East Hamme churchyard was a lot smaller than Trewern’s. The boys had leaned their bikes up in the south porch, and they were systematically exploring the gravestones. Henry had his father’s key to the church, if they wanted to go inside. Normally it was locked.
The boys were very much at ease with each other. They had, after all, experienced the ultimate in intimacy. They were undoubtedly lovers. A smile flickered round the edge of Ed’s mouth every time his eyes caught Henry’s. Every now and then they paused to kiss, for the churchyard was secluded and isolated and there was no danger of being observed. They were relaxed about their sexual longings. Neither was in a hurry to go further than they had. They loved the things they were already doing too much.
‘I’ve never been happier in my life, Ed,’ Henry confessed. ‘It’s like Christmas and my birthday all together.’
‘Think about me then. I’ve got no brother or sister, and I barely see my parents. Think what it must be like to have someone like you in my life … friend, lover, cuddly toy and resident comedian all in one. I want to cry every time I see your smiling little face looking at me. You’re so lovely.’
‘Lovable, then. But you’re lovely too. You don’t have to have muscles to be worth looking at. I love your slender limbs, like they’re carved out of ivory by a craftsman, and your delicious little smile and your awesome little arse. Then there’s your delicate feet with their little boy’s toes. And you’re blushing, Henry.’
‘I’m not used to being made love to, Ed, but I could get used to it easily.’
‘I love you so much, Henry.’
The two boys held hands, and decided it was good. They kissed, broke apart and walked together in the direction of the old church.
‘There’s a similar pattern here to the churchyard in Trewern,’ Henry mused. ‘There’s a few here from the Ludlow workshops, more in proportion to Trewern but we’re closer to Ludlow here. But the Huntercombe masons are just as evident here as at home, and there’s a new name here from the same firm from the 1860s to 1880s, perhaps a younger brother. Very beautiful undercut work he does.’
‘Hey … Henry, over here!’
‘What is it?’
‘Look!’ Ed pointed to a substantial Victorian headstone up against the churchyard wall. Henry knelt down and scrutinised it. It said, ‘In Loving Memory of Wm Josiah CORNER and May Eleanor his wife, who died the 14th April 1896.’
Edward was getting excited, ‘Look, another one! And another!’
There was a half dozen members of the Corner family all congregated in that section of the yard. ‘It’s a corner full of …’
‘Henry, please, I love you, but don’t make that pun, as you hope to live to see tomorrow.’
Henry giggled. ‘So they’re an East Hamme family. And two of them mention the same house. Here’s Alfred Corner of Launde House, and Frederick Corner also of Launde House. Look like parish gentry to me.’
‘So Nathaniel was one of them, you think?’
‘He’s not here, but maybe he’s inside. I’ve got the key. Let’s go look.’
It was dark in the church of East Hamme, but Henry knew where the light switches were. They systematically checked out the nave, but there was nothing. Nor were there any wall plaques commemorating members of the Corner family in the chancel either. Henry slumped in the dusty black choir stalls, looking disconsolate.
‘You thought you were near another clue then didn’t you, Henry?’ Henry grunted unhappily. Ed smiled, ‘Come on yer little tiger, you don’t normally give up so easy. Is there anywhere else it might be?’
Henry looked around, ‘The vestry used to be an old side chapel. Maybe there are some monuments in there.’
‘Okay, got the key?’
‘No. But I think the warden puts it under the mat in the sanctuary … there you are!’
‘This is the country. Let’s go see.’
The door creaked and opened. There were the usual vestment drawers, filing cabinets and notice boards. Henry saw a curtained wall, and twitched the dusty drapes aside.
‘Ahah! Ed, you were right!’ A wall tablet bearing the name Corner was revealed, too massive and ornate to be taken down but left behind a curtain which also masked a hanging area for cassocks. Henry got his notebook and began jotting the details down.
‘In Memoriam. Major General Nathaniel Corner KB of Launde House co. Salop. Son of Augustus Corner and Amice daughter of Frederick Lord Bathurst. Hero of Badajoz and Salamanca and other actions of the War in the Peninsula. Commanded the 53rd Regiment of Foot at the Signal Victory near Brussels. Sometime Governor of Lower Canada. Commandant of the Chelsey Hospital. He died suddenly on the 5th November 1845 at the age of 66 years. Erected by his many friends and his loving nephew and heir, Alfred Corner Esq. of Launde House.’
The monument was rich with military trophies of cannon, flags, muskets and pikes, but gave no further personal information. It had been carved in the London workshop of Behrens.
‘Wow,’ said Henry. ‘That’s a mass of new information and no mistake. If it’s the same Nathaniel, of course. But the dates would fit him. So he survived whatever happened in Trewern Woods and went off to war against the French. He was a hero too! And he fought at Waterloo.’
‘It’s also spooky,’ observed a troubled looking Ed.
‘Have you noticed the date he died?’
‘Oh … oh my God! Exactly fifty years after Jed Scudamore.’
They pedalled back to Trewern rectory through the country lanes in a bit of a quiet mood, Ed looking sideways at Henry occasionally. It was just after lunch when they got home. The house was empty. They discarded shoes and socks in the porch door, and went up to Henry’s room. He bounced on to the bed, and sat there clasping his ankles. Ed sat on his desk chair looking consideringly at him.
‘Henry, there’s too much not to like about this,’ he said.
‘What do you mean?’
‘I think you’re in real danger.’
‘You’ve watched too many films, Ed. I’ve seen a few peculiar things and had a few odd dreams …’
‘Dreams? You didn’t mention dreams.’
‘I was going to …’ Henry told Ed what he had experienced on the three occasions of his dream visions.
‘So that’s how you knew Jed and Nathaniel were boy lovers. It wasn’t just the carving.’
‘What did Jed look like?’
‘Bit of a dish really. You’d have liked him, curly Byronic hair, dark, with gorgeous grey eyes, flecked with gold.’
‘You got close to him, then.’
‘I told you, he kissed me and wanked me off … or not me, but Nathaniel. But it felt like he was doing me.’
Ed frowned. ‘I have a nasty feeling that you’ll be seeing more of him, Henry. He has designs on you, the randy little creep. I’m scared. As a result, I shall have to move my stuff over here and sleep with you, just to make sure you’re safe.’
Henry did a double take. ‘You plonker, for a minute you had me there. I thought you really were worried, instead it was just a line to get naked into bed with me.’
‘No it wasn’t a line, I really am bothered by this. But why not move here? Peters won’t mind. We’re supposed to meet him tonight in Huntercombe you know.’
‘How’s that … oh God, he doesn’t want to show off his prowess with alcohol, does he?’
‘I think that may be his plan. But in the meantime, hey, here we are, and whoops! There goes my top, and, oh dear, that’s the rest of my clothes, and watch out Henry, here I come!’
A heavy and naked athlete landed hard on Henry and began enthusiastically ripping his clothes off him. Henry struggled — if not very hard — and was pinned and stripped. Ed knelt on his chest, a knee on either side of Henry taking his weight. His half-erect cock hung in front of Henry’s face. He examined it with interest, the first cock other than his own he had been able to look at closely. It was longer than his, a full seven inches now it was erecting. It was heavily veined and had a line of what looked like muscle down the underside, which was absent from his own. The erection was retracting Ed’s foreskin, and the purple cock head was emerging, broader and more heavily flanged than his own. Henry smiled up at the smiling face of his lover, pushed up his head and licked the tip of it. Ed wriggled and gave a low cooing sound. Very sexy.
Ed moved down on Henry, clasped him hard and began exploring his mouth, then grinned and moved down to Henry’s already hard nipples. He licked, then sucked them. Henry cooed in his turn with the strange and tight sensation that it provoked, as if his nipples had a direct line to his anus. His penis was throbbing and stiff. Ed moved further down and excavated his deep little navel. Henry shuddered. Ed came back up to engage with his mouth, then came off him with a smile.
‘You wanted me to go further down didn’t you?’
‘One day soon. But in the meantime, Henry, I want you to do something really disgusting to me.’
‘What?’ Henry was excited.
‘I want you to work on my hole.’
‘Like you did to me yesterday?’
‘If you want, but I want you to go inside. Have you ever done that to yourself?’
‘Yes,’ Henry admitted. ‘But you want me to put something in you? You mean my fingers or my dick?’
‘I’m keen to feel what it’s like, but not your dick this time.’
‘Are you sure about this, Ed? I don’t mind. I’ll do it, but it could hurt.’
‘The way I see it lover, we’re like sportsmen. We get into training for the big one, so we do it right. You don’t start by running a twenty-two mile stretch if you’re training for a marathon. You work up to it.’
‘Okay then, but we’re going to do this to each other.’
Henry and Ed found some liquid soap and laid a towel on the bed. Ed got on his back, pulled back his legs and lubricated his hole with the soap and then offered it to Henry who lay next to him and did the same. Then Henry slicked up his fingers, and got Ed once again on his back with his knees drawn back. He put his index finger against Ed’s anus and slowly pushed. Ed got a look of preoccupation on his face, and as Henry pushed harder it slid in suprisingly quickly. Ed arched and groaned.
‘Are you alright?’
Ed grinned, ‘It’s a weird feeling. Ooh, all full, like I need to pee or crap or something. Push it further, it’s alright. It isn’t hurting me.’
Henry managed to get two fingers in deep. ‘Okay,’ he said, breathlessly, ‘Now me.’
He lay on his back and Ed pushed his fingers into Henry’s entry. He tried to relax as the pressure built up. Finally the muscle gave and a very strange feeling in his bum followed as Ed steadily penetrated him. ‘Oh! That’s it!’
Ed smiled down and closed to kiss him. Then, as they kissed he reached under Henry’s balls, and began slowly pushing his fingers in and out of him. It made a slurping and wet sound. Henry reciprocated, and they lay massaging each other like that for ten minutes.
Henry noticed that he had deflated, despite his internal excitement, but he also noticed that a slight escape of liquid had leaked on to his cock head from his glands. It was also happening to Ed. Full of curiosity, he moved down and sucked and licked at Ed’s cock head. It was sweet tasting. This was it, oral sex. He closed his lips over Ed’s penis. But Ed pulled out of him quickly.
‘Did I do something wrong?’ Henry asked, confused.
‘It’s fine, Henry, but you needled me with your sharp little teeth; it wasn’t nice.’
‘Can I try again?’
Henry again closed round Ed’s penis, and this time he tried to keep his teeth away from the warm and velvety skin. Eventually he found that if he put his lips over the points of his teeth, there was no problem. He couldn’t get too far down Ed’s seven inch length, but he used his fingers to grip the exposed portion and turned himself into a wanking machine, energetically sucking, wanking and licking his lover. Ed was moaning now, and began thrusting mindlessly into his mouth. Finally, his increasingly frenzied motions got Henry gagging, and he pulled off Ed. But he kept up the wanking motion. Ed tensed under his ministrations, Henry saw his balls tauten and spasm a little too late. Jets of Ed’s sperm sprayed his face, getting in his hair and on his nose, but also, disastrously, into his eyes.
Henry leaped up. ‘Oh fuck! Oh crap! Ow! Ow! I’m blind!’ He stepped on a shoe and slid on it, coming down hard on his bottom. He wiped his stinging right eye until he got a degree of sight back into it. And the first thing he saw was Ed convulsed with laughter on the bed.
Henry was not amused, ‘You unsympathetic sod! You blinded me! How can you laugh at me in pain, like this?’
Ed reached down and dragged him up on to the bed. ‘You’ll live, Henry. Let me clean up your face.’ And he did, thoroughly. While he did, Henry fumbled between his legs for his balls and squeezed lightly. ‘Ouch!’ Ed yelped.
‘So who’s the wuss?’ Henry asked, with a certain cruel satisfaction.