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Heartstopper Volume 3

Heartstopper Volume 3 by Alice Oseman

In Nick’s diary, dated 23rd May, he writes about having a boyfriend now. It’s strange and wonderful, and Charlie is the best, but sexuality is complicated. Nick wants to start telling their friends that they're together and he’s just told his mum he’s bisexual, but he's concerned about everyone finding out because of the bullying Charlie went through the year before and because no one else knows he likes guys.

Charlie’s parents sign the permission slip for the school trip to Paris Charlie will be going on after final exams and then Charlie tells them he has a boyfriend, Nick. His parents are happy Charlie has found someone but are surprised that it’s Nick. They thought he was straight because he’s very sporty and sort of laddish. Charlie points out that sexuality isn’t defined by those factors. Charlie lets them know only Nick’s mum knows about Nick's sexuality so far, and coming out to her went well for him. Tori walks in then, but she caught Charlie and Nick kissing so she already knows. Now that Charlie and Nick’s relationship has changed, Charlie’s dad lays down the no sleepover, no hanky-panky, bedroom door open at all times rule. This is so embarrassing!

Charlie relays this conversation and the no hanky-panky thing to Nick and well... they’re not there yet. Days pass full of exams, revisions and cute texts. Nick has not spoken to his friends since their trip to the cinema and he got into a fight with Harry, a huge homophonic dickhead over some bigoted comments about Charlie. Christian, Sai and Otis approach Nick to apologize and admit they should have stood up to Harry and told him to fuck off ages ago because they really like Charlie and promise to do better. Nick accepts their apology but doesn’t tell them that he and Charlie are a couple because Christian says Nick and Charlie are “such good mates.” After Nick goes to catch his bus, Sai and Otis berate Christian for his saying “good mates” line because they suspect Nick and Charlie are together and, while they are totally fine with that, they were hoping Nick would have told them.

A week later, after rugby, Nick is frustrated he didn’t come out to his friends. Charlie is totally fine with that and tells Nick there is no deadline, plus, with the stress of exams, being out and being the center of school gossip would be too much. Nick tells Charlie he’s there if he needs to talk, though at the moment, Charlie just wants to be kissed… which is when Mrs. Singh-Stevens walks in on them. Mrs. Singh-Stevens asks to speak to Nick when they’re done and tells him he’s going to be rugby captain next school year, but also that she knows how difficult it is to be gay in sports, so she’s there if anyone causes him any trouble. Speaking of trouble, when Nick gets home from school, he finds that his brother is home from university.

The next morning at school, Nick is tired because his brother was being a shit. On the plus side, Tao, Aled, and Elle are also going on the Paris trip over the summer and there is a meeting later that they'll all be at, so Charlie thinks it will be a good time to tell them about being a couple. Perfect. The meeting is packed as it’s a joint trip between Truham and Higgs schools. On another positive note, Tara and her girlfriend Darcy are also going. As Charlie and Nick debate when to tell everyone, they can’t help but notice the looks Tao and Elle keep giving each other and decide to not intrude on their maybe-maybe not flirtation. The teachers hosting the meeting and who will be supervising the trip, Mr. Ajayi and Mr. Farouk, go over the rules and one stands out: boys will be sharing rooms with boys and girls will share with girls. Charlie and Nick and Tara and Darcy give each other happy looks.

Tao and Elle take their room arrangement forms to the front. Charlie, Nick, Aled and Tao will share one room, and Tara, Darcy, Elle and another friend, Sahar, will share another. Charlie decides to take this time to tell Aled that he and Nick are together. Aled had already worked it out but is grateful they told him. Alex suggests they not tell Tao yet because Tao isn’t subtle and he may have been the reason Charlie was outed the year before. It was a total accident, but he was talking loudly about it in the corridor and was overheard. Oh. Obviously this upsets Charlie and he doesn’t want to talk about it. Unfortunately it’s a few days before Nick is able to see him as Charlie has been tied up with family stuff. Thankfully, though, Charlie can stop by after school on Monday.

Charlie has a long day, school sucks without Nick there. It's totally unfair that Year 11s get to start their holidays early! They spend the rest of the day doing very little and eventually Nick asks Charlie how he’s feeling about Tao. Charlie knows his friend meant nothing malicious and can’t be one-hundred percent responsible, but it was a very difficult time that he’s still processing. Nick holds him and listens until Charlie falls asleep on his shoulder.

When Nick goes back to his room after getting a snack for him and a cup of tea for Charlie, he finds his brother David “making friends” with Charlie. Nick tells him to fuck off because David is an asshole and is being an asshole and making comments that worry Charlie and piss Nick off. David had snooped around Nick’s room and found pictures of Nick kissing Charlie though he tries to put blame on their mum telling him they are a couple. The argument gets heated and loud and their mum comes to put a stop to it. As Nick sees Charlie out, his mum berates David. Charlie is deeply troubled by the incident and asks, “why is being out so complicated?”

Charlie tries to text Nick, but it takes a while for him to respond because David is being a massive dick. Nick is sorry for not telling him and letting David find out his own snoopy way, but Charlie is still supportive of Nick taking his time. They talk about how shitty it is for a while and then Charlie almost texts “I love you,” but deletes it without sending.

Nick and Charlie constantly text each other for the next week, but luckily the Paris trip is soon. Tao still doesn’t know about Charlie and Nick, and Charlie is feeling guilty about it. Offloading to Aled at lunch, Aled admits to possibly projecting because a relationship with his childhood friend, Daniel, is becoming romantic and they wanted to keep it secret, to keep it their thing. Ultimately, Aled tells Charlie not to worry about other people’s feelings and to do what is right for them.

Finally it’s Paris trip day! Hugs and kisses are dispensed by parents as everyone piles into the coach. As Nick and Charlie are picking their seats, they spot asshole Harry. He’s been ignoring Nick since the cinema incident so everything between them should be fine. Register is taken, and they’re off! Soon they arrive at their hotel in Paris and are assigned their rooms. The rooms fit four, but are shared - with two double beds! Ooh, umm, yeah. Aled and Tao claim a space in both beds, so no sleeping together for our cinnamon rolls. Tao tells Charlie he did it on purpose so he didn’t have to awkwardly share with Nick. Before Charlie can correct him and tell him that they're together, the girls interrupt. Aled and Tao leave with the girls, which leaves Nick and Charlie alone to do some kissing.

Later, as a group, they head to a restaurant and Nick notices Charlie has barely touched his food which makes him concerned. That night, they hold hands between the beds as they sleep. The next morning, Tao, who had a crush on Elle, has an embarrassing moment with her and refuses to believe she likes him back. Anywho, now it's time to explore Paris and the group splits up. Tao and Elle explore the Musée de Montmartre together while the rest wander the city. They stop for ice cream but Charlie declines saying he’s still full from lunch. Nick asks him how because he barely ate and Charlie becomes defensive. Nick is concerned about Charlie not eating and talks to Aled about it on the way to the ice cream parlor. Aled hadn’t noticed, but suggests talking to Charlie if he has concerns. At the ice cream parlor, Nick astounds them with his fluent French, because yeah, his dad is French and been speaking French since birth.

Meanwhile, Charlie and Tara have a heart to heart talk about Tara and Darcy being out as a couple and how Tara became comfortable as her position was similar to Nick's. Later, in the hotel room, Nick asks Tao how things went with Elle. At first defensive, Tao soon pours his heart out and that boy has it BAD. Nick tells Tao that “sometimes it’s worth taking a risk” and starts considering his own situation. Tao leaves for the vending machine and Charlie comes in. They start making out and it starts to get heavier and they only stop because they could get caught; however, the next morning Charlie spots a hickey on his neck.

Today is the trip to the Eiffel Tower. The hickey is super obvious and starts the gossip mill though Tao being Tao assumes it’s a bruise. Strangely asshole Harry stops the joking and sticks up for Nick and Charlie. While Charlie has his picture taken with Tao and Aled, Nick notices a missed call from his dad. They were supposed to meet up while Nick was in the city, but his dad isn’t making time for him.

Later, Charlie and Tao are looking at the pictures they took and Charlie finally tells Tao he and Nick are going out and have been since April. Tao is shocked they’ve been together three months and he’s upset that everyone else knew but him. He’s also upset because Charlie didn’t tell him, and now he thinks not a good friend and would have fucked it up for them somehow. Charlie is upset he upset Tao.

The next day Nick notices Charlie not eating again though he claims it’s because he’s not feeling well. Nick packs him a croissant for later, just in case. On today’s itinerary is the Louvre. Tao and Elle wander off together and in a quiet corner, Elle kisses him. The others get lost as a group and decide that, FYI, the Mona Lisa is very unimpressive. During their wandering, Charlie gets dizzy and passes out, but luckily he was able to call out to Nick who catches him. Charlie is only out for a few seconds, but Aled has fetched the teachers. They make sure Charlie is okay and encourage him to eat and drink something. Nick tells Charlie he’s noticed Charlie doesn’t eat much and that it’s gotten worse lately, and he’s worried about him. Charlie admits he doesn’t eat like normal people because it’s something that he can control and it gets worse when he’s stressed. Nick appreciates Charlie opening up and offers to be there however he needs him to be.

As they head back to the others, Nick gets a call from his dad and once again he has to cancel. On the plus side, Charlie got to hear Nick speaking fluent French, and it’s hot! They hug and promise to talk when they’ve got shit going on, both thinking I LOVE YOU, but neither saying it out loud. Back on the coach, Aled conspires with Nick to force Charlie and Tao to sit together. They both apologize, acknowledge the conversation kinda went wrong, and make promises to not be an idiot and be a better friend. On a more important topic, Tao reveals he and Elle kissed. Squee!

The next morning Tao tells Charlie he should see the girls for makeup to cover the hickey. Well, dang it. Hickey covered, the day is spent at Shakespeare and Company and wandering the city. That night Charlie takes Nick to an alcove by the vending machine to make out but they are caught by the teachers. Neither Mr. Ajayi or Mr. Farouk are bothered that the boys are making out, but they are bothered that they are out of their room after curfew, in fact, Mr. Ajayi flirts outrageously with Mr. Farouk, and it’s not unwanted attention!

The next day is Tara’s birthday and the teachers allow the students to have a party in her room but ask that they keep the noise down and tell them they can’t have alcohol, which Darcy sees as a challenge. During the day, they visit the Arc de Triomphe and at lunch Nick asks Charlie if he’d be more comfortable eating somewhere quieter as he’s noticed Charlie hasn’t touched his plate. They move away from the group and Charlie seems more at ease.

A group message is sent reminding everyone to bring their own snacks and wear their PJs for Tara’s party for which Darcy has scored some vodka. The girls’ room is huge and nearly all the students are there. Eventually Nick and Charlie head to the balcony for some quiet time together. After a little while, Darcy brings them some vodka and it’s the worst and probably cheapest stuff she could get. We’ll not be drinking anymore of that, thank you very much.

A little later, Harry knocks on the room door but Darcy and Tara won’t have any homophobes at the party. Harry calls out to Charlie and Nick because he wants to talk. Actually, he wants forgiveness. Harry knows what he said and did was wrong. Charlie takes a stand and puts Harry in his place, and while he’s glad Harry has seen the error of his ways, he shouldn’t have to give out congratulations when personal growth is realizing you’ve been a prick. Charlie ends the conversation by telling Harry that one sorry doesn’t make up for all the shit he’s put people through. Harry leaves and the room erupts in cheers for Charlie.

After that drama, it’s time for Truth or Dare. The dares are lame, and in one truth, who gave Charlie the hickey, Nick and Charlie use it as an opportunity to come out. Everyone is over the moon and peppers them with questions, however, the moment is interrupted by Darcy who doesn’t feel well. Tara and the others whisk her to the teachers who are unimpressed by Darcy being drunk, not believing her at all when she tells them she’s suffering from food poisoning. They are even less impressed when she throws up on one of their beds. Everyone is sent to their rooms while the teachers deal with Darcy. Aled and Tao decide to stay with the girls for a big sleepover so Nick and Charlie can have the room to themselves.

They obviously make out a lot, goof around, and play-wrestle on the bed. When things get a bit hot and heavy, they stop and agree neither are ready yet for that, so more making out it is! They end up falling asleep in each other's arms. Meanwhile, Darcy and Tara have been sent back to their room and the teachers only have one bed. Shame that… *wink*

The next day they leave Paris. On the journey back, Charlie and Nick tease each other about being Facebook official. At home, their parents are waiting with lots of hugs. As Charlie’s parents drive him home, he Googles “how to tell someone I love you.” Nick, driving home with his mum and Nellie the dog, is looking through his pictures. He notices that in all the pictures when they are eating, Charlie hasn’t touched his food, so he Googles “eating disorders.”

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