Chapter Seven

Sunday

Ernst was the first to wake, turning over gently in Hanschen's arms, and pressing a soft kiss to his cheek. He got a simple response of blinking eyes and a slow awakening accompanied by a lingering sense of drowsiness. "Good morning," Ernst greeted, smiling a little.

Hanschen's mouth curved up in response as he leaned over to retrieve his watch, "It's almost noon, are you sure 'morning' is still valid?"

"It can be if we want it to be," he suggested.

Hanschen ran a hand through Ernst's mussed hair and smiled, "You're learning."

"Learning what?"

"How to forgo the system for the sake of your own interests."

"Well, it is technically still morning, I don't think I'm opposing the system very much," he mumbled looking at the crumpled sheets and tracing them with a lazy finger.

"Stop bringing yourself down. Now, come get dressed, we should enjoy these last few hours," he said, pushing away the bedding and walking over to his wardrobe.

"How much time do we have?" Ernst asked.

He glanced at his watch before responding, "About four hours. My parents will arrive at three, I think you should get home a little while before that, just to make things simpler," Hanschen explained.

He got a sad, but accepting nod in response, "I suppose so."

"No more of that. Now, where has your bag got to? I think it's best that you wear your own clothes today," Hanschen said, ignoring how the image of Ernst in nothing but one of his shirts effected him. He wanted to them to spend time outside and they didn't need the disapproval that would come with a repeat of yesterday's wardrobe.

"I left my bag in the library after I tried to study," Ernst supplied, moving to get out of bed and retrieve it himself. "Hanschen, where are my pants?"

Hanschen spared a momentary and far from thorough glance around the room, not moving from his position leaning against the wardrobe. "Not sure. Maybe you'll have to go naked," he lamented with faux regret as he attempted to pull the bed sheet off of Ernst's lower half.

"Stop it! I'm serious, help me find them," he demanded, tugging the sheet out of Hanschen's grasp and wrapping it around his midsection. Hanschen sighed and bent to check under the bed, pulling out Ernst's pants from underneath it.

"It seems you weren't looking very hard," Hanschen remarked with traces of laughter in his voice. Ernst made a small sound of defiance as he took the pants before standing up and turning away to put them on. The action confused Hanschen, as modesty was essentially pointless after all they had done and seen of each other, but he didn't mind considering his view from the back was equally enjoyable as from the front.

"Goodness. You'd think I was a painting with the amount that you stare," Ernst muttered as he finished buttoning his pants and turned back around.

Hanschen just grinned and leaned forward just enough to grab Ernst's arm and swiftly pull him so they were pressed against each other. After a moment of letting the tension rise he leaned in and gave Ernst a brief, but deep kiss, licking his lips as he pulled back, "Hmmm, I never thought oil and canvas would taste so good," he murmured, his mocking nature dominating the situation.

Ernst smiled and shifted in Hanschen's arms, "Shall I go get the rest of my clothes now?"

"I don't know… I rather like you like this," he responded, running his hands up and down Ernst's bare sides. Although the words and actions were intended as humor, the truth behind them seeped though as his hands gripped tighter and he leaned in to kiss the neck that was so temptingly exposed and unburdened by a shirt collar. Ernst allowed his head to fall back as his arms came up to encircle Hanschen's shoulders, giving into the sensation of his lover's lips hungrily exploring his neck. Not wanting to be entirely passive in the situation, he leaned up to kiss Hanschen's cheek and tightened his hold around his shoulders as he was hoisted up and laid back down on the bed.

"Ah… Oh! Um, a-are we going to do this all day?" Ernst asked, fighting to maintain control of his speech.

Hanschen took a deep breath and drew back, "Without a doubt, but not here. Come, you said you left your bag in the library?" He stood and pulled Ernst up with him, leading them out of the room and down the stairs. As one boy questioned the logic behind deciding to stop what they had started, the other just allowed followed in a pleasure addled daze, not entirely sure what was happening. When they made it to the library and saw Ernst's bag just where he'd left it, Hanschen gave him a small push and told him to finish getting dressed while he went back up and did the same as he was still in his night dress.

Ernst shook his head to wake himself up and headed over to his bag, slowly pulling out a clean shirt, vest and socks. He was still buzzing slightly from earlier, leftover sensations still flitted over him. He looked down at himself, at the body that until a few months ago had only ever been touched with familial affection, a mother's hug, a father's pat on the back, never anything even close to what Hanschen had showed him touch could be. He brought his hand up and experimentally ran it across his chest. It was different. Nothing like what he'd felt up stairs just a few minutes ago, it was more like a reminder or a memory of that touch, the same basic action with none of the same intention behind it. He closed his eyes and tried to remember some of the more specific things Hanschen did with his hands. He recalled something and focused in on it, opening his eyes again and looking back down at his body. He lifted his hand so that instead of a flat palm just his fingertips remained in contact with his chest then slowly slid them down his torso and over his stomach. That did something. It felt more like the real thing, elicited some of the same sparks of sensation, but it still wasn't nearly as potent as when it came from Hanschen.

"What are you doing?" Speak of the Devil.

"Um, I… I was, uh… curious," Ernst stuttered out in embarrassment, hastily trying to put on the shirt that had been hanging limply in his hands.

"About what?" Hanschen asked, a broad smirk on his face.

"H-how it, um… feels to-to uh-"

"Touch yourself?"

Ernst looked at the floor, "Yes."

Hanschen walked over to where Ernst was standing by the table, shirt hanging open and eyes fixed on the space in front of his feet and placed a hand under his chin to force eye contact, "And? What did you think? Don't be shy, tell me."

"Well… it's not the same," he offered to which he received a chuckle in response.

"Of course it's not the same."

"Then why do people do it?" Ernst asked.

"Because, sometimes it's all we've got and if you do it right and think of the right thing it can be very good," Hanschen explained.

"Oh… Interesting," his eyes returned to the floor as he quickly buttoned up his shirt and tugged on his vest before crouching to pull on his socks.

"Ernst." He looked up. "Don't be afraid of yourself. Our parents may say it's bad, but that doesn't mean it truly is. Let yourself feel," Hanschen advised, pulling him back up to standing.

Ernst nodded, but still wasn't able to relax. It was strange to be encouraged to do everything he was one taught was sinful and stranger still to believe that this alternate teaching might be the truth. He shrugged and took his bag off of the table and slung it over his shoulder. Now was not the time for questions or doubts, now was the time to savor their last few hours of freedom. "So, are we going somewhere?"

Hanschen smiled, "Yes. I thought we might go up by the stream. I know a place off the path that is hardly ever frequented, besides most everyone will still be in church at this time of the day so there isn't any chance of us being bothered… What?" Ernst face had adopted a sharp look of alarm.

"Church! My Momma will kill me if she doesn't see me there. It's not as if your family doesn't attend, so she'll be expecting us!" he shouted, his voice sounding on the verge of panic.

"Calm down, I think she'll forgive you for missing it just this once. I'll even tell her it's my fault if you like," Hanschen said, putting his hands on Ernst's shoulders to steady him, "Please, just forget about church for today."

After a few moments, Ernst gave a hesitant nod and took a breath to compose himself, "What will you tell her?"

"I don't know, I'll think of something. Now come, I think you'll enjoy this."

It was a half hour's walk to the stream, followed by another ten minutes to get the place that Hanschen had in mind. It was about a third of a mild downstream from the bridge and they had to walk along the bank to get there as the path led uphill and away from it. It was a small area, heavily overhung and shaded by trees and the water was significantly shallower. The conditions were far from ideal for swimming or rafting, which made it perfect for the privacy they desired. Ernst sat down on the dry slope that lead to the water and looked up at Hanschen, "How did you find this place?"

He shrugged, "Walking on the path bores me."

"So I've learned."

Hanschen smirked and joined Ernst on the ground. Once they were settled Hanschen put his hand on the back of Ernst's neck and leaned in for a kiss, at its reciprocation he ley back in the earth and pulled the smaller boy on top of him to let the situation run its predictable course. They kissed and the kisses got deeper. They touched and the touches got possessive. They breathed and their breath became gasps and then moans and then sharp cries as they were completely undone by each other.

Affection is greatly undervalued. Most people will crave love, falsely believing that loyalty and tenderness and affection and passion will follow in its wake, eternally bound to its power like slaves to their master. What people fail to realize is that it all happens in the opposite order. Love is not the gatekeeper or the master but rather the slave, being dragged unwillingly along behind all that comes before. Those who love freely do so without understanding this order, they allow it to lead them, they give it the ultimate power that it's not meant to have until it consumes them. Those who guard their love understand the true value of affection. They know that what they are giving is something that others are lucky to receive and that if it's returned no outside force can take away its power.

Later, they sat together with Hanschen reclined against a tree, legs sprawled out in front of him and Ernst rested comfortably between them, his back on Hanschen's chest and strong arms encircling his waist. Both were lazy about clothes, their shirts abandoned a few feet away and their pants on, but left unbuttoned. As far as modesty went they were covered, but it didn't matter, they were alone, far from any place where something as trivial as clothing meant anything. Off in the distance, back where things mattered the church bells started to ring. The sound was fainter from so far away, but still perfectly clear. One. Two. Three.

Hanschen kissed Ernst's temple and sighed, "My parents will be home soon."

"I know," Ernst mumbled, shifting in a way that stubbornly said that he wasn't planning on getting up.

"I should take you home."

"You should."

Of course he wasn't going to make this easy. In a perfect world a weekend alone together wouldn't be so hard to come by or so secretive. But they didn't live in a perfect world, they lived in the real world, and in the real world nothing was accepted or okay unless it was an exact follow through of parental instruction. "I don't like it either, but he have to. I'll see in school tomorrow," Hanschen said, urging Ernst to turn in his lap so they were face to face. He grudgingly nodded and went to pick up their shirts, sitting back in Hanschen's lap as he dressed. Hanschen put on his shirt then began buttoning Ernst's, smirking slightly as he did, "It is awfully strange helping you to put your clothes on."

Ernst laughed a little in agreement and moved to do the same for Hanschen. Once they finished the very slow process of dressing they both looked in the direction they had come, knowing they should start walking, but not showing any indication that they were going to. Eventually Hanschen made the first move, picking up Ernst's bag and hanging it over his shoulder, then using his continued hold on it to pull him towards where they had to go with a slight tug. They walked side by side, silently and slowly. They crossed the bridge and let go of each other's hands. They re-entered the village and walked a little farther apart. They started on the path towards Ernst's house and slowed their pace even more. And when they finally reached the house they went around to the side instead of parting ways.

"Thank you, Hanschen. This was wonderful."

"It was, wasn't it?" He agreed, tracing a finger over Ernst's jawline.

"Y-yes. I'll see you tomorrow then?"

"Tomorrow." He leaned in and Ernst jumped up to meet him, wrapping his arms tightly around his neck and kissing with a level of possessiveness that matched Hanschen's. It was rough with tender intentions, claiming and promising. They gripped each other hard and kissed harder. When they released their breathing was heavy. Hanschen straightened Ernst's coat, brushed off his own shirt and started walking away.

"Hanschen!"

"Yes?" He asked, turning around.

"Um, my parents are going to the theatre next Thursday night. The-they won't be back until late."

"Oh? And what are you suggesting?"

"Would you like to help me study?"

Author's Note: I'm so sorry this took so long to finish and there's really no excuse for leaving a story un-updated for over two years, but here it is. This is the final chapter and I'm actually quite proud of it. This is the first multi-chaptered fic that I've completed (claps yay!) so I'd love any feedback you've got to give. Thank you so much for sticking with me through this!