Edward tugged his cover over his head, then cautiously peaked out from under it as his bedroom door opened and then closed softly. He burrowed back out from his cocoon as he saw that it was only his cousin, Richard, and smiled, wriggling upright. "Dickon?"
"Hey," Richard said softly. Richard had a nice voice. He had pretty hair, too: it was auburn, and longer than most other boys'- though obviously, nowhere near as long as Kate's.
"Are you okay?" Edward asked anxiously. "Harry said that your father and our granddad were cross about you hitting Percy and then not trying to stop him and Bagot hurting each other-" their other cousin seemed to enjoy the thought of Richard in trouble, Edward didn't know why- they used to get on well, or better, at least, and anyway, Richard had only been in trouble because he'd been defending Edward.
Richard scowled. "Harry's a tattletale," he said, placing the candle on the stand next to Edward's bed and climbing in next with him. He opened his arm, and Edward immediately snuggled up next to him. Dickon gave the best hugs. "Grandpa just gave me long lecture about proper behaviour in public. Father-" he stopped, and began to stroke Edward's hair instead. "I wanted to make sure you were okay now," he said, "You and Percy made up, right?"
"Right," Edward agreed, a little doubtfully. He and Percy were definitely friends again, for sure, but he couldn't help worrying about what might happen the next time someone dared Percy to do something. And besides..."It just wasn't very nice," he muttered, snuggling closer and hugging Richard. "I hate being the smallest. If I was bigger, I could've made them go away. And I hate kissing, too, it's yucky."
Richard hugged Edward back. "You'll get bigger, Ned," he promised. "You just need to get a bit older, too. My dad'll teach you- he's teaching me, a little...he'll teach me more when he's feeling better," he added, sounding oddly defiant. Edward looked up at him, frowning.
"You're dad's ill?" he asked; Richard shook his head.
"No," he said, though he didn't sound very certain. "He's just a bit tired right now, that's all. He's not ill, he can't be. He's the strongest person there is." he pulled the covers up around them both. "You'll be strong as him one day, then you can kick Bagot's arse as much as you like." he said; Edward giggled, knowing that the adults didn't like it when any of the kids said that, and not bum. Richard snorted too, muffling his laughter by pressing his mouth to Edward's hair.
"What about kissing?" Edward asked, looking up at Richard. "If it's so yucky, why do grown ups do it so much?" his mum and dad kissed a lot, and so did uncle Edward and Aunty Joan. Uncle John didn't kiss Aunt Constance, but Ned had seen him kissing some other lady once when he thought no one was looking, then grumbled at him when he found out Ned was there and told him not to tell anyone. Ned hadn't, not even Richard, though he wasn't quite sure what the big deal was.
"Kissing isn't yucky," Richard said now, a grin flitting across his face. "not if it's done properly, and all parties involved are interested. At least, that's what mum says. She says it's fun, then, and that it means you trust each other."
Ned frowned. "Fun how?"
"I don't know." Richard frowned too,. "We could..." he trailed off, hesitating. Edward caught his drift, however, and his heart picked up speed a little.
"I don't mind," he said nervously. "If- if you like?"
Richard still hesitated.
"Otherwise, the only kiss I'm gonna have for ages is yesterday," Edward scowled at the thought. "I trust you," he added earnestly. Richard's eyebrows twitched slightly.
"Okay," he lowered his head, and pressed his lips to Edward. Edward flinched briefly, but Richard was much more gentle than Percy had been as he kissed him briefly, then pulled back.
"Um," Edward said. That had been much better. His lips tingled slightly, and he felt warm contentment blossoming in his chest. "That was nice." he yawned, and rested his head on Richard's chest. eyes drooping closed. Richard laughed softly.
"Good," he said. "It was nice, wasn't it? Though I still don't see why the grown ups think it's such a big deal. Are you tired? You should go to sleep, it's late."
"Are you gonna stay here tonight?" Ned asked, eyes still closed.
"Yeah," Richard said softly, wrapping his cousin in his arms and letting his own eyes drifting shut. "I'm gonna stay right here with you."