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Over the hedge sounds of merriment came drifting, riding the warm summer breeze. The tinkling of silver and crystal, low laughter and childish giggles mixing with the occasional bark as Bruno's excitement overcame him. The air was filled with the heavy, intoxicating scent of roses and honeysuckle. It was, in summary, the perfect day for a wedding.

"Bit much, isn't it," said Steve Maynard, stretching out on the small bit of lawn available in the rose garden.

"First wedding in the family," replied Rupert Embury obliquely. He was propped up against the wide trunk of the walnut tree, idly dismembering a fallen rose. A year or two older than Steve, he had just finished at Oxford, and was due to enter the hallowed halls of the Foreign Office in a couple of weeks' time.

Silence fell again; neither boy was loquacious. Over the hedge, music started, and muted sounds that indicated dancing had begun. The August sun beat down upon the two boys, and Steve rolled onto his elbow, looking up at Rupert. He smiled.

"Want to dance?"

Rupert raised a quizzical eyebrow. "What?"

"Dance." He nodded his head in the direction of the music. "Seems a shame to miss out."

Rupert looked at him intently, and Steve held his gaze steadily. An hour seemed to pass; then another. The sun beat down and the music played. Finally, Rupert nodded, and his lips quirked into a smile. He got to his feet, and held out one hand to Steve to pull him up.

"All right, then."

The sun beat down and the music played. And Rupert and Steve danced.




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