IN BUNNY'S HANDS

 

By

 

Nikki Harrington

 

When walking back to the Albany after attending a ball one evening, Raffles makes an announcement that shocks Bunny deeply. The shook later turns to anger and Bunny takes matters into his own hands.

A first time story.

Written: March 2013. Word count: 7,365.

 

 

We stood together on the top step of Lord and Lady Bellington's house, having just left their ball. It was a beautiful, crisp autumn evening; the moon was full, so full it appeared to be nearer to dawn than just after one o'clock in the morning, the stars twinkled and the sky was more midnight blue than black.

 

Raffles pulled out his cigarette case and offered it to me; I took a Sullivan and waited whilst he took one for himself, before he lit a match held it out so I could light my cigarette and then bent his own head over it. He seemed in particularly good spirits and I presumed he had spotted a necklace or two or something similar he wished us to liberate from their owners at some point in the near future.

 

He put his arm through mine and we made our way down the steps, along the driveway and out into the street. There he paused and looked around him before turning back to me, "It really is a beautiful evening, is it not, my rabbit?"

 

I smiled and nodded. "Yes, Raffles, it is." Ss far as I was concerned this was in fact the best part of the evening; the ball was over and I had Raffles all to myself rather than having to share him with, or rather lose him to, the myriad of bejewelled, perfumed, beautifully dressed young ladies who gathered around him vying for his attention and waiting for him to dance with them, which he always did.

 

For myself I had danced twice with Lady Bellington, as was expected of all male guests, as well as twice more with a Miss Hilton whom I understood to be the ward of Lord and Lady Bellington. Unlike most of the other young ladies she wasn't elaborately dressed, nor did her throat and fingers glitter with jewellery and more importantly (to me at least) she was not a modern young lady; she did not invite a gentleman to dance with her, she stood and waited to be asked - which I did.

 

The first time I asked her had been out of politeness as I myself know what it is like to stand and be ignored or even refused when I dared to invite a young lady to dance. However, the second time I asked her to dance had been because I had enjoyed our conversation - she was not empty headed and only interested in dresses and dancing and jewellery and all the other things young ladies seemed to fill their heads with.

 

I had enjoyed my dances with her very much, not only was she not a modern young lady who wore far too much perfume, she was also not an overly accomplished dancer; just as I was not, - unlike Raffles who of course danced as well as he did everything else. I had enjoyed my dances and I even hoped I might see her again at other balls, because at least I would have someone with whom to dance from time to time, rather than spending the vast majority of the evening watching Raffles and feeling more than a little jealous of the attention he was paying to the elaborately gowned, jewel bedecked young ladies. However, that was as far as my interest in her went; I enjoyed her conversation, I thought she was a nice young lady, but that was all; my heart lay elsewhere.

 

"What say you we walk back to the Albany?" Raffles asked, adjusting the way he held my arm just a little.

 

I smiled at him again. "I'd like that Raffles." It made me very happy for two reasons: one he had made it clear he was going to invite me up to his rooms for a nightcap, and two the night air would help rid his dining jacket of the mixture of perfumes from the young ladies he had held in his arms and whirled around the floor.

 

"Splendid," he said and smiled at me before turning and beginning to walk with me by his side. I was more than happy, his arm was comfortably warm though mine as he altered his stride pattern just a little to match mine - as he had been doing since the moment we had met. Yes, it really was the best part of the evening for me.

 

"So, my rabbit," he said after we had walked and smoked in silence for a while, "I believe I saw you dancing with Miss Hilton on more than one occasion."

 

I felt my cheeks become just a little warm. "Yes, she was kind enough to allow me to escort her around the floor."

 

"I am not the only one who noticed," he said softly. "Lady Bellington did as well." I stopped walking and he did too. "My rabbit?"

 

"Did she, Lady Bellington I mean, mind?"

 

He shook his head in his ever fond way, threw the end of his cigarette away and patted me on the shoulder. "Bunny, I know it may strange to you, but the whole purpose of balls are for ladies to dance with gentlemen."

 

I felt my cheeks become even warmer and looked away from him as I dropped the end of my own Sullivan onto the ground. Then with as much dignity as I could muster I looked back at him and said, "Yes, Raffles, I am actually aware of that fact."

 

He took his hand from my shoulder and put it on my cheek where it lingered for a moment as he said, "I do apologise, my rabbit, I should not tease you so." I sighed softly and smiled at him, "That's my good boy," he murmured, before he turned away from me, once more adjusted his grip on my arm and began to walk again.

 

As we walked I mused, not for the first time, as to why I didn't object to him calling me 'my good boy' or indeed disapprove of him still calling me 'Bunny' or 'my rabbit'. After all we were no longer at school and whilst I was five years younger than he, 'boy' was hardly a term that applied to me any longer and 'Bunny' and 'my rabbit' were hardly terms most young men would wish or even allow another man to call them.

 

However, I didn't object; 'Bunny' was the name he had bestowed on me that first evening in his study and names used at school often did stay with one (as far as one's fellow old school boys went) into later life. I was quite certain that had I objected he would call me 'Manders', but the idea did not appeal to me in the slightest. I know the name 'Bunny' and his oft-time used 'my rabbit' caused more than one gentleman to raise an eyebrow and considerably more than one young lady to giggle - however, I had ceased to mind or even to consciously be aware of it.

 

"So did she mind?" I asked after another minute or two's silence had gone by.

 

"She did not. However, she did take the trouble to tell me that whilst she was pleased to see Miss Hilton was enjoying the company of such a nice young man, she did not wish you to," he paused for a moment and to my surprise stopped walking and turned to look at me. "You see, my rabbit, Miss Hilton is already spoken for, shall we say. I trust you are not too upset or . . ."

 

I smiled at him. "Not at all, Raffles," I said actually feeling a little relieved. I would never want a young lady to think I may have any kind of romantic interest in them; it would not be fair.

 

"Oh," he said. "In that case . . ." And without continuing whatever it was he had started to say, he began to walk again. "Did you not like her?" he asked after another moment or two of us walking along in silence.

 

"I thought she was very nice and I actually found she was capable of conversation about things other than fashion," I said.

 

Raffles laughed. "Ah, my rabbit," he said softly and once more he stopped, pulled out his cigarette case and offered it to me. "But you did like her?" he asked once we had been walking for a moment or two.

 

I sighed softly. "Very well. Yes, I liked her. But it's rather irrelevant, is it not? Given that she is in your own words 'spoken for'." I didn't know why he was insisting on this topic of conversation; I had no interest in it.

 

"But what if she had not been?"

 

"Raffles!" I spoke his name in a far harsher and louder tone than the one in which I normally spoke to him, and this time I was the one to stop and turn to look at him.

 

"Yes, my rabbit?" He stared at me through the mingled smoke of our Sullivans; the moonlight was such that I could see his face almost as clearly as I would have done in daylight. He looked at me in his innocent way and I frowned and suddenly despite my heavy overcoat and the warmth from his arm though mine, I felt a little chilled.

 

"Why are you so interested in whether I liked Miss Hilton or not?" I demanded. As soon as the words had left my mouth I regretted them. He stared at me for a moment and then gave a half shrug as he looked away from me. "Raffles?"

 

"It's of no matter, Bunny, come let us continue our walk home." And with that he again turned and began to walk, and as his arm was still firmly through mine and as he is taller and stronger than I, I had no choice but to go along with him.

 

We walked in silence as we smoked our Sullivans and I began to feel a little less chilled than I had. However, it was to be short lived, because he suddenly threw away his cigarette, stopped, took mine from my hand and threw that away before he took his arm from mine and stared at me. "Come along," he said, "let us walk through the park." And before I could say anything, he had again taken my arm and led me into the tree lined park.

 

It was somewhat darker beneath the trees than it had been on the street as not only did the heavy with autumn leaves trees shield the light somewhat, but there were also no street lamps. I was grateful when Raffles gripped my arm just a little tighter and even pulled me slightly nearer to him. I had no doubt he could see perfectly well, but I confess I was finding it a little difficult to be sure where I was putting my feet.

 

I wondered why he had chosen to walk through the park, especially as it was a longer way back to the Albany. Just for a moment I dared to wonder if . . . However, I hastily pushed such thoughts from my mind; even he would not be quite as foolish as to . . . And anyway, it meant that I was assuming, which I wasnt, that he -

 

"I'm sorry?" I said suddenly realising he had not only spoken but had also stopped walking and had turned me around to face him and that his hand was again on my shoulder. I couldn't see him, well I could make out his shape and his face stood out a little, but I could not make out any expression. As he again touched my cheek with his hand I dared to -

 

"The thing is, my rabbit, well . . ." Again he fell silent; again I began to feel more than a little chilled. His next words surprised me as they did not seem to follow on from his previous ones. "What is your opinion of Miss Brewer?"

 

I blinked. Who? I confess most of the young ladies who all but throw themselves into Raffles's arms become like one to me, partly because they do not trouble to speak to me, most do not even bother to acknowledge me as I stand by Raffles's side, but also because I simply have no interest in them. But then suddenly the name nudged something in my memory and I recalled overhearing someone commenting that Mr. Raffles had danced with Miss Brewer some four times, just as he had done at the previous ball.

 

I tried to bring an image of her into my mind and finally succeeded in summoning up a dark-haired, almost as dark as Raffles himself, young lady, dressed in an emerald green dress (that really was immodestly cut) bedecked with diamonds and emeralds and whose eyes matched the colour of her dress. To be honest I didn't have an opinion, other that she was just like all the other young ladies who attended the balls.

 

I shrugged and said, "She's pretty."

 

"Pretty? Pretty? Good grief, Bunny, and you're meant to be the artistic one. You the writer of verses call her merely 'pretty'?" He seemed more than a little indignant and the chill began to move through my body. "To call her pretty is to call the <i>Mona Lisa</i> a mere painting."

 

Well it was, wasn't it? However, I knew that was not the thing to say, so instead I smiled and shrugged. "I'm sorry, Raffles, I meant no offense, it's just that well, really I don't know any of the young ladies with whom you dance and pay attention to. They don't want to know me and," I said, "Miss Brewer is really no different from any of the others."

 

Suddenly the moon's rays managed to filter through the leaves and I saw he was smiling in his fond, indulgent way - but rather than make me feel happy as it usually did, it just made me feel a little more chilled. "Oh, Bunny, Bunny, Bunny, my dear, beloved, so very dear rabbit, Miss Brewer is quite, quite different from all the other young ladies."

 

He beamed at me and against my will I heard myself say, "Is she?"

 

"Why, yes. You see the thing is, Bunny, I rather fancy I intend to ask her to marry me."

 

I stared at him in shock, in horror, in dread and I began to tremble for a moment I feared I may actually vomit. "Marry?" I managed. "You want to . . ." I swallowed hard and concentrated on not embarrassing myself. "You wish to marry . . . . You wish to marry Miss Brewer?"

 

He smiled. "If she will consent, then, yes. Bunny? What on earth is the matter with my rabbit?" I heard the sound of his stick hitting the ground as he gripped me with both hands, putting one of his arms around me and pulling me nearer to him as my trembling increased. I was almost certain I was going to be sick, that there in a public park I was going to - I bit my lip and tried hard to think about something else. But all I could think about was -

 

He guided me to a nearby bench, urged me to sit down before he pushed my head down onto my knees. "It's all right, Bunny," he said softly, sitting down next to me and keeping his arm around me. "That's my good boy; just breathe slowly, Bunny, that's it. You'll be all right. There, you see."

 

As he went on talking to me in his soothing, reassuring voice, as he held me tightly, protectively, pulling me nearer to him, the nearly overwhelming feeling of sickness began to fade somewhat. As it did though I began to tremble more and felt very, very cold. "I'm sorry, Raffles," I murmured.

 

"You, my rabbit, have nothing for which you need to be sorry. Just tell me what the matter is."

 

How could I tell him? How could I tell him his announcement that he intended to ask Miss Brewer to become his wife had - I pushed the thought from my head and once more returned to concentrating on not being sick. It was more imperative than ever that I win the battle, as at some point he had pulled my head down to rest on his shoulder as he went on holding me securely. I tried to think of something to say. "Maybe I had a little too much to eat, given I danced more than I normally do," I managed; I was quite certain he wouldn't believe me.

 

"That is a possibility and then I made you walk home. I'm so sorry, my rabbit. Look can you stand?"

 

"I think so."

 

"Good. Come along, there's my good boy," and with his help I managed to get to my feet where I staggered slightly for a moment or two before managing to regain my balance. "Now we'll go back to the street and get a cab to take us back to the Albany - or would you rather go straight to your own flat?" However, before I could answer he spoke again. "No, that will not do. I am not going to let you be alone until I am quite certain whatever ails you is nothing serious. That's it, put your arm through mine," and under his gentle encouragement I did so. However, as we began to walk slowly, I again swayed.

 

He stopped walking immediately and holding me firmly, he shook his arm free from my hand, hushed me when I made a faint noise, and instead put his arm firmly around my back and gripped my arm with his other hand and once more we made our way towards the gate of the park, back the way we had come. "Your stick," I managed, realising I had somehow managed to hold onto mine.

"Can stay where it is until I get you into a cab, I will then come back for it."

 

"I'm sorry, Raffles," I murmured again.

 

"Hush, Bunny, hush my dear rabbit."

 

Walking slowly we managed to get to the gate where to my surprise and relief a cab appeared within seconds. Raffles flagged it down, helped me inside, told the driver to wait for a moment whilst he went back to find his stick, before he once more joined me. I heard him call to the driver to take us to the Albany and to drive as carefully and steadily as possible.

 

He sat down next to me and put his arm around my shoulders whilst taking my hand in his other hand. "It will be all right, Bunny," he said softly.

 

"Yes, Raffles," I managed, certain that nothing was going to be 'all right' ever again. I closed my eyes and let my head rest on his shoulder and we travelled the rest of the way in silence.

 

 

He left me on the sofa in front of the hastily stoked up fire, a glass of whisky and soda in my hand and his cigarette case by my side whilst he went into the hall to hang up our coats and hats. He was gone for somewhat longer than I thought it would take him to do those things, thus I assumed he had gone, via the hallway rather than through the sitting and dining rooms, to his bedroom to change into a smoking jacket or something. However, when he returned he was dressed as he had been when he had left me.

 

His fingers lingered on my head for a moment before he poured himself a drink and sat down on the sofa. "Are you feeling somewhat better, my rabbit?" he asked, turning to look at me.

 

I smiled at him. "Yes, thank you, Raffles."

 

"That's my good Bunny," he smiled back at me.

 

"I am sorry for . . ." For what exactly was I apologising?

 

He shook his head. "There's nothing for which you need to apologise, Bunny." He picked up his cigarette case and offered it to me; I took one and accepted the lighted match he held for me. We sat and smoked in our usual comfortable silence as I concentrated on simply enjoying his company and not on anything else that had happened that evening. When I emptied my glass he stood up and refilled it for me.

 

"Thank you," I said taking the glass from him and enjoying the way his fingers brushed against mine. I took a sip and then another and found myself saying, "So you really do intend to marry Miss Brewer, do you?"

 

He sat back down and gave a half shrug. "I believe I intend to ask her; whether or not she says yes, I cannot possible know."

 

I stared at him. Of course she would say yes; any lady would say yes if Raffles asked her to marry him. As I sat and looked at him I suddenly I realised I was angry, indeed I was more angry than I was upset. The warmth of the room, the way he was looking at me combined with the whisky made me suddenly reckless and I found my normal inhibitions faded a little and I spoke without thought. "What about me?"

 

His eyes widened as he stared at me. "What do you mean, my rabbit?"

 

"When you marry Miss Brewer, what about me?"

 

He frowned and put his hand over mine. "It will not change things, Bunny, well," he added swiftly, "not to any great extent. We shall still see one another, we can go to the Turkish baths, to the club, we can still lunch and dine together and we'll see one another at balls and dinners."

 

"But it won't be the same."

 

"Well, not exactly, no, of course it will not."

 

"And what makes you think I'll be invited anywhere if I'm not invited because of you?" He frowned and opened his mouth, but I hastened on. "Come on, Raffles, we both know that most of the invitations I receive are down to the fact that people somehow know that to get you at their table or ball or even country house cricket matches, they should also ask your 'insignificant little friend' - me," I added. "And if they don't invite me you simply turn up with me anyway or take me along as 'your guest'. That won't happen when you are married."

 

"You are not insignificant, Bunny," he said in a firm tone as he stared at me. "At least you are not to me."

 

"Aren't I?" I was aware my voice had become a little louder and harder and from the way his eyes widened somewhat I saw that he too had noticed it.

 

He gave me a slightly sad smile and once more touched my hand. "No, Bunny, no my dear rabbit, of course you are not. How could you think such a thing?"

 

The alcohol I had consumed that evening really was giving me far more courage than I could ever recall having. "If I'm not insignificant to you, Raffles, why then do you desire to marry Miss Brewer"?

 

He frowned a little. "My rabbit?"

 

"Do you love her?" I demanded and his eyes widened even more. "Because I don't know how you can love her. You don't know her; you've danced with her, what, half a dozen times, maybe a few more. But you don't spend time talking to her, so how can you love her? What do you know about her? And how will you support her? Will you carrying on burgling? And if so will you expect me to assist you? And if you don't carry on burgling how come you are prepared to give it up for her and not for me?"

 

He seemed more than little taken aback by my, what even I could hear was almost a, verbal attack on him. "Bunny, I -"

 

I emptied my glass and put it down on the table. "And does she love you? Again how can she, she doesn't know you. But I love you, Raffles. I love you."

 

He gave me a gentle, intimate smile and once more touched my hand. "I know you do, my rabbit. Just as -"

 

"No, Raffles. No. You don't know. Well, you do, you believe I love you in the same way as you love me, in the way it is appropriate for a gentleman to love another gentleman. But I don't, I mean I do, of course I do. But that isn't the only way I love you, Raffles."

 

He was silent for a moment and suddenly I became aware he was not just touching my hand with his he was holding it. "Is it not, Bunny?"

 

I moistened my mouth. "No, no, Raffles. No, I'm afraid it isn't. You see, Raffles, I <i>love</i> you. I love you, Raffles. I love you."

 

"Bunny, I -"

 

"Stand up."

 

"What?"

 

"Stand up."

 

He stared at me for a moment before giving a half shrug and gliding to his feet where he stood and stared at me.

 

"And you can put that down," I nodded at the glass he still held. He stared at me for a moment and then gave another half shrug and put it down on the table before he returned to staring at me.

 

"Well?" he said softly. "I am standing up; I have put my glass down. What -"

 

"I love you, Raffles." I said moving towards him and without giving myself any time to think, because had I done so I know I would not have done what I was about to do, I put my arms around his neck, pulled his head down towards me, put my mouth on his and kissed him and went on kissing him with as much passion and love as I could summon up.

 

Like all public school boys I had of course indulged in a little kissing whilst I had been at school. and had even shared a few very chaste and hasty kisses with she whom I still will not name. However, it was not something at which I was experienced or skilled and I feared my naivety would cause him to push me away, to laugh at me even.

 

However, after what I was sure was momentarily shock, during which he just stood and let me kiss him, he seemed to shake himself, put his arms around me, pull me nearer to him and he began to kiss me back. And as he did I realised quite how nave, quiet how inexperienced, quite how innocent, quite how poor a kisser I was.

 

Or maybe I wasn't quite that bad as I could feel his body began to react to our closeness and to the kiss - but even as I thought that I realised that it was probably just a physical reaction that had nothing to do with the person who was kissing him.

 

"I love you, Raffles," I managed, after taking my mouth away from him for long enough to gasp in some much needed air. "I love you," I repeated, and encouraged by the look on his face, the way his pupils were dilated, the way his lips were swollen, the way he wasn't pushing me away from him, the way he touched his own lips with his tongue I took one hand from around his neck and put it on the part of his body that was hard. As I covered him, I saw his eyes widen slightly and felt certain I heard a soft gasp.

 

"I love you, Raffles," I said again, as ignoring how badly they had begun to tremble, I unbuttoned his trousers, slipped my fingers inside his trousers and his drawers and gently pulled his hardened flesh out. "I love you," I murmured once more as I let my gaze move from his face and looked down.

 

I had seen him naked once or twice at school and of course since then at the Turkish baths, but I had never seen him aroused and the sight made my mouth grow dry and I felt my body quiver as I stared at him. Again, I had, of course, experimented a little whilst at school, but I had never touched a boy as I was touching Raffles, it had always been through at least one layer of clothing. The only naked flesh I had ever touched and held had been my own.

 

"I love you," I said beginning to move my hand and stroke him, realising how different it was from stroking myself. "I love you," I repeated, tearing my gaze away from flesh that was hardening even more and looking up at him. He was still staring at me and I saw the usual affectionate, possessiveness, protectiveness on his face, but now there was also something else, something I couldn't quite indentify. His desire was clear, but again that didn't have to be for me, it was just for what I was doing - and yet I felt certain there was something else, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't work out what.

 

Once more I looked down and again without thinking I made a decision, "I love you, Raffles," I murmured and sank to my knees.

 

"Bunny!" For the first time he spoke, his voice was fairly sharp and I believe tinged with concern. One of his hands tangled in my hair, holding my head still and his other closed over my shoulder. "Have you ever done that before?"

 

I swallowed hard and slowly and carefully, he really was holding my hair very tightly, shook my head. "No," I murmured feeling like the young boy he had met on my first day at school, feeling like a fool; for a moment I wished I had dared to do what some other boys had done at school - but I couldn't have. And then to my horror I heard myself say, "I've never done anything, well not really, with anyone else."

 

"Then get up, my rabbit," he said softly. "Come along, Bunny, stand up, there's my good boy." I sighed and let him guide me to my feet. "Trust me, Bunny," he said gently, taking his hand off of my shoulder and putting his fingers under my chin to push it up so that he could look at my face. "You do not want to begin your sexual experiences by doing that."

 

"But I thought -" His mouth on mine silenced me and it was my turn to gasp softly at the beauty of his kiss.

 

"Just touch me, Bunny, like you were doing. Yes, that's it, my rabbit, just like that. Oh, Bunny, oh, my dear, beloved, sweet rabbit, that's it. Oh, yes, that really is - Bunny!" To my surprise I found my hand was wet and sticky and he was gripping me tightly, trembling a little from the force of his release.

 

I stared at him, hearing him breathe somewhat quickly and loudly. "I love you, Raffles," I whispered, suddenly aware I had said virtually nothing else for some time.

 

"And I, my beloved rabbit," he said softly, gathering me into his arms and pulling me against his body, "love you." He smiled as he spoke, before he once again put his mouth on mine and kissed me.

 

We were pressed tightly against one another, my hand was still around him and as I held him I could feel he was beginning to harden a little again. My own desire was clear as it pressed against my drawers and trousers and I dared to long for his cool hand around it; I dared to hope he would -

 

The next second I was on my back on the sofa and he was next to me, staring down at me as fingers that were quite clearly far more talented than mine, swiftly unbuttoned my trousers before they moved inside my trousers and drawers and pulled my now painfully hard and heated flesh out.

 

He glanced away from me and stared down at me, "Oh, Bunny," he murmured, before he put his mouth back on mine and began to stoke me - once more his experience was clear - until seconds later I cried his name as my body released into his hand and I quivered as he held me.

 

"I love you, Raffles. I love you," I said again as he soothed and calmed me.

 

"I know, my rabbit," he said, lightly kissing me lips. "I have always known."

 

I gazed up at him, more in love with him than I had ever been, and the way he was looking down at me was a way he had never looked at me before. I smiled and put a still slightly shaking hand on his cheek. "Oh, Raffles," I murmured. "I -" And then the enormity of what we had just done hit me and I cried out in horror and sat up, knocking him backwards slightly as I stared at him. "Raffles!"

 

He looked back at me and frowned a little as he tried to pull me into his arms, but I shook my head. "My rabbit?" he asked, his voice was confused as the look on his face.

 

I went on staring at him as I hurriedly began to rebutton my trousers, ignoring the stickiness that was on them and on my hand. "Raffles, we . . . We . . . Raffles, we've just . . . Oh, Raffles."

 

He blinked and then a look of concern passed over his face. He took his hands from where they had rested on my shoulders and adjusted his own clothing. "Bunny, did you not enjoy what we did? Did you not want it? My rabbit, you were the one to . . . Well, Bunny, you kissed me, you touched me, you -"

 

"I know!" I cried. "I know that, Raffles. And yes I did enjoy it; I enjoyed it more than I have ever enjoyed anything. And yes, I did want it - I've wanted it for . . . Oh, I don't know, Raffles, I sometime believe I wanted it from the moment I met you."

 

He frowned a little more. "Then I really do not understand, my rabbit. Did I do something wrong? Something you did not like? Did you really want to . . . Do what I stopped you from doing?"

 

"What? No. Yes. No. I don't know, Raffles. And no, you did nothing wrong; I loved what you did. I want you to do it again. I want -"

 

His lips on mine silenced me for a moment; I tried to fight the kiss, I tried to pull myself from his embrace, but I couldn't. I could claim that it was because he is much stronger than I am and of course that was part of it, but Raffles would never hold me against my will, but it was mostly because I didn't want to break the kiss or the embrace.

 

The kiss did not last for long and far too soon for my liking, even though I was cursing myself for letting him kiss me, for wanting him to kiss me, for kissing him back and for wanting to go on kissing him back, he gently took his mouth from mine and took one arm from around me so that he could brush my hair back from my forehead. He again stared at me and I could see he still looked not only confused, but also concerned.

 

"Do tell me what is wrong, Bunny," he said softly as he took my hand in his.

 

"Raffles we . . . We shouldn't have done what we did," I said softly.

 

His eyes widened. "Well, Bunny, I know technically it is against the law, but then so is the other thing we do."

 

I shook my head. "No, that's not what I mean. That's not why we shouldn't have done it; I don't care that it's against the law."

 

"Then why should we not have done it, Bunny?"

 

I sighed and glared at him. "Because, Raffles, not that long ago you told me you were going to . . . You were going to . . ." I bit my lip and swallowed hard; I didn't want to say the words, part of my believed if I didn't say them they wouldn't be true. However, he just went on looking at me in silence so I sighed, gathered up my courage and said my tone flat, "That you were going to ask Miss Brewer to marry you. How can you talk about marrying a lady one minute and kiss me and do what you did to me the next?"

 

"Ah." To my surprise he not only glanced away from me for a moment his cheeks also became a little red and he seemed almost uneasy.

 

"Raffles?"

 

"Well, you see, Bunny, the thing is - The thing is, my rabbit. Well . . . The thing is -"

 

"Raffles!"

 

He shrugged and looked back at me. "I lied."

 

I stared at him. "You lied?"

 

He nodded. "Yes, I'm afraid, I did, Bunny."

 

"You lied to me?"

 

"Um, yes. Yes, my rabbit, I lied to you."

 

I shook my head and stared at him, I realised he was still holding my hand and I considered pulling it away from him, but changed my mind and instead turned it slightly and gripped his hand tightly. "You are not going to ask Miss Brewer to marry you?"

 

He shook his head. "No, no, Bunny, I am not. I do not intend to ask Miss Brewer nor any other young lady to marry me."

 

"Then why did you say you were going to? Raffles? Why did you lie to me? Why?" I realised my voice had got quite a lot louder and I deliberately lowered it and said, "Why?"

 

He sighed softly. "Because, Bunny, I wished to find out what your reaction would be." I glared at him. "You see, my rabbit, for quite some time now I have been aware that you believed your love for me wasn't just the love one gentleman is permitted to have for another gentleman."

 

I frowned. I didn't just believe it, I knew it. "It is!" Again I raised my voice somewhat.

 

"Well, yes, Bunny, I am aware of that now - and I hope you are aware that my love for you is the same as your love for me. However, I had to <i>know</i> that is how you felt; I had to be quite certain I was not merely misinterpreting your feelings for me, that I was not seeing what I wanted to see."

 

"Why didn't you just say or do something? You're the one who is used to -"

 

"Yes, Bunny, I cannot deny that I am. However, had I been the one to kiss you, to suggest you come to my bed, to touch you as I have wanted to do for -"

 

"For?"

 

His cheeks flushed a little again. "Let us just say that had I not been the boy I was when we were at school together, had I been more like some of my fellow sixth formers, that the whispers about us might well have, well, would have, been accurate."

 

"You wanted to kiss me when we were at school?"

 

He smiled. "Well, that is a far simpler way of putting it than the way I put it." He shrugged, "Yes, my rabbit, I did indeed wish to kiss you when we were at school."

 

"But then why -"

 

Gently he interrupted me. "Shall we forget the past, Bunny, given we cannot change it and instead continue with our conversation?"

 

"If you wish to, Raffles," I said obligingly.

 

He sighed softly. "And that, my very own, beloved rabbit, is why you had to be the one to kiss me and not the other way around."

 

I frowned. "I don't understand."

 

He sighed and cupped my face. "Because, Bunny, you do tend to be prepared to do whatsoever I ask you to do or suggest we do, do you not?" He said the final words softly.

 

I sighed and felt my cheeks begin to grow warm. "Yes, Raffles," I said softly.

 

He leant forward and brushed his lips over mine. "So you see I was somewhat afeared that were I the one to kiss you, to touch you to suggest we go to my bed that you would simply agree because you always do agree with me. And whilst that doesn't quite matter if it's a case of where we dine, engaging in an intimate relationship of the kind I had in mind is more than a little different. Do you understand, Bunny?"

 

I smiled at him and nodded as his meaning became clear. "Yes, Raffles," I said, "I do. I really do."

 

"That's my good boy." Again he kissed me lightly. "I had told myself I would be content to go on waiting until - But I could not go on any longer, Bunny. I could not go on saying goodnight to you, putting my arm through yours, brushing your hair from your forehead, putting my arm around you, seeing the way you looked at me, hearing the way you spoke to me, wanting to kiss and hold you in a way far beyond that of mere friendship any longer. So tonight I decided I would in effect force your hand. And I decided the best way to find out if you did indeed love me as I believed you loved me, as I hoped you loved me, was to tell you I was planning to marry - and you have to admit it worked."

 

I smiled at him a little ruefully as I remember my initial reaction to his news and then I felt my cheeks grow a little warm as I remembered my subsequent reaction, once we were back in his rooms. "But, Raffles?"

 

"My rabbit?"

 

"What if I hadn't reacted as I did? Would you still have - Would you really have asked Miss Brewer to marry you?"

 

He shook his head. "No, Bunny, I would not have. Please believe me when I say I never had any intention of doing thus; I endure dancing with her because it is expected, but the idea of being married to her . . ." He shuddered just a little and I found myself intrigued as to quite what he meant. "I would merely have told you she had rejected my proposal and I would have -"

 

I waited for him to continue, but he did not. "Would have?"

 

He flushed a little. "To tell you the truth, Bunny, I am not entirely certain what I would have done, once I'd told you she had rejected me. You see, my rabbit, I'm rather afraid I didn't actually consider the possibility that you may not react in the way I hoped you would. I believed I knew my rabbit well enough to be certain you would not just quietly accept my news that I was planning on proposing to a young lady."

 

I stared at him, not entirely certain if I should be angry with him for being quite so certain. However, I decided that being angry would not only delay far more important things, it would be a foolish reaction given I wasn't angry. I was actually rather touched that he knew me so well and that he wanted me and loved me in the way I wanted and loved him.

 

So instead I just leant a little nearer to him, put my mouth on his and kissed him with a passion I was not aware I had before pulling away, taking his hand and quite deliberately putting it on my lower body as I put my mouth to his ear and said softly, "I believe you mentioned something about taking me to your bed."

 


 

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