It will be better to have what we have now than to have it taken away.
-what started this book
Seth looked to his right, and it was a dazzling young man, blond, with a beautiful smile. You could just tell that he was in love.
“Are you waiting for your carriage, sir?” He asked. They stood just inside the hall. The party was finished now; everyone was gathering their stuff and leaving. The blond man turned his face, startled, as if he was just noticing the existence of the human race.
“Oh, no. Quite the opposite, I am waiting for my friend to arrive.” He smiled politely, “The host. He has gone on a small business meeting, you could say.”
“Lucas Val?” Seth asked for confirmation.
“Yes.” The blond nodded, then looked embarrassed like he just remembered something. “How rude of me. Silk Honey.”
Seth shook his hand. “Seth Versace. Nice to meet you.”
“How do you do.” Silk said, just as a carriage stopped outside on the cobblestones. Lucas’s silhouette emerged from it, quickly opening a big, canopy-like object, and the rain slid off the curve top. Seth stared at it in confusion even after Lucas had entered the safe shelter of his own rooftop. It dripped and Lucas ditched it outside on the steps so easily.
“Hello, Seth, isn’t it?” Lucas shook his hand while he was still in a daze. “Or Mr. Versace?”
“Doesn’t matter.” He said lightly, then glanced at the strange object again. “What is that?”
“An umbrella, a device that keeps the rain off you.” Silk said, “It’s not in trend yet. It will in a few years. In the mean time, Seth, how are you going to get home?”
He poked his head outside the door and looked around. “Did my servant ditch me?”
Silk looked surprised. Seth couldn’t blame him. That sort of language wouldn’t exactly be popular among any kind of people, really.
“He might as well have. Did you tell him to wait for you with the carriage?” Before Seth could answer, the blond suddenly smiled. “There you go, Seth.”
At first he couldn’t see anything. It was darkness outside, except for the lanterns that hung outside houses. It was the month of October and between Michaelmas and Christmas, when people were required to give a lamp out. Now they looked like imprisoned fireflies, shimmering in the dark, thinly-curtained by the chilling rain. Then it appeared; his own carriage, an ochre colour, now an impossible grey in the rain.
“Thank you for inviting me.” He shook hands with Lucas, pumped it twice quickly, business-like, before disappearing into the rain. Seth had to run, and secretly he wished for a device as useful as the umbrella.
Silk turned around and glanced at Louis, who was sitting in the corner of the room among the littered couches. He was in one of the armchairs, his legs slung over one armrest and his back resting against another, a champagne in his hand, swiveling in the glass, and a book in another, resting in his lap.
“Hey.” He picked up the glass swiftly in one go, leaving Louis frozen and his eyes glancing up. “Don’t drink too much. I’ve seen you having a bit already.”
“Alright then.” His lover looked back down at his book, then finally gave up and held his thumb between the pages before closing the hardcover book.
Louis had beautiful blond hair, a shade darker than Silk’s. His eyes were an uncertain blue, over smooth cheekbones the colour of milk. He had a slightly curved nose, down first then out, lips a light shade of crimson. Everything of his had the word “beautiful” written in cursive all over it, and they both knew it. Now the two blonds were staring at each other, their eyes slightly shaking the way they did when someone was searching something on someone else’s face.
“Lucas.” Silk said without looking at his best friend, “Where’s Magnus?”
“I think he’s off with some lady.” Lucas answered and ran his hand over his dark hair, now slightly longer than he usually liked, going with the fashion. “In her carriage.”
Louis suddenly laughed. His laughter was like silvery bells, ringing, and his eyes went in beautiful, curved slits with long, butterfly-wing-like lashes sweeping. Silk could hold his breath and watch Louis all day.
“What’s with him and women?” He squeezed the words out through laughter, clearly a bit drunk, then held up a hand. “No, no, wait. What’s with women?”
Now Louis was standing on the couch. Silk grinned and hugged Louis’s waist, and spoke into his shirt. “I don’t even know, Lou.”
“You guys.” Lucas smiled a little, “So happy.”
Louis stroked Silk’s hair, tousling it. “Yes, we are.”
Seth arrived back at his place. It was built to be two-storey, but his father added another floor, a giant chandelier hanging from the third-floor ceiling. His servant prepared a bath for him. The water was boiled. He didn’t know, then, that plumbing would be soon introduced. Of course, Seth wouldn’t even dream that Silk and his friends had already plumbing for themselves, on the promise that they would tell no-one.
He took his clothes off and stepped into the tub. The hot water burned against his skin, making it go pink. Some of the things those guys said tonight were strange. And the way Silk looked at him when he said the word “ditch”…
You’re over-thinking, Seth.
After a few more moments, he got out of the bath. As comforting the hot water was, he couldn’t keep his mind still. Seth was in a phrase in his life where his actions would result in no consequences on others. He made himself promise to find out the secret behind these people.
It was close to one o’clock, but Seth had no mind to sleep. Instead he went into his study and sat down at the mahogany desk, opened a brand-new notebook and started to write. A page for Silk. A page for Lucas.
Silk: sculpted, pale, sense of dark humour. Absolutely beautiful.
He stared at the single line, not believing that his own hand wrote the words. The last two words, to be specific. It had been a long time since he had thought about the beauty in people at all; it seemed, now, that he was actually distracting himself from thinking about the beauty in people. He stood on mountains and thought of flying. He thought of capturing colours, movements, a moment. Not painting, but as it was. But not people. Never people.
Lucas Val: business man, square-jawed. Sculpted, dark hair.
So that was that. He didn’t really know more about them. Seth was invited to Lucas’s party because one of his best friends, Wayne Mayblood, had a connection with them and brought him along. Thinking about Wayne, at this hour he couldn't possibly be asleep.
Seth took out a piece of letter paper, already scented, and started writing. As his wrist swiveled he thought of the man. Wayne had this absolutely stunning platinum-blond hair with brown streaks amidst, past his shoulder between the blades. An absolutely perfect face, it seemed, complete with high cheekbones and eyes that never seemed to be the same colour. Thinking more and more under the veil of the night, Seth frowned, then flipped another page.
Wayne Mayblood: stunning hair, odd eyes. High cheekbones.
Just for a moment Seth felt like betrayal. Why would he think that Wayne was odd, that he stood out, that he was different and hiding something?
Of course, he was hiding something. The darkness of the night just had a certain power over people, that whatever seemed ridiculous were less so if it was thought of at night. Of course Wayne was hiding something. Seth barely knew the man, even though they were the closest of friends.
He didn’t regret putting a page down for him.
“Sir, there’s a letter for you.” James knocked on the door. Since Seth was a night animal, his servant had gradually became just so. Right now James’s auburn hair stood up at crazy angles and his eyes were hazy, but that didn’t stop him from sipping a slightly bigger-than-average size of tea as he past a letter to Seth.
The paper was rolled under patterns, delicate under his touch. Seth reached to the seal and gently tugged at it; it was barely glued. There was a single sheet of paper inside, folded in half, also rolled with large, fine patterns. A quick letter, private invitation.
Dear Seth Versace,
This is Silk writing for you. I know that you have just left Lucas’s mansion, but would you be interested to attend a private party of no more than twenty on Friday evening? My lover looks forward to meeting you.
Seth couldn’t hide the surprise on his face. James raised his eyebrows.
“Is it something urgent, sir?” He asked out of politeness. At this time of the night, the usual aristocrats knew to get some good beauty sleep, but never Seth. He didn’t need any, so that letter might as well be from some other rich friends of his that just felt like writing a letter at night and have them delivered to each other’s doors.
“A party on Friday evening. Just absolutely perfect.” Seth considered, then shrugged. He started to pen a reply.
I would be delighted. I look forward to seeing you and your close friends and lover, and we will meet on Friday.
“Deliver this to Lucas’s mansion.” Seth gave that to James, and went to bed. Friday was three days away. He could start worrying about the clothes then.
By the second week, Louis and Silk were basically inseparable. They threw a massive amount of parties and combined their social circles, to the level where the four of them- oh, and Twig- could almost name every single aristocrat in the European capital cities.
Seth was invited to one of them. Lucas knew the man from a business meeting. He had a talent of reading people, and they had joked on Tuesday that Seth Versace might be a good name to go by as a private eye. They only joked around, then, but Lucas couldn’t know that Seth was actually going to do so. He had too much on his mind to conceal his little secrets that all of them had to hide everyday, from the plan he was quietly making with his friends.
Seth had a good chance to dig. He showed up two minutes early, not too much by aristocrat standards, dressed in light grey. His waistcoat was a shade of slightly metallic cream, woven from silk, and the breeches were new and scratchy.
Of course, like the last party, he presumed, Seth would have to brace himself for the rebellious fashion among the party guests. They didn't wear wigs. At all. That was strongly discouraged, and would often result in public and social humiliation. But no. Among these people, they made it hush-hush and kept their hair beautiful. Like Wayne.
So he took his off in the carriage. The darkness veiled that as he got out and quickly went to the front door. No-one wandered out at this hour, but it would be the best to not be seen like this.
“Welcome, welcome.” Silk was the one who walked out and invited him in with a firm handshake, although he winced a little when he saw Seth’s outfit.
“I am sincerely sorry,” Seth said- better now than never- as they walked into the same big, bright drawing/dining room, “Are my clothing and hair breaking some sort of rules?”
Silk frowned a little and shook his head quickly. “Your hair’s great. I like cream, that’s all. I’m a bit selfish.”
Of course, Seth could see that. Four walls draped in the colour all around him. He would be blind if he couldn’t tell. A crimson door, however, stood in the far corner. No-one opened it last time but the one beside it lead to a smaller, darker drawing room, which was brilliantly painted in dark blue, purple, grey and the sort of colours.
“So this room is yours, then.” He confirmed.
“Yes.” Silk replied, leading him forward. Five or so guests had arrived before him, and some of them Seth knew. “I presume you are closely acquainted with Wayne.”
It was delight to see a close friend here. The two of them smiled at each other across the social circle; no need for too much gestures.
The blond was very happy to be the host for a while before Lucas can finish getting ready. “He’s always late.” Silk smiled softly as he waved his hand around the circle, indicating to every individual. “This is Louis, my… Lover.”
Seth knew at that moment that he was going to use another word, something odd and strangely attractive, like “ditch”. But all the people standing around weren’t odd, apart from Wayne. There was this well gentleman who acted like he had been around for two hundred years and still behaving himself. Silk might get to him later.
Louis was beautiful. Seth had to remember that, to add to his little notebook of strange persons. His hair was blond, slightly darker, richer and wavier than Silk’s, and he had a soft smile like pastel for the brief moment when he was being introduced. He had a pimple on his right cheek. Then the smile faltered away and he pouted slightly, raising his eyebrows. Silk tried to look elsewhere.
“Here I am.” Lucas opened the second door- not the red one, although they were both draped as well- and said, “Saving the moment. Now, Seth, are you being introduced?”
That was quite obvious, or was it? How would he know?
“I presume that Silk had told you about Louis, at least.” He walked over to the group as the two blonds linked arms and walked over to the door, welcoming more guests as they arrived out of carriages. The two of them had the best of smiles that were charming at just the right time. “And you know Wayne.”
“This is Twig, and the two of them are cousins.” Lucas grinned pleasantly. He had nice teeth, and Seth could certainly see the resemblance between the two Maybloods. Wayne did tell him about this cousin, but not into detail. Now that Twig was here, Seth noticed how they had the same bizarre hair colour, streaked with brown, and that their eyebrows were similar. One brown, one blond, but mirror-imaged. Twig looked less serious, and his hair was longer, to his waist at least where Wayne’s rested between his shoulder blades. Twig’s face was slightly longer.
Was that a piercing he saw?
No. No, something was wrong with Seth’s eyes. There were no piercings on their curved, smooth ears. He smiled at Twig and they shook hands.
“You look pleasant.” Twig remarked. “That hair.”
He smiled a little. “Not used to it, though.”
“Oh!” Twig exclaimed, raising his eyebrows, “Well, if you’re new, you’ll soon find out that this is what you can die for.”
He winked and backed away, talking to his cousin in a distant manner. Seth was spun around on his feet by Louis who grabbed him by the wrist and dragged him over to the centre of the room, away from the cluster of people who were there early and standing by the couches.
The pleasant young man couldn’t be a day over twenty, but there was something with him that seemed strangely distant, like he had detached himself from the rest of the world. That smile, though, wide and happy, showing a flow of true love defied the feeling.
“Let’s go meet new people. I need to meet new people too. You need it more.” His accent was light and wavy, maybe French or Italian. No, if he was Italian, Seth could tell. He must had been French. “Where is my brother?”
“You have a brother?” Seth asked absentmindedly, being dragged around on his feet. Louis wasn’t quite as energetic as he looked, but his steps were fast and they were swiveling around the room.
“Yes, I do. I lost him!” Louis announced; Seth wasn’t sure what he meant by “lost”, seeing that Louis’s mental state might as well not be stable. His voice was high-pitched yet not annoying, something like a stream. He sounded… Spoiled. Anyone would be if they was Silk’s sweetheart, though. Just look around the room. There were big picture windows, right now the curtains drawn, concealing the secrets in this room. Between the windows red and white roses stood in vases on tall single-drawer tables. “This is Amy Crown!”
The woman he hugged friendlily was short, perhaps five feet eight, and she had flaming hair that bunched up behind her head in a powdered-wig style, and yet it was as real as hair could be, strands tumbling loose with their own wills. Her face seemed startling young, too, perhaps an age of eighteen, but the way she managed in that elegant dress and how she shook Seth’s hand with an air of royalty made him uncertain.
Another name to add to my list, then.
I should’ve brought the notebook along tonight.
Just as he considered the idea of telling James to go back and retrieve it from where it was sitting alone on his desk in the dark, Louis’s happy chime again broke his thoughts.
“This is my brother, Magnus.” He gestured at a dark-haired man, who was slightly taller than Seth and also very pleasant-looking. The two of them had only a few resemblances: their slightly curved nose, going down at a soft angle like a slide, and pretty eyebrows that seemed trimmed.
“It is a pleasure to meet you.” Magnus shook his hand. The man’s hand was dry and slightly colder, and he had the same French accent Louis had; not thick and rolling, but just under the surface. “Lucas takes a liking in your business skills, so I have heard. I am looking after his business, so to speak.”
Ah, Lucas. He hasn’t shown up just yet.
The man was a legend. Literally. At the age of twenty-seven the man had earned himself a mansion and everything desirable imaginable, just short of a woman, by the look of it.
Or a man, judging the characters of his friends. If Twig was a friend of his, of course. That guy’s hair was unimaginably beautiful. Thinking about the blond sweep of colour mixed with brown Seth turned around to find that Twig was facing away, now talking to Amy Crown. His wavy hair draped behind his back, slightly swaying, wasn’t even styled and yet looked like it was.
Distractive, Seth decided. That was going to go in his notebook.
Lucas arrived with cheers from some of the guests. Louis froze, then smiled a little at Seth.
“You haven’t met everyone just yet, but that’s okay.” He gently led Seth toward the end of the long dining table. The table was set at three quarters to the left if you were looking in from the door, and the whole room was milky. Silken drapes coloured cream and honey and flax covered the walls instead of wallpapers printed of flowers.
The end they were walking toward to was the one further away from the main entrance, nearer to the cluster of armchairs and couches and the two doors. One led to a drawing room- which, Seth had overheard, belonged to Lucas- and the other, the one with crimson drapes, no-one knew or talked about.
Seth felt like an outsider. It was obvious that he was the only- or one of the only- new people here. Everyone seemed to be acquainted as far as he could see, the “no more than twenty” of them, and yet he was sitting almost at the head of the table. Louis was, of course, one of the centre of attraction. His laugh chimed through their pre-meal conversations. Sitting on Seth’s left was Magnus, opposite him Silk, on his right Louis and on Louis’s right, the head, was undoubtedly Lucas.
Turning over Lucas’s background story in his head, Seth could now take a closer look at him. Dark, perhaps black hair, and perhaps that was an ear piercing concealed under his hair. Very masculine yet easy-on-the-eye features, Seth decided, as Lucas laughed at some jokes Louis made.
Something touched his feet. Seth jerked back slightly, then realised that it was only Silk and Louis’s feet touching each other under the table. Of course. He withdrew his own in case he was accidentally bumped again.
Dinner was served. Everyone formed pleasant conversations with each other, nothing but light for the easygoing on their stomachs. The food was pleasant yet not too bland, like some parties tended to be since the food wasn’t their main focus. Seth felt included; most things they were talking about he had one or two opinions on.
“Like I said, I wouldn’t do anything like that.” Silk said. He didn’t seem to be eating much, jus sipping his wine occasionally. His plate was empty; he wasn’t even served. “Shooting a man for stealing bread! That isn’t fair.”
Louis raised his eyebrows and nodded. “Poor old Mr. Brown. His family must be devastated. He would have been their only working man, wouldn’t he? Or was his son already in the mines?”
“From my opinion, the mines aren’t a place for children. I hate it down there.” Lucas agreed to the inhumanity after swallowing a steak. Then he pointed a fork at Silk. “You know what I think, I think we should help his family.”
Seth frowned. Why were these aristocrats talking about the working class? They weren’t worth the trouble.
“Excuse me if I am rude.” He said with a frown, uncertain. Seth knew he had to watch his mouth a little, but the point had to be made. “Surely a working man’s family isn’t that important. Hundreds of people like him die like this all day everyday."