William woke up to the sounds of bird chirping outside his window and hid his face in his pillow in mortification. He remembered everything now. The worst thing was that he had agreed to the second part of the promise in a heartbeat. What kind of child had he been then? Had he always been gay?
Now that he remembered things made more sense now. It wouldn't be appropriate for Noah or anyone that knew about it to tell him that he had agreed to date Noah when he was 10. He would have never believed them.
How was he going to face Noah now? To think that he had been worried yesterday because of Aunt Mel felt silly now. No, this was true embarrassment. There were also at least four other people that knew about it as well. He was now glad that no one had told him the full details.
Noah had become a pastry chef and he had hired him for his pâtisserie when they met again. He had followed that part of the promise without knowing. Did he want to follow through the second part?
His phone buzzed. William picked it up off his bedside table and panicked when he saw it was Noah's number. He had to act normal and pretended he hadn't remembered anything. William needed time to think everything over.
He took a deep breath and accepted the call.
"I'm outside your house," Noah said without greeting first. "We're going out today."
Immediately William got out of bed and peeked out the curtains. His window gave him a good view of the front garden and true enough there was a figure standing at the gate that looked like Noah. The figure waved at him and William knew he had been spotted. Damn Noah's observation.
"Right now?" he asked doubtfully. "I'm still in bed."
"I'll make you breakfast," Noah offered.
William couldn't produce a good enough reason to refuse so he went downstairs to find James. His butler in the kitchen polishing the silverware with the radio on.
"Noah's here, can you let him in and keep him occupied until I'm ready," he requested and left the room without waiting for the answer. He needed time to calm down and make himself look presentable.
Half an hour later he heard footsteps that weren't James's approach his bedroom. It was obviously Noah, but he was ready for him now.
There was a knock at the door and William opened it. Noah was standing outside with a steaming cup of tea.
"James said I couldn't make you in breakfast in bed because you're not ill," he explained. "I made you a lot- it's in the dining room."
He accepted the tea and followed Noah down the stairs and into the dining room where the table was covered with breakfast items. William could see standard items like toast and less commonplace ones like miso soup and was that a bowl of kale at the end of the table?
"Are you on a mission to fatten me up?" William asked.
"I don't know what you like for breakfast," Noah explained.
William sat down at the head of the table and Noah sat down on the next chair. William was glad that he had company for breakfast; he couldn't eat everything by himself.
"I came here early so I didn't eat," Noah informed him. "Think of it as a breakfast date."
The memory from 12 years ago came back to him and he blushed. At some point he was going to have to admit remembering it. The time hadn't come yet. He needed to evaluate everything first.
"Sure," he said casually and reached out for the toast. "Where are we going today?"
Noah took the toast rack after he had finished choosing and picked out a slice for himself.
"I asked James for his opinion because he knows you better and he said to go somewhere that doesn't have too much tourist traffic because you don't like crowds."
"I also took your age into account and what I know about you. We're going somewhere quiet," Noah continued on and passed him the strawberry jam without prompting.
William was glad for that. He spent most of his time in the office, in the car or at home so going to a congested area of London sounded like hell. He wanted to be somewhere quiet and peaceful.
"I'm driving so we don't have to get the tube. It's going to take a while," Noah warned. "How is the jam? I made it myself."
William was truthful for the first time that morning.
Why was Noah good at everything he tried? It wasn't fair. Noah seemed to guess his thoughts were far away and brought him back by ruffling his hair affectionately.
"Make sure you try everything, I made a lot for you."
A very stuffed William got into the front seat of Noah's car an hour later. Somehow he had been persuaded into eating a bit of everything apart from the kale and he was feeling oddly full of food that wasn't cake or sweets. That was very rare.
"The gardens are not too far, but we have to pass through some congested areas so be prepared to be stuck in traffic," Noah warned as he started the car.
William nodded. Getting to the office normally involved at least ten minutes in very slow moving traffic. It wouldn't be anything new. He usually used the time to read some reports or a game on rare occasions.
"You can talk to me when it gets boring," Noah added.
It was strange to compare adult Noah with his child self. Not a lot had changed to be honest apart from baking skills. He was touched to think that Noah had gone through all his baking training to make sure he kept his promise. Noah was very devoted to the promise.
Was it all a coincidence that he had the idea to expand Quinn's Sweets by setting up a pâtisserie? The idea had come to him mainly after Charles Confectionery had tested theirs, but it had been at the back of his mind for a while. Perhaps some part of him had remembered and was trying to keep the promise as well.
What was he going to do about the second part?
"I'll keep that in mind. Which gardens are we actually going to?" he asked a very different question to the one in his mind.
"Kyoto Gardens in Holland Park. It's very quiet and suitable for dates," Noah answered.
William didn't bother to protest that it wasn't a date because it technically was. Noah looked surprised he hadn't complained.
Did he even like Noah in that way? Childhood promises aside, did he really want to date him? He made exceedingly good sweet treats which was very important to William. He didn't mind being in his company. But did that all mean that he liked him in a romantic way. He was confused.
Then again, if he agreed to date Noah everyone would know he was gay and he couldn't have that. He couldn't let the company down, he had to keep it going. His thoughts were in disarray. He wanted to go back to sleep.
"You're quiet today," Noah commented at the sixth red light in a row.
Did Noah have any idea what he was thinking?
"You haven't asked what's for lunch."
William turned his head to look at the picnic hamper that was on the backseat. It was almost too easy to answer. It only distracted his mind for one second.
Noah didn't try to make any more attempts at conversation until they were safely parked and when he did, he dropped a bombshell.
"If you carry on being so quiet, I'll definitely know you remember a certain something."
William's head snapped around. How had Noah known that he had remembered? He still wasn't ready to say anything to he started talking about the first subject that came into his head. He was desperate for a distraction.
"You're nothing like your parents."
Noah seemed to accept the rapid change in subject matter. Or at least he did for the moment.
"Thank you for the compliment. I wouldn't want to be like them- they're embarrassing," he replied and undid his seatbelt. "Let's not waste time. We're going to have to walk for a while to get to the gardens."
William got out the car and shivered. It was still getting even colder. He would need his scarf after all. Fortunately it wasn't raining for once. Walking through a park in the rain wasn't his idea of fun.
"We have to go through the park first," Noah announced. "Do you want to hold my hand so we don't get lost in the crowds?"
His tone was too teasing for William to bear so he deliberately put his hands in his pockets. Not that he would have held hands with him anyway. He wasn't that type of person.
"Do you know how expensive it is to have a house near here?" Noah asked when they reached the woodland area and it was finally quiet enough to hear each other.
"Very expensive," William answered. "It's outside my price range personally and not worth it. Where I live now has been in the Quinn family for a few centuries and is now very high value."
Noah nodded. "When we're together, I'll move in with you. Your house is much grander than mine."
William tried not to react to the assumption that he and Noah were going to be together in the future. Noah had a lot of ridiculous assumptions about their relationship.
"I'll make you breakfast every morning."
That actually sounded very tempting to William. He was usually a cup of tea with toast and jam person normally. This morning's breakfast had been a culinary experience in comparison.
"We're here," Noah said.
The tree lined path opened up into a garden that was styled after traditional Japanese gardens. William was intrigued and was content seeing how few people were around.
"There's a carp pond here," his childhood acquaintance added. "It's very relaxing to watch."
"Let's go there," William agreed.
They walked past a small waterfall and William felt a little more at ease the further they went. He stayed away from the peacocks though. They were a little terrifying to him. It didn't help that some were tall compared to him.
"It's here," Noah said.
William bent down to have a closer look. The pond was indeed full of red flecked orange carp flitting around. It was strangely compelling to watch all the carp swim around.
"Are we going to discuss the promise we made 12 years ago?"
Noah's voice sounded like it had come from very far away and William started. He had completely forgotten for five minutes about what had been awaiting him.
"I've waited for a long time," Noah said. "Can you tell me if your feelings have changed?"
William was keen to start off by correcting him. "I never said I liked you 12 years ago. We just made that promise and talked a lot."
Noah wasn't perturbed.
"I sensed you had a crush on me. Do you still have one?"
William was a taken aback by Noah's audacity. He could tell that Noah assumed that the answer would be yes.
He would have to answer carefully. It was true that his child self had thought Noah was cool. He was good at cooking and taking care of him. But there were other people that did that and he didn't love them in a romantic way.
There was also the issue of wanting to keep his sexuality secret.
But he wanted to be with Noah.
What did he want to do?
Noah waited patiently for his answer. William made a decision that followed his heart rather than his guilt.
"I enjoy your company," he began. "You're efficient and I can tell you're intelligent. You fulfil all the requirements. I… do like you."
Noah leaned in closer.
"Yes," William replied very quietly.
Noah's face was now so close that their foreheads were touching.
"Can I kiss you?"
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