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Manor melodies

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Roger Taylor was the oldest son of a good family. They had money, they had class and they were in a good position in society. Trouble was, Roger... didn't care too much for the rules of propriety and decorum. With the years, he had become known in the town and the nearby villages for his odd tastes in entertainment, fondness of bar fights and general friskyness with members of both sexes (the horror!). So in the end, the Taylors decided to move to a place where their reputation wasn't tarnished Roger's shenanigans.

His parents kept telling how vital it was that he was gracious, neighborly and well behaved, so that their good name could last for at least some years, maybe so that both he and his sister could find some acceptable spouses. They couldn't afford to move again, and it was important that they got their good name back, and that they could be able to socialise again, without that cloud of shame hovering over them. Roger had been scolded, threatened, blackmailed, bribed, everything that could persuade him to make sure that he would be in his best behaviour. And yet, his parents feared the worst.

That evening they had been invited to dine at Mercury Manor, the house of one of the most notable families in that town, and it was important they made a good impression, so that the word would spread of just how pleasant the Taylors were to have, and they could rebuild their social life and find ways to continue with the lifestyle they were accustomed to. They were to be well-mannered and refined, but not so obliging that they seemed bland, or dull. Both Roger and his sister were expected to be exceedingly charming, in case there were some well-bred single youths in the area who they could be introduced to. It was a nightmare.

Or so Roger thought. When arriving to the Manor, Roger was pleasantly surprised by the oldest son of the family, Frederick, who had a loud voice and was terribly lively, and had an extravagant taste in clothes. He was wearing impossible colour combinations, some garments Roger was quite certain were meant for women, and a ridiculously large hat decorated with feathers of every colour and coming from every bird in the country. The senior Taylors looked at each other with dread-filled eyes. This boy could very well exacerbate their son's antics, and it was going to wreck their lives again. Not what they had been expecting.

Frederick (called Freddie by some, but you needed to earn his respect for him to allow anyone to call him that) was a peculiar heir, refused to tie himself down to anyone and indulged himself in all the types of art there were, ballet and opera, of course, but also lower forms of music like the folks songs the workers sang in bars or places low standing like those, much to his parents' dismay.

They also had a daughter who immediately hit it off with Roger's sister, leaving him alone to socialise with the very flamboyant Frederick.

“I can already tell that they we shall become fast friends, Roger Taylor. There is a flame in your eyes that was severely lacking in this little town of ours.”

There was mischief in Roger's smile, and there was a connection.

The dinner was filled cutting remarks and witticisms from both boys, a real feast of banter and whimsicality. Roger's parents were mortified, of course, but the Mercurys were happy to have found someone that their son enjoyed to spend time with. Freddie considered most of the town dwellers too simple-minded and uninteresting to be worthy of his time, but this blonde boy seemed to live up to his incredibly high standards.

And so it was, that Roger became Freddie's best friend, his most appreciated companion. The blonde young man was not simply beautiful and exciting to be around, he was also surprisingly bright and incredibly passionate and energetic. He never said no to any of Freddie's bold plans, no matter how insane they sounded. They would construct the wildest schemes and there were hardly any consequences, because Freddie was so exceedingly charming and so well connected that nobody had any desires to say any unkind words against him, and so their indiscretions remained blissfully in the shadows.

Roger became familiar with all of Freddie's family and every corner of the Mercury Manor, including the servant's quarters. He'd had several... illicit entanglements with the staff and some of the family's guests, but nobody had been entirely satisfying. Roger enjoyed the breach of the rules, how clandestine and forbidden the whole affair was, but none of his lovers had proved to be memorable enough for him for him to have any wish to repeat. Which was unfortunate, really, because he was really in the mood of outraging the whole town, most especially his family, by announcing that he was now engaged to some servant. Nobody was good enough.

Some weeks later, his father announced that as he had been behaving so well (the older man was really oblivious to everything Roger did when unsupervised), Roger was going to get his own valet, a personal (male) servant that would help him dress and set up his shaving equipment, apart from anything else he required. An errand boy he could always count on. It was a good thing to have. And Roger felt that this was an opportunity to have someone interesting inside the house, without having to go to Freddie's all the time. (His sister was always in other houses too. She drank so much tea it was probably replacing the blood in her veins)

But how to find someone interesting, some he could have a conversation with? As Freddie had been living there for much longer, Roger went to Mercury Manor and asked the older man to give him some advice.

“Darling Roger, this cold not be more ideal and well-timed. There's this lovely gentleman who used to work at Jonathan's house, and they have had to let him go, because they are experiencing some monetary difficulties, as you may have heard. I shall have him called!”

And so Freddie and Roger waited, chatted, played some piano, sang invented songs with lyrics that would make the most dissolute individuals blush. And then he was introduced, a tall young man with dark hair and intense eyes, who looked at both heirs with a bit of dread.

“You called for me, Mr. Mercury?”

“Brian, darling, how many times must I insist on you calling me Freddie?”

“Always one more, Sir.”

Freddie smiled.

“Tell me, Roger, how delightful is Brian?”

Roger thought that Brian looked quite delightful, so tall and with such a handsome face, and had a very pleasant voice. Always a good trait for someone one spent a lot time with.

“...Sir?”

“This is my good friend Roger Taylor. He is need of a new valet.”

Brian looked at Freddie's friend, an exceptionally good looking young man whose clothes were not even properly tied, messy fair hair, big expressive eyes. Brian could see, in those blue pools that were his eyes, a love for revelry and new opportunities, for risks and a breaking of established rules. An interesting man, even without knowing all that much about him. 

“If I had known, I would have brought my references... Sir.” Brian said with a look of slight annoyance in his angular face. Why couldn't he have mentioned that it was about a possible new job? He would have dressed more appropriately, brought the references kindly given by previous employers, rehearsed his “I am the most ideal candidate for the position” tirade. But no, he'd been disturbed with a message that simply read “Frederick Mercury requires your immediate presence” and had not any time to prepare.

“Roger has no interest in those references. Kindly play us something, will you, darling? One of your melancholy melodies.”

“He plays piano?”

“Brian taught himself on a music room his first had, while they slept, and I must say, he is quite adept. Made mine and John's evenings very pleasant.”

“Mr. Mercury, I truly shouldn't touch any instrument not belonging to me. The Deacons were kind enough to allow me, but...”

“I am rather curious.” Roger interrupted. “Please, Mr....”


“May.” Brian said, with a confused expression. Was this new person truly as uninterested in usual rules and hierarchy as Mr Mercury?

“Mr May. Please, play. I trust Freddie's opinion.”

A bit reluctant, the taller man eventually conceded and played one of the tunes he had composed. It was indeed quite mournful and despairing, but no less beautiful. In the end, they could do nothing but applaud, which made Brian very uneasy. Masters were not supposed to be applauding servants. It went against the natural order of society.

“You... flatter me with your unheeded and unnecessary applause. I humbly request your forgiveness for my trespassing on areas that us servants know so little about.”

“Do not dare apologise, your song was exquisite!” Roger said, while Freddie whispered something to one of his own attendants. “More than what I have heard from people who call themselves masters of the piano.”

There was blush on Brian's face upon hearing those words and Roger thought it quite endearing.

“Mr Taylor, sir, you are excessively kind, but...”

And then the chamber opened and there was a grin on Freddie's face. Somehow he knew that this would make Roger be completely convinced that Brian should be his new servant, which would be great, because then they could add this excessively polite but talented man to their antics.. Maybe dress him with their clothes and pretend he was a wealthy businessman from another part of the country, maybe form some sort of quartet with Jonathan... Ah, the possibilities were endless.

“You can play harp, too?”

Mr. May could play harp. Could compose songs on harp and Roger thought it was the most unlikely ability in a servant and decided that this was the person for him.

“We shall make so much music together, Brian May.” There was a frightening smile of determination in Roger's face. But Brian was not a man who scared easily.

“As you require... Sir.”

The excitement of meeting someone of the same level of intelligence and talent, with a disregard for rules and classes was something they shared.

The possibilities were endless.