AUTHOR: Nikki Harrington
PAIRINGS: Arthur A. J. Raffles/Harry 'Bunny' Manders; Edward 'Charlie' Charleston/Oliver 'Ollie' Urquhart
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship
SUMMARY: Raffles and Bunny receive an invitation from Charleston and Urquhart to attend a special dinner. However, Raffles knows he’ll have to be very persuasive in order to get his rabbit to agree to the full dress code.
WORD COUNT: 10,110
AUTHOR'S NOTE 1: Written for caffyolay: K - Kilts
AUTHOR'S NOTE 2 This story is set in the same universe as Christmas Past And Present. It isn't necessary to have read the story to understand this one, but it does explain why Charleston and Urquhart call one another by Christian names rather than surnames.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
Bunny was having lunch with his publisher, thus I was alone in our rooms at the Albany when the second post arrived. I discarded most of it as something to be looked at later and instead turned my full attention to the envelope which had been addressed in Charlie’s hand; I opened it eagerly.
It was an invitation for Bunny and me to join Charlie and Urquhart at their club for a special dinner in a fortnight's time. I knew my rabbit would be as pleased as I to accept; well he would until he saw the full dress code. That would not make him happy - indeed I feared it might be enough to make him decline to accompany me. I rather liked the idea and I really liked it when I thought about my rabbit dressed as he would have to be.
There was a note from Charlie addressed only to me which I read quickly and smiled. He knew my rabbit almost as well as I did - well at least he did in one way.
I do hope you are able to find a way to persuade Harry to overcome his natural inhibitions, shall we say, and agree to fulfil the full dress code (although between you and me no one is actually going to check) and thus join Oliver and me for what I’m sure will be a very enjoyable evening.
Oliver wasn’t completely happy at first – but let me just say I can be persuasive. Thus, knowing you as I do, I am quite certain you will find a way to bring Harry around to your way of thinking.
I had noticed that Charlie had started to call or talk about Bunny by his Christian name quite often these days, even though it still was not something English gentlemen tended to do. Bunny didn’t seem at all perturbed by Charlie calling him Harry, had he been I know Charlie would not have continued to do so.
I was fairly certain I could persuade Bunny to my way of thinking; I usually was able to convince him to do things I wished to do, even if he did not. After all, it was I who dragged him into my world and kept him there by my side, even though I knew he really did not wish to burgle. Although, it has to be said there are times when my rabbit can and does surprise me and if he really did object, to the extent when I knew that agreeing would make him very uncomfortable and thus unhappy, then I would cease to press my case and let him be. As Charlie said, it wasn’t as if anyone would check.
I heard the front door open and hastily pushed the invitation and letter into the top drawer of my desk, where it would be safe from Bunny’s eyes. I wished to be the one to tell him about Charlie and Urquhart’s invitation; I didn’t want him to see it until I was ready for him to see it.
"Hello, my rabbit," I said, as Bunny came into the sitting room; he was smiling so I assumed his meeting had gone well.
"Hello, Raffles." He came over to me and I put my arms around him and kissed him. I found I never tired of kissing or holding my rabbit and I knew it made him as happy as it made him.
"Was your meeting productive?"
Bunny nodded. "Yes, he's commissioned a further three books." His smile became broader; he clearly was very happy.
For a moment I was tempted to tell him about Charlie's letter and take advantage of how pleased and almost certainly pliable he was. However, I decided to wait until later that evening, after we had dined and after I had made sure he was utterly and totally contented.
"That's excellent news, Bunny, I'm really pleased for you."
"Thank you, Raffles."
"I thought we could dine at the club tonight, if you would like that?"
THEIR CLUB LATER THAT EVENING
Even though we were dining in the main dining room, I was behaving in an even more attentive way to my rabbit than I normally behaved. I made sure his glass was always full, I touched his hand on many occasions and I kept my full focus on him.
"Raffles," he suddenly said in a low tone as he leant a little towards me.
"Yes, my dear Bunny?"
"Why are you . . ." He fell silent and looked around him.
"Why am I what, my rabbit?"
"Well, being so," he lowered his voice even more, "seductive."
"Yes! And you know it," he added.
I looked at him in my innocent way and laughed softly as the look he gave me told me he was not fooled, not at all. "Do you not like it?"
"Of course I do. How can you ask that? It's just . . ." Again he trailed off and looked around him. None of the other gentlemen were paying us any attention; they were all concentrating on eating, drinking and conversing with their dinner companions.
Why would they be interested in us? We were just two other gentlemen who were intimate friends - although it is fair to say that I believed more than one of them may well have suspected the intimacy went beyond that of mere intimate friends. Not that I would ever tell my beloved rabbit of my suspicions, he would worry far too much, as well as behaving in such a way that it would make it quite clear what we actually were to one another.
"Just?" I asked encouragingly.
"That when you behave as you're behaving, when you look at me as you've been looking at me all evening, I want to . . . Well, you know." His cheeks were slightly flushed and he moved on his chair.
I patted his hand. "I shall endeavour to behave more appropriately; I do not wish to upset or embarrass my dear rabbit. Well, at least I shall until we get home."
I leant back in my chair, took my cigarette case out and offered it to him. He stared at me in silence for a moment before taking a Sullivan and lighting it with the match I held for him; he then settled back in his chair.
As we sat in silence just smoking and sipping the champagne I had ordered, I thought of quite how much my rabbit had changed since I had first met him as a dreadfully young thirteen year old. Actually, in many ways he hadn't really changed, but in others he had - and there's one way in particular in which he surprised me.
When I had kissed him and taken him to my bed for the first time I had known (well in truth I had known or at least suspected strongly) that he was a complete innocent. It had been somewhat strange making love to someone quite so innocent, quite so unknowledgable, someone quite so shy. Indeed, I am not proud to admit it, but had it been any man other than my beloved Bunny, I would not have repeated the experience - in fact I am not entirely certain I would have done it in the first place.
I do not know, even after the time we have been lovers, quite what I was expecting from bedding Bunny. I think part of me expected it to be, pleasant, nice, gentle, but not overly passionate or even exciting - and that hadn't bothered me. I loved Bunny, I adored my rabbit and thus if sex with him wasn't as it had been with more knowledgeable, more experienced men, then so be it.
However, my rabbit proved not only to be a fast learner but also someone who was more than willing to expand his knowledge from the basic touching and kissing, and was open to at least being prepared to try anything I may suggest. Let me say, he fulfils me completely and our lovemaking is passionate, highly satisfying, exciting and loving.
It is still far more gentle, I am still far more gentle with him, than with any other man (or boy during my school days) I had bedded. On the occasions I buggered him, I took considerably longer attempting to ensure I would hurt him as little as possible than I had ever taken in the past. As well as being exciting and passionate it is also so very beautiful and I would not wish it to be any other way than it is.
In fact there is one particular thing we do from time to time which my rabbit adores and which still surprises me to this day. It is what I planned to do once we returned to the Albany and I had him all to myself.
The waiter brought out next course and we turned our attention to eating whilst we talked about his next book and speculated on whether I would be picked for the next test and other such things.
Finally, I selected cigars for us and we enjoyed those accompanied by a glass of fine brandy, before Bunny pointedly suggested it was time we went home. I made no objection at all; I was quite happy to return to our rooms, where the next part of my persuasion could begin.
As soon as I had closed the front door behind us and locked it securely, I helped my rabbit off with his overcoat and hung it up with my own. We left our hats, gloves and sticks in the hall and with my hand on the small of his back, I guided him into the sitting room, where a fire still burnt. I turned him around, put my arms around him and gathered him into my embrace, pulling him closely against me as my mouth found his and I began to kiss him.
He made a soft noise of pleasure and his arms around me completed the embrace as his mouth parted for me and he pressed his already hardening body against mine. I believe my seduction during dinner may have been a little too intense, as he became even harder at a far rapid rate than he normally did from a mere kiss.
As much as I wanted to give him the pleasure I knew he wanted, needed even, I also intended to extend this part of our lovemaking as long as possible. Thus, I pulled back a little holding my body away from his as he made a noise of disappointment and displeasure in his throat.
He took his mouth from mine to gaze up at me. "Raffles?" he murmured. His cheeks were flushed, his lips somewhat swollen from my kisses and his hair was somewhat messy; I swear my hand finds its way into his hair without me being consciously aware of it.
I lowered my head and kissed him lightly. "Do not look and sound so disappointed, my dear Bunny. I promise you I shall give you everything you want - and more," I added softly, my lips now on his ear. I felt his shiver of pleasure as I licked his ear, before I once more lifted my head, "I just wish to prolong the pleasure, shall we say." I gazed down at him and not for the first time had to swallow hard at the look of love, adoration and awe (yes, my rabbit was still as in awe of me as he had been when we had been school boys together). No one, and certainly not I, was worthy of being loved quite as much as Bunny loved me. "However, if my rabbit is that," I paused, licked my lips which made him moan softly and try to get closer to me, "in need . . ." I trailed off and merely looked at him.
He shook his head. "No, Raffles. I'm not. But you do plan on touching me soon, do you not?"
I laughed softy at quite how indignant and, despite his assurance, needy his tone was. "Oh, yes, Bunny, I certainly do." And with those words I took his hand and led him over to the arm chair where I sat down and pulled him down onto my lap and put my arms around him.
His pleasure was obvious as he settled into my embrace and for a moment put his head on my shoulder before lifting it and offering his mouth to me. Taking him onto my lap was something that gave us both a great deal of pleasure and it's not something limited to our lovemaking. It began when we were at school when I found it the best way to truly comfort him when he was particularly upset or had been hurt, and that had certainly been in a non-sexual way.
However, tonight it would really begin our lovemaking. I once more parted his lips with mine as I took one arm from around him and began to let my hand wander over his back and arm, up into his hair where I tangled his soft locks around my fingers. I stroked his cheek and encouraged him to tilt his head back a little in order for me to turn my attention to his neck, which I lightly ran my fingers over, before replacing them with my mouth.
As I kissed and licked his throat and neck, I moved my hand to his knee and slowly, tantalising slowly, I began to move it up his thigh as he shifted on my lap and moaned softly, until my hand found his arousal and I began to stroke it.
"Raffles! Oh, Raffles," he cried. "Oh, yes, Raffles, yes, please. Don't stop. Oh, Raffles."
He was moving around on my lap so much and pushing himself so hard into my hand that I knew if I kept on stroking him as I was doing, he would release within seconds. Thus, I ceased, for the moment, to stroke him and simply held him. He wasn't the only one aroused; our kisses, together with the way he had moved on my lap and the fact that giving him pleasure always affected me, meant that I was more than a little uncomfortable.
I shifted him slightly, moving him from my lap to my knee for a moment or two as I adjusted my own position on the chair until I felt a little less uncomfortable and I felt him become just a little less hard.
Gently I moved him back onto my lap and once more turned my attention to kissing and stroking him until he was again making soft noise of pleasure and his kiss was more than a little demanding. I took my lips from his in order to find some air and looked at his face. His cheeks were even more flushed, his eyes shone with desire and had become very dark, his lips were red and even more swollen and his hair was more than a little messy.
I put my lips to his ear and whispered, "My hand or your drawers?"
"Your hand, but inside my drawers. Don't take it out."
"You wish is my command, my rabbit." And once more I put my mouth back on his as I began to unbutton first his trousers and then his drawers, which were a little damp - something that did not surprise me in the slightest. I slipped my hand inside his trousers and drawers, moving carefully to avoid brushing against his sensitive tip and enclosed his hot, hardness in my hand and began to stroke him in the way that I knew would cause my hand to become wet in a very short time.
It wasn't overly easy stroking him inside his clothing, but nor was it something I had never done before. As I had said, my rabbit can and does surprise me in some of the things he likes and wants. I know his body so well by now, that I knew exactly when my strokes would take him over the edge.
"Raffles!" he cried, taking his mouth from mine and gripping my shoulder tightly as his release filled my hand and made his drawers wet. He slumped against me, his head resting on my shoulder as he trembled just a little. I kissed his head and continued to lightly hold him in the way he liked me to do. His release and his reaction to it had taken me close to my own release and my need to find that moment of pleasure was intense.
"Bunny," I said against his ear, as he continued to rest against me.
I smiled. "Move around on my lap a little, Bunny. Oh, yes, just like that, my rabbit. No, don't stop, just - Oh, Bunny! Oh, my dearest, sweetest, rabbit. Oh, yes," I cried as my drawers became very wet. I pulled him even closer to me, pushing against his head until he turned it and I could kiss him lovingly.
We sat gently kissing and embracing one another for several minutes, before I carefully took my hand from around him, rearranged his softened flesh inside his drawers and took my hand out. It was Bunny who pulled his handkerchief from his pocket and handed it to me. I wiped my hand, dropped the handkerchief onto the floor and buttoned his trousers back up for him.
He put his hand on my face and smiled at me. "Oh, Raffles, that was - Wonderful."
I smiled and lightly kissed him. "And it wasn't the end of things."
His eyes widened and he looked more than a little content with my words. "Was it not?"
I shook my head and urged him to get off of my lap so that I could stand up where I put an arm around his shoulders and kissed his cheek. "No," I said, "it wasn't." I glanced at the fire to reassure myself it would be quite all right to leave it to burn down completely, kissed him again before I took his hand and led him towards the door that led further into our rooms and into the bedroom we shared.
I touched the switch which lit up the lamps by the bedside rather than the main light and waited for him to look at the bed, which after being the one to kiss me soundly, he did. "Raffles?" he gasped slightly and when he turned back to look at me, his eyes told me quite clearly that I had done the right thing. "Oh, Raffles," he murmured, putting his arms around me and kissing me again. "May we really?"
I put my arms around him. "Of course, my rabbit, but only if you really wish to. Please do not feel you have to for my sake.
"Oh, I do, Raffles, I really do!" he cried.
"Good." I kissed his nose, before gently pushing him away and I began to undress him.
Before we had left our rooms to go to the club, I had returned to the bedroom where I had left the bed turned back and had loosely tied two silk scarves to the bed head. It wasn't something we did very often at all; it would have lost the thrill had we done so. However it was something of which Bunny was more than a little fond. Something that surprised both of us I believe.
We had stumbled across Bunny's liking of being gently restrained quite by accident. He had been writing one afternoon, whilst I had been reading, when he suddenly turned to me. "Raffles?"
"How easy is it to tie someone up and also how easy is it to get out of the restraints?" My surprise, shock even, must have been clear because he hastened to add, "It's for a scene in my book."
I put my book down and took out my cigarette case. "Well, now," I said, taking out a Sullivan and throwing the case across to him. For once he actually managed to catch it, even though he did fumble the catch. "It will depend on the skill of the person doing the restraining, how good his knots are, as well on how adept the person being restrained is."
He took a deep drag on his cigarette before looking directly into my eyes and saying firmly, "Will you tie my hands to the bed head, please, Raffles?"
I blinked. "Um, well, if you really wish me to do so, Bunny. But -"
"It would be much easier for me to write about it, if I could experience it," he said.
"And is this an essential part of your story?"
He nodded. "Yes."
"Very well then." I put my cigarette out and stood up and we went into our bedroom. I opened one of the drawers of the dresser where I kept some silk scarves and took several out. I selected two and swiftly tied them securely to the bed head and turned to look at Bunny. "I suggest you take your coat off," I said.
He did and came over to the bed where he sat down and took his boots off before getting onto the bed and lying down in the middle and stared up at me.
For a moment I hesitated; the idea of tying my rabbit up, even at his evocation did not seem quite right. "Are you certain, Bunny? Would you rather I was the one restrained?"
He shook his head. "No. I need to know what it's like from the point of view of the person being restrained as I have to write about it."
"Very well then." And I swiftly and gently tied the scarves around his wrists.
He moved his hands and tugged on the scarves. "Can you make them a little tighter, please?" I knelt on the bed and obliged him, tightening them just a little. "Thank you," he said, tugging on them again, "that's better. Now let me see if I can escape."
I knelt back on my heels and watched him. "I rather fear you won't be able to, Bunny, given the knot I used. Will your perpetrator be experienced in knot tying?"
He frowned as he tried to escape from the, still far looser than I believed anyone would truly tie someone up whom they wished to control, restraints. As I had thought, no matter how hard he tried, the knots didn’t give at all. "I need the person to be able to escape," he said, stilling his hands. "Not too easily, but I do need him to be able to get free."
"Very well. Let me adjust the knots."
I don't know quite what made me put one leg over him, so I was in effect straddling him as I began to adjust the knots, retying his wrists in a way that would allow him to get free. However, I did and when I had finished my adjustments I moved back a little and gazed down at him.
The look of desire on his face surprised me. His cheeks were slightly reddened, his eyes wide and dark with need, his mouth was slightly parted and I could hear him breathing. I glanced away from his face and let my gaze travel down his body until it came to rest on his more than a little obvious arousal?
"Bunny?" I murmured, stroking his cheek with my fingertips.
He moaned softly and pushed his lower body upwards until his arousal brushed against me. "Kiss me, Raffles," he begged. "Please, Raffles, please kiss me."
I have never liked my rabbit to beg, thus without really thinking about it, I bent over him and put my mouth on his and at the same time I gently let my body come to rest on his so that our arousals were pressed against one another. I put one hand beneath his body and the other into his hair and deepened the kiss as in synchrony we moved against one another until the inevitable happened.
"Raffles!" he cried my name with almost more pleasure and intensity than I had ever heard him and he pulled on the scarves. Hastily I moved and untied them leaving them hanging from the bed head as I lay down next to him, gathered him into my arms and once more began to kiss him.
Very little time passed before we were both naked, both hard again and he had turned over and was pleading with me to put it in him and to do so quickly. I did spend less time than I normally did, even though I didn't give him what he desperately wanted as quickly as he wanted it, and with him helping I dragged him to his knees and enclosed his burning hardness in my hand. His release filled my hand as my own poured into his body.
It was quite some time before either of us was able to get up and go to the bathroom to bathe.
The intensity of what had started out as a pure experiment, the level of desire that had coursed through my rabbit, his obvious enjoyment had quite startled me and on that day I had been quite sure we would never do anything like that again - It had been too . . .
For myself I would not have suggested it, even though I had to admit that once I had got over my surprise I realised Bunny hadn't been the only one to enjoy it immensely. However, several months later, after his book had been published, by which time I had believed he had if not forgotten about our afternoon spent making love in the way we had done, then at least dismissed it from his mind as something he never wished to do again, he asked me if I would do it again.
When I had hesitated, he had taken my hand and said quietly and simply, "Please, Raffles," as he gazed at me, making it quite, quite clear how much he wanted it and how important it was to him. I do not like to deny my rabbit anything; so I had indeed done as he had asked and it had been every bit as intense and enjoyable as the first time had been.
Thus, so began an addition to our, what was fairly varied anyway, lovemaking. Being the fair man I try to be, I had asked if he wished to tie me up. However, he had shaken his head in such a way that I didn't ask again. I know when my rabbit says 'no' because he feels I wish him to do so, and when he says 'no' because he truly means it. He clearly had no desire to be the one doing the restraining.
As I said, it wasn't something he had done often. However, clearly I had chosen the right way for that night.
Quite some time later, he laid untied my arms, gazing at me with totally adoration and more than a hint of the hero worship he had had for me at school. He was completely sated (as was I), happy, content, so very well loved, and I believed completely open to agreeing to anything I suggested.
However, even though I had set out to seduce and love him into the exact state he was in so that he would agree to accepting Charlie and Urquhart's invitation, I found I no longer wished to mention it at that moment. It somehow felt wrong.
Thus, instead I pulled the covers up around us, managed to put both bedside lamps out without letting go of him, kissed him gently before settling down to sleep, with him still held securely and I confess possessively in my arms.
THE NEXT DAY
It was rather late when I finally awoke; my rabbit was still asleep, so I left him and went to the bathroom. I was still bathing when, blinking sleepily, Bunny came into the bathroom. "Good morning, Raffles," he murmured as he went to the lavatory.
"Good morning, my rabbit. And a very fine morning it is too."
"Is it?" he glanced at me for a second before returning his attention to what he was doing.
I shook my head in a fond way and continued to bathe. After using the lavatory and brushing his teeth, Bunny stayed in the bathroom until I had finished bathing and emptied the bath. I turned the taps back onto refill it and finished drying myself before shaving.
I left Bunny bathing in order to dress and then I went into the sitting room and opened the drawer into which I had put the invitation and Charlie's note to me. I left the note where it was and took out the invitation which I put into my pocket. I lit a Sullivan and went into the hall to collect the post and newspapers.
I took everything back into the sitting room and smoked my cigarette as I glanced through one of the newspapers until I heard Bunny in the bedroom. "We have an invitation, Bunny," I said, as I returned to the bedroom.
He paused in the middle of putting his drawers on to look at me. "From whom?"
"Charlie and Urquhart; they have invited us to join them at their club in two weeks time for a special dinner."
Bunny smiled as he continued to dress. "Are we going to accept?" His tone told me quite clearly that he wished to.
I hesitated for a moment before I took the invitation from my pocket. "Well, I hope we shall, my rabbit. However, maybe you should read the invitation first; you may feel you do not wish to accept after all."
Bunny frowned and stopped buttoning his shirt up as he came to me and took the invitation from my hand and read it. "Oh," he said looking at me. He handed the invitation back to me and returned to buttoning his shirt. "I see what you mean."
"It would be fun, Bunny. Do you not wish to dine with Charlie and Urquhart?"
He picked up his cuff-links and began to fasten them. "It's not that; of course I wish to dine with them. It's just . . ."
I crossed to him, took the cuff-link he hadn't yet put on from him and slipped through his shirt cuff and fastened it. "Just what, Bunny?"
He sighed and went to the wardrobe to choose a tie. "Why Scottish dress?"
"Because, Raffles, we aren't in Scotland."
"Yes, I am aware of that, my rabbit. It's as the invitation said, the senior member of the club is Scottish and he thought it would be a nice idea." I went across to him and put my hand on his cheek and said softly, "I happen to think you would look rather fetching in a kilt, Bunny."
He flushed and looked at me. "I wouldn't look as good as you. It's not the kilt I mind, Raffles. I'd actually be quite happy to wear that."
"Would you now?"
"Yes. I would."
"Well, what is your objection?"
He stared at me. "You know quite well what my objection is, Raffles."
I watched him carefully. "Do I?"
"Yes, you do. I'm sorry, Raffles, I know you will be quite happy, but I can't. I just can't. I know you think I'm a foolish rabbit. But -"
I put my arms around him and pulled him a little nearer to me. "You're my foolish rabbit," I said, putting my mouth on his for a moment. "Don't you think it would be rather exciting?"
He looked at me and shrugged. "Well, maybe, but . . ."
I put my mouth to his ear and said softly, "The idea of sitting across the table from you or next to you and know you were wearing nothing under your kilt really does seem tremendously appealing to me, Bunny. To know that you were . . ." I trailed off and looked at him.
He clearly read my look as he flushed deeply and exclaimed, "Raffles! Really." I looked at him in my innocent way which caused him to shake his head. "Anyway," he said, his arms now around my neck, "even if I were to do as you wish, it's not as if you could - We would be with other gentlemen."
"Not in the cab on the way there or back home again."
He stared at me his eyes wide. "You A. J. Raffles are an evil man."
I pulled him towards me and kissed him. "Guilty as charged." I kissed him again.
"I am sorry, Raffles. I really wish I could bring myself to not wear anything under the kilt. But, I know I could not. I'm sorry," he said again. "I really do want to go and spend the evening with Charleston and Ollie, but . . ."
He looked more than a little forlorn and I brushed his still damp hair from his forehead. I knew I could persuade him; I always know how to persuade my rabbit - it might take some time, but I knew I could do it. Conversely though, even as I was about to try, I stopped myself. Yes, I could persuade him, he will and does do anything for me, if I really want something he will do it. However, it would be most unfair of me to do so; he would agree, but would not enjoy the evening at all, because he would be uncomfortable and embarrassed and afeared that someone might somehow see him.
Thus, I smiled at him and said, "It's all right, Bunny. You don't have to wear nothing beneath your kilt."
He gave me a hopeful look. "Don't I?" I shook my head. "But the invitation says -"
"I know what it says, my rabbit. However, it isn't as if anyone is going to check, is it?"
To my surprised and relief he laughed softly and then blushed a little. "Well, no, I imagine they won't. Are you quite certain, Raffles? I mean, if you really, really want me to dress properly then . . . " He swallowed hard. "Then I will. I'll do it for you, Raffles. You know I'd do it for you, don't you? You know I'd do anything for you, don't you?"
"Yes, Bunny. I do know; I know very well that you would do anything for me. But no, it would not be fair. I do not wish to make you uncomfortable or to make you feel embarrassed. You may wear drawers under the kilt."
The look of relief that crossed his face made me very pleased I had said that. However, suddenly he frowned, "But, Raffles, how can I?"
"Well, they'll show. They'll be too long."
"Ah," I said. "Well, when we go to the shop to hire the outfits we can ask what other gentlemen who do not wish to be unclothed beneath their kilts do. You won't be the only gentleman who wishes to be covered up. I am quite sure they will have some drawers with shorter legs or something. Don't worry about, my rabbit, we will sort it out."
He smiled at me. "I do love you, Raffles," he declared.
"I know you do, Bunny. Now -" the sound of the doorbell interrupted me. I glanced at my watch and saw it was past noon. "Who might that be?" I mused, as I took my arms from around Bunny and strode out of the room to answer it.
I hurried through the rooms into the hall and opened the door. "Charlie!" I exclaimed with pleasure as my eyes came to rest on Charlie and Urquhart. "It is good to see you and you too, Urquhart. Are you merely passing or do you have time to have a drink with Bunny and me?"
"Actually, A. J., we came to see if you would like to have lunch with us - unless you already have plans."
I shook my head. "No, we have no plans. Well, come in, come in." I moved back to allow them to enter. They put their hats down onto the sideboard which stood in the hall and followed me into the sitting room. "Do hurry up and finish dressing, Bunny," I called, "and come and see who was at the door."
"I hope we haven't interrupted anything," Charlie said, looking at me and smiling; his eyes twinkled with mirth.
"No, Charlie. It's just that we, had rather a late night and thus woke up somewhat later than usual, that is all." I turned to Urquhart. "Do let me get you a drink, Urquhart," I said pointedly, ignoring the fact that Charlie was now laughing openly.
Urquhart smiled at me. "Thank you, Raffles. I'd like a whisky and soda, please."
"One whisky and soda, coming up." I went to where the decanters stood and poured a whisky into a glass and added a splash of soda. "Here you are, Urquhart."
"Thank you, Raffles," Urquhart said and smiled.
"Cigarette?" I picked up the box from the table and offered it to Urquhart, who took one and thanked me.
At that moment Bunny hurried into the room. "Well, who has - Ollie!" he cried, hurrying over to Urquhart and offering him his hand, which after somehow juggling his glass and Sullivan Urquhart took.
"Hello, Harry," he said, "It's good to see you."
"It's good to see you too," Bunny said, before turning to Charleston and again holding out his hand. "Hello, Charleston; it's good to see you as well."
"Hello, Manders. How are you?"
"I'm very well, thank you. And you and Ollie?"
"Oliver and I are quite well too."
"Good." Bunny beamed at Charlie and then at Ollie before he turned to me. "Raffles, why haven't you given Charleston a drink? Does he not want one?" As Charlie, Urquhart and I started to laugh, Bunny unsurprisingly looked more than a little puzzled. "Raffles?"
I shook my head. "It's all right, my rabbit, it was just - It really doesn't matter. I was about to get Charlie a drink. Whisky for you, Charlie?"
"Yes, please, A. J."
As Bunny offered Charlie the cigarette box and took one for himself and another for me and accepted the match Charlie struck and held, I poured three more whisky and sodas and we settled down. Bunny and I sat on the sofa, Charlie and Urquhart sat in the arm chairs.
"Thank you," Bunny said looking at Charlie and then at Ollie, "for the invitation to join you for your club's special dinner."
"You are very welcome, Manders. And may I ask if you have decided whether you wish to come or not?"
Bunny glanced swiftly at me and I nodded. "Yes, please," Bunny said, looking back at Charlie. "We would like to join you; we would like it very much."
"Oh, good," Urquhart said and smiled. "I was, well we were, hoping that you would say yes. It'll be a jolly good evening."
"Yes, it will be," Charlie said, as he turned his attention to me and silently asked the question I had been expecting him to ask. Just as silently I answered it and wasn't all together surprised to see he looked a little taken aback; he clearly had expected me to be able to persuade my rabbit.
"How's your practice going, Charlie?"
"Very well, A. J. Very well indeed. Oliver and I are kept extremely busy every day. I have more patients than I really can manage and Oliver is equally as busy. Having a dispensary in the actual practice was an even better idea than we thought it would be."
"That's really good to hear, Charlie. But if you're that busy how come you have time to invite Bunny and me to join you for luncheon?"
"Ah, well, we decided we really did have to have the place decorated. We should have done it when we first bought it, but we decided not to. It was the wrong decision. Thus, we've closed the practice for a few days and left it in the hands of the decorators."
"If it had been up to Edward, he would be there now keeping an eye on them," Urquhart said, "to make sure they do the job properly. However, given quite how busy we are, I insisted on us actually taking a few days off."
Charlie and Urquhart looked at one another and I got the distinct impression that Urquhart had managed to persuade Charlie the decorators didn't need supervising, by reminding Charlie to what he had agreed.
"Well, Bunny and I are jolly glad you listened to Urquhart, are we not, Bunny?"
"Yes, we are. It's been far too long since we all saw one another."
"It has. Oliver and I were saying that very thing just the other day."
We sat in silence for a moment or two, before Urquhart turned to Bunny and asked him about his books. "When is your next book due to be published, Harry?"
"Not for another four months, I'm afraid. However, I did have luncheon with my publisher yesterday and he has commissioned a further three books for the series." Bunny smiled with pleasure and pride.
"Oh, that's wonderful news, Harry. I for one am very glad to hear it."
"So am I, Harry," Charlie said. "Very glad indeed." He smiled at Bunny who flushed a little and smiled back. "Is it your turn or mine to read it first, Oliver?"
"Are you sure?"
"Oh, yes, Edward, quite sure."
"You should buy a copy each," I said, only half jokingly.
"Raffles!" Bunny looked at me; he looked a little troubled and uneasy.
I put my hand on his knee. "Don't worry, Bunny, Charlie and Urquhart know I'm only teasing them, don't you?"
"Actually, Raffles," Urquhart said, looking at Charlie, "I think it's a splendid idea and one I had never thought of."
"Nor did I. Thank you, A. J. That's what we'll do."
"I really . . ." Bunny trailed off and still looked a little uneasy. I patted his knee and then brushed his hair from his forehead and smiled at him reassuringly. After a moment or two, he sighed softly and smiled back at me. "Thank you," he said, looking at Charlie and Urquhart.
"It's us who should thank you, Harry," Charlie said, "you're the one who gives us such fine books and something to which we look forward. And now, shall we go out to lunch? The Savoy?" he added.
Bunny, Urquhart and I all agreed and a few minutes later we were outside the Albany. "Let us walk," I said, "given what a lovely day it is?"
"That sounds like a good idea to me, A. J."
We separated into pairs with Bunny and Urquhart walking together and Charlie and I. "So did the persuasive powers of A. J. Raffles fail you?" Charlie said softly.
I glanced at him and shrugged. "I could have persuaded him, but I realised quite how uncomfortable he would be and so, I decided not to press the matter. It wouldn't have been fair. And as you say no one is actually going to check." I glanced at him again, "They won't, will they?"
Charlie laughed softy and stared at me. "Just what kind of club do you think Oliver and I belong to?" he asked. "What exactly do you think we get up to?"
I shrugged again. "One never knows."
He laughed again. "Well let me assure you, no one will check. And I am actually quite certain Harry won't be the only gentleman who doesn't wish to be without drawers."
"Did Urquhart take a lot of persuasion?"
Charlie raised an eyebrow. "Actually, A. J., not as much as I thought he would. I actually believe his trip to Greece - he travelled on his own, you know - gave him the confidence he, like Harry, lacked when we were all at school. And I for one am very glad he chose to take the trip."
"He makes you very happy, doesn't he?" I spoke softly.
Bunny and Urquhart were walking ahead of us and I saw Charlie's gaze rest on Urquhart and he smiled before he looked back at me. "He does, A. J., he really does. He makes me happier than I ever thought it would be possible to be. I never believed I would . . . Well you know," he said softly, as he stared at me, his eyes saying things he would never, could never, say.
I took his arm and for a short time we walked along arm-in-arm. "Yes, I do know, Charlie. I know very well. I'm so happy for both of you; I'm so glad you have one another."
"Thank you, A. J." Once again Charlie said more to me with his eyes than he did in words and I replied in the same way.
THREE HOURS LATER
We all enjoyed a very leisurely and pleasant lunch before parting outside the Savoy. Charlie and Urquhart were going home whilst Bunny and I were going to get our outfits for the upcoming dinner. I watched Charlie walk off arm-in-arm with Urquhart as I lit cigarettes for Bunny and I; yes, I really was so very pleased that Charlie had found someone who clearly made him very happy.
"Well, my rabbit," I said, offering my arm to Bunny, "shall we away and find the kilts and the rest of the Scottish wear we shall need?"
Bunny nodded and then said, "Raffles?"
"I have a suggestion."
"Suggest away, my rabbit."
"Well," and to my surprise Bunny stopped walking, glanced around him and pulled me into an alleyway we were next to. "I was going to suggest that rather than hire the outfits, we bought them instead."
I raised an eyebrow and looked down at him. "And does my dear rabbit have a particular reason for suggesting this?"
Once again he glanced around him and moved a little closer to me, I could see his cheeks were slightly flushed, but put it down to the fine wine and brandy we had enjoyed. At least I did until he said quietly, "You see whilst I don't wish to attend the dinner without wearing anything under my kilt, I would not be averse to wearing it without anything under it when we are in our rooms."
I brushed his hair from her forehead and smiled down at him. "Well, now, Bunny, I do believe that is an excellent suggestion and I concur with it. What a clever rabbit you are. We shall indeed purchase the outfits."
"Oh, good. Also," again Bunny flushed slightly and this time lowered his head, "well, it would mean I wouldn't have to wear something that another gentleman has worn."
I smiled and shook my head. "I'm sure the outfits are laundered before being rented to another gentleman, Bunny."
"I'm sure they are too. However, I'd just prefer not to wear something that someone else had worn. But," he said quickly, "my main reason is because I would like to wear a kilt at some point just for you."
"And I, my beloved rabbit, would like that very much. Now, come along, I think it is prudent that we exited this alleyway."
Thus, with Bunny's arm once more through mine, we continued on our way to the shop where Charlie had assured us we would be able to find just what we needed.
"Good afternoon, gentleman. May I be of assistance?" I young man hurried over to us.
"Yes, please. We are shortly to attend a Scottish dinner and the dress is traditional Scottish wear."
"Ah, yes, sir. We have served a number of other gentlemen recently. May I ask if you wish to hire or purchase the outfits?"
"We wish to purchase them," I said.
"In that case, sir, I shall fetch the manager." And with a respectful tilt of his head he hurried off.
Less than a minute later an older man, whom I presumed to be the manager, came over to us. "Good afternoon, gentlemen," he nodded first to me and then to Bunny. "My name is Fenning, I am the manager and I understand you wish to purchase some formal Scottish wear for a dinner you will soon be attending?"
"That is quite correct."
"If you'd like to come with me, I shall assist you in finding the right things."
"Thank you." Bunny and I followed Fenning further into the shop.
"Do you have any particular tartan in mind, sir? Have either of you Scottish ancestors?"
"In answer to your second question, no, we do not. In answer to your first, I believe I speak for both Mr. Manders and myself when I say we will trust your judgement and recommendation, is that not so, Bunny?"
"Oh, yes, Raffles."
Fenning looked at Bunny and me for some time, even going so far as to walk around us. "Yes," he said, as he moved to were kilts of various tartans hung, he selected two and brought them back to us. "I believe this one will suit you, Mr. Raffles," he handed it to me, "and this one will look splendid on Mr. Manders."
"Thank you," Bunny echoed. I glanced at him and saw that he looked more than a little daunted and I could quite understand; there was quite a lot of material in the kilt as well as several buckles. However, I firmly believed that once shown we would be able to manage.
"If you would like to come with me, gentlemen, I shall show you how to put the kilts on and then fetch the rest of the outfit. Strictly speaking there is a particular order in which the items should be put on, but I don't think we need to take things quite that far, do we?"
"I believe not," I said, as we followed him into a fairly large fitting room.
He paused, "Do you gentlemen mind sharing or would you prefer a fitting room each?"
"We're quite happy to share," Bunny said hastily.
I swiftly removed my coat, pulled my braces down and removed my trousers. A minute of two later I was dressed in the kilt, which actually turned out to be easier to put on than it had appeared.
"Now the top of the kilt should be just below your rib cage, not on your trouser waist," Fenning said making an adjustment to mine. "There's that's better." He stepped back and looked at me and nodded in what was clearly an approving way. "And now, Mr. Manders," Fenning turned his attention to Bunny, whilst I took the opportunity to slip my drawers off so that I could get the proper effect.
It took Bunny three attempts before he finally managed to put the kilt on himself, but he finally managed it.
"Excellent," Fenning said looking at both of us. "Yes, those tartans do indeed both suit you. I shall leave you for a minute or two and fetch the other items."
"Thank you." He nodded to us and left the fitting room. I turned to Bunny, "Fenning is quite correct, Bunny," I said looking at him, "that really does suit you."
He smiled and looked a little flustered. "Thank you, Raffles. However, I'm quite certain I do not look as impressive as you do."
"Well," I said and smiled to show him I really was only teasing him, "I am not wearing drawers. They do rather spoil the effect."
He nodded and even sighed a little. "I know."
"But do not worry, my rabbit, once the estimable Fenning returns, we can ask him what gentlemen who do not wish to be unclothed beneath their kilts wear."
He beamed at me. "Will you ask him?"
"Oh, my rabbit," I murmured, brushing his hair back for him.
Fenning returned quickly with the rest of the outfit, including socks, garters (which had coloured material on them), heavy shoes, belts, waistcoats, jackets and what I believed to be sporrans. Once more Bunny looked more than a little daunted.
Fenning clearly noticed as he spoke to Bunny. "Do not worry, Mr. Manders, these things really are far easier to put on than you might think - and certainly easier than the kilt. If you gentlemen would remove your boots and socks I shall show you how you put on these garters so that the flashes show over your socks."
A little over five minutes later we were both fully dressed in the outfits. Fenning made some small adjustments to both of us, before standing back and looking us up and down slowly. He turned his attention to me first before turning to Bunny.
"Yes," he said, making a final small adjustment to one of Bunny's socks. "You both look quite splendid."
"Thank you, Fenning. I must say it feels remarkably comfortable, surprisingly so. Do you not agree, Bunny?"
"Yes. Yes, I do. Thank you, Fenning."
"It is my pleasure gentlemen." Bunny glanced at me and I was just about to ask Fenning about drawer for Bunny when he cleared his throat and looked at my rabbit. "Mr. Manders, may take the liberty of asking you something?" After another swift glance at me, Bunny nodded. "Do you not wish to do as is customary and go without underclothing?"
Bunny shook his head. "No, I'm afraid I wouldn't be comfortable. I'm sure you must think I'm quite foolish. However, I really do wish to wear something."
"I assure you, Mr. Manders, I do not think you at all foolish; not at all. And I assure you that you are not the only gentleman who feels that way?"
"Am I not?" Bunny looked very relieved.
"Not at all. Quite a few gentlemen who will be attending the dinner have purchased drawers suitable for wearing beneath a kilt. They have much shorter legs and so will not be seen. If you give me just a moment I shall fetch a pair for you."
"Oh, thank you," Bunny cried. Fenning inclined his head and once again left us alone.
"You see, my rabbit. I told you you would not be the only gentleman who did not wish to be unclothed beneath his kilt."
"I know you did, Raffles. However - Oh, I feel so much happier now."
I smiled at him and again brushed his hair from his forehead. "I'm glad you do, my rabbit."
"Here you are, Mr. Manders, I believe these will fit you." Fenning held out a pair of white cotton drawers that indeed were far shorter in the legs than the normal ones.
"Thank you." Bunny took them and somewhat to my surprise immediately removed the drawers he was wearing and put the new ones on. I believe the fact that he didn't hesitate or give any indication that he felt uncomfortable doing thus whilst Fenning was still in the fitting room with us, showed quite how concerned he had been by the prospect of not wearing any drawers beneath his kilt.
"How do they feel?"
"Somewhat strange," Bunny said. "I can't believe they'll ever become fashionable."
Fenning smiled. "Again, you are not the first gentleman to say that. However, some gentlemen actually purchase these to wear under their usual trousers, especially in the summer." Bunny stared at him in clear surprise; his look was more than a little sceptical. "Well, I shall leave you gentlemen to change into your usual attire and then arrange for the outfits to be packaged up. Do you wish to take them with you or would you prefer them to be delivered?"
I glanced at Bunny; we had talked about taking a walk once we had obtained the outfits or even taking a boat out on the river, thus it made sense to have them delivered. Bunny nodded as I raised my eyebrow and asked the question. "I think we'll have them delivered, please, Fenning. We live at the Albany."
"Very well, Mr. Raffles. I shall arrange that; the outfits will be with you tomorrow."
THE EVENING OF THE DINNER
I bathed before Bunny and so by the time he returned to the bedroom I was fully dressed apart from my jacket. I was adjusting the kilt on my waist slightly, pulling it up a little and making sure the buckles were quite straight when Bunny came in.
"You look wonderful, Raffles," he declared gazing at me.
I smiled at him and let my gaze wander down, up and back down his body - he hadn't bothered to don a dressing gown - before it came to rest just below his waist. "You look rather lovely yourself, my rabbit."
"Raffles!" he cried before laughing softly. When I looked at his face, I wasn't in the least surprised to see his cheeks were flushed.
I laughed softly and crossed to him and brushed my lips over his. "I'm sorry, my rabbit, but you must admit you did rather walk into that, did you not?"
"I suppose I did. I do hope you are willing to assist me, because I believe I have forgotten quite how some of the things go on."
"Of course I'll assist you in dressing, Bunny. And when we get home again, if you wish me to, I shall assist you in undressing."
This time he merely shot me a look which again made me laugh, before he went to the dresser and pulled out the short legged drawers and stepped into them.
Some ten minutes later I was tying his bowtie for him as he adjusted one of his cuffs. "There," I said, handing him his jacket before picking up my own. I watched him put his jacket on and settle it on his shoulders and adjust his cuffs. I nodded. "Well, my rabbit, you really do look splendid, utterly splendid."
He flushed under my praise. "Thank you, Raffles," he murmured as I put my jacket on and adjusted my cuffs as he gazed at me. "Oh, Raffles," he said softly, as he stared at me, "you really do look . . . Wonderful, but that isn't a good enough word."
"Thank you, my rabbit." I kissed him lightly again, picked up my cigarette case and put it into my pocket and then put my watch into my waistcoat pocket. "Well, I believe we should be going. The cab will be here in a minute or two. Have you everything you need?"
He nodded and we left the bedroom and went into the hall to don our overcoats. I had just opened the front door when Bunny said, "Oh, wait a moment, I do believe I left my cigarette case on the dresser. I'll be right back." And before I could speak, he turned and hurried off. As I watched him go, I remembered seeing his cigarette case on the dresser.
He was back very quickly. "Now do you have everything you need?" I asked, lightly teasing him.
He nodded and looked up at me. "Oh, yes, Raffles," he said.
The cab was indeed waiting for us as we bade Parker a good evening and went out into the street.
The journey to Charlie and Urquhart's club took about fifteen minutes; fifteen minutes during which Bunny's attention was firmly affixed on me - not once did his gaze waver from my face.
"'Ere, you go, gents," the cabbie called as he brought the cab to a stop.
I prepared to open the door. "Raffles?"
"Yes, my rabbit?"
"There's something I have to tell you." I looked at him in surprise. My surprise intensified as he moved nearer to me and put his lips to my ear. "I took my drawers off before we left the Albany," he whispered.
It was he who alighted from the cab first as I just remained slightly stunned for a second or two, before I gathered myself together, got out of the cab, paid the driver and turned my attention to Bunny who stood patiently waiting for me. He had a very faint smile that I would have called almost seductive on his lips and his eyes gleamed with pleasure.
I swallowed hard before taking his arm and leading him into the club where Charlie and Urquhart were waiting for us.