Thomas smiles. Richard is going to join him to view his cottage today.

As soon as breakfast is over, Thomas jumps up like small child, to the amusement of many of the staff, including Richard. The two of them head down to the cottage, holding their breath since they don't know what the cottage will be like.

When they find the right one, Thomas removes a cat-shaped key from his pocket and inserts it into the door. Then, he pushes the door gently open and peeps inside.

The cottage is quite nice, with a living room and a bathroom and two bedrooms as well.

This will be lovely. Thomas thinks to himself.

Richard walks down the stairs and collapses dramatically onto the couch. He exhales dramatically, as if exhausted.

Thomas laughs."Richard, you'd be perfect on the stage. You are so dramatic."

Richard places his hand on his chest, acting affronted. "Me? On the stage? I am offended." He jokes.

"Drama." Thomas playfully rolls his eyes and grabs Richard's hand, pulling him off the couch.

"Dance with me." Thomas instructs.

"And which dance are we doing, Mr. Barrow? The waltz?" Richard asks.

"Nope. My personal favorite. The Black Bottom." Thomas tells Richard.

"Very well, Mr. Barrow." Richard laughs at Thomas's choice of dance, but acquiesces.

When they finish dancing, they both collapse on the couch.

"That was wonderful. I know it was a mistake, but although dancing with Chris was amazing, I would have much preferred it to be you." Thomas acknowledges.

"Then who would have gotten you out of prison? Only one of us worked for the King." Richard teases.

Thomas pouts.

"Oh Thomas. You know I would have loved to dance with you, but not there where we could be caught, and I was visiting my parents."

"I know. I love you." Thomas stops pouting.

Richard steals a kiss from Thomas. Thomas slips his hand into his pocket, fingers landing on the present Richard gave him the first time he visited and his pocket watch.

He pulls out his pocket watch with one hand, wrapping the other around Richard's waist.

"Gracious, Richard. You always seem to make me late to everything. We need to get to the orphanage." Thomas says in surprise.

"Right you are, Mr Barrow." Richard agrees in amusement, collecting his hat and coat as well as Thomas's before heading out the door.

X

"Are you married, Mr Barrow?" The lady asks.

"No." Thomas answers, his mind going back to the time he was asked the exact same question by a very unkind butler when he was interviewing for a position as an "assistant butler."

"Well, that is everything, Mr Barrow. Mina is yours." The lady behind the table says.

A girl, apparently Mina, comes out from a smaller room along the hallway, running up to Thomas and grasping him around his legs. She cannot be more than four years old.

Richard looks at the young girl fondly. She is pretty and quite sweet, based on the way she is holding Mr Barrow's legs.

"You stated you were taking the child under your care only, is that correct?" The lady asks somewhat conversationally.

"Yes." Thomas replies, lying but no longer liking it the way he would have some time ago.

"And who is this with you?" The lady asks.

"I have purchased a cottage to have suitable arrangements for Mina. To make up the loan, this is my lodger. He will be around Mina from time to time, so I felt they should be acquainted." Thomas lies again.

In the background, Richard tries to stifle a smile. Thomas is so sweet.

Richard is not at all offended at being referred to as Thomas's lodger. He knows some lies must be told for their protection. If only they could be together in the open.

"This man is Mr Ellis. He works for the King." Thomas tells Mina, bending over at the waist so he is at her eye level.

"The King?" Mina asks with wide-eyed interest.

"That's right." Richard replies. "I am one of his two valets. But I intend to leave soon, as I have business ventures in York, which is why I am currently lodging with Mr Barrow."

"Ah. Alright." The lady replies interestedly.

"Miss, please excuse us. We are expected elsewhere in a few minutes. Thank you very much for your time." Thomas tells the woman.

"Have a good day!" The woman calls to Thomas and Richard as they walk away with Mina, and winking at Thomas.

"Wow, some people really like you…." Richard teases Thomas.

"I could say the same about you, especially since I happen to be one of them." Thomas replies.

"Indeed. Where are we going, Thomas?" Richard changes the subject.

"To the animal shelter. I told you about that tabby, right?" Thomas answers.

"Yes. Tell Mina." Richard says.

"Mina, I am going to get a tabby cat as well. Is that alright with you?" Thomas asks Mina, who is holding on tightly to Thomas's hand.

"Yes, sir." Mina replies in a very sweet voice.

"Awww…." Both Thomas and Richard say at the same time.

Richard and Thomas chat the rest of the way to the animal shelter.

X

"Which one would you like, Mina?" Thomas asks Mina once they reach the back room of the shelter, where the cages are kept.

"That one." Mina points to a small, light orange kitten with small white stripes on its back. "What do you think, Mr Ellis?" She questions.

"That one looks excellent." Richard agrees as he turns to Thomas. "May we have that one, Mr Barrow?"

"Certainly." Thomas smiles at his new family, pulling out his wallet to pay the owner for the kitten.

The man gives Thomas and Richard a knowing look and a smile, but does not say anything as he takes the money and removes the kitten from its cage.

"Take care of your kitten and yourselves!" The man calls after them as they walk away, Thomas and Richard each holding one of Mina's hands as she walks in between them. Both of them know that this display is a little risky, but they choose to ignore it. There aren't many people here who will say anything anyway.

Richard is carrying the kitten in his other hand, but it leaps out of his arms and onto the cobblestone street.

"Alright then." Richard laughs as the kitten walks ahead of them. "What shall we call him, Mina?"

Thomas had particularly requested a male cat, wanting to avoid an obnoxious number of kittens wandering around his cottage.

"Mr Sparkles!" Mina exclaims excitedly.

"Mr Sparkles it is, then." Thomas decides.

X

When they reach the cottage, Mina chases Mr Sparkles into her bedroom.

Thomas smiles. His new family is even better than he could have imagined.

"Would you help me move my objects into the cottage from my room? There aren't very many." Thomas asks Richard.

"Of course, Mr Barrow."

Thomas gives Richard a quick kiss on the cheek before they head back up to the Abbey.

Thomas has a sense that he has received what is owing to him after all the years of misery. Because no matter what happens now, nothing can cause them harm as long as they are together.


A/N: Not sure about that ending. I might go back and rewrite it later. Sorry for the random delay; I had a really hard time writing this one, but I hope you liked it. I got distracted by so many one-shot ideas for these two in between; those will probably be up soon. I cannot imagine how 51stcenturygirl continues to write such amazing stories about these two, and I am in so much awe.

I don't own anything except the grammar and spelling mistakes. Please let me know if you find any. Reviews are appreciated!

-HamiltonAsparagus