by Kikuchi Makoto (菊池 誠)


If you have any magic in your family, and even if you don’t, it is likely that you have heard of Morus University. Like most old and traditional schools, Morus does not admit girls. Unlike most old and traditional schools, however, age is not so very important. Students who show a particular aptitude for magic are permitted to speak to their seniors exactly as they like, and those who show truly exceptional talent are allowed the run of things, more or less.

David Price was one such student. He was tall, clever, and–it must be said–rather arrogant. Everyone called him “Price,” never David, because that was just the sort of person he was.

Well, no one but Fionn, of course. And, in turn, David was the only person who could, when put on the spot and given no time to think on it, spell Fionn’s full name without falter or error.

It was actually Fionn’s name that had drawn David to him in the first place. Fionn’s family, like Morus University, was old and traditional, and they continued to spell their surname “mac Cumhaill” long after all the rest had given up and started spelling it “McCool” to save themselves the trouble of explaining. It was this sort of thinking that had inspired Fionn’s father to choose the name “Fionn” for his firstborn son, to make a matched set.

Now if you or I were given such a nightmarish name as “Fionn mac Cumhaill,” I am sure we should be cross at having to explain it to every person we happened to meet, but Fionn was not at all like you or I. Indeed he seemed quite happy at having such an unusual name and took the greatest pleasure in teaching others how to pronounce it properly.

When you first arrive at Morus–as Fionn did, one year after David–you are generally given a tour of the school by an advanced student. Fionn’s guide turned out to be Oscar Norris, who had a long, pink nose, an uninspiring mop of blond hair, and a talent for transforming people into sprigs of tormentil. (It was setting them right again that gave him trouble.)

David just happened to be walking past while Norris transformed Fionn’s name into “FEE-own mac coom-HALE,” and so he overheard Fionn cheerfully instructing “You’ve nearly got it, but it’s more like ‘FE-un mac coo’al.’ You’re really trying much too hard.”

David decided that he needed to meet Fionn, one way or another.

As it happened, “one way or another” meant taking Fionn by the arm, offering to give him the tour instead, and sending Norris on his way. Norris was seventeen at the time, making him four years David’s senior. But David could transform a group of boys into a handsome stand of poplars and back again without lifting a hand, so that was that.

As he led Fionn away, Fionn asked his name.

“David Price,” said David. “Everyone here calls me Price.”

Fionn smiled and said, “It’s nice to meet you, David,” and according to the stories, they became great friends right at that moment.

The trouble started some years later, when David stopped thinking of Fionn as a great–indeed, his best–friend, and starting thinking of him in other ways. Which is to say, naked, mostly, as well as spread out at interesting angles upon David’s eiderdown.

It wasn’t a novelty, of course. David knew exactly the sort of thing some of the other boys got up to when the teachers weren’t looking. (Well, not exactly, but he had a good enough imagination to fill in most of the details, he thought.) That was different. That was the sort of thing boys like Richard Kress and Martin Warner did–hanging about in dark corners for a bit of fun because it was better than using your own hand. The attitude seemed to be more “we haven’t any girls about, so boys will have to do” than anything else, and that was not at all what David wanted.

He wanted . . .

Well, that was the problem right there, wasn’t it? David wasn’t exactly sure what he wanted. Only that it involved Fionn. And kissing. And touching. And a fair bit of nakedness on both their parts, like as not.

Mostly Fionn, though. That was the most important part, and really the only one he’d worked out to his satisfaction.

David supposed he could just ask Fionn about it, but he couldn’t begin to guess how the other boy would react. It was strange and not a little unnerving that Fionn was his best friend in the entire world, and yet David quite often had no idea what to expect from him.

He was reminded of the summer before last, when they’d gone down to the river together to look for fish and found a muirdris instead. It had all happened very fast, with the monster rearing its great, horsey head from the river’s churning surface, grabbing hold of Fionn’s cloak, and dragging him down beneath the water quick as that. David could remember the feel of it, as if his lungs had simply ceased to be in his chest anymore.

But just as he was about to dive into the river himself (despite being unable to take a good, deep breath in preparation thanks to his inexplicably absent lungs), the muirdris’s greeny-grey body had floated back to the surface, belly up. There it bobbed harmlessly for a moment or two before the current carried it on down to the sea.

And when David had gathered the presence of mind to look up at the opposite bank, there stood Fionn–casual as you please–soaked through and with a tangle of the muirdris’s mane hanging over his shoulders in heavy ropes. He was scratching the back of his neck and watching the corpse’s seaward journey with an expression that seemed bemused and even a little disappointed.

“The ones back home explode when you kill them,” he’d explained when he noticed David staring.

If that’s how he reacted when a monstrous river-horse attempted to plunge him to his death, how might he react if his best friend suggested activities that went rather beyond the typical boundaries of camaraderie? On the one hand, it was possible that Fionn would not be at all surprised and might even offer a few useful suggestions of his own. On the other, he might well hit David with whatever he’d used on the muirdris, and genius or not, David was not entirely confident that he should fare any better.

Still, David was no coward despite his many other faults, and neither was he one to sit and brood when action was so clearly called for. So after his own field training was over for the day (that is, after he’d managed to bully his coach into dismissing him), David headed over to Fionn’s training pitch.

After settling on the grass beneath a handy willow that had not been there when he arrived–with every intention of changing the poor fellow back when he no longer needed the shade–David watched Fionn readjusting his grip on his staff and ran through whatever thoughts he pleased. Morus didn’t train clairvoyants, after all.

As he watched, Fionn conjured up a fireball, and a work of art at that. The core was pure white (David wouldn’t have expected anything less) and wrapped in not one but three separate layers of dancing flame. The outermost was of course tinged with faint blue, but only a careful observer would have caught the sputtering, uncertain flares of violet, something David had only managed to perfect mere months ago.

The image stayed with David long after Fionn had sent the fireball shooting out to incinerate a handful of targets. He didn’t come round again until practice was over and Fionn came walking up to greet him, head tipped inquisitively to one side.

“Well, David?” he said in the light, lilting accent he only ever used when they were alone.

David hesitated. Then he stood and patted the wrinkles from his cloak. “Come up to my room with me,” he said.

“All right.” Fionn didn’t hesitate. He never did, the bastard.

They made their way through the university halls, weaving through clusters of boys and–for David’s part–ignoring enquiries regarding Charles Burland’s current location. (Still out by Fionn’s training pitch, as it happened, his long, willowy branches swinging in earnest despite the complete absence of a breeze.) They pushed their way upstairs to the eastern tower and the private dormitories.

Upon reaching their destination, Fionn settled himself in his usual spot on David’s bed, watching his friend with an expectant air.

“I thought I might try kissing you,” David explained, closing the door behind him and trying to sound offhand, as if he hadn’t been thinking of it all day, and even a long while before that. “I don‘t suppose you‘d mind?”

Fionn shrugged. “Not particularly,” he said, with all the nonchalance David wished he felt.

It worried him rather, thinking that Fionn might be used to this sort of thing, might have been doing it for ages now without ever letting David know about it.

And how did one go about kissing, anyway? He’d caught a few couples here and there during his wanderings, but he’d always turned it to a prank before, often by calling out, “So is that where babies come from, then?” to make one or both of them laugh, which would result in someone’s cheeks getting puffed out like a balloon. Now he half wished he’d have kept quiet and watched for a bit.

Drifting over to sit beside Fionn, David bent his head slightly and kissed at the corner of his mouth, which seemed innocuous enough. It gave him an excuse to linger without being pressured by Fionn deciding to kiss back.

Only Fionn turned his head abruptly to the side–probably thinking David has missed his mark, an infuriating misapprehension if ever there was one–so their noses bumped rather painfully, and David found himself looking at Fionn cross-eyed.

Part of him was well and deeply annoyed at marking himself out as an amateur in anything, especially in something as important and potentially embarrassing as this. The rest of him, however, was flooded with enough relief and pleasure at knowing that Fionn had no idea what he was doing either that it drowned out the rest.

“Sorry,” Fionn murmured, and David felt the words against his skin. Annoyance melted into something like desperation as Fionn leaned up now, and their mouths met, and it seemed to work out this time.

After a moment or two, David thought maybe his lips ought not to be quite so stiff and let them relax, almost like he was sighing, and he felt Fionn do the same almost instantly. It seemed a good idea not to think of it as pressing together or pushing against, but rather more like drawing in. In that vein, David shifted his position, letting Fionn’s bottom lip slip in between his own, and–oh–that was nice.

David felt his arms wrapping around Fionn’s shoulders of their own accord, pulling him closer, and as their chests came together, he could feel Fionn’s heart hammering just as hard as his own. It was remarkable, unheard of, because Fionn feared nothing and no one.

He was afraid now.

Which was just as well because David Price–terror of Morus University–was the closest he’d ever come to fleeing, and from his own room, no less.

But egress was no option. They got along so well because, out of everyone, they really only respected each other, and how could Fionn possibly respect him if he ran away? Besides, he didn’t really want to leave, not ever.

Fionn curled a hand up around the nape of David’s neck, drawing them both gently yet irresistibly down to the bed. Then Fionn’s tongue slipped into David’s mouth, and that caused David’s hands to fumble just as he was about to undo the clasp of Fionn’s cloak.

He could feel Fionn’s smile. “Caught you there, didn’t I?” he breathed against David’s cheek.

David growled a warning that was thoroughly disregarded, but he managed to work the clasp open and pulled at Fionn’s heavy cloak, letting it slide off the edge of the bed with a pleasing rustle. Undressing was a good deal simpler when you had only yourself to worry about and no clever mouth sucking indolently at your Adam’s apple, but David’s own cloak somehow joined Fionn’s on the floor, followed in short order by shirts and belts, boots and breeches.

For a long moment, David was awed by the sheer amount of skin they had between them. They’d seen one another unclothed many times before, of course, but it had been different then. What was once a simple reminder of their shared humanity and gender was now a vast expanse that begged for careful exploration, and two hands and one mouth suddenly seemed woefully insufficient.

Then the moment passed, and David remembered he had an entire body at his disposal and immediately put it to good use, pressing them together full length–mouth-to-mouth, chest-to-chest, thigh-to-thigh–and any lingering doubts about their shared desire scattered like flighted deer.

Fionn’s fingers dug into his back, and whether by accident or design, their legs slipped between one another. David groaned as Fionn’s thigh came flush against him, and he jerked unconsciously to meet it. Fionn did the same, and soon they rocking against one another in shuddering, erratic thrusts.

Ridiculous as it seemed at this late stage, David still wasn’t quite sure what it was they ought to be doing, but the rocking seemed to be working, and he could feel himself getting . . . somewhere. Somewhere he desperately needed to reach, and it was just there, and perhaps if they rocked against one another just a little faster . . .

And quite suddenly, Fionn’s hand slipped between them to wrap loosely around David’s length, and, well, wasn’t that the most obvious thing? He would have felt properly stupid about it, if only he had the time or the consciousness to spare.

But he didn’t, and so he thrust helplessly into Fionn’s fist until he felt himself stiffen and convulse and it was over just like that.

Only Fionn hadn’t quite finished yet, David noticed muzzily. He briefly considered finishing him off in the same way, but that stung at his pride. David wasn’t one to follow anyone’s lead without improving on it at least tenfold. It took him a good fraction of a second to get his brain working again, but once he did, he was struck with an idea that–while not quite as obvious as the hand thing–should surely have come with less effort.

It was this sex business, he decided. Played havoc with one’s basic awareness and cognitive ability. He’d have to work on that.

For now, David focused himself on the task before him. It wasn’t an idea he particularly relished, but he had to go Fionn one better or his self-esteem would be permanently injured. Kissing Fionn once more, good and hard, he slid down the length of his body.

David had a vague notion that he ought to make this bit more interesting, perhaps kiss his way down Fionn’s chest or the like, but at the moment he couldn’t be bothered. Next time, he decided. There had to be a next time.

So instead, he simply slid his way down, positioned himself, and took Fionn into his mouth.

It wasn’t as easy as he’d thought. David had never before given much consideration to the dimensions and limitations of his mouth–the only time it’d really mattered was during meals, after all, and somehow it’d been easier to gauge how much he could take in without choking then–and now Fionn suddenly seemed a good deal larger than David had anticipated.

Well, had he scored top marks in adaptability in the field, or hadn’t he? Might as well make use of that inborn skill now, when it seemed to matter most.

After a quick bit of calculation, David adjusted his angle, opened his throat, and took Fionn in properly. There, that was better, he thought.

Fionn seemed to think so as well, because he gasped sharply, and his hands tightened around David‘s head. Just when had they gotten there, anyway? No matter. David found it rather agreeable, in a surprising sort of way, much like the feel of Fionn pushed halfway down his throat. Strange what one could learn in the space of a few minutes.

David pulled back, then pushed himself forward again, establishing a sort of rhythm but changing it in little ways so as not to be a bore. He had a feeling that Fionn was well along at this point and wondered how he might give his friend that last little nudge over the edge.

“Well, you’ve got a tongue, haven’t you?” he thought to himself. “Try using it, you great idiot.”

So he did, pulling back again and this time keeping his tongue flat and rough against Fionn’s length–like a cat’s–before swirling at the tip and coming back down to give him a good, hard suck.

That did it. Fionn went rigid, and then came right down David’s throat.

Now it was all well and good to pride oneself on adaptability, but there are some things you just can’t prepare for, not when you’ve got so little time to think and hardly any warning. It’s not that David hadn’t known what to expect, only that he hadn’t thought far enough ahead to know what to do with it when it came.

Or when Fionn did, rather.

He knew, somehow, that he ought to swallow, but some had already gotten down his windpipe and so he choked instead. This was followed by a seemingly interminable fit of coughing that threatened to bring up blood but lacked the conviction to actually follow through. David sat up as best he could, and he was distantly aware of Fionn thumping him on the back and asking if he was all right.

He was also apologizing, for some reason. Under normal circumstances (but then, what was normal anymore?), David would have leveled Fionn with his best disbelieving stare and asked just what, pray, he thought he was apologizing for.

As it was, he had to settle for hacking with as much dignity as he could muster until his body finally worked out that it wasn’t dying, after all. Even then it insisted on a couple irritating little coughs here and there, usually just when David had decided to give speaking a go. He’d have to be more careful next time. It just wasn’t right for a genius of his caliber to get anything so very wrong.

Ah, yes. Next time. That particular matter still wanted addressing.

Now that the coughing seemed to have stopped for good and for all, David realised that he actually needed to think up something to say to Fionn. He meant for things to go along much as they always had between them, adding this sort of thing in just as you’d add a new favourite book to share or a new kind of music that neither of you had heard before and that only you two seemed to properly appreciate, really.

Besides, David was certain he’d die if they never touched each other like this again, and in any case, it seemed to him that Fionn now owed him one.

But how to say all that? Of course he’d have to leave out the bit about owing, as that would likely only annoy Fionn. And the dying part, certainly, because it wouldn’t do to give Fionn quite that much power. At least, it wouldn’t do to let him know he had it.

Before David could get his thoughts in order, though, Fionn was pulling him back down to the bed again, where they could share the pillows and tuck under the eiderdown because–now that he thought of it–they had gone quite suddenly from being much too warm to being rather chilly and sticky and generally uncomfortable.

And, oh, that was nice too, with Fionn’s heart pounding beneath David’s palm and Fionn’s deft fingers tracing up and down the individual bumps of David’s spine. Yet another part of his body David had never given much thought until Fionn brought it to his attention. He wondered what else there was to discover.

“Fionn,” David murmured suddenly, and his voice sounded strange in his own ears, “it’s not like Kress or Warner.”

He’d meant it to sound firm, stern, like a warning or a proclamation. Instead it managed to twist itself into a question, half-pleading, and that irritated him more than anything else had done.

It seemed to surprise Fionn as well because the hand that had been stroking his spine stilled.

“Well, of course not,” Fionn said at last, sounding bewildered. “Whatever gave you that idea?”

And his hand settled on the nape of David’s neck instead, slender fingers smoothing and twisting at his hair until David’s eyes slid shut in drowsy satisfaction, and sleep crept in to claim him.

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