Harlow Five Ever
“It’s just–It’s very simple Kate my dear, I just… my heart, it belongs to another!” The looking glass reflected the doubt, the fear, the guilt back at him. What in the world was he about to do? What in the world was he doing? He was breaking her heart, that was what he was doing.
He cleared his throat and ran a hand over the pale, exposed skin there. Looking down at the pink shells of his fingernails he thought about how simple this was. How simple it should be. How simple it was in his head. He took a breath and glanced back toward the looking glass. As he opened his mouth to speak again, the door to his chambers was thrown open, making him jump and twitch nervously like a rabbit.
“Oh Kate, I was just–Oh. You are not my wife.” Marlow said, an eyebrow raised as the man in question quickly shut the great doors to his chambers and paused to catch his breath. “I say, who are you?!” Marlow demanded of the figure, raising from his chair. He felt very vulnerable, dressed only in his tights and shirt and he tugged on the lace around the cuffs.
“Who are you?!” he repeated, trying to but more force in his voice, hoping it did not sound as cracked as it did in his head, “How did you gain entry to this house?! Speak man! Tell me who you are, good sir!”
The man at the doors, standing with his broad shoulders to Marlow chuckled and brought a hand to delicately brush the fly away hairs out of his face.
“And to think Marlow, you once professed that you would know my shape and face anywhere.” He grinned and turned to face the man of the house. On any other occasion Marlow would have known him; on any other occasion Mister George Hastings would have been primly dressed and proper, with his hair neatly groomed and his shirt, coat and vest lint and wrinkle free. This was not any other occasion, however.
“George!” Marlow crossed to him and reached out for his arm. “Heavens, George, you look like the devil! Sit–sit down please–should I fetch you some tea–George! Sit!” He pulled and pushed at his arm, forcing him to sit upon the fashionably upholstered ottoman before the bed.
“Marlow, Marlow, please, I am alright, perhaps a bit scraped up but–please, Marlow! I am alright!” Hasting smiled despite his protests and allowed Marlow to fuss for a moment longer. “Please, I am alight my dear Marlow.” Finally he ceased, taking a seat next to his good friend. Gently he reached out and plucked a twig from Hastings’ hair.
“George–George, why in the world are you here?” Marlow looked him over and picked at a stray bit of mud from his lapel. Hasting gave him a throaty laugh and clapped a hand on his thigh.
“It’s uh… It’s quite a funny story actually, my dear Marlow.” He grinned, but his pulse was fast at the base of his throat and the grinned faded quickly as the tell-tale sound of a carriage rolling up the gravel drive floated in through the half open window. He bit his lip and his eyes darted to the window and then to Marlow. “Marlow my dear… I seem to find myself in a very delicate situation.”
Marlow let himself sigh. “What have you done now? Which nobleman’s wife have you bedded now?” He asked softly.
“I haven’t the time to explain now,” Hastings stood quickly and glanced to the window again, “Marlow, I need you to do me a kindness.” He swallowed and grabbed Marlow’s hand.
“You need me to lie for you.” Marlow stood as well and watched as Hastings began to look for a hiding place behind the curtain of the bed and under the bed shirt before taking refuge in the wardrobe.
“Just tell them you have not seem me. Tell them you have not seen me for a good long while, in fact.” He nodded as he shut himself away among Marlow’s garments. Just as the door to the wardrobe closed (and Marlow had half a mind to open it again), the doors to his chambers flew open again and Mrs. Marlow entered, a worried look marring her pretty features.
“Charles, my dear,” she said as Marlow whipped his head around and turned to her, his mouth pressed into a tight line.
“Hmm?” This time his voice really did squeak. Kate tilted her head to the side at his odd behavior, the delicate curls falling around her head bouncing slightly.
“Charles, there are men at the door. They said that they are seeking an audience with you about Mr. Hastings.” She gestured toward the door with her gloved hand, in the general direction of the front courtyard. “They–uh–they said it was a very important matter. Charles, what has happened? You look rather nervous.”
Marlow dropped the hand that braced him against the door of the wardrobe and wobbled on the single foot braced on the rug. He had his left leg, the one closest to the wardrobe, crossed over his right, with only the toes of that foot touching the floor next the foot flat on the ground. Marlow cleared his throat and shifted his weight, taking a step toward Kate.
“What? No, nothing is wrong at all, you just–you surprised me,” He tried to smile and thought he heard the wardrobe door creak open, but Kate didn’t seem to notice and continued to look at him with concern.
“Really Kate, I’m perfectly fine.” He smiled again and took her hand. “I have not seen Mr. Hastings in a very long time, not since that night at your father’s house.” It was almost true, if he disregarded the fact that Hastings was hiding in his closet. This was not the first time Hastings had hid himself in Marlow’s room while the other lied for him.
Kate nodded and ran her hands over Marlow’s with a little a smile. Her hands were soft, unworked and gentle. They made Marlow want to shudder. He missed strong hands, rough hands, hands that smelt of gunpowder and tobacco. Marlow pulled his hands away and cleared his throat again.
“Go, tell those men that I have not seen hide or hair of Mr. Hastings.” He nodded and turned away, back toward the wardrobe, looking at the refection of himself and the reflection of his wife in the mirror on the door. As she left she spoke, and Marlow just nodded in response. She asked him once more if he was alright and he nodded. When she told him she loved him he said,
“Love you too…”
And then she was gone.
Clearing his throat, Marlow tipped his chin back and called out to Hastings.
“You can come out now, George.” Marlow said, waiting for the moment before the door creaked open and one of Hastings’ chuckles echoed out. As the door swung open, Hastings reached up and fixed his hair, tucking it back behind his ears.
“Thank you, Marlow my dear.” Hasting said, another breathless little chuckle slipping past his pink lips and Marlow couldn’t help himself any longer. He fisted her hands into the front of Hastings’ shirt and pulled him close, crushing those perfectly pink lips against his own. The kiss was all teeth and hot, gasping breath and the strong hands Marlow had missed hiking up his shirt, running over his tights. He made noises into the kissed, moaning and gasping and Hastings returned them, licking them out of Marlow’s mouth before repeating them. Marlow pushed at the shoulder of his coat, his breath mixing with Hastings’ as he pressed nose to cheek.
“Get this off, I want–get it off,” he demanded as Hastings withdrew his hands from Marlow’s shirt. Marlow made a noise of disdain and Hastings chuckled, the noise vibrating up though Marlow’s palms.
“Well do you want me naked or not, Marlow?” He said and Marlow whined and let Hastings go, crawling onto the bed. The bedding was freshly made, fluffed and tucked and soft and Marlow could care less if they mussed it up. He watched hotly as Hastings dropped his coat to the floor, his cravat following soon after. Hastings started on the tiny buttons on his vest but quickly grew frustrated and ripped the last remaining one off, blue buttons flying everywhere. His breeches joined the rest of his clothing on the floor and Marlow slowly looked him over, eyes trailing the outline of his shaped calves in his tights, up over the bend of his knee to where his shirt hung just about mid-thigh.
Marlow’s fists were in his shirt front again just as quickly as before, pulling Hastings on top of him with no warning and enough force to rip the shirt if he tried. Hastings hardly had time to gasp before his lips were crushed against Marlow’s again, bracing himself on either side of Marlow’s hips while Marlow’s legs wrapped tightly around his waist, pulling him even closer. Hastings grunted into the kiss, their shirts and tights a rough, unfortunate barrier between their eager cocks. Their hips pushed forward, looking for more friction, more heat, more pressure, more, more, more.
Hastings broke away first, pulling back with heavy breath, resting his forehead against Marlow’s.
“Wait, Marlow, wait,” he gasped, tugging himself away from Marlow. “We can’t–not here, I mean.”
“Kate is indisposed, tending to the gardens or the library or the kitchens or something, she won’t catch us.” Marlow protested, trying to drag Hasting back to him with his legs.
“No, I mean on your bed!” He chuckled, not wanting to admit that Kate hadn’t even crossed his mind. “I couldn’t bring myself to ravish you upon such finery!” Hastings smirked at Marlow’s expression and took his lover by the hands, tugging him from the comfort of the bed as he moved to the ottoman at the foot of the bed. He pushed Marlow onto it, sliding fluidly down between his legs, kissing at the skin above the waistband on his trousers, pushing Marlow’s shirt up, running the calloused skin of his finger pads over the delicate skin of Marlow’s nipple and hip, tugging his tights down slightly to press kisses to his hip. Marlow gasped softly, running his hands through Hasting’s hair tangled with twigs and leaves. He tugged on the ribbon holding his hair back and threw it to the side before digging his fingers into the hair at the base of his hairline, tugging lightly. Hastings moaned and got his fingers into the waist band on Marlow’s tights, tugging them down. As the tights passed over his hipbones and down to just above his knees, his cock, flushed and hot, sprung from the confines of the silk, and Hastings wasted no time covering the hard flesh in soft, loving kisses.
“Good Lord, Hastings.” Marlow gasped tugging at his hair again, leaning back against the flat of the mattress behind them. He swallowed, Adam’s apple bobbing, as Hastings licked a stripe up from the base of his cock and around his head, running his hands through Hastings’ dark hair, tugging at the ends and twisting it around his fingers. Hastings licked and kissed his cock and his inner thighs, tugging his tights the rest of the way down until he could kneel perfectly between Marlow’s legs. Finally Hastings pressed his lips to Marlow’s tip, looking up to catch his friend’s eyes before slowly, painfully slowly, taking his flushed and leaking cockhead into the hot cavity of his mouth. Marlow moaned like he hadn’t moaned since his wedding night. It echoed through his throat and chest, like waves rolling in and out of a damp cave, a tiny laugh in a great auditorium, and he tugged on Hastings’ hair, his eyes fluttering shut. If he looked down no, saw the dark olives his pupils has become, the way his pink lips stretched around Marlow’s cock as he swallowed him deep, if he saw the way Hastings’ nose touched his belly, he would have been undone in an instant. He would be over the moon with no return, so he closed his eyes and tried to memorize the way the skin on the nape of his neck felt, the angle of his cheekbones. He tried to commit to all to memory, but all too soon Hastings was pulling away, lips wet and pink, cheeks flushed and warm when Marlow ran his thumb over them. Hastings rose and leaned in, catching Marlow’s lips in a soft kiss, holding Marlow’s chin and tipping it up slightly. He smiled into the kiss and chuckled as he pulled away, bumping the tip of his nose against Marlow’s with affection.
“You,” Marlow smiled, “should take off your tights. Let me see if I truly know your shape the way I once professed to.” He grinned and ran his palm over the bulge in Hastings’ tights, earning him a soft moan from the lips still close to his face.
“Should I?” Hastings said, pulling away from Marlow and taking a step backwards, slowly pulling the white cotton shirt over his head, dropping it into a rumpled heap on the floor. He then tucked his thumbs into the waist of his tights, bringing them slowly down until he couldn’t manage to be seductive any longer and he resorted to trying to balance and yank them over his heels. Marlow laughed as he watched Hastings and kicked off his own tights, giving his cock a few soft strokes. When he looked back up at Hastings he laughed anew and a wide smile graced his face.
“Well Marlow, do I look the way you remember me?” He was grinning widely with a hand on his hip, the other extended out. He had one leg in front of the other, foot turned out toward Marlow. It was the way Marlow’s father always stood. Although, his father didn’t tend to have the raging erection Hastings was sporting between his legs.
“Oh, oh George,” Marlow grinned and reached for him, pulling him close and into his lap. “You look even better than I remember.” He smiled softly and made Hastings shudder when he ran his hands too lightly over his cock.
“Really? That’s probably because you seem to have holes in your memory of me.” Hastings laughed and it was nearly a giggle. He reached up and stroked the curve of Marlow’s nose with his finger. “Would you take me in a manly fashion, Marlow?” He smiled and dropped his hand down running over his own chest, trailing between his peaks, circling his navel before drifting lower and taking himself in hand.
“Or will I have to see to it myself?” The last word escaped him lips in an exhale, soft and fragile, his eyes fluttering shut as he stroked himself. Marlow watched, transfixed by the way Hastings’ lips parted, the way his breath seemed to hang in air like frost on the edge of a window, like sea form on to sand, as he moved his hand over himself. Marlow reached his arm behind Hastings, holding him close as he reached for the top drawer of the dresser. He had to stretch a bit to reach it, Hastings wrapping his arms around Marlow’s neck, nuzzling deep into the curve of his neck as Marlow dug though the drawer. Finally, as his fingers scrapped over wood and miscellaneous objects, he retrieved a small bottle. Sitting back he pulled the jade topped stopper out, the perfume of roses and olive oil filling the space between them. Marlow pulled his shirt back and Hastings shifted in his lap, pushing his hip forward, the hot flush of their cocks meeting as Marlow drizzled the scented oil over them. The oil was cool and it made them both eagerly cant their hips together. Marlow soon wrapped a hand around them both and Hastings pressed his lips to Marlow’s shoulder, pushing the fabric out of the way. They both shared a gasp as Marlow started to stroke and tug at their cocks, smearing the oil into and over their skin, dripping onto his shirt to stain. Hastings grunted and rolled his hips up into Marlow’s grip, moaning low as his cock slid against his lover’s. It had been far too long since they had touched and Hastings found himself wondering if his whole charade with Constance was worth it. Was it worth the time he had to spend away from Marlow? Was it worth the lies and the falsehood? Now, in this moment, with Marlow’s breath on his neck and his hand fisted into Marlow’s hair, the act seemed far from worth anything.
Marlow’s hand slid over them, squeezing softly, and he captured Hasting’s lips with his own, moaning into the hot mouth against his. Hastings pushed his hips into Marlow’s hand, tugging on the hair at the base of his neck and moaned into his mouth. His other hand rested on Marlow’s chest, playing gently with his nipple through his shirt, kissing the corners of his mouth. He could see the pink flush over Marlow’s skin, the tops of his cheeks, the sides of his neck, down over his shoulders and down his chest. Normally, Hastings would have made it his mission to kiss all of that flushed skin, to bite the skin on his collarbone and lick tempting circles around his nipple and over the insides of his elbows, but they didn’t have time for that. So Hastings made do with licking the inside of Marlow’s pliant mouth and stealing as much of his breath through kisses as he could.
It was Marlow who finished first, already brought close by Hastings earlier, and he spilled his seed over their cocks, staining the front of his shirt once more. He tensed as he came, his lips parted in a long exhale that Hastings kissed away, nails digging into Hastings’ hip and he leaned his head in, forehead resting on his shoulder at the end, gasping slightly. He kept pumping his hand and Hastings did not last much longer, fisting his hand in Marlow’s shirt, biting his lip and moaning, Marlow’s breath hot against his bare skin. After, Hastings wrapped his arms around Marlow’s neck and slumped forward. He smiled stupidly, his face pressed against Marlow’s neck, a strand of his hair stuck to the corner of his mouth. His skin was pleasantly warm and he snuggled closer. Marlow’s body was warm as well, and as Hastings laid against him he reached between them, mopping up the mess with his shirt, wrinkled and stained already before he put his own arms around Hastings.
“Why are you here, George?” He asked softly, reaching up to tuck his hair behind his ear. “I know you’re in some sort of trouble, judging from the manner in which you arrived and the men searching for you.” Hastings emitted a sigh and he ran his fingers over Marlow’s shoulder.
“I–I made some decisions that did not sit particularly well with the Crown,” he said, soft and gentle against Marlow’s pulse. “I always said that I wanted to run away with Constance to France so we could marry. That wasn’t the only reason France was so appealing to me.” He sat up and his bright eyes flicked between Marlow’s. “I’m not exactly what one would call a Loyalist, Charles. I find myself more allied with the forces in colonies…” He hesitated, teeth pressed together, lips spread in a nervous grin. “Oh, please don’t hate me Charles, please, I just–I cannot stand the Monarchy any longer and it seems that my fit of foolishness has marked my neck for execution!” Words spilled from him in a rush and he pulled himself from Marlow, standing and shaking his hands with anxiety as he spoke.
“I cannot hang, Charles! I cannot!” His voice had risen and Marlow immediately crossed to him, taking his hands when he saw the tears brimming in Hastings’ clear eyes. He was afraid, terrified, his hands shaking slighting. He was still speaking; his words were incoherent now with fear and Marlow tried to calm him, quickly pulling Hastings into his arms and hugging him solidly.
“I will not abandon you, George.” He smiled and pulled back, taking Hastings’ face in his hands, bushing his thumbs over his cheekbones. “Tell me what you need me to do for you. Tell me how I can help you.” Hastings took a breath and reached up, putting his hands on Marlow’s.
“I need to get to France, Charles. I need to leave England,” he said with a heavy breath. “That is why I came to you, I need your help.”
“And you shall always have it George.” Marlow smiled a little and kissed Hastings again, still soft and sweet, embracing as they kissed. They held each other with reverence, with care, the way lovers held each other in the gilt paintings of the renaissance, with soft lips and strong hands.
They were discovered like that, in each other’s arms, peaceful in their own quiet moment. There had been no shouting between them, only peaceful understanding that Hastings had hardly ever seen between a married couple. There had been fear of exposure for him, for both of them, but Kate had only nodded and held Marlow’s hand as he explained. There was such love in her eyes and later, when Hastings looked back on the event, he found that he had a profound respect for her. He did not know if he had loved anyone as much as she loved Marlow. He knew he would not have been able to leave Marlow if faced with the same situation.
+ + +
Paris did not smell as nice as he had thought it would; he had been expecting fresh bread and molasses tobacco smoke. Instead he smelled piss and damp rain, and he wrinkled his nose before closing the windows and latching them shut. He turned away from the windows and looked down at the bed. The sheets were rumbled and Marlow’s pale skin was white as the fabric. He watched his chest rise and fall, his youthful face soft and pliant while he slept. He looked back to the window and thought of Constance. He had received a letter from her the other day, all the way from the colonies. It had illustrated her new life there, and the woman she had moved in with. She was a midwife and Constance talked very fondly of her. He thought of Kate as well and how good of a man Marlow was. He had refused to divorce her and leave her destitute after he ran from England. With a soft smile Hastings returned to the bed and he could hear the rain on the window as he crawled in and hugged Marlow to himself, nuzzling into his neck. They were safe from the Crown and he decided to wake Marlow with soft kisses.