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That Night in London.

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“That night in London."

"Who could forget?"

Dorian shifted his eyes down. It was many years ago, not long after the war, when he was trying to readjust to his old life and the knowledge of what he had done. Of course, at the time, he was in good conscience, believing that he had served justice as was his job, but it still pained him to have sent her away. It had also pained him to see the look in Robert’s eyes when he told him she was gone.

It had been the end of the Fae Opium wars. Robert was beside himself with grief, and didn’t know where to go. Dorian suggested he stay in the home he shared with his brother Magnus in London, while he got himself back on his feet ("No pressure, of course,” he reassured him). Magnus was used to him bringing people home, but the situation was often somewhat more intimate, so it was a change to have Robert present only as a friend.

As the weeks passed, Robert grew more distant, believing Desdemona to be dead. He spent his time in bars, writing by day and reciting by night, always a drink in hand. Dorian didn’t have the heart to tell him what he had done. He had truly grown to care for the man, and didn’t want to break his heart further. There was also a hint of selfishness in his act, as he knew Robert would truly hate him if he knew. Dorian couldn’t stand to see the man hate him, it hurt him in a way he just couldn’t comprehend.

One night, after a few months of watching Robert spiral through self destruction, Dorian knew something had to be done. He could not ignore the feelings he had, and he could not bear to see his friend in such a terrible way. He decided then and now he was going to confront Robert, and in a way himself, and tell him the truth. At 11:45pm, he left his home to make the short journey to Robert’s current pub of choice. His heart pounded as he struggled to work out exactly what he was going to say. He was no closer to solving it when the entrance to the bar loomed into view. A nearby clock struck midnight.

“Dorian!” Robert stumbled out of the pub, his arms wide to embrace his friend. “What are you doing out this late?"

"I, er, I came to see you…” Dorian hesitated, “I have something I need to tell you."

"What could possibly be so important as to have you out of your dressing gown and slippers at midnight?” Robert inquired, his eyes as bright as the full moon overhead.

Dorian noticed he seemed relatively sober, compared to his usual state at this time on a Friday, and his heart started to race. This was going to be impossible.

“Walk with me,” he replied.

The pair neared a garden close to the selkies’ home. It was nearing winter, so the plants were mostly bare, but one bush next to a bench sported a single, red rose.

“Robert…” Dorian began, sitting and motioning the other man to join him, “I know that Desdemona meant a lot to you, and that you loved her dearly…” His mouth was dry as he struggled to find the words to express his guilt. “It’s just that–” Dorian stifled a sob as he began to tear up.

Robert met his large, brown, soulful eyes and grasped his hands.

“You have been so kind to me since the wars. You’ve offered me companionship and a home, and I cannot thank you enough. Whatever you have to say, whatever is causing you so much pain, I want to help you."

Dorian knew now he could never tell Robert the truth. Well, not all of it. There was still one thing he could divulge.

"Robert, I have grown to love you over these past few months. I know your heart is still mending, and I expect nothing in return, but I can’t bear to see you in such pain without knowing you are so deeply loved."

Robert pulled Dorian into an embrace. His larger presence encompassed the selkie, comforting him and reassuring him as he felt so vulnerable. His eyes also filled with tears.

"Dorian,” he began, but realised there was nothing he could say to express how he felt at that moment. His emotions ran high. Of course he still loved Desdemona, but he had truly grown to care for the handsome, loving seal-man.

The pair held each other in an embrace until their tears had stopped flowing. Robert pulled away and looked deep into Dorian’s eyes. He had no idea what exactly he felt for the man, but he felt sure that it was time to find out. He leaned in to kiss him. Dorian certainly was not expecting this, and almost pulled away in surprise. However, he let his heart take charge and passionately returned the kiss.

Eventually the pair pulled apart, hearts beating in sync. It was getting particularly cold, and the thought that someone may come along and see two men sharing each other’s company in this way was enough reason for them to return home.

Magnus greeted them as they arrived, raising eyebrows at his brother as the two men both retired to Dorian’s bedroom for the night. He knew this would happen eventually, it always did with his brother, but this time something felt different. He had the air about him that the Taken do…

Dorian returned the look to Magnus as he closed the door behind him. He turned to Robert. For the first time since they met, Dorian was able to read his thoughts, and it made his next move so much easier.

Dorian awoke the next morning, alone. Immediately the recollection of last night hit him, and he lay back and relived it. He assumed Robert had gone back to his own room for fresh clothes. He would talk with him later. He sat up and turned to face his side table. It was then he saw the note, carefully folded with his name written in the port’s elegant hand. His heart fell as he opened it to read.

“Dorian,

I must first apologise for leaving you like this. I couldn’t bear to see the pain I will inevitable cause after learning how you feel. I do truly care for you, and last night was a wonderful experience, but I cannot allow myself to let go just yet.

Perhaps one day, if you still feel the same, my heart will have healed enough to allow us to be together, but for now it is better this way.

I am truly sorry.

Yours, Robert."

Dorian lay back, tears filling his eyes. He knew this could never have worked, and it was foolish for him to try. As much as he agreed with Robert that the night before had been so wonderful, he wondered if it had been worth it. It seemed he had lost Robert not only as a lover, but as a friend.