Pairings: Tybalt/Titania, Tybalt/Mercutio
Rating: PG-13? (impressionistic sex, but no squelchy bits)
Warnings: Sexually charged situation involving a minor (no underage sex)
Length: ~4000 words
Night by Night
"No, Master Tybalt. When you have the advantage, you must follow through on it immediately. Don't hesitate or your opponent will simply come up under your defence like this. Now, let us try again."
The thirteen year-old boy returned to his position opposite his fencing master, and they began sparring again, their rapiers flashing as they caught the late afternoon sun slanting between the medlar trees.
"Much better, Master Tybalt," the tutor panted as the bout ended with Tybalt's bated blade at his chest.
"You fight like a girl!" They looked up to see that a boy a couple of years older than Tybalt had climbed up the orchard wall, and was now sitting on it, looking down at them and dangling his legs. He leapt down and demonstrated with a mime.
"And you fight like a farm-boy." The younger boy turned to his tutor. "Doesn't he?"
"It is true that Master Mercutio lacks as yet the grace and flair of a truly accomplished fencer And, I am disappointed to say, shows little interest in improving himself," the tutor began, as Tybalt smirked. "In speed and confidence, however, I consider him one of my most accomplished pupils." Now it was Mercutio's turn to smirk. The tutor gave the two boys an appraising look. "You two are well matched. You both have strong natural talents, though you each still have much to learn."
"Are you finished?" Mercutio asked.
Tybalt glanced at his tutor, who nodded. "Yes, I think that's enough for today. Spend some time practising those forward thrusts I showed you earlier. I will see you again next week."
The tutor turned to leave the orchard, as Mercutio jumped down from the wall. He waited until the tutor was out of earshot, and then said "Could you sneak out of your bedroom tonight, and meet me at the city gates? Half an hour before ?"
"Why?" Tybalt asked.
"There's something I want to show you."
Tybalt nodded. He could see that Mercutio wasn't in the mood to reveal any more, and he knew from experience that if he tried to probe further, he’d get nothing but a load of nonsense. If he tried to push beyond that, Mercutio was very likely to change his mind and tell Tybalt to get lost.
In truth, he was still somewhat in awe of the older boy. Mercutio always seemed so much bigger than him even though they were of a height and both of slender build – something about the way he carried himself.
A bell rang from the house. "Supper time. I have to go," Tybalt said.
"I'll see you at the West Gate tonight, then," Mercutio said. "Wear some old clothes. And don't be late."
The combination of the summer heat and his own tense anticipation meant it wasn't hard for Tybalt to stay awake that night. He waited until he heard the clock strike eleven, and then he rose and pulled on some clothes, shoving a few more into his bed to make a body-sized lump. He listened at the door and could hear that some of household was still awake downstairs, so he climbed out of his window and down the ivy to the ground, then slipped to the side gate and let himself out, glad of the full moon lighting his path.
Some drunken revellers were still on the streets. "Hey, pretty boy! Looking for a bed for the night?" one of then called. Tybalt tensed, and forced himself to look straight ahead as he hurried on, their laughter following him down the street.
As he neared the West Gate, he looked about for Mercutio, and felt a rising sense of alarm when he couldn't see him. Could it all have been a silly trick? Would Mercutio and his friends be laughing at him tomorrow?
"Hsst! Tybalt!" a voice whispered. He turned with a wave of relief and saw Mercutio in an alleyway. "Couldn't stand too near the gate, the guards would have asked questions," Mercutio explained. "Follow me."
Tybalt followed Mercutio through the narrow streets until they came to a point where a wide gutter flowed out of the city through a low gap in the city wall. A sluggish stream of water flowed through it, smelling strongly of piss. Mercutio stepped into it, bent down and wriggled through the gap. Retching at the smell, Tybalt followed suit.
Mercutio led them down along the path of the gutter-stream until it joined a larger stream of fresh water. "We'll need to leave our clothes here and wash ourselves," he said. "Otherwise, they'll smell us."
"Who'll smell us?" Tybalt asked, visions of wolves and wild bears crowding his mind.
"The fairies," Mercutio said, pulling off his shirt.
"Fairies!" Tybalt laughed. "Don't tell me you believe in fairies! We're gentlemen - not babies or serving-maids!"
"Fine." said Mercutio . "If you don't want to see them, then go back to your bed. It's that way. Just follow the smell of piss."
Tybalt could have kicked himself. "I'm - I'm sorry, Mercutio. I didn't mean to laugh at you," he said quickly. He hesitated. "Fairies? Do you really mean it?"
"The Fairy Queen, I think," Mercutio said, sounding somewhat mollified. "But we won't see anything unless you hurry up and get out of those clothes."
Tybalt stripped off and splashed himself with water from the clean part of the stream. Even on this hot summer night the water was icy cold and he gasped as he tried to rid himself of the smell of the gutter.
"Can you splash my back?" Mercutio asked, and Tybalt did as he was asked, then turned around for Mercutio to return the favour. Tybalt thrilled a little to the touch of Mercutio's hands on his back; and was thankful for the aid of the cold water in preventing his arousal becoming too obvious.
"Right," said Mercutio a few minutes later. "I think that will do. We'll have to be quiet from now on." As they got out of the water, Tybalt couldn't help noticing Mercutio's hairiness. He felt slightly ashamed of his own still-hairless body.
The two boys followed the course of the stream, which soon entered a forest. The twigs were sharp underfoot and Tybalt bit his lower lip to stop himself from crying out as briars caught and snagged at his bare shins.
After a while he saw a faint glow in front of them, and a few minutes later, the faintest hint of song borne on the night breeze. Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby. It carried with it a scent of musk roses and sweet violets.
They became even more careful of their movements as they drew closer. Mercutio gestured that they should drop down onto their hands and knees and they crawled the last few yards until Mercutio stopped and put out a hand to Tybalt to do the same.
Through the briars, Tybalt saw, illuminated by the strange glow, a woman of earth-surpassing beauty.
She lay on a bed of flowers with one arm flung above her head. Her eyes were closed, and her lips were slightly parted. As she breathed, her bosom rose and fell, and her fragile garments shimmered and danced around her. Tybalt glanced across at Mercutio who grinned back at him, and then they returned to watching her.
"Intruders! Interlopers!" The boys started at a sudden shrill voice behind them and turned to see a point of light like a glow-worm. "Mortals! How dare you trespass in the bower of the Queen! Peaseblossom! Mustardseed!" Two other points of light flew in.
"Run!" Mercutio cried, but as they scrambled to their feet something glittered out from the points of light and surrounded them. Tybalt felt his legs give way and then darkness took him.
He awoke to a heady, almost intoxicating, smell of musk roses. He could feel something soft underneath him - not silk or velvet, yet it resembled them both.
"Well?" he heard a woman's voice say. He felt a hand on his cheek and opened his eyes to see the queen gazing down at him. "What hast thou to say for thyself, mortal boy? The penalty for spying on the Fairy Queen is death - unless I choose to pardon thee."
"I..." Tybalt stammered.
The queen moved her hand down and stroked his chest, and Tybalt felt his heart pounding.
"Thou art such a beautiful boy. It would be a pity to deprive the world of thy beauty, and the beauty of those children that haply may spring from thy seed when thou comest of age."
He tried to sit up, but she kept her hand on his chest and pushed him back onto what he now realised was a bed of rose petals.
"Mercutio - where is Mercutio?" he managed to ask.
"Thy companion?" The queen waved a hand vaguely. "I have sent him hence. He does not interest me."
Her other hand continued to caress his chest and despite his fear he felt his manhood stiffening. She smiled. "I see thou hast the desires of a man, for all that thou art so young." She sighed, and bowed her head. "And yet thou art too young. Thou remindst me as yet too much of a changeling child I once loved as if I had been his mother." Tybalt was startled to see tears shining in her eyes. But a moment later she recovered herself "Fairies! Bring nectar and sweet berries!" she called. She looked back down at him. "We will eat and drink. And then I shall release thee; and four years hence, thou shalt return to me. If I like what thou hast become, I will take my sweet payment then." She added, as if to herself “And if not, there are bitter forms of payment, too."
The fairies soon arrived with acorn cups filled with nectar and berries, which the queen slipped into his mouth. At the back of his mind he remembered stories of mortals trapped in fairyland forever because they let fairy food pass their lips, but he did not dare to risk angering her. And he felt as if he was in a dream and was not certain he could have refused even if he had wished to.
Eventually, the sky began to lighten. "Dawn is approaching," she said, “and I must bid thee farewell." She frowned slightly. "Return here in four years time. Do not think to disobey me, for my magic is of no common sort."
"I shall not, my lady," he said, and turned to go.
"Wait!" she called. "I do not know thy name!"
"Tybalt, my lady." he said. "May-may I ask your name?"
She smiled. "I have many names. Some call me Queen Mab, but thou mayst call me Titania. And now - hence!" She waved her hand, and suddenly Tybalt found himself standing back in his bedroom.
His first thought was to worry what had happened to Mercutio, but quickly following that was a worry that Mercutio would tease him for worrying too much if he ran round to his house at the crack of dawn. He had decided to wait and go round to Mercutio's house that afternoon after his lessons but as he moved over to his bed he realised that the lump in it was no longer the clothes he'd stuffed in there but a boy. Mercutio.
Tentatively, Tybalt shook Mercutio's shoulder. Mercutio took a moment to wake and then sat up and embraced Tybalt fiercely. "Thank God you're alright!" he whispered. "When I found myself back in my bedroom, I thought you would be in yours, but I came here and...and you weren't."
They embraced for a moment longer, and then, suddenly becoming awkwardly conscious of the fact that Tybalt was still naked, they separated. They did not quite meet each others’ eyes.
"I should be getting back home," Mercutio said.
"See you this afternoon?"
Tybalt nodded again.
"Tybalt, are you alright?" Mercutio asked softly.
Tybalt remained silent for a few seconds. He realised then that he was not going to tell Mercutio what had happened to him that night. He didn’t know if it was because he was ashamed of what had happened, or because he desired to keep the memory all to himself. "I think I will be," he said.
"'Course you will," Mercutio said, sounding oddly lost. He punched Tybalt on the arm. "See you later then."
Four years later.
Titania, in his dream, was darker and more powerful than he remembered: a creature of night and shadow, mistress of storm-clouds and subtle poisons. "The time for the fulfillment of thy promise draws near. The sun will rise soon. Come to me when next it falls below the horizon, in the wood where last we met," Tybalt heard her say. "Please me, and I have pleasures and rewards to offer thee, beyond most mortals' dreams. But displease me or disobey me and thou shalt feel the wrath of a Queen, nay of a Goddess."
She began to fade from view, and as she did so she added "Come alone."
Tybalt half-woke, sweaty and restless. Mercutio, lying beside him was disturbed by the movements, and reached out an arm to bring Tybalt closer to him, murmuring something inaudible. Tybalt moved into his lover's embrace for a few moments, but the night was too warm to sleep so closely entwined. He kissed Mercutio, and then turned away, his head still filled with clamorous thoughts
As always, Mercutio woke him shortly before dawn, for one last kiss before he slipped away back home.
"Don't need to go yet. Stay a bit longer." Tybalt
Mercutio kissed him again and shook his head. "It's almost light already," he said. "I should have gone half an hour ago. I was almost spotted by one of father's servants last time."
"Oh it's the light is it?" said Tybalt, now a bit more awake. His eyes sparkled. "That's only the moon." He reached down one hand to Mercutio's buttocks and pulled their bodies closer together. "You don't need to worry about that."
Mercutio raised his eyebrows. "The moon is it? And I suppose the light is so bright because she's come down to peer through your window and have a closer look at what we two beautiful boys are doing to each other."
"Mmmmm...that's right." Tybalt murmured into Mercutio's neck. He moved his head down to kiss Mercutio's bare chest. "She likes to watch."
Mercutio lay back and closed his eyes. "Well we shall have to make the moon green with jealousy to match her green-sickness, if that's what she desires. It would be discourteous to disappoint a lady, wouldn't it?"
Tybalt felt a shock run through him as he was suddenly reminded of Titania. "No, you were right. You should be going. If you were caught..."
Mercutio looked at him sharply, his expression combining frustration, confusion, and relief. Then he sighed, sat up, and began to pull on his clothes.
Tybalt put out a hand and stroked Mercutio's back. "I love you," he said.
"I know," Mercutio replied. Then he grinned, and kissed Tybalt again, and then he slipped out of the window.
Tybalt told his manservant that he would be out late at a friend's small party, and not to expect him back much before dawn. He left the city in the early evening, before the gates were shut for the night and went and sat by the stream to eat his supper of bread and cheese. As the sky darkened, his mind filled with increasing trepidation and desire for the night ahead. He followed the stream into the woods just as the first stars were coming out. The journey was far more comfortable than last time, fully clothed as he now was, but it seemed to take longer than it had four years ago. The night was almost pitch black by the time he scented musk roses and violets, and saw the faint glow up ahead.
Two points of light flew out to meet him. "The Queen is expecting you, mortal" they said. "Follow us."
He stroked down his hair, and followed the fairies to Titania’s bower. She was even more beautiful than he had remembered. Two cups of wine had been placed on a tree-stump nearby.
She looked up at him, and raised her eyebrows in approval. "A comely youth indeed. I bid thee welcome. Come, sit."
He sat down beside her, and she handed him a cup of wine. It was dark and sweet and he found himself dizzied with the first sip. He tried not to show it, but something must have given him away because she laughed. "Ah! I had forgot how swiftly fairy wine befuddles those who are not used to it," she said. "Let me water it a little." She poured some water from an earthen jug into the wine.
When he took a second sip it intoxicated him as before, but now it stimulated him too. It seemed to flow through his blood, awakening all his extremities with a thrilling warmth. His head felt as if it was floating; and yet there was none of the numbness or clumsiness he usually associated with drinking too much wine.
She took the cup from him, and put it down, then reached a hand behind his head and drew it forward into a kiss, gentle at first, and then more insistent.
She laid him down onto the bed of rose-petals, and removed his clothes, trailing her fingertips over his bare skin as she had done four years before. Then she slid her gown off her shoulders and down to her waist and bent low so that her breasts brushed against his face. He took one nipple in his mouth and sucked eagerly, feeling his member twitch as her breathing
Suddenly (he was not sure how) she was below him, and now she was naked too. She took his head in both hands and pushed it down into her secret parts so that he was almost smothered with the scent of her. He lapped at her like a cat with cream, until she cried out in ecstasy. And then he could wait no longer, and drove himself into the ready warm moistness of her as she gasped again and again, her pale skin flushed and gleaming with perspiration. And then he too reached his extremity and collapsed, exhausted, onto her bosom.
They lay there for an hour or more, until Titania, glancing at the lightening sky, said "It is nearly time for thee to depart."
Tybalt sat up, and began to get dressed. As he pulled on his boots, she spoke
"I have something else to ask of thee, before thou goest. I will be here again tomorrow night." She held up a hand to forestall his objection "Thy debt has been repaid and no harm will befall thee or anyone thou lovest if thou dost not come. But I would fain see thee again, Tybalt, my Prince of Cats." The vulnerability in her half-smile made his heart turn over.
"I will come," he said.
The second night passed much as the first had done; as did the third, and the fourth. Tybalt found himself making excuses to Mercutio, saying that he was too tired and too hot to want a bed-companion. He quashed the voice of reason in his head that told him this was a madness that could not last, and lived each day on the memory of the night before and the longing for the night to come. On the fifth night, after their lovemaking, they lay and talked. "What do you desire, my sweet?" she asked him, a finger idly stroking one of his ears. "What rouses your blood and makes your heart beat faster?"
He knew better than to mention Mercutio, so he talked of his second love: his sword; the ecstasy of a heated fight, when the blades flashed so fast that you were fighting by instinct alone. She smiled, approvingly. "A man should be a creature of action," she said. "A man of words is either peevish and fretful, always worried that he has overlooked something; or else he is forever mocking the efforts and desires of others, whilst he himself achieves nothing."
Tybalt nodded, thinking guiltily of moments he had felt something like the latter about Mercutio - so quick to condemn anything that involved effort but no fun; so reluctant to discuss anything serious for more than a few moments before diverting the conversation with a witticism.
But on the sixth night, just as they had begun their caresses there was a cry from the shadows and they turned to see Mercutio.
He turned the cry into a cold laugh. "So this is where you've been," he said. "I admit, you've surprised me. Not many people do that."
"Mercutio..." Tybalt began. He faltered.
"Please don't tell me that this isn't what it looks like." said Mercutio, his face twisted into a humourless smile. "If we must have drama, let us at least try to make our lines original."
Titania, now fully dressed again, gazed at Mercutio with surprise and a hint of arousal. "Perhaps I underestimated thee," she said.
"Perhaps so, quean," he flashed back. Though the words sounded identical, it was clear from his tone that he meant 'slut' rather than 'monarch'. Titania's face darkened "Take care, mortal. I am not known for my patience."
Mercutio gave an elaborate bow. "Then I will trespass on your time no
longer." He glanced at Tybalt with disgust. "I see that pressing
matters await your attention."
He turned to leave. Tybalt rushed after him; matching Mercutio's fast pace. "Mercutio, I love you!" He was expecting another cynical jibe in response, but Mercutio simply snapped back "Do you love her?"
"I can't help it," Tybalt admitted.
Mercutio grabbed him by the shoulders and pushed him against a tree. "Is that what you think love is? Cupid aims his dart at you, and you have no choice but to swoon?"
"Isn't it?" Tybalt asked, startled.
Mercutio laughed bitterly, and released Tybalt. "You have so much to learn, I can't even be bothered to be angry with you." He turned away. "I was getting bored with you anyway," he said, his face in shadow. "I've been fucking Romeo for the last three nights; and I have to say, I prefer him to you."
"I...I don't believe you. You're just saying that to hurt me,"
"Oh am I? Do you want me to describe what I've been doing to him in detail? Shall I tell you how he squeals when I stick my finger up his arsehole? We do it amongst the trees in the grounds of his father's house; and I'm certain the servants think some strange squawking bird has taken up residence there. And indeed that pretty youth is something of a popinjay; though those popinjays archers aim at in practice are not usually so easily impaled as young Romeo is." He turned to Tybalt, grinning wickedly. "He begs me for
"Go back to your fine mistress. I have no further use for you."
"Go!" Mercutio screamed in his face.
Tybalt was forcibly reminded of the times they had quarrelled as children. Mercutio had always got his way then; and now he did again. Tybalt stood in silence for several minutes as he watched Mercutio gradually vanish into the dark; and then, not knowing what else to do, he turned and made his way back to Titania's bower.
She opened her arms to him. "My poor boy," she said; and she held him as he wept. "Love is a dangerous, poisonous thing. It makes men mad," she told him. "Better to have nothing to do with it, if thou canst." She laughed. "Nay, do not even love me. For we faery are a fickle folk, and like as not, I shall find another youth to take to my bed before too long. Oberon and I permit each others' dalliances only because we know they never last."
Tybalt looked up at her. "I don't know what to do," he said.
"Give me your sword-hand," Titania ordered.
He held it out. Titania stroked his arm with her fingertips, and then traced a strange pattern on his palm.
"Now hast thou some of the subtlety and shadow of the fair folk. Not even the best swordsman will be able to predict thy strokes." She put a hand under his chin and raised his head so that he looked into her eyes. "Let thy love for thy sword become thy shield. Bear thyself proudly; let none see thy pain and thou wilt find that it fades soon enough, as colours fade in twilight. Instead of love, seek reputation and honour. Love burns for an hour or a year and then is gone; but reputation may outlive thee many lifetimes."
She smiled, and her smile seemed full of wisdom.
Tybalt took a deep breath and nodded. "I will do as you suggest," he said.
He stood up, kissed her hand, and walked away into the dawn.