Making a Victoria sponge couldn't be too hard. It was one of the simplest cakes to make and he just had to make sure to pour a little too much sugar and vanilla flavouring in. William consulted the recipe again and started to weigh out ingredients.
James entered the kitchen when he was creaming the butter and sugar and let out a horrified gasp.
"William! I thought I had banned you from here," he cried out.
That was admittedly true. It had been understandable considering what he had done to the oven. He just needed to make this.
"It's for something special," he replied and continued mixing.
"Let me make it for you then," James said with a hint of sternness. "You're very amateur."
"I'm making it for Noah. It won't mean the same if you made it."
James stood back and sighed. Clearly he had got his point across.
"All right. You've made your point. Am I allowed the preheat the oven for you at least?"
Preheating the oven would be a good step. It had slipped his mind. It was no wonder why Noah was the one baking and not him.
"Please," he said and returned to his whisking.
James remained at his side and William began to wonder if he was doing a really bad job. Surely he wasn't so bad that he required supervision.
"The egg next," his butler reminded him after he had creamed two ingredients successfully.
He cracked the eggs against the bowl and poured them into his mixture. James placed his hand over his face and Williams stared at him in confusion.
"Did I do something wrong?"
"There's egg shell in the batter,' James sighed. "Don't let your boyfriend eat cake with egg shells."
William peered into the bowl and saw that James was indeed correct. There were indeed three egg shards floating in his mixture. It was lucky his butler had noticed. He had been about to use the electric mixer without checking.
"I think it's odd that you're such an expert at cake yet when it comes down to the actual baking, you're clueless," James observed. "Add dangerous to the list as well."
"Maybe I'm terrible because you never let me get anywhere near baking after the first ten attempts," William retorted.
James decided it was best to change the subject.
"Where is Noah? He might walk in on this scene."
"I've already taken care of that. Dave took him out for dinner after work at my request and he won't be back for a few hours at least."
"You thought this one through," James commented. "I'll leave you to it then."
William hesitated. "Can I ask you for help if I need it?"
"I'll be here if you need me," James said and sat down at the table in the kitchen to keep an eye on him.
William turned back to his cake mixture and felt more reassured now that someone responsible was watching him. He had watched plenty of baking videos, it was just different to do actually follow the instructions.
He picked up his weighed out flour and was about to fold it in when James spoke.
"Sieve it first and fold it in in small quantities."
William realised James was right again and followed his instructions. He had the final cake mix after five minutes and lifted it up to pour into the cake tins when James spoke up again.
"Did you grease that tin?"
William put the bowl down. He was lucky James was here. Baking tutorials never showed the preparation work properly.
The cake made it safely into the oven with no more prompts from James. The butler stayed silent until he began making the buttercream centre.
"You know you have to wait for the cake to cool down before you can put that on. Start it when the cake comes out the oven."
Noah arrived back the moment William had finished dusting icing sugar on the surface of the cake. He quickly placed it in the nearest cupboard and shoved the dirty dishes into the sink.
"Sorry I missed dinner," Noah said when William emerged from the kitchen. "Dave really wanted to discuss his lack of a love life with me and had to do it over fish and chips."
William was interested to know Dave's approach as he had left it up to him. Dave had been very willing to assist in bringing them together for some reason.
"You didn't miss much," he paused. "Are you going straight up to my bedroom?"
"I can if you like," Noah said with a puzzled look. "Why do you look so flustered?"
William self consciously looked into the mirror in the hallway and saw his face looked like a red mess. Making the cake had got him uncomfortably hot.
"No reason," he said awkwardly and dived back into the kitchen. He waited until he heard Noah walk up the stairs to pull the cake out.
He stared at it critically. It certainly looked like a Victoria sponge. He had overdone the sugar and vanilla essence on purpose so Noah would understand the significance of it.
"Are you ready now?" James asked when he emerged. "Good luck with whatever it's for."
James needed a pay rise along with Katherine.
It had never felt so nerve wracking to walk up the stairs to his own bedroom. He was concerned about two things at once: dropping the cake and being too shy to say his confession out loud.
Noah was stretched out on the sofa and looked up when he walked in holding the cake. He sat up immediately when he spotted the cake.
"Did you make that?"
William was caught off guard.
"How did you know?"
"It's a little wonky and flat. James wouldn't make that mistake."
William turned the plate around so the cake's best side was showing.
"Would you like to try some?"
Noah's face became brighter after trying a bite. William knew he had noticed the excess of sugar and vanilla.
"You know when I made that cake 12 years ago, I didn't pour in five times the recommended amount of sugar and vanilla," he said. "Did you want to tell me something? You wouldn't make this for no reason."
Now was the moment.
"I wanted to let you know that my… feelings towards you have changed."
His boyfriend's face fell and William knew he'd got the wrong idea.
"I meant in a good way."
"Oh. You mean that you love me?" Noah asked with a hopeful tone.
"I do," William replied.
It was fortunate Noah had worked out what he had been wanting to say. Noah pulled him down to sit next to him.
"You know I feel the same way," he said and went in for a kiss.
The kiss started out very gently and became passionate towards the end which caused William to get light headed. He moved his head away and knew his face was an incandescent shade of red. They had gone further than their previous sessions.
"Was that too much?" Noah asked and leaned in to give him a soft kiss on the lips. "You seemed to be enjoying it."
"I need to get used to it."
Noah winked. "Let's get some practise then."
"What about my cake?" William asked hastily.
He wasn't ready quite yet for another heavy make out session.
"Did you make me a special cake just to confess to me?" Noah asked with a gentle smile.
William nodded and hid his face by leaning over to cut another slice.
"I spent time on this so you'd better appreciate it."
Noah gave an approving nod by after finishing his slice.
"It's not bad for an amateur that's never really baked before."
What would he have said if he had the non-James approved version? William preferred not to imagine that.
"I think it's adorable that you went to this effort," Noah commented. "I don't want to let you go now."
To demonstrate his point he pulled William into his chest and patted his head.
"I have to earn money for both of us," William pointed out and pulled at his cheek.
He thought about his success today and remembered Katherine's request. He looked up at Noah.
"My secretary wants to know if you have any straight friends like you."
He felt Noah laugh.
"I don't really have any friends thanks to being in a foreign country for the past few years. I guess Dave counts, but… he's nothing like me."
"I'll have to apologise to her then," William pouted.
"I guess she knows you're gay if she asked if I had straight friends."
"She already knew and kept it quiet."
"That was kind of her," Noah replied. "Stop making fun of her choice of fiction in return. Those books were entertaining to read."
William sighed. He would have to buy her some to repay her for everything she'd done for him.
"Fine. How many people do you think know I'm gay?"
It had been bothering him a little since he had found out Katherine had known all along. Whilst she had assured him it was mainly because she had a lot of chances to observe him it was weighing on his mind.
"I wouldn't think it was worth caring about," Noah told him frankly. "No one has subjected you to a homophobic rant so if anyone else knows, they don't have a problem with it."
That was true. William relaxed into Noah's arms again.
"Do you want to go on a date tomorrow night?"
He still hadn't used Katherine's date suggestion.
"You don't have to ask me," Noah reminded him. "I'm always willing to do anything with you."
"You still have that Paris trip to book," William said.
"You arrange the date and I'll arrange our trip," Noah agreed. "I finish late tomorrow at the pâtisserie so you'll have to pick me up."
"Sure. I'll let all those girls know that you're taken by me in the process," William answered with a smug smirk.
Noah kissed the top of his head and flicked his cheek reprovingly. "I never thought you would do something like that. You're much more confident now. I'll be happy if you let everyone know. Dave says everyone shouldn't be missing out on our cuteness."
The next chapter will be the epilogue. I was thinking of doing a glossary for all the cakes and desserts used as some were obscure for people that aren't British.
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