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Striped Uniforms and Hedge Labyrinths

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“Hey, could'ya be a little more careful?” Cheslock said, after Midford had bumped into him for the third time that evening.

 

“My apologies...” Midford said, taking a step away from him. “I didn't mean to bother you.”

 

The blond boy had been standing closer than usual by his friend; too embarrassed to make a move (especially under the seemingly watchful eyes of their prefects), but far too enamoured with the Purple Dorms' fag to ignore him.

 

Both Cheslock and Edward were standing by the table where their prefects were sitting, everyone wearing similar striped suits and hats.

 

“Hey Chessie, Chessie,” Midford prodded Cheslock's shoulder, “Why aren't you wearing a hat? Everyone else has gotta wear one.”

 

“C'mon Midford, don't you think I look more handsome like this?” Cheslock said to change the subject, doing a quick spin to show off how well his suit fit him.

 

“Ahhah, yeah, definitely...” Midford's face flushed. “You look gorgeous actually, you're always gorgeous. Did'jya know how good you look?” he rambled.

 

Midford had been indulging in a few extra glasses of champagne, and Cheslock was becoming relentless with his teasing.

 

“Cheslock, haven't you provoked Midford enough lately?” Greenhill snapped at him. “Violet, you've seen it too, right? I can't be the only one noticing this.” He looked towards each of the prefects, seeking validation.

 

“I always thought they got along just fine.” Violet said matter-of-factually, not bothering to look up from his sketchbook. He didn't wish to get too involved with his fag's developing relationship, knowing that the situation would likely smooth out on its own.

 

“I agree with Violet,” Redmond spoke up, “I, for one, think that what's been going on between Midford and Cheslock is quite wonderful! We should be supporting what is clearly a blossoming relationshi-”

 

“Are you serious? Don't give me that load of bull, he seems like he's just trying to get an ego-boost at this point. I don't know about you, but I prefer to protect my fag and friend from people who just- who just,” He struggled to find appropriate words.

 

“Who just what, Greenhill?” Violet said, mildly irritated that the topic even came up. “Who just occasionally teases and throws some friendly banter from time to time? Hell, if the other students saw what goes on between you, Redmod, Bluer, and I, most would think that we're constantly tormenting one another, too.” He paused to put his sketchbook down, and grabbed another champagne glass from the table tray to take a sip. “It just seems different because we're not use to seeing it happen from an outsider's perspective. Besides, he doesn't have any malicious intentions, at least that's what I can trust, right, Cheslock?” He glanced to his own fag.

 

“Hm? Oh! Oh yes, of course not, Violet.” Cheslock replied. Both him and Midford had gotten lost in the conversation, feeling that the time was better spent mumbling to one another about only god-knows-what.

 

Greenhill looked towards Cheslock, then at Violet, then Midford, and then back at Cheslock again.

 

“...Okay. Maybe I'm overreacting a little; I'll drop it for now I suppose.”

 

Violet sighed with relief, glad that he didn't have to argue with his close friend any further. He knocked back the remainder of his drink, and placed his glass back onto the tray he got it from.

 

Okay! I think that's been enough to drink for all of us in one day.” Bluer nervously laughed. He had been holding is tongue while watching his friends debate. He knew that nothing truly damaging would ever be said regardless of how much they would drink, but it didn't stop him from feeling anxious.

“Clayton, would you be so kind as to move this tray elsewhere?”

 

“Yeah, I've definitely had enough.” Greenhill noted, avoiding eye-contact.

 

“You didn't even have any Bluer...” Violet murmured.

 

“Hey, I only got one glass.” Redmond snatched two glasses before they could be taken away.

 

Everyone relaxed now that the tensions had blown over. They went back to chatting, and quickly forgot about the skirmish.

 


 

 

“Cheslock, I need you to go grab another sketchbook from the second art room, I'm nearly finished with this one.” Violet said.

 

“I'll get right on it.” Cheslock muttered. He wasn't quite in the mood to leave, especially with a tipsy Midford by his side keeping him company, but he complied with no complaints.

 

Violet noted Cheslock still watching Midford as he left; he felt a pang of sympathy for him and decided to throw Cheslock a bone.

 

“Oh and uh, Cheslock?”

 

“Hm?”

 

“You'll need to bring someone with you to hold the door open, otherwise you'll get locked in.”. It wasn't entirely true, the door was only locked past curfew, but it wasn't an important detail, anyhow.

 

Midford perked up, obviously not wanting to waste the opportunity to be alone with Cheslock.

 

“Herman, do you mind if Midford goes along with him?” Violet asked.

 

Greenhill side-eyed Violet. He knew that Midford's presence would have absolutely nothing to do with the door locking, but he didn't wish to stir up additional trouble between him and Violet. Additionally, he loved his friend too much to deny him, so he withheld his complaints.

 

“I suppose you can go, Midford. Just don't be too long.”

 

Midford beamed, and moved immediately to follow the other student.

 

Right before they left, Violet stopped the two of them briefly.

 

“I know Greenhill said to be quick, but take my advice and go find the furthest eastern entrance to the building instead of the main one, it will give you some more time.” he said in a quite tone. “If anyone asks why you're there, just tell them I gave you permission to be there. Now hurry up and get out of here before they notice how long you're going to be gone.”

 

Cheslock felt a little shocked, but overall grateful for Violet's leniency towards them (as unexpected as it was). He speed-walked away along with his dear friend before anyone changed their mind.

 


 

 

Cheslock was astounded when they tried to find the entrance that Violet had told them about.

 

The pathway that should have lead to the eastern side of the building, had a modestly-sized hedge labyrinth blocking the way to the entrance.

 

“Since when the hell did we have another one of these?” Cheslock asked.

 

“Must've been planted pretty recently.” Midford replied. He was most likely correct, the soil looked to have been broken up not too long ago, and the hedges were still very neatly trimmed.

 

They stepped in together, looking up at the tall walls of the maze, wondering how they were going to get through.

 

“Gregory really wasn't kidding when he said we would have more time.” Cheslock laughed. Leisurely, they wandered around together.

 

Midford gazed at him, admiring his smiling face. Suddenly, he felt a drastic pang in his chest, and he tore his eyes away from him. Emotions always took hold of him whenever he was with Cheslock; combined with his low alcohol-tolerance, he felt overwhelmed.

 

Cheslock was, of course, quick to pick up the sudden change in mood.

 

“Hey, what's with that expression?” he asked.

 

“It's nothing, really. I just can't keep certain things off of my mind I guess.” Midford replied.

 

Cheslock studied his face. He knew that there was so much being left unsaid between them, but he hadn't a clue to remedy the situation. He figured he could at least prompt Midford a little. Maybe he could get him to talk first.

 

“So, we're all alone.” He started.

 

“Uh, yes. We really are.” Midford replied, feeling unconfident.

 

“Is there anything you uh, need to talk about? You just said you had things on your mind.” Cheslock offered.

 

Midford hesitated, anxiety gnawing at the back of his mind.

 

“You can always tell me what's going on in your head, Ed.” Cheslock spoke once again.

 

Midford gazed at him again. His heart fluttering and part of his mind begged him to finally pour out his emotions, but fear held him back.

 

“Maybe some other time...”

 

While Midford's tone didn't ease Cheslock's concern, he didn't press any further.

 

“My apologies, I don't know how I got so tired, but I'm not great company at the moment, Ches.” Midford mumbled.

 

“Did you wanna take a bit of a break then?” Cheslock asked.

 

“Ugh.” Midford was trying his best to hide the fact that his head was spinning. “Ches I really don't think we should. We're already taking far too much time, don't you think?”

 

“Not at all. In fact, why don't we sit down for a while, enjoy the evening.”

 

He plopped to the ground, and patted his palm against the ground beside him.

 

“Cheslock for fuck sake”

 

“Whoa, Mr. Proper is actually getting a little foul-mouthed tonight. I can't recall ever hearing you say 'fuck' in the time we've known each other.” Cheslock replied. “Seriously though, Ed, you should sit down. You're not looking too well.”

 

Midford rolled his eyes.

 

“Psh, I look fine. Probably going to get dirt stains all over our clothes you know...” Midford muttered as he complied.

 

“C'mere then.” Cheslock retorted.

 

Midford yelped as Cheslock placed his arms around Midford's stomach and pulled him onto his lap.

Midford squirmed a little, but as Cheslock moved his hands to Midford's shoulders, he found that he was able to relax more easily. He gave in, and eased his body into Cheslock's. Sheepishly, he removed his hat and tossed it aside, caring little at this point about the abundance of dust that would inevitably mar it.

 

“Isn't this a little better?” Cheslock said, clearly pleased with himself.

 

Midford felt far too dazed. He simply sighed at him, refusing to give Cheslock a satisfying answer. Cheslock rested his chin atop Midford's shoulder, moving his hands back around Midford's stomach.

 

“Hey, do you think Greenhill and Violet will get annoyed that we're taking so long?” Midford asked, changing the subject. “Greenhill doesn't normally excuse absences like this, and I'm anxious that we'll get in trouble for tonight.”

 

“I don't really think so,” Cheslock answered, “Gregory already knows that we're not going to be around for a while, and if he's not complaining, then Greenhill will most likely ignore us, too.”

 

“You really think he won't say anything?” Midford asked

 

“Nah. Even after a few drinks Greenhill will still value Gregory's opinion more than anything else, even if he does get a little snappy.” Cheslock replied.

 

“I never thought of them as being so close.” Midford said.

 

The word 'oblivious' crossed Cheslock's mind. He was surprised at Midford's ignorance to the prefect's relationship, but if Midford didn't know now, it wasn't Cheslock's place to tell.

 

“Well at least we can relax for a while without that on our minds then. I'll be honest, I feel like I haven't felt this relaxed since I enrolled into Weston.” Midford mentioned.

 

Cheslock snorted. “Yeah, well Weston's a pretty stressful school to be at.” he said.“Honestly, I think it'd be impossible to relax when yer always surrounded by a buncha other fit guys.” Cheslock said, referring to the Green House.

 

“Psshhh, ha, christ it's like you've read my mind, Ches. In my first year it took all of my effort to not stare in the locker room whenever we were changing.” Midford admitted and laughed. “Hey, I've got a bit of a weird question. Do you think anyone in the Green House would ever want to date me?” Midford asked asked.

 

“I'm sure pretty much anyone would be happy to have you as a boyfriend.” Cheslock reassured.

 

“I mean, I want to hear something less generic. Like, if I asked someone out, what are the chances that someone would actually say yes?” Midford asked again.

 

“Well, I sure as hell wouldn't say no.” Cheslock chimed. “Although I'm obviously not in the Green House.”

 

Midford was stunned. Did he hear him right?

 

“Cheslock, what the hell?” Midford said.

 

“You're a sweet guy, Edward. And we're good friends, so I honestly couldn't reject you if you ever asked. In theory, of course.” He added. And also you've been dropping painfully obvious hints about wanting to get together the past few months, He nearly added, though he decided to keep his thoughts to himself.

 

“Cheslock, you're also...?” Midford drifted off. His face reddened, as old fantasies resurfaced and flashed through his mind.

 

“Hm? Yeah. I've been with a few guys on and off.” Cheslock mentioned with a smug smile.

 

“Hey Ches...” Midfor started. He swallowed, trying to gain his courage. What the hell, what the hell, he just said... But what should I ask? Why is it so hard to ask?

 

He stammered, trying to find his words.

 

“I-I'm sorry; Look, I've never asked anyone out, I don't know really know what to say here.” Midford stammered.

 

“So you are asking me out then?” Cheslock stated calmly.

 

“No! Wait no! I mean yes! Yeah. Yes.” Midford took a deep breath. “Yes, Cheslock, what I am asking, is if you would go out with me?”

 

“Well, you already know that I won't say no, don't you?” Cheslock replied. He touched Midford's chin and tilted his face towards him, and pressed their lips together.

 

Midford felt a mix of shock and relief, when Cheslock leaned forward and kissed him. He closed his eyes, turning his body and placing his arms around his now-official boyfriend's neck, savouring the moment. Midford studied the feeling of Cheslock's lips. They were a little chapped, but soft against his own lips, nonetheless.

 

They kept their foreheads together as they pulled apart, still holding each other.

 

“Holy shit...” Midford whispered, his heart beating fast.

 

“Was that the first time you've kissed, Ed?” Cheslock asked.

 

“Yeah... Kiss me again.” Midford demanded. He straddled Cheslock, grabbing his jacket and pulling them close together again.

 

Without hesitation, Cheslock gave Midford a second kiss, and then a third, refusing to part for more than a moment. Gently, he nipped the bottom of Midford's lip, provoking a gasp.

 

Midford tried to follow Cheslock's lead, mimicking his movements when he parted his lips. Though he initially thought that the feeling of Cheslock's tongue slipping past his lips was strange, he tentatively responded in similar fashion. He grabbed at the small amount of hair that Cheslock had.

 

Cheslock loosened Midford's tie and unbuttoned his shirt, exposing his skin to the cool air. He felt Midford tug just a little too hard at his hair, but he didn't complain. Instead, he broke away to kiss his neck. Shivers went up Midford's spine when he felt breath against his skin.

 

Unrestrained moans filled the air as Cheslock sucked Midford's neck, leaving dark marks on his pale skin. Midford had tossed away all sense of self-awareness, overwhelmed with satisfaction and joy when Cheslock nibbled at his collarbone.

 

Cheslock paused for a second. “Y'know Ed, someone might hear us if we don't keep it down.” he said.

 

“I'm not being loud, you tosser...” Midford grumbled, annoyed that his boyfriend had stopped.

 

“Well if it's not you, then this maze is clearly haunted, because no one else is around as far as I can tell. Ghosts love moaning.” Cheslock said, giving Midford a peck on the cheek.

 

“I wouldn't be surprised if ghosts were interested in you, Chessie, because you certainly look like one sometimes.” Midford retorted.

 

“I look like a ghost, you sound like a ghost, it's a perfect match.” Cheslock replied.

 

Midford scoffed. “Like you'd know what a ghost sounds like.”

 

“Of course I know what a ghost sounds like. You said it yourself, ghosts are very interested in me. I made out with one once.” Cheslock remarked.

 

“What? That wouldn't even make any sense. You can't make out with a ghost.” Midford said.

 

“How would you know, have you ever tried?” Cheslock asked.

 

“In fact, I have. Just now actually.” Midford countered.

 

Cheslock snorted, then they both abrupt into laughter.

 

“Well said, Ed.” he rhymed. “Anyhow, this ghost is starting to think that we should get back to the task on hand before the night falls, and actual ghosts start popping up.”

 

“Ah, right. We are suppose to be grabbing a sketchbook.” Midford said, disappointed. After buttoning his shirt back up, and re-adjusting his tie, he stood back up. Cheslock followed suit, smoothing out his own stripped outfit, and brushed off some of the dirt.

 

“We should still have time to be together later tonight.” Cheslock reassured. “I can sneak you into my dorm room, we can cuddle 'n kiss and whatnot in my bed.”

 

“Wouldn't we just get Y's for doing that?” Midford said, not entirely sure if Cheslock was serious or not.

 

“Oh, trust me, no one will notice that you're there. Or at least, no one that would care enough to tell anyone, anyways.” Cheslock remarked. “Though I s'pose I could figure out how to get into your dorm if that's what you'd prefer, you probably wouldn't get into as much trouble. It might take me longer though.”

 

Midford was skeptical, but despite the fact that they could get into trouble for sneaking around to other dorms at night, he had to admit that the idea had him stirring new thoughts in his head .

 

“If we're careful, I suppose I wouldn't mind being with you at night...” Midford trailed off. “I'd enjoy that. I'd enjoy that a lot.”

 

Cheslock grabbed Midford's hand, and laced their fingers together. Midford blushed, unaccustomed to the feeling of affection.

 

Setting sunlight filtered through the hedge leaves, and the sky deepened to an orange as the two boys walked together.