Jess walked down the hill and swung across the creek bed on the old rope. He leaned back and drank in the rich, clear color of the sky. Ever since he had first come to Terabithia, he always felt more at home here than anywhere else.
His family had just gotten back from their annual vacation to his grandparents after summer break started. It was nice, but he missed this place, especially since a certain someone hadn't been with him.
Jess arrived at his and Leslie's usual meeting spot outside their castle stronghold. There was nobody in sight. Where was she? He'd woken up late, so maybe she just got tired of waiting. Suddenly, his vision was covered by a pair of hands. Jess was startled for a moment before smiling in realization.
"Guess who?" the girl whispered in his ear.
"Hmm," he considered. "Janice Avery?"
Leslie laughed and took her hands away. Jesse turned around, and she threw her arms around his neck and pulled him down quickly for a kiss.
"Hi there," he said.
"Hi yourself. I missed you."
"I can tell, what with you grabbing me like that. You nearly gave me a heart attack, Leslie."
She rolled her eyes. "Don't act like you're not happy to see me, Jess."
"OK, fine." He leaned down, and they kissed again – a long, deep kiss that lasted for several minutes as they tried to banish away the days that they had spent apart.
After they came up for air, Leslie took his hand, and they walked through the woods together.
"Remember when you first brought me here?" he asked. "I thought this place was haunted." They both chuckled.
"Yeah, you were such a scared little kid back then. I practically had to drag you everywhere."
"And you were the weird one. You started going on about that 'magic kingdom' and 'dark master' stuff, and I had no idea what you were talking about."
Leslie smiled. "But you do now."
She nudged his shoulder in mock annoyance. "When do you start your job at the hardware store, anyways?"
"Next week. My dad just says I should be thankful he's not making me start work with him immediately."
"That's going to be tough," Leslie sighed.
"I really hate being 17."
"Yeah. We better make the most of the time we do have together."
"Right," he grinned at her. "You're lucky. Your parents are actually cool."
"Well, I already have a job. I'm your girlfriend, remember?"
"That must be difficult."
Leslie stopped walking and turned serious. "No, it's never difficult being with you, Jess. I love you so much."
Jesse swallowed. "... I want you, Leslie."
"I want you, too," she replied breathlessly. "Right now."
"What, you mean out here?"
"Of course. We can do anything in this place. It's all ours." Her eyes shined brightly at him.
Jess glanced over Leslie's thin t-shirt and shorts which left her legs bare in the summer heat. It was so good to be home. "Go ahead, then," he said.
"All right." She pulled the shirt over her head and tossed it aside. "It's getting too hot anyways."
And they spent the rest of the afternoon there, on the forest floor.