Closed A Regretful Acknowledgement
@Lucy @Gordon

Since the night of the bonfire, Felix had been consumed by a multitude of conflicted feeling. He had woken with Kel in his bed and was overjoyed, though he did hope that either no one had noticed or believed their story that he'd merely been too intoxicated to return to his family's farm, and spent the night for that reason. He was certainly not the only person, both downstairs and up, to have overindulged that night.

So Felix might have been happy, though he could not share the reason for his happiness with other than the very object of his affections - had he not discovered some time later that day, that his father had gone. He was unsure how to react to this. To all outward appearances, he had not reacted at all, scarcely mentioning the fact to anyone.

Perhaps, over the course of the following days, Felix was more diligent in his work, occupying himself as never before: his hands with polishing and serving, his thoughts with fragmented melody, snips of poetry. He might have smoked more than was his usual wont, doing his best to ignore Mr. Brandt's glaring. Though it hurt him, as he had been harboring a slight infatuation for the other man for nearly a decade, Felix was used to this.

What troubled him more was Lucy's coolness. It was entirely possible that this was nothing more than a trick of his over-strained imagination, yet Felix had believed he and Lucy to be on friendly enough terms prior to the bonfire, and felt rotten for abandoning their waltz so suddenly, and without decent explanation. So eventually, after he had begun to feel less numb over his father's abandonment, and once he'd had time to get to the village, Felix gently approached the young woman as she was outside, having a smoke, offering her a box of chocolates and cigarettes, tied together with a ribbon.

"Lucy, I do feel awfully dreadful for running off on you the other night," Felix said, smiling shyly at her. "Please, I hope you'll accept this smoke token of my apologies. I hope I can make it up to you better than this, in the future."
If Lucy was completely honest (which she wasn’t), she had forgotten about Felix running off abruptly at the bonfire until he mentioned it now. She ended up distracted in her own way with Jon, and to those who gave her no attention, she returned the gesture. However, his coy expression and careful presentation of gifts suggested he still held some guilt over it, which was an interesting development.

She took the cigarette from her mouth with a dissatisfied flourish and hooded her eyes. “I suppose it’ll do for now.” She sighed, in her best imitation of a broken heart. Goodness, were these truffles? Her mouth was watering just thinking about it. “You know that chocolate isn’t as sweet as your company.” Lucy added with a pout. She folded one leg over the other so the end of her stocking was showing. She had thought Felix almost entirely penniless, but if he doted like this anyway, maybe he was worth giving a second look.

And second look she did.
Quite probably, Felix should have left the interaction once he'd offered the gift, letting Lucy's display of stocking pass without response. This would surely have been the sensible thing to do, as he was aware from past experience that balancing too many romantic dalliances would only lead to heartbreak.

And perhaps, if Lucy had merely accepted the offering in the spirit it was given, he would have done so. But she had not, or perhaps this was what he'd intended, and Felix did want to be friends with her, if nothing else was possible. "Is it not? I'm afraid I have little more to offer at present, Lucy, but as for my company, I have some time for you at the moment if you'd like?"
What Gordon would have liked is a few moments to himself, and a cigarette, after spending entirely too much of his time brushing dog fur out of the Marquess' clothing. Quite apart from annoyance at the task and the sudden addition of the animal, as well as residual feelings about his employer taking a trip without him . . . he couldn't help but think of the Professor's dog, Hero, and evenings spent whilst Professor Walsham-Smythe worked. Or enjoyed pleasant evenings in conversation with Dr. Dietrich, Hero resting dutifully by the Professor's chair, or resting her head on his lap.

It wasn't anything he could write to the Doctor. It was too foolish, too maudlin. He continued to make notes of the Marquess' condition, and the addition of the dog, and that was enough.

The subject of the doctor's son was another matter he wouldn't mention in his letter, as it wasn't his place. As it was, he wasn't at all surprised to find the younger man already outside when he stepped out for his smoke, and considered stepping back inside. That would have been foolish as well. Despite the fact that Felix had shown no indication he'd even noticed his father's departure, instead continuing his indiscriminate flirtations with the other servants, or so it seemed. Even now.

Gordon looked at them both, taking out his cigarette case. "I hope I'm not interrupting anything important," he said, rather drily.
“Then by all means…” Lucy moved over to give Felix some room to lean on the corner of the old stone building. Most of it seemed to be perpetually damp and covered in moss, even when it wasn’t raining, but under the awning provided a slightly more comfortable place for a smoke. She offered Felix her cigarette in an apparent act of generosity, but mostly she was just looking forward to tasting one of those truffles, and if she rushed her way through the cigarette she wouldn’t be tasting much of anything for a while.

Lucy shot Gordon a dirty look. He wasn’t interrupting anything in particular, but she found the valet to be a bit of a stick in the mud. He was quiet and serious, and she got the distinct feeling he was always judging, even though he rarely made a comment about anyone. She folded the chocolates under her arm, though. God forbid there was some kind of rule about them, or she get accused of stealing them or something.
"Why thank you, Lucy." Felix smiled at her, taking the proffered cigarette and puffing it readily as he joined her in leaning on the building. The arrival of Mr. Brandt before either he nor Lucy could say anything more to one another was not, perhaps, the best thing to have happened, but Felix was still determined to be friendly to the other man. "Certainly not, Mr. Brandt. The more the merrier."

Not that he knew Mr. Brandt to engage in any kind of merriment. And Felix was not completely oblivious to the expression on Lucy's face, or the fact that Mr. Brandt's seemed nearly as sour. Felix's brows drew together, uncertainly. Had anything happened between these two, or was it merely the presence of another person, regardless of who, that Lucy objected to.

"I never did compliment you on your dancing, Lucy," Felix said, turning his attention back to the young woman and offering her the cigarette back. "It was quite sublime. Were you at the bonfire the other night, Mr. Brandt?"
No, it wouldn't have been proper to write to Dr. Dietrich regarding his son's behavior, neither would it have been his place to say anything to the younger Dietrich regarding his father. Even something so simple as acknowledging the relationship between the surgeon and the Footman would have been unforgivably crass. Surely the Doctor wouldn't appreciate it.

Not that he was here. Gordon wondered if the boy even recognized it was his own ungrateful behavior that had caused his own father to quit the Manor. Or if he would even be troubled if he was aware. Lighting his own cigarette, not too concerned with the look the young woman was giving him, Gordon turned his attention down the path away from the Manor, contented to ignore the both of them so long as they behaved themselves. At least until Dietrich asked him about the bonfire.

"I was. Briefly. As was your father, did you speak to him?" It was not at all what he should have said, and Gordon knew that they hadn't spoken. Why he'd done it, he wasn't even sure, but it was done now.
Lucy cupped her chin in her hand, eagerly awaiting whatever gossip the valet had to tell. Of course, she had heard that Felix was related to one of the guests, a scandal if she ever heard one, that Felix’s father would blatantly ignore him. Or what Felix might have done to fall out of his family’s good graces. She wondered if it was criminal. Goodness… a hard edge to his soft disposition… exciting.

“What did he say?” Lucy asked, unabashedly nosey. What a disappointment it would be if she didn't get the full story. “I didn't know you were speaking to your father at all.” She added to Felix. From what it sounded like, there was some kind of row before he started the job.
His cheeks reddened, and for a second Felix glared at Brandt, furious that he would do this here. Now. It was true that his intentions toward Lucy were relatively honorable, unless she herself would prefer otherwise -which he'd yet to see any indication of,- he was now reminded of how she'd addressed him that bonfire night. The Doctor's Son, which was apparently how everyone viewed him. He might as well have gone back to Cambridge with his father, as being nothing more than his father's son was one of his primary fears about doing so.

The moment passed, and Felix turned his gaze to the ground. He could think of no reason why Brandt would hold such antipathy toward him, aside from the slight infatuation he had once held for the man, which he'd barely acted on to any real degree. But Brandt had known his father in Cambridge, through his former employer, far more than he had ever bothered to get to know Felix. Even so, what Felix did was no more his concern than it was Lucy's. Or anyone else's, for that matter.

"We have our exchanges, on occasion," Felix replied, to Lucy, forcing himself to keep his tone as light and even as circumstances allowed. "I am rather interested in what he had to say to you as well, Brandt?"
It took a moment for Gordon to realize he should not have confronted the younger Dietrich in front of the undercook. He had only meant to force Felix into considering how his actions affected his father, rather than draw the young woman's curiousity and make both Felix and Doctor Dietrich the topics of gossip throughout the servant's quarters. But it was now done, and Gordon wasn't about to back down. He might have, if Felix had not treated the rift he'd created between he and his father so lightly. And then implied that the doctor had no reason to be speaking with Gordon, when he had been such great friends with the Professor and regretted his loss as much as Gordon did himself.

He wasn't even entirely sure what he wanted to say. "It wasn't so much what he said, as what was implied," Gordon said, addressing himself to Miss Lucy and ignoring Felix altogether. "It seemed the doctor could no longer remain as a guest in the house, when there was such a strained relationship between he and his son. Despite their . . . occasional exchanges."
Lucy looked between Gordon and Felix, raising a brow. “You don’t say.” It seemed that Felix had essentially driven off the doctor after all. A real shame, since the doctor was there to take care of the Lord of the house, and not get involved with family squabbles with the domestic staff. Lucy wondered if Felix might get fired for it. Wouldn’t that be something.

“Better hope this doesn’t bring down trouble.” Lucy warned with a wink to Felix. She liked him, and wanted him to stick around, but also couldn’t help but want to shake him up a bit. She ducked back inside the door, feeling her stocking starting to get wet. “I’m going to find somewhere dryer to enjoy these.” She held up the chocolates. “And feel free to not-dance with me again some time!” Lucy teased. She could get used to truffles and gossip.

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