He'd never seen anything so fine as the delicate skin of Edmund's thighs. More than a flash of ivory, more than enough to tip him into madness, letting himself say Edmund in his own mind while his lips still shaped Mr. Talbot as was only proper. In his most fevered dreams, the ones where he is lying between those thighs, teaching the beautiful boy beneath him the sweetness of kisses on skin, of mouths meeting for no purpose but pleasure, of trailing fingers causing hitches of breath, all he says is sir.
He'd pushed the covers up as high as he dared, had touched and seen more than he'd hoped before Edmund had asserted his authority and pushed his hand away, and the shadows from the blankets hadn't been able to hide the red rash striping those firm thighs. Too fine for such hard use, too fine for a six-month voyage at sea. Edmund needs tending as sure as Captain Anderson's floating garden does. His eyes would shine brighter than any star in the sky could he only be kept safe, away from the ugliness that Charles sorts through.
He turned away, not letting himself watch as Edmund pushed aside the blanket with the same fine carelessness, rose from his bunk, and fetched an armful of clothes. The rustle of fabric, muted by flesh, was only bearable once the sting of saltwater slapped its familiar caress on his face. Too soon, he turned, to find Edmund naked, fox-eyed and wide-mouthed with delight, rejoicing in the exhilaration of clean water on his skin. He flushed with shame as his trousers grew tighter; had he really thought he could teach Edmund, every inch the lordling, beautiful boy at ease in his lovely skin and in the elements, anything of the ways of love? Surely there had been a chambermaid or a tenant's daughter who had sat firm and pert on his lap, or a tutor whose tongue had mapped his body. He did not carry any marks of ownership on his body, but only because he surely owned all that he surveyed.
He was so very fine, after all, too fine for Charles's handling.