The music sent shivers up his spine the first time he’d heard it. Such a simple melody, the most beautiful refrain, brought goosebumps to his skin; it was as though the piece had been made for his lover. In the same way as he found a home in the choreography, the fluidity and the safety of each interaction, Jim had found a home in the music. He’d found a home in the bow against the violin strings, eyes closed, eyelashes dark against cheeks, creating an object of pure beauty that would stay nestled beneath Freddie’s skin forevermore.
He stood just outside the doorway to the rehearsal room, closed his eyes gently, and let himself listen. The music swirled around his mind, gilding everything in the purest of golds. A thousand pictures crossed his mind in a single moment; the sunshine catching particles of dust in the morning, a thousand fragments of gold floating through the air; the simple sweetness, goldness, of champagne with dinner; the glint of a wedding ring under stage lights, the gold pronounced against washed out skin; looking up into those lights and having their goldness reflect in the honey-gold of dark eyes.
The music stopped and he held his breath; he wouldn’t break the peace that settled in the room for anything. He was rewarded by the quietest repetition of the refrain, the pinpricks landing over his skin once again - pinpricks of passion, of youthful vivacity, of the energy of a first love.
When he closed his eyes, he tasted white wine and felt warm lips against his own. The gold of the club lights reflected behind his eyelids, filled him with warmth, reminded him of the first night that he’d ever truly felt safe.
The music felt like a caress to the cheek, soft knuckles against his skin as he slept. The music embodied his lover, everything that he was and everything that he stood for: firm, but so yielding, all-encompassing, gentle, insistent. It was a thousand paradoxes all arranged with a beautiful fluidity that meant not a single thing was ever questioned.
He could’ve stayed there forever, wrapped tightly in a blanket knitted of semibreves, minims, quavers. He could’ve forever lost himself to the richness of the cello, the hopefulness of the violin, the safety and love and passion of those so absorbed in a skill that he could only imagine.
He could never express true admiration in simple words; the confines of language prevented him from expressing the warmth, the atmosphere, the love that he felt every evening at sunset in a place that had never felt more like home. While he could write, and he could speak, he sometimes felt as though he couldn’t say everything he wanted to or needed to. He couldn’t express the richness of the feeling inside him, bubbling away with liquid gold; he couldn’t express how certain he was that if he looked down at his fingers, they’d become a solid gold statue. He couldn’t express it without the visual, the auditory, so much more than simple written or spoken language.
Music like this needed a response in costume, nude dresses with reflective panels, lighting up the dancers and the audience themselves with that warmth of tone known only to golden hour. Music like this needed a response in movement, one movement conveying a thousand words of passion and appreciation and pride and joy and hopefulness, so much so that one’s heart may burst.
The voice broke the trance and stopped the music, and he was left momentarily bereft and cold; the shivers still continued, dancing their way over his skin and reigniting energy in those feet, tired from the long day. He ached to hear more, to move to it, to show his appreciation for the skill of others in a way that had been expressed about him so many times.
Christopher smiled and leaned against the wall beside him. “I hope you don’t mind the music.” He squeezed Freddie’s shoulder. “I thought I’d bring in all four of them today, so that you hear it properly while we learn the choreography. It’s a ten-minute corps de ballet, and I think you’ll love it.”
Freddie looked up, gold clinging to his eyelashes in the evening sunshine, reflecting from the back of his irises. Gold brushed the high points of his cheekbones, stroked across the end of his nose and touched his cupid’s bow; individual, unruly curls lit up gold, an oxymoron between the light and the dark, shadow puppetry with the tiniest hints of ethereal existence. “What’s it called?” He asked, voice rich and silky, shining with beauty and with determination.
“Within the Golden Hour.” He replied with a smile. “It looks at the nature of love and the nature of courting. It looks at that first honeymoon stage of a relationship, two people wrapped up in one another, in their own little world. It looks at that feeling where you feel like you can fly.”
Picked up, sat on a bar, fed sweet and crisp wines until the whole world is gold around the edges and it feels as though you’re floating. Hands held tightly, running down a road at midnight, the wind biting at your cheeks but the mellifluous gold of laughter somehow keeping you warm. Golden sand underfoot, ice cream on lips, twirling as waves lapped at your ankles.
“I like it.” Freddie said softly, falling quiet as the music started again. “It’s beautiful.” He whispered.
Christopher pushed the door open and the music exploded into the corridor, each and every note bouncing from a new wall. Freddie couldn’t help the smile on his face as he walked into the room, keeping his head down shyly; he couldn’t imagine distracting them away from such a gorgeous melody. When he glanced up, Jim’s eyes were closed, and he was almost glad of it.
He sat quietly with the other dancers, taking his split-soles from his bag and slowly massaging some warmth back into his frozen toes. The blue satin was a little tired around the edges, but they still remained his favourite shoes to dance in, the ones that he’d taken the best care of to last the longest.
He curled his toes as Christopher spoke up, the quartet falling quiet immediately. Jim glanced over and Freddie gave him the shiest smile; it felt as though something had reset in that moment, that they were back to the flirtatious glances and small touches that characterised the beginnings of a relationship. Freddie was just the soft side of coquettish, while Jim looked as though he was intrigued by every movement Freddie made, as though he hadn’t seen the products of his body a thousand times before.
Freddie wanted to buy him a drink, to surreptitiously bump hands and ankles and glance away when caught staring. Right there, in that moment, they didn’t know each other; the blossom of new love grew over Freddie’s heart.
“I’ll begin by introducing the company.” Christopher carried out the formalities with beautiful precision. “Our first couple is Beatriz and Vadim, our second is Lauren and Calvin, and our third is Freddie and Mary. Our quartet today is Jonathon, Henry, Ezio, and Jim.”
Freddie stood up, holding out his hand to each in turn to shake. As he reached Jim, the man instead kissed his palm; Freddie hid his blush with a quick look away and a shy giggle. “It’s nice to meet you.”