The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary: men alone are quite capable of every wickedness. -Joseph Conrad
 
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 A Most Unpleasant Morning

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Rose
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PostSubject: A Most Unpleasant Morning    Sun Jun 12, 2016 5:48 pm

The honorable Lord Hale Brantley had been dreaming most vividly of a midnight, underwater tryst with a beautiful mermaid. The specifics were all very hazy, of course, having never committed the act in real life. Unfortunatley. But, an active imagination was an amazing thing.

He had just realized how lacking in seashells this cheeky mermaid was, when he was brutally yanked to consciousness by his arch enemy: the sun. Blinking his eyes rapidly in response to the harsh light of late-afternoon, Hale silently cursed his horribly intoxicated, but beautifully adorned self, from the night before for not remembering to close the curtains, that framed the large bay windows, in his luxurious, London townhouse.

Hale groaned audibly, grabbing a feather-stuffed pillow and placing it over his sensitive eyes. It took a lot of alcohol for Shadowhunters to even feel it’s effects and an even larger amount for them to feel the negative effects of it the next morning. Naturally, Hale always woke up with a hangover. It also probably didn’t help to mix faerie concoctions with one’s brandy.

Having finally resigned himself to staying conscious, at least until later that night, Hale moved the pillow just enough to free his mouth.

“EDWARD,” Hale yelled, satisfied to hear his deep voice bounce off the high ceilings of his bedchamber, then immediately regretting his choice when the noise painfully bounced off his overly-sensitive eardrums.

Hale knew it wouldn’t take long for his valet to respond to his need, thankful everyday that he had decided to have Edward sleep in a room next to his. The rest of the servants found it vastly improper, but, considering all that they had seen as servants in his presence, Hale was astounded that this was the thing they found uncivil.

The soft whisper of the door opening immediately alleviated some of Hale’s discomfort. Edward was such a help in so many ways. For a person that hated being alone, a constant companion was a necessity.

“Please, Edward, don’t hesitate at the door so,” Hale pleaded, moving the pillow ever so slightly to inspect the reason for his valet’s pause. “I won’t bite. You know it’s not Wicked Wednesday yet.”

Responding accordingly, Edward crossed swiftly to the bay windows and released the ties holding the curtains open. Hale sighed with relief, throwing the now useless pillow to the side. He pulled himself up into something that resembled an upright position and stifled a yawn, as Edward lit a number of small candles around the room, giving it a much more pleasing light. The valet’s work finished, he made his way to Hale’s bedside. Hale automatically reached for the comfort of his manservant and lover, in turn.

“I’m feeling cold, Edward, might you be a dear and --,” Hale abruptly stopped his request, having finally discovered the reason for his man’s hesitation. Slightly hidden behind Edward’s back was a letter, addressed with a familiar, dainty hand. Hale felt his blood automatically start to boil.

“I swear to all that is good in this world, Edward, if you bring that deplorable letter even an inch closer to my person, you and my eardrums will not be happy with the volume of my response.”
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PostSubject: Re: A Most Unpleasant Morning    Sun Jun 12, 2016 8:39 pm

Edward was already awake when the youngest maid came bustling into his room to light the fire, as always making as much noise as possible unlike how she attended to Lord Hale’s, working as silent as the grave in fear of waking him and bringing down his wrath that was uniquely terrifying in the mornings. The servants of the household had no love for Edward, and despised the special treatment he received, making a point to remind him of this any chance they got. He was in no way treated as their superior but Hale made sure that his valet was always kept comfortable. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he supposed he should understand and possibly even be sympathetic to the others but the far louder voice in his head told him he deserved everything that he received and often responded to their silent protests with an air of authority as if he was in fact the Lord of the house.

Once the scrawny, soot covered girl vacated his room, Edward finally sat up, the frame of his brass bed creaking in protest at the movement. It wasn't the most uncomfortable bed he had ever slept in, though it couldn't even be compared to the luxurious mass of the feather mattress and piles of silk that adorned Hale’s enormous four poster bed. Even just the thought of the piece of heaven that was his lords bed was enough to send a pleasant shiver down his spine, not to mention the warm, muscular body that was the main attraction and most important part of spending the night between the silk sheets. Needless to say, waking up in his own room was always the most efficient way for him to start his day in a foul mood.

Knowing Hale wasn’t going to even begin to stir for some time following his exploits of the night before, Edward allowed himself to dress leisurely, taking extra time to study his own reflection and make sure his uniform was perfectly immaculate and clung to his body in all the ways that he knew would earn him the delicious reward of his lords undivided attention at first glance, the older man's dark gaze trailing over his body in a way that made Edwards heart beat a little faster.

The morning carried on much the same as any other morning, Edward studiously ignored the rest of the staff as he drank his tea and thumbed through the mundane newspaper, waiting for the always late mail carrier to deliver Hale’s letters, mostly consisting of party invitations or shameless love letters from any persons that had found themselves lucky enough to spend a night with the highly sought after bachelor of both the mundane and the shadow world. Edward couldn’t help the slightest of smirks that tugged at the corners on his lips, bachelor indeed.

As Hale’s valet, he had learned very quickly which letters were dumped immediately into the trash, which ones he would relay to his Lord briefly as a means to make the man laugh and which went directly to the shadowhunter himself. On this particular morning though, a thick and obviously expensive ivory envelope with dainty, green looping handwriting made his eyes widen in horror. He knew that nothing written on the letter inside was anything his Lord wanted to hear.

It could have been only a few moments that Edward stood outside of Hale’s closed door, the silence from the room within making the young man nearly hold his breath so not to make any noise to wake the sleeping Lord within, though it felt like an eternity as he stared at the envelope in his slightly shaking hands but the inevitable sound of his name echoing through the halls signaled that his time had come.

“Please, Edward, don’t hesitate at the door so,” Hale pleaded, moving the pillow ever so slightly to inspect the reason for his valet’s pause. “I won’t bite. You know it’s not Wicked Wednesday yet.”

Despite himself, Edward felt his skin tingle as a blush crept across his pale cheeks. He didn’t think he’d ever be able to control his reaction when Hale spoke to him in such a way, regardless of the situation. Momentarily distracted by the pillow covering his Lords face, he crossed the room to pull the heavy velvet curtains closed, extinguishing the bright rays of sunlight that lit up the lavishly decorated room. The fire burned in the grate but Edward busied himself with lighting a few candles to illuminate the room in the way he knew Hale enjoyed.

“I’m feeling cold, Edward, might you be a dear and --,” Before the young man could even entertain the idea of removing his jacket and shoes to willingly obey his lord's request, and possibly do what he could to put the man in a better mood before revealing the letter, dark eyes focused on the stain of ivory in the dimly lit room and he knew it was too late.

Sucking in a deep breath, Edward brought the envelop forward from where he had been holding it delicately behind his back as if it was something that was going to jump out and bite the now scowling man displayed before him.

“I haven’t opened it… I wasn’t sure if you would want to read it yourself… I didn’t think it was something that should be ignored.” Edward spoke softly, as if trying to soothe a wild animal but stayed a safe distance away from the side of the bed. When Hales only response was to flop back down onto his bed and recover his face with a pillow, even though the treacherous sun had been banished, Edward felt he had no choice but to continue.

Breaking the green seal that had an elegant B stamped into the wax, he cleared his throat before reading the short but very direct words that decorated the thick stationary, cringing as he began to read.

“Your ridiculous behavior and complete disregard for discretion has tarnished my status for long enough. You are to embark to the London Institute at once and spend your time training and associating with proper shadowhunter society. Failure to do so will result in an immediate retraction of your allowance as well as the residence in which you currently live.”

There was no signature at the end, though Edward didn’t imagine Hale had any doubts as to whom the letter was from. There was nothing but silence for a long moment as the valet tried to decide if he should leave the older man alone or move forward to comfort him, instead he just stood, hovering awkwardly just out of arm's reach of his lover, his heart pounding in anticipation of Hale’s reaction.
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PostSubject: Re: A Most Unpleasant Morning    Mon Jun 13, 2016 11:16 pm

Filled with a combination of barely contained fury and a bit of apprehension, Hale fought the urge to rip the pillow in his hands to shreds, as he waited for Edward to read the contents of his mother’s letter.

“Your ridiculous behavior and complete disregard for discretion has tarnished my status for long enough. You are to embark to the London Institute at once and spend your time training and associating with proper Shadowhunter society. Failure to do so will result in an immediate retraction of your allowance as well as the residence in which you currently live.”

Hale very distantly noticed that the silence that followed the recitation was heavy with Edward’s nervousness. He was still trying to see if anything truly heinous lay hidden in the meaning of the letter. Finding absolutely nothing, Hale let out the slight chuckle that had been begging to be let out at the first mention of retracting his allowance. The chuckle turned into full, uproarious laughter, as the hilarity of the situation fully sunk in.

“Well, that’s quite a relief, isn’t it,” Hale said, his laughter fading as he threw back the heavy, down comforter and pulled himself out of bed. “Come now, Edward, the serious look doesn’t suit you at all.”

Hale reached for his valet as he spoke, gently placing his hands on the either side of Edward’s face. The man’s automatic reaction to his touch had become a pleasantly familiar aspect of their companionship these last few months. Bringing their lips together, Hale let himself indulge just a little bit in the kiss, tasting the slightest hint of the valet’s morning tea on his tongue.

“That’s much better,” Hale said, his hands still on either side of Edward’s face. “A boy as beautiful as you should always look as thoroughly kissed as you now do.”

Despite the blazing fire, an involuntary chill seeped its way into Hale’s skin, reminding him of his state of complete undress. He made his way to his massive bureau and selected another costume of supreme elegance and almost gaudy exuberance, Edward following close behind to assist in the arrangement.

“Today is going to be a day of massive purchases and indulgences, my friend,” Hale said, his eyes flashing almost dangerously in the mirror as Edward attached Hale’s favorite pair of cufflinks. “To think that she assumes that she can bully me into mixing company with a bunch of boring stiffs. It would most certainly put her in her place by buying the royal jewels off the old queen herself, but I’ll start with something small, like a cage of gilded hummingbirds!”

Hale was practically gleeful as he made his way down the vast staircase. Mrs. Burns was waiting at the door, which was slightly unusual, but Hale wasn’t in the mood to look deeper.

“Dear Mrs. Burns, if you would be kind enough to call the carriage,” Hale announced in his most posh voice, accepting the gloves and hat Edward had been kind enough to bring down. “I have a mind to do a little light shopping.”
However, Mrs. Burns didn’t move a muscle. Which was strange considering most of the servants were constantly twitchy from attending to his orders so quickly. He had no idea why they were so scared of him. Hale could have sworn that he saw a ghost of a smile on the old woman’s thin, cracked lips.

“Your Lordship’s carriage is unavailable at this time, unless of course you mean to go to a certain church,” Mrs. Burns said, the ghost of the smile becoming the real thing. “I have also been informed that your tabs at your usual haunts have been put on hold for the moment.”

So, the old hag is actually serious about cutting me off, thought Hale. His good mood had immediately faded upon seeing the old woman’s smile. It had the stink of his mother all over it. Hale suddenly felt like a petulant kid all over again, crying for his mother to pay attention to him and throwing a tantrum when she didn’t. Right at this moment, he wanted to scream, throw something, and stab someone all at once. He felt his heart beating faster, responding to the dark turn his thoughts had taken. But, then a sobering voice in his head whispered that the carriage would still be ‘unavailable’ and his tabs still useless after his anger had spent itself. There really wasn’t a point, and he definitely didn’t want to give his mother the satisfaction of hearing from Mrs. Burns how he had acted. Drawing in a steadying breath, Hale forced a smile on his face, as he addressed the house keeper.

“If that’s the case, instruct the servants to pack up my belongings and have them loaded onto the carriage, when I return,” Hale said, the anger not completely out of his voice or expression. “My valet and I will be getting as drunk as possible on my pocket money, in the meantime.”

Hale threw open the great wooden door, allowing the chilly London air to flow freely across his face. Hale silently contemplated how horrible it really would be residing at the Institute, surrounded by all those proper pansies that surely had never heard of the color mauve. Setting off down the street, Hale felt as if he had been sentenced to the worst kind of death. An uninteresting one.
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PostSubject: Re: A Most Unpleasant Morning    Tue Jun 14, 2016 12:49 am

Edward hadn’t been sure what he was expecting in response to the letter, fury? Sulking? An immediate demand for him to fetch Hale’s own stationary to scrawl out his own cold reply? What he had not been expecting however, was the chuckle that quickly turned into the melodious sounds of his Lord’s unabashed laughter. A sound so lovely that Edward couldn’t help but let a smile spread across his own lips, quickly erasing any fear of a tantrum and easing the tension he had held since first laying eyes on the letter.

At the feel of Hale’s touch, the letter was completely forgotten as he let it slip from his hands so that his fingers could find their way into the older man's sleep mussed hair as he opened his mouth willingly allowing his master to take what pleasure he wanted. He couldn’t help the small gasp of breath that escaped his lips as the desire that warmed him every time their bodies were so close. He allowed himself to get lost in the connection, however brief, inhaling the scent that clung to the man from the night before, a mixture of cologne, cigar smoke, sweat and above all, the blissful aroma that was purely Hale.

The kiss was broken too soon and Edward found himself about to reach out for the man that was now moving away from him, the desire to pull him back and replace him on the rumpled silk sheets that he knew were still warm from the man's bare skin that had rested their just moments before. With a sobering intake of breath, he let the fantasy slip from his mind, knowing that physical connection happened when Hale wanted it, and Edward did not dictate the terms in which they were intimate.

After regaining his composure, Edward followed closely behind his Lord, acting automatically as he saw which ensamble Hale intended for the day and fetching the proper accessories needed to make the man truly stand out in the crowd, though, in Edwards opinion he was the picture of perfection just moments before beginning to dress.

“Today is going to be a day of massive purchases and indulgences, my friend.” Edward allowed himself a smirk, purposely ignoring the sting of the causal way in which Hale called him, “my friend” and willing himself to focus on the dangerous way the man's dark gaze glowed in the mirror in front of them, he knew that when the older man had that fire in his eyes, nothing proper was going to happen. And Edward was more than okay with it.
~

As the old bat actually had the audacity to smile while delivering the news of her orders, Edward felt a cold rage bubble up inside him.
“You dare speak to your Lord like that? You forget your place, Burns.” He snapped, earning himself a disdainful glance from the old housekeeper though she kept her attention focused on Hale. It wasn’t until he turned to examine the older man's face that he bit back anything more that he wanted to say. He saw the range of emotions flash in Hales captivating gaze before finally ending on what Edward could only image was a forced smile.

“If that’s the case, instruct the servants to pack up my belongings and have them loaded onto the carriage, when I return. My valet and I will be getting as drunk as possible on my pocket money, in the meantime.”

For the second time that day, Edward was surprised by his masters reasonable response but he directed his best smug, icy look at the old woman as Hale pushed his way outside.

“Be sure you pack Lord Brantley’s possessions in the way he likes.” He spat by means of a farewell, taking pleasure in the knowledge both he and the woman had that packing the man's belongings should be done by his valet.

Joining Hale out on the front steps of the townhouse, Edward had to strongly resist the urge to reach for the man's hand, his longing and desire to always feel the touch of the others skin a never ending torment when he was only allowed to act as a professional valet in public, if not one obviously favored by his master.

“Where to, my Lord?” He spoke almost teasingly as a smirk tugged at the corners of his lips.
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