pairing: not a love song
summary: It was hard knitting sweaters for a kid that constantly grew, but love back then was a hell lot less complicated. Hans is Norway, Søren is Denmark.
There was a time when the old rocking chair on the front porch was always occupied. It would creak and groan with each whip of northern wind, complaining about being left outside in the cold when its fellow chairs were inside by the dining table. Yet simultaneously, it would stand majestically, proud of its historical presence in the house, which was as old it was.
It was during those autumn days that Hans’s mother would sit there, knitting sweaters for winter, hoping that the boy wouldn’t grow so much as to no longer fit into any of last winter’s sweaters. Which he always did. Housewives had the most difficult job, she would complain, because children were co-workers you loved and couldn’t leave behind when you grew tired of them.
Winter would then eventually come, and she would watch him playing in the snow, throwing a gust of snowflakes on Søren, their neighbour down the road and up the hill, wilfully moaning about Hans’s recent growth spurt. The two kids were classmates in the small elementary school. Søren had introduced himself when he spat a spit ball into Hans’s hair on the second day of kindergarten. It was through the resulting parent-teacher meeting that their parents met and became close friends.
When spring came, the four of them watched the boys play together. Hans’s mother sat on the creaking rocking chair, knitting yet another sweater for the growing boy, and the other three leaned on the railing, sipping cups of steaming coffee on the front porch.
“The beans are from the angry Italian man down the street,” Søren’s bearded father would comment, and his mother would nod her head and agree that angry Italians sold good coffee beans. They had a strange brand of humour.
In a similar fashion, his father commented. “Those two boys are always together.”
“They are good friends. I hope they always stay that way,” Hans’s mother continued to knit, hoping her nimble fingers would be able to finish the left sleeve by that evening.
“Those boys will grow up and fall in love,” The father laughed, poking the other man in the ribs. “Isn’t that right?”
“I’m sure.” Hans’s father replied, watching Søren stick a bug down his friend’s shirt. The two wives smiled, shared a glance and rolled their eyes.
When the sun bid farewell to the late evening summer sky, the boys were still playing outside in the yard. Under the long shadow of the oak tree, Hans looked up at the taller boy, a full eight months his elder, horribly attracted, yet passionately repulsed. He was digging for bugs again. Their dog liked to dig too, but at least she dug to look for ground hogs. Ground hogs were cute and fuzzy, bugs were not.
“Hey look! A caterpillar!” Søren laughed, eyes gleaming, reflecting the last of the sun’s light. He picked the green creature up, holding it close to Hans’s face.
“That’s gross,” Hans pulled his face away. “Mama tells me not to touch them.”
“Why not? This little bug may be gross now. But if you stick with him and let him grow, one day he’ll grow up to be a beautiful butterfly!” Søren watched it wiggle, slowly climbing down the length of his arm. He was just barely eight, yet his words were somehow reminiscent of the words of the greats.
“It’s gross. Just like you.” Hans remarked, face blank as it always was. His inability (or unwillingness, they weren’t sure yet) to show vast multitudes of emotions always worried his mother, who thought that yellow sweaters only went well with smiles, and always ended up giving them to Søren.
Søren looked shocked. “I’m not gross!”
“Yes you are. Look at the cookie crumbs there,” Hans pointed a finger at the several specks of crumbs at the corner of his friend’s mouth.
“Don’t make fun of me! Or I’ll beat you up!” Søren puffed up his chest. “I’m bigger than you!”
Hans seemed to ignore him and walked away. Taking several steps in the opposite direction, he turned his attention to different coloured pebbles on the pavement. He knew that the boy’s threats were all for face. He already said it five times that week, yet he never did beat him up.
“Don’t ignore me!” Søren whined when Hans seemed to find more fascination in gravel than him. He hated being ignored. A tap landed on Hans’s shoulder. “Hey!”
Hans turned to look at him; he couldn’t believe that summer was going to end soon. “What?”
“I dare you to kiss me!” A mischievous grin crossed Søren’s face. “I bet you’re too chicken too!” That was always a good way to get attention. Fortunately for him, his plan worked and Hans approached him.
Leaning in he said, “Okay,” which immediately caused the other to scream and run away, tripping over a lawn gnome on the way to the front porch. Hans followed the screaming figure with his eyes, not smiling, but not frowning either. Søren was such an idiot, but it was something he was used to, even at his delicate young age.
Søren’s father opened the backyard door, reprimanding the boy for screaming and bothering the neighbours. “The angry Italian will beat you with a broomstick if you don’t be quiet. He already beats the raccoons for digging through his garbage.” The response immediately quieted the boy, who didn’t want to get chased around by the scary man living across the street.
Hans’s father popped his head out of the opening, seeing his son, he called for him to return. “It’s time for dinner.” And the son would obediently nod and saunter back into the house.
It was those times that were the easiest. Time seemed endless. Søren had honestly thought it was, because Peter Pan never grew up, and obviously he was even cooler, so he would stay a child forever. But one year, his beliefs were shattered, and the realization hit him with more trauma than the day his father confessed that Santa did not exist. It was the day Hans’s mother had clapped her hands together in glee, declaring that since they were growing too fast, she was not obligated to knit another sweater that year.
A/N: Inspired by the Taylor Swift song "Mary's Song."