"What's that word?" Lazarus asked with a frown, drawing an exasperated sigh from Gabriel. At least he is a willing student, Gabriel reminded himself. In fact, he had to remind himself of this every few minutes as Lazarus tripped and stumbled over the words on the pages before him. "C'mon, don't you got anything easier to read than this shit?" With his concentration focused entirely upon the text, his accent had slipped altogether, and eventually he had given up trying to keep up appearances.

"No; I told you! This is as easy as it gets. If you wish to buy a simpler book for yourself, then go ahead, but we own nothing easier," Gabriel reminded him and he grumbled a string of curses under his breath, fixing his eyes back on the page.

"Sure, well anyways... What's this word?"

Each lesson, Lazarus asked for less and less help, picking the skill up quicker than he - or Gabriel - thought he would. Gabriel smiled; Lazarus was happy, a willing student and despite their contrasted backgrounds, they were becoming good friends. He was even finding himself ignoring Lazarus' rough speech with ease, occasionally slipping himself. "I've been spending too long around you, Lazarus," he would joke, "your bad habits are brushing off on me." He had started to find the boy's bad mannerisms and behaviors almost entertaining.

And each reading lesson, the two of them sat on a sofa in the library near a light, wide window. Though it was out of necessity because of Lazarus' need for help, Lazarus couldn't help but feel a little too comfortable with their proximity. As he passed the book to Gabriel, pointing at the word, he brushed his arm on Gabriel's, resisting the urge to cuddle up to him the way he would if it were James teaching him.

Gabriel looked at the word and concealed another slight sigh.

"Famine. ‘Making a famine where abundance lies,'" he read line the aloud and passed the book back to Lazarus who grunted a ‘thanks' and turned back to the rest of the sonnet. "Why don't you read it out?" Lazarus hesitated and nodded, licking his lips apprehensively, certain that he would read it wrong. Though reading was new to him, and he couldn't expect to be faultless so quickly, he still strived for that perfection after spending so long being beaten for slipping or faltering.

"Yeah... um. Right," he looked at the first line and concentrated, running the words back through his head, hoping he had the pronunciation right. "From fairest creatures we desire increase, That thereby- beauty's rose might never die, But as the... the riper should by time decease," Gabriel held up his hand to stop him.

"Riper, not ripper." Lazarus winced and nodded again, chewing on his lower lip. "You're doing fine. Keep going," Gabriel prompted.

"Umm... But as the riper should by time decease, His tender... fuck. You told me that one already. Hare. Here. Hire. Shit." He growled irritably at himself and Gabriel smiled.

"Heir," Gabriel reminded him, but Lazarus snapped the book shut angrily.

"Fuck's sake," he muttered, throwing the book down on the table, "I'll finish it later. I wanna do something else." More specifically, he wanted to go home and see James, but it was rude, even for him, to leave earlier than expected.

"What would you like to do then?" Gabriel asked. He had learnt very quickly that if Lazarus wanted to do something else, it was a very god idea to go along with it. Lazarus shrugged and waved a hand vaguely.

"I dunno. I never know," he muttered sullenly.

"Come, practice the piano," he suggested, moving as if to stand up.

"I'm not really in the mood, Gabriel," he mumbled, not moving. His gaze fixed to the woodland, just visible from the window.

"A walk, then? You can clear your head." Lazarus shook his head with a sigh and stood.

"No. I don't mean to be rude, but I would really rather go home. I've a headache and I would like to sleep it off." Gabriel nodded and stood too.

"That's fine," he smiled, trying to get Lazarus to do the same, "I'll see you soon, I hope?"

"Sure. I'll let myself out," Lazarus humored him with a fleeting half smile before walking  away, through the library and out into the main house. 


The End

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