The sunlight streaming through the windows was a rare occurrence in their little corner of Prussia. Daniel flung open the curtains and smiled at the day. It truly begged for a walk outside. He wondered if the baron would join him if he asked. After some reflection he decided that maybe it would be best to go by himself. The baron seemed pensive and brooding lately, some time away from Daniel might very well be what he needed. The young man sighed, cast one more longing gaze at the woods outside before turning to go to his breakfast.
It couldn't be easy on the old man. Not only did the poor gentleman have to put up with his prattling, but Daniel had shown up at his doorstep fully expecting the man to be his savior; both daunting tasks he knew full well.
He knocked on the baron's study door. He heard Alexander rumble something and took it as permission to enter. He took a breath, held it, released it slowly to calm himself and pushed the door open. I will not badger the poor man with questions first thing in the morning, I will not badger the poor man with questions first thing in the morning, I will not- "What lovely flowers, Alexander! Wherever did you find them? Are they a species only native to Prussia? I've never seen anything like them before. What are they called?" He mentally cringed.
Alexander looked up from the book he had been reading, a cup of steaming tea by his elbow, his breakfast untouched before him. He always waited for Daniel to arrive before starting his meals, a small courtesy that did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. "The garden. I do not know. Some breed of orchid I would guess."
"They are lovely." Daniel repeated, forcing a smile on his face to hide his flustering.
"I'm glad you think so. They are for you after all."
"For me? That would explain why they are by my table setting. I'll take them to my room after we eat. It was very kind of you to…" The baron closed his book and began to eat, ignoring Daniel to all appearances.
Oh, me and my mouth. He sat down at the small table and began to pick at his food. He wouldn't say a single word until they were done eating; he'd thank his host for the meal, and then go back to his room. His eyes lighted upon the flowers again. "Did you pick them yourself?" He bit his lip.
Alexander sighed. "Who else would it have been, Daniel?"
He flushed, looked down at the fork he was clutching too tightly in his hand. "I thought maybe the servants…" But he rarely saw the servants and they seemed not to care about things such as making the castle less gloomy. He also couldn't imagine the Baron's men, the rough, loutish looking fellows who would step into the shadows or through doors whenever Daniel drew near, going out into the gardens at the Baron's request.
"They are very lovely."
"I have gathered that you like them. You have remarked upon it three times already."
"Oh. Yes." His face was so hot he feared the baron would hear the blood boiling in his cheeks. "I'll just take them to my room then. As I've said before." He stood up, letting his utensils clatter to the table, and reached for the vase.
He started as Alexander's cool fingers wrapped around his wrist. "Now, Daniel? You've hardly touched your food."
Daniel shook off the baron's hand. "I'm not that hungry this morning, Alexander. I mean, Baron. Thank you for the…" His voice trailed off as he tried to remember how often he had already thanked the baron for the flowers. He all but ran from the room, clutching the vase to his chest.
The knock on his door roused him from the nap he had fallen into. After breakfast he had found that he had no energy for a walk and had thrown himself back into his bed to stare up at the ceiling and replay each awkward thing he had said and done since his arrival at Brennenberg. "Yes?"
"Are you feeling better?" Alexander asked as he threw open the door and strode in.
"Oh, I wasn't feeling poorly to begin with!"
Cool fingers skimmed across his brow. "You don't seem to be feverish."
"I really am fine, Alexan… Baron."
"If you were fine you would have eaten your breakfast and not have fled the room as if something were in pursuit of you." A small grimace, as if the baron instantly regretted his choice of words.
"I really am all right, my friend." He bit his lip. "My lord."
Alexander raised an eyebrow. "We are the only two here, Daniel. You need not stand on ceremony with me. In fact, I would much prefer if you didn't."
"Thank you…Alexander." He cast his eyes down, missing the small smile that flitted across the baron's lips. He glanced up again as he felt Alexander's weight sag the mattress as he sat down.
"Did I upset you this morning? Was it something I did?"
"You? No! No no no!"
"Then the flowers weren't too bold a gesture?"
Daniel blinked, wondered if the baron was mistaking one English word for another, though usually his English was immaculate. "Bold? How so? It was a lovely gesture. I was happy to receive them, that you had thought of me this morning and went to gather them. It made me happy."
"It gladdens me to hear that Daniel."
A hand that should have been gnarled and weak with age curled over Daniel's. He could feel the strength in it still and it never ceased to amaze him how hardy the baron was despite all his apparent years.
"You said there was a garden here?"
"There is. That is right, you have yet to see it. Would it please you to? We could take our lunch there. It is a fine day."
"I was struck by that same thought this morning! The fineness of the day, not the garden, I didn't even know a garden existed here until breakfast, you wouldn't think by looking at your-" He took a breath, tried to cram the words back inside. "It would please me. Thank you."
Alexander laughed. It was full and rich and seemed like it should have belonged to a man twenty years younger than him. "You always amuse me, my friend. In my long, long years I do not think I have ever met anyone as singular as you."
"You think me odd." Daniel could not keep the pout from his voice.
"I find you a delight." The baron chucked him under the chin and rose to his feet. "Come, we'll tell the kitchen staff on the way out where to send our lunch." He held out a hand and helped Daniel out of his bed. It wasn't until they were well into wandering through the gardens that Daniel noticed that Alexander had yet to release his hold on his hand.
This is a different take on the events that lead up to Daniel becoming Alexander's apprentice in torture. It might seem fluffy at first but it will take a turn for the dark, I promise. This is not a continuation of Dream No Small Dreams. When I am done with this one, I will probably go back and add on to Dreams. I thought it would end at the end of chapter 5, but since there seems to be a call for it to go on, I'll try to oblige! Just be patient with me. And as always, comments and critique are always welcome!