Lazarus did indeed stay another night with Gabriel. In fact, he stayed several as each morning Gabriel protested against him leaving. He had little will power to argue with the older boy, and very quickly adjusted to living in luxury. It had seemed odd, at first, to spend his days and evenings in leisure instead of helping his sister or working or visiting the pub.
However, Gabriel's company was far better than his usual pursuits, and so gladly, he gave himself over to his new lifestyle. He pretended it would last more than a week or two, and happily lived in his fantasy of always being treated this well.
Gabriel managed on more than a few occasions to persuade Lazarus to indulge in a more sensible amount of wine, despite his insistence that he would never drink again. He found the pianist was far more talkative and honest when he had a little alcohol inside him. A strange, sick part of him wanted to hear more of Lazarus' perversions. His confession had struck a curiosity within him that had only grown over the days. There had been no more outbursts, though, and Lazarus remained totally unaware of what he had admitted to.
Emily knelt in front of the dimming fire that illuminated the hearth in brilliant oranges and reds. She carefully piled up logs in the fireplace, poking them around until they began to burn.
"How long are you planning to stay here?" she asked Lazarus who watched her idly, sat at a table that had been moved near to the wide window that he was so fond of sitting by to read.
"As long as I'm welcome," he smiled, "I like it here. It's warm." They chuckled lightly, and Lazarus looked out over the extensive lawns covered in thick, glistening snow. His thoughts wandered to how cold his room would be, and a pang of sympathy for his mother and sister shot through him. He couldn't help the guilt sitting at the back of his mind when he thought about how well he was doing this winter when they had to suffer. He promised himself he would pay them a visit in the morning.
He was distracted from his thoughts as Gabriel walked in holding a pen and some paper for Lazarus, a smile on his face.
"It's time you learnt to write, my friend."
The sun had set long ago, yet Gabriel kept Lazarus at that desk, making the boy keep writing out the alphabet, over and over until it was at least vaguely legible. The candle between them flickered weakly, illuminating the dried inky blots covering the boy's fingers and the paper. He glanced down at his hands and smiled wryly at Gabriel.
"I think there's more ink on me than the paper."
Gabriel chuckled, nodding, "I believe you could be right. Still, the progress I see here is surely worth it."
"I wanna sleep now," Lazarus whined slightly, not bothering to stifle a yawn. Gabriel smiled and nodded, pretending to watch as the candle steadily burnt down into its holder. His gaze was, however, fixed upon Lazarus' weary eyes. The both of them had ignored Lazarus' disturbed sleep. Too often had Gabriel heard him whimpering or crying in his sleep. He wondered what plagued his friend, but he never dared to ask, despite the curiosity that remained, as stubborn as the candle's flickering light that seemed to refuse to go out.
"Then go to bed," he muttered, flashing Lazarus a small smile.
"If you don't mind..." he shook his head and Lazarus stood. "Thanks for your patience today." He didn't have a chance to reply before the boy was out of the room.