“What do you say? Shall we try it?”
“Try what?” Jack asked apprehensively. Arthur’s excited expression generally bode ill rather than good.
“Fucking. Surely there’s something more interesting than kissing now and frigging later.”
“Of course there is something more interesting. But do you want to get caught in the final week of school? I’m already pushing it with some of the books I had to smuggle in. We’ll experiment in the safety of Ring.”
“So you will come to Ring?”
Jack realised he had spilled his secret. “I’m going home with you,” he smiled. “But I can only stay a week. After that, nose to the grindstone,” he insisted firmly. “Your father invited me specially, and one does not refuse an invitation from Lord Godalming.”
“How I love that interfering old bastard sometimes!” Arthur exclaimed affectionately.
The morning after their arrival at Ring, Jack stole into Arthur’s room, still in his nightclothes, and watched Arthur sleep. Waiting for him to wake, Jack enjoyed the only look of peace he had ever seen on Arthur’s face, a face usually too mobile to rest.
Arthur blinked at him before he woke completely, a look of confusion on his face. They had never slept near each other at school, Holmwood and Seward being so far apart in the alphabet.
“So, the fish are spawning?” Jack asked in a cheeky tone only slightly more subdued than Arthur’s habitual teasing. Arthur’s continued refrain of “And the fish are spawning” in a lewd tone had mortified Jack, but sexual insinuations in private were quite a different, and more entertaining, matter.
“Breakfast, damn you. Breakfast. How am I to do anything on an empty stomach?”
Full of eggs and sausages, poles propped against the bank, they lay in the cool wet grass, the morning sun warming their faces.
“Jack, I’ve a question. Rather a confession in the form a question, really. What does sodomy entail, exactly?”
“You mean you don’t know?”
“You’re the one with a vicar for a father!”
Jack held back a sigh, stared at the clouds - one of which was decidedly phallic - and explained, “In the church, sodomy is any sexual deviance. Copulation with a goat? Sodomy. The woman on top of the man? Sodomy. Copulation between men? Sodomy. Onanism must figure as sodomy as well, since it is not directly mentioned in the Bible, but it is a sexual practice that deviates from the reproductive function.”
“You sound like a doctor already. Are you really the equivalent of a goat?”
“According to the church.”
“I know. Do you want to know more?”
“Please. Enlighten me.”
“Well, I’ve done some background reading - in preparation for my employment, you know - and believe me, that has been no easy task at school. Lord Marbury has some very interesting books - primers, if you will.”
“Go on. Do you think you will offend me?”
“Well, the most distinct traditions come from the Greeks and the Japanese.”
“Yes. They are really quite an interesting people, with many similarities to the Greeks, and they provided for love of their own sex at a time when Europe - excluding Venice, which is an Eastern city at heart - ignored or suppressed it. And aesthetically, at least based on the few samples I have seen, I prefer their pornography. Their young men are like beautiful women with penises.” Like you, Jack thought. “In any case, the Greeks preferred to rub their penises together to achieve orgasm, while the Japanese preferred that the younger partner receive the older partner’s penis in the anus.”
Neither spoke for a moment. “In the anus,” Arthur repeated tonelessly.
Jack shrugged. “What one at times defecates is as big around as an aroused penis.”
“A valid point, but still. Ouch.”
“Or one can behave as a prostitute and take the penis in the mouth.”
“Do you want to taste spume?”
“Not particularly keen to, no.”
“Neither do I.”
“The Greeks it is, I suppose. Though the others - the insertion - seem more intimate, more personal.”
“Do you want to take it up the ass?”
“No,” Jack responded quickly. “But I might lick your cock. As long as you do not discharge into my mouth.”
“That’s something prostitutes do. It pleasures the client without arousing the giver of pleasure.”
“I don’t want to turn you into a whore. In any case, the whole point of fucking is that we both benefit at once.”
“Then what do you suggest?”
“You could start by kissing me.”
Jack complied, at first softly, wetly, but then he pushed his tongue into Arthur’s mouth, scraping it against Arthur’s teeth. Arthur opened his mouth wider in response, his tongue reaching to meet Jack’s. Jack was surprised to find a moment later that Arthur’s hand was on his cock - he had not felt Arthur unbutton his trousers, but there Arthur’s strong, bare hand was, fingers curled around his cock. He felt he had to reciprocate - indeed, it was odd to feel friction on the penis without providing any with the hand - so he reached down and fumbled inexpertly with the buttons to Arthur’s fly. “Dammit, Arthur,” Jack pulled away, “how in the hell can you unbutton a chap’s trousers without looking? You’ve been putting me on this whole time, haven’t you? You’ve got experience.”
Arthur said nothing, but he turned his head to avoid looking at Jack, who was kneeling on top of him, and his flushed scarlet to the roots of his fair hair.
“You’ve got experience. All that ‘what is sodomy?’ rubbish, was that to test me or deceive me?” He grabbed Arthur by the chin and turned his head to force Arthur to look at him. “I want an answer.”
“Fine. But let me up, will you? I’d rather you not be in a position to hit me.”
Jack pulled back. “It’s that bad?”
“I don’t know.” Arthur slid back from between Jack’s legs. “I was rather pretty for a first year, as you may remember, and I fagged for Kerrison.”
“Oh.” The implication finally hit Jack. “Ohhhhh. That’s disgusting. Kerrison!”
“I only ever sucked his cock,” Arthur explained quickly. “And sometimes pleased him with my hand. I got nothing in return, neither pleasure nor benefit.”
“You avoided a beating.”
“I suppose. That was the idea. Christ, I sound awful for having done it.”
“Why did you think I would hit you?”
Arthur shrugged. “I was trying not to tell you about it. So I’ve been lying to you. And I know how much you hate liars.”
“I forgive you because it’s Kerrison. Lord, that’s disgusting. I’d hide that, too, if anyone had taken notice of me. Is a fat man’s penis also fat?”
“No, and I think that was the worst of it. It was small, puny, as if all his vital force had collected in the stomach and there was none left for the masculine areas.”
Jack made a noise of disgust. “I pity you, my dear. How is anyone to take to a man after that?”
“You aren’t just any man.”
The affection is Arthur’s voice overwhelmed Jack. “You think much too grand things of me,” he insisted, flushing in his embarrassment at the flattery. “Take your trousers off so I don’t have to muck about with buttons.”
“Gladly.” They both undressed, long white limbs set against the green of the bank, bits of grass in their tousled hair.
Jack returned to his former position straddling Arthur, one knee in the grass between Arthur’s legs. They resumed their former attentions, each pumping the other’s cock as if it were his own. As Jack felt he was close to climax, he let go of Arthur’s cock, pulled Arthur’s hand away from his own cock, and pinned Arthur’s hands above his head. Faces close, Arthur’s eyes wide in surprise at Jack’s initiative, Jack rubbed his excited cock against Arthur’s. Cock to cock, hips moving in rhythm, he brought himself to climax, spraying his seed across Arthur’s smooth white stomach and legs. Tired from his exertions, he rolled aside, laying his head in the hollow of Arthur’s shoulder.
“Hold on, you can’t leave a fellow waiting!” Arthur had not yet climaxed.
Jack lazily reached down and lightly stroked the head of Arthur’s cock with his index finger and thumb, teasing it until Arthur came like a fountain, spraying himself with his seed.
They lay together in the warm summer sun for a time that to Jack could have been a minute or a year - how terribly imprecise the senses grow under a sated sexual stimulus, he thought. Lord, Arthur is right - I haven’t even started university and already I sound like a doctor.
“We should go swimming,” Arthur said. “As nice as that was, and it was ripping, your spume it starting to dry all of me and it itches.”
“And here I thought you were the romantic,” Jack chided.
“Only compared to you. And romance doesn’t itch.”
They returned to the house for luncheon, hair soaked, smelling of the river, and an empty creel between them. Lord Godalming said nothing - though his schooldays had passed some forty years before, he remembered all too well the impatience that drove a couple would-be fisherman to the swimming pond instead.
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