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Florus thought he was doing a fine job of being comfortable around Alexius when he brought up that he'd seen the gardener look his way. He nearly choked on his wine, and coughed, looking at the other man in alarm. He was suddenly bright red. 'I... Apologies,' he stammered.

He hadn't been expecting to be caught. He didn't think Alexius would have picked up on it. Nor any man, really. Much like Tranquillus didn't notice. Attis had told him men could like other men, sure, but he hadn't known before. That of course had to mean that most men were unaware of the fact, and wouldn't be expecting another man to be looking at them in that manner. He'd thought he had a relative safety about it.

Florus looked at his fingers, not daring to look up. Alexius wanted to drink his cup, and he did, but the gardener didn't feel like doing that. Drink more wine, sure, but not in as joyful a manner as the other man.

'Apologies,' he repeated. 'I didn't mean to make you uneasy.'

 

@Atrice

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Why was Florus so sweet when he blushed? Alexius supposed he just wasn't used to being around such people anymore. Most people he met here in Rome, they'd tried a bit of this and that and they certainly weren't blushing under his gaze. But Florus here, he seemed surprised and ashamed when Alexius revealed he'd seen the youth look at him at the baths and he even apologized. Alexius smiled, "No need to apologize." He said and had then suggested to down their drinks, in order to get it over and done with so they could continue with the real fun.

But Florus did not join him and instead just apologized again, he didn't want to make Alexius feel uneasy, "There's no way you could make feel that. And why would I feel uneasy by you looking at me?" Alexius asked, wondering why Florus suddenly seemed so changed. He had an idea though, "It seems though, that I am making you feel uneasy. And I didn't mean to, either." He continued, looking at the handsome youth who clearly had no experience with anything compared to Alexius... perhaps he really should try and take it more slowly, "Do you want to talk about it?" 

@Ejder

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Alexius was behaving in a comforting manner, and Florus wasn't sure whether he was reassured or whether he ought to brace for the worst. He was going to have to explain it to the former gladiator, and he was going to need to get more wine down his throat in order to procede.

'You aren't making me feel uneasy, Alexius,' Florus said. Not in the way the other man expected, at the very least. Searching for his words, he finally drained his cup. That was a mistake, since it was nowhere near empty, Alexius having just refilled it. The wine was nice. Not quite as bracing as he would have liked, but it would have to do. Honesty was important, after all.

'I, um...' How did he begin? 'I don't know if you know this,' he started. 'But some men like other men.' He rapped his fingers on the table once or twice, and then his gaze met the other man's. His cheeks were still rosy. 'I like other men.' There. That wasn't so hard.

'And the reason I was looking at you in the baths...' By the gods, suddenly it had gotten more difficult. He pursed his lips. Where had the wine gone?

 

@Atrice

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He had wondered why on Earth Florus should make him feel uneasy, but of course, there was a good chance it was actually the other way around and he would talk to Florus about it, if Florus needed or wanted to. Florus said he did not feel uneasy and then he downed his wine and seemed a bit nervous before he began talking. And then… he explained that some men liked other men and he was one of those. Gods, should he be honest? It was probably best.

 “I know why you were looking at me in the baths.” Alexius said with a smile and set down his cup, “I like other men too. And women. I like both.” He confessed then, in case Florus didn’t know that was something you could do too. Alexius really just liked attractive people he could have sex with. Gender and age didn’t always matter to him, as long as it was pleasant for both (or all) involved.

 “Apologies if I say this though… but you seem a bit inexperienced. If you need a hand with anything…” Gods, he couldn’t help it, could he? If Florus needed a hand with anything? Seriously? He smiled, but more at his own mind than anything else and decided that now he started anyway, why stop? “A hand or anything else… I’m here for you.”

@Ejder

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Florus waited for Alexius to be shocked by his revelation, but it didn't happen. Instead, the former gladiator revealed his own penchants, and the gardener merely stared back, uncomprehending. So he knew? And he liked men too? And women, as well, which he didn't know was possible, but it seemed irrelevant to his own interests.

'Can I have more wine?' He asked. Would that make the red upon his cheeks disappear if he had another cup? He bit his thumb, pensively looking at Alexius. 'I didn't mean to stare, but...' he trailed off, shrugging. He couldn't help it. Attractive men just caught his eye, and he knew this, now. And Alexius certainly was an attractive man.

'I am inexperienced,' he said in a low voice, looking at the table between them. The blush hadn't faded from his face. 'I have a friend who explained to me the mechanics of, you know, sex,' he said, the last most a mere whisper Alexius would have to lean in to understand. 'So I know how it works, but I don't know the rest.'

If the other man was there for him, as he said, maybe he would be able to help him with the matter of Tranquillus?

 

@Atrice

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Sometimes, honesty was the best route and he decided this was one of these cases. Because it sounded as if Florus thought he was telling Alexius a big secret, but this was Rome and the Romans often cared less about gender and more about who fucked who. Alexius could admit he did prefer to be the more active part of such acts, but it wasn’t what mattered most. What mattered most was pleasure and sharing a good thing together. And release and satisfaction. That too. That mattered a lot. But gender… not so much. 

Florus stared at him when Alexius replied and then he wanted more wine. Alexius nodded and poured for the youth, who then again said he had not meant to stare. Alexius arched a brow with a curious smile, and then Florus confessed he was indeed inexperienced. He was blushing so hard and stating he’d been explained the mechanics of sex, but sounded like he had not tried it. Poor thing, he had no idea what he was missing out on!

 “I don’t like to brag… but I think I know more than enough about how it works and what to do when. In case you didn’t guess it yet, I can’t say I’m inexperienced.” More the opposite, really… he downed a little more wine and looked at Florus again, “Maybe though, we should not discuss or demonstrate anything… here. I don’t live so far away if you want to come home with me.” It was daytime anyway, so Lexus was most likely out working somewhere. It was likely they’d have the insula to themselves.

@Ejder

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Florus gratefully nodded to Alexius as he poured him some more wine, and soon brought the cup again to his lips. He took a sip, and then licked his lips, nonchalantly, not breaking eye contact with the former gladiator.

Alexius was an experienced man, he was saying so himself. And he had said he was there to give Florus a hand, if he needed. Well, that was just perfect, wasn't it? The gardener could totally ask for his help. It wasn't like he didn't need it, honestly. If left to his own devices, he was pretty sure he would never figure it out. And although he was certain Tranquillus would never, not in a million years, want him, he was also certain it wouldn't come off as attractive in the least, to Tranquillus or to any other man, if he didn't know what he was doing. Alexius could give him pointers.

'Didn't you want to go for a swim?' Florus asked, confused. He didn't mind either way, honestly, but he would probably prefer the option that allowed him to keep his clothes on. He'd been naked in front of the other man enough for today. 'We can go to your home, and then you can show me things?' That was bound to be a helpful discussion.

 

@Atrice

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Was Florus planning on getting drunk, he wondered? This was his third cup and that was a lot more compared to the one he had last time they met. He didn't want Florus to get so drunk he'd not remember their conversation or whatever happened later. Alexius was always open to new people and even more when he had something to drink and he didn't mind that. But he wouldn't make Florus do anything he would not remember or would regret. He just wanted it to be good. Wanted to give Florus a good time and himself too of course. Two men could enjoy each other, he knew all about that, even if it was mostly women who threw themselves at him. But it wasn't only that. And Alexius wasn't picky. 

Florus drank some more wine and Alexius explained how he was experienced and would certainly not mind talking further about these matters. Or showing anything. A little round of show and tell... so he suggested going to his own home once the wine was done, but Florus seemed confused as Alexius had also talked about going for a swim with him. But he seemed to not mind going to Alexius' home.

"The thing about the swim... that was before I knew what I know now about you." Alexius replied with a charming smile, "I think going to my home is the best plan. And I'll show you... things. It's sometimes easier to show than tell, with these matters." He said with a wink, watching Florus drink the wine with those pretty lips of his and Alexius thought he'd like a taste of those. Really just all of Florus. The sooner the better. He drank some more of his own wine.

@Ejder

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The wine was beginning to swirl his thoughts, almost as though the plumes of burgundy occupying his mind were wine in smoke form. It was alright, nothing was wrong, but Florus distinctly felt more relaxed. Everything was going well, and everything was going to go well. Swimmingly. They'd go to Alexius' home, and the former gladiator would explain all he knew to the gardener so he wouldn't come off as an inexperienced child to the man who would have him. Hopefully Tranquillus, but probably not. The body slave didn't see him, after all.

'Let's go to your place, then,' Florus said with a decent amount of cheer, more than his usual neutral expression contained. 'What kinds of things will you show me?' He was eager to learn.

 

@Atrice

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He hoped it wouldn’t be too wrong of him to take someone else’s slave to his home. It’s not like he thought Florus would stay the night anyway, it was barely dark outside and surely Florus would be sober enough to walk home later. If he stopped drinking now anyway, but the last time Alexius poured wine, it was almost empty anyway. So they could leave soon. He promised Florus to show him certain things at his home and the younger man seemed cheerful and wanted to get going.

 And now he wanted to know what things he’d be shown. Alexius smiled, “Oh… there could be so many things, my lovely friend.” He said, “It’s a whole new world for you, I imagine.” Alexius said, looking the youth over. Gods he just wanted to kiss Florus and get it all started. It was almost a pity Florus was so inexperienced and probably wanted his first time to be relaxed and comfortable, because Alexius could easily find a place nearby. He shifted in his seat, yes, definitely… definitely ready to go.

 “I’ll show you how to touch…” Alexius reached for Florus’ hand, like last time, and with his thumb he massage the other’s fingers, “I can let you feel how good it can be. Pleasure, Florus… that’s what it’s all about. For the one you’re with… and for yourself, of course.” Alexius added and then he let go of Florus’ hand, before he’d just pull him close. Alexius downed the rest of his wine once more, hoping Florus would be done soon too.

@Ejder

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Florus looked at his cup of wine, and might have been about to drink when he noticed Alexius' eyes on him. Something about how the man looked at him was warming his cheeks. It was exciting, arousing even. He would learn so much! He was a good deal more cheerful than he usually was, and not sober at all, but he was still in control. Or, well, his pulsions seemed to have a better control of the situation than his mind. Alexius was a good-looking man. Very experienced. Good.

'It is,' he confirmed. 'I didn't know what I wanted until two months ago.' He didn't know when he would get the chance to thank Attis for it, but he felt like he should. He'd never understood why women had no appeal for him, and had always pretty much figured everyone else was also pretending they liked them as much as they did. 'But now I know,' he said, raising his head to look into the other man's eyes. And it was very good to know that he was not alone with his desires. It was good to know that someone like Alexius understood.

Something pulled from his navel as Alexius caressed his hand, and he repressed a shiver. That felt really nice. The former gladiator was going to teach him how to touch, and maybe then he'd learn how to elicit such a reaction from someone like Tranquillus. Or most likely not. But still. And then the other man spoke of pleasure, and Florus had to bite his lip. Alexius was very good at this. If one day Tranquillus could feel just half of how the former gladiator was making him feel, right now...

Florus finished his cup of wine, but found that swallowing presented a bit of a challenge. 'So, erm, do you want to go now?' They needed to go now, really, because it was already bordering on indecency, as far as the gardener was concerned.

 

@Atrice

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The more he drank and the more Florus drank, the more eager they both seemed about their new plans for the day… Florus coming with Alexius home and then they’d do a little show and tell about pleasure. Alexius could barely wait. And when he looked at Florus again, really looked at him, admiring him, Florus caught his gaze and seemed to blush a bit and it all just made Alexius want him more. Florus then confirmed how it was a whole new world for him and he hadn’t known until two months ago… but now he knew.

 Alexius nodded and then he’d picked up Florus’ hand, caressing his hand and fingers with his own, while he spoke of touching and feeling and pleasure. He definitely understood it all. Florus almost seemed to tremble a bit by his gentle touch and he let go again and emptied his own drink. Florus did the same and wanted to get going. Alexius nodded with a content gaze at the other, “There’s nothing I want more right now.” He said with a smile and left payment on the table by the jar and the cups, then stood and gestured that Florus could come too.

 “I don’t live so far away, as I said. And I’m fairly sure we’ll be home alone.” Else, it wasn’t like Alexius had not taken anybody with him home while he lived together with his son. And Lexus was growing older too, so there wouldn’t be an issue, he thought. But as far as he knew, they’d be alone. Just like he wanted. Even if the desire to just pin Florus against the nearest wall and kiss him and touch him was strong too. So strong. He inhaled a small breath while considering when he’d last wanted someone so badly... he looked at Florus, thinking a bit of conversation might help, "So tell me... have you even been kissed before? By a man?"

@Ejder

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Alexius let go of his hand, and Florus felt something grumble inside him. Was it disappointment? That was silly. Alexius was just trying to show him something; the gardener had no business getting overly excited. He stood up at the same time as the former gladiator did, very much as eager as the other man was. Just imagine, if Tranquillus could feel the way he felt, with just a slight pressure on his hand... He was going to get carried away now, and he knew he ought not to. He wasn't going to get Tranquillus, after all. For so many reasons.

'Alright, let's go,' Florus urged the other man. Maybe he was being too enthusiastic. Was that alright? It was a good thing Alexius lived close by: he didn't want to wait a second longer. It was also a good thing that they were going to be alone. It felt like it would be embarrassing to have someone else witness his inexperience and Alexius' coaching. Of course, he didn't have anything to prove to anyone, but if something ever happened, with Tranquillus, or, more likely, with someone else, he didn't want to be seen as the one who had needed coaching.

'I haven't,' Florus replied. Of course Alexius would need to know these things if he was going to teach him all about them. 'By a man or a woman.'

 

@Atrice

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Alexius had a tendency to get infatuated by people – or maybe just really fascinated. And when that happened, there were no one else in the world he’d rather spend time with, but the one he had cast his current attention upon. And how could you not want to give Florus all of your attention? When he was so young, so attractive, so fresh and sweet and so open-minded and willing to learn everything there was to know? Lucky for him that he’d met Alexius, who would welcome him with open arms and parted lips and more!

They were now leaving the tavern together, side by side and on the way, Alexius thought again of how passionately he’d like to kiss Florus and that did not weaken his desires for the young man. So he wondered, since it seemed as if Florus had only just found out that men could enjoy men, if Florus had ever been kissed before. And sweet Florus said he had not been kissed by a man and not even by a woman.

“You haven’t?” He asked, a bit surprised, “Well… there’s a lot for you to learn, it seems.” Alexius added and smiled, happy with a bit of conversation to keep his mind and cravings distracted, “How did you find out that men could like men? If you did not know this before?”

@Ejder

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'No,' Florus replied pensievely. 'I shouldn't like to get into something with someone and not know what I'm doing.' Of course, Attis had explained the bare bones of it all, but there was bound to be more. Presumably one didn't just jump on the object of their affection and do the deed. Presumably there was a lead up to it. At least he hoped. And with any luck, Alexius would explain it to him.

His cheeks had been doing a fine number today, with all the blood flowing through them, but they seemed to be returning to normal, at least until Alexius asked him how he had stumbled upon his knowledge. At least it was only pink, and completely unnoticeable. Hopefully.

'A friend told me. I said I'd never found a woman I was interested in, and he said it didn't have to be a woman. I didn't know that! How did you find out?'

 

@Atrice

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It was a pity, that no man (or woman) had ever kissed Florus’ handsome and lush lips before. They had not been touched or kissed by anyone and Alexius would be more than happy and proud to be the first. And once Florus had learned how nice it was, he would want more. He listened to the young man tell about how he did not want to get into something with someone and not know what he was doing. Well not everyone thought that far! Alexius thought most people just kind of… did it. He nodded quietly at Florus’ words though and then he’d asked how Florus even came to the knowledge that man could like men the same way men liked women.

Florus blushed again and shared that a friend had told him and made him realize it all, because he’d never found a woman he was interested in like that. And then he would know how Alexius found out.

“I didn’t really have much of a choice in finding out.” Alexius revealed. “I began my training as a gladiator when I was 15 years old, I think. And I don’t know if you know this… but gladiators are often rented out to patrons to sleep with, the same way whores do. Gladiators don’t just fight. In a way, they are also a kind of prostitutes.” He admitted, he never spoke to anyone about it like that before, “But… that’s how it was. And I was still quite young when that happened to me and a man paid for my time and my body. He wasn’t bad though, it wasn’t a bad experience with him and although it wasn’t really by choice it happened… I enjoyed it enough and I was curious enough to want it another time. Soon it also happened with a woman and… it kind of just took off like that, I guess. I learned how to share and enjoy pleasure with anyone, back then.” Alexius said with a smile, “And I still do… enjoy sharing pleasure with anyone. With you too, I’m sure.” He added with a wink to the handsome youth. His insula wasn’t far away now.

@Ejder

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Florus' eyes widened as the former gladiator almost casually revealed his body had been used by the Romans. He knew it happened to the whore slaves, because that was their chore, and he knew some body slaves were used that way too, but gladiators? Surely not any and all slaves could be taken against their will? It was shocking to hear, and even more shocking that Alexius didn't seem as fazed by it as the young gardener was. Maybe that was because he was much older now, and enough time had passed that he wasn't enraged or traumatized or sadened by it anymore. Or maybe it hadn't been such a traumatic experience. Or maybe Alexius kept his feelings to himself. Whatever the reason, Florus didn't know, and he didn't know if he could understand, either. He had enough outrage for the both of them, at the very least. Something dark passed in his eyes, briefly. Bloody Romans.

'I'm sorry it happened to you,' he said. 'And now you know about pleasure.' His expression was neutral, and he scrutinized Alexius' face and eyes as he spoke. It wasn't his place to try to divine what was going on in the other man's head. And then he said something genuinely puzzling. 'What do you mean, sharing pleasure?' Florus wanted to discuss pleasure, the giving and taking of it with this man, but nothing else.

'I, erm... Are you flirting with me, Alexius?'

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Florus seemed shocked to learn that Alexius had once been used by the Romans, but it was a long time ago and while it wasn’t pleasure and satisfaction every time, it often was. And Alexius learned that pleasure was what he wanted, so he would play along and get the best out of it. He enjoyed sex to this day, with any gender and rank didn’t matter to him. A lover could be a slave or a Senator, male or female… he didn’t care. As long as he got some. Florus was sweet though, saying he was sorry it happened and at least now he knew about pleasure.

“Yes, I now know about pleasure. It wasn’t horrible every time, luckily.” Alexius replied to the younger man and had then spoken of sharing pleasure and how he’d enjoy it with Florus too. Florus looked at him, wondering what he meant by sharing pleasure and then asked if Alexius was flirting with him.

Alexius let out a little laugh, “It is very possible that I am.” He said with a smile then to the youth by his side, “And why wouldn’t I? You’re very easy on the eyes Florus and you’re very nice to talk to. You’re very likable.” He added and tilted his head, “No one flirted with you before?”

@Ejder

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Florus stared at Alexius, stopping dead in his tracks.

'I, erm, gratitude?' He didn't know how to respond to the other man's compliments. Not when it was possible they were an overture and meant Alexius wanted to do more than just discuss pleasure. That... that hadn't been what the gardener had had in mind! He'd just wanted to be more educated, in case anything ever happened.

Of course, the anything in question could very well be today, with Alexius, but he knew he was foolish, and he knew what he was holding out for. Very foolish. Especially when the man in question would never want him to begin with, and there was a perfectly acceptable replacement right in front of him.

'No, no one has.' People tended to not talk to him when he avoided them. And as for other people who might want to interact, his cold demeanour was generally offputting enough that he was left well enough alone in most cases. 'I am... flattered, Alexius.'

Florus looked at his feet, expecting them to come up with words as he himself failed to. Face no longer flushed, he looked up at the older man. 'My heart belongs to another.'

 

@Atrice

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Alexius gave Florus a glance, when the other suddenly stopped – after Alexius confessed that he might be flirting with Florus. Well of course he was flirting, why should he not be? He complimented the young man and Florus thanked him and said no one had flirted with him before. Really? Alexius was surprised! Why wouldn’t you flirt with someone so good looking and so nice? Clearly, everyone else in Florus’ life were fools.

“That’s a pity.” Alexius said then, with a smile and Florus continued to say he was flattered and stared at his feet before saying that his heart belonged to another.

Alexius tilted his head, looking at Florus and then the building next to them – they stopped in front of his building, actually. He still didn’t quite understand the issue though. Love and sex, to Alexius, was not the same thing. He’d tried to make Oriana understand this, but she didn’t. Alexius didn’t love everyone he slept with; but why should you not be able to share pleasure anyway? It was not the same. Not at all.

“I see… well…” Alexius began, thinking it all through and quickly came up with an idea, “That really isn’t an issue for me though. Why don’t we go up to my home… and you can tell me all about your heart’s intended? And why he hasn’t kissed you yet.” Alexius added with a smile and a wink and gestured at the door leading into the building. They’d go up a few floors before reaching the right insula there. He could only hope Florus would agree to come.

@Ejder

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This was embarrassing, this was. Alexius was kind, to pay him any attention whatsoever, but he was wrong if he believed that he would get anywhere with Florus. It was stupid, really, and maybe he ought to just go with it, and take part in the pleasurable things Alexius was promising, but somehow it felt wrong. He was never going to have Tranquillus for himself, so wanting him to be the first was ridiculous. Was he going to spend all his life refusing other men, on the off chance the body slave would suddenly see him? Still, try as he might to convince himself otherwise, he still didn't want it to be someone else.

'I don't... I don't want to... I mean, I do want to do these things with you, Alexius, but I won't.' He looked at the other man, gauging whether his refusal was going to be an issue. 'He hasn't kissed me because he won't ever do it,' he said. 'I know it's stupid, I... Apologies.'

 

@Atrice

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Some people just didn’t understand that love and pleasure could be the same thing, and it could be two separate things. Well of course Alexius gave his full attention to whomever he slept with, when they were together, but that wasn’t the same as falling in love or loving someone. He knew that feeling too, after all. But of course, Florus was so inexperienced and while Alexius kept his hopes up, he could tell that the youth was suddenly not so keen anymore. Why? It really made no sense to him. Pleasure was a good thing. Not something you should deny when it was offered to you like this… Alexius could show Florus so many things. Send him right over the edge. Gods he’d love to do that!

Florus said he wanted to do things with Alexius, but at the same time, he would not. That was not really what he’d expected. He could understand Florus, and at the same time, not at all. Florus said his intended had not kissed him and might never. And he apologized.

Well… what did you say to that?

It wasn’t like Alexius would beg for the sake of pleasure, but really, he did think it was indeed stupid of Florus to say he didn’t want to. And it wasn’t nice that he’d made Alexius think he wanted something and then took it back. Alexius would never force someone to be with him, but Florus was too attractive for his own good, really. Alexius couldn’t be mad at him.

“So what you’re saying is your heart belongs to someone, who may or may not ever kiss you. Why miss out?” Alexius asked, looking him over. He really didn’t understand that. Gods he was so gorgeous though! This was… hard! Maybe Florus would change his mind if they spent more time together?

“Won’t you come up anyway though? Now we got this far. We can still talk… privately.” It was worth a try.

@Ejder

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