A fleeting night of love in a hideout in rural France in the tempest of the second world war. A French child born nine months later in a Nazi labour camp. Two men, searching for each other decades later, both with the same name, perhaps long-lost father and son. It seemed a lovely story with all the makings of a fairytale ending. Robert Nant, now 83, wanted it to be true. A handsome white-bearded grandfather, he allowed himself to believe that his brief wartime affair had, indeed, produced a son. The other Robert Nant, a solitary man of 62 searching for his roots, craved a father even more. But the hoped-for outcome was not to be. The story of the two Nants, a tale that charmed France when it became known two months ago, ended in letdown last week. DNA testing showed that the men were not related after all. The mystery of the younger Mr Nant's parentage remains unsolved. 'I'm disappointed in a certain sense, more for him than for me,' said the elder Mr Nant, who goes by the name of Bob. 'This is a boy who suffered enormously in his life and hoped so much to at last find a father,' he added, in a telephone conversation from his home in Chambery, eastern France. 'I talked to him and for him it's catastrophic.' The two Mr Nants had only found each other in late 2006, after years of missed rendezvous, lost letters and fruitless police inquiries. Their lawyers are arranging a meeting of the pair, their first ever, for June 1 or 2, in the city of Nancy, where the younger man lives. 'I'll be going with my wife to see the boy,' said Bob Nant, who can't help but refer to his namesake as a child. 'We have a lot of things to discuss together. There are still so many obscure points about his life, and I will always keep contact with him.' The story that brought the two together began in June 1944. Mr Nant was a French Resistance fighter on the run, after a daring escape from prison in Nazi-occupied Lyon. In a safe house in the countryside, he was thrown together for a night with a pretty young woman working as a messenger for the Resistance. He knew only her nom de guerre. So many years later, he barely recalls it: Paulette. She slipped away in the morning. After the war, Mr Nant said, he was told she had been arrested and sent to Germany by the Nazis and their French police collaborators. The younger Mr Nant was raised in a big family in a small mining village in central France. He left home, and cut relations with them, at the age of 13, setting out on a nomadic life of odd jobs. He finally ended up in Nancy, helping out in a homeless shelter. Practically destitute, he still helps out there. The only document he ever had about his background, he has said, was a bare-bones birth certificate from Germany that showed he was born in March 1945 in a forced labour camp in Schkopau. It did not identify his mother. His lawyer, Laurence Charbonnier, has said she presumes he was sent to his French family as a war orphan and that he was scorned by them as a bastard. Her client, in an interview in March, could not bring himself to talk of his childhood. In 1975, he saw a newspaper story about the elder Mr Nant and wrote to him. 'I wondered,' he explained in his note, 'if you are, perhaps, a member of my family.' It took 31 years for the Resistance hero to find the younger man. They asked a French judge to allow DNA paternity testing, which are permitted only by court order. Again, they waited, each daring to anticipate a positive result. Although it turned out there was no biological connection between the two, Bob Nant said he feels a fierce tenderness towards the man who might have been his son. A vigorous twice-married grandfather who remains active in veterans groups, he was determined to make sure Robert Nant, a lost child of the war, never feels abandoned again. 'He has financial problems. He can't even pay his electricity bill,' said the older man. 'I'm going to work to get him help from the government. This man, this boy, after all, is a victim of the war.'