Heart of the Night Part 3
A light knock on the bedroom door drew Quatre's attention from the window overlooking the run down garden behind the manor house, currently bathed in shadows from the moon overhead. As he turned from the scene, the door swung open allowing a tall slender man to stride into the room. Quatre recognized the man immediately as the one who had spoken up in the tavern the night before.
"Milord," He said quietly, bowing his head to the man.
The man stopped in front of the blonde, green eyes looking the boy over. "You are well?" He finally spoke, his voice low and steady.
Quatre nodded slowly, feeling like he was riveted to the spot by the man's intense scrutiny.
The brunette reached out to lightly touch a bruise that marred the smooth skin of Quatre's cheek and the blonde flushed at the light touch.
"I trust Sebastian saw to your needs." He said stepping back suddenly. Not waiting for an answer as he went to the armoire and opened it. "He told be that all of your injuries were minor and that you'd heal in time." He pulled out a long coat and held it out to Quatre. When the boy hesitated he raised an eyebrow. "He did inform you that we'd be going into town tonight?"
"Yes, but..." Quatre frowned.
He thrust the coat into Quatre's hands with a frown. "No excuses. You are now my ward and I intend for you to look the part."
Quatre glanced out the window at the dark. "Isn't it a bit late?" He asked as he slowly drew the coat on. "I mean, aren't most of the merchant's closed by now?"
Even people as poor as himself knew that once the sun set, the shops closed and the upper class, the ton, as they were called, started to emerge to attend their balls and such. He remembered many nights that he and his sister, Nadia, would sit in the doorway and watch the gilded carriages roll by their home. Some carried the older men of society to clubs and gaming hells... some carried the younger men to the same hells where they would gamble away an entire fortune in a night.
Most of them carried the young people of the upper class to elaborate parties and dinners, where mothers would put their young daughters on display in hope of catching them a wealthy and titled husband. It was the Season... more often called the marriage mart by the younger generation.
"My work requires me to keep unusual hours; the people that I deal with are used to it. The shops were notified earlier today, they will be open to us." Trowa said walking from the room.
Pulled from his thoughts, Quatre stared at his back for a moment before hurrying to catch up. Work? He was under the impression that the man was titled and wealthy... such people never worked. The very thought would be scandalous to the people of society. The wealthy pursued hobbies that sometimes generated an income... more often lost them... but they never worked! After all, we do live in an era of 'leisure', the blonde thought sarcastically as he rushed down the staircase to the main floor.
"Milord," Sebastian met them at the bottom of the stairs. "You weren't expected this early. The boy hasn't eaten yet!"
The man turned, his green eyes raking over Quatre's thin form. "I'll take him to dine in town."
The blonde flushed pink as he protested. "Milord... I-I can't!" He exclaimed.
"And why is that?"
"I've never... I wouldn't know..."
"Ridiculous!" The man cut him off. "You'll dine in town. Sebastian, you are to take the night off. You've done more than enough today." He said turning away from the blonde.
"Yes, milord," The old man replied.
Too stunned to protest any further, Quatre found himself being ushered out the door and into an ornate black carriage outside. His eyes barely took in the elaborate silver crest on the door as he stepped up and into the carriage. As he sat on the plush black seat inside, the man stepped in and settled himself in the seat facing the blonde. Tapping the top of the carriage, he let a small smile to cross his lips as Quatre grabbed the seat to keep his balance as they lurched forward. Once underway, the man sat back and focused his intense green gaze on the smaller blonde, studying him thoroughly.
Quatre shifted uncomfortably under his scrutiny. "Milord..."
"Trowa," The man interrupted.
Quatre blinked at him in confusion.
"I request the same of Sebastian. In the public eye, you will address me properly, only because it's necessary. I abhor the restraints set in place by the ton though, therefore in private I would prefer to be called by my name, which is Trowa."
Trowa frowned darkly at him. "Is it in your nature to argue with those above you?"
"Good," He looked out the window as he spoke. "You are to be named my legal ward; I spoke with my legal representation this morning and the initial paperwork has been filed with the courts. You are to receive all the benefits that you would be entitled to, were you my son. You are to be educated and taught how to make your way successfully in this world. Whatever you choose as your profession when you are older, I will see that you are provided with the education and backing to do it."
"I don't understand. You know nothing about me... why would you do this?" Quatre asked as the carriage entered the outskirts of the city.
"Because it suits me to,"
"No one does this! Not anymore!" The blonde exclaimed. "What about when you marry? I doubt your wife will take kindly to you treating someone of my class in such a manner!"
Trowa's eyebrows rose at the blonde's words, "I doubt you have much to worry about as I don't plan to marry."
"A lot of people say that and then prove them selves wrong."
The brunette shot the boy a dark look. "If I decide to do so, then she will have to understand the situation from the beginning... or it won't happen. And trust me; there isn't a woman out there that would want to marry a person such as myself! Does that settle your worries?"
Not really, Quatre thought as he nodded. "It still doesn't make any sense,"
"Maybe someday it will," Trowa replied as turned back to the window, refusing to discuss it any further.
Quatre glanced out the window as the carriage rolled to a stop in front of one of the better hotels in the city. One of the newer designs, the building loomed several floors above them, most of its windows glowing in the dark from the lamps burning within. The front doors sat at the top of sharply cut marble steps, the beveled glass shimmering in the lamplight as the doors swung open repeatedly to let the well-dressed men and women in and out.
Quatre was in awe, this was a side of the city he'd never been allowed to see. His eyes tried to take everything at once as Trowa opened the carriage door and motioned for him to get out. The brunette quickly gave directions to the carriage driver and then walked quickly up the steps.
As they walked through the doors, Quatre blushed brightly as the man working them bowed deeply to them. Trowa either did not notice the boy's reaction or choose to ignore it as he led him across the expensively furnished lobby to the dining room beyond.
As they sat down a young woman appeared and handed them a pair of menus, curtsying quickly as she hurried off. Trowa glanced disinterestedly down at his and set it aside. "Places like these are actually quite new, I haven't even been in them very often," He started as he looked up to see the horrified look on Quatre's face. "What is it?"
"I-I can't... I don't..." Quatre stammered his face paling.
"Ah... I should have realized that," Trowa took the menu from his hands. "We'll remedy that very soon."
The young woman came back to the table and Trowa ordered for them both, waiting silently until she hurried away. "You're very well spoken for someone who has grown up in your situation," He said turning back to Quatre. "Are you completely unable to read?"
Quatre looked down at the table. "I only know enough to write my name."
"I see. Well then, starting tomorrow, you will work everyday with Sebastian. Once you get started, at the end of each week, you will spend one evening working with me," The brunette told him in a tone that discouraged any argument from the boy. He watched Quatre over the table, noting the troubled expression that crossed his face. His expression softened slightly as the boy flinched at the suggestion that they "work" together. "There are no strings attached, Quatre. I expect nothing from you except that you make something of yourself and prevent your own children from ending up like you did."
Quatre nodded silently as the woman returned to the table and set a plate in front of him and a single glass of red wine in front of Trowa. Seeing this Quatre looked up at him in shock, "This can't all be for me!" He exclaimed gesturing to the plate. "Surely you are eating also!"
Trowa shook his head as he took a sip of the wine. "I dined before I returned to the manor to retrieve you." He set the glass down and gave a rare smile. "Eat what you can. I assure you what is left will not be wasted."
Quatre looked back down at the plate, laden down with some sort of fish covered in a delicate white sauce, boiled, seasoned, small potatoes and steamed turnips; there was enough food there to feed at least three of his sisters! Silently he picked up a fork and started to pick at the food.
Trowa leaned back in his chair and sipped his wine as he studied the boy. He couldn't honestly say what ultimately made his decide to do this. Having another person living under his roof was not the best of ideas. Last time he'd tried something like this it had ended in disaster... something that he's sworn not to repeat again.
Maybe it was the sight of the man at the tavern abusing him that had caused him to act... or maybe it just knowing what other dark creatures prowled the streets at night looking for innocents like the blonde. Whatever it was, it was done now.
This boy though, there was something about him. Trowa's eyes darkened as he took in Quatre's pale, almost translucent skin, his bright golden hair, shining almost like a halo around his head and his soft blue eyes. Something about him called to the man... made him want to help him... made him want to try to find a way to make the boy want to smile again.
It was a very dangerous thing for Trowa Barton to feel this way.
It made him hungry.
Several hours later Quatre almost fell through the door to his bedroom, exhausted and his arms full of packages. Moving quickly he set the packages on the bed and started to open them, putting the items they had bought away. Stopping, he ran his fingers reverently over the leather binding of one of the books they had purchased and then with loving care he picked the other books up and set them carefully on the little writing table. He didn't even know what they were, it was the fact that they were books and Lord Barton had assured him that he would soon be able to read them.
Once he finished he fell backwards onto his bed and stared at the ceiling. After he had eaten, they had gone to Trowa's tailor and, true to the man's word, the shop was open and waiting for them when they arrived. Several pieces of clothing were bought right then and then the shop owner measured him while Trowa ordered an entire wardrobe made up for him.
From there they had visited a few other shops, all of which were open, at Lord Barton's request. And then they had stopped at the bookshop, when the shop owner saw who they were he immediately unlocked the place to allow them in. The blonde had been speechless at the sight of the dusty rows of leather-bound books that lined the little building.
Rolling over Quatre stared at the wall. A chance to have a life, a real life! That what the man had said. It was more than the blonde had ever imagined that he'd have a chance at in his life. He knew he couldn't go home again, his father struggled enough with his sisters, and he had no means of living on his own, so it didn't leave him much of a choice but to accept the Lord's offer.
He smiled... more of a command.
At that instant he came to a decision. He would work hard, he would not give up, not matter how rough it might get. He would do everything that was expected of him... he would make the Lord proud of him. There would never be a reason for Trowa to regret his decision to take him in.
Never, he thought to himself as exhaustion took over and he finally drifted off to sleep.
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