Heart of the Night Part 5
After meeting Trowa in the gardens, Quatre saw even less of him. The older man seemed to go out of his way to avoid running into the blonde during the evenings. When Quatre finally broke down and asked Sebastian about it the only reply he'd gotten was that the master had been very busy and working very late. If pressed further the old man would only reply brusquely that it weren't none of his business and if Quatre had a problem then he needed to seek the master out and ask him himself.
Fine thing, Quatre had told him... if he knew where to find him then he would. It seemed that Trowa was even too busy for call for the blonde to the library each week to read; even if he was able to find time to make inquiries to Sebastian as to how he was progressing.
It was such a day that Sebastian had finally banished the boy to his room to study in order to escape from his constant questioning.
"Fine thing!" Quatre grumbled as he snapped the book shut and leaned on the desk to stare out the window. "All I want is for someone to tell me what I did wrong!" He sighed and set the book on astronomy aside and glanced over at the clock on the mantle.
Seven o'clock; he was supposed to be down for dinner at six-thirty. Sebastian was one that didn't take much to people being late. Jumping from his seat he rushed out the door and ran for the stairs. Reaching the bottom, he never noticed Trowa standing in the hallway until he crashed headlong into the slim brunette.
Trowa caught him as he stumbled backwards and with surprising ease, quickly set him back on his feet, his green eyes studying the boy intently.
"S-sir! E-excuse me!" Quatre stammered his face coloring at the fact that he'd been caught in his flight down the stairs. Not a very gentlemanly thing to be doing at his age.
"I was looking for you," Trowa said quietly, choosing not to mention the incident. "Sebastian tells me that today is your birthday. How old are you now?"
"You look much younger than that," Trowa mused. "I guess the statement I got of your age was correct. I thought maybe your father had lied."
"My father," Quatre started and then frowned. "Statement?"
"I had to submit a sworn statement of your age to the courts when I applied for guardianship of you."
"Oh." He didn't know what else to say. He knew that Lord Barton was his legal guardian and it had been granted to him through the courts. At one time he'd even met with Barton's barrister, to give a statement of his own as to the conditions at his home and his father's trouble in supporting him and his five younger sisters. 
That means that father knows where I am, he realized with a start. He wondered why none of his family had ever tried to contact him, if they knew where he was.
Trowa turned as Sebastian emerged from one of the rooms. "Well... seventeen is the coming of age point for young men around here, isn't it Bastian?"
"Aye, it is." The old man answered.
"Well, we must do something for the occasion then." He turned back to the blonde. "Quatre, go change into something more formal, I think we should go into town to celebrate."
At first the blonde just stared at the man. Celebrate? Celebrating wasn't something he could envision the cold, quiet man ever doing... for any reason. Then Trowa raised an eyebrow in question and the boy smiled brightly.
"Yes! I'll be right back."
Trowa silently watched as Quatre ran back up the stairs. Sebastian had pointed out that his avoiding Quatre had wounded the boy deeply and then demanded that he do something about it. He could see now, in the happiness that he'd created by offering to take the boy into town for the evening, that his servant was right. That entrancing smile had been enough to tell him that.
"I'll tell you again, he's different," Sebastian spoke up from beside him. "He's not like that other piece of fluff you had here."
Trowa glanced over in surprise at the old man.
"What? After all these years, you don't think I not be knowin' what's on your mind?" The old man chuckled. "He's strong, very strong, and willful when he wants to be. Not like her, she was scared of her own shadow."
"She'd suffered much more abuse than he did," Trowa frowned darkly. "He may be different, 'Bastian, but everyone had their limits on what they can accept."
"There are some that can accept anything, even something like that."
Trowa laughed low and smooth, "No 'Bastian, not even he could accept that. I'm sorry, but I won't tell him. Regardless of what you may think. In a couple more years he'll be gone to college and I'll cut my ties with him. He'll be able to make it on his own."
The old man wandered off shaking his head and muttering under his breath about thick-headed gentry refusing to listen to those who knew better than they did; leaving the brunette to wait for his ward alone.
Trowa was staring with mild disinterest at a painting by the foot of the stairs when a noise caught his attention and he looked up, his green eyes glittering. Who would have ever thought that the half-starved, filthy, little urchin he'd rescued that night would someday transform into the very creature that walked down the stairs towards him now? Glorious, rang through Trowa's mind as he drank in the sight of the young blonde.
To Trowa, he was all light, dressed in the traditional white shirt, dove grey trousers and vest and finished off with a black cravat, coat and boots. His golden hair curled softly around his face, something that Quatre despaired of getting to do anything different; and Trowa often found fascinating beyond belief. His sapphire eyes glittered with good health and happiness, threatening to draw the brunette into their endless depths. He could get lost in those vibrant pools. 
Trowa mentally shook himself, his inner voice ringing harsh in his mind, he's just a boy! Compared to you he's barely a child... how could you even begin to entertain such thoughts?
The sudden darkening of the man's eyes caused Quatre to hesitate on the stairs. Worried that he'd done something wrong, he frowned lightly as he bit on his lower lip. That simple action was almost enough to make Trowa forget his place as Quatre's guardian, as a shudder passed through him at the sight of the blonde worrying his lip with small teeth.
Then he realized that he was what was making the boy nervous. Giving himself another silent lecture, he smiled and held Quatre's cloak out for him. Quatre breathed a sigh of relief and walked the rest of the way down the stairs. Surely Trowa wouldn't smile and gesture for them to go anyway, if he were angry.
Stepping into his cloak, he drew in a quick breath as Trowa's fingers brushed the side of his neck as he settled the cloth over the boy's shoulders. He moved away quickly and looked up at Trowa realizing, with relief, that the man hadn't noticed his reaction to the simple touch. He felt silly. Trowa obviously thought of him as nothing more than a responsibility.
He almost laughed aloud. It was enough to set polite society on their ear. To them it would be a scandal of the highest degree. A ward developing a crush in his guardian would be bad enough... the fact that they were both male, was simply unheard of. It would set tongues to wagging for years to come.
No matter what... you never, and he stressed the never part, you never became involved with another man. Women were known to engage in discreet liaisons amongst themselves, society ignored such things... but his situation would mean to be labeled as perverse.
The rules were distinctly different for male and females in this world.
"Ready?" Trowa's voice pulled him from his thoughts and he nodded.
The brunette opened the door and Quatre slipped by him into the evening air.
Trowa watched his young charge's face with mild amusement. Despite all that he'd learned over the last few months, Quatre was still overwhelmed by London and even more so by the theatre. He leaned slightly forward in his seat, his wide blue eyes taking in not only the play but everything going on around him.
Trowa usually found the theatre, and most social events, to be a bore and avoided them whenever possible. But tonight, seeing things through the blonde's eyes, he could almost find it entertaining. If nothing else, it was worth putting up with the ton to see Quatre's utter happiness as being out amongst the people.
As the play ended, Trowa rose and motioned for Quatre to follow him. "We should try to get out of here before the crush," He explained as he guided the blonde down the stairs to the bottom floor.
"I can't believe it, Lord Barton?" A female voice, like the heaviest of silks, spoke from behind them.
Trowa turned, his eyes expressionless, to face the pair. The girl who spoke was probably about Quatre's age, if he remembered right. Her long blonde hair was drawn up into some Greek style, leaving multiple ringlets to fall around her face and show off the slender curve of her neck. She was dressed in a gown of midnight blue, a couple shades lighter than her eyes, with a silver underskirt and wrapper. She was one of the few girls that decided to go against society and ignore the latest rage for pastel colors. Of that Trowa was thankful... dressed in the pale colors of the latest trend... she'd look like a confection.
The man accompanying her was taller than she was by about a foot, his graying hair trimmed neatly around his face. Dressed in the standard men's clothes for the era, he preferred to stick with the somber dark browns with a white shirt, like Trowa did, rather than succumb to the pale creams and pastel colors that the younger men were wearing. Probably where his granddaughter got her sense from, Trowa assumed. His dark eyes were studying Quatre intently as he toyed with the end of his mustache.
"Lord Dermayl. Miss Catalonia." Trowa inclined his head slightly.
"Haven't seen you in town for quite some time," The man spoke. "I have to admit to great surprise at seeing you at the theatre. I was under the impression that you detested such things."
"I don't particularly care for it," Trowa said evenly. "But it is my charge's birthday and I felt that he would." He gestured towards Quatre. "May I present my ward, Quatre Winner."
"A ward? I hadn't heard of you fostering anyone." Lord Dermayl stated in surprise.
"It was done quietly. I did not see any reason to inform society."
The young girl laid a hand on Quatre's arm and smiled. "So, Master Winner, what do you think of having to live with a stuffy person like our Lord Barton here?" She chuckled softly and leaned in to whisper in his ear. "My mother tried to match me with him once, but I said no... I hear he's a terrible bore."
Quatre removed her hand from his arm and stepped away from her. "Actually, I don't find my guardian to be a bore at all, Miss Catalonia. I enjoy staying in his home."
"Please, Dorothy. I'm sure we'll be great friends." She smiled. "Who knows, maybe even more."
"Dorothy." Lord Dermayl spoke up. "Come we must be getting back before your mother fears for our safety. Lord Barton. Master Winner." He inclined his head to the pair.
"I hope I will see you at some of the balls this season, Quatre." Dorothy said before turning to follow her grandfather. "You must ask me to dance."
Trowa looked down at Quatre. "She seems quite interested in you."
"I barely spoke to her,"
"Nevertheless, she'd be an excellent match for you, her family is very powerful."
"Not if I can help it." Quatre mumbled under his breath.
"Excuse me?" Trowa's amusement was evident in his voice. He didn't care for the family either.
"I'm not looking for a wife. Not anytime soon." Not ever. Quatre quickly covered his words.
"Ah. But you are of an age to start courting."
"I'm still not looking for a wife. I'd rather continue my plans for college."
Trowa smiled inwardly. Those words pleased him more than anything else the boy could have said. "Come, I have one more place I wish to take you before we go home."
Quatre followed him out into the night. "What else is there to see here?"
"There are many things. Someday I'll show them all to you, but right now I have something in particular that I wish you to see." Trowa replied as the boy climbed into the waiting carriage.
They rode through most of the city, leaving behind the upper class part of London and entering the more reserved area of the city. Trowa tapped on the carriage roof to signal the driver to stop and gestured for the boy to get out. Climbing out behind him, the brunette told the driver to wait for them there and they'd walk the rest of the way.
Quatre followed curiously as they walked a ways down the street and then turned up another. As they approached a well-kept little home, the tall man slowed and fell behind Quatre, keeping his eyes on the boy.
Quatre drew in a sharp breath as a young woman, only a year younger than he with the same golden hair and blue eyes, emerged from the house with a broom in her hand. "Nada," He breathed and rushed forward.
The girl turned and let out a cry of joy and rushed to embrace her brother. "Quatre! Oh! Quatre! You're alright! We've worried so much."
"I'm fine, but how...?"
"It was unbelievable. A couple of days after you disappeared a strange man showed up at our home and told father that he had purchased you from a man in town. He said he understood why father had done what he had... what did he mean by that Quatre?" She asked softly.
"It's not important," The blonde replied, twining his fingers with hers. "I still don't understand,"
"He gave father a job, Quatre!" Tears filled her eyes. "He arranged a load for this house too. He told father that although you were lost to us, he still had an obligation to us girls and we must be looked after. He says that he will also provide educations for us so that we may seek respectable positions." The words came out of her in a rush. "Have you come home, Quatre?"
"No," Quatre answered softly, his voice choking. "I need to stay where I am. I'm happy there."
"Truly," He smiled down at his sister. "Happier than I can remember being in a long time."
Trowa stayed silently in the shadows while Quatre talked to his sister, feeling just a little content that this action, that had cost him so little, had made Quatre so happy. He had discovered that the boy's father had acted out of desperation, not knowing any other way to try and save his daughters. He'd been in the depths of self-hatred for what he had done and had even gone back to the tavern and tried to find his son, to take him back. Trowa decided to ensure that the man would never be faced with such a decision again.
Finally Quatre stopped talking and embraced Nada again. "Tell the rest that I am fine, please."
"You won't stay to see father?"
Quatre shook his head sadly. "No. Tell him for me... tell him that I understand. I hold nothing against him and that I love him. I think it's best if I don't see the others right now. It will just make it harder on them."
She nodded her head slowly, tears filling her eyes again. "Write now and then, Quatre. Tell us you are alright."
"I will." The blonde said as he turned to walk away. Turning back briefly he smiled and waved at the blonde girl and then he walked the rest of the way to where Trowa waited for him.
Walking back up the street with the brunette, Quatre looked up at him. "I don't know how to thank you for what you have done."
"Just make the best of yourself that you can." Trowa replied as they approached his carriage. "I have some things I need to do here in town. Will you be alright going back on your own?"
"Will you be avoiding me again after tonight?" The blonde asked as he opened the carriage door.
"Then I'll be fine." Quatre smiled brightly, taking Trowa's breath away.
Trowa watched as Quatre climbed into his seat and then he faded into the shadows. It was late, he'd been extremely active and he was intensely hungry. He was also discovering that spending this much time with the blonde intensified his hunger to the point that he was nearly in pain.
If he had a soul to sell, he would have gladly given it at that point for one taste of the Quatre's lips. He shook his head as he slipped down the darkened streets, he knew better. Love, family, they were things that were not conceivable in his world. He wasn't even allowed such things as sexual comfort. Carefully guarded friendship was all that was open to him.
The boy was no more than a child and even if he weren't... Trowa had learned his lessons about such things a lifetime ago.
When Quatre arrived back at the keep, he jumped out and ran into the house, tossing his cloak on the rack on his way up the stairs. He burst into his room and spun around in the floor, hugging himself. It had been the most incredible night he'd ever had... he doubted that nothing would ever come close to it again.
He fell back on his bed and stared happily at the ceiling. His family... his beloved sisters would all be alright. His benefactor seemed to finally stop avoiding him... and he had decided this evening that he had fallen in love.
Without even taking off his clothes, he rolled over and tucked one arm under his cheek as he suddenly realized that all the excitement had exhausted him.
Near the approaching hour of dawn, the shadows near Quatre's bed stirred and eyes of an unearthly green gazed down at him. Then as suddenly as they appeared... they were gone as a low fluttering drifted across the room.
 Barrister = Lawyer
 Cravat = sort of like a necktie... um... only like a scarf? If you look in the fan art section of my site... I have done a pic of them in period clothing for reference. And someday, I'll do a better one ^^;;;
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