AUTHOR: Nikki Harrington
FANDOM: Raffles: The Amateur Cracksman
PAIRING: A. J. Raffles/Harry 'Bunny' Manders
SUMMARY: Set after Raffles's death. Bunny receives a letter.
WORD COUNT: 2,325
WARNING: Major character canon death.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Sorry caffyolay, this time he stays dead :-( This story is slightly AR as it assumes The Last Word never happened.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
My dearest Bunny,
If you are reading this letter then I have shuffled off this mortal coil and I can only hope I will one day once again have the pleasure of your company when the day comes for you to part from this life. I wish I were a strong enough person to say I hoped we didn't meet again and that we would go to different places, but I fear I dragged you so far into my world, there is no chance of you escaping the fires of hell. You once told me you did not mind where you ended up, as long as we were both together - I do hope, my dear Bunny, you will not regret making such a declaration.
You should by now know that everything I possessed upon my death is now yours. I have no idea what that will be, but I do hope it makes a difference to your life; maybe you can even live the life of the honest man I know you always wished to be.
Ah, Bunny, Bunny, Bunny, my own dear, sweet rabbit, why did I wrong you so? Why did I drag you so far into my world? Why did I bind you to me out of love? Why was I not a stronger man? Why was I not the man I truly believe you thought I was? Why did I have to possess you?
Because possess you, my dear Bunny, is exactly what I did. I know you always wondered why I selected you to be my fag and I never did explain. I hope the truth does not destroy your faith in my memory completely. The reason was simple, Bunny. I loved pretty possessions; even back at school, I loved them and you were my prettiest possession of all. I took one look at you, sitting on the stairs crying and knew I had to make you mine. I hasten to add I never wished you to be 'mine' in the way other boys would have made you 'theirs'. I knew that you would be easy prey to those who liked young, pretty, innocent boys and I could not allow that. So I took you as mine and ended up possessing you and protecting you in equal measures.
I never told you quite how hard I worked to keep you safe, to keep your virtue intact. But I was adamant no one would sully you. In the end I resorted to falsehoods. I do not know if you ever heard whispers, I assume not given you never talked of them to me and you told me everything else. However, I not only heard whispers, I was confronted directly about the exact nature of my relationship with you. Thus, I decided to allow my fellow sixth formers to believe what they thought to be true, was in fact true. I let them think I did take you to my bed. I did it because it was another way of keeping you safe; if they believed you belonged to me in that way as well as every other way, you would be completely safe. No one would dare try to take from me what was mine. Do not forget, my dear Bunny, my standing, thanks to my cricket, at the school was high, as such I commanded respect for me and for what I owned.
I do not regret my decision to allow the lie to perpetuate, how can I? It kept you safe and that was my main aim during the two years we knew one another at school. I possessed you, Bunny, I did it to protect you, but no matter how altruistic I try to make it out to be, the truth is you were mine.
And mine you became again some ten years later when you arrived at my rooms, played cards, lost heavily, lost money you did not have, and returned to beg me to help you. I knew what I was doing that first evening, I knew I was about to drag you back into my world, I knew you still loved me. I could see it in your face, in the way you clutched my hand, in the way your eyes shone. Ten years may have passed since we said goodbye in my study, but I could see your love for me was as strong as it had ever been, stronger even as now it was the love of a man and not of a boy. And I played on that love. I played on your devotion, your gratitude, your hero worship, but most of all I played on your love. Fate had given me a second change and I took it with both hands.
Which each burglary you became more entwined with me; with each dinner we shared, each visit to the Turkish baths, each evening spent in my rooms, each day spent at a cricket match, with each touch, each fond word, each look I knew I was capturing you more and more, until the day came when I knew you could no more walk away from than you could have turned me in. I possessed you totally.
But it still wasn't enough. The more I had of you, the more I wanted, the more I needed - because it wasn't just a want, my sweet rabbit, it was a need. I considered more than once of taking you to my bed. I knew you would come; I knew your love for me wasn't just fraternal, I knew you were in love with me - maybe you had been from our school days, I confess I do not know. But I knew; again it shone from your eyes, it showed in the way you would occasionally tremble slightly when I put a hand on your shoulder, or put my arm through yours or put my arm around your shoulders, I saw it in how you would blush slightly and glance away when I stripped off at the Turkish baths. I knew because I felt the same way.
You have always known, at least I hope you have, that I loved you. You did know that, did you not, Bunny? But what I am sure you did not know was that I was as deeply in love with you as you were with me. So why you may wonder did I not follow through? Even now as I write this some few years after the Ides of March, I cannot say for certain as to why. I believe part of it, at least, was that I loved you just enough not to bind you to me in that final way, not to force you into a second life of crime. But, oh Bunny, the nights you left me regretting my decision, the nights I had to seek release in other ways, in other people, which always left me disgusted with myself and saddened that I had in some way been untrue to you.
If I could go back would I do the same thing? Would I still keep your from my bed? Or would I give us what we both so clearly desired? I believe I would not repeat what I did; I believe I would have possessed you, would have bound you to me, in that final way.
And now, my dear Bunny, comes to the hardest thing I have ever had to confess to anyone. That night I took you to her home, the night I let you believe she would not be there, the night I acted in a more despicable way than I had ever acted both before and since. You see, Bunny, I knew she would be in the house that night. And I had made plans that she would see you there and would know what you had become.
I have no excuse for my behaviour other than my deep love for you and my need to possess you and bind you to me completely. Whilst she still thought of you as an honest man, if a poor one, there would still be hope for you. There would still be the chance that someone you would decide you could marry and manage on the pay of a writer. There would be a chance you would shake my hand, thank me, make futile promises to keep in touch and walk away from me, walk away from me for her. And I could not allow that. I had walked away from you once; fate had brought you back into my life; I could not, I would not, lose you a second time. So I lied; I planned and in the end it turned out even better than I could hope for - at least it did for me.
Did I feel any guilt for what I had done? Yes, of course I did, I had enough honour to dislike myself and what I had done. Did I feel enough guilt to find a way to make things right? Did I feel enough guilt beforehand not to go through with the deadly, cruel game? No, I did not. I set out to end any hope of the relationship and that is what I achieved.
And now, my dear rabbit, my own Bunny, you know the truth about A. J. Raffles; the truth about the villain you worshipped, loved and idolised. I will not say I hope you can forgive me, because I am not certain it is possible to forgive. The first crime, that of possessing you, I believe you may be able to forgive. Because after all, Bunny, do not forget that whilst I possessed you and had your heart, you in turn had possession of me and mine - even if you were not fully aware of it. You had my heart from almost the day we met, just as I had yours.
However, I believe for the second crime there can be no forgiveness. Even you who did forgive me many things, even you who loved me with a passion I believe went deeper than your love for her, even you who looked up to me, who adored me, who saw me as if not quite a saint then not a reprehensible sinner will be unable to forgive what I did.
Thus, maybe I should not wish for the day when we will meet again. My only hope is that time will be a healer and by the time your innings is up, and I truly hope the innings is a long one, that you may have found a way if not to forgive me, then at least to remember how much I loved you and to remember what I did, I did out of love for and of you, my best, my greatest, my favourite, my most important, my most valued, my most treasured, my most loved and beloved possession.
But if you cannot find a way, then I will understand. How can I not? May the years until we meet again be kind to you, my beloved Bunny, and may you find it in your heart to think of me from time to time with some degree of fondness.
I read the letter for must be the thirtieth time; indeed, I no longer have a need to read it at all as I have memorised every word. And again as I read it I try to find it within me to hate him for what he did in respect of she whose name I will not sully by association with mine.
But I cannot. How can I hate him? I love him too much to hate him. And he spoke only the truth. I know I believed I loved her more than I loved Raffles, but I did not; I could not. A. J. Raffles took not only me but also my heart on the day we met and he still has it - and he still has me.
He is dead and yet he still has my heart, still has me; he still owns me just as much as he did first when we were at school and again in later years. I am a bound to him as I always was and I know I always shall be. He is dead but I am still bound to him and that it how I shall remain until the day I die - a day I wish will come sooner rather than later, as I have no wish to live this life without Raffles by my side.
Yes, I can forgive him, I do forgive him for the trick he played; I forgave him at the time and even knowing the full truth does not make me change my mind. I can forgive him that, I can forgive him for taking possession of me, I can forgive him for binding me to him in a way that means I can never find another - not that I wish to do so. I can forgive the lies he allowed to perpetuate at school, I can forgive him dragging me into a life of crime, I can forgive the eighteen months I spent in goal because of him. I can and do forgive him any hurt he has ever caused me.
As least I can and do with one exception: and that is that he did not take me to his bed; that he did not bind me in that final and ultimate way. For that there can be no forgiveness. May the day come soon when I can tell him that and when he will get the opportunity he spoke of to go back so that he can bind me to him in the ultimate way. Until that day comes, until the day we meet again I shall be as dead as he.