SACRIFICE

Dorian Grey didn't care about anything.

 

Or more precisely, he didn't care about anyone.

 

He certainly cared about champagne and whisky, sumptuous feasts, and rolling with pretty boys and girls on the finest linen from Edinburgh to Rome.

 

His sincere belief was that his magic existed to cure hangovers, to impress his lovers, to charm his way onto steamships heading to exotic destinations filled with new intoxicating herbs and beautiful humans who would fall, by ones and twos, and even threes and fours, onto the silk sheets of his bed.

 

For Dorian Grey, immortal life was an endless debauched carnival of bright colours, beautiful sighs, and vivid dreams.

 

For Dorian Grey, immortal life was all about him.

 

Magnus Grey, his older brother, was the fixed point that Dorian orbited like an anchor. Magnus took care of the money, and the practical aspect of living. Dorian took care of the rest. He did not give his brother much thought at all, and only spoke with him when his funds were running low or he'd gotten himself in a sticky situation with a husband or wife that he needed Magnus's deft skill and soft voice to wheedle him out of.

 

There was not a pub, an opium den, a brothel, that Dorian did not know. His choices were highbrow, his taste impeccable; he only kissed the beautiful, he only ate or drank or smoked or injected what was expensive, and came in tiny snuffboxes like treasure chests of gold.

 

One night, in the rich red mirrored room of a London salon, in his drunken, drugged-out opium haze, Dorian fell in love.

 

Dorian walked the streets of London, laughing into the darkness, his cane clacking against the cobbles. He was alone, but he knew he wouldn't be for long. Men like Dorian never were – young, beautiful, well-dressed, rich. He knew he could have the pick of the town, and he loved London; it was the centre of the universe and the world sent its best; a cornucopia of beauty, and he ached to taste all of it. A rich comtesse from the Continent? A handsome young protege, looking for that boost to help him in his political aspirations? There was no end to the possibility of the rich and varied London population, and it made Dorian's endless hunger insatiable.

 

“Sir,” said a voice at his right, an Irish voice, just as he was about to turn up the staircase to the salon.

 

Dorian sighed and gritted his teeth, continued walking.

 

“Please, sir,” the voice said, “I'm very hungry.”

 

There was a note of music in the voice. Against his better judgement, Dorian turned.

 

A beautiful young man, covered in the dirt and grime of London's underbelly, stared up at him with huge brown eyes. Dorian's breath hitched. A human, so like the selk. A filthy, starving human with the same beauty as his own kind. Some deep part of him, some part connected to his ancient people, sang with near homesickness at the sight of this creature of beauty buried in the mud.

 

Dorian looked at the boy's hopeful face, his jacket and clothing in tatters, and that deep part of him pushed.

 

Dorian offered the boy his hand.

 

“Come with me,” he said, startling himself. “What's your name?”

 

The boy stared at him, as if he did not dare hope. He cautiously put his hand in Dorian's.

 

“Aidan.”

 

                            ***

 

The soft smile on Dorian's face was an unfamiliar sight to all who knew him. He watched Aidan with fondness.

 

The boy had been cleaned up and dressed in proper attire. He was breathtaking, gorgeous, his huge dark eyes striking a painful chord in Dorian, reminding him of the selk and the value they placed on hearth and home. A value that he himself had rejected.

 

As he had rejected the Call, when it had come for him. He felt its pull, even now, and staring at Aidan the guilt washed over him, a wave kept from the shore, always searching.

 

“Thank you, sir,” said Aidan. He sat in front of a feast in the red room with the mirrors, partridge and roast goose, all kinds of gravy, roast potatoes, wine and champagne. He had wolfed down what he could and Dorian had to stop him before he made himself sick. He was currently seated in front of the largest piece of chocolate cake Dorian had ever seen, and his boyish grin warmed a part of the selkie's soul that he hadn't been aware of before.

 

“What have you come to London to do?” Dorian asked.

 

The boy swallowed his bite of cake before responding. Manners had been taught, Dorian noted; this was a good thing.

 

“I want to be a dancer, sir,” said Aidan, “I want to join the ballet.”

 

Dorian grinned at that; he loved talent, and appreciated the fine musculature of dancers, as well as the brutal regime that kept them in training.

 

“Please, don't call me sir,” he said, “My name is Dorian. I'll see what I can do for you, if you are talented enough.”

 

Aidan smiled, and Dorian knew his heart would never be the same.

 

                        ***

 

In the weeks to come, and the months to follow, their relationship went from artist and sponsor to an entirely different one. Dorian had made the proper introductions, and had intended to leave Aidan alone to succeed or fail. He did not want a relationship with a young man who felt he owed the selkie anything, and in all other liasons Dorian would have enjoyed a night with a beautiful body and said his farewells. This time was different; Dorian wanted him, heart and soul.

 

So Dorian walked away.

 

He woke, head pounding with the combination cocktail he'd administered himself the night before, to forget Aidan's huge eyes and the way he laughed. The bell was ringing, loudly against the door, jangling as someone pulled hard on it. Dorian groaned and wrapped himself in his dressing gown, pushing a bit of his magic through the headache so he could at least communicate with whoever was waiting outside.

 

He opened the door and there were those large eyes staring up at him, full of tears.

 

Aidan stood on the stoop, twisting his hat in his hands.

 

“Forgive me for coming here, Dorian,” said Aidan, “What have I done to displease you?”

 

Dorian blinked.

 

“Displease - ?” he began, “You have done nothing to displease me, Aidan.”

 

“Then why did you stop speaking to me?!” Aidan said, “I waited, after the performance, and you were not in your box and I haven't seen you in a week.”

 

Dorian sighed, and rubbed his eyes.

 

“Aidan,” he said, and how difficult was a confession for this man who had never loved, “I...did not want to be inappropriate, as my affections for you were not what they should have been.”

 

A light in Aidan's eyes made Dorian hope, and hate himself for it.

 

“Affections?” Aidan asked.

 

Dorian nodded, and was startled by the press of Aidan's lips against his own.

 

“I have loved you,” said Aidan, murmuring between kisses, “since the night I saw you.”

 

              ***

 

Aidan slept against Dorian's shoulder. The selkie absently touched the curls at the top of his lover's head, and Aidan made a noise in his sleep, curling in and burying his face in Dorian's long, black hair.

 

Love

 

said the Call, speaking to him, deep and certain.

 

This is what waits for you. This is your purpose, your destiny.

 

You have left it too long, Dorian Grey.

 

Magic has its purpose.

 

Don't I have a choice? Dorian wondered, sending the question into the ether, I choose him. Always.

 

Before the Call, you had a choice, the seals murmured to him, you are beholden, betrothed to another.

 

Dorian sighed. He felt it, the Call, pulling him, calling to him, relentless as the waves upon the sea. He stared down at Aidan, loved and lover.

 

Dorian hoped he would remember him, afterwards.