His father was banned from Gabriel's party. Lazarus breathed a sigh of relief when Gabriel had told him that he was not to bring the man.

"Don't worry, I wasn't planning on it," he laughed, "if I could have it my way, he'd leave me alone and never bother me again." Gabriel just nodded, holding his smile there. He was trying to figure out what was different about Lazarus. They were relaxing in the music room now, waiting for the maid to finish the adjustments on the clothes. There was something different about the boy, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it. Perhaps it was simply that the last time he had seen Lazarus, he had been running through the grounds like the devil himself was on his heels.

He decided that Lazarus seemed a little happier, his smile more real, and more frequent.

"What?" Lazarus asked, his smile faltering awkwardly as Gabriel continued to stare.

"Nothing." He shook himself, blinking and looking away, "apologies. I was just thinking." Lazarus was tempted to ask what he was thinking about, but figured it would be rude enough as it was, and would probably alienate the rich boy. And Lazarus had to admit, he had grown rather fond of the boy's company, even if his views on servants and the lower class were rigidly bigoted. Until it came to him, of course. Lazarus was the prize exception to those views.


"Hey, James," Lazarus was surprised to see him there. He swung himself up into the tree, opposite James.

"Hey." James looked up, equally surprised that Lazarus was even speaking to him, let alone settling on his branch to apparently sit and make conversation. He leant forward, as if to kiss the boy the way he always did, but stopped himself. "I didn't think you'd come back here, let alone stop and talk," he muttered.

"But you still came," Lazarus pointed out.

"I like it here," he protested, unable to meet the blue eyes watching him, "it's peaceful."

"You were hoping I would come."

"You're very confident about that," he muttered, still unable to completely meet Lazarus' gaze. Lazarus simply nodded in response, wondering if James would object to him crawling across and hugging him tightly. "So... did Annabelle say anything?"

"Yeah... I dunno what to think of what she said, though..." at a questioning glance from James, he continued; "she said that she won't tell anyone, but she also said that my attraction to men won't fade. I guess she's getting over it, I dunno," he paused, leaning in a little, "I blame you for all this, by the way." He hesitated a moment, "Do- do you think it's here to stay?"

"I dunno.... I think... I think I'd like it to," he bit his lip, "but you seemed pretty pissed off about it all the other day. I don't wanna make you do something you don't wanna do..." he trailed off, embarrassed.

"I was scared," Lazarus admitted quietly. He hesitated a moment before moving across to sit on James' lap. He rested his head on James' shoulder, trying to take comfort as the he was enveloped by his lover's arms. He stared blankly at the greenery around them, "I'm still scared."

"We'll be fine," James promised, "we'll be more careful in the future, hmm?" Lazarus just nodded dumbly, hugging himself close to James as though the boy were a life buoy. He smiled, running a comforting hand through Lazarus' blonde hair, silent as darkness began to fall around them.

As the evening blackened into the night, James sighed. The blonde boy had fallen asleep where he was, clinging to him tightly, and though he was quietly enjoying Lazarus' unconscious dependence on him, he knew they had to leave.

"Lazarus," he murmured, squeezing him gently. He watched Lazarus' lips parting in a tired groan, "c'mon," he kissed his rough cheek, pushing the curtain of lank blonde strands out of his face. Lazarus only tightened his hold on him, refusing to wake up. "Lazarus!" his eyes snapped open and it took him a moment to remember where he was. Pushing himself up, he let out another moan, rubbing his eyes.

"Sorry," he mumbled, "I didn't mean to fall asleep on you." He slid off James' lap, jumping out of the tree. James followed, instantly taking his hand and squeezing gently as they set off.

"It's fine," he smiled, "your falling dreams are back though, aren't they? You've got a tight old grip when ya want," he laughed softly, but Lazarus' face fell, a light blush creeping over his cheeks. The dreams of falling had plagued him for as long as he could remember. He was always falling, with nothing to hold onto, though in reality, he would be clinging to either his mattress or his sister as though his life depended on it.

"I don't mean to," he muttered. James stopped walking and turned, wrapping his arms firmly around Lazarus.

"It's fine," he repeated, "I don't mind."

"It's not really, but whatever," Lazarus sighed, pulling out of James' arms and walking on again, though he returned his hand to where it belonged in James'. They were both silent as they reached the edge of the woodland, where they were forced to stop being lovers, and made to return to being good friends. Both of them paused, reluctant to break their grip. There was a moment where they glanced at each other, before Lazarus forced himself to let go and keep walking. 


The End

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