The Scholar's Tale

by Mihangel

Part 1, Chapter 1 - Initiation

This story contains explicit descriptions of sexual acts between the characters in it. Although the characters are teenagers who may be below the age of consent in the country or state where this is read, nothing written here should be taken as approval of, or encouragement for, sexual liaisons between people where such liaisons are either illegal, or objectionable for moral reasons. Although this story does not include safe sex practices, it is everyone's own responsibility to themselves and to each other to engage only in PROTECTED SEX. It is a story.

The story is copyright 2001 by "Mihangel". If you copy the story, please leave the credits, and the web address of present, and also the email address of I'd love to receive feedback.

This is my first attempt at writing in this vein, and I am hugely grateful to Its Only Me from Across the Sea for giving me the hospitality of his site.

A lover of the ordinary sort, who loves the body rather than the soul, isn't worth having. He isn't constant, because what he loves isn't constant. Once the bloom of the body, which is what attracted him, begins to fade, he disappears ... But whoever loves a person for his character, simply because it's good, remains constant for life, because he's united with something constant.

Pausanias, in Plato's Symposium

I owe it a lot, so I may be biased. But I reckon Yarborough was a pretty good school. It had its weak points, of course - what school doesn't? But overall it wasn't at all bad. Its staff ranged, inevitably, from the excellent to the lousy. It kept a fair balance between the academic and the sporty. It encouraged independence and tolerance. And it offered that respectable degree of privacy which growing boys need. The dormitories had individual cubicles closed by curtains, and in theory everyone had his own study, though growing numbers meant that for the first year one had to share. We're talking, by the way, about fairly ancient history: starting in 1956, to be precise.

I joined the school at the beginning of the summer term, at the age of thirteen. I found I was sharing a study with the only other new boy in the house, the main entry being in September. More of me in a moment; his name was Andrew Goodhart, and in almost every way he was the complete opposite of me. Outgoing, full of good nature, hair blond and curly, eyes clear blue, face combining a classical beauty with a wicked smile, voice already broken, body sturdy and athletic. The proverbial Greek god, in fact - Apollo, I thought. Though not a scholarship boy, he was well above average at work, and at games he excelled.

Our first meeting must have been a bitter disappointment to him. Andrew was friendly and bubbled with questions. Easy at first. Then questions which any ordinary boy could have answered without embarrassment, but left me wallowing.

Where did I live? - Cambridge.

When was my birthday? - August, exactly a week after his.

What county did I support? (cricket, I found he meant) - None.

What did I think of Bill Haley? - Uh?

Had I heard Satchmo's latest record? - Er, no.

Did I prefer Brigitte Bardot or Sophia Loren? - Who?

"Gosh, you're really not on the ball, are you?" he finally said. "What do you like?"

And my mumbled reply that I liked reading and classical music can hardly have satisfied him either. But, for the time being, he left it at that, and we moved on to deciding who should have which desk and where we should put our things.

So there I was, installed as a public school boy, and not in the least enjoying the prospect. I'd long since grown a thick shell, both as a protection against the knocks which life had always brought me and as a screen from behind which I could cautiously peer at the world outside. I knew all too well that I was a swot, a drip, and a weed. I'd better explain how and why, though it's a complex story which will take a bit of time.

I was the only child of a scholarly family. Both my parents were high-powered academics, Professor Gerald and Dr Mary Michaelson, and both of them had been only children of academics too, which probably explained a lot. They'd met during the war in the military hospital at Alexandria, Father as a patient, Mother doing her patriotic duty as a nurse. They married out there, and I duly appeared. Judging by their later attitude to me, I'm virtually certain I was an accident. The war over, they both found good jobs at Cambridge. They were specialists in Plato and his philosophy, and lived for all things Greek. Father, having been wounded defending Greece against the Germans in 1941, evidently felt an affinity with Leonidas, the Spartan king who died defending Greece against the Persians in 480 BC. Hence my name. Leonidas Michaelson, for heaven's sake. No surprise that I kept it as quiet as I could, and tried to be called Leon.

Mother and Father, it has to be said, were not good parents. That's putting it mildly. They weren't exactly cruel. They just knew damn all about children, and had little love and affection in their repertoire. What they did have they showered on their bloody Siamese cat (all right, I was jealous of it), leaving none whatever for me. As far as I was concerned, their cranky mentality showed up in three ways. First, I was a nuisance at home, a waster of their precious time. So they put me first in the care of nannies and then, at the earliest possible moment, pushed me off as a boarder at a bad prep school, where I was bullied. Constantly and badly, verbally and physically, and the staff didn't give a damn. Even in vacations Father and Mother spent most of their weekdays in college - he was a fellow of Selwyn, she of Newnham - and usually dined there at high table, leaving me to fend for myself.

The second aspect was that, as scholars, they automatically expected me to follow in their footsteps. Which was no doubt why they sent me away to school, because a local secondary school, though free, couldn't possibly offer the level of teaching they required. And follow in their footsteps I did, whether by nature or nurture, or both - it hardly matters. I was top of the form in most subjects, and won a scholarship to Yarborough, which would look after most of my school fees. They heartily approved such achievements (anyway, I had no others), and would reward them in cash. Moreover, books being the stuff of learning, I had open access to their splendid personal library, provided they weren't in it themselves. They also made me free of their account at Heffers, where I could get any book I wanted that they didn't already have, though I might be called on to justify the purchase when the bill came in. And on the rare occasions they had colleagues in for dinner they would parade me to show off my erudition. They treated me, in fact, rather like a promising young racehorse. No expense was spared on training me to win races, but it left me totally unfitted to do anything else.

The third aspect was that, except where cat food, books and rewards for scholarship were concerned, they were pathologically miserly. They did buy my school uniform and games kit, but gave me no pocket money at all. In effect, they paid me by result. The theory, I suppose, was that the harder I worked, the greater my income and the more I could spend on myself. In practice, the budget hardly balanced. Whatever clothes I wore at home I had to buy myself, and were permanently scruffy and threadbare. If my spectacles broke, I paid if I had the money or used sellotape if I didn't. Virtually never could I afford a luxury; but dedicated apprentices didn't need luxuries, did they?. They refused to employ a cleaner or a gardener, or to do such menial and time-wasting work themselves. Instead, my unpaid job in the holidays was to remove months-worth of accumulated dirt from the dingy house in Grange Road, to do the washing and ironing - they sent it to a laundry in term-time - and to reduce the wilderness outside to a semblance of order. In short, my parents were a highly intelligent and accomplished couple professionally, but in most other departments of life they had a screw loose. Quite a number of screws, to be honest. Their fellow academics were accustomed to eccentricities, but to anyone else they were strange and unlikable people. In retrospect, they were in dire need not only of a course in parenting but of psychiatric help as well.

I was therefore lonely and miserable. Maybe that's not wholly accurate, since misery almost implies a lost happiness, which was something I'd never enjoyed. Likewise loneliness implies a memory of what it's like not to be lonely. But solitary I certainly was. I occupied myself, between bullyings at school and hard labour in the holidays, in reading: poetry, novels, history, and especially - chip off the old block - Greek and Latin literature. All I had to live for was books and music. Somewhere along the line, though no musician and totally ignorant of modern and popular music, I'd picked up a love of classical and especially baroque music. And when my parents graduated to an electric record player and 33s, I rescued their old wind-up gramophone and scratchy 78s from the dustbin, and listened endlessly to them when I was at home. All in all, then, I was indisputably precocious, but hardly pampered.

I was painfully aware that, although academically a high flyer, in all other departments I was a disaster. Pompous and pedantic in speech. A squeaky voice. A duffer at games of every sort. A body to despair of, small for my age, gawky and weedy, arms and legs like matchsticks. If my face didn't look quite like the back end of a bus, I'd certainly never win any beauty competition. My nose was long, my chin narrow, my hair straight and mousy, my nondescript-coloured eyes sheltering behind a pair of large spectacles. My equipment down below, at this barely pubescent stage, seemed by comparison with others at prep school to be microscopic. I'd learned to put up with these deficiencies and, when they aroused derision or indifference in others, I simply took refuge in my shell. Except in my work, I'd never had any encouragement from anyone.

I could respond without embarrassment to adults - to teachers, even to my parents and their colleagues - about work and scholarly matters. But with youngsters I had nothing in common. The upshot, inevitably, was that I was painfully shy, gauche and unworldly, and never had any friends. The best I could claim were the few boys at prep school who'd been tolerant enough to put up with me. Never having had any practice, I had no small-talk, no social graces, and on the rare occasions when my parents dragged me out to social events, any of their colleagues' offspring who tried to talk to me soon drifted away in boredom.

My only friend, in fact, was between my legs. I communed with it a lot, dreaming about inaccessible boys. Yes, boys. I'd met few girls and could see nothing in them, but boys were a different matter. From behind my shell I worshipped them, even if they bullied me. I inwardly smouldered that I could never reach them, never emulate their looks or athletic bodies or simple joie-de-vivre. In thought, though not in deed, I was already a queer, a homo, and knew it. But it wasn't thoughts of mere sex which tormented me. My theoretical background was already extensive. Knowledge of Latin and Greek, and access to my parents' books, opened up a whole world of literary pornography and philosophical enquiry which was available to few boys of my age. So, from the philosophy, I appreciated the essential difference between sex and love - 'common' and 'heavenly' love as Plato called them. From the pornography I knew about the mechanics of sex, both homo and hetero. The ancient pornography had been updated by an entirely legitimate visit to a public convenience and what I read there. The philosophy had been confirmed by reading Mary Renault's marvellous novel The Charioteer. It was understated (inevitably, at that date) and needed to be read between the lines, but it clearly distinguished between the depths of honest love and the treacherous shallows of most queer relationships. There was no shadow of doubt where my preference lay. The brittle and unstable world of camp pansies in The Charioteer and the sordid and shifty world of one-off copulations recorded on the shithouse walls turned me on, of course, and helped fuel my nightly activities. But in truth, in that form, they disgusted me, and needless to say I had no practical experience of them. Nor had I ever received a jot of love of any sort from anyone. Or given it. But that was what my solitary and idealistic soul really yearned for: love of soul, not just love of body. Sex I regarded as an optional (if highly desirable) extra, not as an alternative.

So much, then, for the pathetic specimen that was Leon Michaelson at the time I joined Yarborough School, where I was expecting a repetition of the hell on earth that had been my prep school. Or worse.

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