"Latin. Bloody, Latin!"
"It's a dead language... why do we bother with it at all?" Maurice looked up at the ceiling of his room, rolling his eyes and showing his displeasure—his impatience and vexation growing with every hour spent buried in his Latin books.
He heard a laugh—Clive's.
Clive had so wonderfully agreed to help him and took the time as a great excuse to re-read Virgil's 'Aeneid.'
"Scientia ipsa potentia est. Latin is the foundation of languages, Maurice. As is a wellspring of infinite knowledge. A well mind is always hungry for knowledge," insisted Clive, looking up from his book.
"I needn't bother... I'm… well, truthfully, I'm just hungry," Maurice answered with humor, his stomach growling as he haphazardly threw Clive's copy of Virgil's 'Eclogae' on the floor.
Maurice had hoped to spend the night in each other's arms much like they had a few nights ago. When an innocent tussle over an embarrassing love note that a young woman had slipped in Maurice's coat unfolded into a passionate but temperate display on Maurice's floor—rudely interrupted by a gyp knocking on the door for them to quiet down.
It was late at night when they found themselves in Maurice's room again—the same as any other night. Maurice, his back against his sofa and half sat, half laying on the floor. Durham sat upon the floor almost beyond his reach.
"I say, Durham—"
He forgot what he was going to say.
For a moment, their eyes locked, and desire flashed.
Durham shook the feeling, moved closer, and instead pointed to the 'Eclogae' on the floor next to him, wanting it back.
Maurice was unsure what compelled him to do it. If it was Clive's voice when he read to him or the scent of old books when he turned the pages. It must have been the scent of night flowers blooming that wafted into his room from the open window or Clive's nearness that he found so intoxicating. It floated in and through his mind and senses. On this quiet Cambridge night, Maurice's room became a murmur of leaves and heartbeat.
A wild desire caught hold of Maurice. His hands were not his as he watched them catch hold of Durham's thumb in his to bring soft fingertips to his lips to kiss. Maurice suckled on long, elegant fingers while his eyes burned and pleaded for more. He knew and tasted Clive's lips—honey against his own. He’d bestowed kisses on his lovely chest, his elegant neck, and the back of his hand—parts of the beloved he knew intimately. But never touched him like this! He wanted more; he wanted all of him! He'd longed to embrace Clive and mingle his being with him.
Clive's heart galloped in his chest.
He willed it to settle, but his body did not answer. He could not calm it, stop the warmth on his cheeks that shaded it crimson nor suppress the stirring of deep longings.
"Maurice. Maurice. Maurice!" The name echoed in his mind, in his heart, and every waking moment—a madness!
As Gallus loved Lycoris, this love—its immense power—frightened him. It threatened to consume and ruin him—but what heavenly destruction it would be!
“Galle, quid insanis?"
The line rang in Clive's head. A love so wrong that the gods tried to intervene! If Apollo questioned him of this sickness of love, what would he answer?
His heart spoke its truth: "Oh, love! Oh, this heart! My joy, hope, sorrow, my desperation… my heart in his—"cor in corde"—bound to each other. Only the passage of time would wear me away from the beloved. Eternity itself to be spent with you!"
He would answer the god of many things with a name—
"For whom my love grows from hour to hour as fast as the green alder shoots up when spring is young."
Clive was still in a muddle. He hadn't noticed when Maurice obeyed his command, stood, and knelt before him nor when the beloved pressed soft lips upon his or when he closed his eyes and returned the kiss.
Clive barely felt it when the book slid from his fingers nor when he knelt to embrace him.
“How could love this beautiful be wrong? He reflected with great dolour.
They knelt facing each other in amorous embrace—breast against breast, soft lips against soft lips, and hands around each other in ardent devotion—heartbeats racing in the heat of the moment.
Clive started to unbutton Maurice's shirt, refusing to heed his conscience as he gave in to the pleasures of soft lips begging him to open, the exchange of warm breath, and his lover’s hand stroking his hair as they kissed. He enjoyed the feel of silken skin against his hand when he slowly slipped the fabric from his lover’s shoulders, trailing his hands down Maurice’s back. He explored his chest—lips moving to kiss Maurice's neck, his jutting collarbones, and lower.
Maurice leaned back on his heel and supported himself with one hand—letting Clive dance his tongue around taut nipples as he gripped a handful of Clive’s hair with the other. Deeper sighs broke from him. They rattled in his throat, turning to groans.
He heard Maurice softly moan the words.
Clive's eyes fluttered open and came out of him an anguished cry from the very pit of his tormented soul. It caused him to withdrew his lips in haste—red-faced and gripped in terror!
He quickly stood, took his copy of the 'Eclogae,' and hastily headed for the door, leaving Maurice pinned to where he knelt.
"Ecquis erit modus?!"
He implored the heavens to take this sickness—his salvation and torment—from him!
Clive threw the book across his room as a war waged within, the fragile spine giving way as pages tore and rained on his anguish. Tears fell as he agonized over a love that had saved him from his aching loneliness but also destined to doom him to Hell and a jailhouse.
"Love recks naught of this: neither is cruel Love sated with tears…"
He knelt on the floor, gathering pages upon pages with regret. The last one he read the lines out loud—uttered by Gallus as he lay dying, consumed by the madness of love.
"Omnia vincit amor: et nos cedamus amori"
But would he yield?