AN: My first BMT fanfic! I never actually intended to write this- I didn't even realize I shipped Lorlen/Osen until a couple of days ago! I hope you enjoy reading this, and please review to tell me what you thought. All characters in the Black Magician Trilogy belong to Trudi Canavan. Not me. Unfortunately.
In the Magician's Guild, all was quiet. The University's halls were empty; the only sound the low, eerie whistling of the wind through the always open doors of the University. All the novices were fast asleep, as were all of the magicians, save one. Administrator Lorlen was still hard at work in his office, fighting a losing battle with sleep as his fatigued mind struggled to make sense of the letter in front of him. It was from House Paren, and dated two days ago. What with all the stress of the possible Ichani invasion that Akkarin had warned them of, Lorlen had had little time to sort out his paperwork. The terrible loss of life the Guild had suffered at the Southern Pass had only pushed his work further back, the impending fight mattering far more to Lorlen than the trivial matters of the Houses.
But now, Lorlen saw no time like the present to get ahead with work. Well. That was his excuse. The reality was that he couldn't sleep at all, too plagued with nightmares of the Guild destroyed by invaders and all of his friends slaughtered. Even worse was Akkarin's cold, unforgiving stare and the words "I told you so." that haunted Lorlen's dreams. Now he knew Akkarin was right, his fear was consuming. He'd never forgive himself if the Guild was destroyed. His mind was only freed of such morbid thoughts when he threw himself into work, but sleep was slowly taking hold of him, and he hated the thought of what terrible nightmares he'd have to endure tonight.
A sharp knock at the door startled Lorlen out of his thoughts, and he willed the door open with his mind. Already tired, the mental exertion caused Lorlen's head to throb with the beginnings of a headache. He ignored the pain though, smiling at the young man in the doorway. Lord Osen shyly returned the expression; smile faltering somewhat when he noticed the pile of unsorted paperwork at Lorlen's desk.
"How did I know you'd be in here?" Osen asked him teasingly, walking further into the room and softly shutting the door behind him with his mind. Lorlen only smiled at the young magician.
"Good evening, Lord Osen. To what do I owe the pleasure of such a late visit?" Lorlen remarked dryly, and Osen hesitated, now close enough to see the shadows under Lorlen's eyes and the anxious hunch of his shoulders. He'd never seen Lorlen so stressed before, and the sight pained him deeply. He summoned up the courage to speak, praying Lorlen wouldn't find his concern bothersome.
"I've been... worried about you. You've been overworking yourself, and all this stress is unhealthy." Osen replied and Lorlen shook his head, touched by his friend's concern for his well-being. He'd thought, rather foolishly, that once Akkarin's secret had been revealed to the Guild, his own guilt at hiding the secret would have subsided. Instead the weight of his guilt only settled heavier in his heart, and deep down he knew he'd never be free of it. He didn't want to share his burden with Osen, but he couldn't help but admire the younger man for caring.
"I appreciate your concern, Lord Osen. This work needs to be done though, and I'd rather get it out of the way." Osen had to be impressed by Lorlen's dedication to his work. He had no idea of the depth of Lorlen's troubles, but he could see the pain in the older man's eyes that he was obviously trying his hardest to work past. Still, he wasn't about to let his friend suffer in silence.
"And I'm sure the Guild appreciates your hard work. But you know I'm always more than willing to help you." Lorlen was both surprised and immensely grateful for Osen's support, and he knew the man's help would prove invaluable to him in the future.
"You're a true friend, Osen." Lorlen told the man, only realizing as he spoke how true the words were. Osen blushed a bright red, unexpectedly pleased by the words. He'd always considered Lorlen to be a friend- even secretly wished one day he'd become more- but Lorlen had, honestly, only ever seen him as a close colleague and assistant, never anything more. This sudden show of friendly affection brightened Osen's mood considerably- and made his heart ache. This strange combination of delight and disappointment puzzled him, and he pushed it aside as Lorlen continued.
"Would you be able to help me tomorrow morning, with the rest of this?" Lorlen gestured to the pile of unsorted paperwork on his desk, and Osen nodded instantly. Not only was Lorlen his friend, but Lorlen had been preparing Osen since he'd graduated for his future responsibility as Guild Administrator, and Osen was naturally eager to help Lorlen with his duties. Lorlen relaxed in his seat, deeply relieved.
"For now, though, I think you ought to get some sleep." Osen advised him suddenly with a wry smile, and Lorlen laughed. He bit back a yawn, remembering the letter from House Paren on his desk.
"Just let me decide how to answer this, first." He replied, and Osen nodded, resting his weight against Lorlen's desk so the old wood creaked worryingly loudly. Lorlen shook his head disapprovingly at the younger magician, who simply laughed and nodded at the open letter.
"What is it?" He asked curiously, unused to being so casual with the older man. Something about the lateness of the hour, and the fact that they were the only two people still awake, was making him feel reckless, bolder. It was only Kyralia's disapproval of gay relationships that stopped him from outright flirting with the older man. The fact should have worried him, but it was more the fact that it didn't worry him that worried him. If that made any sense whatsoever. The more Osen thought about it, the more confused he felt.
"It's... um, it's..." Lorlen's eyes hurriedly scanned the text, and a laugh of disbelief echoed loudly in the small room when he made sense of the message.
"It's a marriage proposal!" Lorlen exclaimed, and Osen straightened abruptly, stunned. What had he just been thinking before? Flirting with Lorlen? That seemed even more like a joke now that the man was receiving proposals of marriage from the Houses.
"Who is it from?" He demanded, trying hard not to let his jealousy show through. Lorlen didn't notice Osen's sudden anxiety- or, if he did, he paid no attention to it.
"House Paren." Lorlen told him, and Osen was briefly given hope by the disinterest in Lorlen's voice. Did that mean he was going to deny the proposal? Osen suddenly needed an answer desperately.
Before he could get one though, Lorlen had his own question.
"What do you think, Osen? Should I accept?" Osen was taken aback by Lorlen's question, wondering what kind of opinion he should give. Did Lorlen really think Osen's opinion on a possible bride mattered? Or was Osen's attraction to him obvious and this was some kind of test? Osen nervously cleared his throat; looking away from Lorlen for fear that he would give away his own feelings if he looked Lorlen in the eyes.
"Um, I'm not sure. Do you think you'd be happy with this woman?" Osen replied evasively, selfishly hoping Lorlen would say no. Lorlen tilted his head to the side, considering. The wait was unbearable to Osen, who struggled to stay patient.
"...Maybe. She's a sensible woman, quite intelligent, and this match could benefit the Guild if she has magical blood." Lorlen replied thoughtfully, and Osen's eyes widened with surprise at the response.
"That's very practical thinking." Osen commented, and Lorlen began to smile. Osen hurried to finish his point.
"But, emotionally, would you be happy with this match? Satisfied with her?" Osen pushed him, and eventually Lorlen sighed, shaking his head. He pushed the marriage proposal aside, smiling widely at Osen.
"I'm lucky to have you, Osen. You always help me reach the right decisions." Osen's face turned bright red at the compliment, beaming with pride.
"Besides," Lorlen continued, smirking teasingly now. "Maybe she'll be a better wife for you than me." Osen's eyes widened with alarm and Lorlen laughed at his shocked expression, standing up and walking round the desk to stand next to Osen.
"I-I don't think that would be a suitable match, Administrator." Osen managed to stammer out once he'd recovered enough to speak. Lorlen grinned again, and the smile, combined with Lorlen's closeness, set Osen's heart racing.
"I hear she's quite beautiful. She's intelligent, too, and closer to your age than mine." Lorlen told him, and Osen dropped his eyes to the floor, smiling despite himself.
"The women of the Houses aren't to my taste." Osen replied truthfully, sucking in a sharp breath of surprise when Lorlen dipped his head dangerously close to Osen's own. He seemed to be acting quite recklessly, and Osen wondered if Lorlen was simply mirroring his own bold behaviour, or if something else was affecting him. Osen's eyes flickered towards the nearly empty wine glass on Lorlen's desk, and he began to feel nervous. Of course Osen wasn't afraid that Lorlen was so intoxicated that he'd try and force him into something, but if something was to happen tonight, Osen didn't want Lorlen to be drunk. For multiple reasons.
"What about the women of the slums? Or a foreign country, perhaps? Are they more to your taste?" Lorlen asked, and Osen shook his head, his denial only irritating Lorlen.
"There must be someone you'd want to marry!" Lorlen exclaimed, and Osen smiled to himself, looking up at Lorlen to meet his inquisitive eyes.
"Well, there is one person..." He murmured, and Lorlen's eyes brightened as he leaned closer.
"Someone in the Guild?' He tried, and Osen nodded. He didn't know what he was doing, or if it was even a good idea, but he didn't care. He was tired of hiding his feelings.
"Let me guess, one of the Healers?" Osen couldn't help but grin, reaching out with one hand to gently pull Lorlen closer by the front of his robes. Lorlen's eyes darted towards the movement, a flicker of understanding beginning to show as he met Osen's eyes again.
"Actually, he used to be a Healer. But now he's in a position of quite high power." Osen explained softly, and Lorlen began to look unexpectedly shy. He started to lean forward, before stopping abruptly, one question still in his mind.
"How long have you wanted to marry him?' He whispered, and Osen's expression softened as he looked up at the older magician.
"Since the first day I met him." Lorlen smiled then, softly, a split second before Osen pulled him into a dizzyingly soft kiss. There was a second's hesitation, a moment's pause, the two men looking at each other as, for a fraction of a second, the world seemed to still around them, before fading away completely. They were only aware of each other; of their shallow, hurried breaths, of the enticing heat of each other's mouths, of the strong hands clutching Osen's waist and the silky soft feel of Lorlen's hair now loose around his shoulders, and the low moans and groans between them that sounded far too sexy to be allowed. The taste of Lorlen's tongue in his mouth had Osen feeling weak all over, and he fought to regain his dominance. Lorlen ended up caught between Osen and his desk, the old wood groaning under their weight before giving way completely.
Lorlen broke away with a gasp of surprise as he hit the floor, and Osen laughed breathlessly at the shocked magician, straddling Lorlen's hips with a smug grin. Lorlen couldn't resist the expression, too amused to be annoyed, and pulled Osen into a second, clumsy kiss. Their hands were free to wander this time, and when Osen finally pulled away, his eyes were hazy with desire and he was feeling delightfully giddy.
"When all of this is over," Osen didn't need Lorlen to elaborate to know that 'this' meant the impending Ichani fight. "Marry me."
"The Guild won't like that." Osen whispered, but even he was too thrilled by Lorlen's words to care about what the Guild thought.
"But I will." Lorlen replied softly, absently toying with Osen's tousled hair as he spoke. His smile became shy, hopeful even.
"Would you?" Osen nodded straight away, not needing to speak to communicate his joy to Lorlen. He reached forward, gently tilting Lorlen's chin up so their eyes met again.
"Now, what say you and I head up to my room and continue this a little more comfortably?" Lorlen's eyes lit up at Osen's suggestion, and he nodded eagerly before Osen had even finished speaking. Osen helped Lorlen to his feet, the broken desk already long forgotten as they hurried to Osen's rooms for what both men knew would be an unforgettable first night together.
Neither of them knew it was to be their only night together.
AN: That was a lot more difficult for me to write than I thought it would be. And damn, that kiss was painful for me to write. I want to edit it, but I know I'll never be able to squeeze out anything better than that! I hop you liked reading this, and please review!