Closed Where the Grass is Green and the Boys are Pretty
#1
The sky  was grey, as always. The wilds stretched around him so much that he couldn't see any civilization and could believe he was miles from the village even though he knew better. He was put there on a crazy task by his mother to look for roots. To be fair it was better than hanging around the farm with his brother glaring daggers at him every chance he got. He wanted to be back at the theatre doing real work.

His hand reached into the icy cold muck as he dug through to wrap around a bulb and twist it free. A gasp came as he shook off the water and tossed it into a bag. He had done this sort of thing ever since he was a kid and it might get easier but he still hated it. 

After stuffing the vegetable into a small burlap sack with a few others, he suddenly realized he wasn't alone. He stared ahead trying to identify who was out there was he wiped his hand to clean and warm it up. When he did recognize him, his brow lowered . He knew him, though he hadn't seen him in a while. It was hard to forget his brother's friend.
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#2
It had been the melancholic allure of the moors that had drawn him to Madsmoor; an ideal setting in which to wallow in heartbreak, and draw from him great Art, borne out of his suffering. As of yet, however, Felix had spent little time wandering the moors. The circumstances of Life had interfered, and truly, on the whole, he would not have things any other way.

In fact, quite without any effort on Felix's part, his spirits had begun to lighten, and with them the faint stirrings of composition, lyrical and melodic. It was of course the peak of romantic nonsense to attribute this renewed creativity to any one thing or person, and yet in his heart or perhaps his mind, Felix could not but name one so. He did not think it wise to reveal this to Kel, however. They were scarcely able yet to speak of love. To claim anything more, might cause his lover's bolting, and Felix left with yet another broken heart.

It was with these thoughts, on a day in which he found himself with some free hours, without Kel, that Felix had ventured forth to the moors' expanse, carrying his notebook with him. Yet, seeking inspiration, he found naught but pale whisps of verse, pulling at his spirit before vanishing like a morning's mist. He wrote a few lines along this notion, all the while scolding himself that no one was terribly interested in reading poems about the poet's incapability of writing. Lost in this self-recrimanatios,, it was some while before Felix noticed he was no longer alone here. And while mildly frustrated by his lack of inspiration, now they had noticed each other, he could hardly carry on ignoring the man.

"Hello, it's nice to see a pleasant face out here." Felix said, smiling as he approached the man. There was something familiar about him, but he was no one Felix knew by name. "My name is Felix. Dietrich. I'm a . . . " he nearly said 'poet,' but wasn't certain how well that would go over. "Footman, at Madswitte Castle. Have we met?"
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#3
"Not by the face. But you're ah friend o' mah broth'r. Not that we been introduced. Ah'm Toal." He immediately became more friendly when the guy called his face pleasant . If he didn't recognize him, who was he to ruin the illusion of mystery.

He held out his clean hand to shake his, though his fingers were chilled. The older Featherston gave him a little nod and tilted his head at the paper. "What're ye up ta? Writ'n someth'n like..um.. a play?" He said a bit hopeful.
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#4
A moment passed between meeting and introduction, in which Felix contemplated his appearance-his tousled hair, and opened collar, a picture of the Romantic poet that his actual verse belied, and considered also the young man's jaw line, the corners of his mouth, the cleft of his chin. . .

Then Felix redirected himself, his thoughts, and offered nothing more than a friendly smile. Kel's brother, of course, now he could see why the elder Featherston had seemed familiar, the features they bore in common with one another. They had never met, yet in his lover's elder brother he suspected a kindred spirit.

He laughed lightly at the question, and running his hand his hair, before taking Toal's chilled hand. "Poetry, or meant to be. The muse has been rather retiring today, or at the least she and I have missed each other."Once more he studied Kel's wastrel brother. "You're an actor, aren't you?" Felix doubted the man had ever found much success, but he was not the one to deny his dream. Even when he knew how it affected his family, or at least Kel's not unbiased feelings on the matter.
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#5
Toal softened any aggression or annoyance he might have had towards Felix. How he and his brother got along, it was probably best he didn't ask.  He shook his hand and his head tilted curiously.."Oh?  Well if a muse was easy tah come by,  artists wouldnae struggle so hard tah find it!"

He laughed merrily and then blinked. A grin spread on his face and he nodded. He stood straight and puffed up his chest a little. "Aye! Ah'm an act'r! It's a bit of ah struggle what with'n tha lack of cult're 'ere. But I imag'ne tha new theat'r will change that! But you can relate bein' an artistic type too right?"

He stepped to his  side to look curiously at where he'd been writing. "Can ah read what you got so far?"
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#6
Felix noted the change in Toal Featherston's demeanor, though any dislike might have been in his imagination. Even so, he was sure that it was for the best that they met on a day when he was not with Kel, as he suspected such a meeting would have left little room for bonhomie.

He chuckled at the comment. "Indeed. It's so often the muse is fickle enough as to require true effort in the creation of art." Whether or not he truly believed inspiration or persistence was the greater, Felix could not nor would not say, but smiled at the man. "Yes, the Colette. I spend every free moment there, it seems." That he was not spending with Toal's brother, at least, and far preferring to talk of the theatre than his own poetry, caught rather off-guard by the request to read it.

"I'm a musician, as well as a poet. A bit better there. I'm sure you'd rather not read this. It's nothing more than doggerel, really."
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#7
Toal brightened at this and watched Felix curiously. "Really? Per'aps I should giv it a go. I would love ta be discov'red and made a act'r! I might start mak'ng m'self more comm'n round there." It seemed like a fantastic idea, no more trips to York for a while. Might make his mother happy. Though that would mean more time around Kel which was just a headache.

"Musician too? What do ya play? Ah'm sure you're right good at it. Maybe I'll 'ear you at th' theatre sometime. But ah still wanna 'ear the poem. E'en if ya think it isn't all great, I'm not so soph'sticated like that I'd be rude ta ya over a work in progress. "

He'd have asked to read it but his ability to read was very shoddy at best. Being from a poor farmer meant his education was pretty non existent. He learned most of his literacy from York after learning most actors need to be able to read scripts. Toal was nothing if not determined. He found a pampered merchant daughter who had been educated and mockingly taught him so she could laugh at his ignorance, like it was all a joke. While he was humiliated and hated her, it did teach him. He knew it would be him laughing one day when he was a famous actor performing on stage all over Europe.
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#8
While he was no stranger to all known variations on flattery, using many of these himself as flirtations, idle or otherwise, Felix was uncertain whether or not Toal meant anything other than friendliness. Even if it was slightly disconcerting to be assured of talent in an area the other man had no real knowledge of. Not even what types of instruments Felix played, or whether or not he truly played any at all. Even so, he couldn't really resist smiling at the compliment, justified or not.

"Please do join us at the theatre," Felix said, knowing that Kel would not thank him for this. And perhaps he did have some slight, subconscious desire to reconcile these brothers. "I play the harp, the organ and other keyboard instruments, though there's another pianist in the theatre for the present so currently I am focusing more on the harp. It's my preference in any case, though they've brought down an exquisite Bechstein grand from the Manor that I am rather enamored of." Realizing Toal probably didn't want an inventory of the theatre's musical instruments, Felix fell silent for a few moments, looking out of the moors.

In some ways, it was a relief that Toal would rather have heard the poem than read it. While Felix was fairly certain that there was nothing specific to Kel by name, there were certainly implications of Felix's own sexual proclivities in some verse. On the other hand, Felix hated reciting aloud, no matter that his audience was only one man. Sighing, he stared at the page in front of him and read the few lines he'd managed: which spoke of words and thoughts like morning fog, clouding one's vision before fading and leaving nothing of itself behind. The poet's mind a blank page, the words impressions that erased themselves the moment they were put down. There was a bit of play on morning and mourning which didn't work, or at least wasn't suitable for this particular piece, and would certainly be lost on his listener.

Once finished, Felix blushed in embarrassment, staring at the page still. "I did say it was rubbish..."
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#9
Toal didn't know the difference between a grand and a gruyere, but he mentioned several instruments and that was impressive to the other man. He smiled and nodded. "Ah, tha's amaz'n. Not many can do more 'n one instrum'nt, eh?"

He wondered if he was really good at them or mediocre, but if he got into the theatre he had to be decent. The joy at being invited to come to the theatre got a big smile on his face as he had already been wanting to do just that. His brother would be relentless in trying to make him do stuff for the farm, but screw that. He had his own dreams.

"Sounds good. Ah s'ppose I'll be 'appy ta do just that!" He flashed his boyish grin as he was very eager to prove himself and show his brother he wasn't just chasing silly dreams.

As he listened to the other tell his poem, he tried to focus on the words though he wasn't really good at fancy literature. It was very interesting imagery though he wasn't sure if it was supposed to be pretty or sad, so he considered it in the middle. He looked at the other and nodded, before his eyes fell on another plant his mother would want. He dug into the soft earth and pulled out the bulb and stuffed it in to the bag, clenching and unclenching his cold fingers. "Ah like it. It's nay complete, but ah I like it. 'Ope ya can finish it. Ah'm sure it'll be good when yer done."
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#10
It soon became fairly clear to Felix, that the man had no real idea of what he was speaking of, and he was sure that long rambling discussions of the benefits of certain instruments and their relations was of interest to only a select group of people. None of which were likely to be in Madsmoor.

So instead of embarrassing himself further on that subject, Felix embarrassed himself in reading his verse. Toal was terribly kind to want to listen to it, but upon reading, it did nothing to change the fact that he would have rather liked digging himself into the ground along with whatever it was Toal had just removed. Watching his deft hands distracted him enough from his own chagrin, that Felix was able to breath, nodding. "As you can no doubt guess from my sorry recitation, the theatre is desperately in need of those who can recite without making a fool of themselves. But thank you for listening. I hope I'll be able to finish it."

He smiled at him, rather shyly as he felt he'd bared part of his soul for this man who, regardless of his brother, was nearly a stranger. "I hope I'm not keeping you from anything important?"
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#11
Toal was happy that this guy was willing to read to him. Even though the man seemed to regret it. He patted his shoulder with his clean hand and gave a shake of his head. "Ah liked it. Ah think .. with a wee bit o' work, ya could be a performer. Ye did'nae make a fool o' yerself. Ah liked list'nin' to it. I .." He faltered for a moment as he tried to come up with the correct words to say without saying too much. "Ah dunno what ye an' my brother get up to. But if'n ya want to ev'r 'ave someone ta tell yer poems or stories ta, ya can do it ta me. I would nae laugh at ya. "

He knew what it was like to be laughed at. People had mocked his acting, but he just felt it meant he had to try harder and figure out where he failed. So he kept going, but he still felt hurt from it. He promised one day they'd all realize how wrong they were. He wouldn't put that on anyone else. He sighed as his fingers started to sting from the cold and looked at the brown tips that were stained from the dark mud.

"Ah just doin' a chore for me mum. But I guess if I dun get back to it, she'll give me a switch like Ah was a child." He grinned huge and gave him a wave as he started down the way to get to more stuff. His voice called out, carried over the winds. "Ah wish ya luck on your writ'n. Sorry ah'm not tha best for this stuff. But ne'er give up! I might not know all that fancy stuff, but if somethin' touches someone, ah believe it's good and important, no matt'r wha'. An' Ah think ya can be real good. So keep up yer dreams!" He turned to him once more with that boyish grin then started to whistle as he disappeared behind a small hill and behind the tall thick grass.

End
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