Milk With Honey

Beyond the modest home, outside the light of the glowing fireplace, owls hooted. Crickets sang choruses in the humid summer air, calling to each other. Night creatures scuttled about, while day birds settled in to rest, heads tucked under their wings.

Francis dozed contentedly by the fire, the sleeve of his linen night gown slipping off his shoulder, a book resting open on his lap. He drifted in and out of dreams, shadows flickering on the walls, making odd shapes, beckoning him.

He jolted awake at the sound of knocking from the front door. "Who–?" He mumbled groggily, brushing golden locks away from his face and straitening himself enough to be presentable. Pulling open the cottage door, Francis stared out at the summer night outside, clear and noiseless.

Bright green eyes stared up at him, along with the small black eyes of a rabbit. Arthur peeked out from under his green cape, eyebrows twisted decidedly downwards in a scowl that resembled a pout more than anything. "Don't you have manners, Frog? Let me in."

Francis blinked before stepping aside to let the small boy inside, shutting the door behind him. He watched Arthur climb onto a kitchen chair with some difficulty. The same chair with cushions on it that he always used so that he could see over the edge of the table. With a fond smile, Francis lit a few lamps in the kitchen.

"What are you doing here?" He asked, pulling out a pot from the cupboard, pouring the day's fresh milk in it. He stoked the fires in the stove, and pulled out a jar of honey. Scooping in a generous spoonful, he stirred the pot absently as he waited for the milk to heat. He was making Arthur's favorite, Milk with honey. Whenever he spent the night, he would always have a cupful before going to sleep. He'd stopped asking if Arthur wanted any a long time ago. "It's late, and dangerous to be out alone."

Arthur huffed and turned away, crossing his arms over his small chest, as though that were all below him. "Couldn't sleep." He answered finally, a slight blush dusting his cheeks. "I wanted some milk with honey in it. It helps."

Francis frowned at him, scraping the honey off the bottom of the pot, swirling the amber substance in the milk. "And you came all the way here for that?" He poured the mixture into a small mug, carefully packing away his ingredients. He set the mug before Arthur, hiding his pleased smile as the boy drank deeply, the milk leaving a white mustache at his top lip. "Couldn't you have asked someone at your home to make it for you?"

Arthur froze, and glanced from the contents of his mug to blue eyes briefly, his blush making him look cute, which completely went against his usual appearance. He mumbled something before taking another big gulp.

"What?" Francis prodded, mischief coloring his expression as Arthur's tell tale flush darkened. "What did you say? If you don't tell me, I'll have to assume it was a confession." He waited a moment for the words to sink in before he continued. "What a joyous day! Ma petit lapin is in love with me!"

"Shut up you idiot!" Arthur snapped, cheeks a flaming red as he gripped the mug tightly. "It wasn't a stupid confession." He took another gulp of the warm milk, refusing to meet his eye when the mug came away. "I didn't ask anyone cause...." He hesitated, flicking a look at Francis, who glowed with simple curiosity. "Cause they don't make it like you do."

Francis leaned back against the strait back of the kitchen chair, his smile small and innocently happy. Arthur wasn't sure how to respond to that, wasn't sure what to think of something so small and angelic. So he stopped looking at Francis. Stopped going over the pale line of his neck, the slope of his shoulder. Stopped noting how beautiful he looked in the flickering lamp light, like the angels the bishop was always talking about. He finished off his sweet drink, stifling a yawn.

Francis sat up, holding his hand out, which Arthur easily took. He was never very fussy when he was half asleep. "Time for bed, Ma Petit Lapin. You can go home in the morning." They crawled into bed together, Arthur wrapped snugly in his arms, the tiny rabbit on the pillows between them. Arthur fell asleep nearly instantly, while Francis lay awake for a few moments, thinking over Arthur's shyly whispered words.

They don't make it like you do. Francis smiled and kissed the top of the blonde head tucked beneath his chin. Arthur probably didn't understand what he had admitted, but the words gave Francis a warm sensation. He felt special.