1. SECRETS

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The Birth of Venus, Botticelli, 1485 _________________________

    "You can't possibly be speaking the truth right now. I refuse to believe you got codger Cromwell to change your grade. You're attractive, for sure Isaac, but I wouldn't sa—"

"I would stop right there if I were you Ash, because the next few words that come out of your mouth will determine whether or not the entire school knows of your countless wet dreams involving that bloody Beckett and how you want him to," Isaac paused and frowned to mimic a serious thinking face, "what did you mumble that night? Mmmm, feels so good Josiah. Keep going—ahh, Josiah, please, don't st—"

"That's enough! I get it!" he shouted with a face as fiery red as a tomato. "It was one time and it's not like I nor any teenage boy going through the horrors of puberty can control their subconscious desires! Isn't there a princess that sang about dreams being wishes of your heart? Heed princesses Isaac, for they are much wiser and more beautiful than you will ever be! Besides, not all of us here are as gifted in the art of seduction as you are. Not all of us can consistently satisfy our primal urges. So what if I can't help it?" Ash threw his arms in the air. "Have you even seen him? I'd let him mess me up in so many ways."

Isaac scrunched his face at the thought.

"Blimey! Speak of the devil, there he is now."

Isaac looked to where Ash was pointing. Sure enough, there was Josiah Beckett standing in the center of the rugby field, short white athletic shorts and everything, conversing with another prefect.

"As of late, he's been pretty close with that Charlie kid," Ash noted, "I can only wonder if there's any meaning behind that intimacy."

"No way in hell. They're both prefects and very well aware of the severe punishments for getting caught engaging in such acts," Isaac argued. Still, he couldn't help but notice the precise placement of Beckett's hand on Charlie's back, just above where only lovers dared to touch as he leaned in and tenderly whispered something into his ear. He both laughed and beamed, an odd sight that had Isaac agreeing with Asher's earlier statement about his physical appearance, but only for a split second. Their interaction was swift and discreet, but he could tell that time had stopped for those two.

Whatever their relationship was, Isaac knew that they'd sworn on their lives to never tell a soul about the acts they engage in when no one is around. And despite Isaac's hatred of the boy, he would never snitch nor spy, for at Eton there was an unspoken rule. Said unspoken rule also corresponded with his firm belief about lust being a core aspect of human nature, and thus no one should be equated with the devil in the case of consensual love because they simply longed for affection and passion.

Therefore, to snitch was to agree with the higher ups that sexual desire is sin, and many boys including Isaac refused to become a traitor to the common youth.

There's one particular story from Eton that many try to pretend doesn't exist: the story of a sixteen year old boy who was supposedly sent to a reformatory school for engaging in sin with another boy. Students of the time didn't actually see this as true, for many believed something much darker occurred. The second boy from the relationship, apparently not sent away because of his influential family, was never the same after his friend's alleged leave.

They say he was like a shell of his former self, as if he witnessed something truly traumatizing. They say he cried every night until his graduation, that the only thing capable of drying his tears was the warmth of the sun once it rose to begin the day. He tried to hide it and no one dared to ask him about his past, but even the softest sniffs could be heard in a hollow dorm when everything was still and nothing living.

     No one knows of the crying boy's whereabouts now, but one can only hope he's found a way to sleep peacefully.

     This story is what sparked the official beginning of Eton's unofficial rule. A general consensus formed around the fact that nobody wanted to prove the rumors from the tale to be accurate. As ignorant and cowardly as it was, Eton could only accept the idea that the other boy really had just been sent to some reformatory school as the truth.

     "I've never wanted to switch places with a prefect so badly before in my life," Asher whined, referring to Charlie, "but I guess there's a first for everything."

     Isaac, half lost in his thoughts and half indifferent about anything involving Josiah Beckett, simply muttered "of course there is" before heading back to his dorm.

✧・゚: *✧・゚:* ✦ *:・゚✧*:・゚✧

That night in his bed, Isaac remembered Ash's unintentionally painful words.

     Not all of us can satisfy our urges as consistently as you do.

I wish, Isaac thought to himself. If he were truly satisfied, he wouldn't need to go out every other night. And he definitely wouldn't feel so frustrated when he didn't. The sad truth was that he could only feel brief satisfaction by fantasizing about the one man he wanted during each of his nightly encounters. He disgusted himself. The man he ached for had saved him from the streets and viewed him as a son and a son only. He would never touch him in the places he wanted to be touched, hold him when he wanted to be held. As a result, this was the one and only case in which Isaac considered his lustful desires as the highest degree of sin.

    He was only fifteen when he first met William. Thrown back onto the street by his most recent client, he remembered being pissed off because the man not only paid him half of their agreed amount, but also refused to let him spend the night in their dodgy motel room. Scumbag said his girlfriend was on her way over.

     Against a brick wall he sat in the pouring rain, legs cradled to his chest. He'd watch each passerby, trying to see if anyone would make eye contact and understand his message. Only one man caught his gaze and kept it.

     "Eighty pounds is my flat rate. But we can discuss any changes later."

     The man just shook his head.

     "The hell do you want then?" Isaac asked trying his best to sound tough. His voice still sounded like a girl's. The man shrugged.

"You just look like you could use a home, kid."

Isaac remembered how the older man extended his arm out for him to take. He thought of how rough his hands felt the first time he held them, his deep brown eyes and the way his drenched white dress shirt clung desperately to his body. Isaac could feel himself growing hot and his mind becoming hazy at the image. He felt two things: desperation for human contact and ultimate shame for being the way that he was. So much shame. So much longing. It's quite ironic actually, the fact that he takes advantage of other people's temptations when he himself is weak to his own messed up urges. He rose out of bed to leave his dorm through the window, trying his best not to wake Ash.

It was around the twenty third hour and most of the students had began their slumber, so Isaac considered it late enough to begin his usual nightly affairs—the only method he had for coping with his true, unachievable and terrible desires.

___________________________

If you happen to be one of those people who skips prologues (definitely not @me), I highly suggest you read it because it's important for Isaac's character!

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