Previous: "Fatherhood"

Series 10 Episode 12
"Always and Forever"

Adjusting his tie, Dylan felt slightly uncomfortable. He wasn’t used to wearing suits, and he could count on one hand the number of times he’d worn one in his life. In recent years, it was only his mum’s wedding to Ed, and before that, his dad’s funeral. Thankfully, the need to wear a suit didn’t crop up often.

This was a different type of occasion, though. This time, Dylan was at the centre of attention, and usually, that would be his worst nightmare. Big crowds and large social gatherings weren’t his forte, but this was an exception. Everyone in attendance was one of his friends or part of his family, and that was a comforting thought.

“You know it might be easier if you tie the mop up,” Josh teased, brushing Dylan’s lengthy locks out of the way to check his tie.

“No chance,” Dylan laughed. He hated tying his hair up, and there was no way he’d be doing it on his big day, “Jono isn’t either. We want to actually look good.”

“If you say so,” Josh chuckled, “You look awesome, dude.”

“Thanks,” Dylan blushed. How he looked wasn’t important, but compliments always went down a treat.

“Ready?” Caroline poked her head around the living room door. He’d been allocated the front room to get ready in by Yasmin who, as maid of honour, had also become the emergency wedding planner. Keen to keep them apart until the ceremony, she’d given Jono the downstairs bedroom, while everyone else waited outside by the lakehouse dock where the wedding was going to take place. Perhaps it wasn’t the most exciting location, but Dylan didn’t care – the view was spectacular and as long as he ended up with a ring on his finger, he couldn’t complain.

“Very,” Dylan confidently replied.

“I’ll see you up there,” Josh slid out of the room to take his place up front, swapping places with Maria who joined them through what felt like a revolving door of guests.

“How’s my gorgeous werewolf nephew doing?” Maria embarrassingly greeted. Caroline had explained the truth to her the night before, after the Forsyth run-in, and it had become a strange novelty for her.

“Thank god everyone here already knows that secret,” Dylan raised an eyebrow, though he was entirely playful. He knew Maria didn’t mean any harm.

“I know, I know, hush hush. You won’t have me to worry about after tomorrow anyway,” Maria continued. She’d already booked flights to return home – wasting no time.

“You can stay as long as you want, I told you,” Caroline insisted.

“No, no, I really must get back. There’s a lot of stuff to organise for the funeral and I don’t want to put it off,” Maria’s smile faded. She was putting on a brave face after everything that had happened with Mark, and Dylan appreciated her presence, “I’ll leave you both to it, good luck Dylan.”

Alone at last, Caroline beamed with pride as she saw Dylan dressed up for the first time. It meant everything for him to have his mum by his side.

“Do you remember what you said to me before you walked me down the aisle?” Caroline questioned, holding her arm out for Dylan to link with, “You told me how proud your dad would have been.”

“I remember,” Dylan replied, smiling.

“Well, he should have been the one giving you away today. He’d have loved nothing more. I know he’s here, in some capacity,” Caroline reminded, “And he would be so proud of you, just like I am, and just like your little brother or sister will be.” Dylan nodded, choosing not to reply verbally to stop himself crying. His dad was there in spirit, and Dylan knew he was always his biggest champion.

“Okay then, let’s do this,” Dylan took a deep breath, bracing himself. His big moment had arrived, and it was important that he made the most of it…while he could.

Jono had dreamed of the day he’d get married ever since he was a little boy. Even before he figured out his sexuality, a big wedding was something he had foreseen in his future. At the time, a wife and kids seemed like his endgame, and though the details had somewhat changed, Jono still knew what he wanted for himself.

Now, a future with Dylan was all Jono had envisaged for three years. He hadn’t considered an alternative, even when he thought Dylan was dead. He’d never forget how broken he felt during those months, and Jono knew he would do everything he could to prevent feeling like that ever again.

Therefore, for one day, Jono was ignoring reality. He knew how the day needed to end, for the pack’s sake as much as their own, but for a few hours, Jono was pretending that the future he desperately wanted was still on the cards.

“I think everyone’s ready,” Lily fed back, poking her head around the door. She and Freddie had been helping him get ready but being apart from Dylan was killing Jono. He wanted to spend as much time with him as he possibly could.

“I’m not sure I am,” Jono panicked.

“What? You’ve been ready for this day since you first met Dylan,” Lily sat next to him on the guest room bed.

“I’ve not listened to your sickly-sweet flirting for years for no reason,” Freddie added. He had put a brave face on for the day, even though Jono knew he was hurting deep down. He appreciated both their efforts to support him more than anything.

“No, I don’t mean that. I mean, the sooner today starts, the sooner it has to end, and I don’t want it to end,” Jono stressed. No matter how hard he tried to block out the inevitable, reality remained a dark cloud looming depressingly over him.

“You can’t worry over what you can’t control,” Lily advised, “We all know what’s coming, and it can’t be avoided, but when you look back, how do you want to remember your wedding day?”

“Perfection,” Jono replied without hesitation.

“That’s the part you can control,” Lily continued.

“I don’t deserve a sister like you,” Jono smiled, holding tears back, “Especially after hurting you so badly.”

“You couldn’t help it,” Lily acknowledged, “We’re both getting used to changes, right? We’re in the same boat, so it’s forgotten. You’re my baby brother, Jono, and I love you no matter what.” Despite his best efforts, Jono couldn’t hold the tears back any longer. He knew the day ahead was going to be a whirlwind of emotions, but he wasn’t prepared for it to begin so soon.

“Okay, let’s get you married,” Lily motivated. Wiping his tears, Jono psyched himself up. Lily was right; he’d waited so long for this day, and he wasn’t going to let anything ruin it.

The music began. The patio doors were pushed wide open. Directly in front of Dylan was the registrar – an old friend of Ed’s who’d had a cancellation for that day – and all he had to do was walk down the aisle. It was a huge moment, and Dylan could hardly believe it had finally arrived.

Among the joy, Dylan knew the inevitability of what was coming that evening, but there was always a solution out there. There had to be one. His future wasn’t sealed yet. There was always another way.

One step at a time, Caroline and Dylan made their way along the patio, passing the heart-eyed audience, one row of foldable chairs at a time. Dylan was impressed at how packed it was considering the short notice. Of course, the whole pack were present, including George, Alex, and Felix. Both Dylan and Jono’s families were in attendance, and Jono’s parents even looked proud for the first time. Mrs. Johnson had made it too and, much to Dylan’s delight, smiling at him from the front row was Drew. He hadn’t seen his former mentor in a while, but it meant the world that he was there for his big day.

As he arrived at the altar, Dylan turned to face the direction he came from. Caroline took her seat on the front row, while Josh stood proudly next to Dylan as they eagerly anticipated the final part of the jigsaw. Sure enough, immediately after Dylan’s arrival, Jono and Lily began to walk up the aisle, getting the same proud smiles from the attendees.

Dylan couldn’t take his eyes off his fiancée. He looked stunning in every single way. His hair was its usual untamed mop of cascading curls that perched just below his shoulders, much to Dylan’s joy. He wore a grey suit with a pink tie, and Dylan wanted to pinch himself. How had he landed someone so completely and effortlessly beautiful?

“You look incredible,” Jono commented as he reached Dylan’s side, Freddie taking his place next to him. Dylan blushed – he wore a similar grey suit but completed with a red tie instead. If he pulled it off even half as well as Jono, he’d have been happy.

“So do you,” Dylan repaid the compliment. He linked his right hand with Jono’s left and faced the registrar.

“We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Dylan Drummond and Jonathan Chadwick,” the registrar opened. Dylan gleefully smiled at Jono – he could hardly believe what was happening. He was just moments away from having a husband, and nothing could ever take that moment away from him.

To Jono’s delight, the ceremony was running perfectly to plan. Nobody had objected when given the chance – not that Jono had expected anyone to, given the tight-knit nature of the attendees, but the paranoia was still there – and, for a change, everything felt so delightfully human.

Now, it was time for the part of the ceremony that Jono had felt most nervous about: the vows. He had tried to hard to express everything he felt about Dylan in his vows, but whether he’d been able to do him justice or not, Jono wasn’t sure. The last thing he wanted was to be a disappointment, particularly on such a big day.

On cue, Jonah walked up with the box of rings. Jono wanted him to feel included in the day, as he’d been so keen to attend after the most horrific of days the day before, so he had the most important job of all. Jono took the box and prepared himself.

“Dylan,” Jono began, taking a deep breath to compose himself, glancing down at the rough thoughts he’d scribbled onto a crumpled sheet of paper the night before, “It’s funny to think all of this started in detention. Honestly, it shouldn’t have even taken that long because I knew you were something special the first time you walked into class. Your shy awkwardness was endearing from the start, but since then, your kindness and sincerity have taught me so much. I can’t imagine where I’d be without you, and I wouldn’t want to imagine it either. I promise to be there for you and love you in the way you deserve, like my own Prince Charming.”

Looking up from his notes, Jono met eyes with a teary Dylan. What the registrar was saying was going in one ear and out the other, because all Jono could do was gaze at the beaming smile on his lover’s face. That was the effect he wanted. He’d done Dylan justice. Completing his part of the vows, Jono slid one of the rings on Dylan’s finger, sealing the deal.

“Um, I’m sorry,” Dylan began, wiping the tears as his turn to speak arrived, “I didn’t know how to start this. I didn’t write anything, so I figured we should go back to the start. When we met, Jono, I was the most awkward person ever. I’m not too different now, but it was another level back then.” Jono chuckled – Dylan’s awkwardness was the most endearing thing ever, “I sometimes wonder – what if you’d never spoken to me that afternoon? Would I ever have plucked up the courage to speak to you myself? Then I realise that it doesn’t matter, because that’s not what happened. My life changed that day, in so many ways, but none more significant than getting to know you. You are my rock, my confidante, the reason I do what I do every day, and I promise to keep fighting for us, because there is always a way.”

Despite his best attempts to hold it together, Jono couldn’t help succumbing to the tears, and he knew there was little chance of them stopping before the end of the day. He held out his hand for Dylan to slide the perfectly sized ring onto his finger, and with that, it was as good as official.

“Dylan and Jonathan, you have both made a solemn and binding contract with each other in the presence of your witnesses, guests and the registrar of the marriage,” the registrar completed, “It therefore gives me great pleasure to pronounce you husbands. You may now kiss.”

Jono didn’t need to be asked twice. Eagerly, he placed his lips where they felt most comfortable, and it had never felt better. Finally, they both had the thing they wanted the most: each other, forever, no matter what the rest of the day held for them.

Collapsing back onto the sofa with a newly refilled glass of wine in his hand, Oscar felt calmer than he had in a long time. He knew it still wasn’t a normal day by any means, but for the first time in so long, he was surrounded by his friends, and everyone was having a good time. He couldn’t remember the last time he saw so many smiles on his friends’ faces.

The party had started very quickly after the ceremony, with food and drink laid out on the kitchen surfaces and Jono’s specially crated playlist setting the jovial tone for the keenest, who found themselves on the dancefloor already. Oscar wasn’t quite at that stage, but he knew he’d be there after a couple of drinks.

“Did it feel weird?” Brett questioned. Naturally, they were sat side-by-side; they’d barely spent any time apart since reuniting, “You know, seeing Jono get married. I know you two had a thing when we thought Dylan was dead.”

“Oh, that’s water under the bridge,” Oscar replied truthfully. He’d long given up on any hope that he might have stood a chance with Jono – his bond with Dylan was far too strong, and Oscar could only respect that, particularly with how much admiration he had for Dylan himself, “I’ve got my eyes set elsewhere.”

“A new boy on the scene?” Brett enquired playfully. Oscar was pleased to see them smiling so much. He was trying to send hints in their direction – what better moment was there?

“Well, not so much a boy,” Oscar continued to dance around what he was trying to say.

“A girl? This is unexpected,” Brett looked intrigued.

“No,” Oscar sighed, unsure of what to say next to make his feelings clearer.

“I’m messing,” Brett chuckled, placing their hand on Oscar’s cheek, “I never thought I’d be able to move on from Johnny, but you showed me there’s still a future out there. I want to spend it with you, Oscar, but maybe we can take things slowly? If that’s okay.” Oscar’s heart fluttered. That was exactly what he’d desperately wanted to hear for so long. Brett meant everything to him, and Oscar had never felt so elated.

“Yes,” Oscar simply confirmed.

“You going to kiss me then?” Brett playfully grinned.

“You don’t need to ask me twice,” Oscar smirked before letting his lips lead the way to Brett’s. His lips on theirs felt so comfortable and natural, like a lock and key that were designed for each other.

A few moments passed before their lips broke apart, the pair sharing the happiest smile Oscar had seen in a long time. It didn’t last long, though. In the corner of his eye, poking his head around the door, stood Cody. The uninvited guest.

“I’ll be back in a second,” Oscar stood up, regretfully leaving Brett by themselves. As much as he wanted to move on from him, Oscar at least owed Cody a conversation. His help at the Nemeton was invaluable and gave them the upper hand against Forsyth. Ultimately, he saved their lives, regardless of motive. Before approaching, Oscar checked the coast was clear; he still wasn’t sure Dylan would want him there at such a personal occasion.

“I’m sorry, I needed to see you,” Cody immediately apologised. Already, that was out of character for him. Admitting he was wrong was something Oscar had never heard Cody do before.

“I’m not sure how welcome you are,” Oscar replied honestly, “What’s so urgent?”

“I’m going away for a bit. Not forever, but I need to sort myself out. I’ve left Keisha in charge of the pack and I’m going on my own, I just wanted to say goodbye. Regardless of everything, you made the past year so special for me, and I wanted to thank you,” Cody explained.

“Sure,” Oscar smiled politely, unsure of what to say, “Take care of yourself.”

“Maybe, when I get back, we could talk?” Cody queried.

“Um, I’m…” Oscar knew what he was getting at, and he needed to let him down gently.

“I know, you and Brett, I saw you kissing,” Cody interrupted, “I mean, as friends, because this is down to you, Oscar. You changed me. I’ve got a long way to go, but this is thanks to you. I’d be a fool to let you go forever.”

“You came to help. You made the right decision. I believe in you, Cody,” Oscar encouraged. Was he a pushover? Maybe, but Cody deserved some kind words, and nobody was beyond redemption, “Call me when you’re back. Look after yourself.” Oscar hugged his former flame, even surprising himself by how comfortable he felt. One favour really had made the world of difference.

Taking a deep breath and a moment’s peace for the first time that day, Yasmin couldn’t help feeling proud of herself. The day had gone to plan, and that was the biggest relief of all. Dylan and Jono deserved the best day possible, and she’d never have forgiven herself if it was anything short of magical.

Now, with the party in full swing, her job was done. The ceremony ran like clockwork, and everyone had been in the right place at the right time, which was all Yasmin needed to ensure happened. Her reward was a large glass of wine, one she’d been eagerly anticipating all day. Nobody seemed to mind that most of the crowd were underage – it was the last of anyone’s concerns that day anyway.

“Woah, save some for later,” Josh remarked, taking a break from dancing as he spotted Yasmin glugging a mouthful. He’d been at the centre of the dancefloor for most of the afternoon without a care in the world, and Yasmin loved seeing him so comfortable again.

“It’s not often we have something to celebrate,” Yasmin justified, “And we have a lot to celebrate.”

“True,” Josh nodded, conceding, “How are you feeling?”

“Like it’s only a matter of time until my dad gets out again,” Yasmin replied, “You saw what Mia told Ed. There are people out there who follow him like a weird sort of fan club. How long until the next one rears their head?”

“We’re prepared for anything, remember?” Josh assured, “If we can get past yesterday, we can handle whatever comes our way.”

“I guess. At least David’s gone, right?” Yasmin found a positive.

“It’s a relief for sure,” Josh replied, “Part of me thinks that nobody deserves an ending like that. The other part hopes it was as painful as possible.”

“He can’t hurt you again,” Yasmin smiled, bringing Josh the same good news he tried to bring her.

“I know, but the damage was done years ago,” Josh sighed, “He ruined everything. Seeing him again has made me realise that a fresh start might be what I need.”

“Wait, fresh start? What do you mean?” Yasmin was worried. Josh’s last idea of a fresh start involved running away and ignoring them.

“No, it’s okay. There’s a job in New York, an apprenticeship. It’ll get me a qualification in engineering and a job at the end of it. We both know the college life was never for me,” Josh revealed.

“Josh, wow,” Yasmin was in awe. It was a big step, but she was proud of him, “That’s amazing. Have you told Dylan?”

“Now’s not the time. I think I might need to leave it for a bit,” Josh replied sensibly.

“I was going to say,” Yasmin concurred, “He’s going to need you, and all of us.” Yasmin was worried about the coming days – they were heading into unchartered territory.

The moment Dylan was most excited for had arrived. Though parties weren’t usually his scene, he’d been on the dancefloor with Jono for most of the afternoon, not wanting to leave the side of his bran new husband, but now, this was their time. It was the first official dance, and the song had been specially hand-picked by the two of them.

As Dylan heard the opening guitar strum of “Enchanted” by Taylor Swift, he placed his arms around Jono’s shoulders, while Jono clasped his hands together behind Dylan’s waist. It was the most beautifully intimate moment Dylan had ever shared, and he already wanted it to last forever.

For now, Dylan had to make every minute count. “Enchanted” allowed them six minutes to live in each other’s company before any hint of reality needed to be considered, so Dylan made himself comfortable. He gazed lovingly into Jono’s eyes, immediately noticing Jono was already doing the same to him. Their heads were already only a few centimetres away from each other, but Jono moved closer, touching his forehead against Dylan’s. It was the safest Dylan had ever felt, and he could have stayed in that position for the rest of his life.

All I can say is I was enchanted to meet you,” the song continued into the first chorus. Taylor Swift explained Dylan’s emotions far more eloquently than he ever could, and that was why this song was so perfect. It detailed how it felt to be in love – the sleepless nights and the paranoia wondering whether they loved you back or not, a single moment possibly altering the course of your whole life. That was how Dylan felt about Jono from the moment they met, and in what felt like no time at all, they were finally married. There was no greater way of proving your love than that.

A couple of cameras flashed, capturing the moment so Dylan could relive it over and over. He’d almost forgotten anyone else was in the room; nobody was talking, so Dylan assumed they were being watched intently. After all, every single person in that room had played a part in their journey, helping to get them even just one step closer to where they needed to be. Dylan was nothing without his friends.

As the song drew to a close, Dylan tried his best to black out any thoughts of the future. The night was young, but he could already hear the rain getting heavier outside. The Nemeton was resetting, and there was no solution in sight.

“I love you, Dylan Chadwick-Drummond,” Jono smiled. That was the first time anyone had called him by his new name, and it sounded amazing.

“I love you too, Jonathan Chadwick-Drummond,” Dylan returned the favour, kissing as the song fell silent. No matter what was still to come, Dylan was confident of one thing – he would cherish those six minutes for the rest of his life.

Letting his hair down at a party wasn’t something that came naturally to Jeremy. Parties in general were still something he hadn’t quite wrapped his head around, in fact. So many people in one room, socialising and letting loose in the safety of each other’s company, was a bit overwhelming. He wasn’t used to it.

Therefore, Jeremy had kept himself close to Sammi and Felix for much of the day. He’d always had at least one of them by his side, and obviously, he didn’t need to explain his anxiety to either of them – they both already knew and understood, as did most of the pack, but not to the extent of his twin sister and boyfriend.

“Hey, maybe this will be us one day?” Felix fantasised with the cutest smile on his face.

“Yeah?” Jeremy was excited at the mere thought, “I never thought I’d get the chance to have a wedding.”

“Then we have to make it extra special,” Felix continued, obviously mentally planning all the details before an actual proposal has happened.

“Oh, I’ve got everything decided already for my wedding,” Sammi chimed in, “I want the whole thing. A massive church, reception in a country house, hundreds of guests, everything.”

“And what does Freddie want?” Jeremy chuckled, knowing none of that would have been on her future groom’s wish list.

“It’s Freddie, he’ll go with the flow, which means I’ll be getting my way,” Sammi proudly bragged.

“Who’s gonna break it to Freddie?” Felix laughed.

“Hey,” a tall lad approached the table and sat down. He seemed slightly intimidating, though he must have been around their age. Jeremy didn’t recognise him, but based on the limited guest list, it was fair to assume.

“Hey Drew,” Sammi smiled, confirming Jeremy’s suspicions. He’d heard a lot about Drew, but their paths had never crossed before.

“I just wanted to say,” Drew began, directing his gaze entirely at Sammi, “That I’m sorry about your dad. No matter what he did, he still raised you. It can’t be easy.”

“Thanks,” Sammi replied, glancing over to Jeremy to include him in the chat, “Though I don’t think either of us are shedding any tears. The man who was our dad died a long time ago, we’ve done our grieving.”

“You must be Jeremy, nice to meet you,” Drew offered a firm handshake and a friendly smile, “And, err, your friend.”

“That’s Felix, he’s our friend,” Sammi jumped in, saving Jeremy having to swerve the truth again. This time, though, he wasn’t sure he wanted to.

“My boyfriend,” Jeremy found himself saying. Though he was still trying to figure himself out, there was one thing he was certain of – he loved Felix, and after making that crystal clear to his dad, there didn’t seem to be any further obstacles in the way.

“Awesome,” Drew nodded, “I think Yasmin might have had a few too many, so I’m going to confiscate that drink in her hand, but it was nice meeting you guys.”

“See ya,” Jeremy smiled, placing his hand comfortably on Felix’s knee. Felix was beaming proudly at Jeremy, and he felt an immense wave of relief wash over him. Finally, he was out of his father’s shadow, and the future had never felt so bright.

With Jonah fast asleep on his knee, Freddie’s eyes were barely open themselves. It had been an incredible day, but a very long one, and with emotions at boiling point from the start, Freddie felt both mentally and physically exhausted in ways he didn’t know was possible.

After all, it had been a whirlwind twenty-four hours. Finding out about his younger brother before his dad died was not something Freddie had been able to process, but he knew one thing: his heart ached. Though he barely knew his dad, Mark’s absence was already so noticeable. At least, before they’d met, he didn’t know what he’d lost, not that he’d swap that time for anything.

“Wow, how is he sleeping with this much noise?” Lily chuckled, resting next to Freddie on the couch.

“He’s had a long day,” Freddie explained, “George said they could stay at home if he wanted, but he was desperate to come. I think he’s trying to find a way to fit in here.”

“Have you figured out where he’s going to live?” Lily queried.

“George is on the phone to his mom’s parents now, he was staying with them for a little bit when my dad first came here, but they live in Pennsylvania,” Freddie sighed, “Dad wanted him to get to know us, and he can’t do that from the other side of the country. I don’t want us to miss out on any more years with him.”

“He’s got Maria too, right?” Lily considered.

“She’s going home in the morning. She’s not known Jonah for long, I suppose that’s his home as well but he’d be better with family,” Freddie pondered.

“Well, there’s a spare bedroom here. It’s Jonah’s, whether it’s permanent or just for visits. He’s always welcome,” Lily offered.

“Are you sure? You’ve got enough going on yourself without a kid running around,” Freddie was touched. He didn’t even have to ask.

“Of course. We’re all family, right? Besides, I’m getting the hang of this werewolf thing now,” Lily proudly smiled, and Freddie couldn’t help joining her. Despite everything, there was still some positivity to find, and that was the one thing keeping Freddie going.

“Guys,” George rushed over as if he’d just seen Beyoncé pulling up outside, “They agreed. Jonah can stay with us.”

Freddie felt like he’d just won the lottery. He wasn’t ready to lose another part of his family, and the idea of a little brother had always been something he fancied, if it were possible. Now, it was reality, and Freddie had never felt prouder. The Rubens had each other.

“I’ll go get his room set up,” Lily grinned, winking at Freddie. Between them, he was certain of one thing – they’d take the best possible care of Jonah, because it was the least he deserved.

Landing back on the floor with a considerable thud, Jono was panting like never before. Dylan as just as breathless beside him as they both faced the treehouse ceiling, conversation waiting patiently for them both to catch their breath back.

With time their enemy, Jono had led Dylan away from the party early without telling anyone. All he wanted to do was enjoy his final night with Dylan to the fullest, and naturally, one thing had been missing. At least he knew the family house was empty – nobody could have seen them.

The looming reality was starting to hit Jono, and he felt scared. The future they were facing was cruel, because the Nemeton needed them separated. Two alphas in one pack was wrong, and thanks to Forsyth’s meddling, every werewolf’s life was at stake. The Nemeton had the blueprint, and it would kill every werewolf to neutralise the problem. No matter how desperate Jono was for a solution, one didn’t seem to be out there. This time, they had lost.

At least, together, they’d made one final day of memories to keep forever. He’d married the man of his dreams, and nobody could ever take that away from him. Perhaps, one day, they’d find a way to come back to each other, but Jono couldn’t bank on that, and it wouldn’t have been fair for either of them to live a life based on a chance that, as far as they knew, may not have existed.

“I don’t think I can do it,” Dylan broke the silence, both their heart rates slowing down to a normal rhythm, “Move on. Start afresh. I wouldn’t even know where to start. I thought I’d never need to go back to square one again.”

“There’s no race,” Jono calmed him, knowing exactly how to put Dylan’s mind at ease, “If you find someone, then go for it. The awkward first few dates are easier if you really like them, right?” It felt so alien to be discussing moving on from each other. It felt wrong.

“You made it easy,” Dylan had already started to cry. He was the more sensitive one, but Jono knew he’d be joining him before long.

“And you’ll be able to tell me all about it in your postcards,” Jono turned it into a positive. Already, they had fine-tuned the arrangement – moving on wouldn’t have been possible if they were able to message and videocall each other every day, so they had agreed to make a clean break and communicate through postcards only, one every three months so they could stay up to date on what each other was up to. It was the fairest compromise they could both think of – moving on, but not cutting each other off. It softened the blow, just a little.

“Did George get back to you on the flat?” Dylan queried, changing the topic slightly.

“Yeah, it’s all good,” Jono replied, “And Lily helped me sort the flight. Just need to pack.”

“You’re going to love it in London,” Dylan smiled, trying to hype him up, “So many people, so much to do and see.”

“Without anyone I know,” Jono sighed, “Staying with an old college friend of George’s doesn’t really count.”

“And you’re the most loveable person around. You’ll fit right in and make new friends,” Dylan assured. Jono’s heart was fluttering and breaking at the same tie. He wanted to stop the clock forever.

“Yeah, I’ll be okay,” Jono tried to convince both Dylan, and himself, “Will you?”

“I’ll try to be,” Dylan struggled to speak from behind the tears, “I’ve got the pack. I know they won’t leave me alone for ages.”

“And you’ll have a little sibling to distract you soon,” Jono reminded, mentioning another positive, “Make sure you tell them about Uncle Jono.”

“Brother-in-law more like,” Dylan corrected, “Though even before the rings on our fingers, you were our family, Jon. You always will be.”

“Same to you, Dyl,” Jono assured, “As much as my family leaves a lot to be desired sometimes.” Dylan chuckled as he wiped more tears from his eyes, and then one that was sprinting down Jono’s cheek, “I tell you this all the time, but please, never forget how proud I am of you. You’ve grown so much since we first met, and I truly mean it when I say you’re the most honest, authentic, empathetic person I know. I’m so happy that I got to spend a few years of my life with you.” Every word Jono spoke became tougher because he knew the end was near. Every word meant something.

“That was down to you. You showed me how to be myself,” Dylan replied, “Remember that night, by the bunker, when you found out I was a werewolf? It was raising so hard, like now, I guess. I thought I was losing you that night, and we’d barely started dating. I was the biggest wreck, but you stood by my side. You committed to me, and because of you, I’ve had the best three years ever. I’d relive it all if I could, a thousand times over.” Dylan snuggled up to Jono, wrapping his legs over Jono’s and securing their hands together. Their faces were intimately close again, and Jono adored how it felt. He couldn’t possibly take it for granted, “I love you, Jono, always and forever.”

“I love you too, Dylan,” Jono nodded, his tears unavoidable, “Always and forever.”

Together, they cosied up, gazing through the treehouse window as the moon reared its head to signal the night’s arrival. No more needed to be said – Jono was enjoying his lover’s company for the last time, and nothing could spoil that moment.

At least, not until his alarm at four o’clock the next morning.

Immediately blinded by the sunlight beaming right onto his eyes, Dylan woke up in a much less gentle way than usual. That was the one downside to sleeping in the treehouse – no curtains. That said, the smell of fresh air instantly gracing his lungs as he woke up was a treat, and it was an unbeatable way to start the day.

Looking up, Dylan jumped back, startled. Lily was sat against the opposite wall, waiting patiently for him with the most solemn look on his face. That’s when it hit Dylan. He’d woken up alone. It had happened.

“Hey,” Dylan composed himself. He was holding it together, but for how long that would last, he didn’t know.

“He asked me to check up on you this morning,” Lily explained, “He’s on the flight now. He made it in time.”

“Good,” Dylan nodded, knowing he felt anything but.

“And he left this for you. He said he’s got the picture on his phone, so he doesn’t need it,” Lily handed him a photo frame. Dylan lost control as soon as he saw the picture, tears racing down his cheeks. It was a picture of them both, from just a few weeks after they started dating. Dylan remembered it happening, and it was one of his favourite photos of them both. It meant everything.

“Thanks,” Dylan wept, unsure of what else to say.

“You’re still family, Dylan. Quite literally, now,” Lily reminded, “Just remember, you don’t have to pretend around me, or any of us. We’re here for you.”

“Yeah,” Dylan acknowledged as the avalanche of tears continued, “But I want him too.” Immediately, Lily wrapped him tightly in her arms. It was the first day of the rest of his life, and he couldn’t have wanted it less. Moving forward was going to be impossible. He had to find a solution – there had to be one out there, right?

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