AUTHOR: Nikki Harrington
FANDOM: Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman
PAIRING: Arthur 'A. J.' Raffles/Harry 'Bunny' Manders
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Bunny is asleep and Raffles is musing on the exact nature of their relationship and what it is he feels for Bunny and whether it is time to end what they have.
WORD COUNT: 3,105
AUTHOR'S NOTE: The POV of this story is first person Raffles.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Bunny is asleep in my bed; but I even as I held him as he fell asleep and lightly kissed his head before brushing his hair back from his forehead, I knew I would not be able to join him in sleep. Thus, once I was certain he was deeply enough asleep not to awaken when I got out of bed, I got up, dressed in my pyjamas and dressing gown and came into the sitting room where I have poured myself a whisky and soda and lit a Sullivan. I closed all the doors between the bedroom and the sitting room in the hope the scent of smoke or the light from the lamp I have lit will not permeate into the bedroom and awaken my sleeping rabbit.
The reason I know I will be unable to sleep is because tonight Bunny told me he loved me. It's not that I didn't know; I did; I have always known he loves me. I knew when we were at school, although that I dismissed in many ways as a simple school boy pash a younger boy has on an older boy, and I have known since he came back into my life. It is after all so very obvious, Bunny is one of the most honest people I have ever known; yes, even though he joined felonious forces with me more than two years ago, he is still an honest man in the way I have never been. He is not devious; he cannot, he has never been able to, hide his feelings - at least not the feelings he has for me.
I believe that our acquaintances and the other gentlemen with whom I play cricket see his love and devotion to me as some kind of hero worship and simply the love an intimate friend has for another. At least given we have not been ostracised from society and people do not shun us and we are not barred from the club or the Turkish baths and Inspector Mackenzie has not called with a different set of accusations other than those of burglary, I believe this to be the case. And yes, that is indeed how Bunny loves me; however, it is not the only way he loves me. He is in love with me; he loves me in a way one man should not love another. He loved me in the way a gentleman should love a lady; a husband should love his wife.
I have never troubled myself about rules and what is supposedly right; Bunny is not the first male lover I have had, not by some way - and I am not just talking about my time at school and Cambridge. Except in many ways he is the first lover I have had, because the other men with whom I have shared a bed have not been involved in my life in any way and have rarely shared a bed with me more than once.
Given I knew how he felt about me some months before I first kissed him and took him to my bed, I suppose I should not have been surprised that he finally told me in words what he felt about me. And yet given the fact I am sitting here by the fire with a second Sullivan in my hand, I clearly wasn't prepared to hear 'I love you, Raffles'.
I know he expected me to say the words as well or at least he hoped I would; but I could not. I would not. I am not a particularly moral man, nor am I a hugely honourable one, I have said the words on more than one occasion - to young ladies whom I wanted to entice into bed. I have said them and never once have I meant them, never once have I come close to meaning them. But I have said them in order to achieve what I wanted and then I calmly walked away from the lady in question. As I said I am neither particularly moral nor honourable.
Except it seems that I am when it comes to one person: Bunny. Because even as he lay there gazing up at me with more love showing on his face and in his eyes than I have ever seen anyone bestow on me I knew I could not say the words he wanted to hear. I could not say them because I am not certain they are true, indeed I am sure they are not and whilst I will and do lie to others, I will not lie to my beloved rabbit.
I do love him, I always have done. I love him as it is permitted for a man to love another man; I loved him during our two years together at school and I love him still. But the love I have for him is not the same as the love he has for me; at least I do not believe it to be so. And yet my feelings for him are strong and deep; I enjoy his company, I want his company maybe more than I should. I want him in my life, in my arms, in my bed more than I sometimes believe I should. I find I miss him if we are apart. But that is just because I am used to him being around, am used to his attention being on me. I do not have to put on any kind of an act with Bunny, I do not have to be the man I am not - even if he sees me in a somewhat different light to the person I know myself to be. Even if his eyes are blinded by the love he has for me.
I trust him as I have never trusted any other; at school he was the boy who helped me get out of school of an evening; even though he hated breaking rules and feared us being caught, he helped me and he never once let me down. Indeed, he once saved me from a certain beating, endless detentions, stripping of certain privileges given to the captain of the eleven and possibly even expulsion by his quick thinking that prevented me from being caught getting back into school. No one, not even my best friend at the time, knew of my ventures into the local town. I trusted only Bunny; even though he really was the rabbit I called him and even though he was a rather immature, innocent, young, easily frightened boy, I trusted him.
Just as I trust him now; just as I took him into my world and let him see what I was: a burglar who stole from his acquaintances - albeit never whilst staying under their roofs. I trust him never to let me down; I trust him with my freedom and I trust him with my life. I cannot imagine trusting anyone the way I trust Bunny.
But does wanting him to be around so much, missing him when he isn't, trusting him like I do amount to being in love with him? To loving him as he loves me? No, I do not believe it does because I could walk away from him, from our lovemaking at any time. And I should do thing before he falls any more deeply in love with me and before I can no longer walk away. Because if I do not stop kissing him and taking him to my bed, I fear I will lose my heart to him - and that can never be. He deserves far better than the man I am, and for all my breaking of rules how can I devote my life to another man? But it is irrelevant because I do not love him like that, I will not, I cannot lose my heart to him - and yet I fear I might.
Thus, I must end this; I must tell him we can no longer be lovers; I must walk away and if that means walking away from his friendship as well then that is what I must do. I sometimes think I was a fool to take him to my bed, to kiss him and yet I did both. I did it to make him happy, I did it because I knew it was what he wanted, I know he wanted me to kiss him whilst we were at school and maybe even do more than merely kiss him. Yet despite most of the other boys believing that is what I did do, I never kissed him nor did I touch him beyond the fraternal touches I gave him all the time.
I denied him for two years whilst at school; I could not go on denying him after we became reacquainted. At school I could tell myself he was too young, I was so much older than he, it wouldn’t have been fair or right for me to kiss him; but when we met again I could not deny the look in his eyes that clearly begged me to kiss him.
So I did - and in truth I wanted to kiss him, I wanted to kiss him very much indeed and I wanted to take him to my bed. I had even wanted to kiss him whilst we'd been at school, even though I wouldn't, I had wanted to. So I kissed him, I took him to my bed; I took possession of him in a way I had never taken possession of anyone before, because no one else has been he.
But I was wrong to have done that; I was foolish to have allowed things to develop between us in that way. I had the best of intentions: to make my dearest Bunny happy; however, I believe he would have ultimately been happier had I not done so because that way he would not know the loss he will know when I give him up. As I must do; as I want to do; as I will do.
And yet it will be so very hard to do so; I am aware of that. I have let Bunny get far closer to me than I have ever let anyone get, even my parents, my younger sister and Charlie, none of them have ever got as close to me or been so dear to me as Bunny is. So it will be very hard to give him up, but I must stay in control, as much as I care for him, love him as a dear friend, as much as I know how much it will hurt him, I will give him up. I have to.
But it is so hard to know he is asleep in my bed for the very last time; so hard to accept I will never put my arms around him again, never kiss him again, never touch him, never undress him, never make love to him, never hear him crying my name as pleasure overtakes him and never feel his hands on me. If this is what an opium addict feels like, I can begin to understand why they find it so hard to give it up. They know they should, they know to do so is the right thing, but knowing they'll go through life never again experiencing the feelings the drug gives them must be so hard.
Yes, I was a fool; a damned fool. I have done some less than sensible things in my time, but taking Bunny to my bed is the most foolish thing of all. Why did I do it? Why did I not continue to do what I had done for two years: ignore what he so clearly wanted? I say I did it for him and I did, but I am not that altruistic; I did it for me too as I wanted so very much to take my rabbit into my arms and into my bed. But I should not have done it. I shall end it; I shall end it in the morning. I could go and awaken him now, but I shall allow him one more night of peaceful and contented sleep. I -
"Raffles?" I start at the sound of his voice, I was so wrapped up in my thoughts I had failed to hear the door being opened, and stare at him. He looks so very young standing there, his hair messed from my hands and also from him sleeping; his cheeks slightly flushed; he is dressed in my spare dressing gown that is too big for him and thus makes him look so much younger than he is. He's gazing at me as he always does with love, devotion and affection.
I stare back at him; I want nothing more than to take him into my arms and - But I must not; I will not. Now that he is here, now that he has awoken, I must tell him what I have decided. "Bunny, I thought you were asleep."
"I was; then I woke up and you weren't there. Are you all right, Raffles? Is something wrong? Did I do anything wrong?" I can see the concern in his steady gaze as he stands still in the doorway just looking at me.
I swallow hard and hold out my hand to him. "Come here, Bunny." I say the words softly, hoping he is still too befuddled by sleep and our lovemaking to realise I have not answered his questions.
For a moment I think he will not obey me as he continues to simply stand in the doorway staring at me. But then he begins to slowly walk towards me; the concern is still clear in his gaze and I see something else; he's not just merely concerned, he is a little afeared. I want to pull him down onto my lap and kiss the concern and fear away - but I will not. I must be firm.
He reaches my chair and takes my hand; I notice his is trembling very slightly. Then he drops to his knees in front of my chair and gazes up at me. I have to force myself not to close my eyes as fourteen years vanish in an instant and I do not see the man my rabbit has become, I see the small, young, innocent, naïve, loyal, adoring, devoted boy who would often sit or kneel at my feet. I see the boy who gave me his heart, gave me his love, his devotion, his affection, the boy who trusted me implicitly always to keep him safe from harm and never to hurt him.
I blink hard to force the image of the boy away; indeed I keep my eyes closed for a second or two. When I open them the boy has gone and I see the man again, but as I stare down into eyes that look at me showing fear and concern I see the same as I'd seen when I saw the young boy. I see Bunny, my dearest most beloved Bunny, my friend, my partner, the only person I truly trust, the person I miss so much when I do not see him, I see the man, still in many ways so innocent, so naïve, still completely loyal, adoring and devoted. I see the man who gave me his heart, his love, his devotion, his affection, the man who trusts me implicitly always to keep him safe from harm and never to hurt him.
But hurt him I will do; hurt him I must do. As I sit staring down at him, his hand still in mine, I tell myself it will hurt far less if I do it now than in a month, a year, two years, five, ten - I am not in love with him; I do not love him as he loves me. It is merely a simple affair of the heart; one I shall now end.
I let go of his hand and instead cup his face between both of my hands. "Bunny," I say softly, "my dearest, beloved rabbit I." I pause as I look at him again and the man and boy become one and I know what I must do; what I have to do; there is only one thing I can do.
I let one hand fall from his face and take him arm. "Come here, Bunny," I say, urging him from his knees onto my lap - as I did many times at school. I put my arms around him and pull him gently against me. Am I making it harder? Am I being unfair? Almost certainly, but I have to hold him one more time; for just a few more seconds I have to possess him, I have to know he's mine.
"Raffles?" He whispers; that's all he says, my name.
"I -" I swallow hard, briefly close my eyes, harden my heart and look at him. "I love you too, Bunny," I say. "I love you, my dearest rabbit. I love you." And I pull his head down so that I can claim his mouth with mine. My mouth parts his and I feel him relax into my arms and into my kiss.
Mine; he is mine; he has been mine since the moment we met and he always will be mine. There are some things that are simply meant to be. Bunny and I were meant to be; when it comes down to it, it is as simple as that. He is mine, just as I am his. I will not give him up; I cannot give him up; I do not wish to give him up. If he truly is a drug then I am a willing addict. I am in love with him; I do love him as he loves me; it is not merely a simple affair of the heart. How could it be?
I'm not certain for how long we sit there, he on my lap, my arms holding him tightly, our mouths on one another. But finally I take my mouth from his, smile at him, brush his hair back from his forehead, guide him off my lap, stand up and take his hand. "I love you, Bunny," I say again as I lead him back to the bedroom; back to my bed; back to where he belongs: in my bed, in my arms and in my heart.
Master list of my Raffles/Bunny stories