David woke up the next day, feeling a resting hand on his hip. Looking what was touching him, he noticed that the former soldier Zachary had stayed the night, and hadn't left yet.

Slowly the lord rolled away from the comfortable sheets, and lowered his feet to the ground. While trying to make sense of the previous night he dressed for the day to come, until he heard a deep sigh from the bed.

His hair turned with him as in the corner of his eye he spotted the mountain of heavy wool blankets move atop of his bed. Quietly he watched the man that was the reason for his confusion getting up, blankets falling down his chest and baring some scars of his previous profession.

He quickly turned away, moving his hands over the pearl buttons of his large linen shirt, to start his outfit with. He heard a soft 'good morning' coming from the sleepy soldier's lips, that made him look up to the man who was moving off his bed and putting his feet on the ground. 'You might want to move quick' David told him. 'I'm not sure if anyone here would appreciate you coming out of my quarters eighter way. The walls here talk, rumors spread quickly' he sighed. Zachary, unclothed, walked up to him, and pressed his lips softly on his own. 'Don't worry, I'll be quick' he said, very calm in contrast to David, who was unable to fasten the buttons on his shirt.

Zachary grabbed his clothing from the ground, the stiffened fabric not giving way easily to the soldier's skin. The issued uniform, pristine and starched fitted like a glove on the man's battleworn body. Nathaniel still remembered how he touched the taboo compagnion's skin last night, and he remembered it feeling warm and soft, with the occasional bump of whiter scartissue.

He had whispered to the man of many stories to tell about every single one of the scars, and remarkably, Zachary was able to tell him each story in great detail, telling about his days on the front, drinking with fellow infantry while they pulled their feet out of the mud every so often.

Zachary had been taught how to ride a horse within the cavalry, but he chose to stay with infantry. He seemed to be a man who had no means of restraining his tongue, a direct man who, he thought, did not give the social standards much thought. A dangerous game to play in a society that relied on standards more than on laws itself.

Grown up in discipline, and leading a life of discipline, had strangely enough made this man very calm in his demeaner. Discipline when he needed to, but within those constrains he said and did things that Nathaniel could never dream of.

He himself had escaped the army, his father paying off the recruiters, to which he was grateful for at first, thinking of the army as a bloody and muddy mess, with horrible food, and scab-ridden men aplenty. But Zachary had had a way with words tonight, keeping the luxury raised Nathaniel listening on his lips while his low and comforting voice had been his welcome company. Now he wished to have been in the ranks, feeling the euphoria of being of service of his fellow countrymen, and the peculiar culture among the men. Those men were friends, kin and family to eachother. Zachary could, according to David, likely describe a year in a prison to him, and still make it seem etherial and beautiful.

Finally, he was able to command his shaking and reluctant fingers to finish closing the linen undershirt, the overcoat and pantaloons were fairly quickly done. After a quick straightening of all the fabric and dusting himself with scented powder, Nathaniel made way for the breakfasthall.

The heavy door closed behind him, leaving him with his father and a few guests on the mahogany table, overflowing as if the horn of wealth had been emptied on it. Different fruits, puddings, breakfastdishes and meats had made their way to the table. He even noticed a few peculiar fruits that were rarely on the table itself. A pineapple, they called it. A hard, yellow fruit that was only ever put out on the table to impress the attending guests, as it had to be especially imported from tropical regions he had heard seamen's tales about. He guessed it very likely that his father, the senior Lord of the manor, had been arranging for such a fruit to arrive a month beforehand. With a quick little headbow to the attending men, and a quick kiss on the women's handpalms, he took his seat. He did not sit at his usual spot, that he usually took so he'd be able to talk to his father directly, no, this time he chose the spot across from a peculiar dark-skinned individual, that he winked to. As not to attract any attention, for a while they both ate in peace.

Zachary did get his attention later, during the elaborate breakfast affair, by asking him if he had found a potential suitress in last night's party.

The room fell silent, of course someone would ask that. 'Someone did spark my interest' I just said, ignoring some etiquette, and lurking trough a rogue strand of hair that had very rudely placed itself into his view to Zachary. 'But I will be keeping that for myself for a little bit, if that is permissable' he said with a formal tone in his voice. 'I wouldn't want to say anything so soon, after one night...' To avoid further conversation, he started to ask a visiting count near him to pass the delicious poached fish with buttered rice.

His father however, already seemed to be celebrating. At my marriage, the old Lord, tired and weakened to the bone, wanting to be able to retire back to a cottage built at the back of the manor's lands. He yearned to be far away from political affairs and wailing peasants, that he was glad to give up for a peaceful living of his last days far away from the everyday.

Of course, David gave a quick peek at Zachary, meeting his gaze. Eighter way David would not have his father's approval to do so. Marrying a woman was not in his interest, but neighter was marrying a man, like Zachary, in his father's interest.

DAvid dabbed the rest of the ricedish off his lips, and excused himself as maids coming from left and right came to clear that spot for new guests to have their breakfast, as they had many guests. A familiar sweet voice seemed to echo throughout the dining hall, excusing himself as well. David's heart skipped a quick beat, but it was a mystery to him if it was caused by excitement or dread. He walked in a fast pace trough the hall, hoping his footsteps echoing through the marble hallways would send Zachary a message.

But no, instead, a second pair of footsteps followed his.

'Is something on fire?' the deep voice asked him, a chuckle in his laugh. David quickly took a peek around to see if anybody would notice him pulling Zachary into his quarters, and when he saw that nobody would, he did.

Closing the door quickly behind them both, leaving him with his nose to the broad man's chin. Zachary should not be more than maybe ten to fifteen centimetres taller than him. However, this man was almost twice as broad as David, who never had to be as strong in physique as Zachary had to be.

'I don't have to tell you that this is not a good idea' He said quickly, before the man's scent drove him to do other, more unwise things.

'What is not a good idea?' Zachary chuckled, getting both of his arms around the lord's neck.

'This' David held the man's wrists in futile defence.

'Tell me, what is this?' the enchanting voice commanded.

Before a sound could escape his lips, they were locked in. Soft lips that froze David on the spot, arms that pulled him closer, and a feeling that proved to be stronger than his will to be what he needed to be, that pushed his feet closer.

'That' He voiced breathless, as after an eternity Zachary allowed him to breathe again, although his breath wasn't as calm as he wanted to admit.

'Why are you afraid?' was whispered.

'I don't know' David whispered back, scrambling to gain his thoughts again.

'Are you afraid of what might be said? Isn't this place, and the political power that remains with it, going to be in your possession?'

'My father might be old, he is still capable of managing the lands around for a few more years. I don't know if he'll allow me to take over if I'll marry somebody that is not capable of giving the family pedigree an heir'.

'There is always a way around' Zachary promised, before moving his hands down David's sides, 'we'll think of a way around'.

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