It seemed to Freddy that there was very little that couldn’t be put right with a bathe. Take Cecil, for example. Instead of blathering on about Italian art, Beethoven, and the prose style of Eleanor Lavish, he should dash off to the Sacred Lake and leap in, monocle and all. A bathe would do Cecil a world of good, and, judging by the scathing looks that had been directed at Cecil during dinner, Lucy agreed.
After his recent bathing fiasco, Freddy had taken to visiting the pond at night. After sunset, you were much less likely to encounter any ladies taking a stroll in the woods. Of course, the trouble with a nocturnal bathe was that it was so terribly dark. The night before, it had taken him and Floyd over a quarter of an hour to find their clothes, which might explain why Floyd had declined Freddy’s latest invitation to bathe and had chosen to stay behind at Windy Corners instead. However, as soon as Freddy heard the soft lapping of the water, he forgot the trials of the previous evening and eagerly began to strip off his clothes. He was completely naked when he reached the bank and plunged into the Sacred Lake.
Emerging from the depths of the pond, Freddy threw back his head, shaking beads of water from his hair. He swam a couple of laps, swinging his arms lazily, before he drifted on to his back and gazed up at the stars. The Sacred Lake was one place where Freddy didn’t have to follow society’s rules or meet anyone’s expectations. He wasn’t criticized for his bone collection or his comic improvisations on the piano. Paddling around the pond, Freddy didn’t have to display a proper sense of decorum. He could be wild and boisterous and not offend anyone.
As Freddy bobbed in the pond, he was only aware of the sound of crickets and rippling water. Then there was a loud plop – the sort of noise you might expect if someone had thrown a stone from the bank. Freddy stood up.
“Hello! Is anyone there?” Freddy swept wet tendrils of hair out of his face and tilted his head, but he couldn’t hear anything. He shrugged, deciding it must have been a frog or a toad. He was about to start swimming around the pond again when he was grabbed around the waist and hauled off his feet. Before Freddy could scream, a hand was clamped over his mouth. For a moment, he stood frozen, too terrified to do anything but listen to the pounding of his heart. Then his arms began flailing and his feet thrashed as he fought his attacker.
“Shh,” a voice whispered in his ear. “Calm down, Honeychurch. It’s only me. Emerson.”
The arms released Freddy, and he spun around, almost slipping as his feet sought purchase in the shifting sand. Freddy squinted at the taller man in front of him, recognizing him instantly by the pale head that shone in the moonlight.
“I say, you certainly know how to frighten a chap!” Freddy punched George in the arm then splashed him in the face for good measure.
“I’m awfully sorry,” George said. “I should never have startled you in such a beastly fashion.” He hiccoughed then grinned, swaying slightly.
Freddy stared at George, his eyes growing wide. “You’ll forgive me for saying this, old chap, but you seem a bit…squiffy.”
“Oh, I’m a good deal more than that!” George hiccoughed again. This time, there wasn’t the flash of teeth in the dim light, but something that sounded like a sob. “You reminded me of Nerites, floating there so beautifully in the water, and I felt so very lonely with only a bottle of the Reverend Beebe’s elderberry wine to keep me company.”
Freddy swallowed nervously. “I-I see.”
George grasped Freddy by the shoulders, pulling him closer. “No, I must make you understand. I thought I wanted to be alone, but, when I saw you, I couldn’t be by myself anymore. Being alone had become simply unbearable.”
Freddy laughed, though he knew it rang false. “Well, it’s a good thing you joined me, Emerson. You’ll feel better with a bathe. It’s bound to sort you out.” He almost sighed in relief when George’s hands dropped from his shoulders. Then he tensed as one of those same hands reached out to cup the side of his face.
“You’re so very much like your sister, with your dark eyes and pretty face,” George said. Then he leaned in and kissed Freddy.
Freddy squawked in alarm and tried to push George away, but one of George’s arms had snaked around his waist, holding him firmly in place.
Freddy had never been kissed before. Oh, he had kissed a few girls himself, which had resulted in two slaps and the threat of a good thrashing, but he’d never been on the receiving end. It was different than he’d expected. Instead of being hard and demanding, George’s lips were surprisingly soft and gentle. Even as George began to nibble along Freddy’s bottom lip, the nips were light and playful. And when George’s tongue coaxed its way inside Freddy’s mouth, Freddy moaned around it.
When George finally pulled away, Freddy was panting and half hard. He gave a startled cry when George’s hand wrapped around his cock, and George shushed him again.
“Wh-why are you doing this?” Freddy asked.
George bent his head and bit down on Freddy’s neck, tightening his hold on that other part of Freddy’s anatomy as Freddy squirmed and whimpered. “I realized today that I will never again know love – that celestial power that transcends all things. No, that door has closed and will remain barred to me forever. My only solace must come from the joys derived from an earthly and physical union.”
Freddy gulped. “An earthly and physical union?”
George looked up from the tiny kisses he’d been planting along Freddy’s jawline. “Sexual intercourse, Honeychurch.”
“But-but we can’t,” Freddy said. “We’re both men. Biologically speaking – Oh, God! Oh, oh, Jesus!”
George had started stroking Freddy’s penis, tugging forcefully enough for Freddy to end up on his tiptoes, struggling to keep his balance. Then George swept him up in his arms and started walking towards the bank.
“Wh-what are you doing?” Freddy tried to sound calm, but the high squeak in his voice betrayed him.
George was silent as he set Freddy down on the bank. Shivering, Freddy looked up at George and took in his fully erect cock for the first time. He tried to quell the fear that was beginning to crash over him in waves. Freddy was on the verge of making an escape attempt when George lowered himself on top of him, his full weight bearing down on Freddy, his hands grasping Freddy’s wrists and pinning them above his head.
“No, we mustn’t, Emerson. Please-please don’t – ” Freddy gasped as George thrust his pelvis and his hard length jutted against Freddy’s groin. Freddy’s own cock lay trapped between their bellies, though it hardly felt neglected as it was squeezed with every jerk of George’s hips. The friction created by their wet goose-pimpled flesh as George rocked against him was more than Freddy could stand and, yet, not nearly enough.
Desperate to touch himself, Freddy tried to free his bound wrists, but George refused to let go. Freddy wiggled beneath George, groaning as he experienced an even stronger jolt of pleasure. “Please, Emerson. Ge-George. More. I…I want more.”
“Then you shall have it,” George whispered. He released Freddy’s wrists and then reached between them to seize both of their cocks in one hand. Freddy wailed and dug his heels deeper into the bank.
George’s grip was taut and his pace relentless as he pumped their swollen members. Freddy’s hands scrabbled on the bank, clutching the grass in both fists. With each stroke of his hand, George gave a sharp snap of his hips, and Freddy soon found himself meeting those thrusts. They were both panting harshly, their sweat mingling with the water dripping off them. Then Freddy threw back his head, shouting as his climax claimed him. George shuddered and whined then collapsed heavily across Freddy.
Freddy lay on the bank, his eyes closed and his chest heaving. He wondered if he should say something or if it would be better to wait for George to speak first. Perhaps George would simply fade into the woods and there would be no need for words. But what if George fell asleep? Freddy opened his mouth then snapped it shut again when he heard a strange keening noise. It took an instant for Freddy to realize that the sound hadn’t issued from his lips, but must have come from George.
Prying his eyes open, Freddy looked down at George and, seeing his shoulders shaking, knew that George was crying. Freddy slowly lifted a hand to rub George’s back. “You’re in love with Lucy, aren’t you?”
Sobbing too hard to speak, George nodded his head against Freddy’s chest.
Freddy sighed and shook his head. “Silly sod. Why did you have to go and fall in love with her?”
It was a few minutes before George regained his composure and, even then, his voice was hoarse and halting. “I couldn’t help it. You-you can’t flee destiny. One day, it will happen to you, Honeychurch, and then you’ll understand.”
Not if I can bloody help it, Freddy thought. After what he’d just seen of love, he’d rather pass, thank you very much.
George rolled off Freddy and sat up, sniffing and scrubbing at his face. “Freddy, I’ve behaved appallingly,” he said. “I’d ask you to forgive me, but how can I when I know I shall never forgive myself?”
Freddy rose to his feet and held out a hand to George. “Come on. We’d better get cleaned up and dressed before we’re both missed.”
As they were leaving the woods, Freddy couldn’t help glancing back at the Sacred Lake. He knew they would never speak of this again. Their coupling had been but a fleeting moment, as brief and indistinct as a half-remembered dream – or, at least, that was what the experience would probably be for George. As for himself, Freddy suspected that he would never be the same again.