Entered into for convenience, the marriage had grown into one of true love and devotion that had lasted 60 years. But Daniel Harrigan’s wife was gone now and little connected him to this life. His career in academic folklore had wound up. His family had grown away from him since his wife’s passing. He wondered now if it was too late to finally feel the forbidden touch.
These were the thoughts Daniel sought escape from in his study when, on his desk, he found a book with a plain cover he had no recollection of. Confused, he opened it at random and came across a painting. Appearing to be late medieval to early renaissance, it depicted a hall filled with people…not just people, men, some hairy, some with flat noses, with robes and with pointed teeth, doing all manner of things with and to each other.
And two sat above it all. One was dressed in purple and as Daniel studied the details of his face and muscles he felt his back creak. He had involuntary arched his ass out. The other man was young and dressed in a pink Daniel thought impossibly vibrant for the painting’s era. When Daniel saw the young man’s smile he felt his heart laid bare.
Daniel glanced at the title: “The Étrad Sídhthe Hold Court.” He read on.
The last strains of that awful mournful song they’d played at the funeral still lingered in the back of Daniel Harrigan’s mind. The ache in his heart was nearly as bad as the ache in his joints as he watched the last of the family drive off.
The cars pounded down the driveway, one after the other, a near-endless parade of nieces and nephews. Daniel ultimately recognized none of them, and for good reason. Not one had ever really given much of a tosh about him and his wife. If anything, that side of the family seemed to resent that he and Sarah had been the ones to inherit the estate from his late Parents-in-Law.
As the first fat droplets of rain fell from the sky, Daniel took a step back from the window. He touched the glass where the water splattered against it. It seemed the world was able to weep more than he could, since the tears had refused to come since the moment he flipped the switch on Sarah’s life-support system.
Feeling little in the way of human emotion, Daniel stared out toward the steel-grey horizon. In silence he wondered if this would be the last he heard from those distant relations that seemed to want nothing to do with him. He had his doubts. If wills and money were good for anything, it was bringing out the worst in otherwise passably-decent people.
As the patter of the rain against the weathered stone of the stately home picked up, Daniel grasped the thick curtains and pulled them shut. The place seemed so empty, now, so quiet. Sarah had spent her last weeks at home, would not even entertain any arguments otherwise. In a way, Daniel had gotten used to having the nurses around, helping out, but they were gone now, too.
Daniel sighed. At least Mrs. Blake, the housekeeper, was still around. She’d had the foresight to light the fireplace in the study, expecting a rather chilly autumn evening and she was right. She was probably in her cottage at the edge of the estate, now, dining with her husband.
Memento Mori, Daniel thought to himself, as he sank into his seat in front of the fire. Even in his youth, he’d been well aware that one day he would die. In those days, he was frequently ill, and it was a wonder at all that he’d survived into adulthood.
That Daniel had managed to outlive all of his brothers and sisters, whether by birth or by law, was not an argument in favor of some omnipotent deity, but was rather a testament to the incredible power of pure spite. He had been the eldest, then. And against all odds, he was still the eldest, now.
The world had come a long way since the bright and early days of his youth, but all the important decisions in Daniel’s life had transpired long before all the profound leaps forward that would have changed everything for him. He’d known he was different, back then. His parents had known. But to be the way he was, was not "proper" for someone of his pedigree.
The marriage to Sarah had started out as one of convenience, an agreement made between their families, and not so much between the two of them as private persons. It was a marriage for political reasons, and economic ones—a marriage to ensure that the wealth remained where it was, in Daniel’s father’s words, meant to be.
In the beginning, Daniel merely tolerated the bond out of a desire to stay out of jail. It was a miserable affair, and perhaps less sordid than their parents would have liked. Though the two consummated their vows the evening of their wedding, it remained an open question whether they’d done so effectively as they produced no children.
That both families were trapped into an arrangement that saw ownership of the estate pass on to a childless couple upon his death was entirely the fault of Daniel’s father. It was arrogance, in some part, that the Harrigan seed was strong, and perhaps some vain hope that his son would awaken to some sort of inner man upon bedding a beautiful woman, that kept Richard Harrigan from making the inheritance contingent on Daniel producing an heir.
It was only then, three years into their miserable union, that things started getting better for Daniel and Sarah. Though she’d always seemed the devoted daughter to him, Daniel saw the almost-sadistic glee in Sarah’s face whenever her mother lamented her inability to carry a child to term.
In a way that Daniel still couldn’t quite comprehend, the resentment they both harbored toward their families brought them closer together as a couple.
What started out as just a miserable fact of living during the time they did turned into a marriage of love and devotion stronger by far than any of their siblings’. With love came honesty, and the first person Daniel ever told about his proclivities was Sarah. And he was the first she ever told that she didn’t really give a toss about sex with either men or women.
Though circumstances brought them together in the way of man and his wife occasionally, Sarah made sure nothing came of such undertakings. She had her ways, and Daniel knew better than to ask, though he did, at one time, inquire as to her reasons.
In some way, a part of Daniel had always imagined he would have children. That was just the way the world worked, when he was young. People grew up, got married, and had children. What Sarah told him the day she announced that she’d lost the baby resonated with him for the rest of their years together.
After dinner that day, during one of their nightly games of chess, Daniel asked her why she was so adamant about having no children. She told him that all she wanted was to have a child of her own, that he was wrong to think she didn’t. She also told him that she was more than willing to sacrifice her happiness to save any hypothetical child from the misery of being born into a family of vicious, grubby, backstabbing wretches. Framed that way, Daniel couldn’t help but agree.
Too cautious to ever pursue the kind of relationship that he’d always yearned for, Daniel accepted his semi-celibate life with Sarah. She was his best friend for the years they were together, the only person he could trust to be himself around. They lived a good life together, grew old together, and now, she was gone.
God, Daniel thought to himself. She was gone. She was really gone. Dead and buried, now. He couldn’t just pretend she had another of her weird ideas and was just sleeping in a casket because it was ‘fun.’ She was dead. He was alone.
Daniel blinked. Something was prickling at his eyes. Tears, finally, for the first time since he put Sarah to her final sleep. It hurt to have to let her go. She was the only person he had in his life who loved him for who he was.
At that moment, Daniel couldn’t bear the sight of Sarah’s chair opposite his. He got up, choked back a sob, and rubbed his eyes with the back of his hand. The future loomed over him like dark clouds on the horizon, a storm gathering to wash him away in its wake.
For once in his life, Daniel was truly free. A part of him didn’t like it. Like a slave who had only known bondage all his life, he had no idea what to do now that the people who would judge him and damn him for the things that he wanted to experience were gone.
Truth be told, Daniel wasn’t even sure he would get to taste those things that he’d always yearned for. He was old. Arthritic. While he had been handsome in his younger years, he feared that the years had taken their toll. Worst of all he didn’t quite know how to smile. He’d never really had occasion to.
The tragedy was that the desires that had once been within his reach but forbidden were now open to him, but out of reach. Daniel sighed. Without Sarah, it was only a matter of time before he succumbed to his age, too.
Absorbed in his own thoughts, Daniel made his way to his desk. He didn’t know why. It wasn’t like he had had any work to do in years. His career in the academic study of folklore had long since wound down, and while he still kept up, no one had asked for his expertise in a while.
Something pulled Daniel to the desk, though. It was like a hand around his wrist, gently guiding him there. He sat down and traced his fingers along the edge of the old mahogany table. It took him a moment to realize there was a book right in the middle of the desktop that he couldn’t quite place in his memory.
There was a pretty good chance that Daniel had just forgotten. His mind wasn’t what it used to be. But he was sure he would have remembered such a volume.
The cover was plain and smooth. Though well made, the book was largely nondescript. It was, in fact, its ordinariness that would have made it stand out in the estate’s collection of tomes. If at any point in the last 60 years, Daniel had seen this book, he was sure he would have remembered it.
Curious, confused, and with nothing better to do other than to wallow in the misery of his loneliness, Daniel reached for his glasses and flipped open the book’s cover. The paper was dry and crumbly, yellowed with age and stained in that peculiar way old book pages were stained.
The first leaf was blank, absent even a short dedication, which wasn’t too much of a surprise. Turning the page, Daniel was surprised to find text written in Ogham. As much as he wanted to know what it said, it was not only late, he hadn’t had a single bite to eat all day as well.
Though it appeared to be very old, the book was remarkably well preserved. Daniel noted that the paper was still thick and robust while he leafed through them, though for whatever reason some were lightly stuck to one another. Peeling those pages apart revealed that they were stuck together by some slightly-chalky, slightly-musky substance.
Daniel’s heart beat faster in his chest as he leafed through the pages. Column after column of Ogham text flitted past his vision. This book, wherever it had come from, was a remarkable find.
The world seemed to grind to a halt when Daniel flipped open to an illustration. The detail was remarkable, almost life-like despite the medium in which it was fixed. He traced the edges of the illustration, his fingers tingling upon contact with the old ink.
Whatever analysis Daniel’s intellect could have made about the style of the illustration, or the inks used in its creation, was shunted aside as he took in its contents. Heat pooled in the pit of his stomach, spreading like a warm embrace around his body as he realized what he was looking at.
Gathered in a hall that appeared to be of early renaissance architecture was a truly fantastical menagerie of creatures, each one distinctly male. Comingled with attractive human men were others less human, but no less attractive. There were entities that were hairy, others covered in scales, and yet others as smooth as Daniel had been all his life.
Daniel saw men with snouts, both long like a wolf’s, and flat like a boar’s. He saw teeth and claws and tails, the details almost impossible to discern in the illustration and yet laid out before him as he was drawn into the scene it held within.
Most of all, Daniel’s eyes were drawn to the beauty of the male form that the creatures displayed. Each one was a specimen of masculinity enough to make Daniel salivate, and all of them were participating in a revel that portrayed all of the things Daniel had always yearned to do.
Presiding over it all were two, one dressed in purple, and one dressed in pink, both colors impossibly vivid for the era. Though they were tiny in the illustration, barely visible in the back of the debauchery, Daniel felt as if he was looking up at them from the base of the dais that held their thrones aloft.
The one dressed in purple was a man beyond men. Daniel felt an ache in his lower back. He couldn’t help but arch his back whilst he stared in awe at the veritable god that sat with easy confidence on his throne, robes parted around his enormous, magnificent erection.
The other one, dressed in pink, was younger, svelte, and jaw-droppingly pretty. As his gaze traced the small smirk on the young man’s face, Daniel felt a stirring in his loins that he’d not felt in years. A quiet gasp escaped him, yearning to touch the one in pink, to swallow the cute little cock that he was daintily stroking through the sheer pink veils that left very little to the imagination.
Daniel blinked. He felt like he’d just been transported to another world. Staring at the illustration there was only one thing he wanted more than anything else in the world at that moment. Quietly, as if the words were being drawn from him by some unseen force, Daniel whispered "I wish I understood what this book said."
A chill ran down Daniel’s spine. He’d closed his eyes without even noticing. When he opened them, he staggered back in surprise, nearly falling over backward from tipping his chair too far. Where there had once been Ogham script was now a single line in English. "The Étrad Sídhthe Hold Court."
Daniel shivered. He was a scholar of folklore, had studied the Isles extensively through the course of his academic career, had instructed students that had gone on to make profound discoveries in their field, and not once had he come across any mention of the Étrad Sídhthe. Flushed with arousal and burning with a desire to learn more, Daniel flipped to the next page.
The desire to learn more about the characters in the illustration overtook Daniel like an all-consuming obsession. Somehow, the Ogham in the book’s pages had been translated into perfect modern English. The words within, now that he understood them, drew Daniel in like an eager lover.
The minutes blurred into one another as time slowly lost all meaning for Daniel. The weariness that he felt in his old bones faded as it was subsumed by his thirst for knowledge. No single piece of literature in all of his years of study was so unabashedly homosexual and he just had to know more about it.
Daniel brushed the hair out of his eyes as he traced his finger along the last line of text in the book. It was, in a word, remarkable. Held within the pages was another mythology entirely, one that, in all his years of study, he’d never once heard even a whisper of.
And yet, as he closed the book, Daniel somehow knew all of it by heart. He knew that the two entities reclining on their throne were the Cáel Sídhe, in pink, and the Brogda Sídhe, in purple. He knew their story and their history. He knew about the war against "the Adversary," allegedly the creature to blame for all that Daniel had suffered.
As he sat up, Daniel pulled his glasses off and leaned back in his chair. He pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. His eyes hurt from all the reading, but he thought the minor inconvenience was more than worth what he’d learned.
Daniel draped himself over the armrests of the chair. He looked up at the ceiling. Whether the book contained real folklore or something fictional, he couldn’t yet say. His instincts told him it was unlikely to be the latter.
Sarah would have loved to read the book. She would have probably found the acts depicted within to be more amusing than arousing, unlike Daniel, but she had always enjoyed listening to him talk about folklore and mythology. Though she never really pursued the education she wanted, Sarah had always found anthropology intriguing.
Daniel smiled. He was making himself weepy again. He rubbed the tears from his eyes and set his glasses down on the table. His back ached from spending all night hunched over his desk, but he forced himself out of his chair all the same. He stretched slowly, expecting some pain only to be pleasantly surprised to feel none.
Though he certainly hadn’t gotten any younger, Daniel felt as if his body was lighter than he was used to when he finally got up to his feet. His joints didn’t hurt as much, and he had a fair bit more energy than he did most days, despite having stayed up for gods knew how long.
It was only as he looked around that Daniel realized just how long he’d spent obsessing over the stories in the book. On one side of the room, only a few embers remained in the fireplace. On the other, sunlight was leaking into the room through the gaps in the curtains.
Daniel walked over to the windows and flung them open. The sun was bright, and the sky was blue. The groundskeepers were already there, making their rounds of the estate and doing their day-to-day maintenance.
Daniel felt good. Although the pain of losing Sarah was still in the back of his mind, he physically felt better than he had felt in years. He pushed the window open and took a deep lungful of the country air. It was filled with all sorts of crisp spring scents that he thought he’d forgotten.
"Mr. Harrigan!" called out one of the men below. Daniel returned the man’s wave. "I’m sorry for your loss! But you look great, today, sir! Did you dye your hair?"
Daniel raised an eyebrow at the comment. "No, Mr. Avery," he said. "But thank you, I appreciate your condolences. Sarah was very important to me. If you and the boys need some time off, please, don’t hesitate."
"Don’t worry, Mr. Harrigan! We will! Not today, though, I don’t think. There’s work to be done around the place," said Mr. Avery.
"If you say so, Mr. Avery," said Daniel. He turned away from the window and chuckled. For what it was worth, he and Sarah had been very lucky to get wonderful people invested in the upkeep of the house and the grounds.
Mr. Avery’s question about his hair confused Daniel. He last saw Mr. Avery yesterday, at the funeral, and his hair hadn’t changed since. Daniel opened the drawer in his desk and pulled out the hand mirror that Sarah liked to leave there. He held it up to his face and nearly dropped it.
Daniel could scarcely believe his eyes. His hair was thick, glossy, and black with only a few scattered threads of grey. Much of the wrinkled and sagging skin on his face had also tightened up. Blemishes he’d lived with his whole life had faded to almost nothing, to say the least of the remarkable changes.
After the book was instantaneously translated from Old Irish in Ogham to modern English, Daniel had had his suspicions about the existence of magic. He could have dismissed the change in his appearance as a hallucination of some sort, but Mr. Avery had seen it as well. Unless Mr. Avery was also a hallucination, an unlikely but possible scenario, then Daniel had, indeed gotten younger over the last few hours.
Whilst he admired his reflection, Daniel got to see the process at work firsthand. He watched as the last few strands of grey faded from his hair, as the spark of youth returned to his eyes.
As the minutes wore on, Daniel felt even better. He felt like he could run a marathon or two, and the dull pain in his joints had faded entirely. He unbuttoned his shirt with one hand and realized, with a start, that he had abs. He couldn’t help but feel them up. The sensation of his fingers, lightly brushing across his skin, dipping in the little crevices between the mounds of muscle, made him shiver.
By the time that Daniel set the mirror down, he looked like he did in his late twenties. The only difference was that he looked like an idealized version of himself in his late twenties. He sat down and reached out for the book, snatching his fingers back as a shock traveled up the length of his arm upon touching the cover.
"Fuck!" Daniel muttered. After a minute, he reached out for the book again. He gave the cover a few tentative taps with his fingers, but whatever had caused the earlier shock seemed to have dissipated. He picked up the book and flipped it open, wondering if the shock was the result of something changing on the inside.
At a glance, it seemed as if nothing was different. As Daniel set the book down, two metal rings slipped from its pages and clinked against the desktop. He set the book to the side and examined the rings. One ring, bright pink in color, was just big enough to fit on his little finger.
The other ring, a deep purple color, was much too large for that, taking up nearly half of Daniel’s palm when he picked it up. He wasn’t so sheltered that he didn’t know what it was, but the only time he’d ever seen anything of the sort was in porn. Just touching it made him blush.
Daniel picked up the pink ring and slid it over his little finger. It was a perfect fit, coming to a rest beside the simple gold wedding band on his ring finger.
Heat pooled in Daniel’s stomach as his cock stirred. He was young again, and he’d forgotten what it was to be a young man. His cock was hard as an iron rod in an instant. At the same time he felt an itch deep inside of him that made his hole twitch.
Daniel gripped the edge of the desk and panted. He felt as if a switch had been flipped inside of him, making his arousal shoot from around zero, to way past a hundred. He swallowed, thickly, as his hard cock throbbed between his legs, and let out a little moan as he arched his back.
Unable to resist the tingling heat inside of him, Daniel shoved a hand down the back of his pants to rub at his twitching pucker. He let out another little moan as the itch in his ass migrated deeper inside. If he didn’t find a way to stymie the fire burning inside of him, he was going to end up with more than a finger prodding at his hole.
It was fairly easy to reason out what was causing the sudden spike of arousal, though the blood pounding through Daniel’s veins, making his cock twitch, made it difficult to think straight. He pulled the pink ring off his finger and took a shuddering breath as the lust subsided.
The arousal didn’t disappear entirely. Daniel was still hard, and he still felt an urge to play with his hole, just at a level that was manageable.
After he set the pink ring down on the desk, Daniel eyed the purple one. He picked it up and traced his fingers along the outer rim. He could only imagine it would give him the biggest erection of his life.
Daniel looked around. There wasn’t anyone nearby to see him doing filthy things, but he didn’t feel comfortable with even the slightest risk of anyone seeing. He got up and adjusted himself in his pants. He pocketed the purple cock ring whilst noting that he would have to buy new clothes. Not that there was anything particularly troublesome with his old clothes, just that they were uncomfortably snug in some places and quite loose in others.
Daniel pulled the window shut. He wasn’t a stranger to self-pleasure, nor to self-pleasure without making a peep, but he still didn’t want to risk it. He pulled the curtains shut, though the likelihood that anyone would be flying a drone with a camera in the vicinity was low. Finally, he made his way to the door and made sure it was locked, because the last thing he needed was for Mrs. Blake to walk in on him.
Once the room was secured, Daniel hooked his thumbs into the waistband of his pants and shimmied them down his legs. He sat down, cock throbbing eagerly as he retrieved the cock ring and slid it down his shaft. Gently, he pulled his balls one after the other through. It was snug—a perfect fit.
Just like the pink ring, moments after putting the purple one on, Daniel felt a wave of arousal crash over him. His cock surged, and like a piece of iron drawn to a magnet, his hand wrapped around the girth of his member.
Daniel tossed his head back and moaned. He didn’t remember being this sensitive in the past. But it was what it was. It felt so good to play with his cock. He slid his hand up and down his length, moaning and gasping with every electric shock of pleasure that coursed up his spine.
It wasn’t long before Daniel was thrusting his hips into the air, a good inch off the seat, while he pumped his fist along his erection. Tension coiled in the pit of Daniel’s stomach as he approached his climax. Breathing through gritted teeth he kept himself on the edge for as long as he could, but with his new body, and the fact that he hadn’t experienced pleasure like this in decades, the effort was ultimately futile.
Daniel squeezed his eyes shut and groaned, feeling as if a fog had descended upon his mind as he bucked his hips like a wild animal. His cock pumped in and out of the tight ring that his fingers formed as he got closer and closer to that peak of pleasure.
Daniel’s balls drew up against his body as he reached it, that glorious crescendo. His toes curled inside his shoes and he gave his cock a few more pumps before the cum came blasting out of him, splattering all over his chest, face, and stomach.
Cock rings were supposed to prevent orgasm, at least, as far as Daniel knew, but that one had been too strong to contain. As he struggled to catch his breath from the most intense climax of his life, he idly stroked his still-hard cock, watching the last little bits of cum dribble out of the slit with each squeeze of his fingers.