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the secret inside of me is sick of silence

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Harrow is sitting on the couch, reading through one of their numerous texts for their World Literature course, when Gideon wanders over and plops down in the free space between Harrow's feet and the end of the couch. It's basically her favorite place to sit because Soup will then hop up onto either of their laps and curl up and fall asleep. They're like a tiny little family, Harrow, Gideon and Soup. 

They helped Gideon move in two weeks prior and the period of adjustment to a new person constantly in their space is almost over. They know what it's like to spend a lot of time around Gideon, they know how to interact with her in the moments before bed and when they've just woken up. She was spending every night over anyway so Harrow had casually forced the proposal, hands clenched at their side. Gideon had only swept them up into a hug, added a kiss to the end of it, and agreed on the spot.

It's this closeness that let's Harrow see that something is up with Gideon. Her hands are fiddling with the edges of Harrow's socks and she won't look up at Harrow when normally she can't wait to meet their gaze. Harrow immediately sets their laptop to the side (they can sense a heavy conversation coming and they won't be able to get a lot of work done) and they shuffle and rearrange themself until they're tucked against Gideon's side, holding tight to her to offer the slightest bit of comfort. 

"What's wrong, babe?" Harrow says quietly, head resting on Gideon's shoulder. They've tucked themself against their partner, tugged her arm over their shoulder. Their bodies are almost in full contact now, thigh to thigh, hip to hip, body to body. Harrow feels Gideon relax a little bit against them and they press a kiss to her palm. When Gideon doesn't answer for a long moment, they look up at them, not pushing the issue but making sure she's okay.

"Harrow," Gideon says slowly, drawing out their name to far more syllables than it needs to be. "Harrow, how did-what did it feel like when you knew-when you figured it out?" And before Harrow can ask what she means by that (it's a very vague question after all), Gideon continues. "Your gender, I mean. I don't-I'm struggling."

And Harrow cradles their beloved's hand in their own and they press a kiss to each finger before gazing back up at Gideon with as much reverence in their gaze as they can muster.

"Talk to me, love," Harrow says and they're trying to draw the words out, no matter how much it hurts them to see Gideon hurting like this. It's clearly been eating away at something in her.

"I don't think-actually I'm pretty sure, I'm not-I'm not what everyone else thinks that I am," Gideon says and the words are fought for, Harrow can hear it. They can tell that Gideon is forcing the words out, that it's a struggle to do even that. "I don't think I'm a woman, Harrow. It doesn't feel right, it doesn't feel like it fits, it's like a suit that I'm being fitted for and it's too tight and no one is listening to me when I say that."

And Harrow listens because that's what they do best. They listen as Gideon's heart spills out in front of them and they hold the pieces in their hands and keep them close because they know Gideon will need it back some day. Maybe soon, maybe not until the distant future but when Gideon finally looks back at them, she looks freer. Harrow reaches up a hand, cradles her face in their hand and she leans into the contact, eyes closed.

"What shall I know you by, beloved?" Harrow asks, their voice a quiet whisper in the gaping silence of the apartment. Soup is somewhere, making the racket he always does but their gaze is focused wholly on Gideon, who is staring back with such intensity they could weep. "How do I call you?"

"Gideon," Gideon says firmly. "But I don't-" When their eyes meet and Harrow is staring with intensity at the one they've basically chosen to spend the rest of their life with, something seems to break. "He, please." And with those whispered words, Gideon falls silent and so does Harrow out of respect for what he's shared with them. 

When he whispers to them, in the cover of night, buried under the blankets with a hand slung over their waist, "I think I'm a man." they only squeeze his hand and pull him closer until his breath hits the back of their neck and they can say

"I love you" and "thank you for telling me."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Gideon doesn't say a lot in the weeks after that conversation, not about the topic anyway. He's as talkative as ever, other than that, telling Harrow about his day with great, emphatic gestures. They don't know if he's told anyone else, if this is a secret they have to keep close to their chest and hold it there until he's ready for them to share it. 

They don't talk and it's starting to drive Harrow up the wall because they want to help him, want to tell him that everything will be alright but he won't let them in. It's like he's determined to do this thing alone, like they hadn't already decided that it was Gideon-and-Harrow. 

So, Harrow does what little they can do to lure him into the conversation they want to have. It takes cornering him in the kitchen (for whatever reason, Gideon is the two of them that knows how to properly cook, a skill he takes great pride in)  and they have to physically corner him too. He's larger than them, he could easily push them to the side but it's suddenly clear that he was waiting for them to broach the subject.

"I want to help you," Harrow says, mostly because it's true and partly because they want to state their intentions before Gideon tries to run away. They reach out, draw their fingers along his face just to make sure that he's actually there. “Is there someone else you want to talk to? Should I call-”

"No!" Gideon says and he takes their hand, links their fingers together and holds it to his chest. Harrow can feel the frantic beat of his heart under their fingers and they want nothing more than to soothe it. "Please, God-" He swallows thickly. "God why can't I find the words?"

"They're hard," Harrow chokes out with a chuckle. It's so much easier to laugh at this, and so hard at the same time because Gideon is suffering and he's having the same problem they do but neither of them know how to fix it. Harrow runs their fingers through their own hair, staring down at the counter for a long moment. "I think we should talk. Properly talk about this."

"I'm making soup," Gideon replies and Harrow smiles. They run their hand through his hair, a soothing gesture they'd both discovered earlier in the relationship and Gideon hums. "But we'll talk after." Then, after a moment. "I'm sorry for being so closed off I just-"

"You don't owe me anything," Harrow says, cutting him off quite effectively. "I love you very much and I'm concerned because you seem to be hurting. And I want to help that." 

They retreat to the living room, scooping up Soup so he doesn't disturb Gideon and then they wait. They wait while Gideon cooks, they wait through the meal (delicious, unreasonably so) and they wait through Gideon doing the dishes though he should just leave that for later. They can tell he's stalling and they want him to stop because they don't want to avoid this conversation forever. But he doesn't look up at them even when they call his name. He eventually returns to them and settles on the couch, flopping into their lap. It's a reversal of their normal position, and Harrow doesn't take their new position lightly, softly running their fingers through Gideon's hair.

They sit in silence for a little while, just Gideon and Harrow breathing, Gideon and Harrow in the same space and Harrow tries to savor it. It feels like an ending.

"I suppose I should start from...well, I don't really know," Gideon says. His voice is so small, and he's not meeting their gaze. His hands are twisting just over his stomach, fingers twitching. Harrow keeps quiet, making the room for him to speak. They carve it out of the silence and coax him with their fingers, resting on top of his head so he can feel them, so they can feel him. "I guess I maybe always knew, somewhere, probably deep in me but the other week, when we went to that cafe I just...something clicked in me. I can't name it, I won't even try but I just knew. And I know it's not what you signed up for, who you signed up for but it's me, Harrow, I don't know if I could ever be who I thought I was, not anymore. I'm so-"

"Finish that apology Nav, and I'll...I'll do something unspeakably horrible to you," Harrow says and they grip his face in their hands, force him to look at them. "I signed up for you, Nav. I love you, Nav, not your pronouns or your gender or anything of the sort. I know to some it may matter but I-I love you more than words could hope to encompass. I love you so much it hurts, Gideon, it hurts to see you so tortured like this and I fear I can do nothing to ease this suffering, no matter how I would wish to." They're breathing heavily now and they're making this about themself and Gideon is the one struggling, he should be the one tossing his heart out and baring his pain but he's just staring at them, waiting for them to calm.

They eventually do and they shake their head. "I apologize, this was meant to be for you-"

"We're both so stupid," Gideon says and he's crying and Harrow refuses to cry even as he brushes a tear from their cheek with his thumb. "You're a dumb asshole and I'm an idiot."

"I nowhere approximate an asshole," Harrow says and their throat catches when they laugh and Gideon says nothing about it.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

It's like that lifts a weight between the two of them after their conversation. There's stutters, usually when Gideon takes another slow step in the direction of coming out to their friends. Pal and Camilla are told first, because he's closest to them and Harrow trusts that they’ll offer whatever support Gideon might need. They also trust the two of them to give Gideon good advice, and if the discussion he and Pal have about binders is anything to go off of, it’s a good step.

The four of them settle into a routine, mostly Gideon and Camilla picking on them and Pal because both are evil and cruel and clearly don’t love them enough to spare them the agony of teasing. They watch movies together, occasionally have cookouts and have a general air of camaraderie that binds the four of them together in most of their free time. What little time is spent over at Harrow's apartment is full of cooing over Soup, who greatly appreciates the sudden influx of attention that he's given.

Despite all of this, Gideon still seems a bit off. He sometimes acts a little strangely, generally when around some of their less close friends (usually Corona and Judith, though why he still spends time with either of them blows Harrow's mind). And he's generally social, he's loud and boisterous so it's so strange seeing him like this, hesitant and barely talking even when there are questions posed to him. 

And then one day he bursts into the living room (he often does this, it's not much of a surprise to Harrow anymore) and they don't look up from their work until he clears his throat. They glance up, do a double take and then take in Gideon's wide, beaming smile.

"Came in the mail today," he says proudly. They know he'd ordered a binder, but it's sudden arrival is startling. He looks happy though, properly happy and he bounds across the room to sit by them flopping across their body like an overgrown puppy. He nearly crushes them but they adjust, move their laptop and adapt well to the position, running their fingers through his hair.

"Is it too tight?" they ask, worrying their bottom lip. They know he's done extensive research, they sat with him through it because they wanted to know everything there was to know in case there was something they could help with. Hell, they'd been there when he ordered it, but they weren't expecting it so soon. 

"It's perfect," Gideon hums against their neck, where he's pressed his face and he's resting. Harrow briefly runs their fingers down his back, dancing them at the place where his binder now rests and then they pull them away. "Not too tight. Doesn't hurt, but I'm gonna wear it for a bit longer to make sure it's not, ya know, gonna give me a rash or something." They can feel rather than see the expression he makes at the words and they chuckle.

"Just remember not to wear it for too long," they say. "And don't exercise in it. And don't sleep in it." They press a kiss to his forehead, basking in his presence that finally feels so unburdened. 

"Of course not, my sepulchre sovereign," Gideon mumbles and he rolls off of them, presumably before he can settle down for a nap. While he wanders off to do one business or another, Harrow merely watches him and they smile, glad that something has finally gone right for him.

*~*~*~*~*~*~

Life is bliss. Harrow and Gideon are in love and they're happy. Gideon is in Harrow's kitchen and he's making food and Soup is yelling at him from his perch on the counter. They are disgustingly domestic now, months of living together blurring into one mass of tender happiness.

They fight. Their brief but checkered shared history makes it familiar, never venomous and certainly never cruel. It's more bickering than anything else, when Harrow is tired and Gideon requires more than they can give him, when Harrow needs something and Gideon is struggling himself and they have to work around each other.

It's not perfect, but it's there. It's theirs, and Harrow holds it tight to their chest in case it flies away like everything else they're involved in seems to do. Gideon doesn't seem to care when they hold him close and they fall asleep in awkward positions on the couch because neither of them want to move.