Ned’s Locket: a modern sequel

by Freedom
c Freedom 2003
This story contains love between a young man and a boy on the edge of adolescence.
There is no steamy sex; rather this is a love story on two levels
If this concept offends you, please leave.
You will understand the story better if you have read the first part, but it is not necessary to do so.
No actual boys were used in the creation of this story.
It is the product of my imagination.
If you liked this story please tell me. If you didn’t like this story, sit down and write one of your own. It isn’t as easy as it looks!

Thanks for reading. Go in peace.


Where did that come from, wondered Lew Barnes, as he pulled into The Farmers’ Rest, a pub off the High Street in Fritton, which also advertised rooms for a night or a week. Lew wondered why anyone would stay in such a place, in the middle of nowhere.  Then he sighed again.  It was going to be both an interesting visit and a boring one, he thought. But right now his 25 year old body was tired, and all he wanted was a bed. Steeling himself for the cold December air, he got out of his rental car, blessing his luck that he had not totalled it on the way from Heathrow. How could these people drive on the left!  And those roundabouts!  God!  He mumbled to himself as he entered the pub, and saw a nice log fire in the hearth.  He went over to the lounge bar, and inquired about food and lodging. Well, the place might be old, but the innkeeper took his information on a fairly new Pentium 4 and passed him the key card to his room. Looking at his bags, and his laptop, the fellow called to the back of the bar, and a curly-haired boy of about 12, bounded up and waited.

“Ned”, he said, “Mr Barnes here will be staying a bit with us, and could use a hand with his bags.”  

And before Lew could say anything, his bags were snatched away from his side, and the boy said first, “Yes Dad”, and then to Lew he added, “I won’t carry your computer. You’d  rather carry that yourself, I’m thinking  Follow me sir!”
And Lew followed, thinking that life had just become a little more interesting. He watched the boy climbing the stairs with his bags, but he was watching the boy’s bum a lot closer.  It was a sweet sight and Lew felt a lot less tired when they arrived at the room.  Ned took his own key card and opened the door, and showed the older man the amenities of the room, which included, thank God for that, thought Lew, a small toilet area and shower.  Ned must have seen the look of relief on his face, as he giggled:

“Mr Barnes, you Yankees read too many English police stories.  We do have indoor plumbing, and I’m the only one who must share a bath here, ‘cos I live with my Dad and Mum in the flat on the next floor.”

Lew knew he had been caught out and blushed, but still managed to say, “I’m no Yankee Ned!  I’m Canadian born and raised in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan!”

More giggles, “Saska what, Saska where”?

Lew put down his computer on the desk, and looked at the boy who was standing there giggling. And he thought, “You want to giggle, I’ll show you giggles!” And on that thought he launched himself forward and started tickling the boy, who immediately surrendered. But Lew wasn’t going to let him get away that easy, and it was only when Ned grabbed his crotch and managed to gasp that he had to pee that he relented. Ned looked around desperately, and apologetically ran into the toilet in the room.  He was in such a hurry he didn’t close the door, and Lew was situated in such a way that he had an excellent view of the proceedings. Well, excellent for him, being the boylover he was, but potentially embarrassing for the lad, so he tore his gaze away and busied himself emptying the files out of his briefcase.

Ned finally finished his imitation of a racehorse, washed his hands carefully, and came out drying them on his pants.

“Are you here on business, sir? I can help you set up your computer, and if you are going to have meetings, Dad will let you use the private bar.” And he added, shamefacedly, “I’m sorry for laughing at your home, but it does sound funny.”  He mimicked “Saskatoon, Saskatchewan” in a fair imitation of Lew’s prairie accent, and giggled again.

Lew, as tired as he had been when he walked in, was reluctant to let this boy go just yet. So he smiled and tousled those wonderfully soft curls which smelled a lot like Pear’s soap. “No Ned,” he said, “I’m not really on business, Ned. My dad’s decided to take up a study of his family history. I’m here to snoop, and see what is here, because we know my grandfather came from this very area, and it is likely that there are distant cousins still here. When Gramps went to Canada he cut himself off from everyone, and wouldn’t speak of his family. It was only when he died last year, and Dad went through his papers he found out that his father had changed his name when he emigrated.  We are Barnes now, but we used to be Lewises.  Gramps hated his name, Llewellyn Lewis, because people would laugh and call him Lulu, so he took his middle name and made it into a last name.  Barnaby became Barnes.  D’you see?”

He looked up to see a boy with his jaw dropped. “But then you’re a Lewis!  That’s brilliant! So am I!  I’d bet we’re cousins!” And leaning forward, he hugged a surprised Lew and gave him a kiss on his cheek. Then he blushed prettily, and stepped back, saying, ever so politely, “Sorry sir! Yikes…”

And the last that Lew saw was a beautiful boy running out the door, leaving behind a lingering smell, and memories, and an erection that didn’t seem to want to forget what it had just felt. He sighed deeply, undressed, took care of some urgent business, then showered and went to bed.
The next morning, he woke up suddenly, and realised that he would have to have another shower.  “Lord, he thought, I’m 25 years old and I haven’t had a wet dream as messy as that in years!” And then he remembered what he had dreamed about, and more specifically, who he had dreamed about. He blushed, laughed at himself for blushing, had a shower and dressed, and went downstairs.  The memory of that kiss was still in his mind, and he wondered whether he would see Ned again.

He had ordered a full breakfast, which included black pudding, and was just looking suspiciously at it, when he heard a light footstep bounding down the stairs, followed by a more measured tread. Both Ned and his father Tom entered the dining room, and headed right for him. Tom was looking thunderous, and even Ned wasn’t smiling.  But he had no time to think of anything else because they were there.

When Lew dared to look directly at the innkeeper, he noticed that the man was more upset than angry.

And then, came the questions.

You are Lewis Barnes?

  Mute nod.

Your grandfather was Llewellyn Barnaby Lewis?

 Another mute nod.

When you were talking to my son last night, you mentioned you were searching for relations here in Norfolk?

 Another slow nod.

Then he proclaimed you were cousins, kissed you and ran out of the room?

“Yes, but, but, but,” stammered Lew.

Tom interrupted, “Llewellyn Lewis left Fritton many years ago and left a very unhappy little boy behind. That boy was his brother Thomas Benjamin Lewis. He never heard from his brother again, but never forgot him either.  Each and every Christmas and each and every birthday on July 6th, he took care to remember him.  Tom Lewis was my Dad, so that makes me your Dad’s cousin, and you are cousin to me and Neddy here and a whole farmyard of folk hereabout, as well. Granda will be so thrilled to see you!  He always regretted the harsh words he had with your grandfather.

Lew was stunned. “Granda”, he queried in a rising tone. “My father’s grandfather’s still alive? Why he must be… Well….”

“Rising 101 years old,” proudly stated a maturing treble. “We had a brilliant party for him last spring. And the Queen sent a telegram congratulating him.  He cried because…”

“Now, Neddy let Mister errr your cousin finish his breakfast. Let me take that back, sir, it has gotten cold while we were talking.  Here, Ned, take this back to Mum in the kitchen, and tell her to slice some fresh black pudding for him. I’m off then!”

Just a few minutes later, a beaming cook waved out of the kitchen door, and an equally chuffed boy bought a fresh  breakfast with a new pot of tea.

“Mum’s pleased you’re here,” he said, “but she will be busy because the Churchwardens will have their annual meeting today. Dad is one and so is my Uncle Richard. They meet and discuss church affairs, Dad says.  Mum says that they sit and drink beer and discuss footie. Do you play footie? Oh, no, Canadians play ice hockey most of the year don’t they? I just finished my first year of secondary. I’m nearly 13, and…” he stopped suddenly and blushed.

“And”, said Lew encouragingly, glad to get a word in.

“And I’ll tell you later”, said the boy “Are you going to have that black pudding then? If not…” without further ado he snatched the pieces off the plate, and Lew watched in amazement as they disappeared into Ned’s mouth.

 “Dad’s gonna go see Granda,” he mumbled through a full mouth. Can’t have the old dear popping his clogs when you show up, can we?”

He giggled, and so infectiously that Lew joined him.

Later, at The Farm, Tom was hearing from his grandfather. Lord, he never thought the old man had so much breath in him!

“My son’s dead! My grandson lives in Saska… wherever! My great-grandson is here and you didn’t bring him with you!  You ungrateful child!  Sure was hiding behind the door when God gave out brains, wasn’t you?  You go right back to that pub of yours, and bring him back, and bring that boy of yours too.  I’d like to see someone in this family who thinks!  I’m tired of looking in the mirror!  And don’t you But but but me!  Those churchwardens can have their beer fest some other time. Neddy can go to school another time!  You should stop the drinking anyway! It’s a bad habit for someone who owns a pub. Though that beer you sell is hardly worth the name!”  Finally the old man wound down his diatribe.

And Tom, suitably chastened and smiling to himself, made his way back to Fritton, blessing his unmarried aunt for staying home to look after the old man, while his own older brother did the farming.

Pulling into his spot behind the pub he saw Lew and Ned, laughing over some joke that had just been told. He watched thoughtfully as Lew gave Ned a shoulder hug and saw the hug returned. Ned was not any way near as tall as Lew, so the hug went around the older cousin’s waist.

He called them over, and they ran up together.  And then they were on the way to visit Llewellyn Lewis.

The Farm reached, Lew was introduced all around to his great-grandfather and to his cousins, who had been called in from the field.  Ned and Tom stood off to the side and grinned, as they saw Lew struggle to remember everyone.  But Granda was the surprise. He stood up and took Lew into his embrace and kissed him. Tom hadn’t seen the old man kiss anyone except young Ned for quite a while.  But then Ned was a merry boy, and kept his Granda company even when he could have been out playing.  Tom often wondered what they found to talk about. Old men and boys were allowed their secrets and he never enquired.  But for now, Lew’s great-grandfather was focussing on him.  They sat together all during the beer and dinner which was finally served, talking to everyone, but mostly talking to each other,  and to Ned, who had come to sit with them. A merry boy, with a boy’s curiosity, his father thought, and sometimes, a right odd boy, a curiosity in his own right!

After a long enjoyable day spent with his new family, Lew and Tom and Ned headed back to Fritton, with strong promises that they would return on the Saturday.  Lew would have his recorder, his laptop, his files and he would spend all weekend long talking to his great grandfather. To his surprise and pleasure Ned included himself with that package, after swearing to his Dad that he would have all his lessons caught up and prepared for Monday.

 Later they got home, and Ned scurried upstairs to finish his schoolwork, after reminding his Dad that he needed an excuse note for missing classes that day. Thank heaven, it was only Thursday and Lew promised himself a long Friday in bed to recover from the jet lag.

He was dozing lightly in his room that evening, watching a talk show, when a rap on the door woke him up. He opened the door to see his little cousin in his pyjamas, freshly washed and ready for bed.

Ned grinned at Lew, as he went back to the comfortable armchair by the television, and then stunned him by climbing into his lap and snuggling. The pressure of a bum clad in thin pyjamas caused an erection, and Lew tried to shift so that it was less noticeable. It didn’t work, and the snuggling became even more insistent. He looked down to make his excuses, and saw a sweet erection peeking out of the flies of the pyjamas.

“Look Lew”, said the lad, “I’m a boy too! I get’em, you get’em, big surprise! Even my Dad gets them, he says!” And this was followed by kisses. “I just wanted to come say goodnight. Dad said if you don’t mind, I will take you out to The Farm in your car on Saturday, as he’ll be busy here, Sleep well, have a good rest, ‘cause on Saturday, Granda will talk our ears off, and he gets upset when people stop listening, On Friday I leave school just a little earlier, so I will be sure to have my homework done, and it will be so brill to go to The Farm with you!”  And all the time this speech was coming out, the hug did not stop and Lew was mesmerised by the erection in the boy’s pants. There was another kiss, and then another squiggle as the warm little bum pressed down on Lew’s straining pants, and then just a hug and a little giggle. Ned got up and went to the door, opened it and turned, and gave Lew a wink, and then wiggling his bum, he was gone, leaving Lew with another large problem.

Friday arrived and except for a late breakfast, Lew spent the day quietly in his room, making notes about what he had already learned, planning his questions for the next day, and sometimes, well with every other thought, thinking of Ned.

Lew had been a quiet introspective boy, with a love for history and especially for late renaissance literature – for the uninitiated, he always explained that as pre-Shakespearian literature, but truthfully he loved Shakespeare and Donne as well as any of the older authors. His combined degree at the University of Saskatchewan and his Master’s degree at the University of Toronto had focussed on his love of Tudor England, and he was by way of becoming quite an expert in the deciphering of Tudor and Jacobean handwriting. Not everyone wrote in beautiful Italian hands, as he discovered.  Part of this trip was going to be a study of source documents searching for something on which to hang a potential Doctoral thesis. That was going to be in January, after he had finished his filial duties. Maybe if he were lucky he could find a post as a teacher in one of the public schools – preferably one of the boys’ schools - and then do an external degree at one of the redbrick universities in England.  Well that was in the future, he thought.  Now he had to work out what to do with Ned. No, he knew what he would like to do with Ned, but the problem was how to deal with it in a socially acceptable manner.

The supper hour arrived and Ned still had not shown up. Slightly worried, Lew enquired downstairs on his way to some fine fish and chips, and discovered that the boy was ensconced in his room busily working on his homework.

After the meal, washed down with some excellent local beer, Lew was joined by Tom carrying yet more beer.

 “You know, I’ve never seen Granda so pleased! He was delighted, and he told me to tell you thanks for giving him your Dad’s phone number. They cried together on the phone for a half an hour, Aunt Mary told me. She finally took the phone away and added a few words of her own, before she sent Granda away for a nap. Your Dad plans to come after Christmas to visit.

“And my little Ned is so taken with you! He is a bit of an odd boy, you know.  Friends with everyone, always a cheerful word, but he keeps himself to himself, and likes his books and studies. What a memory that boy has! And who knows what he fills it with? Right now he tells me he is studying the reign of Edward VI, and he has a major project on the go.  He likes that king because he shares his name.  You know Ned – Edward. He spends a lot of time working and we have him in accelerated studies. But lately he has become a regular little chatterbox, and now the main topic of his conversation is you. I hope he’s not bothering you too much.”  Tom looked warily at Lew, who was absorbing all this information, but didn’t appear to be listening.

Lew told him about himself, and his background, and how Ned was certainly not bothering him, but was one of the highlights of the day for him. They certainly would have more to talk about, which was a surprise, but what a pleasant one!

As Tom excused himself to go back to the bar which was becoming busier, he said, “Granda expects you for breakfast and breakfast is at a quarter to seven. You will have to leave here by a quarter past six to get to The Farm, and you may as well stay over til Sunday. Aunt Mary is expecting you will, and has already increased the supply of raisin bickies in the jar. I recommend you take advantage of them before Granda and Ned find them!  And if you don’t mind, we’ll send Ned down to you tonight. He can kip on the sofa, and you can get away without waking us all up. D’ye mind?” he finished anxiously.  Lew nodded agreement, all the while wondering how he was going to handle this new development. His life was certainly complicating! What had started as a simple visit to check parish registers had turned into an historical and familial adventure.

Since Ned was coming to stay with him, Lew thought he had better check to see what was in the room to keep warm.  He was amused when he found sheets, blankets and a Snoopy-cased pillow already there with a note from Ned’s mum, which read:

“He wants to stay here; he can make his own bed! His toothbrush is on the sink, his pyjamas are on the couch, and a bag is packed for the weekend.  Make sure he showers, cleans his teeth, and don’t let him talk to you all night! And thanks for keeping him!

“Cousin Jane.”

Well now, thought Lew, I know whose idea this all was!  He probably drove his poor parents to distraction! Oh Lord, how will I handle the shower, not to mention the pyjamas change? Che sera sera!

On that philosophical note he continued his preparations for the weekend, packing his own overnight bag and making sure all his tools were ready for a quick exit.  Soon it was nine o’clock, and spot on his watch registering the hour, he heard a soft rap at the door. Before he could answer, it opened and his cousin bounded in.

He started talking even before he turned to close the door.

“Thanks Lew for having me! It will be so much easier to get there in the morning. Granda is really grumpy if breakfast isn’t there when he comes out of his bedroom! And he does like it on time so he can catch the local news on the radio at quarter past with his tea. Oh, I see Mum wants me to do the bed! Well I better start.”

The bed was being made and he continued, almost without drawing breath, “’n’ Dad says that you’re a real scholar and that you specialise in Tudor and Stuart England.  That’s so cool! I love history, ‘n’ I want to study it at Uni when I get older. Could you look at my project on Edward Sixth?  D’ye think you could come to my school for the presentation on the 18th? Or are you going to be here that long?” Panicked look. “But you MUST stay for the hols. All the family goes to The Farm, though Mum and Dad come back if there are guests here. It will probably be Granda’s last Christmas.  He says he has no intention of besting the Queen Mum. You know, don’t you that she was nearly 102 when she died? Oh, of course you would, even colonials know that, don’t they?” Cheeky grin. “There, that’s done! What else did Mum say I hadda do? I bet she left a long note.” Note produced, and scrutinised. “Not too bad then! Just a shower, teeth and bed! I promise I won’t keep you up too long” And his clothes started to fly, as Lew watched, hoping that he would keep his underpants on until he got to the shower. He watched and knew that he was being watched in return as the amateur striptease continued. Not a sign of puppy fat anywhere, and no blemishes, and that curly hair and grin never wavered, not even when he stuck his thumbs in his underpants, slid them down, kicked them into the corner and stood there in his beautiful naked glory.
So much for that hope, Lew thought, as he momentarily closed his eyes. But they sprang open in surprise as Ned stepped even closer, and continued his monologue “I think I’ve started puberty don’t you.  Look, my balls are starting to drop, and my erection is getting bigger than it was even last summer, and look Lew! Look!  I even have some hair here, and here and here! Well you maybe can’t see them, but you can feel them.”  Lew saw his hand grabbed and guided to the area in question and he gulped. “Neat eh!” grinned the boy, “Dad says I’ll be a hairy beast in a few years just like him and Uncle Richard. I hope not. Are you hairy all over? You’ll have to show me! They said at school that I might even get hair in my bum, but that’s not what they said, really!” Giggle. “Well I guess I better go an’ shower! Wanna join me?” More giggles. “Save water, shower with a friend! But I won’t be long. Just a quick in and out so I don’t stink up the room, as Dad says.”  Bath entered. A stop at the toilet and a second or two later a steady stream. All the while Lew watched mesmerized and realised that he probably looked like a deer caught in the headlights. He only nodded or interjected monosyllabic counterpoints to the monologue, which showed no sign yet of abating. Toilet flushed, then there was a sound of teeth being brushed Still Lew watched as a pert bum wiggled as teeth were scoured. As the shower was started, and the curtain closed, Lew was surprised to hear a renaissance song in a confident treble. One of his favourites actually. Was there to be any end to the surprises to his nervous system?  The final choruses of Si je perdais mon ami faded away as the shower ended, and the sound of vigorous towelling was heard. Lew figured he had his emotions under control, and would be able to endure (if that was the word, he thought ruefully) a reverse striptease.
And he did, although it was a near thing. But finally the pyjamas were on and the boy scooted to the couch and got under the blankets, but was up in an instant for a kiss and a hug goodnight.

Lew escaped to the shower to do his own, and carefully wearing his maple leaf boxers, crawled into bed, hoping that he would not wake with a sticky mess and an inquisitive boy. He slept solidly, as did Ned, but he could not believe the range of his dreams or his activities when he recalled them in full Technicolor the next morning. Not that he had too much time to dwell on this because he woke up with an underwear-clad boy kissing him and informing him that it was already six o’clock and he better hustle his bum if they were to be at The Farm for breakfast. Startled he jumped out of bed, forgetting his usual morning state and headed for the toilet. Arriving there, he found his shadow had followed him and was opening his flies, apparently intent on a companionable shared pee. He shrugged and did the same, ignoring with grave dignity the comments on his boxers. They rushed back and dressed and were out the door at twenty past. Thankfully, the weather remained clear, and there was no snow accumulation, which would have startled the prairie boy had he not spent two years in Canada’s Miami, the city-state of Toronto.

The drive to The Farm was relatively quiet, Lew concentrating on the left hand drive, and Ned giving clear instructions. Despite their latish start, they pulled into The Farmyard just on a quarter to the hour. Ned jumped out, and ran for the door, shouting

“Move it old man! Granda’s waiting and I’m starving!”

Well that was a challenge! And Lew almost won, reaching Ned and tickling him, just before they burst into kitchen. Aunt Mary glanced up, and smiled at the games, and merely indicated that they should sit after they had removed their coats. The tickles continued, though and Ned was still giggling with each attack on his sensitive parts. Suddenly he went quiet, and stood up as his great-grandfather entered, and glowered at them. Lew hastened to follow suit.

“Good God, a man can’t even have a moment’s peace in his own house. But boys are boys, and at least you show me the respect my old bones deserve.”

At that Ned rushed to his Granda and gave him a hug and kiss, and offered his arm for the rest of the trip to the table. Lew figured that he had better follow suit and kissed the old man as well, when he arrived.

A hearty breakfast followed, with Lew explaining what he knew already, and how he would like to continue his exploration of the family genealogy. This was interspersed with interruptions from Ned who was explaining the academic training that Lew had, and how closely his own interests matched his big cousin’s. Over large mugs of strong milky tea, the old man finally got a word in.

“Hang it! You boys talk enough to choke a horse!  I’ve missed the news too!”

Ned whispered “And the PM will be sooo upset to miss his advice!”  Stifled giggles.

 “You be quiet, Neddy!  I’ll tell you what I can do to help. I’ve got a good memory for my age, and my own dad and grandfather lived as old as me, just about, and I heard all their stories too. I’ve been passing them all on to Neddy, haven’t I boy, and he’s got almost as good a memory as I do. So after breakfast, we will go into the front bedroom, and sit in the sun and tell stories to my  Canadian grandson, and then I will get the old family Bible, where we have been recording birth and death and marriage since the early 1600s. Even Ned has never seen this.  It is the sole responsibility of the senior Lewis male to update it. Of course we ran out of space a few hundred years ago, so we made our additions on good quality paper, and keep that in a separate binder.  Now that I think on it, you had better report the Canadian branch of the family boyo. We’ll do that first. Then I will show you something that even I didn’t know existed. A real treasure that is, and I bet the British Museum would love it. But first things first. Young Lew, sing for your breakfast!”

And Lew sang, telling of his Canadian family. Ned watched the old man carefully, and when he saw tears when death was reached, held tightly onto his hands and kissed away the damp cheeks, rejoicing equally when the births were announced.

“Both my boys gone now! I never thought I would have to see this and thank Jesus your great-grandma didn’t. They were her life and she was ever so upset when Llewellyn had that fight with me and left for parts unknown! She didn’t speak to me properly for nearly a year, but we got past it when she saw that I was upset as much as she was!

The fight is old news and is of no concern.  Let’s just say that we were both opinionated pinheads. But I do wish I could have said I was sorry.  At least your dad will be here for New Year’s, did Tommy tell you? We will have a good party, and Mary is already baking even more to get ready. Too bad your sister and her little brood can’t come too!  I can’t believe I’m Granda to three generations!  You have to check your computer. I’m supposed to get pictures.  How long will that take now? Two more little Lewis boys! Damn, you are going to have to drop that Barnes name, you know, although our ancestor Barnaby would be pleased no doubt! So are you Llewellyn or Lewis?  Lewis Lewis would be a funny set, I guess.

And there was a giggle, as a sotto voce was heard: “Lulu! Old Lulu, Young Lulu” More giggles.

Both men turned and glowered at the boy, who looked suitably chastened, though his eyes still twinkled.

“Granda, I’m Lewis”, said the young man. “But if I revert to the family name, I will become Llewellyn like you. But I have to ask Dad, first, and go back to Canada and get all my documents changed. And Susan is a Shenyshyn now, married to a farmer in Saskatchewan. The two little twins are Yuri and Nicolai, but you know they are still Lewises, they have the black curls of this imp here.”

“That’s wonderful, my boy! Now I will show you some things we have here. Let’s go to the front room. There is the Bible of course, and our binder of additions, which Neddy will help me update in a bit. But you know, about 13 years back, when I was looking for the Bible to record our young Edward Barnaby Lewis, who is sitting here, I found a small key stuck in the last page of Revelations. You have to understand that no one has read that Bible for a long while, because it is so fragile. It was just luck I found it there. I was looking through the list to see how many Barnabys there had been since our first recorded ancestor. You know counting yourself, there have been dozens. Anyways when I found the key, I wondered what it might open until I thought of a small chest – a box really – with a lock, that no one had ever been able to open.  I remember my dad was going to break it open once, and my Granda had a fit. He said no one was going to do that and put the box on the top of his wardrobe. Well it was still there, so I thought I would try. So with a tiny squirt of oil, I stuck the key in and it opened! And you will never guess what was in it! Two things actually – one was a sheaf of papers, and the other, well, that I will tell you later!

“I was quite excited by the papers, but I couldn’t read them so your Uncle Richard took me over to Cambridge and we consulted with someone there. Lord, that man was chuffed.  Apparently it was a story about a page to King Edward, and followed afterward in about three or four different hands for nearly 100 years.  The story stopped abruptly after the Battle of Naseby.”

Here the old man stopped and looked at his listeners. Seeing by their expressions that they knew what he was talking about, he continued,

 “It was a history of our family and quite a history too. The scholars carefully photographed the whole thing and made three copies and preserved the original I have one copy and the others are locked away in Cambridge and at the Queen’s Library at Windsor. After the Queen’s archivist read it and realised what it was, he asked me to restrict access to the story. So I did with the caveat that if I found someone who could treat it properly, I could do so. The old stuffed shirt agreed, and I have a letter from him co-signed by the Queen’s Private Secretary, that Robert Fellowes man, giving me that right.  Something did happen a little later though.  The Archivist was looking at some of the text, and noticed a description of the first Barnaby, and he realised that he had the answer to a question that had irritated historians for years. That was:  who was the boy with black curly hair in one of the few full length portraits of the King?  They were standing so close they might have been touching. He asked if they could at least publicise that part, and in due course about ten years ago, I got an invitation to go to Windsor to see the picture, and watch as the Prince of Wales unveiled a small plaque with Barnaby Lewis’ name together with the King. It was just a small painting, but my Heaven’s the boy looked just like our Neddy here. The Prince rabitted on about something called subtext, and then they invited me for a cuppa and biscuits, and sent me home. I still hold the rights to the original document, but as I said I have a copy here. And that’s what I want to show you.”

 The old man turned to his younger great grandson, and instructed him to get the box from the top of his wardrobe.

“I kept the box, and I put the photographed copy in there. He carefully lifted it out and gave it to Lew. Ned’s quick eye caught a modern jeweller’s box in a corner, but his Granda shut the box quickly, and the boy held his tongue. He looked over at Lew who was slowly leafing through the text, staring at parts. Ned draped himself next to Lew and read with him. Granda was looking at them closely, and noticed how comfortable they seemed together and smiled gently, as he thought about the picture in his mind’s eye. Those boys could be twins, but that one was a young man and the other just a lad.  And Ned and Lew read, and their great grandfather went on with his business. And the day wore on, through supper and the next day, and still the scholar and his apprentice read, side by side, completely immersed in the history.

And this is what they read:

Ned’s Story

I, Tom Wilson, friend, lover, and some would say husband of my dear Ned Lewis, found this in Neddy’s box of keepsakes after his untimely death.

That was the first sheet, written in a rough, unpractised hand.  The next few dozen sheets were a retelling of the story of Ned’s grandfather who loved and served Edward Tudor, and the events which led up to that retelling. They were written in a young hand, with plenty of blots and scratched-out words.

The two young scholars look through this with interest, enjoying the recalled words of an even older time then they had expected. Lew caught Ned looking thoughtfully at him, more than once, and when the story was read, noted with amusement that the younger boy had a very apparent erection. But then he noted that Neddy was looking down at his crotch, and he was in the same state. They blushed, then giggled in stereo and read on.
There appeared another hand and written in the Italian hand so favoured by schoolmasters at the beginning of the century. Lew recognized it immediately. It was William Shakespeare’s third sonnet copied.

 Look in thy glass and tell the face thou viewest,
 Now is the time that face should form another
Whose fresh repair if now thou not renewest,
 Thou dost beguile the world, unbless some mother.
 For where is she so fair whose unear'd womb
 Disdains the tillage of thy husbandry?
Or who is he so fond will be the tomb
 Of his self-love, to stop posterity?
 Thou art thy mother's glass and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime;
 So thou through windows of thine age shalt see,
Despite of wrinkles this thy golden time.
But if thou live, remember'd not to be,
Die single and thine image dies with thee.

Ned Lewis writes this in the winter of 1629.  The weather being foul in the first week of January, and us unable to do much more than struggle to the barn to feed our animals, my dear Tom and I spent the afternoon beside the kitchen fire with mugs of sweet cider, as I read to him from the book of Mr Shakespeare’s sonnets, sharing bites of cheese and sips of cider and ever-so sweet kisses. Indeed the kisses were so sweet that we took ourselves to the bed, and snuggled naked under the covers. Even in our middle age, I find that I have not tired of nuzzling Tom’s beautiful cock and kissing it and him. And Tom being the much older man he is cannot stop himself and soon, all too soon I am sipping a nectar sweeter than cider. He then returns his lips to me and soon I am squirming with remembered joy under the blessing of his tongue and lips. Afterward, we discussed our years past, remembering with tears my beloved Granda, and blessing his love and understanding, as well as the understanding of our dear brother and sister, Ben and Mary. How we had always wished that one of their boys would come to be our help on The Farm, and how in the fullness of time their Luke came to us in his fourteenth year in the same year  that  James’ queen Anne died in 1619. But Luke, although he loves us dearly, was completely unfit for farming, and left us a few years later, at our insistence. He went to study under our old village doctor, and now his hands help heal broken bones, fever and all manner of illness in man and beast alike. He still comes to us when we have need of his help when one our beasts is labouring in birthing. We missed having help sorely for a year or so after he left.  But that is another part of the story I tell today.
After that unexpected visit to our bed, we rose up and dressed warmly to check on the animals.  Returning, I made a supper, slapping at Tom’s hands as he fondled my bum the whole time. And after supper, I remembered that I had written down Granda’s story when I was but twelve years, and went to retrieve it. We also had a look at the locket that Granda had worn, marvelling that a king loved him so well as to give it to him. We carefully wrapped it up, and returned it and my childish scrawl to the box that Granda had given me to keep it in, and Tom took me and my kisses to bed, us not wishing to burn any more candles.

And here Lew and Ned paused, not for the same reason but because their stomachs were grumbling and Granda’s cane could be heard tapping the floor impatiently from the kitchen where supper awaited.

All during supper, Ned was looking at Lew with speculation in his eye. Lew wondered what was going through the boy’s head.  And Granda’s eyes were twinkling, as a recounting of the tale thus far read, was related between bites of supper,  fairy cakes and milky tea. Lew blushed slightly when he realised that Ned was calmly discussing the sexual practices of their ancestors.

“My goodness, Granda”, he exclaimed. “Those two were gay as gooses! But that doesn’t matter, or it shouldn’t, because it was obvious that they loved each other true. I bet they had to be careful to hide it though! Even today, it’s not easy, and I know that Harry Nichols was busted at school sucking on the music teacher’s … erm, sorry, Aunt Mary! It wasn’t easy for him and some of the bullies use to taunt him in the showers after our soccer matches, until Headmaster hauled them in and made them stand in front of the whole school while he read the zero tolerance policy.  Now no one says anything, but Nichols always has a shower head to himself, unless I’m there, and I join him.  No one has accused me of being gay, yet! And they better not, or they will get a good kick in the…”  Panicked eyes.  “Sorry, sorry Aunt Mary, but I mean it. It’s really unfair! None of us can help that we are as God made us, right, Granda?” And at the old man’s nod, Ned continued. “The story of Barnaby was beautiful, but we put it aside for now because we are really looking for family history, and the King was not our family, was he, for all his Barney loved him. I wonder what happened to that locket. It’s probably gone by now eh, sold to put food in the mouths of babes in times of famine or to keep Uncle Richard in beer! Sorry, Aunt Mary, but you have to admit that he drinks like a fish! Dad never does and him a publican. Well there was that time when… oops!” Loud giggles. The little miscreant continued “Anyway it is all written in a very clear hand. I only had trouble with some of the lettering, but Lew reads it so well Auntie, Granda. He even commented that it appeared that Ned probably copied the sonnet from a second printing of the book, since an obvious typ-o-graph-I-cal error which was in the first edition had been corrected later. He also said that it is possible that our ancestor Ned had emended it when he copied, so it was hard to tell. Did I pronounce that right Lew?”

As Lew nodded, Ned beamed.

“You know so much! And I hope that I can study and be as clever as you someday!”

Outside the wind blew up, and it was obvious that a storm would be blasting its way across the North Sea. Aunt Mary shuddered and said “It’s a good thing we live in this century! And thank goodness the generators are primed since the power may go out. But I really think you ought to go to bed, young Neddy! You must rest your eyes for more reading tomorrow, if I know you. So off with you, teeth and bed! There’s an extra couple of blankets at the end of your bed should you be cold this night. As for you, Dad, you had better get to bed too. I worry about you on these cold winter nights.” The old man and the boy grumbled together, but did as they were told.  Lew waited until he heard the toilet flush, and heard a chanson tapering off as Ned reached the guest bedroom. Then he said his goodnights, popping in to give his Granda a kiss, and took himself off to a quick shower and to bed himself. What a day it had been for him! And what a family he had discovered! He snuggled into bed, and was soon asleep with the rest of the household.

He awoke just past midnight, by his watch, as he felt a warm body cuddle up to him, and a quiet explanation. “Even with all the blankets Lew, it’s cold in my room. Yours is much warmer, and this is where I usually sleep when I come to visit. Hope you don’t mind company.”  Giggles again.  “Oops! Well some part of you is happy. Mine too!” And with a friendly pat on the parts of the body in question, he closed his eyes and was soon asleep; leaving Lew wide awake pondering what had just happened. He finally returned to sleep, and only awakened with the smell of breakfast cooking, a young boy half sprawled over him and an urgent need to pee. Extricating himself, he put on a robe, and made his way to the toilet. As he arrived he saw that his shadow had also arrived, intent on the same purpose. Once again there was a communal emptying of bladders, with a giggling duel of streams.  This time Lew looked down, and he was startled to note that Ned was circumcised! He had not noticed before, because he had tried to avoid staring too long, and had just assumed a short covering had pulled back. Ned saw him looking and explained, “My foreskin was too tight, and I was having trouble keeping it clean, and Doctor Forbes told Dad I had p f f… something, and said it would be better to take it off, so I could enjoy my sex life later.  So they did, and I had to stay home with a sore willy for a few days, while Mum changed the dressing every time I peed. Goodness that was embarrassing! Thank goodness, I was too young to get a hard on, but even so! But its fine now and actually is quite sensitive. Look, I am just talking about it and the head is swelling! And Lew, so is yours. My, I hope my little fellow will be as big as that someday! Dad says it should be as big as his, anyway, but I think you are bigger. Course I only saw Dad’s the once when we showered together on our hols last year.” He sighed and tucked his bits away.  “C’mon slowpoke! Last one in the kitchen has to listen to Granda grumble. I shan’t ‘cos I will be busy munching my toast!” And Lew followed him out of the toilet, bemused by all the information his brain was receiving.

After breakfast and a quick walk outside, they returned to their labour with Ned’s story. The script was becoming easier to read. Lew thanked heaven that it wasn’t a monastic scribe’s scribble with abbreviations and curlicues, and not for the first time, he was grateful for the schoolmasters who expected a clear hand from their young pupils.  Not that Ned was that young anymore, he must have been rising 50 when he wrote his story.

Today, he was determined that he was not going to kill his back sitting at a table on a hard chair, and settled on the couch in the room. He asked Neddy to bring the story over, and expected that he would sit next to him.  He certainly wasn’t expecting he would be sat upon and snuggled and have to work the papers with his left arm about a warm boy, who handed him the sheets one at a time.  And then they were back in 1629, which Lew explained was actually 1630 under the new calendar.  Ned was still fouled-weathered in the cottage.

Well, that was a welcome break from all this inactivity. It looks as if it might clear up later, and I might go on a walk in that new-fallen snow which covers our fields. Our hounds are getting quite restless, and need a good run.
After Luke left, we felt quite bereft, wondering if we would ever have a nephew to help us keep The Farm.  But then the family troubles intruded and took all our attention for a while. This time it was Simon’s family. Sim grew from a tendentious boy to a tendentious man.  Quite unlike our Ben, settled in himself, and happy in his life, content to work his farm and cuddle his wife! And their boys were just like him. Happy, caring boys they were, and Luke was the best of them.  We couldn’t begrudge his need to be a healer of bodies, but we did miss his cheerfulness around The Farm.

Sim was a malcontent. For all that, he was our brother, and I missed him. When he forgot what he was supposed to be, he was always there for us.  We Lewis brothers stayed together. But Sim was unhappy being a school master. He wasn’t very good at it, and most parents disliked the marks on their boys’ bums. It was fine for them to do it themselves, but Simon rather overdid it. So he dropped school mastering and became an itinerant preacher in the late part of the century’s first decade. When our King James came down from Scotland in 1603, those who followed John Calvin expected that they would have a clear field in which to expound their version of the Bible.  But the King, having grown up with those dour men, dismissed them when he arrived in London town, and espoused the State appointed religion.  He took his part as Head of the Church seriously, and fancying himself a bit of a scholar commissioned a new translation of the Bible. And oh, it’s rolling cadences! John 3:16 always makes me cry! But Sim just saw what he wanted to see: the hate, the bigotry of the Old Testament, totally putting aside the story of David and his love for Jonathan and forgetting the simple lines of our Lord Christ.  Love one another as I have loved you. How can our love be wrong when Christ ordains it? But Sim would have none of this, and when he and Anna were surprised with a late childbirth in the spring of 1615 he made the poor woman agree that the boy was to be called Blest-in-the-Blood. Trust him to name the boy thus, but the rest of us decided within days of his birth that he would be known as Lambie. And Lambie he is even now. Poor Sim! He lost his entire family when he went over to the new world these eight years ago to minister to the New Colony in the Massachusetts. His eldest Jeremiah refused to join him deeming that his place was with his congregation of dissenters just west of here. And Anna refused to go with him, deeming Lambie too small and delicate for the New World.  And Harry, well Harry broke his mother’s heart and hardened his father’s at the same time, when a mere boy of 14 in 1615, he ran off to London to become a boy player in Mr Shakespeare’s company.  He was such a pretty boy, too, long curly hair, blue eyes, and a sweet mouth. When he was a little lad bestowing kisses, you knew you had been kissed by Harry. But he was useless around The Farm, didn’t even try to help, just sat and read and listened to the travelling storytellers.

 No religion for Harry, though his father tried to beat it into him! But the final straw was when he came across the boy, reading a play he had just bought at the fairground, and tossed the book in the fire. The boy went off that very night, with the players in the fair, and Sim never saw him again.  But we did, just this winter past. He came to see us, and it was obvious his playing days were over. He had made a fair bit playing girl and women parts, but when I saw him, he was only suited to be a witch in Macbeth!  He loved men as Tom and I loved each other, but his love embraced any and everyone.  He had a bad case of the gleet, and though Luke tried to help him, he went back and carried on living his life as he saw it. He sent money to help his mother and little brother though and sent the biggest portion of it just before he died. The poor boy died caught between the knives of two sailors he had diseased. So now there is only Lambie left, and he would be with us today, except he has gone off to visit his mam. Ben’s boys Luke and John and Matthew and Edward are all farm boys, even Luke because no beast may be sick but he comes to it to help it if he can. So we are all happy here in Fritton, far from our Granda’s London, which I have never seen. And Tom and I are happy too. And Lambie is our son now, not Sim’s so I would wager Mr Shakespeare was wrong, when he said:

Now is the time that face should form another.

We have formed Lambie, Tom and I, and he is our future. I copied the poem thinking it would be Luke we would form, but that boy had already formed himself.  But he does still love us and rides out to see us when he can. So we are blessed in our boys, we are, and happy, and expect to be to the end of our days.

Here the narrative broke off, and Ned looked at Lew and Lew looked at Ned, and looked at the pile of sheets they had read, and even though little remained to read, it was in a different hand, more crabbed and difficult to read. They had much to think about, and the outdoors beckoned before supper. Lew surprised Ned by kissing his eyes and nose and then his mouth. Just gentle cousinly kisses they were, but his little man stirred. And then his bum was smacked, and the mood was gone, and they were chasing each other into the farmyard laughing like maniacs. They were soon back in, for it had gotten colder, and looked to storm, as had been promised, but not delivered. After supper they asked their Granda for permission to take the tale back to Fritton with them so that they could finish it and Lew would transcribe it. Ned, of course had to go to school. Permission granted, they took their leave promising to be back the next weekend which was the weekend just before Christmas, when they would stay for several days, if Ned’s parents were agreeable.  A quiet little voice said “They’d better be!” and with kisses and hugs all around (Ned even managed to kiss Lew, giggling into his lips) they left and went back to Fritton. A quiet ride it was, each lost in private thoughts.

On return to The Farmers’ Rest, the cousins disappeared to their own space, Ned to his parent’s flat, and Lew to his room, Lew had just come from the shower when the door burst open and Ned ran it. Lew scowled, startled at being caught walking naked to his bed.  Ned was upset that he had scared his cousin, but couldn’t help giggling at the sight of Lew trying to cover his parts, and not succeeding very well. “Lew! My word! You’re so hairy! And don’t scowl at me like that! You left your door open not me!  Good thing it was me, not Mum, she said I was to invite you upstairs for drinks. Dad will be there around 9, but until then you will have to put up with us. I told her not to bother with food ‘cos Aunt Mary stuffed us like pigs all weekend, but she says she will have snacks as well. So gird your loins (giggle) and let’s get this show on the road! (more giggles) Well you better not show THAT much.” And out again he went leaving Lew befuddled, which was becoming a normal state for him as far as Ned was concerned. But he was beginning to enjoy this complex child. A few minutes later, Ned burst in again.  “You slowcoach!  Get your pants on and let’s go!” Mum doesn’t care what you’re wearing. (Giggles)  I already told her about your boxers! C’mon!” So Lew shrugged and got in his jeans and his Montréal Canadien hockey shirt, and followed.

Upstairs, he learned quickly that Jane was just as talkative as her son, but even she gave up the struggle in the face of the opposition.

“I was just telling Mum about the weekend! What a brilliant story that was, eh, Lew?  I almost cried when I read about the king and Barnaby. I’ve decided to rework my presentation on Edward VI to present him as a lonely little boy as well as a king. Don’t frown! I won’t mess up the thesis I know you are thinking about! And Granda would kill me if I told anyway, ‘cos he won’t even let the Queen publish any of that information. I know he’s waiting for the right person to do it!  Hope he finds him soon, ‘cos he might pop off any day now. Sorry Mum, sorry Lew! But I bet if you played your cards right you would have the whole thing for a Christmas present. And you could write it in context of the times, and do a wizard job, ‘cos they’re family after all, right? And we care! (stops to drink and grab a biscuit) Oh do you want a drink? Mum makes a great eggnog, but she won’t let me have any, ‘cos I’m too young. But I snuck Dad’s once when he fell asleep… owww, mum that hurt! So whadyathin?” (This last mumbled through yet another biscuit stuffed in his mouth)

Lew grinned at his little cousin. “I think”, he enunciated carefully, “that you better not spill any more of your deep dark secrets, and I also think that you shouldn’t talk with your mouth full” And with that he turned to Ned’s mum and ignoring the squirming boy, he exchanged everyday pleasantries with her, passing on information from The Farm. Finally, knowing Ned could be ignored no longer, he started to include him in the conversation, just as Tom arrived from the pub.

Ned started again. ”Dad you just have to let me work with Lew on the last bits of the story we have been reading all weekend!  It is the last week before the hols, and nothing is going on at school, well nothing but my presentation on Wednesday and the Christmas concert that night. And I don’t want Lew to read it alone! It looks hard and maybe I can help him!  So please, please, may I go to him tomorrow after school and on Tuesday too? He’s already said he’s going to the concert and my presentation (Panicked look) You do remember saying you would, don’t you? I have a solo at the concert, I’m to start Once in a Royal David’s City, it’ll probably be the last time before my voice changes, my teacher says. I think he’s right don’t you? ‘cos of the hairs ‘n’ all…. well geez Mum he’s a boy too, and I already showed him. so he knows and we already talked about the bit they removed and… (looking panicked) and other things as well!”
Lew heard sighs from his older cousins and started to say something, but Tom interrupted. “No no, its all right Lew, Ned will always go his own way, and we are so glad that he has you to talk to.  I sometimes regret that he’s our only, because he has had a lonely life here, as I’ve said. So if he talks, I’m glad you’re there to listen.  If you want to stop the flow, he’s really ticklish behind his right knee. Near pees his pants every time, he does, but it shuts him up at least for a few minutes. So you are now part of the family.  Do what you need to do for self preservation!” And the parents both hugged the boy, and Lew did too, finding himself in a group hug. Then Ned was shooed off to bed, and the adults chatted quietly, until he came out of the shower and bestowed hugs and kisses all around, Lew even daring to pat his bum a few times like his dad used to do to him. He got back a cheeky grin, and a look that said “Your turn is coming!”

Lew took his leave shortly after, and went down to the bar first for a little drink which he took back with him, and he sat in his chair and stared at the television news, and wondered where his life was going.  It certainly wasn’t going where he thought it would; it looked now that there was a boy in his future, but the more he thought on it, the more he didn’t mind. He loved Ned with all his heart, and thought that if the boy was presented to him on Christmas morning wearing a Father Christmas cap, a red ribbon, and nothing else, he would take him and not ask for the returns slip. And he finished his drink, and had a shower and went to bed.

The next morning he went downstairs for a breakfast; he was even getting used to that damned black pudding! But he missed his cheerful imp and his running commentary on the day.

Upstairs, he settled down to reread the story of Barnaby and the king. What a contribution that would make to his proposed thesis  - The Court of Kings and Ordinary Family life in Tudor and early Stuart England – He now upgraded his hopes and thought that his marks might be good enough to get into either Oxford or Cambridge, or the LSE. But he had to get busy and recognized before they would consider him for a doctorate. Well, I’ll give it a shot, he mused, and in the meantime jotted notes on his laptop for an article in the English Historical Review.

He spent the morning quietly, rereading what he and Ned had already finished, but mindful of an implied promise, did not touch the remainder of the tale. That would have to wait until Ned could be with him.

He made his way downstairs again for a latish lunch, and when he went to sign his chit charging the meal to his room, he found that there was none. His server (a really cute teen, but definitely out of the running, with Ned in the race) indicated that he should see Tom. Arriving at the bar, and asking for his bill, he was informed in no uncertain terms that no long lost relative of his was going to be treated like a guest – except for his bar bill, it was all wiped out, even his room. “Besides”, as Tom said ruefully, “if I made money off you Ned would NEVER hold his peace.”

By keying feverishly, Lew managed to input half of Barnaby’s story into the computer, exactly as it was written. He could finish the rest later on when Ned was in school. For now though, he thought he would freshen up and head down for supper. He was sure that Ned would be at his door by at least seven o’clock for a few hours more reading of the family story.

He wasn’t even close! He was scarce out of the shower and dressed when Ned was at his door by supper.

“Get moving, Lew! Mum’s made a steak and kidney pudding for supper, and if you want any, you’d better hurry before I get there!”

At least, thought Lew, I managed to get dressed, so I won’t be paraded through the halls naked!

The two headed back down to Lew’s room after supper.  As Ned got the box, Lew explained to him what he had started doing to Barnaby’s story. He showed how the story could be used a backdrop to the study of middle/later Tudor England.

The boy listened patiently, but was clearly anxious to continue reading the story of Ned and Tom. Lew was very careful to explain that they already had indications that the story would not be a pleasant one, given what they already knew.

Ned interrupted, “Lew, I already KNOW it won’t be a happy ending. What stories about gays have ever had a happy ending? I understand more than you think!  I’m not a little boy any longer – as you well know!  Besides Mr Smith, at the grocers’ is gay,  I’m sure.  And no one persecutes him here.  ‘Sides, if you let him pet your bum, you can get a free cookie.  Or at least I could when I was eight!  He doesn’t pet the older boys, but I’ve heard… well never mind for now.  You always get me talking sex stuff, you perv!”  But he grinned and sat next to Lew and they began reading.  The hand was older and less clear, so the going was slower.

I Ned Lewis write this story in the agony of the battle of Naseby. So many young men killed, so many boys hurt, so many men and women weeping for their lost ones on both sides of this horrible conflict.  The king’s men have lost, the Parliament men have won, but neither side is the winner and all are the losers. Now is the winter of our discontent, as Mr Shakespeare wrote in one of his plays. Thank god, all our boys are safe, even that weeping Jeremiah of a Parliament man that he is! He comes to see Lambie sometimes, but scowls if Tom and I are there, resenting the love we show to each other and even to him.  I fear for our country now that Parliament is in control. We have heard from Simon in the New World recently, since we wrote of the death of his wife, and he has coldly replied that he put her aside many years ago, and had remarried and fathered a batch of children with his new wife.  Even in his old age, he has little boys to beat and minister to! The poor children!  Our kin, yet we will never see them.  Apparently he keeps in touch with Jeremiah, now a father himself, but of that we knew nothing for all that Jeremiah comes to see our Lambie. Sweet gentle Lambie, who loves and understands his uncles, and who loves, himself, the blacksmith’s younger son, and will, we hope in the fullness of time, takes over our little holding here. Unhappy as we are with the turn of events, yet we do still here hold to the old ways and continue to love each and all. Thank heaven the children of our merry brother Ben continued prosperous.
Then in a slightly older hand it continued.

 Or so we thought!

That July our John came home. He had been with Prince Rupert at Naseby and was present for the charge and saw the regrouping of Cromwell’s men, and then watched the rout that happened. He says that he saw Jeremiah cut down in cold blood three of his comrades who were unhappily without arms to defend themselves. He was sure that if Jeremiah had seen him he would have cut him down too for all that they were little boys together and played amicably in the fields.

He begged that we take him in, as a labourer. If he cut his hair in the new style and took his beard off, no one would recognize him. And truth, we do not see Jeremiah very often here. Lambie would never betray his big cousin, I knew.  So we agreed to the deception even though it meant that we must account our Johnny dead. Oh unhappy Lewises! Unhappy England! We told Lambie of course, but we didn’t even tell his poor parents, as they would have  been  overjoyed to know their eldest boy was alive and not able to keep their tongues silent.
Now we had a new hand to help us in our old age – a psalm singing Roundhead named Baptist. 

Thus life continued on for me and Tom. Lambie and Baptist became great friends outside and it seemed that the deception was working. It was only indoors, with the door barred and the shutters closed that Baptist became our merry John, and mimicked his Puritan brethren at prayer and work. Indeed we never saw them play, so we have no idea of that. As time went on, the King was tried – and with what right did they try their liege lord, I wonder! – and died like a gentleman. And we here in private acknowledge as our king, Charles the Second, though we despair that he ever claims his birthright.

And we stumbled on. And in January 1651 we were making a joyful noise unto the Lord, when who comes in, but Jeremiah. He scowls at Baptist and wonders why he is in the cottage with us, and then by a trick of the light he recognizes John, as we later learned.

For the next day, he returned with three Parliament men, and takes him away. Tom and I protest, and Lambie too, but he would hear nothing of our plea. And he took John to Cromwell’s sheriffs and denounced him, and he was cast into prison. Lambie successfully begged for the life of his uncles, and for that we are grateful.  And equally grateful we are that dear old Ben and Mary came to us and forgave us the deception. But now, I must off, for I will bring John some tidings and fresh eggs and beer. Tom and Lambie will look after The Farm this time, for all that Lambie wanted to go, claiming that they would never harm Jeremiah Lewis’ brother if he visited the prisoner.

Lew turned the page, and saw that the handwriting changed again.

“Well, Ned, this appears to be as good a place as any to stop. Now you should get your beauty sleep, for you must be sharp as a tack if we are to finish it tomorrow.”

“But Lew…!” Ned began, stopping when he saw the look on his cousin’s face.

“And it will be just enough to read tomorrow night, and will give me a chance to transcribe more. I really want to be able to tell our Granda all about it when we see him on Thursday.”

“Oh ALL right!” this said with such a pout that Lew was reminded of what his Mum once said about his face freezing like that if he sneezed. He forbore to share this information however.

“But no reading ahead, mind! Or I’ll tell Granda, and he’ll take his stick to your bum. No, you’d like that too much!”

And Ned turned and wiggled his bum as he wandered out the door, leaving it open, as usual.

Tuesday was much the same as Monday, and Lew spent the day quietly keying in the document, and thinking with every alternate word what he was going to do about Ned. He realised he was beginning to love him, and not just as a cousin. But he was only a boy…

The boy arrived later than usual after school, bearing scrapes on his chin and an angry look on his face.

“You’re to come to supper, but I must go to my room after, ‘cos I was stopped at school for fighting!  Dad says that you old’uns will decide my punishment. A real Star Chamber this is… no chance to present my side of things. A letter from the headmaster and now I’m to be executed! Huh! Well, hurry up then, my last meal’s getting cold.” He stomped off without waiting for Lew to say anything, and wasn’t waiting when he arrived at the flat.

Jane opened the door, and grinned at the worried look on his face. Lew was reminded how much they smiled the same way.

“Well has our little drama queen given his performance? The one about how he’s ‘gonna be tried without due process’ and ‘no-one considers his rights’ and he ‘has a story to tell’?”

Lew  laughed at how closely she aped the intonation of her son’s voice, when he heard an anguished, “Muuuuuuuum!” Coming from the bedroom off the sitting room. Jane winked and invited him in. Tom was already at the table and when Lew came in, he called out in a stentorian voice:

“Let the prisoner be brought to the bar!”

He winked at Lew as well and indicated that he should do this. So Lew, catching the tone, decided that he would march to the bedroom and secure the unhappy miscreant.

Which he did, and marched Ned to the table and stood him at his place.

“We will have this done before supper.  Prisoner, you were caught fighting! Red handed too. The blood of James Jones was flowing down from his nose. Speak your defence before this court passes sentence!”

“Well, Danny Wilson was getting beat up by that goon, and I pulled James’ arm back and politely inquired – well not so politely, I guess – what the fuck, sorry Mum, he thought he was doing to Danny! And HE said, I’m gonna beat the shit out of that little pansy for staring at me while I was peeing! He was enjoying himself too much. And I asked how he knew Danny was enjoying it, and he said because HIS prick was getting hard. An’ then I said, well, if his was gettin’ hard then you musta been perving him too to notice that. An’ he objected to my logic, and tried to hit me, but he really telegraphed his punches, and he just grazed my cheek. But I don’t telegraph, and I connected. And the other boys cheered, and even Danny smiled. And it was bad luck that the school cleaners came around the corner, and they nabbed us all and took us to the headmaster. We all got notes even poor little Danny, An’ those freaks that cheered me were cheering James before I got there, saying ‘Kick that little shit again James, kick’im right in the nuts this time!” Cowards! Danny’s barely up to James’ shoulder and small and wears glasses! So what if he was lookin’? I look too, when I can!”

He stopped and turned pale. His parents were looking at him without expression, and Jane indicated that he should continue.

“Um well, you always taught me to help defend the weak and helpless, an’ I did. An’ I’m sorry, Mum, Dad, I didn’t mean to say what I did about looking. Sorry to you too Lew. I’ll go to my room now.” And he turned, but then he turned again, and said defiantly: “And I’ll do the same to anyone who hurts people for being different. We’re all as God made us, and how can we be different? God knows my heart and he hasn’t struck me down yet, nor is he likely to!”
Glaring at Lew, the boy continued “And it would be really nice if a certain somebody paid attention to his heart too! There! I’ve said it. I’ll go pack now and move out if you want.”

Tom looked at Jane, “Well, that’s finally in the open! And Neddy has a great chance of a career on the stage doesn’t he? What a little ham! But what of you, Lew? You’ve heard the protestation of undying love! What is your verdict? And stop looking like a dog caught in the headlights! Speak up! Like Ned says, know your heart! Go on, man how could we kill our son-in-law?”

Unable to speak, Lew went to Ned and knelt and gathered the boy in his arms. He made soothing noises, as they both cried, and they heard Jane say in a wry tone.

“We knew a while ago, my dear son.”  Ned was still crying but he looked in shock at his mum.

“Well Neddy, your Mum found those gay rights magazines you hid under your mattress. Where did you get them by the way? Not around here, I’d wager!” Tom said.

“Uh, no, we went to Cambridge on that school trip, and I just picked them up at a newsagent. He wasn’t going to let me have them, but I told him I was doin’ a study of gay rights, and one of the stories was a chronology since 1969. He let me buy them, but then he winked and reached over and squeezed my bum. Dirty old sod! But I didn’t want him to take them back, so I just winked, and walked away. Wiggled my bum when I was doin’ it too!  When I looked back he was wanking himself. Sorry people!  But you did ask!”

Lew was choking with suppressed laughter, Tom and Jane were scandalised

“He’s been wiggling his bum at me for the last week, the little tart!” Lew finally got out.  They all laughed as Ned punched Lew for calling him a tart.

“I suppose I should be happy you didn’t have any pornographic magazines!” his mother added.

Ned blushed, and then looked scared as his father cleared his throat.

“C’mon Janey, he doesn’t need magazines with the Internet!  Remember what I told you in the summer?”

Now Ned was looking really worried. His father continued “At least I remember to clear the History files on the computer! And I found a few files of jpgs that I know weren’t there last winter. Interesting, especially those by Remark. Found those last week, just before Lew came. Guess you’ve been too busy now to go back and look. But I moved them from the system files into your picture file. Figured you’d find them sometime, and they were kind of cute… all those naked little boys. Your mum thought they were cute too!”

And now Ned was really blushing.

“We have rights as parents to know where our child is on the Internet, Ned. We will never limit your access, but we will be quite strict about where you’re going. We were going to talk to you soon, but we were waiting to see if you “outed” yourself.  Fritton is a small town Ned, and you’re not always circumspect. We don’t mind much what sexuality you choose; we just ask that you behave with dignity and respect for yourself and others.”

His mother added  “And if you love Lew we will love you and love him too. Just be sure you know your heart really well before you go further. You too Lew. Now, if the histrionics are over, shall we eat? And then you can go finish the story. But you must be back by half past nine, for tomorrow is a school day and a very busy one for a certain schoolboy.”

Lew and Ned stood up and wiped their tears and agreed. And so after supper, which was spent discussing the upcoming Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols and the presentation to be made, the two found themselves again in Lew’s room, settling down to read. Ned looked at Lew and started to say something, but Lew just hugged him.

“Don’t you worry, sweet boy!  I’m not going to throw you over for anyone in your lifetime! Then he kissed him full on the lips, and wiped the tears leaking from Ned’s eyes.

“My goodness, you’re a leaky tap tonight! But if we don’t get going…” Ned snuggled on Lew’s lap, and they started to read again.

Ned pointed out that the new handwriting looked like that bit at the beginning and they went back and looked and nodded agreement to each other. So the rest of the story was going to be in Tom Wilson’s voice.

This tale, for those of you who will read it after, is true to the best of my Ned’s recollection, and mine also. His brother Ben would say the same as me, I know. And that cursed weeping Jeremiah Lewis, that spawn of the Devil and follower of Cromwell knew well who his uncle was, a kind gentle soul, who never said a mean word to anyone, who loved his nephews as if they were his own sons, separated him from me, indeed he would have separated both of us from our bodies, if he could have, and left him to die in that prison of the Protectorate in this year of Grace on April 2nd 1651. And it is a year of Grace, because my Ned welcomed it in. There will be no more years of Grace for me, because he is no longer here and I being so much older long to join him. Come Lord Jesus and receive your servant! This I pray.

Our Lambie went to Yarmouth with our Luke to find out what had happened. They cornered Jeremiah in his lodgings, and made him tell the story of what happened to sweet Ned in John’s prison. If you can call ’making him’, the beating of that dunghill’s life. He’ll pleasure no more women, and God forgive me if I take pleasure in his pain.

His Uncle was just visiting with John after giving him some of his gifts from The Farm, when about a dozen of those pestilent Roundheads burst in John’s cell, and dragged away my sweet Ned, calling him an avowed catamite, and an abomination unto God, who deserved death for his many sins. And they beat him and beat him, and Jeremiah could have stopped them any time, but he did NOT. He watched his uncle beat nigh unto death, and then cast in a cell to await a trial and certain death after that. But Ned cheated them of that pleasure. He went to the arms of a loving God that very night, and when they came to drag him to trial, he was beyond earthly condemnation.

And now I close this tale, but for one more thing. The locket from the King was given to my sweet boy’s Granda, because he loved a king, as a boy and as a man. I put it on our Ned every Christmastide after old Barnaby gave it to us, and he wore it proudly one day a year as a symbol of our love. I charge my descendants in the Lewis and the Wilson families that they will not allow this locket to be seen again, nor worn, until another boy Ned takes it from the hands of his man lover. This I beg will happen.  And now I am tired and I will sleep, but not before I lock this casket, and hide it from prying eyes. If God is good, it will see the light again. Amen!

Ned looked at Lew, and sobbed in his arms, as Lew petted him and kissed his tears. Then he heard his sweet boy. “NOTHING’S changed! NOTHING. Gays still get beat up. They still die, for being what they can’t help being. That poor old man! Both of them! And Danny and Harry  who was caught with the music teacher… I don’t know if they’re gay or not, but they still suffer. Well I won’t! Ever! Will you be with me?”

“My dear sweet, lovely Ned! Of course I will be. Things are changing! Even 20 years ago, gays were held in hate. Now we have all the protection of law, Or at least I would if I didn’t love you, A man may not love a boy that way, until he is a man himself. But I will wait for you if I have to wait forever. I pledge myself to you, body and soul!  Know this,  Edward Barnaby Lewis!”

And Ned looked at Lew in shock. “How did you know my whole name? I never ever told you. Even my mum wouldn’t dare tell you!”

Lew just grinned and gestured to his briefcase of notes.

Ned got out of his snit and flung his arms around Lew. “I got to go to bed now, but this kiss better hold you until tomorrow!” And he kissed Lew so soundly and so long that at the end they were both moaning with desire.

But mindful of the constraints of society, they separated, and went their own ways for that night. Lew walked back with Ned, and saw him showered and into bed. He was a tired boy, and he was asleep even as he was being kissed goodnight.

Lew sat with Tom and Jane til nearly midnight. They were wondering about his plans for the future, and telling him what they hoped for Ned.  He reassured them that he had every hope to be in the UK permanently by the summer, if not before, that his love for Ned was not a flash in the pan.

By the time they said goodnight, they were much more comfortable with each other. Not that they hadn’t been comfortable before, but this was the comfort of knowing they all loved and cared for the same small boy.

Tom gave Lew a small bottle of scotch to take to his room, in case he needed help to sleep, and it was accepted. But like Ned, Lew was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

Wednesday morning broke clear and fine, and Lew was humming as he put on a suit and tie, ready to go to Ned’s school presentation. It was just going to be before his class, but Ned explained that some other parents had attended presentations before, and that his teacher was really pleased to see parents there. He promised to introduce him to his teacher and to the head teacher before classes.

As he was going down to breakfast, he heard a wolf whistle.  Looking around, he saw that both Jane and Ned were admiring his suit.

Ned was grinning as he brought a breakfast to Lew, but he was looking nervous too.

“Big day today, eh Ned? Don’t worry, you’ll do fine, And you’ll still be my favourite cousin, even if you don’t do well!”

Ned nodded, but he still looked worried. “May I see you in your room before we go?”

Lew agreed, and Ned sat down to wait with him. He was already dressed in his school uniform, which Lew was pleased to note was a polo shirt and not a tie. He mentioned this to Ned and added “And given the weather, I’m glad you wear long pants.”

Ned giggled. “You perv! You’d rather I wore short pants in this weather!  Maybe I should just wear a coat and my undies! That would please you.” He giggled so loudly that others were looking around and Lew shushed him, enjoying the blush that spread from his face to who knows where.

After breakfast, Ned looked at the wall clock and said “Yikes I need to talk to you before school and we only have 15 minutes. Hurry up, willya?”

Lew finished his tea and Ned finished Lew’s toast.  They went upstairs, and Ned closed the door, and turned to Lew, looking serious. Lew waited.

“Last night you put me to bed, and I was asleep. Well I woke up in a hurry around 2 ‘cos I thought I had to go pee, but I had already wet my bottoms. It wasn’t pee, it smelt real funny, and then I thought it might be cum. Well I checked, but it wasn’t. At least not like they described in the books. Do you think something’s wrong?”

Lew carefully explained that a boy’s first wet dream was likely to be intense, but not a large amount, nor would it be at first especially thick.  By the time he finished his short explanation, Ned was his usual cheerful self.

“That’s brill, ‘cos I was dreaming about you!  Did you dream about me?” And he stared into Lew’s eyes, and it was Lew’s turn to go beet red!

”Dirty sod!  C’mon now, we gotta get to school! If we’re late I’ll tell them I had to help my aged cousin, do you think that’ll work?” And Ned tore off before Lew could react. Locking up his room, he bounded down the stairs, and caught up to Ned just outside the doors.  Since there were people around, he just grabbed him and rubbed his head hard.

“Ow! Watch the hair, old man!”  And they went giggling down the street.

When they arrived at the school, Ned had calmed down and he proudly escorted Lew into the door. He waved at the school secretary, and took Lew over to meet her. She smiled fondly at Ned, and commented. “Looking good today, Ned.” Then she whispered “I heard about yesterday, and how you helped Danny. Did you know Danny is my great nephew?  Thank you, Ned for what you did to that bully!”  

Ned said nothing, but just beamed. Then they turned and ran right into the head teacher. Ned blushed and started to excuse himself, but the man did not seem upset. “Well Ned, we meet again! I trust that we won’t have too many more meetings like last evening’s, will we? Now, who’s this?”

Ned introduced the headmaster to his cousin, and went into a long paragraph detailing his academic achievements. By the time he finished, the Headmaster was looking interested, and Lew was looking embarrassed.

“If you’re planning to stay in England Mr Barnes, and haven’t a job, I might be able to convince the powers-that-be to look at your qualifications if you want to teach. Our senior history master has just told me that he wants to retire, and he wants to do it in February, so he and his wife can take a winter trip to South Africa or India or somewhere. He got the trustees to agree, because they’re going for a wedding in the family.   Let’s talk again soon.”

Ned was beaming again when they walked down to his class. “Lew, it would be EXCELLENT if you got a job here!  Old Dileep is really an old bore. Wait ‘til I tell the others he’s retiring!

Once again there was a flurry of introductions to his teacher and some of his mates. About ten minutes into the class, he was called for his presentation, and gave what Lew thought was a creditable account for a schoolboy. He thought that maybe he might be biased.

Apparently not. His teacher looked impressed, and even his classmates asked respectful questions. At the end, he handed in the folder with his essay in it, and went to his seat. At the end of the class, Lew gave Ned a clap on the back, and took his leave. He spent the rest of the day, working on what he was beginning, in his mind, to call the Lewis Papers.

Near supper, he got showered and dressed ready for the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, and was waiting for Ned’s arrival. He had expected him before now, but he figured that he had to prepare for his part in the Festival.

When the knock came at his door, he knew it wasn’t Ned. When he opened it, there was Jane, smiling. “Come along Lew, we’re eating downstairs tonight in the private dining room. Go on down, and I will retrieve Ned, who is fussing because he sees no sign of dinner in the flat!” She smiled mysteriously.

When Lew got downstairs, he had to look around for the private dining room. When he finally arrived, he opened the doors and stood stock still! There beaming up at him were his parents! And not only his parents, but Aunt Mary and Granda! Then Ned came up beside him and hugged him hard, and he stood still too, as he realised that wasn’t just his own family there, but strangers. Then he looked at the elder man and look at Lew, and the penny dropped. He was so excited he jumped up and kissed Lew. Then Lew’s mother was all over the both of them.

“I knew you’d be surprised!” she said, as she kissed them both. “Dad and I were talking last week after we heard from Granda, and we decided to liberate some of the funds we’ve been saving for a rainy day and come earlier. Susan’s going to use our tickets and come with the boys on Christmas night! Isn’t this exciting? Oh, I am going to have so much fun shopping for everyone over the next few days!”

Lew looked over at his father, who just looked resigned at that thought. He grinned at him and brought Ned over and introduced him. His father looked at Ned and then Lew carefully, and then he kissed them both and hugged them. Then the boys went to Granda and Aunt Mary, who were waiting patiently. At least, Aunt Mary was!

After a fine roast beef dinner, and everyone talking at once, they decided it was time to get Ned to the parish church to get ready for the evening.

Aunt Mary explained that she and Granda had come with Lew’s parents, and they were going back to The Farm right after. She looked positively excited at the thought of so many visitors, and was eagerly anticipating the arrival of Susan and her little twins.

Lew promised his Mum and Dad that he and Ned would be out sometime on Thursday, and would stay at The Farm for the rest of the holidays.

And then they were at Saint Edward the Confessor Church, and Ned scurried off to get ready and have a final run-through with the rest of his choir-mates. The others all settled into one of the pews and chatted companionably as they waited for the service.

Then  candles were lit and the electric lights turned down low, and Lew thrilled as he heard his beautiful boy’s treble reverberating through the old church. He hugged his Granda and his Mum, as a tear escaped his eye. His wasn’t the only wet cheek. Jane was weeping silently, As the first verse finished and the rest of the choir joined in, they passed by the pews, and Ned could have sworn that Ned had given him a quick wink, as he carried on singing. The rest of the evening passed in a haze for him, as he thoroughly enjoyed the traditional service.

As they left the church, and after they had said goodbye to those returning to The Farm, he noticed that Ned was whispering urgently to his parents. He seemed to have met some resistance, but he carried on, and finally Tom and Jane threw up their hands.  Lew waited, with some trepidation, to find out what Ned was plotting now!

He found out as soon as they walked back to the Farmer’s Rest. Ned bounded up the stairs to his room, and Tom pulled Lew into his office.

“Well Lew, I guess you saw that plot hatching eh? Tenacious little bugger. But he promised nothing untoward would happen, and he told me that you would promise too. Do you?”

Lew just looked confused. Tom laughed at him. “You better get used to feeling that way with Ned around. He likes his own plans, that boy does!  He wants to stay with you tonight, and stay with you in your room at The Farm for the holidays. He promised, I quote ‘Lew’s not gonna rape me you know! He’s so nervous he probably won’t even give me a blow job Sorry Mum, sorry Dad. All’s I want for Christmas is a kiss and cuddle with my boyfriend’. So there you have it. Your decision,”

Lew turned both red and white during this conversation. “Umm, err. Tom, you know I love Ned. In the past week he has become a comet in my galaxy. I can’t think of life without him. At the same time, I won’t hurt him. I love him too much for that. I’ll kiss and cuddle him for the next ten years not just three, if I have to, but you have to understand that as he grows older, his sexual appetite will grow too. And if we are to be together you will have to accept that. I will promise you though that while he is still under your roof, I will follow your wishes.”

“I suppose I can’t ask for more than that, Lew. I know you care for Neddy. And I don’t think I want to know when you decide to take the final steps. I have a feeling Ned will probably tell us somehow, anyway. But for now?”

“He’s a sweet boy, Tom, and I will show him love appropriate for a sweet boy”

“In that case, you’d better get going. I told him that it would be your decision, but he’s probably got the candles and flowers all ready in your room. Oh, I think you should know, I haven’t said anything to your Mum and Dad – that will be up to you. And if Ned is in your bed, it’s because of lack of space at the farmhouse, what with your parents and sister and the little boys and us and all. That is what I’ll tell them, if they ask. But they probably see Ned as a little boy with a schoolboy crush. You and I know it’s different.”

The two men shook hands and hugged,

As Lew entered his room he noticed that the light was dim. His bedside light had turned red. On his pillow were two satin roses and beside that was a boy wearing Lew’s Montréal Canadien sweatshirt.

Lew rolled his eyes. “What! No candles? And where’s the wine?”

“Aww Lew! Mum wouldn’t let me have candles. And how’d you think I was gonna get the wine off Dad? Although if Rod was tending the pub tonight, I probably could’ve got a bottle for a little slap and tickle. Too bad!”

“You want slap and tickle, eh? You’ve got it!” And Lew grabbed Ned and put his hands under the shirt to apply both. He froze when his slap encountered bare skin, and he looked at Ned who winked at him. Lew shrugged and carried on, until Ned was thoroughly tickled and the shirt had risen to his chest. Then he laid down and just stared at the boy. It was the first time he ever had a chance to really look at Ned, and his eyes travelled from his feet to his nipples to his beautiful mouth with a long stop at his lovely penis. His hands followed his eyes and he petted and stroked every part he could reach. Ned giggled helplessly as feather touches touched his penis and another hand circled his nipples. Finally Lew took the shirt off completely, and kissed his boy until he thought his heart would burst with happiness. When he stopped, he looked at Ned again, and noticed, as he always did, the twinkle in his eyes. The new thing was the smug look on his well kissed face.

Then it was Ned’s turn. He hesitantly unbuttoned Lew’s shirt and ran his hands all over the thick mat of chest hair, all the while kissing his man.  With a devilish look in his eyes, he lowered his mouth to the right nipple and started to suck and pull on it.  Lew moaned and bucked his hips.

“Liked that did you?” Ned giggled. “Better not make a mess in your pants!  Though it’s easy for you to do the wash! I think Mum’s figured out what happened to me last night. My Snoopy sheets are gone! She always changes the sheets on Friday.”

He kissed Lew full on the mouth. And again. Lew was moaning and bucking his hips, as Ned’s newly educated hands moved around his torso, stopping just above the belt line. Lew had just enough presence of mind, to grab his hands at that point to stop him going further, though his heart was screaming at him for stopping. Then the kissing started again. Gentler this time, and calmer. Finally Lew felt he could trust himself to speak.

“I promised your parents. I won’t hurt you, But if you ever undo my pants, I don’t think I could stop myself!”

“Yeah, I know! Dad told me to keep my hands above your beltline. But he didn’t say anything about my beltline! Did you like me in your shirt?”

“Tease! If we do this every night, I can’t answer for what will happen!”

“How many boys get a chance to be in a hotel room with the man of their dreams?” Ned giggled.  He added seriously “And I will wait!  But it will be hard sometimes!”

They both broke out laughing as they realised what Ned said.

When they had calmed down, Lew looked at his watch. “If we don’t get some sleep, it will be a moot point anyway, cuz if we don’t show up tomorrow, my mum will kill me, my dad will finish the job, and Granda will check to make sure it was done properly!”

They giggled. And kissed.

“We better get undressed and into bed” gasped Lew.

Ned stared pointedly at his body. Lew laughed at himself.  “I better get undressed. You put that shirt back on, and get under the covers.  Back in a minute!”

He undressed and went to shower. He worried that Ned would follow him, but when he got back to the bedroom and put on a fresh pair of boxers, Ned was already asleep. He got into bed, kissed his boy, and fell asleep himself.

When they arrived at The Farm the next morning, they found they needn’t have hurried.  Lew’s mum was in the kitchen showing Aunt Mary how to make perogies and they were giggling like schoolgirls over their different accents. Granda was taking a nap. And Lew’s dad was sitting in the dining room with his laptop hooked up and frowning as he wrote something. So they took Granda’s dogs, Sally and Ann and went for a walk on the farm, which Lew had barely seen when he was there last.

“This’ll give us some time to talk” Lew smiled.

“Yeah, we sure didn’t talk much last night, did we?” Giggles. “Lots of sign language though! Did I do the signs right?” Innocent look, as Lew punched him. “Ow, that’s child abuse!”

Lew looked worried, and started to say something. Ned spoke up before he got a word out. “Lew! I love you! I may be a kid, but I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! Get that in your thick head. ‘Cos when I’m sixteen, I’m taking over your body for the rest of my life!  Get used to it!

“Ned, dear sweet boy! I LOVE YOU TOO. And I can’t wait til you turn sixteen. But that’s the problem. What am I –what are WE going to do until then?

“We’ll figure out something. I love cuddling, and kissing! And you do too, I notice. Granda was saying to me earlier this year that he and Grandma courted for 5 years before they were married. Guess we do the same! He stopped so suddenly, that the dogs circled back, and opened his arms dramatically. “Court me, you fool!” And Lew lifted his Ned in his arms and courted him.

The air was brisk with winter and the dogs were happy to get out for a good romp. So they wandered over the farm, and Ned showed Lew this and that, and then took him to the barn where his Uncle and two of his older boys were maintaining the tractors. They sat around and bantered and helped where they could, and Lew came away with a better appreciation for the work of a farm. Despite growing up in Saskatchewan, his family had been urban. Farms were visited, but not really part of his life. But his Ned was a farm boy, and he figured that he better get used to farms. He saw a small holding in his future. He smirked over the double entendre, and Ned caught it.

“What are you thinking now, old man?”

Lew explained, and Ned pretended to be upset. “You dirty sod! You’ll need two hands to hold it soon enough!” Then he giggled and fondled Lew and Lew giggled and fondled him, until Ned gasped and looked around.  “Yikes, I almost did it in my pants! Better stop, ‘cos I don’t want your mum to see me with a stiff willy!”  Then he squeezed Lew hard one more time, and took off running for the house. Lew had to stop to adjust himself, but he ran after him.

Back at the farmhouse, lunch was served, and Granda was on fine form, pleased to have his grandson and his great grandsons with him. Aunt Grace and Uncle Bill were equally pleased to know Ned, and serious conversation was suspended for the meal, as they all giggled together. After lunch, the aunties (as Ned called them) went shopping, and Lew’s dad retreated into a book, and Granda retreated to his bed for a nap.  This was the tenor of their days before Christmas, just being together, and helping with things and spending time with their Granda listening to stories. No one said anything about the shared bed, and they were circumspect in showing affection, even in bed, because as Lew said “Walls have ears!” But kisses were quiet and one morning when everyone was busy they snuck a careful shower together to kiss some more, That also took care of sexual release as Lew cummed all over the wall, as Ned watched awestruck. Cleaning up was almost a disaster, as they were giggling so loudly. Ned still wasn’t cumming on a regular basis, but at least once, Lew woke up to a sticky boy.

Tom and Jane showed up on Christmas Eve, and the whole family was together for the meal on Christmas Day. Presents were exchanged, of course. Lew was touched when his present from Ned was a Norwich City team sweater, but he had a fit of the giggles, when he remembered the last time Ned had worn his Montréal Canadien sweater. Ned apparently had the same thought, as he giggled with him. Jane looked at them suspiciously, but Tom just rolled his eyes.

Lew was surprised when he didn’t get a present from Granda, but he wasn’t too worried. But at the end of the present giving, the old man reached into the pocket of his shirt, and pulled out a small package and handed it to Lew.

When Lew opened it, he saw Ned’s Locket, the same locket that his ancestors had described. A tear escaped his eye, as he turned to Granda to thank him. He hugged and kissed the old man, as he grumbled that he was too old to be mauled every minute. Then Ned came up and did the same thing. When that happened, the implication of the gift hit him, and he sat back quickly. Granda winked at him, and patted Ned’s bum, “I know you’ll do the right thing, boy! Just remember who had the locket before now! And why!”

On Boxing Day. Lew drove  to go pick up his sister at Heathrow, He went alone, because the luggage and the little boys would fill the car. As Susan cleared customs and saw her brother, she waved at him, and the little boys ran screaming to him wrapping themselves around his legs.

“Unca Lew! Unca Lew!  we been on a biiig plane! An’ we had cookies! An’ juice! An’ Mummy put us in our jammies, and a lady bringed  blankies.”

By this time Susan had caught up, and as she kissed her “little’” brother, she grinned. “Deflowered any English roses yet?” And she grinned even wider, as Lew blushed. “You’ll tell me all about it, won’t you?  But it doesn’t matter. I’ll know!”

The ride home was a combination of babble, and then quiet talk as Nicolai and Yuri slept in the borrowed car seats. Ned took a route that Tom had suggested and Susan watched fascinated as the English countryside rolled by. Susan took the opportunity to ask her brother about the family she was going to meet.
“They are lovely people. Granda is a real character! The Farm runs on his schedule, at least the house does. But Granda is run by Aunt Mary!  Richard runs the farm. He’s a quiet sort, and his boys are about my age or a little younger. I haven’t seen too much of him.

“Mum had a lot more to say about Tom and Jane.” she replied. “And Ned. She says he’s a little cherub and she keeps imagining him floating naked in the air.”

Lew snorted and almost lost control of the car. God, so do I!, he thought.

“Ned, a cherub?  Oh, no, he is a mischievous imp! Always getting into trouble! But he’s really sweet sometimes!”  And Lew launched into a catalogue of Ned’s public talents that left Susan wondering. It almost sounded like he was describing a girlfriend! But she held her peace and made appropriate noises, as Lew drove on. Finally he wound down, and the brother and sister sat quietly watching the country go by. They made a stop to have a lunch, and change the boys, who spent the last part of the trip prattling of their plane ride.

When they arrived at The Farm, the boys excitedly greeted their grandparents. But Ned surprised everyone. He was an unknown quantity, but after he picked the twins up, and hugged and kissed them, they became his shadows, and refused to leave him, even for a nap. Ned finally went to sleep with them, his arms cradling them.

The adults had agreed that Granda would see the little ones after they had had a chance to calm down. When they woke they were changed, Ned watching the process with interest. Then they were brought rosy-cheeked into the kitchen to meet their Great-great-grandfather. Although they were a little unsure at first, they were soon snuggled in his rocker, as he sang a little song to them. They thought it was funny that even their Grampa called the old man Granda. Even Aunt Mary did that sometimes.

The evening was late, and the little boys were romping with their Uncle and cousin, Finally Susan called a halt and announced bath time. Lew volunteered to do that for his tired sister, and the offer was accepted. Ned took one and he took the other and they went into the bathroom with its large old fashioned tub. Ned was a little taken aback when they insisted he have a bath with them, but when he looked at Lew, he just shrugged. So Ned undressed and sat in the tub, and Lew handed him the two squirmy naked boys. The noise level was so high that Susan and her mother came to the door to see if Lew needed help, but they stopped when they saw three curly black haired boys in the tub. Ned saw them and blushed, but they made soothing noises and stayed to watch Lew carefully and gently bathe each of them, not leaving even when they all came out of the tub to be dried. Then the women took the little ones and dried them, and Lew dried Ned, just as carefully and as gently as he had washed him. Susan saw this and filed the sight away for a quiet talk with her parents.

The next few days were a whirl of activity as the family prepared for New Year’s. Tom and Jane drove in every day from Fritton to spend the late afternoon and evening. Lew and Ned spent the day entertaining the little boys, and wearing them down so that they were more than happy to go to bed at night. And every night Lew bathed all the boys together in the big tub. The twins wouldn’t have it any other way and Ned was resigned to reverting to childhood. He drew the line at being diapered but was becoming a dab hand at changing the toddlers for bed. After the first night, the others left the all boys to themselves. Ned got out and was dried while the little boys played some more. Then they each took one and got him ready for bed. Since kisses were the order of the day after baths, Ned managed to sneak a few to Lew while paying attention to the twins.

The days were difficult sometimes. Ned really wanted to kiss Lew, and Lew really wanted to kiss Ned, but they settled for cuddling the boys and getting kisses from each other by proxy. Susan was very happy that Yuri and Nicky were so well looked after. She knew Lew would do that, but Ned was a bonus. And when they were tired they cuddled with their Granda in his Lazy Boy rocker, and fell asleep with him, as the household tiptoed around them.

Susan was really fascinated by the Locket, and she asked many questions about it. Finally Lew showed her the photographed originals and she read his transcription on the computer. She was in tears when she read the story of Barnaby and the King.

“But how sweet that was! Such a lonely little boy and not a King at all. And our ancestor was his friend and it looks like he was his lover too! His grandsons sound just like you. And Ned too! It’s fascinating how those boys all loved each other. I hope my boys grow up loving everyone and not worrying about who they should be, but being who they are. You’ve done that, haven’t you, Lew? You’re much more relaxed than you used to be.”

“Yes I have done, Its been hard, but Mum and Dad were and are very supportive of me. And you too. Sis.  You’ve all let me find my own way, and I think I’m almost where I want to be.”

“Almost, eh?”

Lew nodded, and chanced a wink at Ned, who was reading the latest Harry Potter in the corner. Ned winked back, and Susan caught it. She smiled to herself, and spoke with her parents later that evening.

“I think Lew’s about ready to come out. He just needs a little more time to be comfortable with whom he is. I know that he’s found who he wants to be with.”

Her mother nodded, “It’s been a long way since he was thirteen. Remember how he was so taken with Taran McGuire when he was 14? We thought that was going to be it, but then Taran discovered girls, and Lew spent days in his bedroom moping. He wasn’t all that careful with where he went on the computer either. Remember those Jonathan Taylor Thomas files? And no pictures of girls.”

“Yes” her father added. “Remember Judy? and Melanie? and Nathalie? We thought he had outgrown boys then, but they never lasted long.”

“Judy complained to me that he never went beyond a quick kiss, even when she told him she wanted more. She dumped him, but she still writes to him and he answers. They’re good friends, but I really don’t think from what she said – limp comes to mind - that you should expect Barnes grandchildren!  I’m it, Dad!” Susan finished with a chuckle.

“I don’t know about that, Susie. Looks like gays will be allowed to marry.”

“Yeah Mum, but no babies! Unless you know something I don’t!”

“There’s always adoption.  Look at how he treats Ned. And Yuri and Nicky.  He’d be a wonderful father, with the right person. I wonder who that will be?”

Susan turned to her mother and smiled “I don’t think he’s too far away! But you mustn’t be shocked when he brings him home!” And she grinned and winked at her parents.

Grace was sitting quietly near a window that afternoon, murmuring Goodnight Moon to sleepy twins. Closing the book, she was carrying them to bed when she chanced to look out the window. She saw Lew doing some snow wrestling with Ned. She smiled, but then her jaw dropped as Lew grabbed Ned and kissed him. She remembered the earlier conversation with Susan, and the penny dropped. She jumped as Jane came into the room, and stood next to her, relieving her of one of the boys. She looked out the window too, and smiled.

She looked at Grace. “You didn’t know?

Grace whispered. “No, I long ago worked out that he might be gay, but I always expected that he would link up with someone his own age.  Susan said he had met someone to love… is Ned it?”

“Ned knows his own mind, even if he’s not even thirteen yet. He outed himself just last week, and he pushed Lew to out himself to us too.” She stopped. “Lew didn’t mind; he was just terrified that we would think that he had evil designs on Ned.”

She chuckled. “I think Ned has evil designs on Lew, but we’ve told him that his hands stay above the beltline for now!  Look, aren’t they sweet?”

Outside, unaware they were being watched, the kisses continued.

Susan came in and took the other twin from her mother. “Thanks Mum! You’re so patient with those little monsters, Thank goodness they look so cute when they’re sleeping!”  She looked out the window. “Those two still at it? I thought Dad would swallow his pipe when he saw them from the downstairs window. I’ve just explained the facts of life to him.” She winked broadly at Jane and hugged her mother.

“I figured you’d be fine with this Jane! I was hoping you would be anyway! Is Tom?

They do try to hide it don’t they, but it’s hard to do that when there’s intelligent people around!  And Yuri spilled the beans to me this morning when he reported kissing going on in the bedroom!  He’s a little tattle-tale.  Granda and Aunt Mary just laughed at him. They weren’t surprised at all.

“Yes, now we all know” said Jane. “I’d welcome you to the family, but you already are family!”

New Year’s Eve arrived, and the family gathered together again. Granda insisted on staying up, threatening to spank Aunt Mary like he’d done before (that was 75 years ago, she huffed!) if she said anything more about him going to bed. The rosy cheeked little boys were bought from their beds at midnight and handed around for cuddles and kisses. They woke just long enough to kiss their Granda as he rocked them, but were soon asleep again.

Just before they all went to bed, Susan took a sprig of mistletoe and went behind her brother who was sitting talking quietly to Ned. She nudged Ned and he looked up and saw the mistletoe. Without thinking, he kissed Lew soundly, and the kiss became a clinch. They kissed until they heard Granda grumbling,

“Those boys should get a room!”

They broke apart then, and looked guiltily around the room, but they saw nothing but approving faces.

And Susan crowed “I knew you’d find your English rose!”


On New Year’s Day, Lewis Barnes and Edward Lewis stood before their joint families at The Farm, and Lew slipped the King’s Locket over his Ned’s head, and kissed his eyes and mouth. And Ned kissed the Locket and then Lew.

Then, hand in hand, they went into supper and into the future.