this is the right time.”

“Don’t patronize me, Oliver.”

“I’m not patronizing you...”

“I got so worried, Oliver, I - I just want to know what you’re thinking.”

“I know you do. Elio. I think - I think this is something we really need to talk about. Really need to reflect on.”

“You can just say it. You think I’m too young.”


“You do. I know you do.”


“Look, sorry, I - I have to go. We can, let’s talk another time. Yeah. Maybe when you reappear again.”


“Sorry, I - sorry. I’ll talk to you later.”

Chapter Text

November 28th, 1984




“Elli belli? Still in your books?”

“Mh. Yeah.”

“Dinner is almost ready. Joining us in ten minutes?”

“I don’t... I don’t know. I actually, uh, I have a lot to study.”

“It would be nice to see you. If you want. You’ve been holed up in your room for the past three days...I don’t want you to overwork yourself.”

“I’m not. I just, I have a test in two days.”

“Okay, then. Just let us know if you need anything.”



“Has Oliver called?”

“No. Not today.”

“Okay. Thanks.”

“But he’s called the past two days. Twice, yesterday...”

“Yeah. I know.”

“He sounded sad...”


“Sorry. Sorry. I don’t mean to pry. I’m just - worried, I guess. You sound sad, too.”

“I’m not. I’m fine. Everything’s fine.”


“I just...I think... I think I’ve ruined everything, Dad.”

“Elio....Come here.”

“I’m just - I’m scared that things will fall apart, and I - I can’t just wait for him to, for him to go back, Dad. We don’t have a lot of time, I don’t want to - miss out on anything, and then, and after this, we don’t even know what’s going to happen...”

“Hey. Elio. You haven’t ruined anything. I promise you.”

“I have...I’ve pushed him, and what if - he doesn’t want to - be with me after this... and I’ve let you down too. I wanted to live with him and I think - I think I’ve been childish...”

“Cry if you must, Elio. But please don’t think that you have let anyone down. I know that right now it feels like time is going so fast. And listen, it will. But there is nothing childish in wanting to follow your spirit.”

“You wouldn’t think I’m making a mistake?”

“I see a great deal of certainty in you. And in Oliver. I’ve seen it since you two met. Certainty, and love for one another. It doesn’t happen often. However this will go, I believe you will choose the right path for the both of you...”

“He’s given up on me, now, Dad.”

“Do you have so little faith in him, then?”

“No, I. I do. Have faith.”

“There is nothing wrong in adjusting your path as you go. But if I may... my advice would be - don’t be scared. Live this moment. Don’t make decisions based on fear.”

“I’m not. I won’t. I just - I don’t want him to do that, either.”

“Give him a chance. Trust him. But trust yourself, too.”


“Now, dry those eyes. Come and have some pasta with us? Let your mother fuss over you for a little bit. She misses you.”

“Yeah. Okay. I will.”

Chapter Text

November 30th, 1984





“Oliver? This is Marzia.”


“Yes. Sorry, I - I came to visit Elio. Before I go to Crema. I’m with him now and -“

“Is everything okay?”

“Yes, I. We’re out, and - can I bring him to you please?”

“Huh, well, I’m not sure if he-“

“We had a few drinks, he wants to see you. He’s not feeling well, and I just thought - maybe you want to see him...”

“Did you guys get drunk?”

“No, I’m not, but Elio, he did. Sorry. I-“

“It’s fine. It’s okay. Where are you? I’ll come pick you up.”

“N-no, it’s fine, I’m calling from a, huh.. cabina? Outside the bar. We have a taxi here. See you in a minute...”

Chapter Text

December 1st, 1984







“Hey. You’re okay. You’re in my apartment. Shhh.”

“Wait- how-“

“You were out with Marzia last night, remember? She brought you here.”

“Oh god. Sorry, Oliver. Uh. Sorry.”

“No need to apologize. How do you feel?”

“Uh, I’m - fine. Just - headache. Was I - was I drunk...”

“Hm, yeah. Quite drunk. Marzia didn’t want you to be alone, I think. But you were out cold as soon as I put you in bed. I got Marzia a taxi and when I came back you were sleeping so soundly.”

“I asked her to call you. Uh. Uhm. I’m sorry, Oliver.”

“I told you. No need to apologize. I don’t mind.”

“You don’t?”

“No. Why would I? I’m rather relieved you’re here, actually.”

“I just. This is embarrassing.”

“Everybody has a little too much to drink every now and then.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Drink some water. Here.”

“So you slept next to me?”

“Yes. Thought it would be alright.”

“Yeah. Yeah...”

“You’re acting as if we broke up.”

“Didn’t we?”

“Not on my initiative.”

“You- stopped calling me and I thought, maybe you just. I don’t know.”

“You didn’t want to talk to me. I wasn’t going to insist.”

“Keep touching me, Oliver...”

“I missed these lips. I missed looking at you.”


“We should. We should maybe talk, first.”

“Uh. No. Make love to me first, please?”


“Please. Please, Oliver. I’ve missed you so much it hurts. My body misses you, please...”

“I’ve missed you begging.”

“I just want this...we can talk after, but please.”

“No silent treatment after this? We’ll talk? Promise?”

“I promise.”

“C’mere. Sit on me. Like this. Good boy...”

“I love you Oliver.”

“I love you too.”

“I’m sorry I ruined everything. I’m sorry I - I said things I shouldn’t have...”

“Shhh... we said we’ll talk later?”

“Yeah. Later.”

Chapter Text

December 4th, 1984





Dear Catherine, 



Hope you are well. 


Thanks so much for your note and sorry I am so late in replying. As you can imagine, it’s been quite hectic here. 

Also apologies that this letter lacks a proper update into my Italian endeavors, but I have something important to inform you of. 

I can’t do this anymore, Catherine. I can’t keep lying, to my parents, to everyone, to myself. And the reason for this is that, by lying, I hurt someone who doesn’t deserve any of it, someone who I care about more and more every day, if that’s even possible, and who I can’t possibly stand to see in pain, by my own hand no less. I have done this to him way more times than I even can or want to accept. 

Elio has put his whole life into my hands. His whole self, his body, his mind. His memories, his passions. Everything. I am reminded of this every minute of every day I spend with him, through no input of his own, or malice, because he has made himself content with the impositions I have laid out for us. 

However, this status quo was only going to crash and burn one day, and I think it is starting to happen. He deserves much better than what I am offering right now. He deserves better than secret encounters, better than cover-ups, better than us parting ways in the morning when I’m still warm inside him. 

He is not my dirty secret. 

He is still very young and I have a responsibility to him to make sure that what what’s between us does not become so encompassing that he doesn’t have anything else, or that he is denied access to those experiences that I have had, that anybody our age has had. 

However, perhaps selfishly, I want to make it so that I don’t have to hide, or worry, or outright escape him when he needs me by his side. I don’t want to be thinking ‘will my mother and father find out’, when I am only out with my partner, whom I love, and whose lips I don’t want to deny myself of. 

It’s nearly Christmas break. Initially I planned to stay with Elio, but I have decided now that I will go home, albeit briefly, and tell my parents. That I am not with you, that I am in love with a boy in Italy. 

If they break off all communications with me; if they decide to write me off their will; all of which likely to happen; then so be it. 

Elio is young, and while my own feelings are very firm right now, I know I cannot chain him to a person or a feeling born in him when he was only seventeen. 

But my decision is not swayed by this, or dependent on his resoluteness: I do this for him, but I do this, especially, for myself. 

I know you will support me as you have always done. Your friendship has been a gift to me, one that I hope I will be able to repay you for one day. 

See you soon, 



Chapter Text

December 10th, 1984 




“Are you sure you want to go?”


“Are you sure you want to do this?”

“Yes. I’m sure.”

“I’m scared. What if they don’t let you come back?”

“And what? Will they keep me imprisoned in my room, feeding me bread and water until I come back to my senses?”

“Oliver...don’t joke.”

“There is nothing they can do, except cut off communication with me. They won’t even tell anyone else, they’re too scared. My parents are the best at keeping secrets to protect the façade. And if they stop talking to me, then that just means I won’t inherit their nice house in the suburbs... sorry babe, no vacations to New England for us.”

“I don’t care about that! You know it. God, Oliver. You’re confusing me.”

“I’m sorry. Hey? I’m sorry. I’m sorry that we even have to talk about this. I’m not ashamed of us. And I shouldn’t have to hide you, to my parents no less.”

“When did did this happen.”

“I’ve never been ashamed of you.”

“No, I know, but... this decision. With your parents.”

“I’ve been thinking about it for a while. Your note, just- it was like a reminder.”

“Oliver, I - I don’t know what I was thinking. Just, forget it. You don’t want to move in with me. You don’t have to.”

“Why would I not want to?”

“I’m messy. I talk too much and I pester you. I leave paper everywhere. I never dry my hair after I wash it.”

“...need to break that habit, it’s really not good for your health.”

“I’m demanding and I’m annoying, and whiny.”

“You’re none of these things.”

“I’m stubborn.”

“Okay. Well, that you are. But I’m happy about that. It’s because you’re stubborn that I’m here now.”

“Worrying about your parents and listening to me being annoying?”

“No. Laying here on my couch, with you against my chest, talking about whether I’m going to move in with the beautiful, clever, spirited eighteen year old love of my life.”


“Your parents would not be happy with me if I stole you away already. Your mother would be upset with me.”

“Oliver... they wouldn’t. And I don’t ... I would give you everything. You know that...So, whatever you want to do...”

“I do. Elio. I do.”

“I’m... I’m sorry, though. For making a big deal, I mean you don’ don’t have to do it just because I-“

“Let’s think about this. Huh? How does that sound?”

“Yeah. Yeah, okay.”

Chapter Text

December 20th, 1984





“Maman? Are you asleep?”

“No. Come lie here, Elio. Come, mon cheri.”

“When is dad back? Tomorrow?”

“No, Sabato. One more day.”


“Your hair’s grown so long...”

“Mh. What are we doing for the holidays?”

“We were talking about it two days ago...we’ll probably go on the 26th.”


“Your friends will be there?”


“Don’t be sad. Piccino.”

“What if, maman...what if he doesn’t come back?”

“Of course, he will come back.”

“I don’t want him to be upset.”

“I know.”

“I can’t sleep, thinking about it.”

“I want you to be happy, Elio. And Oliver wants that too. Don’t be scared, tesoro.”

“Can I sleep here with you, maman?”

“Certo, mon amour. Shhh now. Everything will be fine. You’ll see.”

Chapter Text

December 25th, 1984




Dear Oliver, 



Remember that day in my room, when we were talking, and we started guessing where we would be in ten years, and what we would be doing? 

I said I’m going to be piss poor thinking I can make money playing the piano or the guitar, and you were laughing and said ‘could be worse, what if you end up being hired by the Ricchi & Poveri’??? (How funny. You’re the biggest dork.)

Well, anyway. We ended up laughing and we didn’t finish our guesses. 

So I’m going to do it now. 

In ten years, Oliver, I will be twenty-eight and you thirty-five. You will be a very revered professor, and I’m sure you will have published a book already. Or if not, I bet you will be giving seminars, and there will be so many people coming to see you. 

I will be...I don’t know. I don’t know what I can do. Maybe still transcribing music? Wonder if I’ll have managed to write a couple of pieces myself. Or maybe I will be a translator? Like my mother. 

I don’t know. But I will come home to you every night, and you to me. Where do you think we will live? I think New York. Or maybe, Boston. I imagine you maybe got tired of the city, and you said ‘I want to take you away from here’. Boston is smaller. And more romantic. We can have a nice life here, you said. Maybe. 

And of course I am going to follow you. Wherever you will want me to go? I will go. 

And I think on Sundays, we will wake up, in our bed, and you will nuzzle my hair and say, remember when we met? You were seventeen, and I twenty-four. It feels like so long ago.

I will smile, because I like my life. We will have a cat? No, I think a dog. And the dog will come running and try to jump on the bed just as we start kissing. Because we will kiss everyday, for minutes and minutes as if it hasn’t been ten years already. And you will laugh and shoo the dog away. And don’t worry - we make love, now, in my daydream. 

And we travel together? We go and see my parents in Italy. We go to France, and Spain, and Greece. Scandinavia. South America. All over. Maybe. 

I would like to. 

Maybe we go and see your parents too. But if not, I hope - that you’re happy anyway. I really hope so. 

You’ve been gone for six days now, and we haven’t talked much, but I know it’s difficult for you to call when you are back home, so I am not worried. I promise. 

I just wanted to say that I love you. I miss you. I hope you’re doing ok. I know you are. 

Oliver I will be right here when you come back. Okay? I’m not going anywhere. 

I will only go if you ask me to. But in the meantime I will be here, and I will think of where we will be in ten years, twenty years, forty years. 

I want to be with you forever. 


Happy holidays, amore mio. 




Chapter Text

January 2nd, 1985 




“H-hey. I- Catherine? It’s Elio.”

“Elio! Hi, darling. How are you? Let me get Oliver for you. We were just waiting for your call.”

“Thanks. Sorry. The line was - I had to try a couple of times.”

“Not to worry. I’ve got him right here. Bye bye, poppet.”


“Oliver! Hey. Hey. How-how are you?”

“I’m okay. Sorry, I’ve had so much to do. But I’m ready to leave, now.”

“Oh. Yeah. I- Are you still flying back tomorrow?”

“Yes. Late morning. Yes.”

“Good. I miss you.”

“I miss you too. Very much.”

“I wanted to...I’m going to, if you want, I - I wanted to make dinner for us. When you’re back.”


“Yeah, don’t worry, I have all your favorites already planned. And cheesecake.”

“You’ll make cheesecake?”

“Yeah, they don’t have it here, but I can make it, I showed Mafalda as well. She was weirded out but she liked it, I know she did. Mom and Dad liked it.”

“I’m sure it was great. Thank you for offering, Baby. I can’t wait.”

“Okay. Yeah, good. So, Friday night?“

“It’s a date.”

“A date. Yeah. I can’t wait to see you.”

“Nearly there. Nearly there. I love you.”

“I love you too.”

Chapter Text

January 5th, 1985



My beautiful love, Elio


You will wonder why I keep writing to you, even when we are together. Even when we live in the same city, even now finally that we are able to say so. Even when I’ve just had you in my arms. 

I could never stop writing letters, because writing them is my way of putting into words and on paper the thoughts that my mind and my heart cannot seem to contain, when it comes to you. 

Writing them is my way of courting you; yes, still courting you, since the day I received the first letter from you; or even before, since the very first day I laid my eyes on you. 

Writing letters to you is my way of reminding myself that this is happening. That you’re really here, in front of me, giving me this, giving me all of you, always. Here, laying in my bed; your trust, love, and life all there for me to see, in the curls of your hair, the ink of your lashes, the red of your lips. 

To watch you, here, last night, so proud and focussed as you worked in the kitchen. To see how much you’ve grown up since I have known you. To marvel at the strength you’ve shown, and at the determination with which you want to be by my side. 

Forgive me, my love, for my thoughts last night, because what I wanted was to take you by your hips, push you back against the counter, lift you up to have your mouth descend on mine from above. What I wanted was to take all your clothes off and have you, right there in the kitchen, your perfect hands still damp from the sink, and all food forgotten. What I wanted was to hear your whimpers even as you opened your legs wider for me. 

But I couldn’t; you wanted that moment, you planned that moment. And so I kept my hands to myself, while my heart exploded with love. 

I told myself I would be greedy later. I would take, later. Later when you joined me in bed, in my arms, against my chest. Later when I could smell your hair and remember that I have this. That I’m back. That it’s done. 

That you’re still here and that I’m still here. 

That I will protect you with all that I have. 

That you’re mine and you will be, for as long as you want, for as long as you will allow me. 

You know that you can ask me all that you want. You know that I thought I was responsible; that I thought I was wise. That I thought I knew life and I knew myself. 

That was long ago. My mind is lost now. My heart, gone with it. With you. I am proud of you and I am proud of us, and whatever I can do, for you, for us, I will. 


I love you, more than you will ever know



Chapter Text

January 6th, 1985



“Are you really okay, Oliver?”

“Now? Now I am.”


“You don’t believe me?”

“Keep whispering. I like it when we whisper to each other. It’s just us.”

“I like it too. Especially in bed... you look so beautiful after sex.”

“Not fair. You’re trying to distract me.”

“And when you smile...”


“My favorite moment with you is in bed, after sex, when you smile for me.”


“What is it, goose?”

“Will you tell me what happened?”

“I thought you wanted me to whisper sweet nothings to you.”

“That too. But I want to know. Please.”

“They - made it easy for me. My mother said she knew something was up, since when I went to visit her back in September. No good deed goes unpunished, it seems.”

“What did she say?”

“She said it sounded strange that I would leave my girlfriend for so long. Didn’t even ask her to go with me. She said she knew that I was never going to marry her.

She kept looking away from me, it was like - as if she didn’t know if she was allowed. With me and my father there, too.

My father...just said that he thought I should come to my senses. Of course I should marry Catherine. Be a man.”

“I’m sorry. Oliver. You don’t have to keep talking about this if-“

“I just said I wouldn’t. And I said it’s none of their business who I am with. I said I’m happy.”


“I told them I hope they’ll be happy too. And then I left.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Why? It’s fine. It’s done.”

“I just - I feel guilty, like - about this happening...”

“This didn’t happen because of you. Baby. I love you, but this was meant to happen anyway. Do you understand?”


“Good. Now, I thought we were whispering something...”

“I liked what we did. Earlier.”

“Mmmh. Did you?”

“I’ve never done that before.”

“I would hope so.”


“Even in the dark I can see that you’re blushing.”

“I’m not.”

“You are. You definitely are.”

“I’m not!”

“Tell me more. About that thing you liked.”

“If I do, will you kiss me again?”

“A million times. And then a million times over...”

Chapter Text




“Are you sure? This is the exact place where we had our first kiss?”

“Elio, how could I forget? The way you flopped yourself down. And looked like one of those statues, so perfect and seductive.... I remember the tree behind us. That little path down from the spring. I thought this was all yours.”

“It looks different, now.”

“But you don’t.”

“Don’t I?”

“No. Still laying here. Still looking like you belong right here. Like you came from this grass, from the water.”

“Like a faun?”

“Like a faun. Curly haired, and disobedient.”

“Kiss me again?”


“If I come from here, then we should make love here.”


“Yeah. Really. This breeze is so nice. Imagine how it would feel on our skin, when we’re naked...”


“Just the blue sky and this tree watching us. Nobody else. With the sound of the water, so relaxing...”

“I wish we could.”

“You would do it?”

“What a question.”

“Mmh. I think I will miss this when we’re in New York.”

“You’ll be back every now and then.”

“No, I mean. This sky. The fields. The quiet. You need this, sometimes.”


“But I can’t wait. I don’t- I don’t know what I’ll do, or how - if I’ll be good enough. But I’m excited.”

“Of course you will be good enough. You will be brilliant.”

“You’re my boyfriend, of course you have to say this.”

“Have I ever lied to you, Elio?”


“Then, listen. You will be wonderful. And we’ll be in our tiny apartment, probably bickering, and kissing, and making food that will make us miss Mafalda. And the only thing you’ll regret will be moving in with me, because I will constantly be on you. Trying to get my share of kisses and hugs and attention before you become too successful to have any time left for me.”

“That’s ridiculous. It will never happen. That I don’t have time for you, I mean.”




“Do you know, Oliver... when I was maybe, twelve. We went to a funfair. Il luna park. There was this lady, who read palms, and she read mine.”

“What did she say.”

“She said that soon, I was going to fall head over heels for, someone. That I was going to be crazy in love. Alla follia, per sempre.”

“And. Did it come true?”

“What a question.”


“Yes. It did. With this guy I kissed, right here. Right on this patch of grass. Right under this sky.”

“And that guy loves you alla follia, too.”

“Per sempre?”

“Per sempre.”