The letter came in late March, an unexpected delivery as the pair sat on the floor of Adam’s room above St. Agnes, a deck of playing cards spread out between them. Ronan was teaching him a game he used to play with his brothers, before the monsters and the magic and the mayhem engulfed their lives.
A moment of normalcy.
Ronan was demonstrating for Adam again the intricate rules of a game most certainly made up by the Lynch brothers when the two heard the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs, a thud at the door, then again the sound of footsteps retreating down the creaking staircase.
“Mail’s here.” Ronan said and Adam ignored it, picking up a King of Spades and a Queen of Hearts from the deck.
Adam studied the cards, “I still don’t understand what the purpose of the game is.”
“Matthew made it up, it’s all bullshit.”
It was bullshit, but Adam couldn’t deny the way the moment made him feel, finding comfort in the break from scholarship applications and looming AP tests. A break from talking trees and Welsh kings.
He had this: Ronan moving to sit beside him, elbows and knees and sides touching as he inspected Adam’s cards. Ronan taking the cards from Adam’s hands and tossing them to the floor, a hungry smile spreading across his face. Ronan’s lips, first against Adam’s ear and then his jaw before finally settling on Adam’s own lips. Bodies pulled to the floor as actions spoke for words.
“We should get the mail.” Adam said upon catching his breath from the unexpected moment’s ecstasy, head resting against Ronan’s chest in a way that allowed the other boy to move his fingers through his uncombed hair.
“Really, Parrish? Now you want to get the mail?”
Adam groaned, feeling the way Ronan’s hands moved through his hair. He was gentle, always asking Adam if something hurt or was okay to touch, never wanting to open old wounds or memories of a life left behind.
“Yes, now.” He didn't, not really. Adam Parrish wanted to stay, body curled against Ronan’s. He felt safe, felt a comfort so unknown to him. This moment, it was a protection from the future and the inevitable problems it would bring. A protection from the decision letters he knew were waiting on the other side of the door.
They sat up, the moment over as Adam stood himself and walked barefooted over the playing cards to the door. A Nine of Spades stuck to the bottom of his foot in his rush, a call back to the normal and the mundane. He lifted his foot and picked up the card, holding it in his hand as he opened the door to a pile of mail resting at the threshold.
“It’s here.” He said it just loud enough for Ronan to hear, who remained seated on the floor. Harvard’s ensignia greeted Adam at the top of the pile.
The rest of the mail was unimportant, matters to be attended to later. Coupons to the supermarket and credit card companies could wait. The packet from Harvard felt heavy in his hands as he carried it to his bed, finding comfort in the familiar creek of the floorboards beneath him as he sat himself on the mattress. Ronan remained on the floor, looking up at him with anticipation.
“You got in.”
“I haven’t opened it yet.”
“They wouldn’t send you a rejection packet , Parrish.”
He needed to see for himself.
Adam’s hands fumbled with the seal, taking care not to destroy the envelope as he worked to open it. He could feel the way his heart beat against his chest, the way his hands shook when he broke the seal and reached for the top paper in the packet. The way the room went fuzzy, just for a moment, as he read the first line of the letter. Ronan was beside him now, peering over his shoulder to read the same line.
I am delighted to inform you -
“I got in?” He said it like a question, disbelief overshadowing any excitement that should come with being accepted to one of the nation’s top institutions.
Adam gripped the letter in his hands, reading and rereading the congratulatory note for some sort of error, some sort of indication that this was a hoax. Adam Parrish, Harvard Pre-Law. It sounded unnatural.
When he looked up he saw Ronan’s smile, a wild and beautiful thing.
“I got in.” It was no longer a question.
And then there was this: bodies together, arms wrapped tight in an embrace that spoke of hours writing and rewriting applications, of sleepless nights and thoughts of never being good enough, smart enough, worthy enough. It spoke of mornings in bed, bodies fitting together in a space too small and yet somehow just right. It was running through the Barns with Opal, watching monster movies with Gansey and Blue and Henry too. The embrace was a second chance and a new beginning.
“If I go, will you come with me?”
Adam felt Ronan’s grip on him loosen, watched as the other boy dropped his hands down and looked at him with an expression uncertain and unsteady. He knew what he had asked was a lot, but he wanted this. Wanted so selfishly to wake up in the same city as Ronan, make new memories and uncover new adventures with Ronan at his side. He was chasing a dream that needed a dreamer.
Ronan left the bed, the floor creaking beneath him as he moved toward the window. The sun hung low in the sky, its dying light casting shadows across the room. Adam watched him, waited for him to say words he knew would never come.
Because Ronan belonged to Henrietta and its woodlands and its wonders. He belonged to the Barns and the Barns belonged to him. He belonged to a place in a way that Adam never could and when Adam joined him at the window, Ronan kept his silence.
Still, Adam asked it: “Is there any version of you that could come with me to Cambridge?”
Maybe. Adam detected a hope that hid behind his words, a selfishness not unlike Adam’s. One word that wanted so desperately to go. And it was enough.
Enough for Adam to reach for Ronan’s hand and for Ronan to take it, squeezing it in a way that said: “We’ll make it work.” Enough for Ronan to stay the night, bodies curled together and laughter filling the room as the pair tried to imitate a Bostonian accent.
“No,” Ronan said, laughing into Adam’s shoulder, “you gotta say Haa-vaard . Really draw out your a’s , Parrish.”
Statistics and logistics of how he got in or how many times he would see Ronan a semester subsided for the night. They allowed themselves a moment’s release, hungry bodies moving in celebration of a future uncertain but one they would build together.
“I’m proud of you,” Ronan said that night, hands combing their way through Adam’s hair. “You should be proud of yourself too.”
It was enough.