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Leo does nor worry about them right after they disappear, he wonders, calculates the chances of sudden death and comes up with a satisfyingly feasible explanation for their absence.

 

(The reason is something ridiculous and magical, he is convinced.)

 

Besides, as much as he would like to pace the room nervously or sigh as much as Steffit does, Leo is still unsure, and working helps take the edge off, at least a bit. He feels the eyes of others on his back, his hands, his every move, and he knows they are just curious or trying to be polite, but he cannot help hating being the centre of the attention, as benign as he is led to believe it is. It would be easy if he were somebody else, but Leo is not used to people, only exceptions, those as lost in this life as he is.

 

(He knows actors and artists and tailors and musicians. Oswald and Albany were the only exceptions not so long ago.)

 

So he works, without taking breaks, and tries to pour out his heart through his hands. He chooses silver, bends it carefully into shape and improves on it, slowly, until he is satisfied. Leo wants the piece to be delicate, but his jewelry is rarely so when he has no crystals or sugar to capture the light.

 

(He remembers the only time he felt loved unconditionally, heavy hands on his eyelids as the magic seeped into his body as heat. He gives a bit of that back, and the ear cuff in his hands grows warm.)

 

Leo's fingers shake, badly, when he tries to secure it on Nil's ear, his heart skipping a beat when he fails at not touching the skin. He tries not to stutter as much as he usually does, because it feels important, even if only in Leo's head. As his face heats up, he plans an escape, but does not run.

 

(Not this time.)

 

When Nil proposes to talk later, Leo smiles. He does not worry about it, not yet. He wonders. Maybe this time the fate will be kind after all.