Today was quite a day, from waking up to marriage equality news to walking past the rainbow lights on San Francisco’s City Hall and the War Memorial Opera House tonight and drinking in the full meaning of today’s events. There’s still so much in the world that needs changing, but it’s a very different landscape than in 1818. Particularly when it comes to marriage. I couldn’t but think of a scene I wrote recently in my WIP between David and Charles/Malcolm but focused on David and Simon and the challenges they face. David and Simon have such a stable relationship, that I sometimes don’t focus enough on the fact that not only can they not marry, their very relationship isn’t legal.
Minor spoilers in this for the very beginning of the next book. David and Simon are raising Louisa’s children. This is an early draft, so please forgive typos and editing errors!
Simon got to his feet. “I should be getting back to the Albany.”
David and Simon had shared rooms since their Oxford days, but after Louisa’s death, David had moved into the Craven house while Simon still at least nominally lived in the rooms they had once shared in the Albany. Simon, usually careless of appearances, was careful to preserve them for the children’s sake. The arrangement, Charles thought, couldn’t be comfortable for any of them.
Simon bent and gave David a quick hard kiss. There was a time when they’d have avoided such displays, even in front of Charles. It was almost as those the changed circumstances made it more important to establish the reality of their relationship. Whatever the reason, that at least, Charles thought, was progress.
“This can’t be easy on either of you,” Charles said when Simon had left the room.
David grimaced. “Simon’s a marvel. He’s the only one—including Bridget—who can get Jamie to sleep. We all nearly went mad one night when he had a late rehearsal.” He took a drink of whisky and stared into his glass. “It’s odd, I don’t think they saw Craven or even Louisa that much, but they sure as hell notice their absence.”
“There’s a difference between absence and knowing one will never see one’s parent again,” Charles said, remembering his own mother’s absences.
David tapped his fingers on the sofa arm. “Bel couldn’t have taken the children without neglecting her own. Mary’s got enough to deal with with her own husband’s death. Georgiana’s out of the country. Mother and Father— They found their own children challenging enough. And I told you what I think of Eustace and Lydia.”
“You don’t have to convince me,” Charles said. “I agree it was the best choice.” He leaned back in his chair. “I always thought you and Simon would make good parents.”
David shook his head. “I never thought— Simon didn’t ask for any of this.”
“I don’t see him complaining.”
“He’s being a saint. I hope— I keep thinking we’ll get back to something like normal.”
“I think every parent thinks that. Until they realize the new reality is normal.” Charles hesitated. “I don’t know that anyone would say anything if Simon stayed here. Rupert and Bertrand live together.”
“Rupert is married to Bertrand’s cousin. An uncomfortable situation for all of them but it has advantages.”
“True. But if Simon stayed here—“
“There’d be talk.” David drained his glass. “The children—“
“The children love you both. They’ll sort it out eventually.”
David shot a look at him. “Not everyone does.”
“I’m sorry,” Charles said. “I don’t mean to belittle the challenges.”
David got to his feet and refilled his glass. “A few of our friends accept us. Others—notably my parents—choose to be blind to what’s in front of them. Some others really are blind I suppose, or simply don’t have the imagination to see it.” He poured more whisky into Charles’s glass. “But still others are only too ready to gossip. And many to condemn.”
Charles looked at his friend, his chief confidante since they’d both been schoolboys Teddy’s age. He had shared things with David he hadn’t even shared with Suzanne. And yet— “You don’t talk this way often.”
David shrugged as he clunked down the decanter. “Nothing to be gained by dwelling. But it’s still a hanging offense.”
“My God.” Charles set his glass down hard on the chair arm. “We live in an appalling country.”
His wife would have said You only just discovered that? But David shook his head. “You don’t mean that. There are challenges, but they don’t outweigh all the things to honor and admire.”
“A country that condemns two of the finest people I know for loving each other has a lot to answer for.” And he was a member of that country’s government. As was David, though they both sat in the Opposition.
David sank down on the couch. He moved as though his bones ached. “It’s not as though every other country would welcome us with open arms. One grows used to living with secrets.”
Charles took a swallow of whisky that burned his throat. He knew a great deal about living with secrets since he’d learned his wife had been a Bonapartist agent. But for once he couldn’t confide in David.