Castle Roland

The Rock and the Gift of God

Posted: 25 Apr 16

The Rock and the Gift of God

Copyright © 2015 by Jeikor

Fourteen year old Laurent stopped outside his father's study and took a deep breath before knocking on the door. He had been summoned to meet with his parents and wasn't sure what to expect. Was he to be reprimanded for yet again refusing to choose a suitable girl to eventually become his wife? Or instead would he be grilled about why he found this latest courtier unsuitable? Laurent wanted to tell them exactly what the problem was but he couldn't find the courage to let them know it wasn't a girl that interested him.

Just as all this ran through his head Laurent heard his father, the Count Jean-Marc De Corme, call him into the room. He opened the ornate cherry wood door and carefully closed it behind him.

"Bon matin, mon Pere, ma Mere! How may I assist you this morning?" Laurent remained at attention waiting for instructions or a reprimand or whatever was coming.

"Relax, son! You are not in trouble this morning." Jean-Marc said chuckling at his son's formality. "Have a seat by your mother."

When Laurent was settled on the settee next to his mother after giving her a kiss and less formal greeting his father continued.

"We have decided you are old enough to need a valet or manservant. Although I think boy servant would be a more fitting description since we think he should be your age or perhaps a little younger to grow up with you. The ideal candidate would become a lifelong servant, companion, maybe even a confidante. We want you to consider the traits you would like in a servant and be on the watch for a suitable candidate. Your mother and I will make the final decision but we value your input since he will be your servant."

Laurent was astounded and at a loss for words; this was the last thing he was expecting when he was summoned. Finally finding his voice Laurent stated, "I will give this much thought and be assured I will watch diligently for a suitable servant. Merci, Pere! Merci, Mere!"

He rose from his seat and hugged his mother and then his father before leaving the room. After closing the door Laurent allowed a huge smile to adorn his pixie-like face. Maybe, he thought, I can get a cute boy. One that likes what I like. He smiled all the way to the library to start his studies for the day.

Pierre trudged along side his mom and dad while his dad carried his nine year old sister on his back. She was too tired to walk anymore and they still had a ways to go before stopping for the night. There was no work for Pierre's dad, Alain, in their village so they were on their way to Paris. Hopefully he would have better luck in the city.

He was tired too but at thirteen and big for his age (like his dad) Pierre determined he would make it without any help. He even managed to carry his sister for a little ways yesterday. Pierre ran his hands through his strawberry blonde hair then wiped the sweat off his hands on his nearly worn-out trousers. The hot summer sun made the traveling by foot even worse.

Pierre turned to look at his parents; he worried about his mom who was thin like his sister, Elaina. It was from Cerise's cherry red hair that he inherited his color. That and the piercing blue eyes were the only features he shared with his mom in all other ways he took after his tall, muscular dad. Elaina was just the opposite she had Alain's dark brown hair and brown eyes with their mom's thin, wispy build.

Taking a deep breath then letting it out slowly Pierre resolved once again to carry his own weight. That resolve included when they arrived in Paris as well. The well-formed young teen planned on finding his own job to help his family survive.

The exhausted family made it to Paris about an hour before dark and having almost no money settled for an open shed to spend the night. Pierre lay down with his back against his dad's and held his sister to him just like Alain held Cerise and fell into a fitful sleep.

The next day, June 30, was shopping day for Laurent's mother usually he would find something else to do. Today though Laurent had finished his studies early and with thoughts of finding a suitable servant elected to accompany Jardenia and his older sister, Rosabel on the trip to the market.

As he followed them around Laurent watched the other people at the market both shoppers and sellers. It was a disappointing looking bunch; Laurent was beginning to think it had been a bad idea to look here when he spotted a strawberry blonde boy about his age with a dark haired younger girl. They were looking at the different fruits available. The girl would hold up a piece of fruit showing the boy who would sigh sadly and shake his head no.

When the teen turned his face toward Laurent it caused him to gasp and his lower belly lurched with want. Laurent hoped he could talk with the handsome boy and that he would be found suitable. Without realizing it Laurent had worked his way to the fruit section of the market and stood a couple of feet from the siblings.

Jardenia had heard his gasp and saw where his eyes went. She quickly sent Rosabel home with the purchases already made and followed Laurent through the marketplace. Jardenia knew the secret Laurent thought he kept completely hidden; it was the reason she had talked Jean-Marc into getting him a servant. She also hoped they could find someone like Laurent to be his servant who would keep his secret.

Pierre and Elaina had gone with Cerise to the market while Alain looked for work. Their mom looked for food for the one meal they would have for that day; they had to make their money stretch until Alain found work and got paid. The two had wandered over to the fruit hoping to find something to hold them until they got a real meal. Pierre had a couple of coins he had saved but they were having no luck. Thanks to the food shortage everything cost more than he had.

After telling Elaina again that the fruit she held up was too expensive Pierre turned and noticed an auburn haired boy watching them. The boy who seemed around Pierre's age gasped then started towards them as Pierre looked on. After a minute he turned his attention back to his sister and the fruit while thinking that the boy had looked kind of pretty. That was new! Pierre had never thought of another boy as pretty before!

Pierre turned when he felt movement beside him; it was the auburn haired teen. Pierre watched as he picked out three of the best looking apples and paid for them. The boy then turned to Pierre and held out two of the delicious looking apples while taking a bite from the third.

Pierre shook his head, "We can't accept these! I will earn my own somehow." He pushed Laurent's outstretched hand back.

Laurent swallowed the bite he had taken and held out the apples again saying, "These are payment for your time. I have a proposition for you. A chance for employment."

This time Pierre accepted them with thanks. "Merci, monsieur! I am Pierre and this is my sister, Elaina. I was hoping to find work to help my family. What is the job?" He handed one of the apples to Elaina as he waited for an answer.

"The position is for a valet or manservant for me. You would have to interview with my parents of course before a final decision were made. But I want to see if you are what I am looking for before getting them involved. Would you be interested?" Laurent took another bite of his apple as he waited on a reply from Pierre.

Nodding to Elaina who hadn't started on her apple yet Pierre took a large bite of his as he thought about the offer. He wasn't sure what would be expected but after seeing the teen up close he wanted to be near someone so pretty. That still shocked him to think about a boy that way but he couldn't help himself. The eyes, a deeper blue than his own, and the shoulder length auburn hair were mesmerizing.

After swallowing the mouthful of apple Pierre answered, "I'm interested but you should know I don't know anything about being a valet. I will learn all I can if you decide I am the person you're looking for and will do the best I can though."

Laurent smiled at Pierre warmly. "It is fairly easy really. You would basically be my assistant. Help me get dressed, draw my bath, retrieve anything I had forgotten or needed. Also hopefully be my friend and to a small extent my bodyguard."

"I think I can do that but I will need my parents okay before I can accept." Pierre returned the smile then bit into his apple.

"I understand and would love to meet them. Also you can let them know that a general education comes with the job."

Pierre nearly choked on his apple when he heard this, "Really! I've dreamed of getting an education but had no hope that it would actually happen. I really hope your parents pick me for the job."

Jardenia had observed enough to step in and join the conversation that had basically become an interview. "Bonjour, young man! I am Laurent's mother and have listened as the two of you talked. I would like to speak with your parents as soon as I can. As long as my husband, Count De Corme, agrees I think we will offer you the job."

"Bonjour, madame," Pierre said while bowing then taking her offered hand and kissing it. "My mother is here shopping for food. I can find her for you."

Jardenia was even more impressed with Pierre's manners and was sure he would be the right choice in every way. "No need. I will walk with you to find her. Come on, Laurent."

Laurent had to shake himself into motion as he had nearly stopped breathing upon hearing his mother approve and practically offer the position to the strawberry blonde adonis. He hurriedly caught up with his mom and the siblings as they searched the marketplace.

It only took a few minutes to find and reach Cerise as she looked over vegetables to use in a stew for their meal. Introductions were made and soon the two mothers were conversing like they had known each other for years. When the women started trading stories about the boys they both blushed deeply and glanced at the other. Each was relieved to see that the other had no plans to taunt and tease about what was revealed. Finally plans were made for the two families to meet at lunchtime at the De Corme's house.

As Jardenia gave Cerise directions to their home the teens shook hands and blushed again when they both felt a tingle at the contact.

Alain, Cerise, Pierre and Elaina arrived at the De Corme house precisely on time which the Count commented on when introduced. Another point in Pierre's favor thought both Jardenia and Laurent; they hoped he proved as presentable and likable as he did yesterday. As they waited in the parlor Jean-Marc spent most of the time interviewing Pierre although it was closer to grilling. Pierre answer every question honestly, politely and concisely. Jean-Marc was quite impressed though he tried to hide it but Jardenia knew her husband well. She gave a much better hidden wink and nod to the boys just as the butler announced lunch was served.

During the meal Jean-Marc conversed almost entirely with Alain occasionally throwing an insignificant question to Cerise. The outcome was that Cerise and Jardenia got to continue their growing friendship and the details of Pierre's new job were hashed out by the men.

As they arose to leave the table it was announced that Pierre would start first thing tomorrow morning. Laurent showed Pierre the servant's entrance he should use from now on and introduced him to his father's valet, Remy, who would get him outfitted with new clothes and teach him his duties the first day. After that he would be Laurent's constant companion during the day except when sent on an errand.

When Remy had left and the boys were alone Laurent finally did what he had wanted to do since spotting Pierre yesterday. He pulled Pierre into a hug as he said goodbye. The hug lasted a little longer than necessary because neither teen wanted to let go. Laurent was fully hard and beginning to breathe heavier than normal. Pierre stepped back with a slight confused look on his face; he had chubbed up but couldn't figure out why he was affected this way.

On the way home Alain noticed the confused and distracted look on his son's face. While Cerise and Elaina worked on their small room and began preparations for the evening meal Alain took Pierre out for a walk.

"Something bothering you, son?" He asked. "I thought you would be more excited than this."

"I am excited, dad. I can't wait to get started but there is something that has me confused. I'm not sure I can tell you. It also has me a little scared."

"Is it about Laurent? About how he makes you feel?" ventured Pierre's dad hoping he would open up. Alain knew all about those feelings he had had a special friend too until he had to get married.

Pierre looked at his dad in terror with tears forming in his eyes then hung his head and nodded. He couldn't lie to his dad but he was afraid to look at Alain's face after his admission.

Alain reached out and gently lifted Pierre's tear stained face, "It's okay, son. I know how you feel; I had a close friend when I was your age. We were together until we had to get married. If Laurent feels the same about you just go with it and I think he does feel the same based on how he watched you at lunch."

Alain then wrapped his arms around Pierre and hugged him close. "I love you, son."

Pierre wrapped his arms around his dad's waist and whispered, "I love you, too, dad. And thanks!"

Pierre was just as punctual the next morning arriving at precisely 7 am. Remy met him at the door and took him to the sewing room where he was measured for his new clothes. They would be ready in time for him to change for lunch. The intervening hours were spent with Remy listening and watching as he performed his duties.

After getting changed into his new outfit Pierre was sent to the kitchen to retrieve Laurent's and his lunch and take it to Laurent's quarters. He manage to find it with very little trouble and soon had the small table arranged and set for lunch. Then just as he had been taught Pierre found Laurent, informed him lunch was ready and served him before being told to sit and eat by Laurent.

When they were done Pierre cleared the table and returned the dishes to the kitchen. Arriving back in Laurent's quarters he was told to sit then Laurent went over what he expected from Pierre. He was relieved to know that Laurent did not consider it necessary to be as formal as Remy was with the Count whenever they were alone. Laurent needed someone to talk with and a friend more than a formal servant.

The boys spent the rest of the day getting to know one another and happily discovered that they had several things in common. Laurent enjoyed his studies and Pierre was looking forward to starting his. Both liked horseback riding although neither had gotten to do it very often. They both also had a tendency to get distracted when looking into the other's eyes.

When it was time for Pierre to return home he was the one to initiate the hug. This one lasted even longer than the first. Finally, Pierre pushed Laurent back a bit without letting go and stared into his eyes before saying goodbye.

The next few days flew by with the boys settling into a comfortable companionship and routine. Friday evening Laurent told Pierre he could have the weekend off but Pierre asked if he could come Saturday anyway.

"You don't have to pay me more but I would really like to come."

"How about I meet you at the market?" Laurent countered, He wanted to show Pierre around Paris.

"No!" was Pierre's reply. "That is too dangerous for you. I will come here to get you then we can go wherever you want."

Laurent agreed and their plans were set.

Jardenia came to Laurent's quarters after seeing Pierre leave and asked how it was going. Laurent told her all about the things they had discovered about each other until he realized he was gushing and turn beet red.

Jardenia laughed gently, "Laurent, I already know how you feel about Pierre. I am your mother after all. I am glad to know that he seems to like you as well. Just be careful. When will you see him again? Did you give him the whole weekend off?"

Laurent let out the breath he had been holding. "We are going to explore the city tomorrow. I wanted to meet him in the market but he insisted on coming here to get me."

"Good! That means he understands his job and duties better than you. That is exactly what a valet should do. This just confirms that he was certainly the correct choice." With that Jardenia left Laurent to his thoughts which were mostly about Pierre.

The two thoroughly enjoyed their day together running around Paris. Laurent had shown Pierre many of his favorite places and even took him past the Bastille where Laurent's cousin the Marquis Bernard-Rene de Launay was in charge. When the tour was finally done Pierre escorted Laurent all the way to his quarters and pulled him into a goodbye hug as usual. Overcome with emotion Laurent pulled Pierre back after the hug was finished and gave a quick peck on the lips.

He started apologizing with tears running down his cheeks when he saw the shocked look on Pierre's face. The strawberry-blonde teen shook himself then seeing the fear and tears on Laurent's pixie cute face reached for him and gave him a longer passionate kiss. Then he ran out to hide the bulge in his pants.

Monday, July 6th, started the routine all over again. The boys grew closer than ever especially during their studies. In fact, Laurent kept getting physically closer particularly during reading which Pierre struggled with and during math which Laurent struggled with. They each helped the other out whenever one struggled and the other was good in that subject.

On Friday Jardenia had a favor to ask of the young teens. She had not been able to get all she needed on her regular market trip because of the shortages. She needed them to go for her when they finished their studies. The youths readily agreed and were done in record time even for them.

Luckily they were able to find and buy the supplies Jardenia had asked for and were on their way back when a carriage came barreling down the lane. A small peasant girl had wandered away from her mom and was right in the path of the out of control buggy. Pierre had insisted on carrying all the food and had no place to put it to grab the toddler. He was surprised and horrified when Laurent brushed past him into the street. He had grabbed the girl and turned but didn't make it completely out of the way. His right foot was clipped by the wheel and he went down twisting to land on bottom keeping the girl unharmed.

Pierre was by his side instantly setting down the packages and taking the frightened girl from his arms. The mother was told where her baby had gotten to and was surprised to discover that it was a noble who had risked himself to save her daughter.

Several gave offers of help to Laurent but Pierre shooed them away. He checked Laurent's foot, ankle and leg and sighed with relief to find nothing was broken but Laurent would be very sore and have to stay off his feet for a few days. Gathering the supplies and taking them all on one arm Pierre helped his auburn haired friend and employer to his feet. Then he had Laurent drape his right arm over his shoulders and lean on him the rest of the way home. Thankfully they had been almost there when the accident happened.

One of the servants had heard rumors of a noble lad injured saving a young peasant girl and was overheard by Jardenia as she was repeating it in the laundry room.

When Pierre knocked on the door Jardenia was there to open it and confirm her fears. She started to take Laurent from Pierre but he refused. He asked if she could have someone get the packages while he took care of Laurent. She started to reply angrily that she was his mother until she saw the tears running down Pierre's face and realized just how much the young servant cared for her son.

Taking the packages and handing them to the butler she then motioned for Pierre to take Laurent to his quarters. She watched thanking God for sending this boy to them as he gently and with great effort lifted Laurent into his arms and made his way through the house.

Jardenia peeked in on them later to find Laurent comfortably tucked into his bed with the foot propped on soft, downy pillows reading. She came on into the room to find Pierre tidying the place with one eye constantly on her son.

When Pierre noticed her he approached and bowed saying, " Sorry for not protecting your son as I should have."

He got no farther before a loud snort came from Laurent's bed. "Mom, will you please tell him to stop that. He didn't fail. I chose to take the risk to save that girl. He was there instantly, checking on me and getting me home."

"Laurent is correct, young man. And I say young man because you behaved as a man today. You took charge of the situation protecting my son from any other harm. You did exactly as a valet should; not even Remy could have done better. I am glad my son has you to be with him." Then Jardenia did something totally unexpected; she pulled Pierre into a warm hug and whispered, "Thank you! Thank you for all you do for my son."

Later when Laurent had fallen asleep Pierre took the book and set it on the bedside table and set out to find Jardenia. He stopped at the door of a room filled with pots of flowers where Jardenia was busy repotting a plant. She looked up from her work and motioned him into the room.

"Madame, I would like permission to stay with Laurent tonight and to run home to tell my parents where I'll be. He is napping so this is best time for me to go. Please!?"

"Yes, that would be perfect. The doctor will be here later to look at his injury and you will probably be needed. Not to mention Laurent would appreciate it I'm sure."

Pierre ran all the way home, quickly told his mom what had happened and got permission to stay as long as needed. Pierre nearly ran into his dad as he was leaving. Alain scooped him up and threw Pierre over his shoulder as he stepped into the house.

"Where are you headed in such a hurry?"

Pierre again explained what had happened that day and how he felt responsible. Alain was quick to tell him that he couldn't do anything about Laurent's actions but he had handled it correctly afterwards. He did tell Pierre that he was responsible for taking care of Laurent's recovery and agreed with his wife that Pierre could stay as long as needed. With a quick hug he sent Pierre on his way with this warning.

"Be careful on the street. There is unrest among many of the less fortunate and they are blaming the nobles. Keep Laurent safe."

"I will, dad. Thanks!" And Pierre took off quickly but was watchful as well.

He arrived back at Laurent's house in time to hear the doctor's instructions and promised he would see that they were followed to the letter. Pierre again made Laurent comfortable on his bed then fetched their supper from the kitchen. He placed Laurent's on a tray over his lap then cleared the small table by the bed to place his supper so they could talk while they ate.

Laurent fell asleep soon after eating. After cleaning away their supper and returning the dishes to the kitchen Pierre settled into the stuffed chair across the room where he could keep an eye on Laurent. It wasn't long until he too had entered slumber land.

Laurent woke with a start in the middle of the night then settled down as he remembered the day's events. He was adjusting his foot to get more comfortable when he noticed Pierre sound asleep in the big cushiony chair with his head lolling to one side. Laurent called quietly to Pierre until he finally woke.

Pierre jumped to his feet wincing from the crick in his neck. "What it is? Do you need help? What can I do?" Pierre fired the questions faster than anyone could have answered.

Laurent giggled at his frantic friend. "What you can do is come get in bed before you break your neck in that old chair."

Sighing with relief that Laurent wasn't in pain Pierre shook his head. "No, that wouldn't be right. I'll be fine."

Frowning at his obstinate friend Laurent hissed, "If you refuse again I'm going to do something I don't like but I will do it if necessary. Now come climb in bed so you can rest."

Again Pierre refused saying, "It isn't proper!"

"Alright, remember you forced me to do this," said Laurent. "Now I'm making it an order. As my servant you have to obey. Get your stubborn butt in this bed!"

That elicited a giggle from Pierre but he complied to the now order of his master and friend. He laid on his back stiffly until Laurent reached over and laced his fingers through Pierre's. Laurent held onto Pierre's hand until he felt him relax and finally fall asleep. Then Laurent caressed his arm lightly murmuring, "My Pierre. My Rock," until he too drifted off asleep.

When he awoke in the morning Laurent realize he was alone in the bed. He didn't have to wonder where Pierre had went because he heard footsteps approaching and smelled breakfast in the air. Sure enough Pierre soon walked through the door laden with dishes. Once again he set Laurent's on his lap and put his own on the small table.

After breakfast was cleared away and Pierre returned from the kitchen he helped Laurent into a chair with his foot propped on another one. Then he went to the library and got their books and supplies for studying even though it was Saturday. He told Laurent it would keep his mind off the fact that he was not allowed to put weight on the foot.

That night it took less to convince Pierre to climb into bed with Laurent. As he settled on his back near the edge Laurent pulled on his arm to get him closer. Instead of scooting over Pierre rolled onto his side and draped on arm over Laurent's chest. The injured teen could hardly breathe from the excitement but as Pierre's breathing announced his trip to slumber land Laurent relaxed and was soon asleep himself.

On Sunday, July 12th, Laurent again awoke to the smell of breakfast being brought into the room by Pierre. He was excited because today he got to try walking with help on his injured foot. After breakfast Pierre walked him once around the room before sitting him in his chair all propped and comfy then got their books out to study.

They studied for a couple of hours then Pierre walked him around the room again. Laurent did better this trip so Pierre promised him a walk to the garden room after lunch.

Just as they were getting set to have lunch Rosabel rushed into the room out of breath and a bit frazzled.

"Guess what!" She almost shouted then continued without waiting for an answer. "The king just dismissed Jacques Necker. You know the Minister of Finance. The whole city is in an uproar. Father said to stay in the house." Rosabel left as hurriedly as she came leaving the boys to ponder her news.

Pierre knew who Jacques Necker was because his dad had spoken favorably of him several times. Alain said that Monsieur Necker was sure to get the country back on track. Now who knew what would happen.

The boys discussed the news briefly as they ate but soon moved on to other topics like Laurent's recovery. When he returned from the kitchen Pierre helped Laurent to stand and supported him as he began the slow trek down the hallways to the garden room. Pierre asked Laurent if he needed to stop for a rest after they had circled the room but he declined. The trip back to Laurent's quarters took less time and he seemed able to put more weight on his right foot.

The rest of the day they played card games and Laurent taught Pierre to play chess. When bedtime rolled around Laurent didn't have to say anything. After Pierre had Laurent comfortable he walked to the other side, climbed in and snuggled up to Laurent. As soon as he thought Pierre had drifted off asleep Laurent bent over and kissed his cheek. Pierre smiled and then really fell into a deep restful sleep. Laurent followed soon after.

Monday morning Laurent woke and started to stretch then realized he couldn't move. Pierre was still snuggled into his side! Then the smell of breakfast hit his nose; Pierre wasn't still in bed he had arisen, fetched breakfast then climbed back in with the sleeping Laurent.

The movement in the bed caused Pierre to awaken. He leaned up and kissed Laurent on the cheek, then on the nose and then on his lips. The noble boy could not think of a better way to wake up.

The rest of the day went according to their established routine with the addition of being interrupted several times with updates of the growing unrest among many of the peasants. The most disturbing rumor was of an attack by the King's army. The two teens mostly stayed holed up in Laurent's quarters enjoying each other's company except for several walks around the house to strengthen Laurent's foot.

Laurent was doing so well that it was decided that Pierre could return home that evening and have Tuesday off to be with his family. He spent the morning talking with his dad and mom until his dad had to go to work then he played with his sister for a while.

Finally he couldn't take it anymore and he headed to the market hoping to catch Jardenia to ask how Laurent was doing. What he found was disturbing! The market was almost empty of people; shoppers and sellers.

"Why is the market so empty? Where is everyone?" he asked the nearest person, an older lady rearranging her fruit.

"You haven't heard? The Bastille was stormed by peasants and other disgruntled workers. The Marquis was pulled from the building and murdered. Groups are roaming the city grabbing and killing whatever nobles they find."

Pierre sprinted as fast as he could towards Laurent's house. The front door was hanging open so he went around to the servant's entrance and carefully opened the door. He peeked in and finding the hallway clear entered and walked as quietly and quickly as he could to Laurent's quarters fearing what he would find.

The frantic teen didn't know whether to be relieved or more worried when he didn't see Laurent anywhere in his quarters even his closet. He stopped back in the bedroom and tried to think what he could do to find Laurent. Standing quietly in thought Pierre heard a tiny sniffle and sob in the direction of the bed. He turned that way and listened closely and again there was the faintest of sobs.

Walking toward the bed Pierre heard an almost silent gasp then all was deathly quiet. He bent over, reached under the bed and grasped an ankle. He pulled on the ankle as the person under the bed struggled to get free. Pierre being bigger and stronger finally won the tug-of-war and slid a hysterical Laurent from under the bed.

The badly frightened boy did not calm down until his fear fogged brain finally realized the strong arms wrapped around him and the voice whispering in his ear belong to his Rock, Pierre. Then he turned around, threw his arms around Pierre's neck and collapsed bawling against Pierre's chest.

Pierre eventually got Laurent to calm down by reminding him that they were still in danger and needed to leave. The boys held on to each other as they left the house by the servant's door and tried to slip quietly down the street to Pierre's house.

When they turned the corner they faced a hoard of angry people milling around. Pierre tried his best to hide and hurry Laurent through the mob before anyone realized he was a noble. It didn't work in more ways than one. First, Laurent's foot was still too injured and sore for him to move quickly. Second, just as they were in the middle of a large group someone noticed Laurent's clothing and hair style which marked him as a noble.

Pierre pushed and shoved their way through the crowd being as rough as necessary to open the way for Laurent. Just as they escaped the mob and started turn the next corner two pairs of hands grabbed a hold of them and pulled them into a small house. None too gently they were turned to face a young peasant woman.

"What do ya want us to do with 'em now, sis?" the one holding Pierre asked.

"First off let go of 'em and be easy. This'n be injured." The woman said as she smacked the arm of the brother holding Laurent. "You might be interested to know he got that injury saving your niece from a runaway carriage."

"Sorry," they each mumbled. "Thanks!"

Just then the little girl wandered into the room and spotted the boys. She toddled over to Pierre and lifted her hands to be picked up. He did and received a big hug. The girl then turned and reached for Laurent. Pierre lifted her over for him; Laurent took her and got the same huge hug plus a kiss on the cheek. She wiggled to get down and took off back through the house. The tension in the room practically disappeared.

"Show them to the cellar. You can hide there 'til dark. There's food and clothes for you to change into." She pointed at Laurent on the last phrase.

As they headed for the cellar Pierre asked, "Do you have a pair of scissors we can borrow? Oh, and thanks for your help."

With scissors in hand Pierre helped Laurent down the steps into the cellar. There was one small candle for light, food and a change of clothes on top of a crate. Using smaller crates for chairs the exhausted teens enjoyed their small meal then when Laurent was undressed Pierre reluctantly cut his shoulder length auburn hair.

"I hate to cut your hair; I like it this way. But it marks you as noble so it has to go." Pierre made quick work of it and told Laurent he could get dressed.

"We should come up with a new name for me, too. Just in case."

"You're right. Let's think about it while we fix a place to rest until nightfall."

They made a cozy, little corner out of the softest stuff they could find. When the two were satisfied with it they laid down together with Laurent leaned against Pierre. He wrapped one arm around Laurent and held his hand with the other.

"Have you thought of a name yet?" asked Laurent with a yawn.

"No, still working on it." A yawn escaped Pierre's lips, too.

Soon the two worn out teens were fast asleep. They awoke with a start when they heard the cellar door open above them. Pierre squeezed Laurent's shoulder and gave a quick peck on the cheek to calm him.

One of the brothers told them it was dark out so get ready to go. The boys stood and stretched trying to wake up fully. Laurent snaked his arms around Pierre's waist and pulled him into a hug.

"Thanks for coming to find me, Pierre. My Rock."

"You're very welcome, my beautiful gift from God." Pierre returned as he cocooned Laurent's shoulders in his embrace. "That's it! I've got it! You are my gift from God so you're new name will be Matheo, Gift of God."

The two lovers had managed to escape the city that night and eventually found an abandoned farmhouse to hide in. Neither ever found their families again but they had each other and it was enough.

Since no one ever returned to claim the farmland they farmed the land together for the rest of their days.