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amor et odium et invidiam

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The rain and thunder that have come like judgement crashing over the castle have put a stop to their adventures abroad this night, and so Henry sits on Becket’s bed and scowls at the window. Gwendolyn being away somewhere cowering with other women, there is more than enough space for the two of them to sit and scowl there, but Becket keeps his place by the fire, mindful to keep it roaring so that it warms the king’s delicate skin. 

“I hate this rain,” Henry says. He says it unnecessarily, as this should have been a much shorter relationship had Becket not quickly begun to keep an index of what the King of England likes and does not, but then the king is in the habit of saying both the unnecessary and the obvious. In this case he says ‘I hate this rain’ in his grating monarch's voice to signify his displeasure at being unable to stop it, and in the hope that Becket will coddle him.

“I know you do, my lord, but you would not like the world without it. For without the rain nothing would grow, and no wild things would roam forests so that you may shoot at them as there would be no forests–”

“–And no venison or boar or goose would find their way onto my table as there would be no such creatures. I know. Still, I hate the rain.”

A great boom of thunder rolls overhead and makes Henry flinch for he also, whilst one is on the topic of his hates, hates the thunder. Or rather he fears it – and Becket has an index of his fears, too.

“Thomas, don’t hover at the fire like some kitchen woman. Sit with me.” He gestures expansively and then seems, catching sight of the tapestries, to realise where he is. “Well, these are your rooms. Sit so that I may sit with you.”

Becket moves from the fire but does not sit; instead he goes to pull the shutters closed over the windows. Then he turns to the bed and sits. It is thrown with furs; Henry has sunk his fingers into them as if in hopes that the tufts will keep his chilblains at bay.

Henry sighs. “If it weren’t for this infernal weather we would each have had a girl by now. Rolling together – even over hay filled mattresses – and warm. Instead, here we are, alone and freezing.” He puts one hand to Becket’s chest. “Of course, you aren’t freezing. How do you keep yourself so warm, Thomas?”

“I’m not sure, my lord.”

“All the thinking, I think. Your cleverness heats you.”

He is called clever often because the king does not believe himself to be clever, though he wishes to be, and it irks him. Of the sins Henry is guilty of all in some measure, lust, gluttony, sloth, avarice, wrath, and pride, but the sin that is sunken into him is envy, from which stems his possessive nature. Kings, he imagines, come naturally to possessiveness, as they are raised to see the world in terms of what they have and need to keep just as much as they are shown what they do not have but could. To Becket, Henry is a concoction primarily of envy, avarice, and lust. Which isn’t to say that gluttony and sloth and wrath are strangers to him, only that, in Becket’s view, they are ancillary.

All of this is why Becket fears to be alone with the king on nights like these. Thwarted in one avenue of possession, Henry tends to seek another. Becket finds himself half glad that what is keeping them in is a storm, and thus triggers Henry’s unwillingness to let anyone else see him frightened, keeping Gwendolyn safe. He is less glad of the way Henry is looking at him now: here is the warm body Thomas Becket, a warm body as yet unconquered, unpossessed.

Henry has thus far demanded practically everything of Becket but that; Becket is aware of the ‘yet’ that perforce creeps onto the end of the sentence. Of course, he’s thought about it, it would be hard not to when the king speaks so freely of Becket’s love or lack of it. He has thought of his king asking him onto his knees but finds it difficult. What good would Thomas Becket be in the king’s bed? Not since the first blushes of youth has he been soft or, physically, malleable. It is difficult to imagine them together with Becket the buggered and Henry the bugger. Rather, when he does think about it, his mind is quick to supply the opposite.

The king, once in possession of what he wants, is greedy and lazy with his prizes. He would lie – well, he would lie here on these very furs, as if they were his furs and his bed. He would look at Becket with eyes agleam with self-satisfaction, of a line crossed and a battle won. He would see the act as a true sign of Becket’s love for him and as such as his triumph, and he would beckon. 

Becket, in this strange world where kings can be buggered without fear of dishonour, would go to him, would strip him as sometimes he dresses him, and Henry would continue to demand. He would take Becket’s fingers, then his cock, and take and take until there was no Becket anymore, only Henry and the useful thing inside of him. A thing to be moved for pleasure and withdrawn, empty and hollow, once Henry was sated. 

That is the more realistic, Becket thinks, of his imaginings. In his more complete flights of fancy, after the king has done something particularly irksome, he takes his active role to heart and leaves Henry a heaving mess. In these fancies it is the king’s pale, thin body that ends up red with use, is the one marked with ownership. 

Of course, none of this will come to pass, and should it ever come close, should Henry’s burning eyes ever lead to burning words, Becket will simply have to find some clever way to demur.

From the bed, Henry barks: “Fetch some wine, my little saxon. If I cannot be whoring I shall at least be drinking.”

Becket thinks, would you still still call me ‘little saxon’ with my cock rammed up your fundament? but does not say anything of the kind. He fetches the wine. He watches Henry’s eyes ‘til the storm passes.