Elena and her girlfriend Mithian had been together for almost a two years when they made the decision to move in together. They had spent the entire previous day loading and unloading boxes and lugging about furniture.
The early morning light streamed through the curtain-less windows, Elena groaned, her arms still hurting from yesterday’s heavy lifting. She peered around the unfamiliar room, vision still groggy, glancing past the stacks of cardboard boxes and out the window where the white sky was canvased behind a pink blossoming cherry tree.
A movement beside her shook her from her reverie, she let her head thump back down into the soft cushions and glanced at her girlfriend.
“What timezit?” Mithian grumbled.
“Um... almost nine” Elena replied, stroking a strand of hair out of Mithian’s face.
“Why am I so bloody tired then?” Mithian groaned as she face-planted the pillow.
When both girls finally summoned the energy to get up, they dressed and traipsed into the kitchen.
“No food” Elena pointed out, they hadn’t had a chance to buy anything with all the moving.
“Well that’s bloody brilliant isn’t it!” Mithian said, but she was smiling widely at Elena and jumped over to give her a kiss on the forehead.
“We need to get this fridge connected up before we buy anything” Elena reminded her. “But I don’t mind doing a reckie to the corner shop.”
Elena left Mithian, looking frightfully adorable on the kitchen floor, tool kit and instruction manuals for the various appliances littering the floor.
“I’ll be back in a sec Mith” She called from the hall.
“Adieu my love! I’m sure we shall be united once more” Mithian called.
“Farewell my darling, I promise to return!” Elena replied giggling slightly.
As Elena closed the front door a gust of wind blew and the blossom from the cherry tree swirled in spirals around her feet, smiling to herself she carried on down the pavement.
The corner shop had that same atmosphere that all newsagents have, the smell of newspapers and the dim flickering bar lights on the ceiling. Elena nodded in acknowledgement to the old man at the counter and ducked through the isles in search of bread.
The bell on the door went again and a blond man shuffled through the door, he looked strangely familiar to Elena, she shook her head and went back to choosing a carton of mango juice that wasn’t dented.
Whilst she was choosing which type of cereal to get for Mithian, the blond man walked by her.
“Elena?” He said, surprised and Elena recognised him, Arthur.
They had dated in their last year at sixth-form, before Elena realised she didn’t like boys, but it had been fun, they mainly played video games and went horse riding on days out to the countryside. And here he was, Arthur Pendragon, dressed in grey tracksuit bottoms and a black worn out hoody. He looked tired maybe even hungover but he was smiling at her expectantly.
“Oh um... Arthur!” She said belatedly.
“Yes it is” he chuckled slightly, “I wasn’t expecting to see you again, didn’t you go to Manchester?”
“Yes I did but just for uni, I’ve been working in London for almost three years now...” she replied “So what are you up to nowadays?”
Arthur ended up telling Elena about his new job and that it was no longer his ambition to become a lawyer. Elena told him how she had just moved to a new house yesterday but refrained from telling him about Mithian (was it rude to tell someone that their ex girlfriend is a lesbian? Probably not but she didn’t want to hurt his ego). Arthur said how he had moved into new flat recently, about a month ago and maybe they’d bump into each other again.
As Elena leafed through a magazine rack, Arthur made his way to the till and struck up conversation with the grey haired man.
“Morning Arthur, how are you doing on this grey morning” Gaius replied.
“Meh.. I’m doing absolutely fine” Arthur mumbled slightly sarcastically.
“Good good” Gaius chuckled “and how’s Merlin?”
Elena looked over as Arthur smiled shyly.
“He’s great, good, fine.. yeah.”
Gaius nodded and scanned the last of the items, Arthur placed them in his bag and shouldered it.
“See you around sometime then Elena” he said as she placed her shopping on the counter.
When Elena arrivedback home Mithian had got the fridge running and unpacked some of the boxes, she smiled and took the shopping bag out of Elena’s hands.
They sat on the floor and ate jam on toast in companionable silence, smiling at each other every now and then.
“We need to buy a table” Elena laughed
“Yeh well, I thought maybe we could pop out to Ikea for a day, I love that place and there’s a new one opened up nearby.” Mithian said as she stood up and dumped their plates in the sink.
So, the next week, after they’d unpacked some more boxes and organised their things a bit more, Mithian and Elena embarked on their first joint trip to Ikea.
“It’s real! We have become one, it’s official!” Elena shouted as the pulled into the car park. Mithian grinned at her,
“I’m not sure visiting Ikea is a rite of passage El”
“Not just visiting Ikea, shopping here together!”
Elena grabbed Mithian’s hand and pulled her, skipping towards the entrance excitedly.
Once inside the spent a large amount of time trying out beds even though they already had one, Elena ended up grabbing a load of unnecessary bits and bobs, pencil pots and velvet coat hangers.
Mithian dragged Elena away from the pretty lampshades “We need to buy blinds! I’m not being woken up at ungodly hours because the sun decides to blind me in my sleep”
When they had finally chosen a grey blackout blind for their window, they headed off to look at dining tables.
They wondered through various show rooms, Elena was running her hands along the countertops when she noticed him again.
“Mith!” She tapped Mithian on the shoulder (she was too absorbed in the workings of a self shutting cupboard to hear her) “It’s Arthur Again”
“Your ex from the newsagent?”Mithian questioned.
“Yes!” Elena hissed “should we say hi?”
“If you want, we’ll probably just bump into him again if we don’t.” Said Mithian.
“It will probably be awkward again and I don’t know anything about him part from the fact he is not a lawyer” whispered Elena as Mithian continued to raise her eyebrows in question. “Well I don’t know anything about him since his sister Morgana denied my friend request on Facebook last year.”
“That is rude” Mithian said, placing a delicate kiss on Elenas cheek and picked up a vase that was placed on the table and inspected it.
Just then Arthur’s head reappeared from the crowd, he was accompanied by a tall man with messy black hair, they were both laughing hysterically at something and seemed to have their arms full of items (including one of those large carrot plushies). Arthur stopped laughing a abruptly when he noticed Elena but still smiling whispered something into the other man’s ear.
Elena grabbed Mithian’s hand as the two men walked over, she needed support for what would probably be a very awkward few minutes. Hopefully Mithian wouldn’t be too cold to him because of his sister’s hostile action of denying online friendship.
“Hello again” Elena began
“Hi...” Arthur replied and looked back to the dark haired man who raised his eyebrows and nudged him. It was then that Arthur seemed to notice Elena and Mithian’s joined hands and the smile returned to his face. “So... how are you... again”
“Oh we’re fine” replied Elena, thinking that Ikea really must a rite of passage, they had indeed become one “yeah, this is my girlfriend Mithian” she said and Mithian smiled at them.
“Hi, um... This Is Merlin, my boyfriend”
There was a slightly awkward pause and Merlin snorted and said “Hi”.
Mithian started giggling and soon they were all laughing loudly, receiving strange looks from other shoppers.
“Well it’s very nice to meet you Merlin” Elena began once the laughter had ceased then turning to Arthur said “I kind of missed having you as a friend”
“Me too!” Arthur grinned “I mean your the only person I met who was better than me at video games, Merlin has never beat me once.”
“Not true! I’ve won a race on Mario kart loads of times!” Merlin protested.
“A few times!”
The four of them all looked at each other smiling again, Mithian checked her watch and turned back to the group, “Well this is brilliant we all turned out gay.” She said this rather too loudly and a women who looked a bit like a troll looked shocked and gave them a dirty look. Merlin scratched his forehead with his middle finger, not too subtly swearing, the troll women looked affronted and Arthur patted Merlins shoulder.
They wondered through the shop together until they reached the storage place for flatpack furniture, Mithian and Elena lugged a large shelving unit and their new dining table onto a trolly and went to pay.
At the tills the troll-lady was having an argument with the cashier, probably over nothing.
“I’d like to speak to your manager”she was saying indignantly.
Later on when they’d paid for everything, they met Arthur and Merlin outside and agreed on a time to meet up at their local pub. Elena and Mithian drove home on the dark roads, it had just started to rain lightly, the street lamps and headlights reflected off the wet road and everything outside was a flurry of movement. However, inside the car was still and quiet, just the light hum of the engine and Mithian humming to herself, all the hubbub of the world outside was not real as Mithian reached her hand towards Elena and placed it on her knee, smiling but without taking her eyes off the road.
The next night they met up with Arthur and Merlin as agreed. The pub round the corner was packed as they made there way over to where Arthur was seated.
“Merlin’s just gone to get drinks” he explained “And this is my sister Morgana, as you know”
“Hello there Elena, it’s lovely to see you again” Morgana smiled politely.
The conversation continued and Mithian stopped being so cold about Morgana’s denial of Facebook friendship (an extreme offence in her book).
When Merlin returned with drinks the conversation shifted.
“You know Elena,” Arthur started “you always were my favourite girlfriend, we just got to hang out a lot and I didn’t have to break up with you ‘cause you never tried to jump me”
“Hmm I wonder why” Mithian replied for her, kissing Elena on the cheek and resting her head on her shoulder.
As the night wore on Merlin and Mithian became quite tipsy, Morgana got a mysterious phone call and had to leave. She kissed both Arthur and Merlin on the head like they were her four year old nephews and waved goodbye to Elena and Mithian.
“Ciao my dearies!” And She was gone.
Elena turned back to the table where Mithian and Merlin were giggling at nothing and Arthur was staring at his boyfriend with besotted expression. Merlin stopped giggling and leaned against Arthur stroking his nose against his jaw and smiling tiredly.
“I think we need to get home” Arthur said, finishing off the rest of his beer.
Elena looked over to where Mithian was almost asleep on the table and agreed.
Outside the pub they said their goodbyes and Elena took Mithian’s hand to lead her down the street. The rain from yesterday had mostly dried up and the yellowish street lamps lit the way home. As they turned the corner onto their road Elena noticed the pink cherry tree had shed more of its petals and they littered the pavement like confetti. Mithian laughed and picked up one of the flowers, she looked into Elena’s eyes, smiling and placed the flower into her messy blonde hair.
“There” She said proudly and then tucked a strand of hair behind Elena’s ear. “Beautiful”
Elena chuckled softly as Mithian began to lean in for a kiss. Their lips met and Elena held onto Mithian’s waist to help her balance. Her mouth tasted of the posh white wine she had been drinking and the soft fingers running through her hair made her warm all over. When Mithian broke the kiss they stared at each other for what felt like a golden age.
“Beautiful” Mithian repeated.
“Beautiful” Elena agreed tracing her finger down Mithian’s cheek and across her soft lips.
They helped each other through the door and into their new life, together.