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love has never been something liberty has known.

 

leviticus has held his soul on a scale since his teenage years, since the first time infatuation spread its cracked wings, since it held his heart in its claws and pushed him towards giles, three pews away from him. and liberty had followed the directions, of course, he’s never been one to question instruction from someone infinitely wiser. his heart had been light as he thought about him, sitting in his father’s chair by the fire and imagining giles’ careful, clever hand in one of his own, his soft lips against liberty’s cheek.

affection had been short-lived, then. seven days later his father had wrought his judgement, announcing mortal sin in all its numerous ways, announcing the actions and thoughts and feelings that would tar someone’s soul and drag them down to hellfire and marr their skin with soot forevermore.

sodom and gomorrah left himself horrified as he grew, his father’s cold hand in his as he passed on leaving his mouth dry and coated in salt. white powder coating his lip as father creedence’s coffin was covered up by damp earth as the letter in his inner pocket burns against his chest, the boston postmark already smudged from where liberty had rubbed it with his thumb over and over.

boston is his heaven.

his safe haven, inhabited by his angel, his saviour, a scholar and an intellectual with a laugh that comes easily and never at liberty’s expense. naivete is never taken advantage of, but countered with explanation and the soft edges of a smile even after dark, illuminated by candlelight and the moon through the windows - heavy curtains forgotten about, pushed aside to allow light in as they converse from sunset to sunrise.

and liberty’s heart, oh, his heart sings at every accidental brush of their fingers, skin against skin leaving liberty with a breath half-caught in his throat and threatening to escape if giles were to do anything beside pull his fingers away.

his dreams are plagued by starched collars and a rough jaw, short hair and glasses that slide down someone’s nose - because although dishonesty may be a sin, it’s easier to pretend that the man in his thoughts is anonymous instead of his oldest friend and his leather-bound books.

one day it slips. one day, he reconciles dream with reality and lets his hand linger atop giles’ own. he hears the intake of breath, he meets giles’ eyes and closes his eyes as he leans up to press their lips together.

and liberty might not call it love, yet, lest someone overhear and cast judgement on his soul without knowing the nuances and decades-long ache, but giles wouldn’t either. they have each other. the scales balance and liberty thinks god has revoked judgement on their hearts, because the two of them are happy in their soft touches and secret moments.

but, still. still.

seventeen-twenty-four, and liberty leans his head against giles’ shoulder on a summer afternoon, eyes shut as the sun shines into them. he feels light, he feels warm from the depths of his soul.

i’ve always loved you, he says, speaking it to the empty garden as giles’ hand stills halfway through turning a page. i know, he says. i have too.