Michael kept the pianoforte a secret from Lazarus in the months it took him to build it. With my help and quiet guidance, he completed it not long after an accomplished piano craftsman might have finished it. The construction of it wasn't the hard part. Making it sound beautiful was the part that took the longest. It took me plenty of trips to Italy to talk with Bartolomeo Cristofori.
I had to abuse my powers a little to make him tell me the secrets of how he'd crafted his first pianoforte, and then how he had perfected it. Sourcing the materials without arousing suspicion was harder yet. In this era, only royalty and people as rich as the Emerson family could afford a pianoforte. They were incredibly expensive to contruct, and finding a way to get the materials to Michael without it either costing much or getting caught stealing them was tough. In the year and a half it took to craft this pianoforte, I was plagued day and night by Lazarus' desire for one of his own. Nearly every day, if he could slip away unnoticed, he would hover on the edge of the Emerson woodland, just to see if he could hear someone playing.
Over those months, Lazarus had been caught more than a few times by various members of staff that lived on the estate. And more than a few times, I had been forced to step in to change their minds about dragging him before their employers. Mostly, I'd just changed their minds and made them forget about him, but there was a stable boy, James.
Now, in his obsession with hearing someone playing on the pianoforte, Lazarus had become somewhat reclusive. He hadn't had many friends to begin with, preferring his own company to other's , but in all honesty, I felt a little bad for him. James had run into him plenty of times, but never even considered telling anyone else that someone was trespassing. He seemed glad to meet someone of a similar age to him. He was a few months younger than Lazarus, but already bigger, with dark hair and freckles. His parents both worked for the Emersons, so he was raised into the role of the stable boy. He seemed to be content enough, but it was definitely lonely. He was the only child there, and I'd caught him looking at Lazarus from a distance, too shy to strike up conversation, but so desperate for company.
Although Lazarus was my human, James' longing for social interaction with someone his own age was so strong, I'd eventually given in and shoved him unceremoniously towards Lazarus. The visible effect of this was James tripping over his own feet and landing on his face only a few feet from where Lazarus was sat in a tree, listening intently for the music quietly drifting down from the manor.
"S-sorry," James squeaked as the blonde boy's eyes snapped open and searched for the noise that had disturbed him. It took him a moment to remember that he was trespassing, but when he did, he instantly threw up his guard.
"Dun you dare tell no one I'm here," he warned, dropping out of the tree, ready to run.
"I won't, I won't!" James rushed to get to his feet and ended up tripping on a branch, falling straight back down again. He wailed, frustrated and humiliated. Lazarus hesitated for a moment. Deciding that the clumsy boy was no threat to him, he wandered over and offered him a hand. When it was accepted, he helped him back onto his feet. "Thanks..." James's pale face turned a deep shade of red and his eyes found the floor.
"You got a name?" Lazarus asked, almost easily.