I didn't expect to feel the need to write this because, lets face it, Ken Follett has already written 1000 pages of The Pillars of The Earth.
But Tom Builder. This Tom Builder. The Tom Builder that Rufus Sewell has breathed life and soul into as only Rufus can, needs his own stories.
So this short one off is based directly on a small section of Episode Two "Master Builder."
Now, I've never really written anything like this before because up to this point, all my stories have been set "post show" as it were. But this scenario, as played out in the mini series, is very, very different from the book, and I felt the scene needed expanding upon. Even just for my own satisfaction - i needed to get inside Tom's head.
Anyhow, I've been overtaken by this story since Pillars started screening on Friday and I hope it works ok. I'm sure you'll tell me quick smart if it doesn't!
And as some of you already know - my alternative title for this story is "Tom Builder's Guide To Having Great Sex With Your Pants Still On" (so be warned - it's not rated M for nothing people!)
It had been a long, long hard day shifting rubble. Like every day had been since the church had burned. But then every day in Tom Builder's life had been hard.
He sighed, tiredly.
But at least he and his family had food to eat and a roof over their heads, and he had a dream to hold onto. So despite the pain in his back and the extra blisters on his calloused hands, in many ways it had been a better day than many.
He looked down from the hay loft and smiled fondly at the figures of his sleeping family. They looked snug and warm curled up in the stable. His beautiful little girl and his strapping son. He had so many dreams for that boy. Sometimes though, he wondered if Alfred had dreams for himself. He seemed most content with simple labour. It was his Martha that shared Tom's dreams. Dreams of building something, creating something beautiful.
His eyes drifted to Jack. Now that lad was a strange one. Tom hadn't been sure how to take him to start with, thought he was just an odd mute, but even back then he had seen something in his eyes. And over time his respect for the boy had grown. It was Jack who'd found his baby son for him. Jack who'd suggested a way for him to stay with the boy and build his dream. And he had a passion for stone, a finesse, a raw talent that was missing in Alfred. Yes, he had something in his eyes. A passion, a fire, like his mother.
Like his mother. Ellen.
Just the thought of her made him hard.
He stood looking down at the children. His back to her. He didn't want to turn around until he'd settled himself. Regained control over his body. But he could hear her behind him, preparing supper, and his mind began to wander with thoughts of her.
He let out a long, low breath. Standing like this wasn't helping him. The top rail of the balcony was pressing erotically against his heavy cock. But he didn't want to let go of the railing. It was the only thing keeping him grounded. He closed his eyes, but all he could think about was kissing her, running his hands over her body, being inside her.
He sighed. 'This is no way to behave Tom Builder,' he thought to himself. 'You're a grown man. You have responsibilities. A reputation to uphold. You're the master-builder of this priory now, and you and she are not husband and wife. You're not a family.'
But that's what made it so difficult. They had lived together, celibately, as husband and wife for months now. Lived as a family. Travelling, working, eating, sleeping as a family. Slowly falling in love.
But he'd not let himself touch her.
He'd wanted to. Oh, how he'd wanted to touch her, hold her, kiss her since the first moment they met over Martha's injured body. Since he'd first looked into her soulful eyes and felt that spark of desire in his groin. But like an honourable married man should, he'd dampened that flame of desire with his family, his search for work, his pregnant wife and later with his grief.
But he'd not let himself touch her.
He'd been with Agnes for so long. She had been his rock. His anchor. And without her he had just floundered. Floundered in his loneliness and grief and pain and guilt. For days, for weeks. His guilt at making her with child yet again, at making her suffer through another difficult pregnancy, of not being able to provide for her, of not being able to give her a roof over her head and a full belly. Guilt at her death. Guilt at losing his baby son on her grave. These things were almost more than he could bear. He spent weeks struggling through the fog and when he found Ellen again at the Bishop's castle she was like a godsend. She had made sure that they were fed, kept them on the move, helped him look for work.
But he'd not let himself touch her.
His heart had almost broken that night as he had watched the church burn. He felt that he had actually been witness to the work of the devil. Men had built that church to worship God. Real men like him had built it with their hands and their hearts and their faith and their souls. From strong timbers and massive stones. And he had watched it burn and fall like it was made of nothing more than matchsticks and pebbles.
But the thought of what he could do now, how he could rebuild it, was awakening something inside him that he thought had been buried by grief. As he watched the church burn, the tiny spark of a flame re-ignited in his belly. A flame of longing. A longing to build something better, bigger, something to truly worship God.
And as that flame of longing was re-kindled, it lit another flame of longing. A longing to make Ellen his own.
The desire he had dampened down for so long leapt inside him with a passion that he hadn't felt for a long time. A burning, lustful desire for a woman. That woman.
And so here he stood. Clutching at the railing for support. Aroused and desperate, wanting her, needing her. And she was so close.
"Tom, come and eat." Her voice cut into his thoughts like a knife. He loved her voice. Foreign and mysterious. Like everything about her.
He stepped back from the railing. Put his hands on his head, sighed. 'Pull yourself together Tom. You're acting like a boy.'
He adjusted his clothing. He was hoping his tunic would disguise his persistent erection. It wasn't likely to disappear any time soon. Once he sat down he should be able to conceal it well enough.
He took a couple of quick steps, sat down next to the low table abruptly.
She frowned. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah, yeah," he replied offhandedly, busying himself with the cheese and bread and fruit she had laid out.
"So, we made good progress today…" He tried to steer the conversation towards the day's events. He needed to talk about work, anything really to stop him thinking about her… naked and in his arms.
They chatted amiably for a while. About the children, about the rubble, about the monks. Anything he could think of to take his mind away from having sex with her.
But nothing seemed to work. He'd always known she was beautiful, had always desired her. But right now she looked like an angel to him. Her wild hair and deep soulful eyes. The swell of her breast under her dress. Her mouth. Her soft sensual mouth.
The desire in his soul was burning stronger than ever. His cock, straining against the laces of his pants, was testament. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest. Could feel the blood pulsing through his body.
They were talking about the monks. She had been telling him how wary they were of her. How it amused her when they stepped back from her as though she was going to bewitch them with her very presence.
He laughed. "You're a distraction you are. I've seen the monks watching you while they work. They don't know what to make of you."
"Oh, I think they do Tom Builder… Are you jealous?" she asked, unexpectedly.
"No, I'm not jealous"
'I'm not jealous,' he thought. 'I'm desperate, I'm hard, I'm many things, but I'm not jealous.'
He looked at her and saw the blatant invitation in her eyes, the implication in her words and he could hold back no longer. Before he had time to consider what he was doing, he was kneeling before her, between her open thighs.
He took her face in his hands and kissed her gently. As gently as he could given the lust that was thrumming through his body. He drew back. Asking her permission to continue. He looked in her eyes.
He could see the desire in her gaze. Her desire for him. And he was gone.
He kissed her hard this time, and she opened her mouth to him. Brushed his lips erotically with her tongue. He pulled her roughly into his arms and swung her down onto the rough bed of hay and sacks.
Her legs were wrapped around his hips, her hands scrabbling with his tunic, trying to get it off of him. He pulled it up over his head. By the time he had taken it off she had already shrugged off her loosely fitted dress and was pressing her naked body hard against him.
They kissed passionately, tongues and lips and mouths, wanting, needing, tasting, his hands exploring the soft warm skin of her body. Her fingers quickly undid the laces on his pants releasing his desperate, straining cock, pushing his pants lower. His mind was having trouble coping with the pace.
He wanted her so desperately, and she was like a wildfire beneath him. Her hands around his cock, guiding him into her. He was thick and heavy and dripping with his desire for her, and as she opened herself to him he slid effortlessly inside her. She gasped and arched her neck as he entered her and for a moment their eyes met. Her gaze was fierce and longing.
He could hold back no longer under the onslaught of her passion and he gave himself over to her, thrusting into her deep and hard. Rational thought left him and as she arched her hips up to meet him, his body took over. His fingers roamed her skin, her body soft under his rough mason's hands. Her hips, her belly, her beautiful breasts, her nipples hard and erect under his palms.
She licked the side of his face in an action so erotic, so completely alien to anything Agnes had ever done to him, that he almost came. He was desperately trying to hold back, but his body was burning with carnal lust. This woman's passion was fierce, her fingers gripping his skin painfully. He felt her body, hot and wet around his cock, her hips arching up to him, taking him deeper and deeper with each desperate thrust.
Her mouth was on his neck, one hand wound in his hair, the other gliding over his body. Despite the work she had been doing her hands were still soft, like everything about her. If he'd known how unbelievably soft and warm and beautiful her body was under her simple clothing, he would have taken her months ago.
The softness of her palm as it ran down his back was driving him wild, and as she slipped her hand under the top of his pants and over his ass, he groaned. Her hand was gripping his buttocks, she was literally pushing him harder and harder into her. Her fingers dug desperately into his skin and he felt himself starting to lose control. She was like nothing, nothing he had ever experienced, nothing he had ever even dreamed about.
And then she whispered in his ear. Words. Erotic words. Words of passion. "Fuck me Tom. Fuck me harder." Words as he had never heard from a woman's mouth before. "Come inside me. Come hard Tom. I want to feel you explode in me."
He gritted his teeth. Waves of passion washed over him and he knew he was past the point of no return. Knew he wouldn't be able to stop now even if he tried. He wound one hand tightly in her wild hair and ran the other down to her leg, as it was bent up around his hip. He pulled her knee higher, opening her up wider. He needed to be deeper, deeper, deeper.
And then he came. Came as he never had before. His whole world focussed on his cock. Pulsing, throbbing, releasing. Filling his body with wave upon wave of intensity as he had never experienced. And in that moment there was nothing. Nothing and no one except the woman in his arms.
She smiled to herself as she held his body tightly to her. He was gasping, his chest heaving. His head was buried into her hair at the side of her neck and she could almost taste his hot breath in her ear. She could feel his heart pounding in his chest as it was pressed against her breast.
She stroked his dark hair, her other hand playing with the rivulets of sweat as they ran down his muscular back.
At last, she had broken through his barrier of self-restraint. At last she had him. Had convinced him to take her.
She knew that sex with him was going to be so much better than this. But he had needed this. Had needed this primal release.
And soon she would teach him. Teach him how to make love to her. How to touch her, where to lick her, when to suck her. And she would do things to him that he had never even imagined. Things that would excite him, thrill him. Things that would blow his mind.
She had loved him from the moment they met. From the moment their fingers had brushed together on Martha's unconscious face. She had loved his face, loved his heart. Over the months they had travelled together she had fallen in love with his spirit, with his mind. And now she had the final piece of him. Now she had his body. And she knew he would be hers for all time.
He had fallen into a deep and satisfied sleep after they had made love. But after barely an hour he had awoken. His body felt heavy and sated, but his mind was racing. He tried to get back to sleep, tried not to wake her, but he couldn't settle. It was as though the passion that had burned in his body a short time ago, had been transferred to his mind. There were clear pictures in his head, crisp images, details, and he needed to get them out of his mind and etched in stone before he lost them.
Quietly he kissed her face, slipped out of her arms, re-laced his pants and pulled his tunic back on, and made his way down the ladder and out of the stable.
He walked quietly through the dark grounds of the priory to his work room.
And there he stayed until dawn. Etching his plans for his cathedral. His dream. His passion.
All his life he had longed to build this cathedral. All his life he had wanted to create a place for God. A place filled with beauty. Filled with light. A place so extraordinarily beautiful that God would want to be there. A place where God and people would meet. A place where His presence could be felt.
He had imagined it in his head. Every stone, every timber, every buttress and joint, every window and arch and column.
But never before had he been given the opportunity, the freedom, to create his passion. But she had given it to him. Somehow, being with her had made this possible. And now he had taken her to his bed, now he had lain with her, she had filled him with love like he had never felt before. He was bursting with life, bursting with passion, bursting with ideas.
He had always made his plans in stone. He was a mason and stone was his medium. Paper was hard to come by and paper plans were flimsy, could be easily destroyed, damaged on a worksite. No, the plans for this cathedral had to be etched in stone.
And so he cast his plates and blackened them and when finally they were ready he took out his precious tools. His set square and scribe, compasses and foot rule, and long into the night he drew the plans for his cathedral.
Until finally, his dream was committed to stone for all to see.
At dawn he made his way through the rubble of the old church to meet with Prior Philip.
The big monk had been surprised to see him so early. "I thought these plans would take a considerable time to draw up," he commented. "I didn't expect to see them so soon."
Tom shrugged. "God's work shouldn't be delayed."
He set out his stone etchings around the room. Philip watched him with interest.
He examined them and frowned. Building plans were unfamiliar to him. "So tell me about your vision Tom. Explain these plans to me."
"Well, it'll have a wooden ceiling like the old church," Tom said, matter of factly. "I'd prefer it stone but it's far too heavy. Also, it's hard to find long pieces of timber. So the nave will have to only be 32 feet wide but it will be high, be very high."
"How will the walls support the weight," Philip asked.
"Well… come and look at this." Tom stood behind one of the stones, his long fingers resting on the etching.
Philip frowned. "Pointed arches? I've never seen such a thing."
"It will bear the weight better which, along with the buttresses, will allow the windows to be tall, tall enough to let in the light."
Tom spoke slowly, quietly.
"A cathedral," he paused, gathered his thoughts. "It's God's ante room, it's half way to heaven. And the light…"
He shook his head. "The light is everything."
Philip was silent for a moment. He walked around the room, looking at the plans. Eventually he spoke.
"How long will this take?"
"Well it depends how many people you employ. But if you were to hire 30 masons with enough labourers, carpenters and smiths to service them, then 15 years"
"Have you done this before?"
"No," Tom shook his head.
"How do you know it will work?"
Philip stared at the plans intently, almost unable to comprehend the majesty of the building Tom was proposing.
Tom folded his arms. Leaned against the wall. "What do you think?"
Philip gazed at him in awe. "I think it's extraordinary," he whispered.
The Prior continued to stare at the plans, examine every detail. He asked question after question after question.
Finally, when there was nothing else to be said, Tom left him alone with his thoughts.
Philip was clearly taken aback by the size and scope of the project, the sheer majesty of the cathedral. Tom sensed he could use some time to be alone.
"Well," he said folding his arms. "I'd best be getting back. Let me know if you have any more questions won't you."
The Prior simply nodded, eyes still transfixed on the etchings.
Tom took his leave and made his way back to the stable. As he walked through the grounds of the priory, he looked up into the morning sun. He felt as though God was already smiling on him. He could feel the warmth of the sun, the breath of the breeze, the blood coursing through his veins. He felt alive and vibrant and happy and hopeful. More hopeful than he had felt in a very long time.
He pushed open the door of the stable and as his eyes adjusted to the gloom, he saw Ellen coming down the ladder from the loft. The children were outside and they were alone. He strode over to her, picked her up in his arms and threw her gently onto a pile of hay.
She laughed her melodic laugh and he laughed with her as he knelt above her. Then he leaned down and wound his hands in her hair, kissed her roughly. She put her hands on his face as he drew away.
"Why, Tom Builder," she laughed. "What has got into you this morning?"
"God." He smiled broadly at her. "God and hope and light and love."
He eased himself down next to her, his body pressed closely along the length of hers. He kissed her again. Slowly this time. Slowly and tenderly.
"Last night," he smiled at the memory. "Last night I couldn't sleep. I was inspired Ellen. Inspired by you. I went and drew up my plans for the cathedral. Etched in stone what had been in my head for so long. And this morning I took the plans to the Prior."
"And?" She turned her head, looked deep into his eyes. Touched his face gently.
His deep green eyes were shining, burning with a light she'd not seen there before.
"He said the cathedral was extraordinary, my love. Extraordinary."
She smiled at his joy and he kissed her again. Slipped his rough hand under her clothing and over her breast.
"I need to feel your body again," he whispered.
"Ssssh Tom," she murmured placing her hand over his and stilling his eager fingers as they roamed over her skin. "There will be time enough for that tonight."
"I don't think I can wait that long," he growled breathily, nuzzling at her neck.
She smiled. "Come on, let me see your plans. I want to see the dream, the dream that has been in your head for all this time. I want to see your inspiration."
"You are my inspiration," he breathed.