Emily was met with quite a sight the next morning when she opened the curtains and turned to wake Gabriel. He and Lazarus were pressed closely together, the quilts tight around them. Lazarus was using one of Gabriel’s arms as a pillow, his head nuzzled in the hollow of his throat and his other arm was draped over him holding him close.
Neither of them stirred in the cold sunlight bathing them. Emily was glad. She wasn’t sure what to think of what she was seeing. She may have had a soft spot for Lazarus before, but now she wasn’t so sure. The image of the two of them together in the same bed like that would have been a perfect example to paint on the walls of a horrible sin. The fact that their faces were so innocent and peaceful made it all the more abhorrent to her.
Carefully, she roused the young lord from his sleep, making sure Lazarus did not wake.
“I know it’s not my place to say, sir, but I’m not of the opinion that it’s a good idea to be letting him share your bed.” Gabriel frowned sleepily, his drowsy mind attempting futilely to process this information. He squinted in the bright light as Emily bustled off, closing the door behind her. She didn’t approve in the slightest, but she would resist the urge to gossip. It was her job not only to clean and care for the Emerson family, but to also do her best to preserve their image in the eyes of society. If anyone were to find out, she’d lose her job for sure.
The young lord turned and looked down at the slumbering pianist, exhaling heavily. He knew it was a bad idea to share a bed. Yet as he brushed the messy curtain of blonde hair out of Lazarus’ face and watched his lips part slightly in reaction to his touch, it didn’t seem so bad, at least not within the confines of his room. Out of others’ sight, it was almost hard to believe he’d been so convinced this could be wrong.
He opened a lazy eye, gazing up at Gabriel with a sleepy smile. “Mornin’,” he mumbled angling his head to meet Gabriel’s clumsy peck on the lips.
“Good morning,” he smiled back, playing with Lazarus’ long tresses. After a moment’s hesitation, he planted a kiss on his forehead. “We should wash and dress for the day.” Lazarus reluctantly agreed, but the internal glow from Gabriel making the first move to initiate affectionate contact between them made him far more agreeable than he’d usually be, nestled as he was in a comfortable bed with the man he fully intended to make his lover. There was so much more he wanted than to sleep in the same bed and kiss, though as he stood and stretched, he reminded himself he was willing to wait for Gabriel to be ready for him.
Gabriel watched as Lazarus’ skinny body sloped over to the wash basin that Emily had filled before waking him. His second hand underwear hung loosely off his hips, leaving a little less to the imagination than he would normally have liked. But for Gabriel it was an opportunity to appreciate his figure more than he would usually have had the opportunity to. His eyes followed old marks and scars back up Lazarus’ pale skin, and a small frown creased his brow. Once again, his imagination was not needed to guess where they had come from.
Lazarus turned, amused to see Gabriel watching him so intently. He hitched up his underwear before it had the chance to slip any further, though not before Gabriel caught a glance of the thick blonde hair that trailed south from his navel, and a little of the curls he was now concealing by insisting on holding the material up.
“See anythin’ you’re int’rested in?” Lazarus asked teasingly, throwing the wet wash cloth at Gabriel. He spluttered, catching the cloth with his face. He’d been caught totally off guard, and not even Lazarus’ laughter brought him back to his senses quickly enough. Lazarus put a hand on his hip and put his weight on one foot, striking the same pose he’d seen so often late at night outside of the inn as they tried to tempt passing men inside. “You’ll ‘ave to make a li’l more effort of you wanna see anythin’ more, love.” Gabriel didn’t know whether he should laugh or cry at that. In the end, his response turned out to be neither.
“Don’t do that,” he said, sitting up. One of Lazarus’ eyebrows made a fair attempt at disappearing into his hairline.
“Don’t do what?”
“That,” Gabriel gestured at the pose Lazarus was still stood in, not quite able to put his feelings into words, “making yourself look and sound like a whore. You’re better than that.” All he knew was he didn’t like it. And Lazarus noticed. He immediately dropped out of the position he was in and turned looked out of the window, quietly embarrassed as he absently rubbed his elbow just for something to do with his hands.
“Sorry,” he murmured, tying back his hair with the dark blue ribbon set out for him beside the basin. Gabriel watched as he got dressed without another word, still frowning. When it looked as though he was about to leave, Gabriel rose swiftly and captured the boy in his arms, stopping him in his tracks.
“I’m sorry, Lazarus. It just upset me, thinking of you like that.” Lazarus looked at the floor, not sure what to do. Gabriel held him a little tighter, kissing the top of his head. An inexplicable relief flooded him when Lazarus leaned into his embrace, wrapping his arms around him.
“I didn’t mean to upset you. I shoulda thought,” he mumbled, resting his head on Gabriel’s shoulder. It felt perfectly natural to both of them as he stroked Lazarus’ hair, their closeness comforting both of them silently. Neither of them needed to speak to know it didn’t matter anymore.