N/A.: So, that's my first fiction in a long time and my first Hernst ever. It's also my first fiction written in englis, so I'm sorry for all the mistakes you'll probably find along this chapter. It wouldn't be so bad if my lovely beta didn't fall asleep before reading. Plus, I was too excited to begin it ti wait for her to wake up, so tomorrow I'll fix everything. If you find something wrong, please tell me and I'll fix it.

Prologue

They were again in the vineyard, like every Friday since that Day after Moritz's funeral. Only, now they were not kids anymore. They're both eighteen, adults already.

He looked at his lover, lying on the grass by his side. He hadn't changed at all: the dark hair falling over his —almost childish— face, the big hazel eyes, the innocence —even though they were not that innocent anymore. But his body changed: he was now a bit taller than the first time and his face a little longer, losing some characteristics of children's faces— although it doesn't make him look less like a child.

Hänschen, by the other hand, felt like he changed more than Ernst during these years. He couldn't explain what exactly changed, he just felt different.

He looked to the sky for a second and then back to the boy next to him. Ernst… He never thought it would last so long. He took a strand of hair from Ernst's face, trapping it behind his ear. No doubt he is handsome. His eyes followed his fingers while it gently travelled along the boy's pale skin, so soft.

"Hansi?" he smiled to the sound of his lover's sleepy voice and looked up to face him. Ernst's eyes were just barely open "How long have you been awake?"

"Not long." He answered and placed a soft kiss in Ernst's lips. Ernst smiled. That simple smile that could light the whole world. At least his whole world.

"I love you, Hansi" his big eyes were now staring right into Hänschen's blue ones. He hated when Ernst said that. It always made him feel so confused, and he hated feeling confused. He hated that there were still things he couldn't understand, and love was one of those things.

"I know" was all he could manage to respond.

Ernst stopped looking at him to face the grass. What was it in his eyes? Could that be sadness? Hänschen felt his heart stop for a moment. For some reason, he couldn't stand the idea of Ernst being sad. But Ernst wasn't crying, so it couldn't be sadness. Could it?

He felt Ernst moving out of his arms to stand up.

"What are you doing?" he asked, while watching Ernst put his clothes back on. "I know you're dressing up, but why?"

"I have to go." Ernst's voice was cold, but not like he was mad.

It was rather odd for Ernst to be cold. Hänschen wanted to ask, he wanted to make Ernst stay, but it was better to let him. If he didn't want to talk about whatever it is, it wouldn't be Hänschen the one to insist.

Ernst was now completely dressed again. He leaned over Hänschen and kissed him softly before leaving. For some time, Hänschen just stood there, watching as Ernst walked away.

It was around 11 pm in that same day. The night became suddenly very cold, what made Hänschen move to the kitchen with a nice cup of hot tea in mind. That's when he heard a couple of knocks on his door. He just couldn't believe someone could think of knocking at someone's door at this time. They should at least have the decency to wait 'till morning.

He opened the door just enough to make himself heard.

"What do you want?" he asked, trying to make it look like he was in bed. He have the right to make whoever is at his door feel at least embarrassed.

"Hänschen?" the voice was no more than a whisper, but he could recognize it. He opened the door just to see the so familiar big bright eyes staring at him. "I know it's late. I'm sorry…"

"Ernst? What are you doing here?"

Ernst looked around and took a deep breath. In fact, he looked like he came running all the way. "I told them."

Hänschen's brain suddenly seemed to work slower. He told them? What did he… And something came to him.

"You told them? Are you insane?" Desperation was the only thing he could feel. They could never know about it and Ernst knew it. He knew it more than anyone else. "Why did you…"

"They don't know about you." Ernst interrupted "Don't worry. I just couldn't lie anymore, Hänschen. Not to them."

Hänschen let out a relieved sigh. "And what do you intend to do now?"

The small boy bit his own lips for a second "I don't know. They wanted to send me to The Place, so I ran."

Hänschen's eyes widened. He knew what The Place is: the same place Melchior has been sent years ago. He knew Ernst wouldn't last a week there, by what Melchior said about it. But there were nothing he could do to help. "Why did you come here anyway?"

"I thought you could, maybe, help me…" Hänschen couldn't help but laugh "You're laughing. Why are you laughing?" Ernst seemed even more desperate.

"Help you? Ernst, I can't even be seen walking next to you now that you told them. How do you expect me to help?"

Ernst's expression turned from desperate to disappointed "Well, I thought… I thought you wouldn't care. I thought you loved me enough to…"

"Ernst, you're such a sentimentalist. Have I ever said I loved you?" Ernst now seemed about to cry as he shook his head. He hated more than anything to see it, but he couldn't be caught. No one could ever know. "It was fun. That's all." And he did the hardest thing he'd ever done: closed the door.

Hänschen Rillow couldn't sleep that night, haunted by the guilt and the teary eyes of his lover.