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You're the Match That Made Me Strike

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"Life, to be sure,

Is nothing much to lose,

But young men think it is, 

And we were young."

     -A.E. Housman

Tom and Will live in their second-story flat for six months before Tom has a proper conversation with the downstairs neighbors. He knows a few things about them, certainly: they’re two girls living in a one-bedroom like his and Will’s flat, their names are Louisa and Ada (though he doesn’t know which is which), they work varying shifts at the nearby munitions factory, and Tom’s never talked to them save for a quick ‘hello’ or a wave as he passes. Will’s talked to them enough to tell them apart— he rides the bus with one of them in the morning sometimes— but Tom’s just never gotten around to it.

Tom’s never talked to them for more than a few sentences, and now one of them is inviting him and Will to dinner in their flat. Her name still escapes him, so whichever one has the green eyes and long dark hair that Tom rarely ever sees pinned up, is the one who catches him one morning on his way to the store.

It’s almost as if she’d been waiting for Tom to come down the stairs because as soon as he’s a few feet down the front path, she opens her own door and calls out to him. She at least knows his name it would seem. Despite what not knowing his neighbors would seem like, Tom’s not an inherently rude person, so he stops to talk to her and to see what she needs. 

She reveals that earlier in the week, his and Will’s mail had been put through her mail slot— that she’d seen an envelope with the Royal Army’s seal on it. The point of it all being, she apparently wants to know if Will has been called back to the front. Her voice is somber when she asks, and Tom realizes that it’s probably because she knows what Tom and Will mean to each other, much like he knows about the two girls’ own relationship.

Luckily, Tom gets to tell her that Will’s been formally discharged, that they’re both officially home. The smile that replaces the small frown on her face makes Tom happy that he could share this with her.

“In that case,” she says, “would you and Will like to join us for dinner this coming week? As a bit of a celebration?”

It’s certainly unexpected given their history, and Tom’s sure that his face portrays a feeling of such with widened eyes and raised eyebrows. His mother always used to tell him that it was never too late to change a behavior though, and like-minded people needed to stick together, so Tom agrees on Will’s behalf. “Yeah, sure. I’ll let Will know. And, I’m sorry, I know it’s rude of me, but I don’t actually know if you’re Louisa or Ada.”

Her smirk isn’t malicious by any means, and thankfully not condescending. Perhaps it’s amused because she knows how little they’ve ever talked. “I’m Louisa. Ada is the better of us two. Shall we say this Tuesday?”

“Tuesday. We’ll be there.”

Louisa smiles once more and nods before retracing her path back to her front door. She doesn’t look back over her shoulder, nor does he see Ada poking her head out from behind the window drapes to catch a look at the elusive upstairs neighbor. For a moment though, Tom stands rooted to the spot, taking in what has just happened. Will is bound to be pleased— he’s been wanting to get to know the girls below them for months now, curious to understand the two women living under the pretense of roommates like themselves.

When Tom gets home from the grocer, the windows are thrown open around the flat, letting in the warmth and light of a cloudy London Sunday. Will is sprawled on the sofa with an open book, one arm propped under his head as a makeshift pillow, and the other holding the book open above his head. He doesn’t make any indication that he’s heard Tom walk in, but that’s to be expected while he’s engrossed in whatever fictional world he’s currently in.

“Talked to Louisa today,” Tom calls from the kitchen.

“You know which one Louisa is?” Will calls back. Predictably, that gets his attention.

Tom waits to say anything while he knows Will’s on his way into the kitchen to see him. Sure enough, he hears the quiet creak of the floorboards under a pair of feet, followed by a head of unbrushed dark hair peeking around the corner. In the overcast light filtering through their kitchen window, Will’s hair looks particularly dark. It’s almost as if the sun’s very presence revitalizes it and gives it that golden depth and glow, without which, just leaves it morose and dull.

“Why do you know which one’s Louisa?” Will asks, his eyes narrowed.

Tom walks over to him to stow a cup in the cupboard next to Will’s head. “Because I talked to her on my way to the store, and she and Ada want to have dinner with us. In honor of you being formally discharged.” The look on Will’s face, mouth agape from a temporary loss of words, is comical.

Before moving back across the kitchen, Tom leans forward and onto his toes just enough to plant a chaste kiss at the corner of Will’s mouth. This seems to pull him from his stupor. “Are you pulling my leg?”

Tom barks out a laugh. “ No . Why is it so hard to believe that I agreed to have dinner with them? I can be a cordial person. I’m not a total shut-in.”

“It’s just that you’ve never made an effort before, is all. What day is this celebratory dinner happening?”

Tom levels him with pursed lips and narrowed eyes of his own before turning back to the cabinet. “This Tuesday. I’m sure they’ll say something to you before then though since you’re much more chummy with them. Don’t worry.”

“Okay, okay, I get it.” Will holds his hands up in surrender and resorts to just resting his hip against the countertop, his eyes following Tom’s form as he moves around the small space. 

Sometimes the domesticity of their living situation, especially in times like these when they’re puttering around the kitchen in silence, fills Tom with unwanted cognitive dissonance. They survived a damn war — one that’s still being raged out in France— and here they are now playing house. Tom still feels incredibly lucky that they’re able to do so, able to wake up in each other's arms every morning and not have to worry about falling shells or trench foot. It’s just strange sometimes. Tom steals a look at Will while he’s stowing their grocery bags and thinks about how lucky he is.



Louisa and Ada tell them to bring the bread and whatever wine they can get their hands on, so Will grabs two loaves of some French bread from the bakery on his way home from his office while Tom’s left to collect the wine. 

Upon entry into Louisa and Ada’s flat, Tom confirms that it does indeed have the same room layout as their own. Will had told Tom one day back in the beginning, and he’s pleased to see that Will was right. Where their flat differs from Tom and Will’s own, however, is in the decorating. The girls have, what Tom would consider, a lavishly decorated living room with rugs, art, and books. The drapes they have around the windows add color and a sense of hominess that Tom and Will’s own doesn’t have. It’s a material hominess, granted, not necessarily an emotional one— they’ve got the latter covered.

Louisa takes the bread from Will and directs Tom to drop off the wine in the dining room with the rest. “Feel free to help yourself to a drink while you’re in there too, boys.”

Because the flat is the same as his own, Tom follows the path in his memory to the shared dining and living room to see where the dining table sits with Ada sipping from a wine glass of her own red wine. 

Unlike Louisa, Ada has short auburn hair that reaches just above her shoulders that currently hangs free. She smiles when she sees Tom and Will, rising from her chair to exchange friendly hugs. Once standing, Tom also realizes that she’s just a bit taller than Louisa, a little lankier too.

Tom displays the wine bottle he brought, and she eagerly takes it in exchange for wine glasses of their own from a little alcohol cabinet in the corner of the room. Maybe that’s what he and Will need. Rather than open the bottle that Tom and Will brought, Ada pours them wine from the bottle that’s already open and sits back at the small four-person table with two chairs on either side.

Will sits next to her, and Tom sits opposite. He listens to Louisa closing the oven door and watches as she walks into the dining room with her hair braided down her back. She looks content and happy coming to kiss Ada on the cheek, and Tom wonders if he looks like that when looking at Will. It wouldn’t be so bad if he did, so long as it was exclusively in private.

Conversation flows easily around glasses of wine and their eventual dinner. They talk about all aspects of life— of life in the munitions factory and a little bit of life in the military. When Will’s talking about trench life, it’s as vague as he can make it, and the girls don’t push for any more detail. Louisa talks about growing up on a farm up north, causing her and Tom to chat excitedly about the many facets of farm life for several minutes.

Once dinner has been served and cleared, the party remains at the table drinking through their bottles of wine. Ada alternates between her wine and a lit cigarette, Tom taking a cigarette of his own when Ada offers him one.

During a particularly long lapse in conversation that leads to Tom glancing around the room, his inhibitions are lowered just enough to remark on what he sees. “Your flat’s much fuller than ours.” It’s casual, and Tom catches Will smiling at him when his eyes return to the table.

“Women just have a particular touch for decorating and filling a house over men,” Ada says from around her cigarette, the corners of her mouth pulling up just enough for Tom to see the playfulness behind it. She shrugs and taps her finger to the table as if to make her point— even the table’s nicer than Tom and Will’s own, draped in a woven lace tablecloth with a vase of wildflowers sat in the middle.

Will, still sitting next to Ada, smiles into his wine glass as Tom scoffs and lifts a finger to point accusingly at Ada. “Hey, not all men are bad at decorating. Me and Will—” 

“Oh please!” Ada’s at least laughing now, looking like she’s having the time of her life. “Regardless of whoever you men shag, your flats are never nice. Louisa will back me up on this from her own experience. Every man we know— queer or not— has nothing on the intrinsic feminine wiles that it takes to decorate a room.”

Louisa, who has stepped away to fetch a glass of water from the kitchen, can be heard cackling from around the corner. Tom can feel a rush of warmth to his face at the joyful sound, a smile of his own settling onto his face as he sees Will shrugging in agreement with Ada.

So, maybe Ada’s not entirely wrong, but he still feels the need to defend his honor. Before he can speak again though, Louisa walks back into the room, stopping at the table to put the water glass down and then picking up the wine bottle to pour a generous serving of wine into Tom and Ada’s glasses.

“It’s okay, Tom, we can come up to help if you want,” Louisa chimes as she goes to sit in Ada’s vacant lap rather than back to her own chair beside Tom. Tom’s face burns for an entirely different reason then. He sees Will look at him over his glass, amused smirk still on his face and a suggestive look in his eyes.

“Yeah,” Ada continues, “we know you two have been busy.”

It’s Will’s turn to look embarrassed, and he chokes on his wine, his face flushing at the insinuation. “We haven’t—”

“Why does everyone assume—” Will and Tom both start at the same time, but their protests get cut off by the shrill laughter of both girls.

Tom’s horrified at how transparent they appear to be in front of these girls, but he supposes it’s because of how much they have in common. He figures Louisa and Ada live pretty similarly to him and Will.

“Oh calm down,” Ada wheezes, “You’ve both been out on the front and then cooped up in hospitals. It isn’t difficult, nor is it shameful, to make up for lost time now that you finally have a lock on your door.” Ada’s statement gets calmer as she finishes and looks between Will and Tom as they’re sat across from each other. An earnestness bleeds into her voice that Tom hasn’t heard since his mother told him that she supported him and Will when they went home for the first time.

The statement, though mortifying in context, is surprisingly reassuring and meaningful coming out of someone’s mouth who isn’t related to either of them.

Tom wills the blush on his face to disappear, and soon enough it does. Even through the haze of alcohol, he has no intention of continuing this conversation about the bedroom in front of these two girls who he hardly knows. So, Tom stares down his wine and barely catches Will uttering a quiet, “Thank you,” followed by Louisa reaching out to squeeze at Will’s hand where it lays on the table.

The sudden thought that he and Will could be friends with people not so different from themselves is nearly overwhelming. Tom wants this for them— they deserve to have the option of not having secrets with someone who isn’t family.

As the evening wears on, someone makes an executive decision to move to the living room and turn on the radio, lounging across the girls’ sofa and floor.

Being two people, the girls only have a small sofa and a wing-backed chair, but Tom is a country boy at heart, and he does not mind lounging on the plush rug with his glass sat on the floor next to him. Will laughs at him and tells him he can squeeze onto the chair with him, but Tom ignores him in his happily drunken haze and stretches out like a sunning cat.

Like earlier at the table, their conversation topics vary from family to how both couples met each other. Louisa tells them that she and Ada met at one of the local queer pubs up the road about two years prior. When looking for a place to live together, they somehow found a flat that had no upstairs neighbors— a living situation that persisted until Will came to rent the upstairs flat the day he was put on rotation home. That story gets told— the story of April 6th and the proceeding events— both women regarding them with soft eyes and kind smiles.

And then at one point, Louisa mentions something about going to her brother’s wedding when he’d returned home for a few weeks back in January. It’s a topic that has dangerous implications for Tom’s own subconscious, but they’re too well into it now to turn around. 

Tom props his head upon his hand to listen, watching as Louisa gazes at Ada from her position of half-sitting on top of her. She looks at Ada once again like she’s her sun and stars like her world starts and stops with the other woman. Yeah, Tom confirms in his mind, he knows what that looks like because that’s how he looks at Will.

“I don’t know what I wouldn’t give to marry, Ada. Just to have that commitment, you know? Surrounded and supported by family, taking the sacrament before God? It’s trivial, but I want it.” Louisa sounds wistful, about on the verge of tears, but Tom wonders if some of that emotion is from the alcohol. 

Tom watches her lace her hands together with Ada’s unoccupied one, watches the sad smile that spreads across Ada’s own face. Through it all, Tom feels the heat of another pair of eyes on him and looks to see Will’s eyes heavy on him.

They have never talked about the concept of marriage, because why would they? Tom and Will have only recently gotten the chance to settle down, and it’s not like they’ll ever get the chance too, even if that’s what they wanted to do. Though Tom thinks that he’d want to marry Will Schofield if he could— spend the rest of his life knowing they belonged to each other in God’s eyes.

Suddenly, Tom feels warm around his collar as he looks back at Will. It feels like they’re the only two people in the room, though that’s not true in the least. Ada’s voice pulls Tom’s hazy mind back to the present, back to the room that holds two other people.

“What about you, Tom, do you want to get married one day?” It’s as light and innocent as can be expected a bottle and a half of wine deep, talking about a heavy and meaningful topic such as forbidden marriages. Why has this question been directed at him and not Will? Was it his face?

“Not with any woman, I assure you. I don’t know,” he tries to act nonchalant about it, but there’s no hiding among these people. “Me and Will haven’t ever talked about it— haven’t had the time or safety to. There’d be something special to it though after everything we’ve been through.”

He thinks that might be the end of it, the silence that follows him is understanding and validating. 

Will stands then, still largely stable on his feet somehow, and sets his glass down on a side table before reaching over to turn the dial of the radio up a few notches. The song playing is slow and somewhat sensual. It’s a love song, one Tom’s heard before but can’t place the name of.

His eyes follow Will’s movements and watch as he comes to stand over Tom with his hand out in invitation. “Dance with me?”

Tom doesn’t dare to look over at Louisa and Ada on the sofa, not wanting to be psyched out of the tenderness of the moment. So, he takes Will’s hand and lets himself be pulled vertical and into Will’s arms. Standing upright, the alcohol hits him differently, but Will doesn’t let him fall— holds onto him with strong hands at Tom’s hand and waist.

They sway to the soft crooning of the radio and don’t stop once the song changes. There’s no noise from the girls, but Tom isn’t paying attention to them because the weight of Will against him, the smell of him overwhelming and like home, is what fills Tom’s senses.

“Would you want to get married, Tom?” Will murmurs between the two of them, low enough that they wouldn’t be at risk of the girls hearing them.

Tom’s face heats and he bites down on his lip to stifle a goofy and love drunk smile from taking over his face. “I want to spend the rest of my life with you, however I can. I don’t need a church service telling me it’s okay.” He lays his head on Will’s chest and before he closes his eyes, he sees Louisa and Ada also swaying gently in each other's arms.

Will’s hand that had been on Tom’s waist rubs up Tom’s back, the warm weight comforting. “I’m yours forever.”

The immense outpouring of emotions that Tom holds back is staggering then. They really shouldn’t be discussing this drunk in their neighbor’s flat, but here they are anyway. They sway like that until the radio changes to a proper upbeat tune that’s too difficult to sway to. Around that time, Will and Tom decide to call it a night, profusely thanking Louisa and Ada before staggering upstairs into their bed. Before Tom falls asleep, he hears the door to the girls’ room below slam shut.

 


From there, Tom and Will begin a much friendlier rapport with the girls downstairs than they had prior. When Will’s at work, Tom can often be found downstairs or out at the market with whichever girl isn’t at work. The same can be said for Will when Tom finally begins working.

Some nights, both couples pool their rations and create a large dinner for the four of them, laughing loudly and leaving each other wondering why they waited so long to talk to each other.

The easiness that Tom had felt that first night at their flat becomes easier, if possible. When they go out together, it’s easy to sit close on the pretense that they’re two couples— man and woman— out on a double date. They throw picnics in Richmond Park and go into London when it gets too cold to sit outside. Tom takes Ada shopping for Louisa and Will’s Christmas gifts in the latter half of November, stealing into the city while the other two are working.

For the most part, it’s easy and joyful. Having friends who they have so much in common with is the third biggest blessing of the last year apart from surviving his injury and having Will with him back home.

 

 

One morning, after Tom has awoken far into Will’s space, but before they’re due to meet the girls for a picnic in the warm spring sun, Tom reluctantly leaves the warm embrace of their bed to make their morning tea.

In the beginning, Will had been the one who primarily retrieved the morning tea, but now, in the spring of 1918, nearly a year after the mission, they tend to swap back and forth. 

Will wakes up as Tom tries to leave the covers, and as he shuffles out of the room, Tom can’t help the smirk that settles on his face while Will’s eyes follow him. As far as Tom can tell, this morning is just like any other— the water boils like it always does, the tea leaves steep, a distant door slams from downstairs.

Tom fetches their teacups from the cupboard, a collection that is slowly growing to accompany other guests.

Tom pours the tea and prepares it for both their liking. Will’s often remarked how their tea preferences mimic their personalities— Tom likes his sweet whereas Will likes his slightly more on the bitter side to wake him up quicker. He can’t even put into words why Will is right, but Tom just knows he is. 

Through the kitchen window, Tom can see the sun shining already, a perfect day to spend in the park with the girls. Tom hums to himself, his mood pleasant after a thankfully calm sleep for both him and Will. When he’s finished making the tea, he grabs both cups and shuffles back into their bedroom.

Halfway across the room, he notices that Will’s got something in his hands held above his head. He’s twirling it between his fingers, the filtered light catching on it even from behind the curtains. It’s small, and for a moment, Tom thinks Will’s twirling his signet ring out of boredom— something to touch. Tom’s ring is on the side table still though, he notices. All of his rings are, actually.

Frozen in the middle of the room, Will doesn’t seem to notice that Tom’s standing there. In fact, Tom’s able to finish walking across the room to set their cups down on the side table before Will notices that he’s not alone anymore. At the sight of Tom, Will’s eyes widen, the ring— a solid band of gold— still clutched between his fingers. Tom’s not meant to know of this little band’s existence, he realizes.

“Will, what is that?” It’s a whisper, hardly loud enough to push past his lips. Tom’s mind is running at a hundred miles an hour, trying desperately not to let his mind jump to the conclusion that Will’s proposing to him. The ring is small, so it won’t belong to Will, but it could just as easily belong to one of the girls. Maybe Will’s hiding it for Louisa or Ada so the other doesn’t accidentally find it.

If it was for one of the girls though, why does Will look like a deer caught in the headlights? Why isn’t he answering him? Tom sits on the edge of the bed about where Will’s waist is and tries again. “Will…”

He sees Will gulp and then shuffles so he’s sitting up close to Tom. The ring is still clutched in his fingers, those fingers now outstretched marginally closer to Tom than to Will. Tom feels his breathing accelerate, his hands begin to sweat like he’s raring to go to battle. In a way, maybe he is.

“This isn’t how I wanted to do it, but… Thomas Blake, will you marry me?”

Even though it’s one of the scenarios that had been playing out in his head, that doesn’t mean that Tom had been prepared to hear those words. He feels his posture straighten, his breathing stop short.

“I know we can’t exactly get married in a church or probably with a priest, but I want to recite my vows to you whether it’s in your mother’s back garden or here in our bed. Even if most people won’t know who owns the matching rings, I want us to know— our family and closest friends— that there will never be anyone else. Would you do me that honor?” Will sounds so sure, so determined, and if Tom didn’t want this so bad already, Will’s tone would be enough to convince him.

Tom’s so caught up in Will’s words that he doesn’t realize he’s got tears in his eyes close to spilling over— that his throat is tight with tears— until he tries to talk. “Will, I—” he stops, swiping at his eyes and trying to clear his throat. “Are you sure? I—”

Will nods frantically, a watery smile of his own plastered on his face. “I have never been more sure of anything in my entire life, Tom. I love you, and I want to marry you in whatever capacity that may be. So what do you say?”

“Yes, yes. A thousand times, yes.” He’s nodding as Will slides the gold band onto his left ring finger, and then Tom is grabbing onto Will’s face and kissing him deeply. He pours everything he can into the kiss— every unspoken promise and emotion that’s led them to this moment.

One of Will’s hands grab at Tom’s own set against the former’s cheek, his other traveling to clutch at Tom’s shirt over his chest.

The feeling of Will under his hands, the smell of him in his nose, the warmth of him everywhere , leads to Tom laying back on the bed, pulling Will clumsily over him. They’re at an awkward place on the bed, near the foot of it, but for now, they don’t need any extra space to be content. They do, however, reposition just enough that Tom hikes one of his legs up to nearly wrap around Will’s waist. Will’s hand that had been clenched in Tom’s shirt moves to rub along the length of Tom’s raised thigh. Tom will never get over how big Will’s hands are, the weight that they bring with them when placed upon anything.

Tom would be perfectly content to stay like this for the foreseeable future, to let Will take him apart newly as his fiance, but they’d agreed to meet the girls downstairs at 11:00. If they get started down this path, they will not make it. The lustful part of Tom’s brain, the part that is very much in control right now, is about to just say fuck it , especially when he feels Will’s teeth at his jawline.

Perhaps it’s for the best that Will’s emotions haven’t completely taken over the rational part of his mind because he takes a moment when his lips aren’t attached to Tom’s and breathes out shaky. “If we don’t stop now, I won’t be able to, and we’ll keep the girls waiting. They’ll know what we were up to.”

Tom can’t help the frustrated groan that slips from his lips. He tightens his leg around Will’s waist as if that would prevent him from pulling away. Tightening his hold brings their bodies closer together, tests Will’s resolve, and Tom watches as his eyes flutter shut momentarily.

“Tom, don’t be a child. I love you, but I’d prefer to save some face. When we’re alone tonight, okay?”

Even Tom knows when to accept defeat, so he trails hands down Will’s face, dropping one of them to his own chest and letting the other one ghost across Will’s chin.

The sudden wholeness Tom feels is different than what he’d felt when he’d finally come home from the hospital with Will— different than going home to his mother and hearing her tell him that she was happy he’d found Will. No, this feeling of wholeness almost seems to complete the puzzle because it’s one step short of them both belonging to each other in the complete sense of the word. He doesn’t know how they’ll do the ceremony— when or where— but they don’t have to decide that now.

“I love you, so much. Do you know that?” Tom murmurs, staring into Will’s half-lidded, yet still piercing all the while, eyes. “How long have you been planning that?”

Will hums in acknowledgment, one of his own hands brushing across Tom’s cheekbone and sweeping hair away from his forehead. “I do know how much. I love you too. I’ve had it planned for a month or two now— was waiting for the right time, and then this morning just felt right. Just something about it. I thought ‘this is what the rest of our life could look like. I just have to do it’. The girls have known for a while. Ada went with me to pick out the ring so that no one questioned it.”

Tom can’t help but feel saddened that Will had to take Ada to preserve decorum, but he pushes it aside. Instead, a thought occurs to him. “Is that why I keep seeing odd looks from them whenever we go anywhere?” His tone is just indignant enough that it forces a small laugh from Will.

“Yes, I suppose so. What do you say, should we go and give them something to finally comment about?”

Reluctantly, they pry themselves off of each other and begin to dress for the day. They drink their tea as they get ready rather than leisurely sip at it. It’s not completely ideal, but that’s what they get for the deviation from their normal, everyday plans.

At one point while Tom is washing the excess shaving cream from his face, the new gold ring catches the bathroom light and draws his eyes. He supposes he should probably move some of the rings to his right hand now that he’s added a third. He also supposes that his signet ring doesn’t quite belong on his pinky finger anymore now that he does, in fact, have an intention to marry. It’s a family ring, sure, but the intention still holds.

Tom ponders what to do with it as he dries his face. He could very well keep it in his dresser next to his personal belongings and it would be fine. A better idea forms though as Will walks up behind him and places a hand on his lower back while reaching for something on the vanity.

If the essence of the ring was his intention to marry, why not surrender that essence to Will— string it to a chain to wear as a necklace as a reminder. It’s such a young lover's thing to do, but Tom can’t help the warmth he feels at the prospect of Will wearing his ring around his neck.

Reaching out to grab Will’s wrist before he retreats back to the bedroom, Will stops in the doorway and hums into the sweet kiss that Tom plants on his lips. The hand at Tom’s back flexes and Tom can’t help smiling.

“Tom…” Will murmurs in warning.

Tom hums, content. “I know. I just wanted to kiss you again. Go finish what you were doing.”

The smile that Will gives Tom can only be described as love drunk, as if his world begins and ends with Tom— which, maybe it does. Tom knows his own does. 

Eventually, Tom and Will make their way downstairs to meet the girls who are predictably sitting at the tiny two-person table in the front garden already. They’re not late— the girls are always early, but Tom knows they’re about to think up a few reasons as to why they’re just coming downstairs.

Louisa is facing them when they emerge into the garden, so her face breaks into a wide smile first. “Boys! Are you ready to go?” Ada turns to them too then and smiles, eyes flitting between Tom and Will.

As innocent as he can, Tom reaches to take the blanket from Louisa’s hands, and he tries desperately to keep his face neutral when she freezes, eyes going wide.

Her eyes flick up to Tom’s face and then over to Will, who Tom sees, isn’t trying to hide an amused smile from his own face. “Are you— are you both serious? You did it, Will?” Louisa’s voice is so full of excitement by the end of her questioning, that it garner’s Ada’s own curiosity who’s been gathering her belongings from the ground.

Tom pulls his gaze from Louisa’s giddy smile to look up at Will and sees him already smiling softly back at Tom. “Easiest decision I’ve ever made,” Will says, quiet enough that it's almost meant for Tom’s ears alone.

As of right now, they don’t know when the wedding will be, or who will perform the ceremony. They don’t know where they’ll exchange their vows, and they don’t know how the rest of their families will react to the news. At the end of the day though, he doesn’t really care so long as Tom never stops seeing that sparkle in Will’s eye when he looks at him.