The Scholar's Tale

by Mihangel

Part 1, Chapter 3 - Exploration

Before long, life settled into routine. Andrew spent time with his friends, but he always found time for me as well, and not merely during prep and other occasions when he had to be in our study. The rehabilitation of Leon continued, and I found myself being accepted by Andrew's friends, and even made a few tentative overtures towards making friends of my own. And by pure chance I got to know Andrew, and his body, in a more intimate way. Nudity was standard, of course, in the changing room and showers, and nobody - or few - thought anything of it. I was still ashamed of what little I could show, but since I could do nothing about it I stoically bore my shame. The point is that close encounters with another boy's body were definitely not on the approved agenda.

But Field Day came, when the whole cadet corps spent the day playing soldiers. You couldn't join the corps until you were fourteen, after which there was no way of escaping it, as long as you had two legs and two arms (ownership of a head was not obligatory). The under-fourteens were entertained for the day with team games under the eagle eye of the PE instructor, in a nearby meadow since the proper games fields were all occupied by would-be soldiers on exercise. During a relay race, Andrew trod awkwardly on a tussock, twisted his ankle, and sat down squarely in a fresh cow-pat, to a mixture of sympathy (for he was already popular) and hilarity. He was invalided out; and because I was the rabbit which no team wanted, the instructor told me to take Andrew back and have him patched up and sanitised. Hanging on to my shoulder, he limped fragrantly back to a completely empty house. The cow-pat had soaked through his shorts, and a bath or shower was the first essential. A good wash being easier in a bath than a shower when one leg is out of action, that's what we opted for.

But he still needed my help, and my baser instincts made me mentally lick my lips. He took off his shirt as he sat on the bath edge and revealed his chest, muscular and smooth, and quite hairy armpits. I knelt to remove his shoes and socks, getting a close-up view of sinewy legs already sprouting a fair crop of soft hair. I unbuttoned his stinking shorts, and he raised his bum off the bath to allow me to manoeuvre them carefully down past his swollen ankle. My face was now abreast of his cock: not massive, but far in advance of mine (which was already hard inside my shorts), and crowned with a good bush of fair curly hair. He put one hand on each side of the bath, and with his powerful arms swung himself up, over and down into the water. "Thanks, Leon. Don't go away, please. I've got to get out and dried too." He washed himself all over, except for his middle which was under water, and sat there, obviously wondering how to tackle that.

I was so entranced that I couldn't prevent myself. "Want me to do the rest?"

He gave me a slightly frightened look. "Leon, if you do, I'll go hard. I'm bound to." Pause. "Do you mind?"

"Course not. Anything to help."

"Yes, but don't help too much. You know what I mean. Please. Trust you?" As I've said, he was a naturally modest boy.

"Of course." Disappointed in a way, but not showing it.

So he lifted himself again and supported himself, bum above water, on his arms and his good leg, and I took the soap and lathered him with my hands, scrubbing carefully over his cheeks. Fair game there: had to get the cow-shit off. His cock immediately stood to attention, and I lathered that too, and his balls. Not quite forbidden territory, but there only on sufferance. Three thoughts battled in my mind. Lust wanted to take advantage of this golden opportunity, caution knew full well it could ruin our friendship, idealism dismissed quick gratification without love. Lust was defeated, and I prevented my hands from lingering. Both our faces were red. I don't think I breathed during the whole operation, and I had almost come in my shorts. Andrew lowered himself, and swilled water around to rinse off the soap.

"Thanks, Leon. That was ..." I thought he meant 'tactful' or 'restrained,' but I may have been wrong. He was now done. He swung himself back on the bath edge, and towelled himself dry. Except his bum, which he couldn't reach because he was sitting on it. So I got him to stand on one leg, arms on my shoulders, while I knelt and dried his crack. He was still stiff as I eased clean pants and trousers on to him, and he did the rest. I acted as his crutch to Matron's room, where she strapped up his ankle, and down to our study, where we sat down to listen to music until the soldiers should return and routine go back to normal. We'd said very little during the whole proceedings, but thought much - at least I had - and now he turned to me and said quite simply "Thanks, Leon, I knew I could trust you. You're a good friend." Things hadn't gone as part of me might have liked, but I felt a glow of genuine pride. I still had no idea what turned him on. I don't mean feeling up his private parts - that would give anybody a hard-on. But what did he think about when he jacked off? I assumed he did jack off, just as I assumed everyone did. He'd never said anything about girls, other than film stars and singers, but that was no real guide because few boys of our age did anyway. Nor had he shown any sign of being interested in boys, let alone in me. I had no reason even to hope that he might love me as I already knew I loved him. His friendship - and that was real - would have to be enough.

He hobbled for a week, and in a fortnight was back in full working order. A little later, on Speech Day, I had a further insight into what made Andrew tick. We didn't have a half-term break, and my parents never came to visit me, not even on Speech Day to witness me being awarded the form prize and the junior Greek prize. They merely sent a modest reward in cash. But Andrew's parents did come, although he had won nothing. Except my love. They invited us both out to lunch at the Red Lion where they were staying. His mum was tall, fair and serenely beautiful: easy to see where Andrew's looks came from. His dad was short, dark and cheerful. Easy to see that Andrew's good nature came from them both. They shook my hand and studied me with interest.

"Leon, how good to meet you, after all we've heard about you." I looked at Andrew in enquiry and some alarm.

"Don't worry," he said, laughing. "None of it's bad."

"Indeed not," said his mum. "It's all very good. Andrew's a fan of yours, Leon."

"A fan of mine?" I was bemused but disarmed. As I said, I found no difficulty talking with adults, especially such kindly ones as these. "It's the other way round. I'm a fan of his, Dr Goodhart, Professor Goodhart. You've no idea how good he's been to me. When I came here I was petrified. But he's made it tolerable. No, not just tolerable. Great fun."

"Two points there. First, yes, I think we do have some idea. We know our Andrew. Second, titles and surnames are such a mouthful. Why don't you just call us Jack and Helen?"

Unheard of, in those days, and on such short acquaintance. I'd never dream of calling my parents' colleagues, whom I'd known for years, anything but 'Professor Cavendish-Skellingthorpe' or whatever, or maybe 'sir' for short. Before I could think of a reply, they whisked us in to a damn good lunch, and allowed us a glass of wine apiece. Unheard of again. They plied me with questions. Andrew had clearly primed them on my home life, or lack of it, for they said nothing about it directly, and used the utmost delicacy when they even approached it. But they were open in their congratulations for my prizes, and open in their interest about my classical background and about our life at school. Andrew said little, but seemed to be observing with approval from the sidelines. By the time lunch was over I was utterly captivated. Here were two human beings I would most willingly have for parents. I was aware that under their friendly probing I'd revealed a lot of myself, and got the unfamiliar feeling that they'd liked what they saw. When the time came for us to leave to watch the cricket match, as we had to, they invited me to stay with them in Oxford during the coming holidays. And gave me a tip. I looked at them in blank amazement. Though I hadn't experienced it before, I'd heard from other boys about parents tipping their sons' friends, and knew that a bob or two was par for the course. But Jack and Helen had given me exactly the same amount as Andrew got in pocket money for the whole term. Coincidence? I doubted it.

"But I can't ... You can't ..."

"Yes, you can, and yes, we can," said Helen. "Go on. Pocket it. With our love."

"Oh gosh." I had tears in my eyes, and no words to thank them. So I hugged them, in turn. I couldn't remember hugging anyone in my life, or being hugged. "D'you know what I'm going to spend a bit of this on? A record. Bach chorale, Nun danket." They understood, and smiled. And from that point on I could meet Andrew on financially equal terms, and treat him back.

"Andrew," I said as we walked to the ground, "your parents are splendid. I wish ..."

"That yours were as good. Yes, I know. I'm lucky. I only wish you could do something about yours."

But I couldn't. All the time the Goodharts were free to have me in August, my parents were booked to attend a variety of meetings and conferences throughout the country. It was therefore my duty, I was told, to stay at home and look after the cat. This was standard practice but, because there was now an alternative attraction, I felt rebellious. I ventured to suggest that Andrew should stay at our place instead. The reply was brusque and final: his presence would interrupt my work, and his parents would need him at home. Nothing doing. Andrew was as mortified as I, but we were powerless.

So the holidays passed in boredom, as usual. Only two actual events are worth recording. First, my voice broke. I said goodbye to Mother and Father in my usual treble, and five days later, to my utter confusion, found myself welcoming them back, on my fourteenth birthday, in a brand-new bass. I hadn't spoken, or even seen anyone to speak to, in the interval. Otherwise, as usual, I cleaned the house, did the laundry, worked in the garden, read, and listened to music. But I had occasional letters from Andrew, and it buoyed me up no end to know that I wasn't forgotten. I had something quite novel to think about. So I spent a lot of time dreaming, reliving the past term, anticipating the future.

It was this anticipation which prompted me to take my courage in both hands and ask my parents some very tentative questions by way of testing the water. They were a pretty conservative couple, both in outlook and in politics, but Cambridge had a number of dons and some undergraduates who were known to be homosexual, and so long as they didn't flaunt it too publicly they were generally tolerated, and even accepted and respected for their other qualities. I needed to know Father's and Mother's attitude towards homosexuality in general. So I broached the question as delicately as I could, by naming two individuals who were known to be queers (though I didn't mention that) and asking my parents what they thought of them as scholars. "Fair to middling," was Father's answer. "But their pernicious relationship will ruin any reputation they may have. They're a disgrace to their college. They deserve to be stripped of their fellowships." He beetled his eyebrows at me. "You seem to be reaching sexual maturity. Should you ever contemplate practicing such obscenities, let me warn you that you will never practice them in this house. We will not tolerate iniquity and scandal." Well. A clear-cut answer, and I now knew where I stood, even if I didn't like it one bit.

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