The sky is full of fiddles
The sky is full of stars and fiddles”
The Holm house towers big and white in the middle of a perfectly-kept lawn. The windows are large and clean. I'm standing outside what I sincerely hope is William's bedroom. All I have to go by is the human skull standing on the windowsill. I'd say it's a pretty educated guess, though – even a deduction.
I haven't seen anyone inside yet. It's already late, so I guess at least the Holm parents are asleep. William doesn't have ordinary people's need for sleep, though, so there's some hope that he'll still be awake on a Tuesday night like this.
I clear my throat and speak again, my head tipped back to watch the dark window above me.
“Twist yourself and turn yourself
and share a word with me
as I'm wandering on such a fair-weather-night
When all the sky-boys come out and dance
with blue shirts, sheep's hooves
The sky is full of fiddles”
There's a movement behind the glass. Nerves tingle in my belly when the window opens and William's curly head pokes out.
“John?” He peers down at me, his face torn between confusion and a sort of boyish joy.
“Hey.” I smile.
I can see him fighting not to ask an obvious question about why I'm here, or drop a stupid comment on how the sixth of August is not a night-wooing day. He frowns at me, trying to guess what's going on. I'm pretty sure he won't be able to deduce it.
“Are you going to let me in?” I ask.
“Oh. Yes. Careful, though – everyone is asleep.”
He pushes the windows open as far as they will go. I take a few steps back and then spring forward. The bottom of the window is at the height of my head, but I manage to throw my arms onto the windowsill. William helps me when I heave myself up and climb into his room.
His bedroom is almost three times as big as mine. It also contains about ten times as many things. Books are found on every single surface, maps and scientific posters cover the walls, there are strange fossils, a magnifying glass, and musical instruments both whole and taken apart. Actually, it looks precisely as I imagined it would; as odd and interesting as William himself. It's very comforting.
William looks around his room as if he too sees it for the first time. He looks a bit nervous, so I put my fingertips on his jaw and gently steer his head towards me. “Hello, you.” His pale eyes focus on me with a flash of hopeful light in them, before his eyelids drop when I lean in to kiss him.
I take my time to kiss him properly. When I step back from him he looks a bit dazed; his first priority is no longer to deduce why I'm here, I can tell. It's to snog me senseless. I love being able to do that to him.
That invisible halo around him, the one that appeared after our first kiss, has become more solid. I can see now that it wasn't the kisses that did it. No, it's because of what he is to me that he bathes in a subdued light only I can see. It's because he is the one I have chosen.
Looking into his eyes, I go down on one knee.
Doubt and disbelief wrestle on his face. I swallow fruitlessly – my mouth has gone dry – and my hands are trembling. I thought I'd get through this just fine, but my voice is so choked I don't recognise it when I speak.
“Holm William, this summer has been the best of my life. You are the most amazing person I've ever met, and I just…” I try another swallow. “I just can't imagine being with anyone other than you. For the rest of my life.”
William's eyes have gone very wide. I feel tears building up as I bravely hold his gaze and continue:
“I know this is a lot to ask. I know we can't get married, so my offer will hold little value, but there's nothing I want more than to spend my life with you. In whatever way we can. I love you, William. I hope you love me, and if you do… maybe you can agree not to marry. With me.”
My legs are trembling too now. I resolutely hold my pose on the floor by William's feet. I can see his throat working before he too manages to swallow and get out a quiet:
The smooth hardwood floor rends beneath me. For a second it feels as though I'm falling through it into a bottomless pit. But then William drops to his knees before me, and I can see the sheen of tears in his eyes when he goes on.
“No, we will marry.”
A breath shudders through me and lands me back on the wooden floorboards. I put down my other knee on the floor and grasp his hands.
“But – that's not possible for us.”
“Of course it is.” His eyes are fierce. “We will have the ceremony by the lake – where we met during the Midsummer night-wooing. Soling Jacob will be the witness, and Soling Alfred can officiate the wedding.”
My jaw drops. I feel it happening but I can't stop it. I've heard that Soling Jacob lives with a friend – not once did it occur to me that they were partners, let alone married. Not even after I met William and saw how love can grow between any two people, not even then did I question the relationship of the two Soling men.
“See?” William says. “People are stupid. They won't even consider the possibility of us living together for any other reason than being two bachelors who failed to woo a girl. Not even you saw it, and you are less idiotic than the common man.” I'm too awed by this new information to even roll my eyes before he goes on, speaking fast: “Soling Alfred's mother is a wise-woman in Sidensjö. Bakar Martha – she's eighty years old, probably doesn't have many years left. The Bakar house will go to Alfred when she dies; I've already talked to him about it, and he's willing to sell it to us. It's the perfect size for you and me. There's even room for a wood workshop in the house – you can start a fiddle-making practice in a few years, and I can play for money, and-”
“You've already thought about this”, I breathe. “You've- you've planned it.”
“Of course”, William says. “It might be wise to wait until next summer to have the wedding, though. That would give us time to work on the rings; we can't have ordinary wedding bands, obviously, but I'm thinking a necklace of some kind. Also, I need time to compose the wedding waltz and teach it to Jacob so he can play it after the ceremony. And we need to find suitable clothes for the occasion. I was thinking something in grey, and buttonholes with forget-me-nots…”
William's mouth suddenly snaps shut. He watches me warily, and I know I need to say something. I just have a hard time speaking around the lump in my throat. William wants to spend his life with me too. And I can tell from the excited way in which the words trip out of him how much it means to him that I was the one to ask.
“I love you”, I say.
William relaxes and drops his gaze to our still-linked hands. “I love you too”, he says quietly.
I stifle a burst of inexplicable laughter. “Well then. The Bakar house, you say?” He nods in silence. I squeeze his hands to make him look up at me. “Bakar William. Will you marry me?”
A smile tugs on his mouth. “Yes, I will, Bakar John.”
We grin at each other, so widely we must look utterly foolish. Maybe we are – I don't care. I want to be. We fall into one another's arms, still on our knees in the middle of his room. I smile and smile into his shoulder, so happy that it hurts.
“I want all of that”, I murmur into the fabric of his shirt. “The lake. The necklaces. The forget-me-nots. You'll really write me a wedding waltz?” The idea of hearing a tune William's composed is wonderful.
“I haven't started on it yet.” His voice too is muffled by my shoulder where he pushes his face against it. “This one will have to do for now.” He pulls back abruptly and starts rising off the floor. “Come.”
He takes my hand and helps me to my feet. He puts his arms around me in a dance-position, and I automatically do the same. His cheek rests lightly against my temple. I tilt my face up, smelling the skin of his throat in that spot just beneath his ear. Then he starts humming.
It's a waltz. William sings very quietly, but I'm close enough to hear every little sound. I relax into his hold, letting the romantic haze of the melody seep into my pores. He sways gently in time with the song, and I let him guide me until we're dancing with tiny waltz-steps. William turns us around on the spot – slowly, slowly – as he sings in my ear the most lovely tune. His lead is so sure that I want to just close my eyes and follow him. I trust him to lead me safely through anything.
Dancing with William is the same as talking with him, or feeling him laughing against my skin. It's the same as swimming with him, or sharing an otherworldly sunset. It's the same as kissing him. It's amazing how a simple waltz to a hummed tune can be like that.
William's voice shapes a small sanctuary for us in the middle of the world. The room vanishes around us bit by bit, the weave of reality turning into thin golden threads that surround us, warm and luminous. This, I think, is what it feels like when a promise is made. This is what happens when a future is settled.
I know now for certain that William and I will dance together forever.