Not Even At Death Do Us Part
Summary: When Virgil and his three best friends came across a spooky, possibly-haunted house in the middle of nowhere, of course they wanted to explore. But they didn’t expect it to actually be haunted…
Pairings: LAMP, Dukeceit
Word count: 6609
Warnings: Mentions of past character death, character gets very close to fainting, swearing, mentions of wounds (not graphically described)
Also posted on my ao3: wolfworldstars
“This is a horror movie. This is how horror movies start. I’ve seen at least three horror movies that started exactly like this.”
“Virgil, hush,” Janus rolled his eyes, stepping confidently onto the porch of the mansion, which creaked under his feet. “Everything will be fine.”
Despite the eerie atmosphere of the place, the large building seemed to be structurally sound, with no visible holes in the roof or walls – even the windows seemed mostly untouched with only a few cracks here and there. That only made it seem more spooky; a regular old house in shambles, Virgil could deal with, but this felt like a building frozen in time.
“Are you sure we’re allowed in here?” Patton asked as Janus pushed the unlocked door open. He shrunk against Virgil’s side at the groan the hinges made. “What if someone catches us trespassing?”
“Oh relax, this house has been abandoned for years. And none of the locals want to go near it, they all think it’s haunted or something,” Janus said calmly, and he walked through the door without hesitation.
“Haunted?” Patton squeaked.
Virgil brushed his fingers against the back of Patton’s hand, and his friend latched on eagerly. The warmth of his touch was comforting.
Logan gave an exasperated sigh as he attempted to shepherd Virgil and Patton through the door. “It is highly unlikely that this house if haunted,” Logan stated. “Given that there is literally no evidence that ghosts exist at all.”
“And I, for one, am not sleeping in the van for another night,” Janus said. The beat-up old campervan which Janus’ parents had lent to them had been fine for the first few nights of their holiday, but by the second week all four of them had aching backs and longed to sleep in a comfortable bed again. “Besides, what’s the point in going on a road trip of England if we don’t check out some of the historic properties?”
“You could have left it at ‘what’s the point in going on a road trip of England’,” Virgil muttered, though the trip had been partly his idea. A few weeks with his best friends away from their parents, going wherever in the country they pleased, sounded like absolute bliss after the stress of their A Levels. Of course, they didn’t have complete freedom; Logan made sure they stuck to a strict schedule and budget, and Patton ensured they were all eating healthily and not staying up too late. It was probably just as well, since Virgil and Janus probably would have tired themselves out within the first three days, maybe gotten lost a few times, and been entirely living off chocolate and crisps if left to their own devices.
The mansion looked even older inside. Patterned green wallpaper which had probably been splendid in its day was peeling off the walls, cobwebs hung in the corners and dust covered every surface of the grand entrance hall. Old portraits hung askew, the eyes of their painted occupants seeming to follow Virgil through the room.
While the others gaped at the décor, Janus immediately made for the sweeping staircase directly in front of them, which led up to a balcony overlooking the rest of the room.
“Hey, don’t go running off!” Virgil called. “We should stick together.”
Janus turned on his heel to face Virgil, a mischievous smirk on his face. “What’s wrong, Virge? Scared?”
Virgil scoffed. “As if.”
“Good, because we’ll cover more ground if we explore this place separately,” Janus said. “I’ll take a look at the East wing upstairs, Virgil you can do the West. Patton and Logan can take care of the downstairs.”
“But… but what if we run into… I don’t know, something scary?” Patton whispered, his grip on Virgil’s hand tightening as he looked into the shadows.
Logan sighed, brushing a hand over Patton’s arm. “Patton, I can promise you there are no monsters of any sort in this house. Would you feel better if I stayed with you?”
Virgil’s heart ached at the smile Patton gave Logan in return.
“Yeah… that would be nice,” Patton said, gazing at Logan with an adoring expression before he turned back to Virgil. “Will you be ok by yourself, Vee?”
Virgil swallowed the lump in his throat. Patton and Logan liked each other, clearly. Even though he longed for the two of them to look at him the way they looked at each other, he knew it was hopeless, so he’d let them spend as much time as they wanted alone together if it made them happy. “Yeah, I’ll be fine.”
Patton gave his hand a squeeze, before letting go and latching onto Logan’s arm.
Virgil watched the two of them disappear through a door, trying not to let his hopeless pining show on his face.
“You could just say something to them, you know.” Janus appeared at his shoulder, tone slightly tired from having this conversation so many times.
Virgil shook his head sadly. “They don’t like me back. Telling them how I feel would just be selfish.”
“Hmm…” Janus bit his lip, still looking at the door Patton and Logan had walked through. “You know, sometimes it’s ok to be a little selfish.” He didn’t give Virgil time to think of a response, striding over to the staircase. “I’ll meet you back here whenever, we’ll probably take the same amount of time unless you insist on checking every doorway for traps.”
“Oh, ha ha,” Virgil deadpanned. “I’ll be fine, let’s just find some beds to sleep in tonight.”
Janus wasn’t bothered by exploring a possibly-haunted house by himself. Truly, he wasn’t. The shudder sent down his spine must have just been caused by the drafts in the old building. He pulled his cloak tighter around his shoulders, keeping a careful eye on the corners of the room. The drawing room he’d ended up in didn’t seem like it would be useful at all – unless somebody wanted to sleep on the chaise longue by the empty fireplace, but there were bound to be enough beds for all of them in a house this big.
He sighed, walking through a door which led into an adjacent… music room!
The room was sparse, only occupied by a few chairs and a grand piano which was bound to be out of tune by now, but Janus didn’t care. He’d been away from his piano for weeks, and his fingers practically ached from not being able to play. He flexed them before pushing back the lid to reveal the keys.
The dusty stool in front of the keyboard was maybe a little low for Janus, but there was no way to adjust the old thing so he sat down. Trying a chord of C, he winced at the discordant tones the piano let out. It really was horribly out of tune, and he wouldn’t be able to play anything that sounded remotely pleasant, but he’d missed the feeling of the keys under his fingers so much.
There was only one faded sheet of manuscript paper on the stand, bearing a relatively simple melody which looked as if it had been hastily scribbled. Janus squinted at it, and began to play. Despite its simplicity, he quite liked it. It was spooky, ominous, foreboding. All good things in his book.
When he finished the phrase, the temperature in the room suddenly dropped. The curtains fluttered though the windows were still closed. Janus clenched his fists by his side, standing up and backing away from the piano as the wind around it picked up. He gripped hold of his hat to keep it on his head as the gust quickly became a gale. As his vision began to blur from the cold wind, the lid of the piano flew open, and everything was still.
Janus shrieked, jumping backwards and bumping into the wall before letting his gaze settle on the figure who seemed to be climbing out of the piano.
And holy hell was he gorgeous. A streak of grey cut through his auburn hair like a lightning bolt, and freckles were dotted over his pronounced cheekbones and chiselled jawline. Bright green eyes sparkled under thick eyebrows which were set in a determined expression.
He was also translucent. And floating. That might be an issue.
Janus couldn’t help running his eyes over the ghost’s figure – for someone without a physical form, he was built.
“Like what you see?” The ghost smirked, leaning against the side of the piano. The lid was magically propped perfectly in place beside him.
Janus matched the ghost’s smirk, letting his eyes trail a little more obviously over his curves. “Maybe I do,” he said, leaning back against the wall as casually as he could while his heart was beating in his throat.
“The name’s Remus,” the ghost said, stepping forward into a low bow. He winked as he lifted his head, making Janus’ heart stutter.
“I… uh, Janus,” he managed, cheeks flushing at how flustered he sounded.
“Well, Janus, thank you for freeing me,” Remus said, gesturing to the piano with another wink – and oh wow, of all the ways Janus had thought he might die in an encounter with a supernatural being, gay panic had never been one of them but it was looking more likely by the second.
“Freeing you?” Janus echoed. “You mean you were trapped in there?”
“Yep! I’d wager for a few decades at least!” Remus said, his tone far too cheery for the information he was providing. Then his face morphed into a petulant sneer. “My stupid brother locked me in there. I don’t know why, probably jealous of my good looks!”
“And what good looks they are…” Janus murmured.
He didn’t mean for Remus to hear, but the ghost grinned, his cheeks flushing a washed-out shade of red. Could ghosts even blush? “You flatter me, pretty boy,” Remus said, fanning himself dramatically with one hand.
Janus felt his own cheeks heat up at the nickname, but he smoothly sidled towards Remus. “It’s what I do best.”
“Then I think we’ll get along just swell,” Remus smirked, briefly glancing down at Janus’ lips.
Janus licked his lips, letting his tongue poke out just slightly. “Oh, I think we will…”
Virgil fiddled with the zipper of his hoodie as he crept along the corridor. He hadn’t quite plucked up the courage to enter any rooms yet, but the mansion had a wealth of corridors that he was certain he could get lost in if he wasn’t paying attention.
Shadows seemed to flicker in the corner of his vision, spiderwebs twisting of their own accord as he turned away from them, but he knew it was just his imagination. Maybe. Probably. Hopefully.
The old pipes creaked distantly, almost drowned out by the sound of his own footsteps. He tried to tread quietly, keeping to the long rug in the middle of the corridor, but still the floorboards groaned under his weight. He was careful not to stay in one spot for too long, lest they gave way under his feet.
He turned a corner, the creaking pipes becoming louder as he approached, and he froze.
Because that sound was definitely not pipes.
The unmistakable sound of singing drifted towards him, and yep, this was a horror movie. He was going to meet his end at the ripe old age of eighteen, eaten by whatever monster occupied this haunted house in the middle of nowhere.
But as the lilting melodies of the smooth baritone voice swept over him, Virgil wanted nothing more than to get closer. There must be something supernatural behind it, because nobody could have a voice so beautiful, so magical otherwise.
Against all his instincts, he began to inch down the corridor towards the voice.
One door was slightly ajar, and as Virgil peered through the gap he saw a lavish four-poster bed with a red blanket and matching curtains, standing against a wall of oak panels. Virgil stopped in the doorway, listening to the voice from within the room. The soaring melody pulled at Virgil’s heart, the vibrato rumbling through his bones. He suddenly understood what Janus meant when he said he could feel music, because the range of emotions this singing evoked was like nothing he’d ever felt before.
He pushed the door open a little more, and saw the most beautiful man he’d ever laid eyes on. Auburn hair cascaded down to his shoulders, curling around his sharp jawline. Gazing wistfully out of the window in his red robes, he looked like a fairytale prince.
Virgil sighed, leaning against the door- which swung open with a loud creak.
The singer suddenly stopped, and Virgil’s heart jumped to his throat as the mesmerising man turned to face him.
“Ah, I’m sorry I didn’t see you there,” the man smiled, his grin lighting up the room like a beautiful sunrise. Then he floated across the room towards Virgil, and- oh, right. Creepy haunted house. Ghosts. That explained it. “I hope my singing didn’t disturb you.”
“I- not at all,” Virgil sputtered, picking himself up off the ground. “I was- we were just looking for somewhere to stay the night. I didn’t mean to interrupt, I’ll just go now,” he stammered, scrambling backwards until he hit the wall.
“Oh, but you should stay a while!” The ghost insisted, still smiling warmly. “I don’t often have guests, and very rarely any as dashing as you.”
A choked noise escaped Virgil’s throat, but the ghost was already ploughing on.
“Roman Sanders, at your service,” he announced, sweeping into a bow. “You said there were more people with you? Are any of them as handsome as yourself?”
Virgil couldn’t think of an answer. Logan and Patton were certainly handsome, but he would never say that out loud. He was still trying to process the fact that a ghost – who just happened to be smoking hot – was hitting on him.
Luckily, Roman seemed content enough to do enough talking for both of them. “There are certainly a great many spare beds in this house, I’d wager there’s room for your party no matter the size. Why don’t you go and fetch them? Bring them to me, a good host should entertain his guests after all.”
Virgil nodded dumbly, and headed downstairs to search for his friends.
He found Patton and Logan in one of the drawing rooms at the back of the house, grinning at each other as they laughed about something. Virgil briefly wondered whether he should interrupt their conversation or leave them to have fun, but the moment Patton spied him in the doorway his smile brightened.
“Hey, Virge!” He dashed over and grabbed Virgil’s hands, pulling him into the room. “Find anything fun? We’ve found an old pool table, Logan’s gonna teach me how to play!”
Logan rolled his eyes fondly. “It’s not a pool table, it’s a snooker table. And I didn’t say I’d teach you, you just suggested-”
“Aww, please?” Patton begged, sticking out his lip.
Logan wavered, looking between Patton and the snooker table. After a moment he sighed, his eyes softening. “Okay, but I warn you I’m a bit out of practice.”
“I’m sure you’re brilliant!” Patton encouraged.
Logan’s cheeks flushed pink, and he quickly busied himself with picking up two sticks from the table for himself and Patton. “Here,” he said, leaning down and adjusting his grip on the stick so that it pointed to one of the snooker balls. “Hold it like this.”
Patton copied him as best as he could, fumbling in an absolutely adorable way. He turned to Logan with a hopeful smile, but was met with knitted eyebrows.
Logan chewed at his lip for a moment, a habit that often left him with chapped lips. Not that Virgil spent enough time looking at Logan’s lips to notice. He put down his own stick, and moved to stand behind Patton. “Is it alright if I guide you?” He asked.
When Patton nodded, Logan reached around his waist and down the length of his arms. He gently placed his hands on top of Patton’s, guiding his right further up the stick, and brushing against the fingers of his left hand to adjust his grip.
Something warm swelled in Virgil’s chest as he watched them, so soft he thought he might cry or burst with happiness, but the edge was tinged with melancholy. Because seeing how content they were together, just the two of them, reminded him that he could never hope to have something like that, and pretty soon their inseparable trio would turn into a happy couple and Virgil watching from the sidelines.
His thoughts were interrupted by a cheer from Patton; he’d struck one of the snooker balls, and it had rolled neatly into a hole in the corner of the table.
“Very good,” Logan commended, letting go of Patton’s waist to collect the ball from a window in the side of the table. As he glanced back at Patton, a small but undeniably overjoyed smile appeared on his lips. It was only there for a brief flash of a second, but it made Virgil’s heart skip a beat.
When Logan looked up, he caught Virgil staring, but he only smiled again. “Virgil, would you like me to teach you?” he asked, fiddling with the end of his tie. Why Logan insisted on wearing a suit every day of their holiday, Virgil couldn’t fathom, but then he wouldn’t be Logan if he didn’t.
“Uh, sure,” Virgil said with a quick smile. “I… probably won’t be much good though.”
“Nonsense,” Logan said vehemently, as if the very idea of Virgil not being good at something was ridiculous to him.
Well, now Virgil was blushing before he even got close to Logan, so that was a good start. He faced the table so Logan wouldn’t see the colour in his cheeks, breath hitching when Logan’s arms slipped over his waist to take his hands. Dark hair which needed a trim – a rare circumstance since Logan usually kept his hair as neat as the rest of him – brushed against Virgil’s neck as Logan looked over his shoulder. Virgil couldn’t focus on how he was holding the stick, but Logan was good enough with guiding him that he didn’t need to.
“That’s good, now just move your hand a little… there,” Logan murmured in his ear, his voice low and quiet, which made Virgil’s heart do several somersaults in his chest. “Just push forward a little – only gentle, don’t scrape the table.”
Virgil nodded, looking intently at the snooker ball in front of the stick. When Logan stepped back to give him some space, a wave of nervousness so strong he almost physically flinched washed over him. What if he made a mistake? It was so simple, Logan would think he was a complete idiot!
Logan’s hand rested on his shoulder, his thumb rubbing gentle circles. The movement was calming, and Virgil took a deep breath… and potted the ball just as Patton had done.
He let out a sigh of relief as Patton gave a little whoop.
“Well done, Virgil,” Logan said, moving his hand to Virgil’s elbow. “I knew you could do it.”
Virgil couldn’t hide his blush now, or the wide smile that stretched across his face, even as he looked at the ground.
Gentle fingers tilted his chin, and he found himself facing Patton. Logan still hadn’t let go of his arm.
“Chin up, you did well,” Patton grinned, dimples forming in his cheeks below the splash of freckles that covered his nose and cheekbones. “Don’t try and hide that smile from us.”
The moment was perfect; if Virgil could freeze time, he would do it there and then, and stay with his two best friends forever.
But then Logan pulled back, clearing his throat awkwardly. “So, Virgil. Did you find anything interesting upstairs?”
“Oh yeah,” Virgil remembered, “I forgot to tell you guys, I saw a ghost!”
Logan pushed his glasses up his nose. “Of course you did, Virgil.”
“No, I’m serious!” Virgil insisted. “He was see-through! And floating! And like, really pretty.”
Logan sighed. “Virgil, you cannot just tell me there is a handsome man upstairs and expect me to forget everything I know about science and believe you saw a ghost,” he said, though he glanced towards the ceiling as if hoping to catch a glimpse of the elusive spirit.
“It’s ok, Virgil. I believe you!” Patton said brightly, slinging an arm around Virgil’s shoulders.
“Thank you, Patton,” Virgil breathed out. “At least someone around here-”
“Let’s go see this ghostie, then! It’ll be like the time we found mermaid scales at the beach!” Patton continued, and all the relief flooded out of Virgil at once.
“Patton, those were seashells,” Logan reminded him.
“Shh, Logan. Don’t spoil our fun,” Patton whispered, making an exaggerated shushing motion in front of his grinning face.
Virgil ducked away from Patton’s arm, throwing his hands in the air. “Neither of you believe me, do you?”
Patton’s smile dropped, replaced by a look of concern. “Well, we know you didn’t really see a ghost. Are you feeling alright, honey? Maybe it’s the heat…” he mused, placing the back of his hand against Virgil’s forehead.
Virgil stepped back again. “You’re not listening to me, I saw him. Just come with me.”
Patton opened his mouth again, but Logan silenced him with a hand on his shoulder.
“Perhaps we should go with Virgil,” Logan suggested calmly. “If we go back to where he thinks he saw this ghost, it may put his mind at ease when it isn’t there and we can attest to it.”
Virgil led them upstairs, stomping the entire way until he reached the corridor that led to Roman’s room. He stopped, quickly pulling out his phone to check his appearance in the selfie camera. After smoothing down his wild dark hair and fixing a little bit of eyeshadow that had smudged, he pocketed the phone again, turning to his friends.
Patton and Logan stood behind him, exchanging apprehensive glances as if Virgil didn’t know them well enough to decipher each one.
“Now, promise me you won’t freak out,” Virgil said firmly, spreading his hands in a calming motion.
Logan rolled his eyes, but Patton smiled politely.
“Virgil, I promise neither of us will freak out if we see a ghost in there.”
After a stern look from Patton, Logan echoed him.
Virgil sighed. There was no way he could actually prepare them for this. Without another word, he crept closer to Roman’s door. To his relief, the ghost was stood at the window again, though he wasn’t singing.
Virgil heard Patton gasp from beside him, and the ghost turned around at the noise.
“Ah, you brought them!” Roman exclaimed, floating towards the door. He swept into a bow in front of Patton. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am you host for this evening, and however long you choose to stay at my manor, Roman Sanders.”
Patton stared at Roman, his eyes wide. “N-nice to meet you, Roman.”
Roman smiled and turned back to Virgil. “You didn’t tell me your companions were so charming.”
Patton giggled, clasping his hands in front of his face as if that would hide his blush.
“Holy fucking shit.” Logan stood in the doorway, his mouth wide open and his eyes enormous.
“You said you wouldn’t freak out,” Virgil reminded him.
“I’m not freaking out,” Logan insisted, folding his arms. “I am simply… expressing my surprise that there is a ghost- fucking hell…” He shook his head, stumbling towards Roman as if in a trance. “An actual, real ghost…” He reached out as if to touch Roman’s shoulder, and his hand passed right through the ghost’s arm.
Roman let out a squeak of laughter, then looked a little sheepish when Logan reeled back in surprise. “Sorry. That tickles.”
Logan took a few steady breaths, raking his hands through his hair. “Well… I’m sorry for doubting you, Virgil,” he said finally, tearing his eyes away from Roman to look at Virgil.
Virgil shrugged. “It’s alright, I wouldn’t have believed me either.”
Logan took a step closer to Virgil, and murmured in what he clearly thought was a surreptitious tone, “and you were right about… the other thing too.”
Virgil looked blankly at him for a moment, but when Logan inclined his head towards Roman, and Virgil noticed the slight blush on his cheeks, he remembered telling Logan that Roman was pretty. And he sure had been right about that.
“Right, well. Let’s get you all settled in!” Roman announced grandly. “So, house rules. First, you can use any bedroom in the house apart from this one – because it’s mine – and anything in the East Wing.”
Virgil suddenly froze, exchanging a worried glance with the others.
“What’s in the East Wing?” Patton asked apprehensively.
Roman scowled - a nasty, contemptuous look that didn’t suit his beautiful face. “If you must know… my brother. He’s evil and dangerous. I’ve trapped him, but it would be safer if none of you went near the place he’s kept.”
“Janus,” Virgil whispered, clutching at the edge of his hoodie.
“What?” Roman asked.
“Our friend, Janus,” Logan said, looking very pale. “He’s in the East Wing.”
Roman’s expression hardened, his voice suddenly urgent. “We need to go there. Now.”
The journey to the East Wing was a blur, the three living humans running behind Roman as he lead them to the room where his brother was kept. Virgil didn’t even slow down when he barrelled into the door, pushing it wide open as the group spilled into the room.
He immediately saw Janus, backed flat against a wall with his feet several inches off the ground. A ghost – almost the spitting image of Roman but with a large moustache – loomed over him, his hand raised to keep Janus in place without touching him at all.
“Get away from him!” Virgil thundered.
The ghost reeled back in surprise, and Janus dropped to the floor.
When Janus stood, he folded his arms and glared at his rescuers. “What is the meaning of this?”
“We were saving you,” Logan informed him as casually as if he was telling him about the weather, but his face was so pale he looked dangerously close to fainting.
When Virgil saw Patton rush over to check Janus was ok, he stepped back and put a supportive arm around Logan’s waist. Logan leaned on his shoulder, his breathing heavy.
“Saving me?” Janus shrieked.
“Yeah, from the evil ghost,” Patton said helpfully, once he seemed satisfied that Janus wasn’t wounded.
“He’s not evil!” Janus gasped, and he laughed. He actually laughed and looked to the ghost as if his friends were the ones being ridiculous.
“You don’t know him,” Roman warned, floating forwards to stand protectively in front of Virgil and Logan. “He’s a murderer.”
Janus’ eyes widened, but the ghost looked just as confused as him.
“What the fuck? I never killed anybody!” The ghost protested, waving his hands as if to plead innocence in a way that would have been comical were it not for the gravity of the situation.
“Don’t play dumb with me, Remus,” Roman said gravely. He took another step forward, the air around him seeming to crackle with his anger alone. “You killed me!”
Remus’ mouth dropped open, and he stared with wide eyes at the shocked faces around the room, eventually settling on Roman. “No, I- I didn’t,” he said, his voice quiet and serious. “Ro, how could you think that? I would never hurt-”
“Enough!” Roman snapped. He stalked towards his brother and poked a finger at his chest. “You bashed my head in with your Morningstar!” His entire body flickered, and a deep gash in his head was visible for a second before he returned to normal.
“Wha…?” Remus gaped at him, then his brow creased as he seemed to realise something. “Oh. The Morningstar. That… that makes sense…”
“So you admit it?” Roman asked. There was something fragile in his voice, as if he’d been hoping it wasn’t true this entire time.
“No!” Remus waved his hands again, almost hitting Roman in the face. “Christ no, I swear I didn’t. Roman, I died before you.”
Roman took a step back, perplexed. “Impossible. If you died before me, how did you kill me?”
“I didn’t!” Remus insisted. “Rowena sent assassins after us! I tried to fight them off with my Morningstar, stop them from getting to you. But…” He shrugged, his body rippling until a nasty wound showed in his gut.
Roman gasped. “Holy shit, Re…”
“They must have taken my Morningstar after they killed me,” Remus said as the wound faded again.
“So… Rowena did this to us?” Roman huffed. “That bitch!”
“I’m sorry… who’s Rowena?” Logan asked. He still looked a little out of it, but his voice was steady. Virgil stroked his arm, and he leaned into the touch.
Both brothers turned to Logan, as if only just remembering they had company.
“Rowena is our sister,” Roman told him.
“Nasty cow,” Remus muttered. “When our father got ill, she knew Roman and I were both in line to inherit the estate before her. So, when we were on holiday at our summer house,” he gestured to the building around them, “she sent people to get rid of us.”
“I hope she’s not still in charge of everything,” Roman added.
“Rowena?” Janus asked, eyebrows knitting in thought. “You mean that old hag who owned the estate down the road? She died years ago.”
“Who owns it now?” Remus asked eagerly.
“Some guy called Remington, I think,” Janus said. “I’m not an expert on the area, my aunt just used to live nearby.”
“Little Remy?” Roman gasped, his eyes lighting up. “He’s our cousin! He was only young when we died, but I think our estate is in good hands with him.”
“Yeah, he’s a good kid,” Remus agreed. “I taught him to swear!”
“Remus!” Roman looked scandalised. “He was two years old!”
Remus shrugged, waving Roman’s concerns off like he was a pesky fly. “Anyway, before you interrupted us, Janus and I were in the middle of something, so if we could just get back to that…”
“Wait, if he wasn’t trying to kill you, what were you doing?” Virgil asked Janus.
Janus spread his hands in a gesture which proceeded many of his elaborate lies that had gotten them out of countless detentions in the past. “We were… running an experiment. To see if Remus’ telekinesis works on people.”
Virgil raised a disbelieving eyebrow. “Really?”
“Nah, we were trying to make out,” Remus said with a giggle.
Janus shot him a glare, but judging by the blush that spread over his face, Remus was telling the truth.
“Can you make out with a ghost?” Logan asked, and Virgil just caught his gaze briefly flicking towards Roman.
Janus gave him a frustrated look. “That’s what we were trying to figure out. So, if you don’t mind,” he said, beginning to usher his friends out of the door.
Virgil rolled his eyes, but he obligingly dragged Patton and Logan out of the room with him. They stood outside the door with Roman for a second, looking at each other in shock, before Roman began to stride back down the hallway towards his side of the house.
“Well, now the East Wing is off limits for a completely different reason. Unless anyone wants to risk walking in on that,” he grimaced.
Virgil exchanged a glance with his friends, and they all hurried after Roman.
Virgil barely made it into Roman’s room before he sank to the floor, sliding down the doorframe to lean, exhausted, against the wall. Patton sat cross-legged beside him, but Logan stubbornly remained standing.
“Lo, sweetie you should sit down,” Patton insisted, looking worriedly at Logan’s pallor.
“I’m fine,” Logan said firmly, though his voice was a little strained.
“L-” Virgil began, but he couldn’t get a word out before an armchair slid across the room, knocking Logan’s feet from under him so he fell back onto the squashy cushions.
“You’re sitting down, I’m not having anyone fainting on my watch,” Roman said, but his voice was soft.
Logan grumbled under his breath, but he didn’t look like he wanted to move.
“So…” Roman stood in front of the three, the only one of the group who seemed to have much energy left after the eventful day. “Where were we? Ah, right! How many rooms will you want? Are you three together?”
Virgil sat up bolt right, spluttering, and Patton let out a little squeak of shock.
“Of course we’re not,” Logan said, so quickly and firmly that Virgil couldn’t help feeling a little hurt. He’d always known he didn’t have a chance with Logan, but hearing Logan act as if the idea of loving him was unreasonable… that stung. Logan seemed to realise how harsh he sounded. “I mean, not that I have anything against polyamory. I am polyamorous, but us three… we’re not together, no.”
“Pol-y-am-or-y,” Roman sounded out, testing the word on his tongue.
“It means… when someone is, or would be open to being, in a relationship with more than one partner,” Logan clarified.
“Oh…” Roman’s voice was suddenly small, and as he looked down at his hands, Virgil noticed his chin starting to tremble. Then, like the breaking of dawn, the smallest and softest of smiles crept onto his face. “There’s a word for it. That… I like that. Polyamory…”
Logan smiled along with Roman, watching his face the way he’d always gazed at the stars; with wonder, as if his smile held all the secrets of the universe.
“I didn’t know you were poly, Lo,” Patton piped up quietly.
Logan turned his smile to Patton, and it stayed just as soft. “I didn’t know myself until recently.”
Patton grinned. “Well, I’m glad you figured it out. I don’t think I ever told you, but… I am too.”
Virgil’s hoodie strings were thoroughly twisted around his fingers. He hadn’t considered coming out to his friends before, given that they were the reason he knew he was polyamorous, and telling them would feel a little too close to a confession. But in the warm atmosphere of Roman’s room, with the other three looking so happily at each other, he felt it might be time. “I’m polyamorous,” Virgil blurted before he could talk himself out of it.
Only when Patton rested a hand on his shoulder did Virgil realise he was shaking. “It’s ok, honey. I’m really proud of you for coming out, I know it takes a lot,” Patton murmured soothingly, rubbing his arm.
“As am I,” Logan said, and when he turned his smile on Virgil, the whole universe seemed to light up. “Thank you for sharing this with us. How long have you known?”
Virgil looked down at his hands. This was his chance. Nothing would come of telling them how he felt; Logan had been pretty clear about his opinion on being in a relationship with Virgil, and he had no reason to think Patton might have feelings for him. Telling them would just be a weight off his chest, entirely selfish… but Janus had said it was ok to be a little selfish. He couldn’t look either of them in the eye, but he untangled one hand to gesture to Patton. “When we were at yours for the New Year’s Eve party last year… and the three of us sat on the roof. I’d never really been sure about crushes before, but that night, looking at you two under all those stars – Patton, you were wearing that soft blue jumper, and Logan you had that suit with the galaxy tie I gave you for Christmas – you looked so beautiful. And I knew… it was you. Both of you…” He sighed, not wanting to risk looking up and seeing their reactions. “I know that neither of you feel the same, but…”
He heard a shift of fabric, and the next thing he knew Logan was kneeling on the floor in front of him. Logan’s fingers brushed against his, and when Virgil didn’t resist, Logan firmly took hold of his hand. “I remember when you gave me that tie. On Christmas Eve last year, my parents told me we were going to stay with my cousins, all last minute arrangements, and I was only able to let you and Patton know an hour before we left. You showed up on my doorstep fifteen minutes later, sweaty and out of breath-”
“I must have looked a mess,” Virgil muttered.
Logan squeezed his hand, and continued as if he hadn’t been interrupted. “Because you’d run all the way from your house, so you could give me my Christmas present before I left. And the fact that you would do that all for me, it made my chest feel so warm. I’d known I had feelings for Patton for a long time, but that was the moment I realised… you, as well.”
Virgil stared at him in stunned silence, gazing at the smile so bright and genuine it brought tears to his eyes.
And Patton’s hand was there to wipe them away. Just as he always had been, he was there when Virgil needed him, with a smile on his face and warmth in his eyes. “If we’re sharing our feelings right now, I guess I should say that I love you two a whole lot.”
“Patton…” Logan’s voice was choked. “I… may I hug you?”
Patton’s smile turned brilliantly bright, and he wrapped an arm around Logan, and his other around Virgil, pulling them close. Logan rested his head on Patton’s shoulder and let out a contented sigh.
Virgil squeezed Logan’s hand and nuzzled into Patton’s neck. As he turned his head, he glimpsed Roman, who was backing silently out of the door. “Where are you going?” he murmured, his voice coming out a little too petulant for his liking.
Roman flashed him a smile just as dazzling as every other one he’d shown him, but his eyes were undeniably sad. “This seems like… a personal moment. I thought I should leave you three alone.”
“Well, the three of us still have a lot to talk about,” Logan reasoned. “But you’re part of this conversation too. You seemed quite interested in the notion of polyamory.” He nodded to a gap in their makeshift circle. “Come on, sit down.”
Roman hesitated, but he lowered himself towards the floor, and settled there with crossed legs. “Yes. I am… polyamorous, as you say,” he began slowly. His eyes drifted down to the floor as a wistful expression crossed his face. “There were people, when I was alive, who I… I could have…” He sniffed sadly. “But I never told them, and they’ll be long gone by now. I suppose I’ve missed my chance at romance.”
Virgil thought that statement was a little absurd, considering how soft Patton’s gaze was as he stared at Roman, and Logan’s contained much more than just curiosity. A look passed between the three of them, just as many had done throughout the years they’d known each other. And through that silent communication, they all knew what to do next. Virgil placed his free hand on the dusty carpet, just close enough to feel the cold emanating from Roman’s fingers, as Logan did the same. With his arms still around Virgil and Logan, Patton smiled at Roman.
“Actually, I don’t think you have.”
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