Gabriel didn’t get very much sleep that night. For a man to love another man the same way he should love a woman was... well, it was undeniably wrong. He couldn’t argue with what had been engrained in his mind for so long. Could he? It hadn’tfeltparticularly wrong, but knowing this new detail about his friend was more than a little disturbing. Lazarus hadn’t exactly reacted favourably when he had said that their friendship was closer than he’d imagined. He couldn’t decide what to do.
This indecision led to him pacing outside of Lazarus’ room late into the night. The boy was suffering one of those dreams again, crying and writhing in his sleep. He was in two minds over the situation. He couldn’t decide whether to go in and comfort him at all or not.
He didn’t. He worked himself into a state of confusion, panic and guilt, before retiring to his own chambers. There, he laid in bed, staring at the flickering candle flame. A breeze swept through the room, threatening to extinguish the comforting glow. The shadows around him distorted in the flame’s flickering; they wavered like ghosts, dancing around him mockingly. Closing his eyes, he pulled forth the memory of Lazarus kissing him once more. His mouth twitched, craving the boy’s nervous touch, the glint of lust in his pallid eyes, the feel of those neglected lips against his own.
For the first time, he let his imagination take him further, showing him what might have happened had he not panicked. His breaths quickened, and his mind raced faster than his heart or hands could keep up with. By the time his imagination had truly sullied his mind, he was lying in an embarrassing, tell-tale mess. Would the maids be able to tell what had caused him to lose control of himself? Lazarus’ relationship with Emily was fairly close. Did she know?
He almost couldn’t bear the thought of his friend telling someone else before him. It was a sin the boy was confessing to, but Gabriel wanted to be the first to know of it. He was certain he was not the first to know, but the thought made him close his eyes and draw a deep breath. Turning on his side, Gabriel blew out the candle and did his best to fall asleep.
Lazarus was already awake by the time Gabriel rose. He found the boy in the library, nose buried so deep in a book, that he nearly jumped out of his skin when Gabriel cleared his throat, stood in plain sight before him. He looked up, an almost animalistic look of wariness entering his eyes, though the rest of his face was strangely blank.
“Good morning,” Gabriel smiled, seating himself next to Lazarus as though nothing had changed. Perhaps, he reasoned, if he acted like nothing had happened, then nothing would change in their relationship. It was childish reasoning, but it would do for the both of them for now, he thought. Both were just quietly grateful they hadn’t ended up in a fight because of it. Lazarus gave him nothing more than a polite nod, looking back down at his book. “How are you feeling today?” He shrugged nonchalantly, flipping the page over. Gabriel licked at his lips anxiously. Lazarus was being so cold. It stung. “About what happened yesterday-”
“I love you,” Lazarus said softly, his eyes fixed upon one word. “I can’t ignore it anymore, Gabriel, and if that makes you uncomfortable with my presence, I’ll leave.” Gabriel was silent for a torturously long time. He ventured a glance up at the young lord, looking quickly away when his gaze was met.
“It makes me uncomfortable,” Gabriel admitted finally, “but I have no wish for you to leave.” The last bit made Lazarus look up again in surprise. “I already figured you’d have sinned before,” he tried to explain, “what’s one more sin, hmm?” he smiled weakly, noticing his joke was failing. Lazarus just frowned.
“I should probably leave then,” he sighed, “as you said, I’m a sinner. Not someone you should have under your roof.” He made to move, but Gabriel put a hand out and pushed him back down into his seat.
“I also said I didn’t want you to leave.”
Lazarus swallowed, but nodded and stayed put. Gabriel made to withdraw his hand, but Lazarus grabbed it. Their eyes met. Both of them felt the electricity that flitted between them at the contact. They shared a shy smile. He had none of the previous day’s courage, but he leaned in regardless, his lips brushing the shell of Gabriel’s ear.
“I love you,” he whispered.