Lazarus may as well have moved his bed into the music room for all the time he spent away from it. He barely surfaced long enough for food, and refused entry to all but the music teacher. Gabriel lingered beside the closed doors at times, straining to hear through the thick wood.
When Mr Murphy was teaching Lazarus, Gabriel could often hear more than the piano being used. He cursed the doors. He wanted to know if Lazarus was learning to play other instruments. On the other side, Mr Murphy praised Lazarus regularly for the grace and ease with which he mastered as many instruments as he could. The boy had a natural talent, and Mr Murphy was far more than willing to push him along the path to musical mastery. Watching him was a private joy for the teacher. He’d never taught someone who could communicate such emotion through music before.
On the days when Mr Murphy was not there, Gabriel heard short stretches of music and a lot of rough swearing. Whatever he was doing in there was a consuming task and rather difficult alone.
Bored, Gabriel knocked on the door.
“Fuck off,” was the gruff response, along with the shuffling of paper and the sweet trembling voice of a viola. “Fuck.”
“Lazarus?” Gabriel ventured carefully. There was another shuffle of paper and the sound of the viola being put down. The door flew open a few inches and Lazarus stuck his head out, their noses ending up bumping. He blinked, surprised. He hadn’t expected Gabriel to be standing so close.
“What?” he growled.
Gabriel seemed a little taken aback by this new aggressive side to Lazarus. “I thought that perhaps we could spend some time together. Clearly we need to talk about... you know. But you’ve been shut in here for days. What on earth have you been doing?”
“Composing,” he replied a little grumpily, vaguely irritated that he was being disturbed from it.
“Do you always become this way when you compose?” Gabriel enquired, bemused.
“Not at all, not at all,” Gabriel smiled a little, “I just thought you might appreciate a break. I’ll be in the library,” he turned to walk away, but he didn’t even manage one step before he was dragged roughly backwards into the music room. Lazarus pushed him into the room towards, forcing him to sit in one of the chairs.
“Sh’up and listen,” he ordered, and the young lord was so shocked, that he did not protest as Lazarus took his seat at the piano. He began to play, the expression on his face not changing from frustration for one moment as he played for Gabriel.
Gabriel listened intently, caught instantly in the intertwined harmonies. He felt as though he were listening to an altogether more beautiful chorus of birdsong in the grounds. It was peaceful, yet rousing and it twisted and turned, leaving his senses delightfully muddled. He was completely lost in the music.
At least, he was until Lazarus growled, cut the sustain, screwed up the score into a little ball and threw it across the room.
“What on earth was that for?” he asked, alarmed.
“It’s shit,” Lazarus wailed angrily.
“It’s beautiful,” Gabriel mumbled, worried about contradicting him while he was in such a bad mood. He looked around, one eyebrow reaching for his hair line.
“I said it’s beautiful. I loved it.” Lazarus sat for a moment, trying to process this. Gabriel’s eyes followed him as he got up and retrieved the crumpled score. He smoothed it out on the top of the piano and grabbed the pen he’d been using to decorate the staves with notes. At the top, he scrawled a couple of words, before handing it to Gabriel.
Taking it, the young lord’s eyes were instantly drawn to the messy, unpractised handwriting at the top of the paper. ‘Gabriel’s Song’. He felt a smile spreading across his lips as he looked back up at the boy.
“I was gonna write you something better,” Lazarus told him, “but if you like that, then there’s no need. It’s for your enjoyment, after all.” Gabriel stood and threw his arms around him, holding him tight. The boy held his breath, hardly daring to believe it.
“I’ve been thinking these past few days,” he told him, stepping back a little to hold him by the shoulders at arm’s length. He made sure those blue eyes were meeting his own brown ones before telling him what he’d been thinking. “I’ve had plenty of time to think, what with you shutting yourself in here for so long and having little else to occupy my time. I have always admired you, I think. It hasn’t always been for your music. It took you to make me see it, though. You’re a beautiful man, Lazarus, and I’m a fool to have thought I looked at you the way I have been for any other reason.”
“Gabriel-” the young lord stopped him with a finger gently pressed to those dried out lips.
“Let me finish. When you told me you love me, I was expecting to feel what I’d been taught to feel, but I didn’t. I was confused, because I’ve been raised to believe it’s wrong to love a man the same way as a woman. I was confused because I didn’t understand how I felt about you. You threw all my feelings for you into question. I felt like I was supposed to hate you for it, but I didn’t. I couldn’t,” he pulled Lazarus in closer, his hands sliding down to his waist, “because I was slowly realising I love you too.” He let out a shaky breath and a smile to match. Lazarus’ face practically split in half with the grin that stretched his lips. His hand snaked up to the back of Gabriel’s neck, gently guiding his head downward until their mouths met gently, passionately, lovingly.