Rabastan lay in bed even after dawn arrived and Rodolphus got up and left. He gave Rabastan a quick kiss on the head before he got out of bed, but though he dearly wanted to believe that the kiss was something more than brotherly, it was so quick that he couldn't really justify thinking that, even to himself.

He kept his eyes closed and his body still, and he thought about what had happened.

Rodolphus had laid in bed with him and touched himself…

But that didn't mean anything. All that that meant for certain was that Rodolphus – being the strong, virile young man that he was – needed to deal with his physical urges sometimes. It didn't mean that he felt anything for Rabastan. It didn't mean anything of that sort at all – not necessarily.

But it might.

If he had moved away from Rabastan while he did it, then Rabastan would have been more inclined to believe that it had nothing to do with him. But he hadn't moved away. He had lain close against his little brother, and when he was done, he had embraced him, pulled him on top of him and held him close…

Oh God.

Rabastan swallowed and sat up, feeling queasy once again. His stomach had nothing left in it that he could vomit up, but that didn't stop him from feeling like he was about to throw up, and he reached for the rubbish bin uneasily, trying to steady himself while he did it.

God, he felt so sick.

He shouldn't have been thinking about this at all, in any case. He shouldn't have even begun to think about Rodolphus, and he shouldn't be considering what it meant that he had masturbated while he lay in bed with him. He shouldn't be thinking about things like that under any circumstances – Rodolphus had been right when he said that it was disgusting and sick and wrong.

He was disgusting and sick and wrong.

That did hurt. It hurt to think that Rodolphus thought that his desires were so sick, but he should have known that he would. After all, they were sick. Part of him had simply been wishing that it would turn out that Rodolphus secretly harboured those desires and would understand when he told him…

But that had been far too much to hope from the beginning.

He should have been happy that Rodolphus at least wanted to talk to him, at least was willing to lie in bed with him. He should have been grateful for that level of intimacy, even though it was nowhere near what he really wanted. He should understand that anything more than that was too much to hope and he was greedy and selfish for wanting it…

He struggled to his feet, gripping the edge of his bedside table as stars popped before his eyes. Getting dressed was difficult, for his hands shook every time he tried to do up a button, but he finally managed it, then staggered out into the corridor. He hoped that Rodolphus was in his room and that he could go talk to him. He could tell him that he was feeling a little ill and lie down with him, and that intimacy would be enough to slake his desire for some time, at least.

But Rodolphus's bedroom was empty.

The sheets were dishevelled and Rabastan wondered if Rodolphus had gone and lain down for a while after he had gotten out of Rabastan's bed. He imagined his brother lying amongst those sheets, perhaps with a few tears of guilt in his eyes…

Rabastan moved towards the bed without even being aware of what he was doing. He reached out to touch the soft sheets and he could smell his brother's scent on them – a pleasantly warm, slightly sharp smell. He glanced at the door, then crawled onto the bed and buried his face in the pillow. It was so soft, so clean, and he breathed deeply, inhaling the smell of it.

Had Rodolphus buried his face here while he thought about what he had done? Had he cried into this pillow and berated himself for touching himself while his brother lay asleep next to him? There were a few patches on the pillow that felt a little cooler, a little damper than the other parts…

Thinking about Rodolphus crying into the pillow did more for Rabastan than anything ever should have.

Rodolphus, usually so strong, so stoic and free of emotion, crying over his little brother…

Rabastan looked uneasily at the door again. No one was there. No one would see if he just…

He pulled the sheet over himself and pressed his face into the pillow, then slid his hand down to the front of his trousers and squeezed himself slowly through the fabric. He was erect already, and he felt a slight throb go through his cock as he touched it.

He could just…

And what if Rodolphus walks in? What if Rodolphus catches you in his bed?

The idea of Rodolphus opening the door and seeing his little brother flushed and writhing among his sheets sent a fresh wave of arousal through Rabastan's body. He dug his fingers into the pillow and pressed it more firmly against his face, then fumbled the buttons of his trousers undone and gripped his erection firmly in his hand.

Just be quick. Just finish it quickly.

He closed his eyes tightly and imagined Rodolphus lying in bed, stroking his own erection, with thoughts of Rabastan in his mind. The images came easily and vividly to Rabastan's mind, and his breath came in short, sharp gasps as he imagined Rodolphus's body bowing and trembling. He imagined Rodolphus's lips parting a little, imagined him whispering his name…

Rabastan moaned out loud, then bit down on the pillow to silence himself while his hand worked faster and faster. Just finish, just get it done quickly.

He pictures himself reaching out and taking his brother's erection into his hand, stroking it firmly and steadily, and watching a flush rise in Rodolphus's cheeks. Sick, part of his mind tried to tell him, but that part didn't matter anymore. The only thing that mattered was the look that he could imagine on Rodolphus's face – lust and pleasure and so much love…

He was so close, nearly there, his entire mind full of thoughts of Rodolphus coming into his hand and moaning his name, and then he heard his mother's voice, loud and clear from downstairs.

"Oh, he's upstairs, Andromeda. He might be asleep, but you're welcome to go check."

Rabastan shot out of Rodolphus's bed immediately. Being caught by Rodolphus would be arousing, but being caught by Andromeda would be nothing short of humiliating, and he didn't want her to know what he thought of his brother, even if it was true that she thought the same way about her sister. He didn't want anyone to know.

He all but sprinted back to his room, but froze in the doorway when Andromeda reached the top of the stairs and saw him.

"A- Andromeda," he said, aware that he sounded completely breathless from a combination of arousal and exertion. "I- wasn't expecting you."

"I wanted to see you." She walked towards him, her eyes fixed directly on his. He was painfully aware of his erection straining the front of his trousers, and he hoped to God that she couldn't see it.

"What did you want to see me about?" he asked nervously, taking half a step backwards almost unconsciously while he mentally begged her to go, just go, go away!

"We're going to have to be married soon," she said, and he thought that her voice was shaking a little, "and I know that neither of us really want that, but- but I think that we'd better just… we'd better just accept it and work out what we're going to do about it."

"Ah- all right," he said nervously, unsure as to what to think about that. What did she mean by work out what they were going to do about it?

"I mean," Andromeda continued, as if she knew exactly what he was thinking, "I…" She lowered her voice. "You know that I prefer women, but I think I can- I think that I'll be able to… to do all right with you. I think I will."

"I… don't understand."

"I think that we should- should go to bed together." Her face was pink, but she managed to keep her eyes on Rabastan's, not even let them falter. "Right now. Before we're married. So that we can figure out how to do it so that it's as… enjoyable as possible for both of us before we've got rings on our fingers."

"I… I don't…" Rabastan didn't know what to say to that. He certainly didn't want to go to bed with her. But then, he wouldn't ever want to, so what did it matter if their first time was now or after their marriage?

"I just think," she said, and it was obvious how hard she was trying to make it sound all perfectly clinical, "that it will be better for both of us if we have some time to practice. Don't you agree?"

"I… suppose so."

"Good," she said, then indicated his bed. "I don't suppose there's any sense in putting it off, then."

Rabastan swallowed and nodded, but all he could think as Andromeda stepped into his bedroom and closed the door behind them was I'm never going to want her like I want Rodolphus.