Title Kiss by the Book.
Word Count 685
Before you read it-- a little bit about Early Modern English speech. Thomas began his relationship wiht Kit using 'You' when he spoke to him. This just sounds normal to our ears, but it carries a specific meaning that he, and Kit, and everyone else could read. Thomas is a man of high station, he was affording Kit the same station, becuase of Kit's status as a scholar.
He switches to 'Thou' as their relationship changes. This reflects his feelings of intimacy. Kit returns the 'Thou' although he would ordinarily use 'You' because of Thomas's station.
Thomas uses 'Thou' to Bevins because he is a servant.
He had not known the way it would be.
He had imagined kisses, yes, wanted those and more, but wanted in ignorance, puzzled and shamed and aching in the dark alone. He had not imagined the heat and breath of another, had not known that the sun would be warm between his shoulder-blades, as he knelt on the river bank. He had not pictured the midday rasp of Thomas's whiskers.
“Thy friend--” Thomas said. His voice was low and clear, and solid as if all were settled. His hand rested under Kit's jaw, to steady him, steady him because Kit was trembling. And lip to lip, a press then, softer than anything Kit had ever felt at all. He realized as it ended that his hands were clutching the front for Thomas's shirt. He forced his fingers to unfold, to let his palms press there instead, compressed between the beating of their two hearts.
And Kit was awkward with his legs in the way, and his hands all wrong.
But Kit was learning now. He had always been good at learning. He could see the pulse at the neck of Thomas's shirt, where the small buttons lay open. He reached to touch, trailing his fingers over the fine flushed skin. He heard Thomas gasp a little. Thomas brought his own hand to cover Kit's, keeping it there.
“Shall I kiss thee so?”
“Yes.” Kit nodded vigorously.
“Well then.” And this second kiss was even better, Kit's mouth at least seemed to know what to do. Thomas tasted of wine and bread, and his tongue moved sweetly showing Kit the way. Kit was breathless when it broke, and the blue eyes were dark and near, and suddenly it was too much. He pressed closer still, pushed his face to the curve of neck and shoulder. Thomas had started the day with a collar of spiderweb lawn. It was all crumpled on the side anyway. Kit could feel the warm hand around behind him, stroking down the thin bones of his spine.
“Ha'hm.” The cough was made from a fair distance, it still made Kit jump back. Thomas just laughed again, turned to see.
“Sir--” This servant was an old man, moving as they had, stiff legged through the weeds. He was bundled up as if to face midwinter. Over his leather jerkin a robe of knitted wool, shapeless and worn. It fell to his knees and the hem was soaked with dew. He had a wool cap with earflaps too. And he had hair like a dandelion puff, the particular soft white hair came when redheads aged.
“Bevins!” Thomas jumped to his feet. Kit watched the ensuing struggle as Bevins tried to bow and Thomas tried to embrace him.
“How dost thou? Well? How is Hannah?”
“I am quite well Sir. My Hannah though-- I lost her last year. It was the damp and cold, went to her chest. I had her for 50 years though, 50 years as a wife. It is more than I deserved, more than most men get.” The old man's chin trembled. “She thought the world of you,” the old man said. “She always did say how you liked her gingerbread.”
“She made the best.”
“Aye she did.” Bevins drew a deep breath. “But I am here with a message. Mr Francis wants me to fetch you to him. He has papers to show you.” The old man shook his head. “Always with the papers.”
“Go ahead back to the fire.” Thomas said. “I shall follow.”
The old man limped away.
“He was kind to me when I was a boy,” Thomas said. “And his goodwife too.” He waited while Kit clambered to his feet.
“I must to work, it seems,” He said. “Much as I would prefer to sit here. Come Kit. I will show thee the library.”
And Kit had to be content with that.