It had been a long case for Fleur. She didn’t expect it to be this hectic. Not only did she have to solve probably the hardest case in her career in just over two weeks, she also had to deal with the stresses of making new friends and moving from England to France. She knew she needed to relax but she didn’t know the area well enough so she had no idea where there was to find said relaxation. She wandered around the city for hours trying to clear her head. She had her headphones on and she was in her own world. As if in a trance, she continued walking until she felt herself collide with someone else.
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” She apologised quickly, taking a moment to register who she ran into; Tom.
“Don’t worry.” He chuckled. “Lost?” Fleur simply nodded in response. With a huge grin spread across his tanned face, he grabbed her hand and pulled her towards a path, hidden by plants and bushes.
“Where are you taking me?” She asked, mirroring his smile. He led her through a small bridleway, stopping to admire the horses as they went past. They met a nice girl as they went by. She must have been no older than 19, her hair was a bleach blonde with jet black highlights. Her horse was called Caramel and happily ate sugar cubes and carrots out of Fleur’s hand. They only stayed and spoke for a few minutes as Tom was eager to get back onto the trail.
“No really, where are you taking me?” Fleur asked again after feeling like they had been walking for ages.
“You’ll see.” Was all that Tom replied with.
“You keep saying that.” They kept walking. Despite feeling her feet start to blister in her nude ballet flats, she still took moments every now and again to admire the flowers and the butterflies that she got to see. The walk took longer than either of them had expected so they decided to play a game of Ispy to pass the time.
“I spy with my little eye something beginning with ‘S’.” Tom started.
“Where’s your imagination, Dumont?” Tom laughed loudly. “We’re here!” Tom pointed to a small treehouse, it was decorated in grainy photographs and drawings. She gasped in delight as he led her to a small rope ladder leading to the treehouse.
“After you, milady?” He pretended to dip an imaginary hat which caused Fleur to giggle slightly. She had a soft laugh but Tom could tell it was genuine by the way her eyes crinkled when she laughed. She only laughed like this with him. Something Tom had never noticed about the French girl is the dimples that graced her cheeked every now and again. She doesn’t make a habit of smiling so genuinely so it’s a rare sight for anyone to see. He must have been staring because Fleur furrowed her eyebrows slightly looking up at him.
“What?” She chuckled, shaking him from his trance. He just shook his head and the two left it at that, worried that pushing the subject would create an uncomfortable atmosphere, something neither of them wanted.
Carefully, the two made their way up the rope ladder and were greeted with a beautiful sight. The small treehouse was covered in fairylights and electric candles (the treehouse was made of wood so real candles would pose a fire safety hazard, Fleur was glad Tom had thought of this as well). There was a small picnic blanket placed in the middle of the small room and various French foods were placed in the middle.
“I thought you might be feeling a bit homesick, so I got you some food.” Tom muttered, sheepishly rubbing the back of his neck. Fleur hugged him in response. A strong hug, the kind that would lift you off of your feet. As if suddenly realising what she had done, she awkwardly threw Tom out of her arms.
“This is lovely. Thank you.” She mumbled, clearing her thought and straightening the wrinkles out of her dress. The two then sat on the floor and Fleur took a moment to admire the spread of food that Tom had laid out for her. There were breads, cakes, cheeses and dishes that she vividly remembered from her childhood.
“Where did you get these?” She asked in awe after taking a dainty bite out of a blueberry croissant.
“Oh, I made them.” Fleur didn’t know that Tom baked. She was so impressed that he was the one that managed to make such delicious pastries. But where does he find the time? She asked herself. Its not like he’s finding a few hours every couple of weeks or so. He would have to be putting hundreds of hours in to make it taste this good.
“Where do you find the time to make this? I mean, I know your schedule, it’s very busy.”
“Most of my days off are dedicated to it. I really enjoy cooking and baking, it relaxes me.” They were both sat on the edge of the treehouse, feet hanging down, gazing at the miles and miles of green hills that laid out in front of them. They took no notice of the dog walkers and hikers who walked past them and gave them strange stares. To them, they were the only two people in the world.
“Did your wife bake with you a lot?” Tom never mentioned his wife and it bothered Fleur that she didn’t know what type of person that he was attracted to. Not that she was interested in him though! No way! She knew that she had overstepped when she saw his eyebrows furrow in dejected anger.
“No. In fact, she hated it. But that didn’t stop her from passing off my cakes for her own.” He chuckled, but it wasn’t the same elated laughter that was heard earlier. No, this laughter contained a layer of bitterness and anger, he was still hurt by the actions of his wife and he wasn’t ready to talk about them yet. Fleur understood this and, instead of pushing him on the subject, gently placed her hand in his. It was a simple action but it was enough to show Tom that she was there, and that she was a friend. But could she be more? He cursed himself for these feelings, afraid that if he acknowledges them then he’ll drown in them. They sat there in blissful silence, watching the world go by, still hand in hand. Fleur hadn’t expected any of this to happen when she took the case at the ballet studio but she’s so thankful she did. Watching a bee collect pollen from a flower that was trailing up the rope ladder, she thought to herself how lucky she is that her case was double booked.