AUTHOR: Nikki Harrington
PAIRING: Arthur 'A. J.' Raffles/Harry 'Bunny' Manders
SUB-GENRE: First Time
SUMMARY: Set during their school days. Raffles does something he had always vowed never to do.
WORD COUNT: 6,430
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Written for birggitt: C - Custard tarts (29/41)
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time. I do, however, own the original characters.
I managed to keep a smile on my face as I stood by the door to my study and said goodnight to Bunny.
"Goodnight, Raffles," he said, smiling up at me.
"Goodnight, my rabbit," I said, letting my fingers brush his hair back from his forehead. "Sleep well."
He smiled again. "I'm sure I shall, Raffles."
"That's my good boy," I said and once more brushed his dreadfully long hair back from his forehead. As I gazed down into his face that hid none of the affection and more he had for me, I idly wondered how long it would be before Dobson 'suggested' he get a hair cut. "Bunny?" I said his name softly.
I hesitated and then just smiled again and shook my head. "Nothing. Now you really have to go before Dobson starts his bed checks."
He nodded. "I know." I opened the door for him and after once more brushing his hair back, I found it incredibly difficult to keep my hands out of his hair, I gently guided him out into the hallway. I stood and watched him hurry off along the hallway, half trotting and half waking. When he reached the end of the hall, he turned and waved to me before he hurried off around the corner.
I stood for another moment or two just staring at the now empty hall, before I shut my door and leant against it and closed my eyes as the momentousness of what I had done hit me. I pressed myself back hard against the door, actually letting my head bang quite hard on the door, taking pleasure for the momentary flash of pain before I pushed myself away, went over to the arm chair, sat down and put my head in my hands. "What have I done?" I whispered. "What have I done?"
What I had done was incredible simple. What I had done was to break my own rule; what I had done was what I had vowed I would never do; what I had done was not what I had intended to do. What I had done was -
I closed my eyes again and let my mind go back to the events of the day and evening.
I had just finished changing for that afternoon's cricket match when Charlie hurried in; I admit I'd been getting a little concerned as Charlie is never late. To my surprise he was already in his whites and he was smiling. "A. J.," he said grabbing my arm. "Have you heard?"
"Heard what, Charlie?"
"It's about Manders."
I grabbed his hand and stared at him. "Bunny? What's happened to him, Charlie?" I was worried, but Charlie was still smiling so I didn't think it could be something too awful.
"Nothing has happened to him. A. J., I'm sorry, I didn't mean to worry you, it's just that he's won the third year verse writing event."
I stared at him and felt a wave of pride go through my body. My rabbit had won something and for literature which was something at which he was exceptionally good - that's why I always fagged him to write my verses for me. "That's wonderful, Charlie," I smiled at him.
"I knew you'd be happy."
"I am, Charlie. Thank you for telling me. And now let's go and win the match."
"Confident, aren't we?"
I laughed and together we went out onto the field.
We did indeed win the match.
After bathing I told Charlie I'd meet him in the dining hall and hurried off to the kitchens, which were technically out of bounds to all boys (even sixth formers). But I've never really troubled too much with rules, certainly ones that one doesn't hurt anyone by breaking them.
It took me less than a minute to persuade one of the cooks to let me have a few custard tarts. In fact I didn't need to persuade her at all, she was more than happy to let me have them; she's rather fond of me. Carrying the plate with a napkin covering the tarts I hurried back to my study and put them on my desk before locking the door and going off to join Charlie for supper.
The tarts were a special treat for my beloved rabbit who was extremely fond of them, in fact he once told me they were his favourite sweet treat. The younger boys rarely got to even see such things, let alone eat them, as they were usually all grabbed by the older boys, and even when, on a rare occasion, a few would find their way to the third year tables, Bunny wouldn't stand a chance of getting one as he wasn't a pushy boy.
I was waiting for him when he arrived in my study and from the way his cheeks were flushed and his fringe was hanging over his eyes I could tell he had hurried to me. He was smiling and his happiness and excitement was clear. I held out my arms to him and he quickly made him way across the room to me. "You know?" he said, as he put his arms around me.
"Yes, my rabbit," I said, pulling him a little closer to me. "I know. Congratulations, Bunny, I've always told you how good you are at writing verses." Now I pushed him away so that I could see his face and as I had expected his cheeks were even more flushed, now with embarrassment. My rabbit never values his own abilities, he never thinks he is worthy or any good at anything and even though I tell him otherwise, I know he doesn't believe me. Maybe this will prove to him and to those who tease him that he is more than worthy.
He stared at me and smiled. "Thank you, Raffles," he said his tone more formal than I had ever heard it.
"I'm proud of you, Bunny," I said, brushing his fringe back from his forehead. "And," I said as he flushed a little more and just gazed up at me, "I have something for you." He widened his eyes as he continued to stare at me. "Come along," I said, now taking his and leading him over to my desk where I removed the napkin from the plate of custard tarts.
He looked at them and back at me. "Raffles?" he whispered, "oh, Raffles. You remembered."
I swallowed hard at the tone in his voice. "Of course I remembered, my rabbit," I murmured holding him in a loose embrace. "I remember everything you tell me."
He looked completely surprised. "You do?"
I nodded. "Of course I do, Bunny, you are very important to me. I remember things that people who matter to me tell me. Now do you want one or are you still full from supper?"
"Yes, please," he said excitedly. I smiled and handed him one before leaning back against the edge of my desk and watching him eat it. He ate it slowly; he was clearly intent on savouring every mouthful and his reaction as he ate it told me he was enjoying it very much indeed. I do not believe I had ever seen him quite so happy, quite so relaxed - I wondered idly the last time someone other than his parents had done something to make him happy. As I watched him happily eating the custard tart I realised I probably didn't want to know the answer to that question.
When he'd finished eating I handed him the napkin I'd taken to cover the tarts with for him to wipe his hands and mouth. "Another one?" I asked as he gave it back to me.
His eyes gleamed and he said, "May I?"
I smiled at him and as I did many times a day brushed his hair from his forehead. "Of course you may, Bunny," I said handing another one to him.
"Thank you," he said and then asked, "are you going to have one?"
It seemed, from his tone and the way he was looking at me, important to him that I did eat one thus even though they weren't my favourite treat, I took one. He smiled; it clearly made him happy, which was all I wanted to do - that's all I ever wanted to do. The custard tart was actually very nice, not as sweet as the ones the cook at home made and I enjoyed it a great deal.
I used the napkin to wipe my hands and mouth once I'd finished eating and again handed it to Bunny who took it and wiped his hands. "Thank you, Raffles," he said and suddenly threw himself into my arms and gazed up at me.
I held him in the way I always held him, which was with a mixture of protectiveness, possessiveness and affection and smiled down at him. His mouth was slightly parted and I could smell the sweet scent from the tarts he'd eaten and suddenly I found myself wondering if he would taste as sweet as he smelt.
I would swear on anything anyone asked me to swear on, even the life of my beloved little sister, that I did not plan what happened next. However, as he went on gazing up at me, not troubling in the slightest to hide the deep affection he had for me, I found myself lowering my head and putting my mouth on his.
Even as I kissed him I told myself it was going to be nothing more than my lips brushing over his, as they'd brushed over his ear on a few occasions and over his head on even more occasions. But it wasn't; once my lips met his and I learnt he did taste as sweet as he smelt, I couldn't take my mouth away.
Instead I pulled him closer to me and deepened the kiss, increasing the pressure as I tangled his hair around one of my hands and held him against me. After a second of what I knew must have been surprise, he began to kiss me back with an enthusiasm I hadn't known for several years - does kissing really become nothing more than something to do to pass the time? The way he kissed me confirmed what I already knew, because he had told me so, he had never kissed, he had never been kissed by, anyone else.
It was dreadfully naïve, far more so than I remember my first kiss being and quite unlike the type of kiss I like. But that didn't matter, because it was Bunny who was kissing me; it was Bunny's lips which, when I tentatively dared to part my lips a little and let the tip of my tongue touch his bottom lip, parted for me, albeit slowly and hesitantly.
As I pulled him a little nearer to me and tangled his hair even more tightly around my hand I felt, to my complete surprise, shock even, my body begin to react - something that hasn't happened from a mere kiss for quite some time. I tried as discreetly as I could to move away from him a little, least I scared him. I had no idea whether his body had yet begun to do what boys' bodies inevitably do and often at the most inconvenient of times. Thus if it hadn't, I did not wish to frighten him, even though I was certain some boys in his dorm must be experiencing this and boys being boys no doubt would talk and giggle about it, so surely he must have overheard or even caught a glimpse of something?
But maybe he hadn't, I know how reticent he is, how he always tries to keep himself covered whilst he dresses and undresses, how he'll go out of his way to use facilities other boys rarely if ever go to. I know he never, unlike most other boys, deliberately looks at another naked boy; nor does he join in the usual talk, so it is quite likely, if his own body has not started to do what boys' bodies do, that he is not aware of such things. However, even as I tried to move back from him, he just pressed against me even more which my body certainly approved of.
Finally, when even I was starting to see black spots behind my eyes, I gently broke the kiss, taking my mouth slowly from his and keeping him in my arms I looked at him, wanting to make quite certain he was showing no signs or fear or unease. He showed none at all; in fact it was quite the opposite. If I'd thought he'd always looked at with affection, with the love only a thirteen year old boy can have for an eighteen year old one, I had been wrong because the way he was looking at me now was quite unlike the way anyone had ever looked at me.
Had I resolved the kiss would be the only kiss, it would have been broken as I looked at him, but even as I smiled and once more lowered my head, whilst gathering him nearer to me as I put my mouth back on his, I realised I hadn't resolved not to kiss him again.
I don't know for how long we went on kissing, I do know it was far longer than I bothered to kiss any other boy. Again I wondered just when kissing had become merely a prelude to other things? When had it become nothing more than a technique to employ? But then I realised as my hand again found its way into his soft, silky hair that everything I did with my fellow sixth formers had become nothing more than a technique - just as it had for the other boys I did things with.
This time when I took my mouth from his and looked down at him, I saw him wince slightly and rotate his neck. I am quite a lot taller than he and I wasn't surprised he was in some pain from having to tilt his head back so far. Pain is not something I wished to ever cause my rabbit and so I took his hand and led him to the sofa, where I pulled him down with me, gathering him once more into my arms and yet again I returned to kissing him.
"Are you all right, Bunny?" I asked softly when, some time later, I once more broke the kiss. I brushed his hair back from his face and looked at how red and swollen his lips were and immediately felt more than a little guilty.
But the guilt faded as he smiled and nodded. "Oh, yes, Raffles," he said softly as he lifted his hand and touched my cheek. It shook a little but I drew no attention to the fact, nor to how lightly he touched my cheek. It was almost as if he was afraid I wouldn't like it - which had it been anyone but he I wouldn't as it was far too gentle, far too soft for my liking, but for some unfathomable reason it made me tremble just a little in the way no touch has ever made me do.
"Oh, Raffles," he murmured moving a little and snuggling even further into my arms. "I do love you." The words were nothing more than a mere whisper, so soft I'm quite certain I was not meant to have heard them.
They shouldn't have affected me; after all I have known for some time that he loved me, that I'm the most important boy in the school to him, that I am the person who is on his mind far more than I should be. I have always known of the deep, deep pass he had on me - as has every other boy in the school - and I care for him deeply; he matters more to me than even Charlie does and Charlie's my best friend.
I want only good for him; I want to protect him, to keep him safe - and I do. No one gets near to my rabbit, no one dares to hurt him - they know only too well what I would do should they do so. He's very, very important to me, I miss him (not that I've ever told him) when we are apart for the school hols. I think what I feel for him is as close to love as it's possible for me to feel - in fact I know it is. I should stop trying to fool myself and admit that I do love him, even if I'm not entirely certain what kind of love it is.
Thus already knowing he loved me and knowing of my own deep affection for him, his words should not have had any affect on me, at least not the dramatic affect they did have. However, it was like someone had poured a jug of ice-cold water over me as I suddenly realised just what I had done.
As I suddenly realised I was lying on the sofa with a younger boy in my arms and not just any younger boy, but Bunny; the boy I had vowed to keep safe from harm. The boy I wouldn't let anyone near; the boy I had promised myself I would never kiss - no matter how much I may have wanted to. The boy who trusted me beyond any level of trust I had ever known; trusted me to keep him safe, trusted me to protect him, trusted me above everything else never to hurt or harm him - and what had I just done?
I had broken my promise, my vow; I had kissed him and not just once, I had kissed him multiple times and had enjoyed doing so. I had kept him in my arms and let him press against me even when my body had reacted to his kiss. I suddenly felt very, very ill and closed my eyes and I silently fought to regain control of myself and to do so without letting him be aware that anything was wrong because he must not know; he could not know, because that would destroy him.
I don't know how I did it, but I did and after letting him rest against me, his head on my shoulder for a little while longer, I brushed my lips over his and gently encouraged him to sit up where I once again tided his hair for him, letting my fingers linger as they always did. "It's time you went back to the dorm, Bunny," I murmured.
He smiled at me. "I know," he said and to my complete surprise he moved a little nearer to me and dared to kiss me. It was quick; really it was nothing more than his mouth on mine for a second or two, if that. However, it clearly made him very happy as he smiled, albeit a little shyly, and let his hand linger on my arm for a moment before he stood up. I joined him, led him the door and managed to keep the smile on my face as I said goodnight to him.
I raised my head and sighed as I once more whispered, "What have I done?"
After a minute or two I stood up went into my bedroom, opened the window and did what even I never dared to do: lit a cigarette. As I stared out of the window, holding the cigarette outside and making sure I blew the smoke out into the night air I thought.
I couldn't undo what I'd done; I couldn't take back what I'd done; I couldn't believe that Bunny was going to forget it; I didn't dare hope that he wouldn't want me to kiss him again - because I knew he would. I also knew quite well that he would never ask me to kiss him, after all he'd wanted me to kiss him before tonight - he can't hide anything from me - but he wouldn't ask. However, given he couldn't hide anything from me, it meant that I would see it in his eyes, on his face, in the way he looked at me, stand close to me, throw himself into my arms.
So I couldn't undo it, but it wasn't going to happen again - no matter how he looked at me, no matter how much his eyes pleaded with me; it was not going to, it could not, happen again. I had broken my vow once, I would not do it again - even though I dearly wished to. And I did; I really did. I closed my eyes and groaned softly as I finally accepted quite how much I wanted to kiss him again, quite how much I liked having him in my arms, quite how important he was to me.
"Oh, Bunny," I said, stubbing the cigarette out, wrapping it in a tissue and dropping it into the wastepaper bin. "What have I done?"
I left the window open and went back into my study and closed the door. Then my eyes fell on the plate where a lone custard tart sat. Suddenly and totally irrationally I found myself blaming it for what had happened. Had I never wished to give Bunny a treat of custard tarts I never would have kissed him and I wouldn't be feeling so guilty now. With a sweep of my hand I knocked the plate from the desk and watched it hit the floor and shatter. Amazingly, however, the tart remained intact. I glared down at it and sighed.
Smashing the plate hadn't helped at all, in fact all it meant was I now had to clear the broken plate up. I did so, taking care not to cut myself on the sharp edges of the plate and dropped the broken pieces and the lone, something battered but still whole, custard tart into the wastepaper bin and after wiping my hands dropped the napkin on top of it.
I then threw myself into the arm chair, closed my eyes and groaned softly. Suddenly there was a knock at the door. "A. J.?" It was Charlie.
For a second I considered just remaining silent until he went away. But it was Charlie; my best friend; the only boy I could tell what had happened and even as I was telling myself I wasn't going to tell him, I was calling out to him, "Come in, Charlie."
I stood up as the door opened and he came in. He was frowning slightly. "Are you all right, A. J.?" he asked. "Johnson said he thought he heard a strange noise as he went by your study." Then he sniffed and his frown deepened. "A. J.!" he exclaimed, "have you been smoking in here?"
I shrugged and put my hands into my pockets and glanced away from his steady gaze, which I had to admit was showing more than a degree of concern. "In my bedroom actually, Charlie. But -"
"A. J. Do you know how foolish that was?" I nodded. He sighed and moved towards me and put his arm around my shoulders - Charlie's known me for ten years; he would have known within a second of seeing me that something was amiss. "What happened?" he asked.
I stared at him. "Oh, Charlie," I said, leaning into his embrace a little. "I've done something terrible." And for a second I even let my head come to rest on his shoulder.
He tightened his grip on me a little and said softly, "Well, come on, tell me. What have you done to Manders?"
I lifted my head and stared at him. "What makes you think it's to do with Bunny?"
"Oh, A. J.," he said, with the hint of a laugh in his voice, as he sat down on the sofa and dragged me down with him. "Given quite how upset you clearly are, it can't be to do with anyone other than Manders. So what did you do? Did you hit him or kiss him?"
I don’t believe I have ever been so stunned in my life, certainly not by something Charlie had said. I pulled away from him, idly wondering quite when he'd taken my hand, or rather I tried to, but Charlie is stronger than I and made it quite clear he didn't intend to release my hand. "You know I'd never hit him," I blurted the words out before I even thought clearly.
He nodded. "Yes, I do know that - which means you kissed him."
I stared at him, suddenly torn between shouting at him and telling him everything. I opted for the latter. I kept my eyes firmly on his face as I told him everything that had happened in my study earlier that evening. His steady gaze held mine and the fond, caring expression on his face never once changed as he continued to hold my hand whilst he again put his arm around my shoulders.
"What am I going to do, Charlie?" I asked once I'd finished my story.
He was silent for a moment before saying, "Well, it seems to me that you have three options. But before I tell you what they are, I must say one thing; don't blame the custard tarts for you kissing Manders, A. J., because they really are the innocent party in this."
I stared at him for a moment and saw his lips twitch as they always did when he was trying not to laugh. I hadn't thought I could possibly laugh that evening or that I'd want to. But as I looked at Charlie and again heard his words I did indeed laugh and Charlie joined in. "Very well, Charlie," I said, wiping my eyes. "I won't blame the poor, innocent custard tarts. Now do share you wisdom with me and tell me what my choices are."
He moved back a little; his arm was still around my shoulders but not quite so tightly. "Option one is that you and I swap fags. No," he said forestalling my immediate objection. "Hear me out. As I said you and I swap fags. Foster is a good boy, he'll look after you well; he'll keep your cricket bats oiled and look after the rest of your kit. He won't look at you in an adoring way, he won't spend every spare moment with you, he won't let you cuddle him and he certainly won't sit on your lap - and don't look at me like that, I do know, A. J., I sometimes think you aren't quite aware of how much, how often, how intimately you touch Manders. He won't replace Manders, but he will be a good fag for you. And you have my word that I will keep Manders safe, no one will touch him or hurt him. No, I won't 'look after' him as you do, I won't encourage him to come to my study whenever he wants to, nor will I expect him there if I haven't got any jobs for him - but I will look after him. You can trust me."
I sighed. "I do, Charlie, you know that. I know you would indeed keep Bunny safe, but -"
"No, let me finish telling you the options." I sighed but nodded. "Option two is that you do nothing at all. A. J. You just let things carry on as they have since the day Manders joined the school. You carry on hugging him, brushing his hair back for him, letting him spend every moment he wants to with you, nothing changes. It's as if tonight never happened. He'll never bring it up will he?" I shook my head. "He'll never be the one to ask you to kiss him again?"
"Well, then," Charlie shrugged. "Everything goes back to how it was."
"And the third option?" I asked softly.
He put his hand around my neck and turned my head so I was looking directly at him. "You do what both Manders and you clearly want: you go on kissing him."
I stared at him in surprise, no in shock. Charlie was . . . Charlie was telling . . . Charlie was telling me to . . . "You're telling me to bed a third former?" I asked aghast.
Charlie shrugged. "Actually, I believe I suggested you go on kissing Manders. Whether that leads to you taking him to your bed is quite another matter - and that, A. J., is something even I can't advise you on. Or rather I won't." Then before I could speak he asked, "Did you touch him?"
"Don't sound so shocked, A. J., you're the one who -"
"Broke my own promise not to kiss him," I said softly.
Charlie shrugged and sighed again. "You know, A. J., you are pretty much the only boy who has these sensibilities, who has this rule about not kissing or touching a younger boy."
I stared at him. "Charlie? You don't, do you?"
He smiled and shook his head. "Actually, no I don't, A. J. But if there was a younger boy I liked well . . ." he broke off and shrugged again. Then he looked at me, tightened the grip he had on my hand and said softly, "But we both know the chances of that happening are fairly low, do we not."
Immediately I had two things to feel guilty about. "Charlie -"
"Don't, A. J., I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you feel any more guilty than you do. Forget I said it, please?" I stared at him and after a second or two I nodded. "Thank you," he whispered, pulling my head down onto his shoulder for a moment; a second later I felt a gentle kiss (the kind I had given Bunny on more than one occasion before tonight) on my head.
I let it rest there, enjoying Charlie's silent support and the obvious way he cared about me. I wasn't often the one taking comfort; I was far happier giving it, but it was different with Charlie, we went back so many years. Finally I lifted my head and he adjusted his arm around my shoulders. "So they're my options, are they?"
Charlie nodded. "I can't think of any others. So what's it to be, A. J.?"
"Not the first one," I said firmly. "I know you'd protect him, Charlie, I know you'd care for him, I know he'd be quite safe with you, I even know he'd be happy with you. And I know of all the options it's the best one really. But," I paused for a moment, "but I couldn't hurt him like that. How do you think he'd feel after what happened tonight if I turn around tomorrow and tell him he's now going to fag for you?"
"I know," Charlie said quietly. "I always knew it wasn't practical, but it is an option, so I thought I'd mention it. Okay, so two or three."
I sighed. "I don't know if I can just let things go back to how they were, Charlie," I said softly, finally allowing myself to admit it.
He held my gaze for a moment and gave a small nod. "Do you want to kiss him again?"
I closed my eyes and I felt him squeeze my hand. "Yes," I said softly. "Yes, I do. I want it very much, Charlie, but I don't know if I can. It's not right, Charlie."
He shrugged again. "It's hardly wrong, A. J." I just stared at him and we sat there for quite some time in silence. Finally Charlie sighed, squeezed my hand again and said, "Well, A. J., only you can make the decision. I can't make it for you. All I will say is, and please, A. J., believe me when I say I am not saying this in an attempt to hurt you or make you feel guilty, please believe that."
I nodded. "I'll believe you."
"Don't make the mistake of assuming you know what's best for Manders - not in this. If he's old enough to kiss, he's old enough to know what he wants. You don't always know what's best." And then to my surprise he moved a little nearer to me and put his mouth on mine just for a second or two. It was the first time he'd kissed me since I'd told him we had to stop kissing and stop touching as we had been doing - since I'd presumed to know what was best for Charlie.
For a fleeting second I was tempted to grab him and kiss him back as hard as I could and lose myself in his kisses and his touches, to let him do the things to me he'd done for several years and done so very well. But that truly wouldn't be fair; it wouldn't be fair to Charlie, it wouldn't be fair to Bunny and it wouldn't be fair to me.
So instead I just touched his face and once again nodded. "I won't, Charlie," I said turning my hand in his and squeezing his hand before bringing it to my lips and pressing a soft kiss on it. "Sleep well, Charlie," I said quietly as he stood up.
"You too, A. J." After squeezing my shoulder once more he turned but immediately stopped and turned back. "And, A. J., don't risk smoking in here again."
I smiled. "I won't."
THE NEXT DAY
I sat next to Charlie eating my supper as for the umpteenth time that day I thought about the two options I had. I knew I had to make a decision before the end of supper, because Bunny would come to my study and what happened then would be what happened for the rest of his time at the school.
I hadn't seen him all day, which wasn't that unusual given the differences in our ages, so I had no idea how he really felt about what had happened. Suddenly I felt certain someone was looking at me and looked over to the house third form table and saw Bunny staring in my direction and that was when I knew.
I put my fork down, wiped my mouth on my napkin, took a gulp of water and stood up. Charlie caught my arm. "A. J.?" he asked several questions with the one word. I didn't say anything, I just looked at him. Over the years we've been friends Charlie and I have developed a way of communicating silently - trust me, it is very beneficial, especially on the cricket field. "Don’t hurt him," he said softly.
"I won't." I squeezed his arm, put my hands in my pockets and walked off across the dining room, went out into the quad and headed back to the house and my study to wait.
I didn't have to wait for long. "Hello, Bunny," I said when he opened the door; I did notice that the way he opened it was slightly more hesitant than usual. "How was your day?"
"Hello, Raffles. It was all right."
"Good boy," I said and held out my arms to him.
He hesitated for no more than a second before hurrying across the room and into my arms, putting his arms around my waist and sighing with pleasure as he always did. I held him for a while before I moved back and took both of his hands in mine. "Bunny?" I said firmly.
"Yes, Raffles?" He bit his lower lip.
I let go of one of his hands to brush his hair from his face and then led him to the sofa, sat down and pulled him down with me. "About last night," I said.
"I didn't tell anyone," he said quickly. "Really I didn't Raffles. I didn't even tell Ollie; I wouldn't."
"I know you wouldn't, Bunny," I said. "The thing is, my rabbit," I paused and moistened my lips. "The thing is, Bunny, there's something I need to know." He stared with wide eyes at me. "Did you enjoy me kissing you, Bunny?"
He stared at me as if I'd suddenly grown a second head or something. "Of course I did!" he exclaimed. "How can you ask me that, Raffles?"
I smiled and let my hand slip into his hair. "Are you quite certain, Bunny? You aren't just saying that because it's what you think I want you to say, are you? I want you to be honest, my dear rabbit; I want you to tell me the truth, not what you believe I wish to hear."
He frowned at me for a moment and said slowly and quietly, his voice flat. "Didn't you like kissing me, Raffles? Was I so -"
I silenced him by putting my finger to his lips. "I liked kissing you very much, Bunny," I said, "really I did. Now please answer my question, there's a good boy."
He swallowed and stared at me. "Yes, Raffles, I really, really liked you kissing me. I'm not just saying it because . . . Well, because of what you said. I wouldn't, because I know you wouldn't want me to lie to you. And I never would lie to you, Raffles, surely you know that?" Actually, I did, but I hadn't considered him telling me what he believed I wanted to hear a lie - but then I was five years older than he, I saw things in a far more complex way, a far less innocent way.
"I know, Bunny," I said softly. "It's just -" I fell silent as did he.
And then to my surprise, because he rarely speaks without me speaking to him, he said quietly, his head now lowered, his hands entwined, "The thing is, Raffles, I'd really rather like it if you kissed me again."
I stared at his bowed head; I could hardly believe I'd heard what I'd heard. I could hardly believe that my rabbit had - "Would you, Bunny?" I asked, putting my fingers under his chin and gently pushing his head up. "Would you really like me to kiss you again?"
He nodded. "Yes, Raffles, I would. I'd like it very much indeed.
So I did.