The Boys of S. Bees

by Rafael Henry

Chapter 2

It's a tradition at S. Bees to celebrate every boy's birthday in some way, be it a brief announcement at an Assembly, or more privately with a cake and candles, presented by another boy amid clapping and a short burst of song. My birthday falls of the 5 th of June as it happens, and I'm sitting on a wooden bench beside a refectory table that seats five each side. The boys sitting opposite move to one side to make way for what they know is coming. A Nine boy [in his third year of secondary education] approaches the table with a large plate with a two-layer decorated sponge cake on it, plus lighted candles…sixteen of them. The ooooh begins to sound, and gets louder as the boy approaches. Even before I see him, I know very well who it is. The oooooooh sound reaches a crescendo as Pierre places the loaded plate in front of me. He steps back, head down slightly, trying hard to suppress a smile. One or two boys are heard to giggle, as the room falls silent.

'Make a wish.' Pierre demands amid the silence. I look at the boy for a few moments, smile, and I take a deep breath and blow out all the candles in one breath amid applause and a few cheers, followed by the traditional 'happy birthday' song, and then a final cheer. They were lovely moments, but I'm acutely embarrassed.

As Pierre turns away to return to his table, I watch him. It's a sight I know very well, and it's a matter for profound admiration.

I cut the cake into segments as small as is practical with a not-very-sharp kitchen knife brought over by Mam, who gives me a hug, almost painfully around my shoulders. I'm feeling tearful, not due to the situation I'm currently in, but I'm thinking about Pierre and the cake. It had to be him. Over the last three years since he joined us, I've thought a lot about him. As I have said, it's a matter of admiration.

Simon, the boy next to me on our bench, takes the first slice of the cake on a small white plate with the school's crest printed on it over to the table where Pierre is sitting. He's sitting a few yards in front of me to my right. I sneak a glance to watch for any reaction to the arrival of his portion of the cake. It's predictable. Looking down, he smiles and just for a brief moment he looks up and in my direction. For a moment we see each other before he looks down again. It's an almost pleasurable pain I'm experiencing at this moment, but it is pain, a sickening one that I am feeling. It's the pain of knowing that something can never be again, almost certainly, no matter how much you want it. When Pierre bites into the slice of sponge with the decorated icing, another oooooh rises from the floor as the note heightens, and then falls slowly back down. My body goes suddenly cold because I know the boys know something I don't. They know that something has gone on between us. I feel an overwhelming sense of panic.

If you are a boy like me, who enjoys the sight of a boy's body rather than a girls, you would like this place, provided of course you enjoy, or can put up with at least, a fairly physical life. That's not to say we don't do the academic stuff, we do, and we do it as well I imagine as most decent establishments of this kind, sending our fair share of enlightened youth to well-established universities if not the elite ones. But it is a physical life which renders the vast majority of us looking well and in pretty good shape. So there's a lot of getting hot and sweaty, and then getting clean afterwards. Cleanliness is a big deal here, so boys are used to using the bidet 'bumshiners' after a bowel movement which are provided in all the wash areas in all six of the separate living areas containing roughly twenty five boys apiece. Mam supervises the laundry for every boy, from Sevens to Uppers [Sixth Formers] and will speak sharply to any individual who she finds has not kept himself scrupulously clean, and of course his bedding. Mam is a woman of the world and she knows what most boys need to do before they go to sleep, so make sure when you haul yourself into bed that you have the wherewithal to clean up after yourself. There are mini washing lines in the washrooms where small items may be placed to dry, like handkerchiefs. Everyone knows why such items hang there. And there's another very practical reason for the bidets……the dodgy plumbing. The system is fifty years old and inadequate according to 'Sir', the way we all address Mr Ashington-Brown, the Headmaster and Proprietor no less. The worst things for the plumbing are wet wipes, which are banned completely, followed by toilet tissue, which gums up the works big time, and consequently 'bog paper', as it's affectionately known, is deliberately in short supply, and must be used very sparingly, if at all. Most boys, especially the Sevens and Eights 'bumfluffers', can get by without if they are careful, and hop onto the adjacent bumshiner to play with their bottoms to their hearts content, which they do, pulling their buttocks apart to enjoy the gentle upwards stream of warm water directed straight into the anal canal. I have heard, but not tried it, that orgasms can be enhanced this way. One of the first things a new Seven is taught is how to use a bidet properly, and if they are not used to working their fingers in and around their bottoms, they had better get efficient at it in double quick time.

One good reason for the style of uniform we wear is laundry economy. Apart from the beautiful duck-egg-blue jumpers, everything is lightweight and fast drying so less cost on the large electric driers, and dare I say it, I think it is really rather sexy. Of course Lowers and Uppers, the equivalent of Sixth Formers in ordinary schools, in fact everyone in the years above the Eights, can wear long trousers, but in the same lightweight material as the youngest boys in their delicious downundies. You can't hide much in a pair of those nicely fitting shorts, believe me. In the warmer months all boys regardless of age tend to revert to these provocative garments, but the adolescents and beyond wear the maxi version, and definitely not the mini version that enhances so nicely the figure of a boy. Members of staff may also wear shorts of their choice which again suggests a breath of educational fresh air and liberality.

Speaking of liberality and fresh air, my family were very good when Nig came to stay for the odd week during school holidays. He obviously slept in my room, and although I had set up a spare bed to give the impression of celibacy, the truth was very different, and the family knew it. My sisters and brothers had all seen Nig and I sleeping together no doubt, as we retired to bed well before they did. The door was always left open, so no doubt they peeked in just to confirm what they already suspected. Years later, my youngest brother Edward, ever the curious one, admitted to taking the sheet off us both while we lay asleep in the same bed, the naughty boy. No one ever caught us at it, at least as far as I know, not that we got up to anything very sexually adventurous. My siblings used to refer to us as 'the lovebirds' so we would play up to our reputation by doing outrageous things……well, a little outrageous. We would hug and kiss anywhere around the house to amuse them, and ponce about in tight shorts with nothing underneath. My mother disapproved of course but did see the funny side and tolerated our louche behaviour. We were even allowed to lie together on one of the sofas in the drawing room to watch the telly. That was far more problematic as the simple bodily contact, let alone anything else, caused a certain form of excitement, but no one minded in the least. Half the time I don't think we were even aware. It was all very lovely, and I am still hugely fond of Nig, and will never forget how kind he was to me those first frightening days of my time at S. Bees. God bless you Nigel.

A week before the birthday cake incident, Pierre and I had spent the long Whitsun weekend together, an event that was somewhat accidental, and much more of that later.

A school of one hundred and sixty odd boys isn't huge, so you know, or at least recognize all the new brethren fairly quickly, especially as all the older boys have duties towards the younger ones. I never had any direct contact with Pierre as he lived in one of the other Houses on the far side of the campus, but I sorely wished I had, despite Pierre being relatively new to the school, and therefore a Seven, short for Year Seven, the first year of secondary education. Pierre was, as Nidge commented under his breath one day at our outdoor swimming pool, 'a stunner', not that Nidge would have any interest by this time as he had 'turned' to girls, but he was just thinking of me, the dear boy. The youngest boys were allowed to bathe nude in the outdoor pool if they wanted, as they were considered to be pre-sexuals, another Nig boy-label, or had just forgotten their trunks. To swim in one's underpants was not allowed, Mam's rule again, and boys beyond Eights, the next year up, were not allowed to swim nude. To use Nig's term again, they were 'sexuals'. Pierre never did swim naked as far as I know, but did the next best thing. They were regulation but very tasteful navy blue bathing trunks and very brief, but not too , if you know what I mean, and had a life of their own and seemed determined to creep up between one's buttocks as if their life itself depended upon it. Pierre looked very enticing in his. I think it was the shape of his bottom partly, and the 'continental' cut of the garment itself, with not quite enough width of material in between the legs. I think those French are very good at designing supremely tasteful clothes for kids, which includes provocative boys' swimwear. Pierre is a very good swimmer, and with a light tan the vision of this person took one's breath away. As his name suggests, there is a French connection, but only as far as his parents, who are indeed French. Pierre, it turns out, was born in England whilst his father, therefore mother too, was in London on some mission to do with the European Economic Community, and had stayed. Needless to say, he's bi-lingual, the lucky bastard. No problems with at least one of his Advanced levels then?

At the time of my first 'sighting' of the newby Pierre, I was a Ten, therefore between fourteen and fifteen…..fourteen and threequarters to be precise. Nig could see I was instantly smitten and warned me that I 'shouldn't be looking' and certainly not lingering as the boy is 'rather pre-sex', and shouldn't be looked at [in that way] by an older boy. I left Nig to his book and very rapidly went back to my House to find my bathing things which, while we are at it, not of quite the same brevity as Pierre's naughty little number. Did he choose those things?

In very late May, the water is tolerably warm despite not being heated for reasons of economy no doubt, but after a few minutes I had tired of avoiding groups of small boys splashing each other and me, and hauled myself out of the pool, put my towel down on the grass just beyond the paving slabs that surround the pool and lay down, knowing that sweet Pierre's towel had been dropped very close by. The group that Pierre was playing with dispersed and my subject wanders over, his skin deliciously shiny, and lo and behold, without giving me so much as a glance in my direction, he sits himself down not two yards away. This has got me thinking.

The sun quickly dries him off aided by a bit of flapping of his towel around his feet, and the boy lies on his tummy with his head turned towards me. I'm on my tummy with my head turned towards him. I can see his eyes clearly and I'm aware of their lovely green colour, adorned with almost cow-like eye lashes. I examine his wide mouth, slightly open and then back to his eyes which were still trained, I thought, on me. I know at some point I just have to smile, but I've left it too late. A moment later he turns onto his back and then onto his right side. One of the seams of his trunks looked uncomfortable for him, and just at that moment his left hand appears over his bottom, thumb hooked under, and he gently moves the dark fabric nearer to his tan line. Then he leaves his hand on the right cheek of his buttocks. His hair, a mid-brown colour with a hint of red, is slightly wavy and falls onto his forehead and is quite long and slightly unkempt in front of the ear. There's a small mole just above his lip to the left. We are allowed to do what we like with our hair, so no one has told him to get it cut. Besides, the village doesn't have a barber. He adjusts the leg openings of his trunks a couple more times, and then turns back towards me. He's looking straight at me, unblinking and expressionless. I decide it's time to offer a faint smile. He has one arm under body, the left, and the other lies low down on his tummy. I'm focussing on his hand when he moves it. He moves it lower so that the ends of his fingers, spread out, are below the waistband of his trunks, just short of the bump which is held in an upright position by the well-fitting garment. I'm wondering if he has developed the beginnings of an erection, and I think he possibly has, but that might be wishful thinking. Either that, or he's a big boy, but from what I saw earlier in the pool, I don't think he is. His hands are large, as are his feet, and his build is spare and healthy looking, aided by a moderate tan. You can imagine.

It took him no time at all to respond to my smile. His wide mouth opened slightly wider and gave me just a brief glimpse of his teeth. Nice. Then he takes his hand away from his tummy and places it on his mouth, and when he takes it away, his smile is still there, bless him. I return it. Then his hand goes back down to his trunks and a thumb slips inside the waistband and he gives it a firm tug upwards, and then pushes out and down making a little more room presumably, about an inch below his tan line. Then the hand rests again on his tummy hiding a quite prominent 'inny'. There's still just a trace of that puppy fat. We are still staring at each other, but as I raise my eyebrows for a moment, my gaze has already drifted down to a point halfway down Pierre's body, and he's noticed. The smile is broader now and his hand has gone down to cover the front of his trunks. Then……

'I've got to go now.' he says, blandly, and for the first words he has directed towards me, they are not encouraging. I make a face suggesting disappointment. He stands, bends down to pick up his towel, and walks towards the open wooden gate in the fence around the pool, and he's gone. I know I shouldn't be feeling the way I am.

On my way back to my end of the buildings, as opposed to Pierre's end, I take a short cut through the sunken garden. It's one of Sir's highlights of the small campus that he always takes visitors to. It's all part of the need to impress visitors… in other words. Anyway, it's a very pleasant place to sit on one of the benches, and a very public place where two boys of quite different ages could talk without eyebrows being raised. I see Pierre sitting on the end of one of the seats, hands together on his lap, opposite a rose bed. Mam loves her roses, and late May sees them approaching their zenith. Against the old pinky-grey brick wall that surrounds the garden, pear and apple trees grow, trained, with arms stretching out either side of knarled trunks tight against the wall full of bee holes. Behind Pierre is a huge fig tree, the green fruit already swelling in anticipation. Although he's not actually looking, Pierre is I'm sure aware of my approach. I'm not sure what to do, but when he eventually looks up and smiles, I know. He's dressed minimally for the warm afternoon, in the standard faded blue/grey cotton 'downundies', grey ankle socks and navy polo, and those traditional leather sandals, and a gap where his shirt and shorts don't meet. His hair has dried from his swim but looks a trifle ragged. Sitting as he is, with his back against the end of the bench and one foot on the ground and the other up on the seat with knee bent, there's white flesh high up his thigh where the sun does not reach. I can't resist a peek which I rather hope he doesn't notice. Of course he does notice, and I get another of those smiles.

'I was just curious Pierre. There's nothing wrong in that is there?' I plead, in a rather affected innocent tone.

'No.' he replies in an off-hand way, still not hiding himself.

The conversation is about nothing really, apart from his question just before I thought it wise to move on. One of the Scouts, a combination of caretaker and general supervisor, and a particularly gossipy one, had noticed us as he swept green leaves into a neat pile, blown off trees in the recent strong winds straight off a stormy Atlantic.

'You're a friend of Nigel's aren't you?' Pierre quietly asks.

'Yes, we've been friends since we both started here. How did you know that?'

'He used to be a Sunday Brother. Mine's not going anymore. Have you ever been?'

Answer, no I haven't. Pierre is referring to a group who voluntarily attend the Sunday morning Communion service at Exeter Cathedral. 'Sir', our esteemed Headmaster, no doubt thought that attendance at a religious service would be a good thing to mention in the prospectus, with a couple of photos to back it up. I doubt if he's got a religious bone in his body, but needs must when it comes to public relations. About thirty boys of all ages go every third Sunday in the month, driven by Sir himself in a classic fifty-three seater coach, circa nineteen sixty or so, bought in an auction some years ago for a song. It's used to transport us from here to there for various activities including the Sunday church outing. It's a brilliant object and we love going in it. It has a wonderful 'old' smell to it, a mixture of old leather and leaking petrol. An older boy looks after a younger one, and is known as his Sunday Brother. Nidge was one for a time, and although he admitted to a modicum of religious conviction, he tired of holding the sweaty paw of an irritating Seven. Yes indeed, walking in pairs though the streets of Exeter from the coach park up the hill to the great church involves holding hands in order to maintain a good orderly formation. There was a method in all this madness as groups of Sevens and Eights are separated, with the more mature boys sitting between them during the service, thus reducing if not completely eliminating the chances of inattention and poor behaviour. Anyway, it all looks very good for the School, enough for the Dean to accept an invitation to Prize Day each year, and to say a few words. The Exeter Cathedral visits are one of the occasions when Sir wears a dark suit in place of his striped blazer. So in response to Pierre's question, or invitation , how could I possibly refuse him?

I have become Pierre's Sunday Brother.


In the last two and a half years, sitting with Pierre on the back seat of the coach was my only viable opportunity to develop a relationship with the very lovely boy who I now regard as a real brother in all but biological fact. Clandestine meetings between boys in this place are all but impossible, so half an hour each way into the city of Exeter on the back seat of an old sweet-smelling motor coach were wonderful moments. The three years difference in our ages has never been an issue for either of us, and on our third Sunday Pierre knew exactly how I felt about him. Pierre liked the window seat, leaning against me with my arm around his shoulder, his head occasionally turning towards me, and our knees pressed together, bare flesh against bare flesh. I had run my fingers through his hair, soft and deliciously unruly, and then down the side of his face.

Music, for me, inspires love, and on that third journey back I placed my mouth on his head and gently pressed down with my lips, as my nose inhaled the smell of the boy. It was the only time I took control, sending him a signal that just had to be sent. I quickly withdrew, but moments later he turned his body towards me and held my head in both hands and put his mouth against mine. With my hand on the back of his head now, I could not let him go…..not now.

He's what I would call a very physical boy. Some just are that way, and need real skin contact with other people. But anything of that nature must be his initiative. Apart from that one indiscretion on my part, I'm going completely against my nature and avoid any kind of touching, unless he asks me, in some way or other. I have explained this to him, and the reasons. I've told him that I find him unbelievably tactile, a word he needed explaining.

'It means that something is very satisfying to touch. In this case it's you Pierre.'

'But you don't……not really.'

'What do mean, not really?'

He looks down and smiles.

'What I think sometimes….what I would like perhaps, is something you don't need to hear. Sometimes I worry about it.'

As I watch his pretty eyes for any reaction, I'm guessing his thoughts.

From our window, the River Exe gradually widens as we approach Lympstone. With no more than ten minutes of our journey left, we need to separate, leaving a small space between us, hands and arms at rest but still feeling…….still remembering………our secret stored. With so little time left before normality reigns again and we are seen by others, there can be no more touching. Such sweet sorrow indeed. We say goodbye through a wiggling of fingers and a smile that no one saw. Until the next time?

And now.

I have calculated that in the last two-and-a-bit years I have acted as Pierre's Sunday Brother, we have made eighteen trips to the Cathedral. In that time I have seen Pierre grow, both physically and intellectually, and become extremely adept at the art of teasing my lips, mouth and tongue. We don't get to do it much, so when we are on the bus, there's a good ten minutes of it, pretty much non-stop. Needless to say we both get over excited, but that's where the physicality ends, apart from palms on thighs, and up a bit higher if I let him. His shorts prevent any ingress up them which is just as well. He's very aware of the way he affects me, as I am of him. We've had a few laughs discussing how we can get ourselves decent by the time we have to get off the coach. A twelve-year-old will have difficulty hiding his embarrassment in downundies. We found, as we approached Princesshay coach park that a little diversionary mental arithmetic works quite well. Apart from all that, those journeys into the City are for conversations about him, his family, and some questions of his own to me in similar vein, and our thoughts and feelings towards each other.

'I think about you often.' Pierre announces during the third trip to Exeter.

'Do you? When?' I ask.

'In Thinking Time.' he replies.

Thinking Time is for the Seven and Eight boys, and a term probably borrowed by Sir from the 'Brownies' organization, the girls equivalent of the 'Cubs' for boys. The younger boys, when their sleeping room light is put out at night, are encouraged to reflect on their day, and as a result of their 'thinking', plan how they might put the following day to good or better use. It's designed to bore the kid to sleep, and to divert him from any other 'thoughts' he may have. Fat chance of that.

'That's not what thinking time is for Pierre… it?'

'No, not really, but it's nice and a lot more exciting. Do you ever think about me?'

Do I? Is the Pope Catholic? The frustrating thing is that I don't know enough about Pierre. Apart from that glimpse on the garden bench when he broke the rule about wearing something underneath. That fleeting image and the information gleaned from it was just enough to fire my imagination but falls well short of what visual information I really require. I answer his question truthfully…..

'Yes I do Pierre. I think about you quite a lot as it happens.'

Pierre leans into me and gives me a very hard hug, as my arms pull him even closer. He's pushed his body off the seat as he does so, and I'm just a little indiscrete. It's the first time my hand has gone that low behind him, and at that moment there's a loud sigh from my friend. To feel what I've looked at so many times excites me more than I can say, and I have learned something more about Pierre, and how sensitive his body is, particularly there, which excites me beyond measure. Nidge recoiled when I accidentally [on purpose] touched his bottom. The opportunity to be with Pierre, on our own for a length of time isn't likely ever to happen, but if it did?

About six months ago I seriously thought about inviting Pierre down to stay with us in London for a few days, as Nidge had done several times. But Nidge is my age. I'm pretty sure that my parents would strongly disapprove of the same arrangement with a lad three years my junior. So I need a plan.

Most of the boys at S. Bees are reasonably local, with around half of our school population being day pupils. The rest of us are scattered around the campus in corners of the mansion, or in converted outbuildings, or as I am, in an entirely separate building, North Cottage. There are certain weekends when everyone is allowed home, if it's a viable proposition for the boy. I very rarely go anywhere, and I'm perfectly content to amuse myself in this place with no supervision. So long as I'm not planning to do anything dangerous, like go canoeing on the Exe on my own, they trust me. Pierre has already asked me what I do on those weekends. When I tell him they leave me to my own devices, he looks interested……

'Do you stay here… yourself?'

'Yes. Why not?'

'What about your Tutor?'

The Tutor is the guy who has a room in our House. He vaguely looks out for us, but in his case he doesn't bother much with me, at least not since I was an Eight. Four years ago, he took one or two liberties with me, which he regretted. I didn't say anything at the time as I was rather pleased that he found me interesting. I was flattered. It was nothing serious……just a few taps on the bottom with rather lingering hands as I remember. I didn't recoil from the intrusion, but just let him do what he wanted. It happened several times, usually in the evening when I was in my pyjamas, or after Games. Since then he's been rather wary of me. He called me a very tactile boy. Now there's word that should be applied to Pierre. Anyway, to answer Pierre's question……

'He's fine with it. I just hang out in the House or go walkies. I've even been there over a weekend when he's gone away somewhere. I wouldn't want to be there on my own with him. He's a nice guy, but it would feel a bit awkward.'

Then Pierre has an interesting question for me to answer…..

'What are doing next weekend then? It's a long one. I'm staying here.'

There are never more than half a dozen boys left on the slightly longer Bank Holiday weekends when the Monday is added on to Saturday and Sunday. Usually we are put together in one place with just one Tutor to keep an eye on the smaller fry.

An idea has just occurred to me which I put to Pierre……

'Why don't I ask Sir if you could stay in our House next weekend? He might agree as we are Sunday Brothers.'

'Do you think your Tutor will be there?'

'Maybe not. I'll ask him tonight.'

My House Tutor told me that he would ask Mr Ashington-Brown, our Headmaster and Proprietor, if my idea would be meet with the Ultimate Authority's approval…….and that he wasn't going to be at North Lodge that weekend, so I should expect a 'negative' to my brilliant idea.

I had heard nothing until the following day when our coach driven as always by Sir himself disgorged all the Sunday Brothers in Exeter for the Cathedral Service.

'Ah, Ansel…….your idea for next weekend. If not duffers, will not drown.'

'I beg your pardon Sir?'

'If you are not idiots, everything should be fine. You are not idiots, so carry on. Just make sure you attend the Piggery for all your meals at the proper times…… and there will be a register taken.'

Sir's reference to 'duffers' comes from kids' adventure books…….one in particular about sailing in the Lake District. I read it when I was ten and loved it. I've been hooked on sailing ever since. The book is called 'Swallows and Amazons'.

So that's a green light for Pierre and yours truly to finally move our friendship forward onto another level entirely, always assuming Pierre wants to. It's up to him of course.

The Service today was enjoyable as usual, and there's plenty to listen to and look at, even if the content isn't exactly your thing. For Pierre, the religious element is important, and if I'm honest, it's growing on me, albeit slightly. The music has been the great surprise for me, capturing my creative imagination completely……not to mention a couple of the singers……boys of course. On the bus back, apart from celebrating the news of our upcoming weekend together, Pierre asked me if I had a preference.

'A preference? What for Pierre?'

'Which one do you like most?'

I knew immediately what his question referred to.

'Three from the left on the far side, front row. You?'

'Me too, and the one nearest us on the back row.'

We laughed, but I was surprised at his second choice. The adults occupy the back row and I had noticed the guy he referred to. He's about twenty at a rough guess. Pierre has good taste.

I asked him if being a Catholic was a problem in an Anglican church service.

'No. The two things aren't that different. Life is a bit different though.'

'How? I ask. 'Because you're not supposed to use a rubber johnny when you make love?'

'A rubber what?' Pierre demands.

I explained. Then I told him the joke about the ice cream van with the slogan painted on the back doors……'stop me and buy one', which some inventive person reversed into……'buy me and stop one.' It still makes me smile. I told him that it was birth control device designed to catch 'the swimmers' before they could do anything imaginative and creative……like make something as beautiful as he is.

'What are swimmers ?' Pierre asks, having been deep in thought for a few seconds.

'Little creatures with swishing tails that make babies.'

'Oh.' he goes with a smile, finally getting it.

'But you won't want one of those things……….will you?'

That took me completely by surprise. When he saw my blank expression, he leaned into me laying his head against my chest. I didn't want him to hear me, but at the same time, I did, when I said the words very quietly….. I love you Pierre . He does hear those words and his grip tightens against me as I turn towards him, found his mouth and kiss him, deeply and longingly.

Pierre had taken my advice. Taking off his jumper and neatly folding it, he got off the bus holding it in front of him. Our brief session has gone on too long, leaving insufficient time for recovery. We have just six days to wait.

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