The next morning, Lazarus awoke, stiff from sleeping on the floor in the priest's private prayer room. Though his head was ringing from the thoughts of the previous night, he felt safe here, curled up in choir boy's robes, the musty smell of candles and shared sweat, old and new. He rolled over on his back, his spine cracking a little as the bones straightened into place. He sat up and stretched, the robe that covered him as a blanket falling off him.
He picked himself up and gathered all the robes, hanging them back on the hooks the priest had put out for them. Lazarus took a deep breath as he remembered all he had been thinking last night, praying, preparing himself for what he was to do.
On his way out, he passed the priest and thanked him again for his hospitality. The priest usually would give him a lecture about it being God's hospitality, but today, he only managed to give Lazarus a grim smile. Shit, that's not comforting at all, Lazarus grimaced and left the churchyard, slowly dragging himself away from the safety of the building.
He headed towards the oast houses where his father worked, making mead and beer. Lazarus hoped that confronting his father with other people around might make the man control his temper better, and give him time to calm down during the rest of the day.
Ben was the first to notice Lazarus arrive, though he didn't notice the look the teen gave him as he skulked into the yard where his father worked. The bags under his eyes suggested he had had a good night, and it made Lazarus glad that he had left the inn when he did.
‘Yer father's upstairs.' He grunted, his voice hoarse. Lazarus nodded and walked off without saying anything. He ascended the dusty stairs of the building that he knew his father could usually be found in reluctantly. He didn't want to do this. He should be ten miles out in the middle of nowhere looking for the next town, not here. But he found, in the end, he couldn't leave his mother and sister like that. He was supposed to move out when he got married, not because he had run away in a squabble with his father. But he will see this as me giving in. He's going to see me as too weak to stand up for myself... fuck's sake. He scowled at the dirt that rose in a small cloud each time he took a step further towards his father.
‘I'm not here to argue anymore.' Lazarus announced as he reached the top step. He was talking to his father's back, but the man didn't need to see the speaker to know who it was.
‘Fuck off, Lazarus.' Was his reply. Lazarus shook his head.
‘No. I'm sorry for what I did.' He choked the words out, strangled by his unwelcome pride ballooning. His father turned slowly, a sack full of hops still in his hands. He dropped it carefully to his feet and it thudded to the floor.
'And so you should be,' the man growled, his voice cold. ‘I never had any of this shit from Michael. He had some sense, that kid. I found myself wishing it had been you that died, not him, last night. I don't regret that thought, boy, I still think it.' Lazarus swallowed uncomfortably. This was just his way of returning the favour, hurtful words in exchange for hurtful words.
‘Then we're even. Look, I came here to ask you to forgive me, not-'
‘I'm not going to forgive you,' his father cut him off.
‘- not to fall out all over again,' Lazarus continued, ignoring the interruption. ‘I was going to suggest that I play professionally, just as you want me to; you were right, it's the most profitable talent I have, and money is what we need.' As Lazarus talked, his father walked slowly towards him and finished up less than a foot away from his son, standing too close, towering over him.
‘Then why are you here grovelling?' he asked, slapping Lazarus around the face. He watched as the teen stumbled half a step back, trying to stop himself from falling down the stairs. Lazarus disregarded the sting in his cheek, staring hatefully at his father. ‘Go and practice, you dumb fuck. I'll see what I can do about getting you into the concert halls.' He snarled and turned back to the bag of hops on the floor.
Lazarus bit back the curse that threatened to burst through his lips and left without another word. He didn't, however, go straight home. Instead, he took a long detour, around the edge of town where the trees were sparse and he could catch a glimpse of the Emerson estate. He stood and stared at the grand house through the thin barrier between it and the town. A servant appeared carrying something from the stables and then disappeared around the corner of the house.
‘One day.' Lazarus murmured to himself. ‘One day...'