It is not widely known that J.R.R. Tolkien wrote erotica. None of it survived; his family burnt the works upon his death. Somehow one cannot but suspect that Paarfi of Roundwood, as a writer of historical rather than fantastical fiction, was even more circumspect, and burnt certain works himself. Or perhaps he was less circumspect, and merely kept them in a locked box hidden in his desk.
They all had lunch together in Aerich's neat, thoughtful bedroom, but at night they went in pairs, to Tazendra's room and to Khaavren's. No one was quite sure how the arrangement had sprung up, and no one spoke of it in daylight - or, at an rate, more light than was available from the curtained windows, in those soft, uncertain hours between sunrise and waking life, a treasure known only to those whose fortunes have enabled them to take up a life not bound to the regular hours of a profession, and to those whose daily work comes in the evening or earliest morning. The four friends fell in the latter category. It was not until the early hours of the morning that they arrived home, and somtimes partook of a cup of klava (although Srahi pretended that it would make it impossible for them to sleep), and then they went to their four beds, or three beds, or two.
For Tazendra and Pel it was a matter of convenience. Pel was, after all, dapper and charming and had lovers all over the city, yet he refused to ever bring them home; perhaps even a Yendi had too much propriety for that. As for Tazendra, she flirted with everyone, but gave her favors to few, and like Pel, never let them see her home. It was perhaps only natural that they should from time to time come together, to compare notes, perhaps, or try things in at atmosphere of trust.
Khaavren was never quite sure what it was a matter of, for Aerich. Certainly it was not a matter of love, for he had professed that it was not, and Aerich was a Lyorn. It could be, of course, that he did not know his own motives. Khaavren doubted his own motives in the matter, as well. Nontheless, they had arrived at a sort of equilibrium, and each of them was happy, in his own way, with the result.
It was on one of those hours between dawn and rising that Khaavren had thought to ask why it had begun at all. Aerich responed with a slightly sleepy smile and a gentle kiss. "Because I wished it," he said. "And you needed it."
Khaavren could not quite determine what Aeirch had meant by that statement, yet he resolved to continue his questioning until the matter had been resolved to, at least, his own satisfaction. As Aerich and he often went togther in the late mornings to various small cafes, to talk amiably and observe the passerby, he resolved to observe Aerich as well as the passerby, and thereby perhaps gain a deeper understanding of his character. And being a Tiassa, one he was resolved in something there were few forces that could deter him from it.
Two weeks later, as he lay curled up beside Aerich watching the first stirrings of light glow behind his closed curtains, he ventured again to ask a question to which he did not, in truth, expect an answer. "Why me?"
"Because," said Aerich with the same habitual gentleness he exercised in all his speech and actions, "I liked you best."
"How, you like me best?"
"Indeed." Aerich shifted a little, contriving to rest Khaavren's head on his chest, wherupon he began to stroke the other man's hair, working his fingers through it idly. "You have fire, but not too much of it."
Khaavren shifted and allowed a small purrring sound to escape his lips. "Sometimes I would think you have no fire at all, except that you are so warm," he whispered. "So very warm." He laid a kiss on the center of Aerich's chest, and then another lower, and stopped for a moment, trying to gather his thoughts.
"I wonder," he continued eventually, "why you came to the capital at all."
"It's not important," said Aerich, wherupon he wrapped his arms around Khaavren's shoulders to keep him still, and Khaavren realized that perhaps he had discomfited his friend by asking, although of course Aerich would not be offended by the question. Aerich was never offended by those who had neither meant to offend him nor displayed gross ignorance; he was, after all, a Lyorn.
Khaavren thought on this for a while, then said, "As you will," and was still, for fear that Aerich would become ill at ease were he to continue.
Aerich, however, hardly seemed ill at ease, for after a few moments of silence he shifted their positions upon the bed until they were lying side by side, their cheeks pressed together on the pillow in the manner of friends sharing a confidance, or lovers sharing a moment of peace. However, it seemed he had no confidence to share, for he only smiled softly at Khaavren as if inviting him to take the next move. Khaavren, for his part, found this notion so inviting that he at once leaned forward to capture a kiss from his friend's lips.
The Lyorn, it seemed, had no objection to this motion, for he returned the kiss avidly, allowing his tounge to slip between his lips and find its way into the other man's mouth, testing itself against his teeth in the same was an his tounge would have flickered out to taste a sweet. Indeed, Khaavren understood it in those terms, for often when he had taken young ladies as lovers he had thought to himself how sweet their lips seemed to taste while he enjoyed their company.
They moved together slowly, as all their couplings were slow, yet it was hardly any time at all before Khaavren found himself with his shoulders pressed to the bed and his head thrown back against his pillow, struggling with the all the determination of a Tiassa not to allow himself to cry out from pleasure, so as not to disturb the other in the house, should they still be sleeping. Aerich, meanwhile, scattered kisses lazily across the Tiassa's chest and stoumach, with a Lyorn's deceptive economy of movement. As well, he let one hand trail down between the other man's knees (the other still being occupied by clutching at Khaavren's shoulder) and then upward again, in a motion carefully calculated to evoke more breathless half-moans.
Khaavren bit his lip and closed his eyes as he felt Aerich's soft kiss on his member, reminding himself that to make too much noise might distrub his housemates, and as well reminding himself that such activites as he and Aerich might engage in in the early hours of the morning were theirs alone, and like confidences, should not be announced. However, in light of those activities in which his friend was currently engaging, he found this took most of his concentration. Aerich, however, appeared to require little or no concentration to continue. This appearance was doubtless an illusion, for in those who desire to be considerate of their partners (and he was, in all things, considerate) pleasure comes as the resulte of considerable skill, and motions executed with consummate concentration. Indeed, he did not lack for skill.
Thus, it was hardly suprising that it was not long at all before Khaavren lost himself entirely and emitted a soft cry, kept softly only by the fact that he had raised his hand to his mouth to muffle the sounds for fear that his concentration should fail. Shivering with sudden relxation, he let his hand fall and waited patiently while Aerich gave him a few more gentle kisses.
Aerich then laid his head down on Khaavren's chest, in a near-prefect reversal of the positions they had been in not ten minutes before, and closed his eyes as if planning to return to sleep. Khaavren found himself lifting a hand to twine with his friend's hair, making small, soothing motions, as he drifted back to full awareness of his surroundings. However, if he assumed that Aerich was indeed asleep he was sorely mistaken, for his freind opened his eyes again, and said, "Forgive me, my friend."
"Forgive you? How, forgive you?" said Khaavren, lifitng his head to peer down at Aerich in sleepy confusion. "What have you done to offend me?"
"I have not trusted you," said the Lyorn softly. "And I have refused to speak of things which it would behoove me to speak of, if only for the sake of our friendship."
"If you have done me any injury, I forgive it," said the Tiassa, in a sudden passion. "I hold you blamelss if you have not spoken of certain matters, even if you could confide them to me in perfect saftey, for secrets are small and cold things, and weigh heavy on the tounge of an honorable man, even when the necessity of secrecy has passed."
"Nontheless I do not wish you to think that I would not entrust my secrets to you," Aerich whispered. "For I would. I would entrust you with anything of mine, even unto my life."
Khaavren smiled gently. "I know. And I would the same. Know only that you may speak of any secret to me and not fear for it, but do not blame yourself if secrets are hard to speak. Certainly I have kept secrets from you, brother, but not of malice - rather of a desire to keep them even from myself, for some things, I feel, are best forgotten."
The Lyorn was sielnt for a moment, then leaned upward to press a gentle kiss to Khaavren's lips. "But some secrets, I beleive, are more like small seeds that have only just been planted: they will endure a while in the dark, but in time they will emerge and bloom, and everyone will know of them and honor them."
"Then it is enough for me to know the seeds are there," said Khaavren, who had understood by now that this was the matter that had trul been distressing his friend. "You need not unearth them; I will believe that they have been planted, and water them if you require, and when they bloom I shall be the first to smile at them."
Aerich enfolded Khaavren in a tight embrace. "I am grateful that you understand these things, my friend," he spoke, almost in a whisper, as though he feared even an ordinary voice might carry though the walls - which he almost certainly did not, for the walls of the small house were thick and well-constructed. "Rest assured, you may as well be the first to taste of their fruit."
With this comment, and a few more tender touches, the two friends soon returned to sleep, for it was still hours before the time they were accustomed to rise.
Khaavren, however, remembered Aerich's words far better than he would have claimed to. He resigned himself to not realizing their significance for decades - an estimate in which he was mistaken, as it happened, for it was less than a year before such events transipred that revealed exactly what had been meant.
It was some time, however, before he allowed his thoughts to return to their conversation. "For," he reasoned, "it would scarely behoove me, after my talk of letting buried things grow in peace, to dig them up on a whim; and beyond that, I do not wish to cause Aerich, whom I count as a dear friend, any undue distress."
However, he though upon the words that had led up to the discussion of secrets, and realized that his question had still not quite been answered.
Thus it was that, a few days later, he asked once again as they lay side by side in the early morning: "Why did you come to my bed?"
"Because," said Aerich, "I love you."
"As I love you," said Khaavren. "But still, you love Tazendra and Pel too."
"Yes," said Aerich, with a smile. "But still, it would not ahve been right to ask such things of them. Pel has his own intruiges to consider, and besides, I could not have borne his smile. And Tazendra ... I would burn up in her embrace."
"So I am the best of three imperfect choices?" said Khaavren, but in a light tone, to ensure that it was obvious he was only jesting; he did not believe that Aerich would have come to his bed out of such mercenary considerations.
"No," said Aerich. "You complement me. And it seemed to me as well, that while Pel and Tazendra could have anyone they chose, yet you were inclined to lonliness. I would not wish for you to be lonely."
Khaavren felt a sudden upwelling of joy at these words, and he leaned forward to kiss Aerich gently. "I would not wish you to be lonely either, my friend," he whispered.
"Then we are agreed," spoke Aerich. "Such things as we four have will not last forever, but as long as they do, we shall make the best of them. And for the moment, let us not worry about the morrow."
This seemed to Khaavren, for at least that moment, to be the greatest of wisdom. And so he smiled as Aerich returned the kiss.