Charles and i met for the first time when we were both still in diapers, but it wasn't until 4th or 5th grade that our friendship really began. We got off to a bit of a rocky start (when we were six, i punched him in the stomach and he cried, and then i told my four-year-old brother to headbutt him). And when we started spending more time together, in 4th and 5th grade, we were just entering the "opposite sex has cooties" stage of development. He spent a lot more time with my brother than with me, and i spent more time with his sister (who was a good three or four years younger than me) than with him.
After completing 5th grade, Agelseb left public school and began homeschooling with us. This is when she and Charles began to be friends. Their friendship was likewise hampered by the gender differences, but by about 7th grade we had all gotten over that. Coincidentally, it was about 7th grade that Charles discovered girls.
Being one of the few girls that Charles never developed a crush on, i ended up being his confidant for many years. He would go through ups and downs with various girls, sometimes liking five or six at once, and totally without hope that any of them would ever consent to be his girlfriend.
In high school, he went through a series of extremely short-lived relationships, including one that lasted less than 12 hours.
In high school, he also developed a crush on Agelseb.
Inconveniently, it was the year that she moved onto the boat. Even more inconveniently, she was only interested in him as a friend.
Charles' crush lived on, though it would wax and wane depending on whether some other girl had distracted him temporarily. We all remained friends, despite sundry awkwardnesses associated with hormones and emotions, and when i graduated from high school and took a year off, Agelseb and Charles grew closer than ever.
The summer after my freshman year, i lived at home again. Agelseb and Charles and i spent lots of time together that summer, but i was beginning to feel a pull from the World. I felt restless and unhappy in my hometown, and they did not share that feeling. We didn't fight about it or anything, but we all understood that i wouldn't be spending much time there in the future.
Two summers later, i was living on campus in Quincy and working a summer job. Agelseb visited a few times, and once she vented for nearly two hours about her frustrations with Charles. I was not the least bit surprised when she told me that she was in love with him. At the beginning of the fall semester, Charles came up to visit us, and a little clever managing on my part had them agreeing to date each other that very weekend.
Their relationship underwent some weird adjustments at that time. For example, we'd all been friends for years, and thought nothing of cuddling on a couch, or even sharing a bed if necessity dictated. Charles had shared Agelseb's bed at the beginning of the trip, but once they decided that they should date, he moved to the couch. As friends, it was totally normal to say "I love you", but once they started dating that stopped abruptly. Charles didn't want to say "I love you" until they'd been dating for at least six months.
However, they successfully navigated the roadblocks and maintained a tender and loving (and combative) relationship for two years before they broke up.
I don't yet know if they'll ever get back together. What i do know is that their friendship, while initially making dating awkward, enabled them to get through a lot of difficulties. It also made it easier for them to coexist after the breakup. They're at the same school right now, and neither of them really knows anyone else yet. For better or for worse, they're all they've got.
Love comes and goes. Friendship is forever.