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Beside the seaside (1940s)


Salamander

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The year is 1943 or thereabouts. Frank Westmore has taken a trip to the coast to audition for a theatre contract to keep him busy over the summer. He invites his new boyfriend to join him for a romantic weekend that doesn’t go quite as planned.

 

“Brighton. This is Brighton Station. All change please.”

The conductor's voice came loud and clear over the metallic lurch of the train. It startled Edward out of a daydream and he jumped to his feet, gathering his things. Out the window he could just make out the station through a cloud of dissipating steam. The journey had passed faster than he expected. Excitement and seeing his boyfriend after a long few weeks coupled with imaginings of wandering on a sun-kissed beach made the time simply fly by.

Edward took a moment on the platform to reassemble himself. He moved to the side to avoid the stream of people exiting the station; half businessmen and half holiday-makers armed optimistically with picnic baskets. He drew his coat around himself in sympathy; April it may have been but the sea breeze was bitter. He'd chosen a warm pullover and scarf but found himself wishing he'd brought gloves too. With his hands in his pockets for warmth he gave himself a once over- his slacks and shirt were not too creased from sitting and he'd managed to get his shoes to a good shine. It would have to do.

Edward made his way through the crowd and finally exited the station, blinking in the sudden sunlight. He didn't have to look far to spot the man of his dreams leaning on a lamp-post with one ankle crossed over his other leg, a theatrical pose.

Frank looked great. He always looked great, but looked particularly fine with his long overcoat over his best suit. He wore his hat low and his hair held with so much brylcreem it swept to one side in a wave of polished oak. His dark eyes twinkled. Edward felt a little weak at the knees. He hurried over, almost dropping his suitcase.

“You've had your hair cut!”

“Hello to you too.” Frank grinned.

The two men embraced as closely as was proper in a public street and Edward felt the ghost of a kiss as his boyfriend's face brushed his cheek. Frank gave him a good, tight squeeze

“So, how did it go? The audition?” Edward asked.

Frank shrugged. “I don't know yet, do I? They're seeing a lot of other people today when they'll get back to me.”

“Yes but how do you think it went? Were you happy with your performance?”

“Yeah, pretty good I think. And it's a nice stage, smashing theatre all round. People seemed nice. I liked the team”

“You like everyone.” Edward said.

“Don't worry, you're my favourite.”

Frank said it with such, well, frankness, that Edward almost lost his footing. The two men were sweet on each other, he knew that, but hearing it said out loud still made his heart skip a beat.

Franked laughed. Before Edward could recover he linked their arms and lead Edward in a campy, exaggerated swagger down the centre of the street. “Calm down, sunshine, we're supposed to be on holiday!” Edward fought to shrug him off but he still smiled at Frank's exuberance. It felt good. Maybe it was the sea air.

“I can see the sea!” Edward realised suddenly.

He couldn't help running the last few steps down to the sea wall. The horizon stretched wide, marked by the metal skeletons of the grand pier to their left and the wet pier to their right. The ocean was a steely grey, reflecting the darkening sky.

“How old are you?” Frank smiled.

“Not too old for fish and chips, and ice-cream, and paddling, and maybe a donkey ride...”

A freezing wind whipped from the waves, tugging at Edward's hat. Frank laughed at him as he pulled it down. “If you loose it, I'm not swimming to America to fetch it for you.”

“It'd be the long way round to get to America from the south coast!”

“Africa then. Europe. Wherever.” Frank took off his own hat and held it in his hands. “I can't swim anyway.”

“You can't swim?” Edward raised an eyebrow. “You're rubbish at geography and you can't swim? I don't know why I keep you around?”

The man shrugged and angled into the wind so that it swept his hair from his face, affecting a wistful gaze with a hand over his heart. “Must be my smashing good looks.”

Edward smiled. Frank was impossibly, unreasonably charming and yes, a real stunner. He didn't mind taking a few minutes to gaze, taking in the sweep of chocolate coloured hair, the freckles on the  bridge of his nose that-

“ah-CHISShu! -CHISShu!”

The moment was broken when Frank sneezed suddenly, startling them both.

“Bless y-”

“ah—dZSch!” Frank managed to stifle that one between his thumb and forefinger. “excuse me... “

He shook himself and motioned down the broad stone steps onto the beach. It was all rounded pebbles that shifted under each step. Frank waded ahead with exaggerated care, heading for the waves.

“I was hoping for sand.” Edward confessed.

“I wasn't. It gets everywhere.”

“You're such a city boy.”

They shifted their way a few more paces until they faced the waves. There may not be sand but the hissing, whisper of water over stones was balm for the soul. The wind was bitter enough to make his eyes water but Edward couldn't resist and bent to take off his shoes and socks.

His companion watched him warily.“You're mad. It looks freezing.”

Edward shrugged and set his socks aside to edge towards the frothing edge of the waves,

“Completely mad. Barking.” Frank continued. He took a seat on the stones and watched the other man dip his toes in.

Frank sneezed again as Edward retreated from the water, and then again as he sat to wrestle socks back onto numb feet.

“ah-CHISShu!”

Bless you!”

They sat in silence for while, allowing themselves to be hypnotised by the waves' progress in and out. Frank shivered sharply. As Edward watched, the other man sneaked his handkerchief from his pocket and blew his nose. It was noticeably red underneath, as though he'd been doing that a lot.

“You alright there, Frankie?”

Frank started guiltily then shrugged. “Can't put anything past you, can I?”

“Meaning?”

The other man sighed and leaned closer, so that his head rested against Edward's shoulder. Edward could feel him shivering against the wind.

“Nothing. It's just a bit nippy.”

“We're starting to lose the light. Shall we go and find some dinner? Then you can show me where we're staying tonight?”

Frank was more than happy to agree.

…...................................................

An hour and a newsprint wrapped bundle of fish and chips later, the two men took the short walk to a Bed and Breakfast in a side street. Theirs wasn't a luxurious room but appropriately nautical prints adorned the walls, there was a cluster of sea-shells on the windowsill and, most importantly, the heating was already on. Frank ushered his boyfriend in ahead of him, giving his showman smile.

“There's almost a sea-view. If you stick your head out of the window and squint a bit.”

“How romantic.”

“It is.” Frank affirmed, “It's incredibly romantic. Incredibly, irresistibly romantic.”

The change of temperature was making his nose drip a little, and he sniffed self-consciously before drawing Edward into an embrace.

Edward paused for a moment, looking around the room.

“Look at the size of that bed!” He grinned.

It was only a double, but the pair had been sharing single beds for long enough to make that a luxury. It was hard to find a somewhere that two chaps could share a bed with no questions asked. This Bed and Breakfast, ruled over by two female 'friends' was such a place. Edward bounced appreciatively on the mattress, laughing at the squeak of a spring.

The other man went to join him and then paused.

“ah-CHISShu!”

He looked tired afterwards and there was a thick, waterlogged sound to it that Edward could no longer ignore.

“You've caught a cold.”

“Not even.”

“Yes even. Come here.” He rose up from the bed, to push Frank's fringe from his face, inspecting him. “You sound really stuffed up, you're loosing your voice and your poor nose is all red.”

“Is it?”

“Yes. Very.”

Edward planted a kiss on the organ in question

“Don't-” Frank protested, turning his head. Edward got a clear view of lashes flickering against a pale cheek before he cringed in on himself. “dZSch!”

“Bless you.”

“'scuse me.” The man replied, rather thickly. He slumped down onto the bed, pulling Edward with him until they were prone and face to face. Edward's fingers found the space between his cheekbone and the line of his jaw, cradling.

“You probably shouldn't even be kissing me.” Frank groaned.

Edward could not have been less bothered. “Too late.” Another kiss, and he drew Frank closer toward him, toward the comfort of his chest.

“You really don't have to. I can sleep it off.”

“I hope so. I just-” Edward fumbled for the words, as often happened when struck with the full force of Frank Westmore's astonishing eyes. “I mean, it's ok if you don't. It doesn't bother me. You never bother me.”

“You're sweet, Eddie.” Frank said, and meant it. “Maybe let's go to bed early.”

 

They lay still for a long moment. Distant sounds of the bed and breakfast could be heard; feet on carpeted stairs, the ringing of the telephone.

Then a polite knock on the door and a loud clear voice-

“Mister Westmore? You in there?”

Eddie started guiltily and lurched to a sitting position, trying to make it look as though the two had not been in an embrace. Frank rose with more ease of mind, though not of body. He unlocked the door and opened it a crack and then a little more to show a stout, friendly looking woman in a pair of men's slacks and a colourful apron. Joyce, one of the proprietors.

“Phone for you, Mister Westmore. Can you come down?” She asked.

He nodded and followed her out into the corridor, only pausing to wink at Edward through the closing door.

Frank returned a short while later with an expression half-way between excitement and misery.

“I got a call-back.”

“A what?”

“They want me to come audition again tomorrow morning.” He was about to say more but a fit of thick coughs bent him at the waist. Edward felt his heart flip. Frankie didn't sound well at all.

“That might be a problem.” He ventured.

Frank sighed in defeat and sat back down on the bed, drawing his boyfriend into his arms. “Might be.” He agreed. He was so stuffed-up it came out as “bight be.”

“Bite you?” Edward teased.

“If you want.” He laughed back, but it sounded tired.

They returned to curling around each other. Frank settled his head on Edward's chest and curled around him, seeking warmth. Edward planted a fond kiss on top of the man's head, and then a trail of them back into his hairline. He reached and ran his hands through Frank's hair, messing up the sharp parting. The pommade the dancer always used was silky against his fingers. He could actually feel Frank's breathing deepen as he relaxed further into the embrace.

Then he heard it stutter and trip into another set of sneezes. “dZSch! DZSch!-- “dZSch!”

“Bless...”

““ah-CHISShu!”

“Bless you.”

Frank had managed to fish a handkerchief from somewhere and tried to blow his nose. “Goddabbit ...”

He settled back against Edward's chest and shivered.

“Maybe you should get under the covers?” Edward suggested.

“Maybe. It's still quite early.” Frank sniffed, straining to look at the clock on the mantel.

“Yes but you need to rest. Come on...”

“'n a minute. It's warm in here.” 

Frank was a lean man but he could make himself very heavy when he wanted to. He tugged the bedspread over himself and refused to cooperate as Edward unrolled him and began to undress him, starting by slipping his braces over his shoulders. “Come on, you'll be warmer when you're in your pyjamas...” Eddie grumbled working the buttons on his shirt and beginning work on his trousers.

“Ok, ok,” Frank roused himself to sitting and undressed the rest of the way, treating Edward to a fine view of his leanly muscled torso as he fumbled in his suitcase for something to wear. Too bad goose-pimples danced across his flesh from the touch of the air.

“Are you really cold?”

“A bit. Doesn't matter, I'll warm up.”

“Course it matters. Come on.” Edward found his own pyjamas and slipped them on as quickly as he could, before guiding Frank back to bed and under the covers where the warmth of his own limbs could calm the man's shivers.

God, it felt good to have the Frank pressed to him again. His insides had that warm, liquid feeling he'd had when he and Frank had first started going out. Frank had had a bad cold then, too. He did get them. Maybe that was why Edward felt particularly tender towards him when he was like this. The soft, sleepy expression as his eyes weighed closed was precious, in it's own way.

Frank snuffled thickly, coughed and apologised under his breath as the shift in pressure made his nose run.

“Shh.” Edward tutted at him. He reached up a hand and petted the offending organ with the tip of his finger. “Bad luck that you're poorly again. You never get a break, do you?”

Frank didn't reply so Edward went on, “I don't know I can sleep yet, I might read for a bit. Or we could put the wireless on?”

“Wireless.” Frank said. “Unless it's -snf- talk. Then you can read -snnf- -read to me if you w-hh,”

Edward felt the man's breathing hesitate as his voice went soft at the edges, fluttering with another cold-heavy sneeze. Frank propped himself up on one elbow as the tickle overtook him, eyes inching shut, mouth hovering a little open and eyes wet with tears. ““Goddabbit ...” He panted again.

Edward couldn't help but laugh a little.

Frank hung there for a few more long seconds before he sneezing forward towards his lap with a hard, scraping release.

““-CHISShu!CHIShu! CHIShu!” A soft moan. “haah- WHHHF!”

“Bless you, sweetheart.” Edward sighed, rubbing his love's back as he blew his nose.

It was funny. He hadn't grown up saying 'bless you', but he needed to say something to the poor man in front of him. Every sneeze made Frank look momentarily lost and it felt right to murmur something soft and comforting.

“Shall I read to you, then?”

“Yeah, if you want.”

Edward reached into his suitcase and past the book he'd had on the train, for the novel they were reading together. “I can't remember where we got to.” He confessed.

“S'ok, I don't really care.” His boyfriend sighed, settling down into the covers.

As Edward expected, it took less than ten minutes for Frank to fall asleep. He put the book down carefully and gazed at the sleeping man for a long time before turning to dim the light. Tomorrow was another day, hopefully it would be a healthier one.

 

…...........................................................................................................................

Unfortunately the next morning brought only the shrilling of an unfamiliar alarm clock, Frank jolting from bed in a fit of coughing followed by a furious rummage through suitcases for his clothes.

“Frankie?” Edward cracked his eyes open.

Mordig.” So hoarse he could hardly be heard. Even that short utterance sent him into a husky coughing fit that Edward didn't like the sound of at all.

“You sound bloody awful.”

“Yup.” Frank shrugged and blew his nose thickly. It didn't seem to help much.

“You can't go and audition like this!” Edward said, getting up to sit on the edge of the bed and watch his boyfriend shave over the washbasin.

“I don't- snf- have a lot of choice. I cad dance through it, I'd used to it. I had to at the Christmas cabaret, remember?”

“Yes and then you were laid up for days. Remember.”

“I got a brilliant boyfriend out of it. Remember.” Frank said shamelessly. He kissed Edward on the top of his head as he passed.

“And you don't need another one. You're completely mad.”

“Probably.”

“Definitely. Seriously, can't you cancel?”

Frank did give it some thought, along with soft, irritated coughs, “I don't think I can. There isn't goi'g to be second session and -snf- they won't offer me the slot if I look like a flake.”

Edward rolled his eyes. He could see other man's face reflected in the mirror over the basin. Frank had lather over his face and was scrunching and unscrunching his nose as he worked the razor down his cheek in short, sure strokes. Each pause to rinse the blades was punctuated by unhappy sounding sniffles.

 

Edward found himself holding his own breath as Frank finished shaving, biting his lip every time the man pulled the razor away from his face lest the urge to sneeze take control. This happened three times before he finished, put the blade down and wiped his face down with a damp cloth. This time the pant of breath was accompanied by a soft, ticklish groan. Frank's dark brows arched slowly upwards, etching neat creases across his brow and at the corner of his eyes as his breath hitched, and hitched and

hah- CHISchu!” The man had time to give his observed a look that clearly said 'don't judge me...' before sneezing again, this time into the wash cloth.

He looked stunned afterwards. “Whoah. That made me dizzy.”

Bless you.” Edward sighed. “Not surprised.”

Frank dressed quickly in his slacks from the day before with a white shirt and braces. He shrugged on a wool sweater over the top and then added his overcoat.

“You're not coming for breakfast?” Edward asked.

“Not really hungry. I'd rather go to the theatre early and warm up, then I cad” -a pause to cough- “can chat to the director, see what they want. Get to know people”.

“Fair. I suppose I'll see you later. Do you want me to walk you to the theatre?

“Don't you dare. This is supposed to be a holiday for you, too. Lie in bed for a bit, get breakfast, read the paper and meet me after.” Frank insisted.

“If you're sure.”

Edward did get out of bed to lean into his boyfriend for a deep hug. With their chests together he could feel how tentative and sniffly the other man's breathing was. He held onto the moment, rubbing firm circles across Frank's back. “You sound really stuffed-up.” He sighed. “Take lots of hankies.”

It was not a good sign that Frank didn't snap at him for being motherly. He only snuffled in agreement then turned away to smother a sudden “Kssshuh!”into his elbow. “Ugh, 'scuse me. Yeah, I'd better get going.”

“Be good, dance well, break a leg, etcetera etcetera.” Edward told him fondly.

“Will do.”

Frank shut the door behind him but Edward could hear him coughing all the way down the stairs and out the front door. Oh dear....

 

…...................................................................

Edward didn't have to wait long outside the theatre door for his lover to emerge, which was lucky since that cold breeze continued to reach under his hat and bite at his exposed fingers. The man came out with his hat firmly down on his head and his overcoat collar turned up but an evident spring in his step. The strides that took him over the threshold were a neat shuffle-kick-ball-change in his good shoes.

“Hello sunshine.” A grin for Edward and a kiss on his cheek.

“Hello yourself. So, how did it go?”

“I got the job!” Frank grinned. “Drinks are on me! Or they will be, in the summer season.”

“Congratulations!” Edward smiled for him. Having Frank living down in Brighton all summer would take some getting used to, but hey, wasn't he due a holiday?

He was pulled from the happy thought by present-day Frank's congested-sounding snuffles. Every few breaths were punctuated with a ticklish cough that made him touch a hand to his sore chest and in turn made Edward's own chest twinge with affection. He was about to inquire if Frank felt as bad as he looked, when Frank turned to sneeze so hard it made him stumble on the uneven paving.

““ah-CHISShu!” -and again, covered by a plaid handkerchief but still painfully harsh.

“Sweetheart...” Edward sighed at him.

“Sorry.” Frank mumbled. “I can't help...”

“No, I know. It's okay. You just sound rough.”

“Yeah, I've been better.” Frank shrugged. “Ignore me, we have good news to celebrate.”

Edward snaked an arm around Frank's shoulder to give them a rub, right at the nape of his neck where he always felt tight. “You should celebrate by going back to bed.”

Frank shook his head out of the grip, nice at it was. “No chance. I'm full of beans. I need to walk it off and we haven't been on the pier yet. Come on, Eddie. It'll be good!”

Edward raised an eyebrow. “Go on then.”  

They set off towards the seafront with their arms looped together. The wind was whipping the waves higher than usual and there were no holiday-makers on the beach today, only a few determined souls walking their dogs. Bunting outside the shops and hotels fluttered madly and the toy windmills for sale at every kiosk span like turbines.

“I used to beg my Mam to buy me those when we went to the beach.” Edward commented. “To a proper beach, where there was sand for sandcastles to stick them in.”

“You could make a pebble castle.” Frank suggested.

“That's too much like hard work.”

They passed ice-cream stands and the penny arcade and continued that way onto the pier, where the wind was so high they had to hold their hats on. Frank soon gave up and took his off, pressing it protectively against his chest. At the same time the cold made his nose run madly and he was forced to pause and blow his nose several times.

Edward paused with him, rubbing a hand between his shoulder-blades. “Are you okay there?” He asked.

“Fide. Sniffly.” Frank shrugged. He gave Edward big,eyes over the hankie and there were circles underneath that suggested he should go straight back to bed.

“I'm taking you in out of this breeze.” Edward decided, taking the man's arm firmly. “Come and get some lunch.”

“Celebratory, audition-passer's lunch?”

“Exactly.”

 

The cafe on the pier gave great views of the grey ocean. Through the net curtains, huge clouds like humpback whales could be seen drifting into place over the seafront. Inside, the cafe was cosy and warm with freesias in vases on the tables and gingham table-cloths, the perfect place to sit with a cup of tea and watch the terrible weather rolling in.

The meal wasn't as celebratory as could be hoped; Frank wasn't hungry at all and it was hard for Edward to sit and watch him wince as he dutifully swallowed the soup he had ordered.

“You don't have to eat if you really don't want to.” He said at last.

“I have to eat something at some point.” Frank said practically. “And it's nice on my throat.”

Comforted, Edward ate his own sandwiches and turned his attention to the crossword in the paper.

They sat in comfortable silence. It was only when Edward asked for help with a particularly fiendish anagram, that he realised his partner hadn't stirred for some time. Frank's eyes were weighing shut, almost asleep at the table with half of his soup gone cold. The soft, run-down look made Edward want to gather the man into his arms and press kisses into his forehead. He was precious to Edward, always, but especially like this.

“Oh sweetheart...” Edward sighed aloud.

Frank shook his head, startled. “Pardon?” He had to cough into his fist and then into the handkerchief before he could say any more.

“I said-- never mind. Let's go home, that's all.”

“I-” Frank looked about to argue then just gave his parter a tired smile. “Okay. That would be nice.”

The pair only made it a short way from the cafe before the first fat droplets of rain began to fall.

Frank frowned as it came down faster. “I don't want to get soaked.” He grumbled, then- “Eddie, run! Come on!”

He took off at a sprint towards shelter, his best shoes ringing on the cobbles and splashing in the quickly emerging puddles. Edward gave chase, but even with Frank full of cold, he was the fitter and the faster of the two. Edward was only able to catch up with him when he stopped under the awning of the Bed and Breakfast, buckled in half by congested coughing. Frank's shoulder's shook with ineffective, shallow breaths between each round of coughs and the sound made Edward wince.

“I regret that.” Frank rasped.

“Serves you right. If you saved your energy you might not get poorly so much.” 

The other man shrugged The itching sensation shifted from his chest to his sinuses, forcing him to turn and sneeze helplessly against his wrist.

Chhhhsshh! Tsssshh! CCHhhhshuh!”

Bless you. Come on, come into the warm.”

…............

 

It wasn't that warm in their room at the Bed and Breakfast but at least it was out of the wind and rain. The two men shuffled up the narrow stairs and into the bedroom. As soon as the door was closed and their privacy assured, Frank leaned into Edward for a long hug. His head felt tight and heavy, but so much better when he pressed it into the crook of Edward's neck. He tried not to sniffle in there, but it was a loosing battle.

After a long, luxuriating minute, Edward shrugged him off. They needed to take their damp coats and shoes off.

“Come on, we may as well get comfy.” He murmured, encouraging the other man to hang his hat.

Frank ran a hand though his hair and then shook like a dog, spraying silver droplets across the room. His hard darted to his breast pocket for a comb to straighten it again.

“Don't bother sweetheart, it's just me.”

“It'll only take a-” one sure sweep backwards- “minute. There. Now I'm presentable.”

Edward laughed and gave Frank a push that sent him stumbling onto the bed. “You are lots of things right now, Frankie, but I don't think presentable is one of them.”

Frank was about to argue, but lifting himself from the bed seemed like an awful lot of effort. He lay still and watched as Edward pottered around the room, hanging their coats to dry beside the electric heater. He enjoyed watching the other man in small domestic moments. Edward had rolled his shirtsleeves up and his top buttons were undone, showing the top of his undershirt and a half moon of milk-pale skin that had surely never seen the light of day. That was worth watching. Frank shook his head at his own affection. He must be in love.

He was also starting to feel properly poorly. A headache was blooming out across his sinuses, which felt tight, heavy and yet ticklish. He couldn't stop clearing his throat to try and reach the itch at the back of his nose but it wasn't doing him any good at all. Oh dear. He tried blowing his nose a few times and promptly gave up.

Edward must have picked up his misery, because he chose that moment to return to the bed with a box of paper tissues and a brown glass bottle of cough mixture. “Here you go,” he laid them beside Frank on the bed and sat down himself.

The attentive, every-day kindness of the gesture made Frank flush.

“When did you sneak out to the chemist's?” He wondered.

“While you were auditioning. I thought you might need a pick-me-up.” Edward told him, passing the bottle. “I didn't know what kind was best, so I just picked one.”

“I'm sure it's fine.” Frank agreed. “That's really sweet of you. Thanks.”

“It's not like it's expensive. Go on.” It was Edward's turn to blush. He handed Frank a spoon and rubbed his back while he took two gulps of the sticky medicine with an exaggerated shudder.

“Is it really horrible?” Edward asked sympathetically.

Frank gave a little so-so gesture with his hand and slumped backwards onto the bed. There was no way the medicine could be making him sleepy just yet, but his eyes were weighing shut all the same. Perhaps lying down was a bad idea- as soon as his head hit the pillow the onset of another sneeze made him breathe an audible “hh-hh-hh” followed by a head-snapping “CHISSh-oo!

He looked up for the tissue box, featured blurry and squinted. “Eddie- can I- hh-”

“I got you.” Edward whipped a few out and pressed them into his hand, then simply snuggled up beside the ailing man to ride out the rest of the fit. 

Frank was vaguely aware of the comforting warmth of another body spooned behind him, but more aware of keeping the tissues over his face as he was wracked by a fit of convulsive sneezes.

“ah-chissh-oo! Cchssh-oo!

A murmured “Bless you” into the back of his neck.

chissh-oo! Cchsstt!

“Bless you.”

“ hh-hh-hh-” he massaged the bridge of his nose with a low groan, desperate for this to be over.

“Bless you? Are you done?” Edward reached around with a handful of fresh tissues to replace the ones had used. Frank scrubbed them underneath his nostrils with a grimace.

“Yes. No. I'm hh-

“Be gentle, you're making your nose really red. Come here-” Edward kneeled up and looked down at Frank where he lay all red-eyes and with his nose still twitching dangerously. It might have been disgusting if he wasn't so incredibly fond of the man. As it was, Edward took the tissues and gently cleaned the mess, pinching and wiping efficiently before Frank could protest.

Unfortunately that soft touch was just too much for his nose to take.  He drew a mounting breath and snatched the tissues in time for a final heavy “CHISSh-oo! It took him a few minutes to recover.

“Ugh, now I'm done. I'm so sorry.”

“Don't be sorry.” Edward reached to stroke the man's hair back into place, then loosened the collar of his shirt. “You get the worst colds.”

Frank shrugged. “Dod't.”

“Either way, I get to keep you in bed all afternoon, so that's something, isn't it?”

“Oh no, however will we keep ourselves occupied?” Frank said gravely.

“We could get into all sorts of trouble. Better start by taking your shirt off, just to be sure.”

As it turned out, Frank was really too tired for trouble of any kind. Edward urged him to get into his pyjamas and lent him a thick jumper, and even then he couldn't seem to keep warm. Luckily Edward was there with his body heat and a safe place for Frank to lay his head. Slowly the shivers abated and Edward felt the man in his lap grow placid and sleepy. He bent and kissed the crown of Frank's head fondly.

“You okay down there?”

“Yeah, I'm pretty okay. Falling asleep though.”

“That's fine, you sleep if you want to.” Edward affirmed. “I'm not going anywhere.”

“That- that's great.”

A gust of wind spattered the rain against the window and made the rickety door creak on its hinges.

“Some seaside holiday.” Frank grumbled.

“It'll be summer before you know it.” Edward supplied, soothingly. “And we can go for walks along the pier, and eat ice-cream, and swim, and lie in the sand...”

“That sounds... warm.”

It wasn't long before both men were asleep.

END.

Edited by Salamander
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Gosh you sure do know how to write stuff I love ;) My kindred spirit! Another lovely, romantic one!! Thanks for sharing it 

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