Beta: Alys Blanchefleur

Chapter 6

Rain pounded heavily on the stable roof. Black littered his vision, in exception to spots of angry gray outside the few small windows. He could feel his face drain of color, the brief flash of the corpse filling his thoughts. He stood still, trying to calm his rising panic.

Don't think about it.

Don't think...

A dead body. Eyes glazed over and wide, neck hanging from a noose, swaying back and forward. The memory of his best friend and mother's carcasses assaulted his mind. Matthew thought he had forgotten the image. In the past, he had made an effort to forget. He did, in a sense, but the images came back like vomit.

He needed to leave; needed to tell someone about this. Matthew dashed to the manor, the downpour completely soaking his clothes. He made his way to the kitchen, tracking in mud, but he couldn't be concerned with it. He strode through the manor trying to find Andres. He called his name multiple times before he answered.

"What?" Andres said, his tone sounded irritated. He did not look nor sound happy. His brow was crinkled as of he had a headache.

"T-the stable boy is dead." Matthew said. The once annoyed look turned into one of surprise, as Andres rose an eyebrow questionably.

"The stable boy is...dead?"

"He's dead." Matthew repeated. His eyes were wide as he met Andres' gaze.

"How'd he die?"

"Never mind that, what about-"

"Don't worry about it." Andres said, tersely. He gave little indication that he was going to leave. Matthew stood in his wake, confused, not knowing what else to do.

Time blurred with no distinction until the middle of summer turned into the cusp.

Matthew tried not to dwelling on his past life. Work and reading helped drown out his thoughts, until the two were the only things on his mind. With the stable boy dead, he had taken up his duties. Apparently the stable boy wasn't just a stable boy but a gardener as well.

The sun beat starkly on his neck making him sweat feverishly. He weeded diligently, wiping the sweat off his brow. Matthew was close to finishing his day's work but pulled out a few more weeds for good measure.

He wiped his sullied, calloused palms on his trousers before going inside. Reading sounded good and he needed some rejuvenation before he made dinner. Dinner wouldn't need to be made for a couple more hours though. He had plenty of time.

Matthew ambled to his room. When he arrived, he folded up his work clothes and changed into his other work clothes. They were less dirty and made from finer material.

Matthew headed to the library after that. He opened the door and did a double take. Francis?! Matthew's eyes grew wide. Francis sat leisurely at Matthew's usual seat, eyes narrowed in concentration at some book. He had scars traveling down the length of his face and disappearing into his shirt. Matthew now understood why he hid his face. He was in no way a vain man, but someone who was would despise the look. Matthew thought the scars looked intriguing. They looked as scars did when one got into a skirmish. Did the Master go to war? Or were the scars from something else entirely? Matthew drew a blank as his gaze traveled from his scars to the rest of his face. Francis had long blond hair tied at the nape of his neck. He couldn't see the color of his eyes.

Should he just grab a book and sit down? Matthew didn't know. Would the Master yell at him? Anxiousness fluttered in his stomach. He didn't want to make the man mad. He did let him use the library despite him being a slave. He didn't want to jeopardize his library privileges.

Francis wasn't like other people though. He wouldn't do that to Matthew. Right? After much pondering, he decided to get a book and sit down.

Francis jumped when Matthew walked past him. Matthew looked at the Master, who by now, looked as if he'd seen a ghost. His once rosy color turned ashen, his mouth gaping.

"Sorry, am I not supposed to be here?" Matthew said slowly. Maybe he should've just left while he could? Francis looked at him in horror. No doubt because of the scars carved into his skin.

"I thought you were tending to the gardens." Francis said after getting over the shock of seeing him. Matthew had to guess that he realized his mouth was hanging open, because he closed it abruptly. Matthew was briefly amused.

"Weeding the garden doesn't take all day."

Francis straightened his posture. "It used to take the stable boy most of the afternoon."

"Oh." Matthew paused. "I could just leave if you want me to."

Francis shook his head. "No, I'll just leave." He got up to leave but Matthew beat him to it. Matthew started going in the direction of the door, but before he could get out of there fast enough, Francis sighed and spoke up.

"You can stay here." Matthew's steps faltered before he slowly turned around.

"Are you alright with that Master?"

"I told you to call me Francis, and it's alright." Francis said. He whispered something else underneath his breath but Matthew couldn't hear it.

Matthew walked to the chair farther away from Francis. He picked out some random book off the shelf and sat down.

Francis was a mystery to Matthew. Why was he so nice? Why did the supposed nobleman act... not like a nobleman? Where did the man get his scars? Questions churned in his mind as he looked up. Their eyes clashed.

"How'd you get your scars?" Matthew blurted out. He quickly berated himself. The man was self-conscious. He wouldn't have tried to hide his scars if he wasn't.

"Hardly a topic I'd like to discuss. Let's not." His voice was icy, as if he was reining in his emotions and refused to let them be seen. He'd recognize that tone of voice anywhere; not long ago he had it.

Matthew gave a faint humming sound in response. He understood the sentiment. If someone would've asked about his past life six months ago or even now, he would say the same thing. Maybe even stark in comparison to his polite rejection.

"What are you reading?" Matthew tried to change the topic.

"Nothing." Francis said brusquely. Matthew looked at him oddly. Was Francis embarrassed about what he was reading?

"Okay." He stayed quiet after that. He tried concentrating on his book, but his mind wouldn't have any of it. He glanced up at Francis at sporadic moments, his curiosity burning. He buried it deep... or at least tried to. The book he randomly picked out was about boats; not able to keep his interest for very long.

Knowing he was unable to withhold from commenting for long, he closed his book, set it down, and made his way to the double doors. He couldn't be any more obtrusive today. He didn't want to annoy the Master. That was the last thing he wanted.

He left quietly and went to make dinner. Andres wasn't there again to greet him. After shrugging his shoulders, he went to deliver the food.

It was awkward to say the least. The only words spoken were "thank you" or "you're welcome." They stood staring at each other not knowing what to say or what to do. Matthew left after a long pause. He went to bed that night still thinking of the short conversation with Francis. Wondering if they were to share more in depth conversations in the future.

Would they become friends? He sure hoped so. Even though in the back of his mind a voice whispered that it wasn't a smart idea. Matthew ignored that voice. It had been so long since he had a friend.

Author's note: Why can't everyday be all about fanfiction instead of real life? *Sigh* Sorry I've been really horrible on updating but real life, ya know? I'm pretty sure everything will be better in the future (hopefully) and I'll start updating faster.

My muse has been really sadistic lately. I go to write the next chapter and it ends up being five chapters in. -_- I've got two chapters written. *Grumbles* But they're all future chapters.

Thanks you all for all of the reviews, favorites, and follows! I do a weird happy dance when I get the email. Anyways, I'm curious to what everyone thinks is going to happen. I've given plenty of hints throughout the story, some subtle and a couple not so much. Reviews are welcome. :3