It wasn't the first time James had been sick in a cemetery. The funny thing was, he reflected as he waited for his inspector to emerge from the church, the last time it had happened he had been with Will.
It had been the final night of term, Year 9. They'd stolen wine from one of the storerooms behind the school chapel (James was an alter boy; he knew where things were kept.), and prevailed upon some sixth formers for their cigarettes in exchange for Will's pocket money. That night they'd crept with their spoils into the small graveyard, sheltered from the eyes of prefects or housemasters by the deep shadow of the empty chapel.
They drank the sticky-sweet wine far too quickly, then lay down between the fragile gravestones of consumptive boys from centuries past. James let the soft June air roll over him, unconcerned with the dark shapes that slouched in the grass. He had been anxious of discovery at the outset of their celebration—smothering his laughter, looking over his shoulder for the groundskeeper's torch. But now he felt his fears evaporating, leaving behind nothing more than a slight frisson of nerves, which he put down as a continued wariness of being apprehended, but, which, if he were honest with himself, he might have admitted seemed to spike up whenever he was alone with Will…
Like he was now, not a foot away from where Will was sprawled in the grass, head tipped to the sky, moon on his face…
James doesn't do anything that night. Doesn't ever—with Will. But when he remembers that night later, he remembers kissing Will. It feels like something that was supposed to have happened, that did happen for another James Hathaway, one he could almost see in the corner of his eye, just a half step to his left and behind him.
But this James hadn't dared. And perhaps Will was tired of waiting, for he sat up suddenly and produced a pack of cigs. James took one and lit it with panache. They felt very mature, glamorous and subversive, up until they began coughing and gagging.
Instead of whatever it might have should have been, that night had resulted only in James Hathaway heaving himself dry on the final resting place of Thomas Wilberforce Jonston (d. 1817), and delaying the onset of his love affair with nicotine for a full three years.