Word count: About 1700
Disclaimer: Raffles and Bunny are the creations of E.W. Hornung.
A/N: This is yet another story from a word-prompt table from 100_situations. Thanks to violetjimjams for giving the story the onceover. All mistakes are mine. Also, Raffles would be about 18 and Bunny about 14. I wouldn't dream of having them get up to more than this at their ages.
No. 40 Kiss
“My dear Bunny, you’ve been in a frightful mood for days, and you haven’t uttered a word since we got here,” Raffles said. “I thought bringing you to our little sanctuary would put you in a better frame of mind.”
I looked over at Raffles. He was laying in the tall grass beside me, one hand behind his head and the other playing with a weed he’d plucked. I watched for a moment as he twisted the thing round and round, his nimble fingers never losing their rhythm.
“I’m sorry,” I said, though that was not entirely so. On any other day, I would have been glad to come here with him. It was a beautiful, secluded spot, just yards away from the lake that was such a prominent part of the the school’s landscape. We were reclining under a willow tree whose branches were so long they swept the ground and created a leafy, green curtain around us. Raffles had tied several branches together to create an opening so that we could see the lake, but otherwise, the great tree and her sweeping limbs hid us from the casual viewer.
I’d always cherished my time alone with Raffles as it happened so seldom. As a champion cricketer, he was very popular with the other boys, and everyone loved to gather in his study. Raffles allowed me to be at his side as much as I liked, but we were almost never by ourselves. I should have been delighted to have his undivided attention, but instead my miserable mood was casting a pall over our lovely spring afternoon.
“What is bothering you?” Raffles asked after a few moments of silence. “You’re usually the sunniest of rabbits, so I know something must be amiss.”
I wrestled with how to say the thing, but in the end, I simply blurted it out.
“I’m the only one in my year who hasn’t had a kiss,” I said, embarrassed and relieved in equal measures. The rest came out in a flood.
“That’s all they talk about,” I fumed. “They’ve all had a kiss and when I admitted I hadn’t had one yet, they started ragging on me. It’s been going on for days now, and I’m sick of it.”
Raffles had the audacity to laugh. “All of them? Some of them are surely lying, Bunny. You should have lied, too.”
“I didn’t think to,” I admitted, annoyed at my own stupidity. If I’d lied, then no one would have been the wiser. Speaking before I’d puzzled a thing out was one of my greatest failings.
“Well, there you are,” Raffles said as if pointing out my error solved the problem. “Next time, you’ll know better.”
“But that doesn’t help me now,” I said, irritated with his laissez-faire attitude. I tore a handful of grass from ground next to me and threw it. “The boys won’t leave me alone about it. They make these awful kissing noises whenever I come near them. Even Augie does it, and he’s supposed to be my friend.”
“Augie’s last kiss probably came from his mother,” Raffles said as he raised himself up on his elbows. He tossed the weed aside and stared off into the distance. “It’ll blow over, Bunny. These things always do.”
“But I want it to blow over now!” I exclaimed. “I can’t stand much more of this.”
Raffles shook his head. “Oh, Bunny, really. As soon as something else happens, they’ll stop thinking about you. Enjoy the attention while you’ve got it.”
Raffles just didn’t understand. Though we never talked about it, I was sure he’d already had his share of kisses, and he’d probably forgotten what it was like to have never had any.
“It’s just as well,” I said, unable to hide the misery in my voice. “I’m not likely to get a kiss, anyway. I don’t know any girls except the ones at home and they never paid any attention to me.”
“Those girls are fools then,” Raffles said. “Surely there is nothing more appealing than a shy rabbit.”
“Perhaps they don’t want shy,” I said, sure I’d found the answer. “They’ll want someone like you, someone who isn’t afraid to ask for what he wants.” I closed my eyes. “Perhaps no one will ever want to kiss me.”
We lay there in silence, all joy gone from my day. I was about to suggest to Raffles that he return to his study, as surely more amenable company could be found there, when he finally spoke.
“You’re only fourteen years old, Bunny,” Raffles said, almost to himself. “Just fourteen.”
I turned to look at Raffles and was surprised to find him laying on his side, gazing back at me, a speculative expression on his face. I’d never seen him look like that, but when I opened my mouth to ask him what the matter was, he closed the slight distance between us.
“How important is this kiss to you, Bunny?” he asked as he brushed a lock of hair off my forehead. He leaned over me and braced his right hand on the grass beside my head. “Do you care from whence it comes?”
I shook my head as I stared up at him. His blue eyes had never looked so bright nor so full of life. “I just want to know what it’s like,” I whispered. “Just once.”
Raffles closed his eyes, nodded twice and opened them again. “Shall I show you what it’s like, Bunny? Just once?” His warm breath caressed my face, making me shiver. “Would you like to know what those boys are on about?”
“Yes, but...but you’re not a girl,” I managed to say.
Raffles smiled. “I’m better than a girl.”
He was better than a girl, better than anyone, really. He was my dearest friend and my confidante, and I trusted him more than I trusted anyone else. Surely a kiss from Raffles would be all right, perhaps better than all right.
“But you have to say you want it,” he said in a soft voice. “Otherwise, I won’t do it.”
I nodded at him, hardly able to breathe and completely unable to speak. A breeze rustled the willow’s limbs, as if affirming the words I couldn’t push past my lips.
“All right,” he whispered.
I closed my eyes as his face descended toward mine. His lips, softer and warmer than I could ever have imagined, touched mine with gentle pressure. Shock immobilized me and I feared Raffles would stop, thinking me too frightened to continue. But he didn’t stop, he only moved his lips over mine in light, teasing caresses until I at last kissed him back.
Raffles made a noise in the back of his throat and increased the pressure on my lips, encouraging me to open my mouth. The moment I did, I felt the tip of his tongue against mine. I whimpered in pleasure, wanting more, but as I reached up to touch his face, he pulled away from me.
I opened my eyes, frightened that I’d done something wrong. He was still leaning over me, but his eyes were closed and he was breathing hard. A frown creased his smooth brow.
“Raffles,” I whispered. “What’s wrong?”
He shook his head and moved away from me, then stood up and walked to where he’d tied back the willow branches. His back was to me so I couldn’t tell what he was thinking; I only knew I must have done something terribly wrong.
He stood like that for a long time, his slim shoulders hunched and his arms wrapped around his waist. The breeze from the lake ruffled his inky curls, and I wished he was still beside me so that I could thread my fingers through them the way I sometimes did when we were alone in his study.
I couldn’t ask what was troubling him. He would have to tell me in his own good time, if he did at all. Raffles kept many secrets from me; perhaps this would be yet another one.
When I had despaired of his ever speaking again, he turned and looked at me.
“Your first kiss, Bunny,” he said. “The first of many, I’m sure.”
He walked the few steps toward me and offered his hand. I took it and allowed him to pull me to my feet. He didn’t let go of my hand, but simply stood there, looking at me with the strangest expression on his face. A small smile graced his lips, but his eyes were dark and their former sparkle was gone. My eyes welled with tears as I realized that something inexplicable had changed between us.
“Don’t cry, Bunny,” he said, squeezing my hand. “Please don’t cry.”
“I can’t help it,” I whispered as two fat tears trickled down my cheeks. “I’ve done something wrong, haven’t I? You don’t look the same.”
Raffles sighed and pulled me into his arms. I pressed my suddenly hot face against the cool fabric of his shirt and wrapped my arms around his trim waist. His strong arms curled around my shoulders, and he held me until I stopped crying.
“You’ve got your whole life ahead of you, Bunny,” he said a long while later. He gently pried my arms from around his waist. “When you’re all grown up and we meet again, you’ll tell me that you’ve had thousands of kisses, so many you won’t even remember this one.”
“Do you think so?” I asked in a watery voice, wanting very much to believe him.
He offered me his snowy white handkerchief and urged me to blow my nose. “Dozens and dozens will want to kiss you, Bunny. And really, for a chap with no experience, you didn’t do too badly at all. You surprised me, and I suppose that’s why I acted so oddly. Think nothing of it.”
“Really? I did all right?” I asked, knowing how pathetic it was to seek compliments, but needing them all the same.
“Really,” he said. He put his arm around my shoulders and directed me toward the door of our willowy room. “Now, we ought to go so as not to miss tea.”
“Raffles,” I said as we walked across the vast lawn toward our house, “We’re fine, you and I, aren’t we?”
He ruffled my hair and laughed. “Of course, my dear rabbit. Never better.”