Annabelle couldn't meet her brother's eyes over dinner, though their parents didn't seem to notice this. He had been terrified that she might have told his parents about how she had found him, but he was beginning to realize his father's embarrassing anger at the manor had simply been an alcohol induced rage.
The tense silence carried on long into the evening until their father left for the pub and their mother retired to bed. Annabelle and Lazarus remained at the table, sitting awkwardly; both wanted to speak, but neither could find the words.
"I'm sorry, Anna," Lazarus whispered eventually.
"Yes," she shuddered slightly, still unable to look at him properly, "me too." He sighed, noticing her gaze was fixed firmly on the candle between them
"Anna, I asked forgiveness from God, and now I'm asking for forgiveness from you," his voice took a pleading note and she shrugged slightly, her eyes flickering up at him for less than a second.
"I dunno, Lazarus... two mortal sins in one go is a lot to get my head around," she mumbled and he nodded.
"I know... I just can't stand knowing I've upset you." She nodded and looked up at him again, this time holding his gaze a little longer. She watched the flickering candle light roughly illuminate his face. The angle created a strange effect, exaggerating the shadows around his eyes and he looked more haunted than usual like that. She blew the candle out and stared at him through the dark. "Thank you for not telling mum and dad," he added.
"I wouldn't have told them; you didn't need to worry about that. Dad would've killed you."
"Yeah, well the way he was acting when he dragged me back here, I thought he'd found out..." he shuddered slightly.
"No... he was just mad that you'd decided to run off again."
"He tells me he can't wait til I move out, then drags me back," he rolled his eyes. Annabelle tried to smile, but her head was so clouded with conflicting thoughts. Her little brother had not only lost his virginity out of wedlock, but he had lost it to another man.
"Yeah, well you know what he's like when he's been drinking," she mumbled quietly and Lazarus grimaced slightly. Neither of them spoke for a while, an awkward silence hanging like a tender thread between them. Eventually she looked up with a sigh, "so what're you gonna do?"
"Hmm?" he blinked, tuning back into the world around him. "Oh. I dunno... I don't think I can be around James for a while, though." Annabelle nodded, wondering how long this had been going on for with a small shudder.
"Well, I'll leave that up to you, little brother," he finally looked beyond the candle into his eyes, "I'm not gonna tell anyone. It's just going to take a while to... get used to it." She couldn't really help the grimace that flickered across her face as the memory of James and Lazarus on that bed together.
"Get used to it-?"
"You liking men," she cut him off, rolling her eyes.
"Let me finish, Anna," he scowled, "I was going to say there's no point getting used to it. It won't happen again. It was just... stupid. I'm not going to look at men in that way again." Annabelle wasn't sure who he was trying to convince; her, or himself. She shook her head, laughing softly.
"I'd love to believe that was true, Lazarus," she said, standing up, "but I had a sweetheart when I was your age, who looked at other men the way he should have looked at me." She moved behind him, wrapping her arms around his shoulders from behind, kissing him on the cheek. "I doubt it's going to go away; I'm sorry." He chewed on his lower lip, biting back tears.
"It won't last," he said, promising himself that it was just a stupid mistake and it wouldn't happen again.
"I hope it doesn't," she murmured, "for your sake."