Neeltje has a new obsession. She goes through different fads, talking only about lava lamps and flowers that are purple and perfume that smells like vanilla. Marc and his parents have grown accustomed to hearing about a random new topic around every month, and he knows not to be surprised when she asks him to help her make some friendship bracelets, as they are her new obsession.
Their mother has purchased several bracelet making kits that they use, and he retrieves them from her room. She has chosen to switch on Nick Jr, and the TV's high volume causes Huize Herrie to blast loudly from the speakers. Marc winces. However, Neeltje likes it louder than he does, and he is a good big brother, so he acquisces.
His little sister chatters on idly while Marc listens on with a fond smile, the two of them sat cross legged on the floor working on two separate bracelets. Neeltje elects to make a green one, and chooses a blue flower pendant to hang in the middle attractively. Marc chooses to create an interesting pattern using two separate threads, one black and one blue, intertwining them in an intricate manner that appeals to the eye.
Unsurprisingly, Neeltje finishes first, proudly wearing her creation on her wrist, twisting her arm this way and that to show it off.
"Look, Marc!" she exclaims, excited. Marc laughs and admires his 7 year old sister's handiwork, which is actually better than previously anticipated, and watches as she beams.
"It looks great!" he says, smiling. "Well done. How's mine?" he asks, grimacing slightly. Good concept but poor execution, he would say, eyeing the messy knots and ties he had had to do as a last ditch attempt at closing it off after all other methods had been fruitless.
Neeltje blinks, turning her head. Maybe she thinks changing her perspective will alter her view of the object, Marc thinks. Her expression proves him wrong, as it remains just as bemused and slightly intrigued as it had been from the outset. Oh well.
Marc's decidedly shitty adornment looks even more offensive when in juxtaposition to Neeltje's. Where hers is neat, tasteful and organised, his is chaotic, odd and disorderly. Marc just hopes whoever is to see his creation will see it as endearing and eccentric.
"I'm going to make a ring!" she announces. "I've never made one before. You make one too," she prods. Marc agrees, if only to placate his sister, and starts to fashion a ring out of the tiny threads left behind from his failed escapade with the bracelet. The mess he makes almost makes him laugh.
"Who are you going to give yours to? Or are you going to keep it for yourself?" Marc asks curiously. He looks to his little sister, sat in front of him, concentrated on her ring.
"Hmm," she considers. After a moment of deliberation she seemingly decides.
"I'm going to give it to Sieger." Neeltje says, smiling.
Marc startles, surprised. A small coil of something tightens in his stomach. "Why?"
Neeltje taps her chin, a theatric display of consideration, presented only to Marc who refrains from rolling his eyes.
"Because Sieger is pretty." The coil tightens further and he swallows. Neeltje continues. "And pretty people deserve pretty things, like rings. And Sieger never has any pretty accessories."
She continues fashioning the ring as if it were normal for a seven year old sister to consider giving homemade gifts to her big brother's friends, eight years her senior. Marc's eyes are fixed on the small pink and purple ring Neeltje continues to make.
Suddenly it seems to be the ugliest accessory he's ever seen, beating even his black and blue failure of a bracelet. Surely Sieg wouldn't wear such a thing?
He knows his sister surely cannot have a crush on Sieg. Even if she did, there is absolutely no way it could go anywhere.
"You should give yours to Sieg too!" Neeltje says, but it goes unnoticed by Marc, the idea quickly dismissed in his brain. Sieger is too good for the mess that is Marc's terrible ring, and bracelet.
He needs to get out of this mindset that everyone is out to steal Sieg's affections from him, it can lead to nowhere good, and so he forces himself to take a deep calming breath and his brain to shut the fuck up.
"Yours looks good," he says, throwing a small smile his sister's way. They continue to make small and silly jewelry that will most likely never be worn to the sound of Nick Jr reverberating across the room.
The pitter patter of small footsteps approaching them alerts Marc of the presence of his little sister. Sieg is about to leave Marc's, poised on his bike, a curious look on his face.
The day had been spent going to training (Marc had been fighting the urge to kiss Sieg all throughout practice) and Sieg coming over. They had eaten ice cream, and played with Neeltje for a while, and Marc had even succeeded in teaching Sieg a few chords on his guitar! They had even shared a few kisses here and there, Sieger blushing and smiling bashfully whenever that occured.
Now, it seems Neeltje has forgotten something and must tell Sieg before he goes. Marc leans against one of the tables, watching the exchange between them with a level of amusement from a distance but within earshot.
"Hello," says Sieg, eyes flicking to Marc and back down again to Neeltje. She grins.
"Hi!" her grin widens. She reaches into the back pocket of her shorts and retrieves a small item, unknown to Marc, whose eyebrows furrow in confusion. Neeltje hands the small objects to Sieg, who takes them and blinks down at them. He appears to be extremely confused. Likewise, thinks Marc.
"Marc made them for you!" She exclaims suddenly, before giggling loudly.
Marc splutters, straightening immediately, ready to deny any ludicrous claims made against him. What is Neeltje doing?!
"He said it's because you're pretty! So he made you things to make you prettier. I promise." she continues.
A small flush appears on Sieg's neck, his eyes fixed on the small, blue and black accessories held in his palm. One small, messy, pitiful bracelet and one even smaller, even more pathetic, ring.
Oh God, Marc thinks, as realisation dawns on him. They look even worse out in this light, just a few scraggly pieces of yarn held together by determination and sheer willpower alone. How Sieg will ever talk to him again after this he has no idea. How could Neeltje do this to him? He looks so lame and stupid!
"I..." Marc struggles, quickly approaching the two. "Neeltje!" he elects to say instead, glaring daggers at his sister who merely giggles and flicks her eyes between the two of them gleefully.
Sieger still has his eyes trained on his open palm containing the pathetic items. The flush has spread so prettily, reddening his face entirely. His lips have parted slightly, and he seems unsure of what to say. Slowly, his fingers curl into a fist, trapping Marc's shitty unintentional gifts between him and the rest of the world.
Neeltje giggles once again before quickly turning around on the spot and sprinting back into the house, leaving Marc and Sieger alone.
"S... Sorry about her," Marc apologises, rubbing the back of his neck, embarrassed. "You don't have to take them..."
"Neen!" Sieger protests. The fist containing the items is brought to his chest, as if ready to defend his right to own them. "I... I like them." he says.
Marc blinks in surprise, eyes rising from the ground to meet Sieg's. His blue eyes are wide, and Marc wants to drink Sieg in in his entirety until there is nothing left to take. He is simply wonderful.
"You do? They're stupid. We were just playing. Neeltje said..." he stops himself. "She said I should give them to you. She said they would make you prettier."
Marc scuffs his foot against the cement and holds eye contact with Sieg. He huffs a small laugh.
"I thought about it. But I thought it was dumb. Giving them to you, I mean," Marc murmurs.
Sieg's eyes suddenly turn down, seemingly hurt, clenching the fist held to his chest. Marc's brain is left scrambling to rectify this, as Sieg upset as a result of him is something he desperately wants to avoid. Sieg blinks and swallows, the other hand on the handlebars of his bike twitching. He sniffs lightly, eyes fixed on the ground.
"I... I mean," Marc licks his lips nervously. Sieger is going to think he's so stupid. Marc sighs.
"I just didn't think that giving you anything, especially some shitty accessory I made from a kids DIY kit, would make you prettier than you already are. You deserve better than that. Because... I think, you are very pretty." Marc forces himself to continue, however stupid and nervous telling Sieg this makes him feel. "Beautiful, in fact."
Sieg's eyes flick to his, and he licks his lips. Marc follows the movement with his eyes and wills himself to look elsewhere. Eye contact would be a good idea.
"You think that? For real?" Sieg asks. The hand that had been holding the accessories to his chest protectively is now resting by his side, playing with the objects with his fingers in what is seemingly a nervous gesture.
Marc nods. "Yeah. You are," he assures the other boy. Quickly, the flush that Marc loves reappears, climbing up his neck until it reaches his cheekbones. The older boy takes a step towards Sieg until they are barely a foot apart. He reaches up, brushing his fingers across the Sieger's pink cheekbone, before cupping the side of his face entirely.
With his other hand, he takes Sieg's hand holding the objects and opens it, revealing them. They look even worse than he remembers. But, Sieg likes them, and that's all that matters to him, so maybe they aren't quite as bad as he thought.
Marc steadies Sieg's bike with his lower body until he's sure it won't fall. Then, as Sieg watches, he takes the small blue and black ring held in Sieg's palm and carefully slides it onto his finger. Next, he takes the remaining bracelet and unties it, winding it round Sieger's thin wrist and tying it up. He takes Sieg's hand in his when it is free.
The pair of them look extremely haphazard together, but Sieg is staring at them as if they are infused with diamonds and gold and it is enough to make Marc believe they are too. They don't fit exactly, and the bracelet dances up and down Sieg's wrist dangerously. But it's alright.
"I'll get you some better ones, soon." Marc promises, smiling warmly when Sieger looks up to meet his eyes. The other boy grins and holds his hand tighter, the ring stretching around his finger. Sieger looks adorable, his cheeks red from the ever-present flush. His hair is messy and he is has traces of ice cream around his mouth. Marc wants to kiss it.
"Now, whenever you see them, on you, you can think of me," Marc suggests quietly. "And Neeltje being obtrusive. But mostly me."
Sieg laughs, and it is a beautific sound, a lovely twinkling that reverberates inside his brain and makes him feel fuzzy.
"I will," he says. Then, he leans up to close the gap between them, kissing Marc deeply.
He can taste the ice cream on the corner of Sieg's mouth, can feel his warmth and smell him, can feel Sieg's hand in his and the soft feel of the ring when his finger brushes against it when Sieger moves his hand, trying to get closer.
He smiles into the kiss happily. It's inexperienced and slow, Sieger fumbling, seemingly overtaken with the need to kiss him and not thinking about anything else. Marc's free hand runs up Sieg's arm until it reaches his neck, finally cupping the younger boy's face and letting out a small groan which makes Sieg groan in turn.
They part for breath, staring into the other's eyes. Sieg huffs a small laugh as he often does, not confident in his ability to appease Marc. Little does he know Marc couldn't be happier.