Title: What has Changed
Word Count 1757
What has Changed
There was a small shuttered window that
Kit had not noticed in the weary night. He pushed it open to see the
day. The freezing rain had passed, the sky was a wan blue. There was
mist was coming up, from the ground. The ice was melting. He could
smell that as well as see it. The warm air muffled sound and scent.
And everywhere was the plink of dripping water. The road would be
soup by noon.
He would be to Scadbury by noon.
Kit allowed himself a shiver of
delight. This was the same shirt he had worn the last time. Here was
the button, loose where they had wrenched it. The last time, it had
been so hurried,. Both of them had been crazed ,as if getting naked
as quickly as possible would save lives, put out fires. Both of them
has been breathless, laughing. Walsingham had been faster, he had not
waited. He had leaped, like a tiger, bearing Kit down to the bed,
Kit with things down but not off, and still wearing one boot. Kit had
thought of the mud of the road on the fine bedding. He had tried to
hold his foot up, as the heat bore him away. Soon he forgot that,
along with everything else. Walsingham, had been above him, already
panting, working Kit's body, doing the best things. Thomas Walsingham
cared nothing for boots or mud, or silk hangings, or linen sheets.
They were there. They had always been there.
Back to the day. Kit buttoned his
shirt and turned from the window.
Tom Kyd was still in bed. He had
rolled into the warm spot Kit had vacated. And he had covered his
face when Kit opened the window. Now, feeling the gaze perhaps, he
“What time is it?”
“ I confine myself to the later
seven,” Kyd said. “I had been trying to forget that there was
one in the morning.”
“I would prefer to do the same, but
Walsingham's man has doings in the city today. I must met him by
eight to fetch the horse.”
Kit did not say that he greatly hoped
that the man Frizer had doings in the city. It saved riding back in
“Well, good journey to you then,”
Kyd said. “Mistress Smith will give you food to take, if you let
her. Some bread and butter if nothing else. I am going back to sleep,
until the hour is more --- ” here his words were swallowed by a
yawn. He flapped his hand at Kit, to make his meaning clear.
The stairs creaked. Kit soft footed his
way down them. Soon enough he would find where to step, and they
would be silent for him. No need to worry for it today. Kyd would
not care, and the landlady was volubly awake. He could hear her
banging pans, and talking to herself, happy in her doings.
“Oh, good morning Dr Marlowe--”
She was upon him.
It was twenty minutes before he made it
out the door. He had a leather bag containing bread and butter, (“see
that you eat that soon, the butter will not keep,”) and four boiled
eggs. There was something refreshing, Kit found, about being
treated like a rather stupid eight year old.
He was not late The man, Ingram Frizer
was waiting with his own horse, and the one for Kit. Frizer was
utterly correct. His clothing, his bearing, his words, impeccable.
Still, as always, he wore his disapproval like a cloud around
himself, clear as a blow to the gut. Kit was hurried and nearly
silent in his company. He was, as always, relieved when Frizer left.
The horse was a gentle mare that Kit
knew very well. He took a moment to stroke her nose. She pushed into
his jerkin, huffing, blowing. There had been an apple, in the past.
“Not today,” Kit said. He said it
soft, but the big ears moved. She looked at him sadly, and nodded.
She was a clever being. He slid a hand along her neck, it was warm
but not sweaty. Frizer was careful of such things. Kit swung into the
saddle, and turned her to the road. She knew the way. They were
amicable. He was able to keep a loose rein and let her find her own
footing in the icy mud.
In summer the approach to the estate
was a hundred kinds of green. Today it was sober in sadd cloth. It
was lovely nonetheless. The trees joined delicate hands above him,
and cast their moving shadows down, In summer the place was busy
with the sounds of birds and frogs. Now the sounds were more subtle,
small stirrings in the trees, winter birds. Kit felt his senses
expand and sharpen, as they did not in the city. He imagined foxes,
turning in sleep, dreaming of mice, waiting for sundown, for
He could smell the smoke of the house
fires now, and he was cold.
There was a boy, waiting to take the
horse. He was slumped against the gate with dramatic adolescent
boredom. Still, when Kit dismounted, he was attentive. His hands on
the mare were good. Nothing less would be tolerated here.
The door, the knocker. Here was the
door swinging open on oiled hinges. The same hall. And here was
Walsingham, hurrying forward. He had been waiting too.
“Kit.” This kiss was a public
greeting. They could be seen.
“Come to the fire, and warm
He did that, obediently. This was a
morning fire, now burned down to nothing but heat, delicious against
the back of his legs. And here was wine, the glass, smooth in his
hand, shattering the light as he turned it, lifted it. The wine was
warm, and dark as blood.
“Sit down. How was the ride?”
And Kit was laughing a little, because
he could see that 'sit down' was the last thing either of them
wanted. But he would play along. He spoke, therefore, a little about
his plans for the Bartholomew's Day play. It was early going, but he
felt is was shaping well. As his sponsor, Thomas Walsingham had the
right to ask and know.
Kit smiled to see how clearly
Walsingham was not listening.
“Come upstairs? ” Walsingham
offered. His throat moved. “ To put your things away.”
Kit gave a small snort into his wine,
caught the other man's widening smile.
The wood beside the stairs was dark,
almost black. He had touched it, when he first visited, trailed his
hand along the smoothness of it, to see his own foolish hand, pale
against the dark. Today he did so again, too eager for making sense,
wanting touch of this place, of this day.
Walsingham caught him at the turn of
the stair, drew him in, for another better kiss. Kit felt his back
pressed to the oak behind him, as hands slid deliciously under his
“I have missed thee Kit.” The voice
was a burring his ear, the warm breath made him shiver. “ -- waited
Kit felt a faint surprise, in the small
island of himself that could still think. It was new for Thomas
Walsingham to speak so. He, Kit had been so careful, months, years
had passed, and he had bit down hard on the sweet soft words he
felt rising in himself, thinking them unwanted. Many nights, panting
in the darkness after, Kit had not said 'I love thee,' or 'stay with
me always.' Now Walsingham was murmuring “Darling, sweetheart--”
Something had changed.
They ascended the stairs as a four
legged creature, stumbling, breathless, clumsy. The little chamber
that Kit used was down the hall. He liked it well. Staying there was
like inhabiting a jewel. There was everything for comfort, books, a
soft pillow for the window ledge, a warm fire. When he came to stay,
Walsingham shared the room with him. But not today.
Walsingham's room was bigger, grander,
of course. The bed was draped in soft blue, Kit had time to see that
much as he fell back onto it. The canopy overhead was painted with
He was gasping, the stars were
spinning. He was down to his shirt only, His feet dangling, and
Walsingham knelt before the bed.
“Let me. Oh Kit, let me, now.”
And Kit was not stopping him, would
never stop this. He was not doing anything but breathing, aching,
groaning, as the canopy stars whirled, and the hands, and the mouth,
and the heat drew him in.
“You never did that to me before.”
Kit said, stupidly, when he could speak. His shirt was still on,
bunched awkwardly under his arms. He struggled out of it, tossed it
“High time I did.” Walsingham
raised himself on one elbow, trailed a finger down Kits center-line.
He had undressed himself and climbed up while Kit was remembering how
“But you haven't---”
“Well, no. Come here to me now.”
Kit rolled to him, felt himself pulled
in warm and close. It was enough to kiss and rock together, sliding
deliciously, rising together. It was lovely to let the soft words
out, to finally hold nothing back.
Finally Kit could speak no more.
Walsingham was breathing delightful nonsense. It was so good.
Kit's head rolled on the pillow. There
was a looking glass on the wall opposite the bed. He saw them,
dazedly, in dark reflection. Here was his own skin, pale and
trembling. Here were his own eyes huge and dazed. Here was his own
hair, burning autumn brown. Walsingham, arched above him, paler
still, moving sharply now, with his eyes shut, his soft mouth open,
his hair falling to cover them both.
When it was done there was time to sit
“What's in here?”
“Boiled eggs. Have one.”
Walsingham put the eggshells on the
bed-table and devoured the egg in two bites. Kit took one as well,
turned it in his hands, the roundness of it, a whole world. How does
one ask 'what has changed'? He liked this change. Still, something
“So, sweetheart, I can think now.
Tell me more about the French play.”
In the end, Kit ate his egg, and he did