“I have tortured people.” The body on the bed stiffened. “Yes. It’s a shameful confession. I did it because I had to have the information, and there was no time to get it any other way. Some nights I wake up sweating for what I’ve done.”
“What do you want me to do? Forgive you? I forgive you. Now go away!” Fluin was angry and bitter.
“No-one can absolve me,” said Steppan sadly. “It’s something I had to do. And I did it. It’s too late, now, to go back. What I wanted to say, was, that to torture is much worse than letting slip some secret. Much, much worse.”
“Betrayal, you mean!” said Fluin in a hard voice.
Steppan shook his head. “You didn’t do it for money or prestige or influence. Or even love.” He wasn’t sure of the last in that list. He had been with Fluin while it happened. “You did it because you were tortured. It’s not your fault.”
“I should have been strong enough to withstand him.”
“He would have gone on, breaking finger after finger, and then hands, and arms, and finally your face, if you hadn’t told him. I know. I’ve done it.”
Fluin was looking at him, his face like stone, the grey gone from his eyes, which were now a radiant demonic black. “Why are you telling me this?”
“Because my .... because the wrongs I have done are infinitely greater than anything you have done. Because I forgive you a hundred times over. Because you might be—you will be— Panthron one day, and I want back the man I met, one who’s forgiven himself, and may perhaps one day forgive me.”
“That man will never come back.” Fluin’s voice was bleak, bitter.
“No. Maybe not. But there are many paths forward, and I want you to choose the right one, the one that fits you, the most honourable and the best and the most innocent, not the darker path of self-hatred, the bleak country where love is absent. Forgive yourself, I beg you, even if you never forgive me.”
“Why does it matter to you?”
“Need you ask?”
“We are blood-brothers. You are my friend, my brathion. In this house are the three people in the whole of the Goddess’s creation who matter to me. I can’t afford to lose you. And I’m not going to give up. I’ll keep on at you until you agree.”
Fluin gave him a shadow smile, the first since the morning. “Go away, big brother,” he said lightly. As Steppan was going out the door, Fluin said, “Oh, by the way ...” Steppan paused, with his hand on the doorway, and looked inquiringly over his shoulder. “ .... I love you, too, darsha bratha. I love you too.”
Steppan stared at Fluin for a moment or two, then he came back into the room and closed the door. He knew what he had to do. He knew, too, that it was what he wanted.
You can read more here.