"I'm not a charity," Lazarus snapped as Gabriel dragged him into a room where a servant had laid out a selection of old clothes that Gabriel no longer wore, or fitted into. The clothes would, however, fit Lazarus for a long time to come. Gabriel regarded the skinny Aryan protesting with a hidden smile, watching as his eyes flickered over the fine clothes almost imperceptibly, attempting to remain defensive.
"No, I know you're not. But I no longer have any need for them. This wasn't my idea anyway," he shrugged slightly, wondering how the boy might react to this, "it was my mother's idea."
"Your mother's idea?!" Lazarus yelped, his eyes widening in horror.
"The servants gossip," he waved a hand dismissively, "she doesn't mind. She's the liberal one of the family. I suppose that must have rubbed off on me somehow," he mused. "But my father doesn't know, you needn't worry." Lazarus simply continued to stare; his expression betrayed the incredulous thoughts spinning through his mind. "Does it really matter? If anything, you might gain more respect for having worked your way out of the village life."
"Or I could lose what little respect I have earned! Paupers aren't supposed to go up in status!"
"Then it makes even more sense to take the clothes, does it not?" Gabriel counted smoothly, gesturing around at the outfits on display. "Go on..." he encouraged the boy to move forwards and take what was being offered. Lazarus was still hesitant, however; his father had always rejected any kind of aid when money was tighter than usual. Along with a short temper and a strange gravitation towards sin, Lazarus had also picked up this refusal of charity or things he had not earned for himself.
He looked around at the rich materials, his eyes narrowed dubiously as though he were expecting them to be whipped from his hands before he had a chance to enjoy even the idea of donning the clothes. They were relatively plain, compared to the kinds of clothes most rich families wore, but they suited their purpose perfectly. Despite their simplicity, they were still the finest thing he had ever been offered.
Gabriel watched him tentatively looking around, finding his amused smile ever harder to contain. The boy looked like a captured animal, nervously venturing out of its cage for the first time, trying to gauge whether it was safe to move freely or not.
"I dunno..." Lazarus mumbled dubiously, silently cursing his slip in register, "I mean: I don't know." He turned and looked back at Gabriel.
"Why? What's wrong?" he watched the rich boy's frown grow slowly, the chocolate eyes shadowed slightly. He shook his head and pushed a smile to his lips; he wouldn't admit it, but the mixture of amusement and light confusion on Gabriel's face was astoundingly attractive. Pushing the thoughts from his head, he replied:
"Nothing really, just..." he trailed off with a shrug, neither answering Gabriel's question, nor satisfying his curiosity. Moving over to one of the outfits laid out for him, he touched the soft fabric uncertainly, looking back around, "you sure about this?" he asked, doing his best to move the subject away from what was wrong with him. Where would I start with what's wrong with me? His internal voice laughed almost hysterically as he considered his answer and how Gabriel would react.
"Of course. You'd look so much more presentable at a concert with some proper clothes, not those... Sunday bests of yours," he did his best to avoid insulting Lazarus, remembering how he had behaved when angered and upset only a few days ago. He watched as Lazarus pretended to pore over the clothes, noticing the hesitations in his movements slowly fading.
Eventually, a few of the outfits were chosen, and Gabriel called a maid to adjust the clothes to fit Lazarus' slender frame. She placed a stool for him to stand on in the middle of the room, a sewing box beside her and asked him if he would kindly change behind the screen. He couldn't help but laugh when she called him sir, laughing harder at her confused expression. Gabriel did his best not to laugh too, but it was so hard to hold back as he watched Lazarus' expression lift for the first time since they had met.
"Sorry," Lazarus coughed, choking back his laughter, "sorry, miss, I'm just not used to being called ‘sir'..." she looked at him, her eyes widening as she fought back a smile.
"I'm not used to being called ‘miss'. My name's Emily, sir," she bowed her head and ushered him over to the screen where she helped him change.
"Then if I am to call you Emily," he said, pulling his shirt over his head, "you are to call me Lazarus."
"Servants are there to call you ‘sir', Lazarus," Gabriel rolled his eyes, "among other things, of course. They are not there to be familiar with."
"Apologies, Master Emerson," Lazarus muttered. Emily smiled, though she made a note to use his name when Gabriel was out of earshot. Once he was changed, he stood on the stool, lifting his arms and moving when he was told to so the clothes could be altered.
"So how old are you, Lazarus?" Gabriel asked after a moment, bored of watching in silence.
"Fourteen. Fifteen in a month or so," he replied, looking up from Emily's head bobbing around by his groin as she pulled a tape measure around his thigh. "You?"
"Seventeen. I will be eighteen in less than two weeks," he smiled. Lazarus nodded to himself; his guess had been right, Gabriel was three years his senior. "I was rather hoping you would play for my birthday party; a private show, if you will."
"So that's what this is all about?" Lazarus laughed slightly. Gabriel's shoulders lifted in a half shrug.
"Partly, I suppose," he nodded, making Lazarus scowl, "but like I said, it was my mother's idea."