The two boys laughed and hit each other playfully as they met. Every Sunday and holiday for three years they had come, and every Sunday and holiday Lili and Marcel dreaded the day Marcel left. Winter holiday was here now though, and therefore Lili and Marcel had game to catch and things to learn and new ideas to discuss.

Now a firm, though lanky 15 year old, Marcel felt more at equals with the farmhand 16 year old. He knew the hills like the back of his hand, and more so, thanks to Lili. This winter holiday they were going to go even further among the hills, and Lili swore that they would find his grandfather's spring, something they had searched for since Marcel had first come.

"I think we really have a chance this time, Marcel!" Excitedly, Lili took him by the arm. "We've looked all over, and I there's only a few other place to look!"

Marcel grinned. "Fantastic, Lili! We've got to find it this year."

"I wanna come!" Paul shouted.

"Me too!" Said Marcel's little sister.

"You can't!" Lili and Marcel choursed. "It's top secret."

Both younger children pouted. Their mothers shooed them away from the two older boys, telling the boys to be back before it got too late.

They both grinned at each other, then raced down the path.

"What's happened since I was last here?" Marcel asked.

Lili replied, "The two owls, they've finally had chicks! They're a whole family now. And I've gotten better traps, I almost had a hare, once."

Marcel was fascinated. "A hare? Really?"

"Yeah! I've been trying to get one nonstop."

"Neat!" They swung round a tree and their was the spring of their childhood, where two gallons of water flowed. Lili handed Marcel a fake cigar, and they lit it together, the tips touching lightly.

For maybe the fourth time in the year, Marcel felt awkward as he did so. It was a tradition to light their 'cigars' this way, a tribute to the first time they'd met. But their faces were too close, it was too easy to see the bright eyes of Lili staring back at him. I made him nervous, uncomfortable in a way not good nor bad.

He wondered if Lili ever felt such an odd nervousness, but shook it off as Lili spoke.

"So," He took a drag, "Anything interesting in the city?"

Marcel told him of the changing tides, the growing fevor of unhappiness. There was a feeling of something coming, he said.

Lili shook his head. "Townies. We've never got something like that."

Marcel shrugged. "Sorry."

"It's not your fault, stupid." Lili shoved him gently.

They were silent, the crackle of the 'cigars' following the sound of the forest.

Then Marcel asked, casually,

"Has Isebelle came?"

Lili's face contorted into distaste. "No. She hasn't been back since that one time. Why? Wanna eat grasshopper again?"

"No!" Marcel laughed, though uneasy. "I just wondered what happened to her."

"Well she's not here." Lili said flatly. "Sorry to disappoint you."

"I'm not-" Marcel began.

"Sure." Lili's face turned away from him. Marcel sighed.

"And you call me over exaggerated..."

"You are!" Lili shoved him again, harder. Marcel shoved back.

"Now who's being dramatic?"

Lili had to grin. They continued to fight playfully, arguement forgotten, pushing at each other until they tired, leaning on the other.

The sun set slowly over the forest as the boys caught their breath. They looked at each other, and Marcel was hit with that nervousness again. Lili's eyes were bright and clear, and it was easy to get lost. Marcel kept to his path.

Lili spoke.

"Marcel...?" He sounded so unlike himeself, hesitant. Marcel was hit twice with that same nervous energy.


"You...We're friends, right?"

"Best." Marcel said automatically. "Why?"

"Don't hate me then." Lili swallowed, then leaned over, brushing his lips over Marcel's in chaste. Marcel stilled.

It was like to world stopped, the sun setting, dusk settling, the nightcrawlers coming, they did not register in Marcel's mind. All that was there was Lili's rough, yet gentle lips.

Lili pulled back quickly and looked at Marcel.

"Don't hate me, please, don't hate me...Marcel? Marcel? Oh man..." Lili shook him nervously. "Marcel?"

Marcel blinked.

"I don't hate you." He managed to say.

"Really?" Lili breathed in relief. "I'm sorry."

"For what?" Marcel asked. He didn't know why he asked, he knew. But it didn't seem like something to apoligize about.

It was nice. Really nice.

Marcel wondered, just a little, what it'd be like if he tried it on Lili...

Lili was looking at him. He turned his head and looked at him full on, a few inches between them.

"Marcel? Are you sure you don't hate me?"

Marcel nodded.

Then he leaned forward and tried it.

He felt the surprise, then he felt only Lili's mouth moving against his. The world felt like bliss.

They looked at each other as they pulled away, both red and both shy.

"...Wanna check the traps?" Lili asked.

"Yeah." Marcel smiled.

As they walked, their cigars burned themselves out, and through that dying light, one could maybe make out the silloutte of two tall boys, holding hands.