I Was the First

I Was the First

I recently realized I have written a lot about Domerin’s relationship with Crescent, even a bit about his other relationships (with Elian and Kail), but I have yet to write anything about him and Sesha. (Unless you count this one darker side of Domerin post that doesn’t mention any names.) So I decided to rectify that situation. Here’s a scene about Sesha and it’s even written from his perspective!
. . .

For the first time in more than a year, Sesha curled into his husband’s warmth. The last time they shared this bed, he’d been unable to imagine such a length of time spent apart, nor that his husband would return under such bittersweet circumstances. Much like then, he wished the night would last forever so that he would never have to deal with the consequences morning would bring.

He watched the slow rise and fall of Domerin’s bare chest, listened to the steady cadence of his heartbeat and basked in the heat of his steady breathing. He had waited too long to bemoan the loss of a happy reunion. To have felt his husband’s hands upon him had been beyond a blessing. He wanted to stay here, wanted to drift off to sleep and imagine the nightmare would be over when he woke.

But a year of suffering had taught him otherwise. He could pretend as much as he wanted; he was not going to let it go. He would probably break down the door or climb through a window if he didn’t get the answer he was after. And even if Sesha could avoid him, there were going to be other problems when Domerin woke.

With a sigh, he slid free of his husband’s embrace, knowing how light a sleeper he was. With great care he laid a light kiss on the man’s cheek, basking in that simple gesture. Then he slunk from the room like a dog with its tail between its legs, though not before he grabbed the first clothing to come to hand.

Sesha dressed in the drawing room, folding both shirt and cloak carefully around his wings. He told the night servant that he was going out, and to reassure Domerin should he wake that all was well, he had merely forgotten something he would need on the morrow. Then he left before he could find some excuse not to.

It was cold outside, autumn’s first chill having wrapped icy fingers over the realm. He wondered as he walked if Domerin would notice the time difference when he woke and tried to go to work. It was close enough to when he’d left that it might not seem too odd. It almost gave him hope, but he dashed it away quickly. If anything, he had only made the situation worse.

He made his way down the lantern-lit streets, past the rows of dark, silent houses, around the edge of the fancy park and toward the market on the poorer side of town. He was waiting there, the loathsome creature, only half man, lurking in the shadows. His eyes reflected the flickering lantern light, glowing like tiny moons. Sesha spotted him from the other side of the street and tried not to sigh or sneer.

The cat man made no move to meet him, forcing him to walk up the steep slope until he stood just outside the sheltering shadows. But when he stopped, he refused to speak. What was he even supposed to say?

“Where is Domerin?” the voice rasped, as though it were raked across a rough throat and a sandpaper tongue.

“Sleeping.”

The eyes narrowed, as if threatening their owner would know if he told a lie.

“Why didn’t he send a message?”

“Things did not go according to plan.”

A soft hiss sounded close to his ears. “What did you do?”

“I did nothing! I did exactly what I promised I would. I restored his memories.”

“And he decided to stay? You expect me to believe that? He would at least meet with me to tell me himself.”

“You needn’t hiss at me like I’m a fool,” Sesha snapped, his tone dry. “You have made me keenly aware of your position in Domerin’s new life and the fact that I am expected to accept it whether or not I deem it reasonable.”

This time, the hiss became a growl. “He loves me, whether you like it or not. And I love him too.”

“I was the first-” The words were barely more than a whisper, the statement choked to a halt by the lump rising in his throat. Heat stung his eyes but he refused to let the tears fall. He would not let this thing catch him in a moment of vulnerability. But oh how it tore his heart to shreds to acknowledge the truth in those words. He had seen it in Domerin’s eyes when he introduced him to the cat man who called himself Crescent. He swallowed hard and tried again. “He loved me first.” And if not for some cruel trick of fate, he never would have loved anyone else.

“If you do not tell me what happened I will-“

“I know very well what you will do, but I cannot speak if you will not hush.” Sesha drew a deep breath and, when Crescent held his tongue, went on. “I was able to restore his memories, but the act of unlocking them seems to have replaced the memories he has created over the past year.”

“What do you mean ‘replaced?'”

“He thinks it is the night before he left on his mission. He said the same things he did back then.” And it had hurt to hear it will all be all right, I’ll come home like I always do, when that was so clearly not the case. How many nights had he spent crying into those pillows? Or tearing his hair out, or damaging his feathers in his distress?

Sesha would gladly relive that year with Domerin by his side, put all the darkness into his past and keep the secret for the rest of his life. Except that he had promised Domerin he wouldn’t let it happen. He had promised not to let Crescent fall out of his life, even if it was exactly what he wanted to happen. And so he was here, though every moment ate at his heart.

“You did it on purpose.” This time, the cat man lunged forward, revealing his tawny fur and bared fangs.

Sesha stumbled backwards, gasping, and Crescent seemed to catch himself, moving back to the edge of the shadows, though his face remained in the light. For a brief moment, Sesha saw a familiar agony written across the man’s features and instantly, he tried to harden his heart.

“I’m sorry.” Crescent’s voice sounded rougher than usual.

Sesha shook his head, fighting tears again. “I tried-” He choked on a half-sob, swallowed hard and forced himself to speak around the growing lump in his throat. “I tried to reverse it. I thought if I could come close enough to merging the memories he’d be able to do it on his own, but it’s beyond my ability. I don’t know what to do. If I bring you to the house, he won’t believe your story. Tomorrow he will try to go to work as usual and that will mean-“

“He will walk right into the queen’s hands, not knowing he is wanted for murder.”

Sesha never dreamed he would find himself in this position; his husband had once been a prominent member of the royal guard, now he needed the help of a thief to keep him from prison. And Sesha needed the help of his husband’s illicit lover if he was going to save his marriage.

“If you love him as much as you say, help me help him. He has a right to know what happened to him as well as what he lost.”

Crescent’s eyes were fierce, like two fires burning in the night. He was silent for several long moments, long enough that Sesha feared he was on his own.

“You would not need to ask for my help. I will do it for him, as I trust you will. But I think we can no longer afford to act from the shadows. We must force the truth into light. To do that, I think you will need to send a message to the queen. Tell her that Domerin is home and has no memory of his crimes. Then, we will see what she will do.”

Sesha closed his eyes. As he had so many times over the past year, he wished he would wake, that Domerin would be waiting for him in the dining room, ready to pour him a fresh cup of tea. But even before he opened his eyes, the chill wind howled, a reminder of how far they had fallen. He nodded. Then he and the cat parted ways.

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Don’t forget to check out what my writing partner did with this prompt!

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