I wandered over to Maths in slight resignation even though Ross was walking next to me and swinging our arms, our fingers being interlocked at the join our hands made.
Once again, Ross was the star of the show and my maths teacher said she'd like to have more students like him who were genuinely interested in the subject and not just doing it out of it being a requirement to get into a course at university. In fact, she wondered why he wasn't going to university at the moment; he seemed to have such a good grasp of the A2 syllabus. Ross just waved a hand dismissively and said he'd picked up the odd fact here and there from his (imaginary) ‘older brother'.
When we got home, I invited Ross in.
"What do you want to do, then?" I asked, quite forgetting my parents' rule.
Ross smiled. "Well, I don't think I could have had a more perfect birthday and your parents would probably ban me for the rest of the year if they'd known I'd distracted you during your whole day, so I'll just head home."
"Oh you can't do that! They have to make an exception for your birthday. How many times are you going to turn 23?"
"It's not that much of a special age. Your next one is quite significant."
"Oh, don't remind me. I don't want to be an adult. All that responsibility."
"Shouldn't you have a degree of that at the moment?" Ross asked, grinning.
"Well, yeah, I suppose so. But enough's enough."
"If you have enough, you won't need to have any more. You can still be the carefree rose-dove I know and love so well."
"That's it; I've decided you can't go. You're coming upstairs with me."
Ross laughed. "I'll tell your parents it was all you."
"Go ahead. I am not depriving my kingfisher of his favourite person on his birthday."
"Why don't you ask if you can come over to mine? Lily's made a cake and Mum's coming round with Dad and Hannah."
"Oh, really? That's great. Too bad you've suddenly had to cancel all arrangements."
Ross chuckled. "I really love you, Rosa."
Just then, the party pooper walked in.
"Rosa," my mum said sternly. "What did your father and I say about having friends round after school?"
"It's Ross's birthday," I said imploringly. "Imagine how sad you'd be if someone told you Dad couldn't come to yours and you wanted a really special, romantic time with him."
"Why don't you do your work first and then you can go around his? I'm sure Lily has something organised."
"Can he help with my work?"
Mum looked annoyed. "Don't push your luck."
I rolled my eyes. "I'll see you later, darling," I said to Ross.
He looked sympathetic as he kissed me before leaving.
"You probably just ruined his day," I muttered to my mother before going upstairs.
Mum shook her head in amused wonder.
At the Smiths', I was warmly welcomed into the house by a beaming Ross who swept me up into his arms and kissed me for a long time in the porch, even forgetting to close the door behind me in his communication of his love for me and longing to be with me every second of every day.
Today has been so wonderful that I didn't imagine it could get better. But it has. You always seem to make me feel happier than the last time I saw you. I've no idea how that works - I'm always ecstatic when you're around. But, thank you for coming and making my night as well as my day.
‘You knew I was coming.'
I know, but that doesn't stop it from being a wonderful pleasure to see you standing in the doorway, framed by your gorgeous ebony-coloured hair with shining eyes the colour of Christmas trees. I'll open the door and anticipate the feel of your thoughts which are addictive like a drug and the beauty of the sight of your soul which I know is a gift specifically for me and I'll know that life couldn't be better if I got a million pounds of ... caramel. You're better than ice cream on a hot day, a fortune cookie that predicts you'll become a comedian...
‘Ross, stop,' I laughed. ‘I'm doing funny things to your head again!'
Oh, you most certainly are. Do you think I could forget everything I know and just live to be your kingfisher?
‘I don't doubt you could.'
‘Just send me crashing waves of love, then.'
‘Oh, Ross, I couldn't make you totally dependent on me. That wouldn't be fair. I'd be taking advantage.'
‘Make me totally dependent? Whatever do you mean? I thought I was already. I've failed in my life's purpose! I've got to stop lazing around like some kind of Winnie the Pooh wannabe'
I roared with laughter in my mind. ‘Oh dear, Ross, stop!'
‘You want me to stop? I was about to ask if you wanted to make chocolate brownies and hot chocolate again. Or maybe we could walk the dog.'
‘What dog? Oh Ross, my darling, you have to stop, otherwise you'll go quite mad.'
But don't you see? It's the start of the process. I'm losing my marbles so I can lose my awareness of the world and be totally focused on you.
‘Oh Ross, you don't need to do that.'
I want to. Won't you let me, Miss?
‘Ross, please stop,' I thought quite seriously.
His thoughts suddenly lost their hype. ‘Oops.'
‘Oops, indeed. As cute as you were as a seven year old, I don't want you reverting to a childlike state again.'
‘No... Of course not.'
The kisses which had been quick and excited were now slower and more deliberate. He was apologising. I could feel the anxiety in his thoughts.
‘Hey, you don't need to be sorry; I just want you to be careful, that's all. Don't be ashamed.'
I, um, nearly lost myself there.
‘Don't worry. It's not your fault.'
‘Hey, it's your birthday, remember? And you haven't even shown me your presents yet! Tut tut.'
Ross laughed in our minds. ‘I'd forgotten it was my birthday, actually. I was just completely absorbed by you.'
The rest of the night was pleasant (I say pleasant, I mean perfect) and Ross's guests left early so we were able to spend hours in each other's company before my mum rang to say she was coming to get me.
"Tonight's been wonderful," Ross murmured sincerely, after the annoying phone call, "and I'm impossibly more in love with you. Thanks for being the best rose-dove in the world."
I laughed. "Thanks for being the best kingfisher."
"I love you, Rosa Foxtail," he said, looking full of pride and admiration. "I love you so much."
"I love you too," I murmured, wrapping my arms around him for one final embrace.
I sighed as the doorbell rang and reluctantly left Ross, feeling a small gap start to appear where my heart was located as I walked down the stairs.