You snuggled into the thickest, longest [f/c] scarf you had, gloved hands idly playing with its woollen tassels. Somehow, you had been lumbered with responsibility of guarding your table, with the specific instruction to 'ensure other sods don't go pinching it'.
By table, it was actually some rickety old wooden bench that had seen better days. Over the years you had spent living in the English countryside, you'd learned that all benches in beer gardens were of a similar condition. But still, it was better than having to stand for hours with the other spectators that had come to the Queen's Head for the fireworks display. And with at least another good half an hour's wait until it all started, you were more content being bored at a table, rickety or no, than to be bored and with leg ache.
Despite it being seven o clock on a Monday night, the whole establishment was full of eager families and patrons crowding together for the festivities, fireworks night - It was like this in nearly every pub you had driven past, it was a widely celebrated holiday after all. And apparently, even the most wretchedly chilly November night wasn't enough to dissuade people from coming to watch the show.
...At least it's not forecast rain tonight, you thought thankfully. You didn't fancy being cold and soaked to the bone.
"...Cold love?" You heard the familiar voice of your husband, Arthur ask, appearing at your side with his usual pint and [favourite drink]. In tow, your twin children, Matthew and Alfred, who were clutching their own soft drinks. You smiled at the sight of your little boys, all wrapped up in poufy parkas, woollen mittens and scarves. They looked adorable, and so full of excitement for their first ever proper fireworks night.
"I'm fine." You replied softly, taking a small sip of your drink. You were actually freezing, but you didn't like Arthur to worry, especially since he'd come straight from work just so that the boys could see the fireworks with their mother and father. You gave him a small smile, "You took your time."
"The bar was packed solid and you are definitely cold _______ Kirkland." He placed his arm around you, edging closer to share body warmth.
It was such a gentlemanly gesture, and you found yourself huddling into your husband's embrace despite yourself. You couldn't help but blush at that hint of a smug tugging at his handsome features and the way he said your name. _______ Kirkland - how you loved being his. His love, his wife, the mother to his children - Even after ten years together, seven of which you have been blissfully married, you still got giddy just thinking about it.
"See... Much better love." He lightly chuckled.
"Arthur..." You said softly, caught somewhere between an embarrassed dismissal and a croon. He dipped his head for a kiss, and you obliged, pressing your lips softly against his, savouring even more of his warmth.
You heard Alfred cry from across the table, "Mum, Dad stop it! Eww! Gross!--"
You moved away from one another, laughing at Alfred who was pulling heaving faces to his brother. He'd only just started primary school and he was at that stage - that one when he refused to play with girls and was convinced they had 'cooties' (Of which, when you asked him what they were, he told you he didn't know but they did sound rather 'icky') He also liked to make other interjections whenever he saw you and his father kiss, including 'ugh', 'yuck' and - your personal favourite - 'blegh'.
Matthew was the more softly spoken of your two children, more sensitive and calm than his rambunctious twin. With a more sweeter disposition, he was giggling into the stuffed fabric of his bear, Kumajirou, Kirkland family member number five.
"-Oh, almost forgot!" Arthur realised, pulling away to fumbled around in his coat pocket, eventually pulling out a white paper bag and placing it on the table. He took out two dark brown lollipops and held them out to Matthew and Alfred.
"Matty, Ally, I got you these on my way back from work - They're bonfire lollies lads. Your grandmother used to buy them for me when I was a young boy." He explained. "It's tradition for children to have bonfire sweets tonight."
You watched as the boys sceptically eyed the offerings, slightly hesitant to take them from their father.
It's probably the colour, you thought with amusement.
"Don't worry boys" you assured them. You learnt closer to them, with a playful whisper adding, "I know they look the colour of daddy's cooking but they're really delicious."
"-Oi. I heard that." Arthur frowned, his caterpillar brows (which, thankfully, seemed to be recessive) furrowing together. The three of you couldn't help but giggle.
Both boys loved them once they had tried them, as you could have guessed. With Alfred, he was all about junk food, including sweets. And Matthew? Well, he liked all things so long as they were drenched in maple syrup so the dark toffee lollypop also held similar appear.
"Ally, Matty, what did you two learn at school today?" You eventually inquired.
"Gay Forks!" Shouted Alfred with keen conviction, a lollypop stick dangling out his mouth.
Well, That certainly earned your family a few dodgy looks - and you didn't even need to look at your husband to know he was physically cringing at his son's mispronunciation of the historical British figure.
Being naively oblivious to what he'd just said, Alfred carried on, "He's this villain dude who tried to explode the house of parly-par.."
"Parliament." Arthur finished, taking a deep gulp of his drink.
"Yeah, that! That's why we get to see fireworks, right dad?
You saw Arthur crack a smile, like you noticing the excitement in his voice as he spoke. He gave him a nod, "That's correct lad."
"...Did you do anything else Matty?" You asked your other son, hoisting him up to sit on your lap as he held his lollipop and Kumajirou. You gave him a loving kiss on his cheek "-Hmm?"
"We made glitter fireworks Mummy. Miss. Beech let Kuma make one too!" He smiled, playing with the legs of his bear. Alfred nodded in confirmation.
"Matty stuck red leaves on his mum and I made mine a hero firework with stars and blue and red and white sparkles and, and ---"
With the fireworks beginning to be set up and the boys fervently eating their sweets, they told you more about their days. Arthur chatted to you about his day work and you spoke of what you had been up to (which, to be honest, wasn't nearly as interesting as winding up Francis about his new haircut or watching little Feliks Łukasiewicz cover himself head to toe in pink glitter). Still, it was nice to be out of the house, and able to talk in a change of environment with your three special men (and bear) was wonderful - Being able to have a nice drink and generally enjoying being together was wonderful too. But now, with fifteen minutes still to wait, finished lolly sticks and empty drinks bottles discarded on the table, both children were beginning to get bored.
Ally slumped against the table, nearly knocking Arthur's glass over, "Daddddddddd--- I want to see the fireworks!" He winged.
"They're not ready yet Ally, we still have fifteen minutes before it starts." Arthur replied for the third time, taking another sip of his drink.
"But dad those kids are already at the front! We won't get to see! We won't get to see!"
He started rocking back and forth against the wood, which creaked and groaned and protested being moved. He was impatient as six year olds often were. Alfred wanted to see them now. He'd seen fireworks in the distance for nearly a whole week - now he wanted to be close, close enough to touch them, to catch them in the palms of his tiny hands.
"Ally" you began to chastise, "behave yourself, you'll still be able to see. Wait until your father's finished with his drink first and then we'll go."
"Mummy." Came the soft call from in your lap, Matthew, who was tugging on your scarf for attention. With bright violet eyes, wide like milk saucers he pointed over to an old man on the other side of the garden, who, your realised, was selling sparklers to parents for their children.
"Do you want a sparkler Matty?" You asked.
He gave a shy nod.
You got up from the table, signalling to Arthur that you would be back in a minute, and approached the old man.
"Hi, could I get some sparklers for a quid please?"
"-Just be careful with them, okay boys?"
They nodded as you crouched by their sides, eyes watchful as they held their sticks, ready to be lit. Arthur took his cigarette lighter to the powder end and soon both of your children were holding them alight on their own, red and blue stars skittering down the wires.
"Mum mine's blue! Mine's blue!" Shouted Alfred triumphantly, "I'm a hero and I got blue!" With dancing and sizzling specs of blue, he begun to drag the stick across the air to make stars. "Look dad!" He called, waving it at his father.
"That's brilliant Al!" Arthur called from his spot leant against the bench, his handsome face a picture of true delight. You couldn't stop staring at him, how his eyes had that youthful glow that was so captivating, and that beautiful laugh at his son's own delight, his mouth curving naturally into an grin from ear to ear.
A squeek brought you attention back to Matthew, who was stood fearful at your side. He looked absolutely terrified to move his sparkler.
"It's okay Matty... It won't hurt you." You said in a calming manner.
Slowly, you placed your hands around his and began to drag the red sparkler around, tracing the shape of a maple leave against the night sky.
Matthew gave a gleeful gasp, what were fearful violet eyes now widening with joy. And as his confidence grew you let him have his reign on the sparkler, drawing pretty patterns in the dark, writing his own name like a signature underneath, all the while smiling at you. He was painting with stars after all, beautiful red stars that reminded him his favourite season, autumn - Of walks with his father and pretty red leaves that you and him would kick on the way to school.
"Why don't you draw me a picture Matthew, ay?" Arthur said, dropped to his son's side.
He smiled and with a nod said "Okay" and proceeded to draw his father a picture with the sparkler.
That was, until the red light faded, flickered and went out.
"Hey! It stopped." Shouted an annoyed Alfred, having the same thing happen to him. He waved his around frantically in the hopes that it would magically relight itself. Crestfallen, he muttered "Aw man..."
"It's alright boys. Shall we get going? It's going to start soon -" You suggested.
"It's starting?!" Alfred cried, "WOOOO! Fireworks! Come on Matty, let's go right to the front!" He grabbed his brothers hand, running along with him to the gathering crowd.
"Wait for us two!" You shouted jovially, grabbing Arthur's hand to follow after them.
With a few minutes left until the celebrations were due to start, you were stood at the front of the crowd, gathering around the taped off area of the beer garden. With the way your children had sped off to the front, It didn't take much to know how much they were enjoying themselves. Tonight for them was brilliant, they got to eat bonfire lollies, held their first sparklers and now they would see their first ever firework show.
And then, when it was finally seven thirty, the crowds watched in silent anticipation as the first rocket was lit.
A short pause, the sound of a live fuse and everyone saw the flash of life at the base of the rocket, eyes following its erratic upward path as it shot up into the sky, exploding in a brocade of gold and silver stars.
"...Wow..." You heard your two children in front of you speak with wide-eyed astonishment. Even Arthur was looking on in awe as the rest of the rockets shot off into light, colour-changing from fantastically bright blues to rich greens and stunning reds. It was like some deity was spreading specks of benediction as bright as day, they were so beautiful to behold. "They're so pretty..." You heard Matthew to himself.
You had to agree, they really were pretty.
Seven different types of roman candle, two Catherine wheels, three mines, a set piece and several more rockets later - your children still watching with fascination and joy, you found yourself eventually resting your head on your husband's shoulder, hands entwining of their own accord.
You stood like that for a while, in the company of one another, simply watching the fireworks. Eventually he broke the silence, "You know, since I was a lad this has always been my favourite holiday..."
You smiled softly at him, he continued, "I feel like I'm a boy again. When I was little, I used to imagine that the fireworks were magic I was casting." He laughed, eyes staring at the cascading stars. "I used to think sparklers were magic wands too. I'd draw pictures like the boys did." He cast a brief glance at you, smiling to himself, "It seems silly now. But you know, another reason I also love them because of you."
He turned to you then, and you to him, "...Can you remember, nearly ten years ago-" You said, one hand idly playing with the collar of his winter coat, "-when we went to visit Francis's for Bastille day? Remember when Gilbert nearly set his trousers on fire lighting that bonfire?" Just thinking about it made you nearly laugh out loud, recalling how Elizabeta had to chuck water on him to put him out. You even had to place the hand you had entwined with Arthur's over your mouth with the other to stop yourself from laughing like a madwoman. "- And I got so giddy drinking Toni's Sangria!"
"-That was also the time I nearly launched a rocket at that bloody frog's face." He commented with a self-satisfied smirk.
"I can't remember what made you though..."
He turned to you then, green eyes boring into [e/c], his free hand moved to your face as he earnestly admitted, "That was because I was jealous of him flirting with you."
"I never saw Francis as anything more than a friend." You stated, wrapping your arms around his neck, moving closer until your faces were mere inches apart, "It was always you. We ended up sharing our first kiss under the fireworks - and I've never looked back since because..." you trailed off in a whisper. "I love you, Arthur."
"I love you too ______.
Softly, ever so softly you kissed in a gentle, passionate way. That same kiss you shared under a sky of fireworks, just like that time before, without a care for who saw you.
"MUM, DAD - GAHH, EWWW-"
"Ally." You sighed, resting your head on your husband's shoulder.
"...Ugh, come on you two." Arthur said, picking up Alfred and Matthew so they were both sitting on his shoulders. You huddled against your husband on the cold November night as the last of the fireworks crescendoed to the grand finale, the last light dimming until it was nothing but black once more.
"Daddy... can I have fireworks on my birthday?"
"Of course you can Matty."
"Can I have them on mine too dad?"
"You both share the same birthday Ally."
Yes, Fireworks night was the night where you insulted your husband's cooking, cringed at your six year old child's politically incorrect faux par, got to draw a maple leaf with Matthew, remembered memories of old - a first kiss under a sky of fireworks, and made new memories too.
"You coming love?"
"Yes, let's get home - I'm freezing!"
Ten years, two beautiful twin boys (and a bear) and a life in the countryside...
And you've never looked back.