GossipMature

"Lazarus," Emily smiled warmly as she opened the servant's door to reveal the skinny pianist and his sister, "you appear to be at the wrong door," she laughed and Lazarus shook his head.

"Money's tight, Emily, I was hoping there would be something to eat, rather than someone who'll speak to me," he muttered uncomfortably. Her eyes widened in understanding and she ushered the siblings into the kitchen. "Is there any my sister can take home to our parents? I don't mean to cause trouble..." he trailed off and looked around the kitchen. He had only seen the rooms Gabriel had showed him, mainly the library and the music room, with a brief tour of the house in the journey between the two.

"No trouble, si- Lazarus," she hastily corrected herself in a quiet, distracted mutter as she found a cloth to wrap a loaf of fresh bread and some meats in. "There," she said with a friendly smile, handing the parcel to Annabelle, "if you'll wait, I'm sure I can arrange for you to dine with Master Gabriel in an hour. He'd be happy to see you, and I'm sure he'd be delighted to meet your...sister, right?"

"I can't meet Mister Emerson looking like this!" Annabelle cried, her face falling, "I look like a wild cat's attacked me." Emily suppressed a giggle.

"I can fix you up, if you like. I think you'll find Lazarus has softened his view on the lower classes. I'll have to ask him, though."

"No, no. It's fine... I'll eat here, if that's alright. Lazarus can meet Mister Emerson if he wants, but I don't think I will, sorry."

"That's fine, Miss," Emily nodded, "Do you want to see him, Lazarus?"

"I don't mind," he shrugged, "I'm sure he's busy."

"Master Emerson wastes his days threatening his father and hunting," Emily said with a wry smile, "you are the only constructive thing in his life."

"Threatening his father?" Lazarus asked curiously, easily posing the question that Annabelle was fighting to bite back.

"That he'll squander his wealth in a brothel if he is forced into a marriage before he's had a real taste of life," Emily waved a hand dismissively, turning to a bowl of half finished potato salad. "The usual, really. He is a petulant child in an adult's body."

"Why... why doesn't he want to marry?" Annabelle asks, her impatient fidgeting reminding Emily of a small child, desperate to find out everything that is unknown to her.

"He claims he wants to travel, but I reckon he disagrees with the commitment. He never could settle on one thing for long. He likes to follow short lived trends," she sighed slightly, hoping Lazarus wasn't one such trend. She enjoyed his company, and he was good for Gabriel; she had never seen him talk to animatedly about someone before.

"Perhaps it's both," Lazarus muttered indifferently, "I'll finish that, if you like; you can go find Gabriel and ask if he minds if I join him for lunch." Emily nodded and instructed him to add the chopped chives before adding that Gabriel's father may be home to eat today.

"You may have the misfortune of meeting the most sour old man I've ever had to work for," she sighed, trying to smile encouragingly. Lazarus laughed.

"I've met worse, trust me." She raised a disbelieving eyebrow and turned, leaving the kitchen to find her employer. "You and Emily will get on just fine while I'm with Gabriel," Lazarus chuckled as soon as the servant was out of earshot, "no gossiping about your little brother, though, hmm?" he grinned, mixing in the chives as he was told to.

"As if I'd ever gossip about you!" she scowled, "You think so little of me." He just shook his head, still smiling.

"There'd be a horrible scandal if any of what you know was to get out. I'd lose more than my income," he sighed bitterly, his smile vanishing as if it had never been there. Annabelle prodded his cheek and kissed his forehead.

"Cheer up, will you? I'm not gonna say anything; you look like you've never cracked a smile in your life!" He lifted his head to glare at her.

"You make me sound like a miserable old man," he glowered.

"You are," she laughed, "smile, and I'll take it back."

 

The End

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