Gabriel sat there, stunned. He had seen Lazarus angered before, but never before had that rage been directed at him. He listened as the front door slammed heavily, a few seconds of silence before irritated footsteps echoed through the hallways to find him. Emily stormed in, her mouth open to give the young lord an earful. He cut her off, holding up a hand.
“Emily, if you so much as utter one word against him, I shall ensure you never work again,” he growled. The commanding tone had her snapping her jaw shut as she bit back the tirade of abuse against Lazarus that was fighting to spill out.
“Then you better keep that street rat under control, else I’ll tell your father what you and him get up to.”
Gabriel turned his gaze towards her, burying the hurt he was feeling under venomous words: “Lazarus and I do not ‘get up to’ anything, so there is nothing to tell my father. Even if you were to tell him, who do you think he would be more inclined to believe?” he stood up, using his height to intimidate her further. He found that turning his hurt into more anger was proving to be quite effective in making him feel better. “You used to adore the boy. What has changed? You found out he has affections for other men, but he is still the same person. Think about that next time you give him one of those hateful looks.” He exhaled sharply, satisfied with her meek silence, “now get out of my sight.” She all but tripped over herself in an effort to exit the room as Gabriel sank back down into his seat.
He wondered silently if Lazarus would be welcoming given the gap between his departure and Gabriel deciding he should have left with him. The young lord had no idea how to soothe him. If he could, he would remove the problem entirely; no one would care whether a man slept with another man or not. Then the two of them could enjoy their time together the way they had in London, instead of tiptoeing around, afraid of being discovered. IT was tempting just to run away together, but it would solve very little. Gabriel could see it becoming more of a problem after a while, should his family search for him.
Rising, he wandered slowly to his bedroom, pulling a trunk out from beneath his bed. Together, the two of them had collected working class clothes for Gabriel to wear – an assortment of plain linen breeches and shirts, in varying states of deterioration and cleanliness. He picked out the cleanest ones he could find, hid the trunk away and got changed.
In his head, he worked out how it was going to go: he would go to Lazarus’ place, apologise – wait outside all night if he had to, kiss him, touch him, make him feel loved. He couldn’t stand Lazarus being upset, much less when he was the reason for it. He took his time, though, mentally counting the minutes in his head as he wandered through the woodlands, waiting for Lazarus to calm down. He knew the boy well – it took him a fair amount of time to become rational again. A stick picked up from the ground found its way into Gabriel’s hand, absently slashing at any greenery unfortunate enough to stand in its way. He looked very much like an overgrown child, frowning at the floor as he walked, hacking at leaves with a makeshift sword. He still felt very much like one, too. Like he had displeased his only childhood friend, and instead of simply letting the matter go and waiting for Lazarus to return to him – the way he would have with anyone else – he felt the need to seek him out first and apologise for something he felt was not his fault.
Eventually, he found himself outside of Lazarus’ door, rapping his knuckles against the wood. He heard the scrabbling of the dog and a few deep barks, but nothing more. Knocking again only produced the same results and Matilda tried to figure out what was going on behind the door. Sighing, he turned almost walking straight into Anna, who cursed vehemently.
“Apologies,” he bowed his head, “I didn’t hear you.” Anna slapped a hand across her mouth, mortified as she realised just who she was swearing at. Gabriel just looked amused.
“Sorry,” she blushed, “didn’ realise it were you. If you’re looking for Lazarus, he’s at the inn getting rat-arsed. I was just dropping by to feed that monster of his,” she explained, holding up a bucket of leftover scraps from what looked like a rather paltry meal.
“I’ve heard worse from your brother. Seems it’s a family trait,” a half smile threatened to lift the corner of his lips as Anna tutted.
“That boy’s always had a terrible gutter mouth. I’d invite you in to wait for ‘im, but I’m afraid I dun have anythin’ that’ll live up to your tastes, and I know Lazarus won’t have anythin’ inside.”
“It’s quite alright,” he said, “I’ll find him at the inn. Good luck with the dog.” Without waiting for a reply, he hurried off in the direction of the inn, hoping Lazarus would at least be sober enough to accept and remember his apology.
By the time he found Lazarus, the boy was passed out, slumped over a table with a half full tankard of ale clutched loosely in his hand. He tried to stir him, but nothing seemed to work. The landlord asked him if there was somewhere he could take Lazarus – he was planning on closing soon for the night and didn’t want to have to waste a bed on a drunkard. Nodding, Gabriel lifted him out of his chair, taking care not to spill the ale as Lazarus’ limp hand slid away from it across the table. Despite feeding him and making sure he took care of himself, Lazarus was still incredibly light. Gabriel wondered if it was simply because he was such a small youth as he carried him back to his home.
Anna was gone when he arrived, the bucket of food knocked over and half smeared across the floor, mixed with the dog’s slobber. The dog herself had made a pitiful nest on the bed with the thin blankets and looked up, worried to see her new master unconscious. Gabriel tried to order her down from the bed, resorting to putting Lazarus down on the floor and grabbing a handful of her scruff, tugging until she got the message.
Scooping him back up, Gabriel finally got him into bed, tucking him in under the blankets, lying with him. Glancing over to make sure the door was locked, he wrapped a firm arm around Lazarus’ waist, sliding the other under his neck so he could hold him close. It wasn’t quite the way he had imagined the apology going. He hadn’t expected Lazarus to react so badly; he had never seemed to have this much of a problem with hiding their relationship before. Perhaps he had been concealing his emotions to make it easier on Gabriel. Or maybe it really hadn’t bothered him so much before. Either way, Gabriel wouldn’t know until he woke up, and until then, he would look after his lover as best he could.