Author's Notes: Written for Couture Girl, who requested Rodolphus/Rabastan, Rabastan catching Rodolphus and Narcissa together, Rabastan crying and Rodolphus being comforting. I hope you like it, darling!

)O(

Rabastan had known on an intellectual level that his brother was sleeping with Narcissa. Rodolphus wasn't good at keeping secrets from his brother – Rabastan liked to think that they were too close for that – and Rodolphus's affair had come out rather quickly. Rabastan would have been lying if he had said that it didn't bother him at all, but he had thought that he was capable of controlling his feelings about the matter. It was, after all, Rodolphus's choice to sleep with whoever he wanted, and Rabastan reminded himself quite regularly that it didn't mean that his brother loved him any less.

But telling himself that didn't stop it from hurting when he walked into his brother's room, expecting him to be alone, and saw Rodolphus and Narcissa in bed together.

Rodolphus was, thankfully, not fully undressed, but his shirt was off, and there was an uncomfortably obvious bulge in his trousers. He was sitting with his back against the pillows. His flushed face shone with sweat and his fingers were buried to the knuckles inside Narcissa.

Narcissa.

Narcissa, straddling Rodolphus with her slender legs spread wide, her shirt undone and small, pert breasts exposed, her skirt bunched around her hips, and her pale hair clinging to her forehead and neck. Narcissa, so pretty and delicate, moaning for him. Narcissa…

Rabastan let out a strangled sob, and Rodolphus jolted back from Narcissa, whose eyes flew open as she whipped around to stare at Rabastan.

"Rab!" Rodolphus's face went crimson, and Narcissa looked ready to cry. She grabbed at her clothes, hurrying to cover herself, as if Rabastan was looking at her.

He wasn't.

He was staring at his brother, and he had never seen Rodolphus look so guilty.

"Rab, is something the matter?" Rodolphus clutched his shirt around himself, his face quite crimson. "What are you doing here?"

"L- looking for you–" Rabastan stammered helplessly. "I didn't- didn't realize that you would be…"

"Would be what?" Narcissa snapped. Her voice was shrill and sharp and she pulled her blouse on quickly, crossing her arms over her breasts. "What did you think that we would be doing?"

"I didn't think!" Rabastan's stomach twisted with anger at her. She had no business speaking as if she had any right to Rodolphus's time or his bed. She didn't know anything about him, and she was being horribly rude, Rabastan thought.

"Of course you didn't think!" she hissed. "If you had thought, you wouldn't have come rushing into Rodolphus's room without knocking first!"

"Narcissa, calm down," Rodolphus said quietly. He put his hand on her burning cheek and she looked down. Rabastan could see tears glittering in her large, pale eyes, threatening to spill down her face.

As if she had any right to cry when she had been in bed with Rodolphus…

"I'm going home," she said, pushing Rodolphus's hand away. Her voice trembled horribly. "I- I don't- I'm going."

Rabastan watched her stagger to her feet. Her legs wobbled beneath her weight, probably, Rabastan thought, from her arousal…

He glared silently at her as she limped out of the room, then turned to Rodolphus and winced when he saw how he was glaring at him.

"What?" Rodolphus snapped. "Dear God, Rabastan, whatever reason you have for storming in on us, it had better be damned good. It had better be an absolutely wonderful reason, because if I find out that you interrupted me and her just because–"

"I'm sorry!" Rabastan cut across him. He lifted his hand and dashed away the tears that were coming to his own eyes. Crying in front of his brother – under these circumstances, where it would be all to clear why he was crying – was more than he could stand. Rodolphus would know that he was crying because of Narcissa; he was sure of it.

Rodolphus's voice softened a little. "Come on, Rab. Tell me what's the matter – you didn't know… I'm not angry at you…"

"You are," Rabastan muttered, glaring up at him and hoping that his eyes did not look as teary as they felt. "You are angry. And you're right to be."

"Don't be stupid, Rab."

"I'm not being stupid!" he snapped childishly. "I just–"

"You just what?"

Rabastan swallowed. His throat tightened with emotion and he looked away, looked down at the ground. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, hoping that his voice would not shake too badly when he tried to talk.

"I don't like seeing you and her together," he managed to whisper at last. "You deserve someone better than her."

"Do I?" Rodolphus seemed almost amused by the idea, but Rabastan could not quite tell, because he did not dare to look up at him. He kept his eyes on the ground, studying the floorboards, counting the fringe along the edge of Rodolphus's rug.

"Come here."

Rabastan stiffened when his brother's arms shot out and wrapped around him. He tensed and fresh tears came to his eyes.

"I love you, Rab," Rodolphus whispered in his ears. His arms felt so strong, so powerful and warm around Rabastan's body, pressing him against his chest. "You understand that, don't you? You don't think that I love Narcissa more than you, do I?"

"Of course I think that!" Rabastan's voice choked with tears and emotion. "You do love her more than me!"

Rodolphus guided Rabastan onto the bed, one strong, steady hand stroking his back and the other running gently through his hair. Rabastan pressed his hand into his brother's shoulder and tried to stifle his sobs.

"I don't," Rodolphus insisted quietly. "Please believe me, Rab, I don't love anyone more than you. You're my brother."

"So what?" Rabastan whispered bitterly. "So what if I'm your brother? If anything–" His voice cracked and he had to take a moment to swallow back his sobs. "If anything, that means you love me less."

"And how do you figure that?" Rodolphus pulled back and placed one hand under Rabastan's chin. He turned his head gently so that he was facing him. "Why do you think that I love you less? Rab," he added, "you can tell me, you know. You don't have to… to keep secrets."

You have no idea.

Rodolphus didn't know – and never would know, never could know – the secrets that Rabastan kept from him. It was unfair for both of them, but it wasn't something that Rabastan could help. He didn't want to keep secrets. He wanted to be able to spill his secrets to Rodolphus without fear of judgement or anger because it hurt him to keep them inside. And he wanted to spill them because he didn't like feeling like he was keeping Rodolphus in the dark. Rodolphus had, after all, always been the one person who he could confide in…

"I do have to keep secrets," he said quietly. "You don't understand, Rod – I do."

"Don't." And now there was a catch of emotion in Rodolphus's voice too. "Please don't. I hate it when you keep secrets from me."

I know.

But how could it be helped? How Rabastan help but keep a few secrets from his brother – especially secrets about his brother…

"You can tell me anything, Rab. Anything."

No.

No, I can't tell you anything.

I can't tell you anything important at all.

Rabastan couldn't tell his brother that he didn't dream about Andromeda Black. He couldn't tell him how much he loathed the idea of being married, and how angry he had been at Bellatrix when she had taken Rodolphus's hand in marriage. He couldn't tell him how much more it stung that Rodolphus would lie with Narcissa – proving that he was willing to be unfaithful, but not being unfaithful with the right person.

And those were the most important things in Rabastan's life.

"You don't understand," he said quietly, turning his head away. "You won't understand."

"I understand more than you would give me credit for, Rab."

Rabastan wiped tears from his eyes.

"Fine," he said, his voice a high tremor. "I'll tell- but promise that you won't think any less of me for it for it."

"I won't. I never would."

He swallowed. It was taking all the strength that he had to try to summon the words to explain what he was feeling when everything in him was saying that he should keep quiet. His instinct for survival – social survival, a skill that had been forced into him from birth – was trying to silence him, but Rodolphus looked at him with such an earnest, comforting expression – how could he help but tell him the truth?

"It's- unfair," he whispered, swallowing back emotion. "It's unfair that you lie with Narcissa."

"Unfair to whom?" Rodolphus asked. He lifted one eyebrow slightly, considering Rabastan with mild confusion. "To Bellatrix? I suppose that it is, but you have never shown much interest before in what Bellatrix thinks. What accounts for this sudden change in perspective, may I ask?"

Rabastan lifted one hand to cover his mouth. He rubbed his fingers along his lips, biting down on them. "I… no, not unfair to Bellatrix." He glanced up at him, mentally begging him to understand.

But of course he didn't.

"Then who is it unfair to? If you aren't concerned about Bellatrix – Lucius? But Narcissa isn't even promised to him yet, not officially…"

"No, not to Lucius either." Don't say it, don't say it, don't say it!

"Then?"

"To me." The words scratched Rabastan's voice as he said them. It was as if his throat was trying to close off, to keep him from saying it. His whole body, his mind, everything, had tried to protect him.

"To you?" Rodolphus's brows drew together and he shook his head. "I don't understand, Rabastan. What is unfair? Do you really believe that me lying with Narcissa means that I do not love you?"

Yes! I think that!

"I… I know that you love me as a brother," he said tentatively. His chest was beginning to hurt, a sharp, tight pain inside his ribcage. He put his hand to it and Rodolphus's arms were around him again in a moment, supporting him as he struggled to draw breath.

"Shh… I do," Rodolphus said, rocking him slowly. "I love you as a brother, yes – of course I do. You are my brother."

"But- but I don't–" Rabastan broke off. I don't love you as a brother? Was that true?

I don't only love you as a brother would certainly be true.

"You don't what?"

"I- I love you…" Rabastan started, then broke off, coughing. His chest was so tight, so painful, and he felt his brother's hand pressing against his chest.

"Breathe deeply, Rab," Rodolphus whispered. "It's all right…"

"Not all right," he wheezed. He grabbed his brother's hand and clung to it, looking up at him with wide and hopeless eyes. "It's not all right!"

"What's not all right?"

"The way I love you," he managed, before dissolving into another coughing fit.

"Rab, I don't understand–"

"I love you!" Rabastan interrupted. His voice came out more loudly than he had intended for it to be – he hoped that no one was near enough to overhear. "I love you- more than as a brother!"

Rodolphus fell silent immediately. Rabastan could almost feel his brother tensing beside him, but his hands did not move away from him. He did not push him back, did not say that he was repulsed by him – and surely that, at least, was some consolation…

It surely meant that Rodolphus didn't hate him for what he felt.

Or he did not yet understand what he meant.

"I- Rabastan, do you…" Rodolphus seemed to be struggling to find words for what he was thinking – of course he was. It must have been near to impossible to reconcile him to the idea…

"Do I what?" Rabastan asked dully.

"D- Do you l- lust after me?"

"No!" Rabastan said automatically. How could he have done anything but deny it? He had spent so long telling everyone that no, of course he didn't lust after Rodolphus – of course he didn't lust after any man at all! He was not a deviant! that he could scarcely remember how to say anything else.

"Don't you?" Rodolphus asked, and Rabastan hesitated. He looked at Rodolphus, searching his eyes for some indication of the reaction that he was getting.

"I… well…" he stammered. Rodolphus's expression was unreadable, but if Rabastan had had to guess, he would have said mild distaste and slight resentment were his brother's strongest emotions. And curiosity. Just curiosity as to Rabastan's answer.

"Perhaps," he said quietly, lowering his eyes. "Perhaps I… I do… lust after you slightly." He looked back up at him quickly. "Not much, you understand! B- Barely even at all, really…" Please believe me when I say that, because God knows, I don't believe myself.

Rodolphus shook his head slowly. He was giving Rabastan a look now that was full of suspicion, as if Rabastan would, at any second, pounce upon him.

As if I would ever have the bravery to do that.

"How long?"

"Pardon me?"

"How long have you lusted after me?" Rodolphus asked, and still he was unreadable. Was he angry? He would be right to be. Was he sickened by the very idea that his own brother would desire him? Perhaps, and once again, he would be right to be.

Was he not angry?

"I… I do not know," Rabastan said quietly. His hands shook and he tightened his fingers in the folds of Rodolphus's sheets – dishevelled from his attentions to Narcissa. "A… a long time, I think. I can't remember when it began." He put his hand to his forehead, feeling a little dizzy. "Rodolphus- please- please do not hate me…"

"I don't hate you."

Rabastan looked up at him sharply. He had to be lying – he must hate him. How could he not?

"I don't hate you," Rodolphus repeated. "Did you ever really think that I would? Did you think that I could?" he added, placing his hand on Rabastan's shoulder and turning him a little to face him more directly. "I never could hate you, Rabastan, never. Why do you find this so difficult to understand? You are my brother, and I love you."

"But you do not love me in the same way that I love you."

"What I feel for you is not important," Rodolphus said firmly. "Right now, it's what you feel that we are concerning ourselves with, is it not? And what you feel is lust for me, and so I should have no reason for hating you. You cannot help what you feel, you know, Rabastan."

"I should be able to!" The words were out before Rabastan could stop them, or think about how they must have sounded. "I should be able to help myself!"

"Why would you think that? Surely you know that you are no more in control of your feelings than you are of- of your physical health."

Rabastan's hand travelled unconsciously to his throat and he squeezed it a little, feeling each fluttering breath and heartbeat against his palm.

"Not- not in control at all, then."

"Exactly," Rodolphus told him. "You are not in control of what you feel – how can you expect yourself to be?"

"Because- I should be able to put aside feelings that I do not want." Rabastan knew that, in his mind, it made sense, but as soon as he began to speak out loud, his reasons dissolved into a mess of poorly phrased and half-formed explanations. "I should be in control of my own mind."

"But you are not. It does not make you inferior that you have feelings you cannot control."

Oh, but it does.

Rodolphus held Rabastan tightly against him, cradling him to his strong chest. The very fact that he would hold him like that after Rabastan had confessed his desire…

This was why he loved him.

"Besides," Rodolphus said quietly, "it would be hypocritical of me, wouldn't it…"

"What do you mean?" Rabastan murmured. He was listening more to his brother's heartbeat than to his words, but when Rodolphus let out a short, sharp, mirthless laugh, he looked up at him questioningly. "What is it, Rod?"

"It would be hypocritical of me to fault you for lusting after me."

"I- I don't- don't understand what you mean," Rabastan stammered. But he thought that he did understand – he had an idea, at the very least, of what his brother might mean. But no. It was too much to hope for. It was too good to be true.

"Don't you?" Rodolphus asked, looking him directly in the eye. Rabastan shook his head slowly.

"No…"

"Your innocence is astounding, really," Rodolphus said quietly. He spoke with a sort of tenderness that Rabastan would not have expected from his brother in this situation – he had thought that Rodolphus was closing off, no longer interested in carrying on conversations about their feelings. But he didn't turn away or say to leave. Instead, he was leaning closer and closer to Rabastan, who shuffled back on the pillows a little.

"Rod, what's…"

"It would be hypocritical," he said, "because I lust after you. Of course."

Rabastan might have swooned. He sank back onto the pillows, his arms no longer able to support him, and Rodolphus, who had been leaning just inches over him, swooped down and pressed his lips hard against his.

Rabastan drew in a quivering breath when he felt his brother's mouth against his, sucking on his lower lip, catching at his tongue. Then Rodolphus's hands were knotting in his hair, pulling his head back, and his mouth was down upon his throat, biting and nipping at his skin.

"Oh- Rod…"

"We shouldn't do this, you know," Rodolphus whispered, his hand already on Rabastan's chest. "Being brothers… we shouldn't touch each other like this…"

"Don't stop!"

"I'm not going to."

)O(

Fin