It took them almost two hours to get there. Not that they minded. It was a pleasant day. Hazy sunshine lit up the forest and was a welcome surprise after ten days of nothing but heavy, autumnal rain.
“You never brought me this way before, did you?” Ben asked.
Harry thought for a moment before answering. It was true. Ben and he had taken numerous walks in the woods surrounding the cabin he’d inherited from his great-uncle, but up until today, he’d avoided bringing Ben to the place he was leading him towards now. It was time. Either Ben would be accepted or they would be over. It wouldn’t be the first time. Harry had lost two previous lovers because he’d misjudged them.
“I didn’t realise it was a difficult question.” Ben smiled when he said it, but Harry could hear the insecurity in his lover’s voice.
“Sorry,” Harry tried to sound reassuring. There was no need to worry Ben, not yet anyway. “You’re right; we haven’t taken this particular walk before. I only bring those I’m very close to,” he smiled at Ben, “those I’m hoping to spend a long time with.’
“I’m honoured, kind Sir.” Ben smirked. “It took you long enough.”
Ben’s words shocked Harry. What did they mean? Did Ben imply that it had taken Harry long enough to trust him, or was there more? For a fleeting moment Harry thought Ben might have been waiting for this exact moment, although he’d no idea how or why that might be the case.
“I told you I had trust issues from the start,” was all Harry said in the end.
“So you did.” Ben responded. When Harry glanced at his face all traces of the smirk had gone. Looking back at Harry was the Ben he’d fallen for, the man who’d turned out to be everything he could wish for and more. Well, he would be, if he passed the test.
When they entered the clearing, memories assaulted Harry. He was scared. If it had been possible he would have avoided this moment indefinitely, but the pull had been getting stronger by the day and Harry had known, without a single doubt, that if he didn’t bring Ben to the meeting place, those who resided there would come to them. He could neither ignore nor avoid his legacy.
Harry had taken a few steps into the clearing before he realised Ben was no longer walking beside him. He turned around to discover the man he’d shared his life with for the past eleven months leaning against a tree on the edge of glade, staring at the scene in front of him with an expression on his face Harry had never seen before.
“Is this where it happened?” Ben asked in a toneless voice.
“Where what happened?” Harry asked the question while his mind scrambled to figure out what Ben knew and how he could possibly have found out.
For a moment Ben just stared at him, hatred clearly written on the beautiful face that up until a few moments ago had only shown Harry love. “So what happens next? I’m to try and shake that hand, right?” Ben nodded at the book holding hand sticking out of the dead leaves on the ground.
“Just answer me,” Ben growled.
“Yes,” Harry whispered. “If the book drops, it is yours. It will give you access to my family history and secrets. If it doesn’t…if you can’t shake the hand because it won’t let go of the book….” He trailed off, not wanting to relive the two previous occasions he’d brought a man he loved here.
“If it won’t let go of the book I’ll die.” As soon as the words had left Ben’s mouth he bent his knees and jumped up. Harry watched in stunned wonder as Ben arced through the air, almost flying, before landing on top of Harry, sending them both crashing to the ground.
He had no idea where the knife had come from and almost welcomed the pain when it plunged into his chest. I deserve this.
“That’s for Bastian. Didn’t you know it’s impossible to kill one twin without the other one feeling it, seeing it?”
As blood and life flowed from Harry’s body, Ben stood up. Fighting to keep his eyes open, Harry watched as Ben walked to the hand, bent forward, and pulled the book out of its grasp.
If he’d been any stronger, Harry would have laughed. He’d been so close to finding his fated, the one his ancestors would have accepted.
I picked the wrong twin. Harry’s world went black.
772 words (o dear J)
As always more flashes based on the same image can be found in the Monday Flash Fics Facebook group. I’m rather curious this week because this picture could take the story anywhere.