Heart of the Night Part 2
The young boy opened his eyes to find himself in a dimly lit room buried under an impossible weight of blankets. Shoving them back he sat up quickly, his wide eyes taking in the expensively furnished bedroom. The bed was larger than anything he'd ever set eyes on, reaching out both arms, he decided that all of his sisters would fit into it, all at the same time.
Sitting beside the bed was a stand of mahogany wood, ornately carved in an intricate scroll pattern, a small lamp burned cheerily on its top, casting what little light there was in the room. Just beyond the foot of the bed along the wall rested a tall dresser, a perfect match to the stand and the bed. Beside it stood a taller, narrow table... a basin and pitcher resting on its surface. Just to the left of the table was a massive fireplace, he assumed that it would keep the entire room warm in the winter months.
To his left stood an armoire of mahogany and a chair padded with... what he thought might be a mauve colored velvet. He could see that someone had placed a stack of neatly folded clothes in the chair's seat. Just past the armoire was a door... to his room he figured.
To his right, cut into the stone of the wall was a window almost as tall as he was... and nearly as wide as the span of his arms, its curtains appeared to be made from the same material as the chair seat. To the right of the window was a small writing desk, various writing implements standing at ready.
Still trying to absorb his surroundings, he raised the blankets and slipped from the bed, wincing as his body cried out in protest. Blushing brightly he realized that he had been undressed prior to being put in the bed and was quite naked and quite bruised. He hurried across the room and picked up a finely tailored shirt, frowning as he realized that these clothes weren't his.
He was about to search the rest of the room for his clothing when a single knock sounded on the door. Letting out a horrified squeak he dashed across the room and jumped into the bed, pulling the blankets up to his chin, his aqua-blue eyes huge.
The door swung open slowly and an old man peered into the room at him. He quickly took in the thin stooped figure, sharp brown eyes set into a wrinkled face and short cropped white hair before backing up against the head of the bed, the scrolled wood biting into his back.
"Ah, good morning young man. I see you've finally awaked." He said in a raspy voice as his eyes fell on the clothes in the chair. "You didn't like the clothes?"
"I-I was looking for mine." The boy said softly as he drew the blankets even higher, his eyes desperate.
"Bah!" The old man spat. "Those rags... I burned them as soon as they came off you. They weren't fit to even clean with!"
The boy blushed. "They were all I had."
"Well, you'll have plenty now. You're to wear these and then the master will take you to his tailor for more as soon as you are up and about." He said handing the boy the clothing. "But, before you put those on... you're to take a bath. I washed you best I could when you arrived, but you are still filthy!"
The boy turned even redder.
"Bah! Don't be doing that. I'm an old man... I have no interest in such things... and you'd have to be a mite curvier to catch my eye." He said wagging a finger in the boy's face. "Do you come with a name?"
"Q-Quatre. Quatre Winner."
"Well then, Quatre Winner. I'm Sebastian... I'm the master's personal, and I might add only, servant here. Now that I know you are awake, I'll bring hot water up for your bath."
Sebastian chuckled wryly, "Got a problem with that child? I'm well able."
"If you say so, but... where?"
The old man gestured to a door beside the bed that Quatre had not seen during his earlier inspection of the room. "The master has insisted that each chamber have a personal bathing room, rather than moving a tub from room to room." He pat Quatre's arm gently. "Now, you rest here, I'll return shortly."
The boy nodded faintly and leaned back in the bed, his mind racing. This obviously was not the home of the man his father had sold him to; he fought back a sharp wave of pain. What had happened after he passed out? He vaguely remembered someone else in the alley. Was that the man that Sebastian referred to as 'master'? Did he bring him here? For that matter, for what purpose was he brought here? A choked sob escaped his lips. He was never going to see his beloved sisters again. Rolling over, he buried his face in the pillows and let silent sobs wrack his thin body.
When Sebastian returned later with buckets of hot water, he found a somber Quatre standing in front of the window, wrapped in one of the blankets; his eyes red-rimmed and swollen. After several trips, the old man stopped in front of the boy.
"You'd best be getting in there before the water cools off." He said, giving Quatre a gentle push. "You come downstairs for something to eat when you're finished. Just follow the hallway to the third door on the right, that's the kitchen."
Quatre nodded silently and watched the gruff old man bustle from the room. After the door had shut firmly, the boy let out a sigh and walked to the other room. In the center of the small room was the largest bathing tub he'd ever seen, filled almost to the brim with steaming water. Shelves lined the walls piled high with neat stacks of washing and drying cloths. A smaller shelf jutted out from the wall beside the tub, a fresh cake of soap sitting on it for his use.
He dropped the blanket and gingerly stepped into the steaming water. He settled in the tub, wincing as the heated water found several scratches on his body, stinging as it cleansed them. Then as the heat crept into his muscles, he leaned back with a groan of pure pleasure. He didn't think he'd ever felt anything this exquisite in his entire life.
Sebastian looked up from the food he was preparing, his brown eyes twinkling in humor. "Ah, I see you've finally finished. I was starting to think maybe you drowned."
He looked the boy over. He was wearing the high-necked white shirt and the dark trousers that had been left for him. Despite his thin frame, his skin glowed a healthy pink, or would once the bruises faded; his hair had turned out to be a soft golden hue, reminding the man of corn silk, it looked so soft.
Sebastian nodded approvingly. "Knew you'd clean up good." He said gesturing to a chair. "Sit! Now we have you clean, our next task is to fill you out a little. You looked half starved." He exclaimed gruffly, turning back to the large cook stove.
Quatre blushed again as the man hit a little too close to truth in his assessment. With a light frown he looked around him, shouldn't he do something to help?
Hearing no movement, Sebastian turned back to Quatre with a scowl. "Well?!?"
"Uh..." Quatre flushed pink. "Shouldn't I help or something? I mean... isn't that why I'm here? I mean... didn't the master bring me here for..."
Wordlessly the boy quickly found the chair and sat his aqua eyes huge in his face. The old man set a bowl in front of him and then a board with fresh bread and butter, along with a mug of cold, clear water. Quatre looked at it all and then up at Sebastian. Surely this couldn't all be for him... there was enough food to feed his entire family!
"Eat," Sebastian said his voice changing to a kind, but firm, tone as he sat beside him. "I'll try to explain a few things while you do. Maybe help you to understand your situation a little better."
Quatre nodded and picked up a spoon, dipping it hesitantly into the bowl of steaming porridge and then tasting it carefully. He'd never tasted anything like it! Sweet and smooth, it warmed him through and through with just one mouthful. Suddenly ravenous he began to eat with more enthusiasm.
Sebastian watched the boy, a small frown knitting his forehead. He could tell from the blonde's reaction that he'd never even had anything as simple as a hot porridge sweetened with honey. What kind of life he must have had!
"The master," Sebastian cleared his throat. "He told me where he found you. About you being sold and what the man who bought you planned to do with you. He wanted me to make sure that you realize that you are not here in the capacity of a servant."
Quatre slowly set his spoon on the table, staring at the smooth wood, his face paling at the memories of the 'other' use his buyer had had for him.
The old man saw the tremble of fear that shook the boy's body and hastened to continue. "Nay! Not that either! The master would never think of doing something like that, to anyone!" Sebastian placed a wrinkled hand on Quatre's trembling one. "You are free, boy. You are no one's property."
The blonde fixed frightened eyes on the man. "But... what am I to do? I can't go home... I've no other family..." He whispered his voice shaking.
"There, there." The old man patted his arm. "You'll be staying here. The master has decided to become your benefactor. You're to have a proper education and a chance to a decent life. I'll not be hearing any arguments!" He frowned as the blonde opened his mouth. "He's got more than enough and no family to spend it on."
Quatre finished his meal silently... leaving more than he ate, much to the old man's irritation. "I'm sorry, I'm not used to eating that much." The blonde said apologetically as Sebastian cleared the small table.
The old man's eyes softened as Quatre followed him to the counter with the bread board in his hand. "I know you aren't. We'll soon change that though, eh? Plenty here. You just come down and ask if you are wanting something. The master makes sure that there's no reason to go hungry... or want for anything for that matter."
"You think a lot of him. Don't you?" Quatre said softly.
"Aye, that I do."
"Even though he's your master?"
"He's not my master, boy. He's just the master. I call him that out of respect. I'm as free as he is... I stay out of choice." Sebastian motioned for Quatre to follow him from the kitchen.
"Because I've no place else to be. We're both alone in the world. His strange hours and habits don't concern me much and he appreciates the fact that I don't pry. I'll warn you there... he's very adamant about some things. He doesn't like to talk much about himself... or what he does. You're best staying away from the subject, unless he brings it up himself. That's one way to get him angry."
Quatre nodded as Sebastian led him through the vast house, showing him where the various rooms were located. The blonde despaired ever remembering where they all were. He just knew that he would get lost in this place. He'd never been in a house of this size, something that resembled an old castle rather than the fashionable manor houses and town houses that he knew the upper class lived in.
Stopping at the foot of the stairs, Sebastian turned to him. "You'll learn your way around eventually. Roam where you will, it's the best way to learn where everything is."
Quatre nodded doubtfully.
"The stairs in the other wing lead to his chambers; you are to stay out of that wing of the manor. He doesn't like to be disturbed, if he wishes to see you, he'll let you know. Understand?"
The blonde nodded again. God knows he had no desire to do anything that might anger the owner of this place; it was the only place he had to stay. He only hoped that the master would allow him to work here too, to repay him for his kindness.
"Also, you might wish to nap this afternoon. He won't be returning until late and he plans on taking you into town to get you the things you need. Now, I have things I need to be getting done."
"Sebastian?" Quatre called out as the old man started down the hallway.
He stopped and turned to look at the blonde.
"Does he have a name? Your master? I mean what do I call him?"
"His name is Lord Trowa Barton... you call him whatever he tells you to."
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