I realize that the end of July is a totally inappropriate time to be posting Christmas music, but I'm working today on the synopsis of my (yet untitled, jeez, get on it) Christmas in Scotland novella, and this gorgeous rendition gets me in the mood. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acxnmaVTlZA&w=420&h=315]
Here's the "Auld Land Syne" scene from the story, below the cut:
The bonfire started after dark in an empty field off Woodside Road, near where Colleen lived. The Campbells and Charlie put on their warmest coats and set off on foot, anyone under the age of twenty-five conscripted to carry the bun. This was Hugh's favorite part of the year, just slightly beating out Christmas as the most anticipated night. It was always colder than cold, but the bonfire heated up the whole field. Charlie was going to love it— Hugh doubted they had anything this excellent back in Connecticut, and that was including fireworks.
Colleen and her family were all there when they arrived, and Andrew turned up with Kyle and Gavin and Sara shortly after. They all greeted Charlie warmly with hugs and kisses from the girls, and Hugh had to restrain himself from taking Charlie's hand and making a show of it all. He'd introduced Charlie firmly and adamantly as his friend and nothing else, and now they were shagging: that certainly would put a new spin on things. Better to keep it under wraps.
Colleen pulled him aside. "So, did you fuck him?"
"Jesus, Colleen," Hugh spluttered.
She raised a perfectly groomed eyebrow at him.
"Yeah," he admitted.
Her grin nearly split her face. "Really? That's grand, that is."
"Yeah, it was, actually." He brushed an imaginary speck off the sleeve of his coat, trying to hide his smile. "He's, ah. He's something."
Charlie came up behind him and hung his chin on Hugh's shoulder. "D'you know they have mulled wine?" he asked them both.
"Are you drunk already?" Hugh asked.
Charlie laughed, and he smelled like mulling spices. "No," he said, "but I've been reliably informed that that is the goal of the evening. Am I wrong?"
"No," Hugh said. Colleen was smirking at them. Hugh glanced at her, gauging her approval level— high— and then turned his head to press a kiss to Charlie's wine-sweet mouth. Charlie made a noise of surprise but he didn't pull away, so Hugh kissed him again.
"I'm getting wine," Colleen said, and left them behind.
"C'mon," Hugh said, slipping his hand into Charlie's and pulling him across the grass towards the fire. "Come get warm."
Colleen found them later, Hugh pressed up against Charlie's back, his arms around Charlie's middle. Charlie was holding onto Hugh's opposite elbows, and his cheek was just the right height for Hugh to kiss.
"You two are disgusting, I hope you know that," Colleen said. "I'm dying of jealousy right now."
Hugh beamed at her. "Befriend a foreigner, meet a nice boy."
"How long are you staying, Charlie?" she asked.
"Till Monday," Charlie said. "I'm flying out of Aberdeen in the afternoon."
"Not from Aberdeen to America, surely."
"No, to Amsterdam, and then to New York, and then home to Hartford."
"Yeah," Charlie said, leaning back in Hugh's arms, "but I'm looking forward to being home again for a bit."
"He's coming back," Hugh told her. "Next term. I've got him for another few months."
"Lucky fuck," she said, giving him a gentle punch on the arm. "Don't waste any more time, now, eh?"
A few minutes later, she spotted Effie and made her excuses, and Hugh nuzzled his nose into Charlie's temple. "What happens after next term?" he asked softly.
Charlie shook his head. "I don't know, honestly," he said. "Can we think about it later?"
"Sure," Hugh said, staring into the fire, "sure."
As midnight approached, the field filled up with neighbors and locals, and the Campbells found Charlie and Hugh by the bonfire with wine and snacks in hand. Hugh reluctantly let Charlie go from his embrace as the family approached, and Bruce gave them an appraising look.
"I thought so," he said, nodding.
"Granddad," Hugh protested.
"Well, he is nicer than the other lads you've dated," Bruce said.
Hugh's mum said, "Do you mean you— oh."
Hugh grimaced. "Yeah, sorry Mum."
"No, I'm sorry," she said, flustered, "I just assumed, I mean, the way you talked about—"
"Mum," Hugh warned, his face going hot all of a sudden. He rubbed the back of his neck, trying to impress upon her the importance of not giving away how stupid he'd been, and she closed her mouth.
"Well," she said, "I'm glad we've had the chance to get to know you, Charlie."
"That was awkward," Charlie said in Hugh's ear. "Endearing, but very awkward."
"Shut up about it," Hugh grumbled, which made Charlie laugh.
"Are you going to kiss me at midnight?" he asked softly. "For good luck?"
Hugh glanced at his family, who were trying their best to ignore him, and nodded. "Yeah," he said, "I reckon I'd better."
The bells began to ring from either end of town, and Hugh put two fingers under Charlie's chin. Charlie tipped his face up, smiling, and his lips were warm and sweet. This kiss lasted rather longer than the other New Years' kisses Hugh had had before, but it was interrupted by the crackle and boom of fireworks going off overhead. He felt Charlie sigh, and when he pulled away Hugh brushed a thumb over the swell of his lower lip. Charlie's eyes reflected the light of the bonfire, and their original color was entirely lost.
"C'mon," Moira said, nudging him, and he let go of Charlie to take her hand. Colleen took Charlie's other hand in hers, and everyone who'd been milling around the bonfire formed into a circle. Hugh risked a glance at Charlie's expression as they began to sing Auld Lang Syne and felt himself blush at Charlie's grin, but then Charlie was squeezing his fingers and doing his best to sing the words he knew. He hummed along during the verses and laughed at Hugh's sudden affected brogue, and Hugh felt his heart rise up in his throat.
When the song was over, everyone began to hug and kiss each other, wishing one another a Happy New Year. Colleen kissed Charlie on the cheek and Hugh kissed his sister, and then they were both hugged by Hugh's parents. Charlie found his way back to Hugh eventually, and Hugh slipped his hand into Charlie's once more, determined not to let him go.
"Now, Charlie," Eilidh said, handing Hugh one of the baskets full of black bun, "come along quickly; we've got a dozen houses to visit, and with you as our first footer we might not get turned away at the door."
At Charlie's baffled look, Hugh said, "Just go with it."
They left the bonfire behind and started on a circuitous pilgrimage through the neighborhood on the way back to the Campbell house. Colleen's parents' house was the first one they reached and Charlie was cheered when he stepped through the door at ten minutes past the hour. The Campbells were welcomed warmly on his heels, and they deposited their bun on the counter and all drank a little plastic cup full of whisky before setting off to the next house.
As the night wore on it became less and less likely that the Campbells would be the first well-wishers to reach a threshold, but they insisted Charlie take point on each doorstep. With Hugh, Moira, Eilidh, Duncan, and Bruce standing behind him when the door opened he became something of a figurehead, and by one o'clock Duncan was introducing him to the neighbors as the newest member of the clan.
In another hour the baskets were empty and all of the Campbells, including the honorary one, were well full of whisky and wine. Hugh found himself fantasizing about snuggling under the covers with Charlie, kissing him all over in celebration of the New Year, and falling asleep all tangled up in him. Charlie leaned against him, his head on Hugh's shoulder and his hand tucked into Hugh's jacket pocket. He smelled like mulling spices and January air and new beginnings.