Absence

“And do you, Lelouch Julius vi Britannia, take Cera Corabelle to be your lawful wedded wife?”

.       .       .

Yesterday, when Suzaku had arrived at the the enormous grounds that constituted the duchy of the suited man that stood at the altar, he had been rather…conflicted. Caught between awe and expectation, he had tried his best not to gape too much out the window of the car as they passed through the imposing gates to the grand manor that awaited them at the heart of the countryside. From behind there had been silence of the most comfortable kind as if both were contented to merely sit beside one another even in silence. His assumption had been correct, apparently, because when he later climbed out of the car, he saw that something about C.C. had changed. She looked…younger. More beautiful. Something about the air – or perhaps the company – affected her in such a way that she seemed more like an ordinary person than the usual ice queen she was feared as.

At the estate, since the moment he had arrived, he had been rushed from here to there back to here. The household staff seemed to be running about in a frenzy, and, swept away by the excitement, Suzaku had found himself lending a hand. Not that he minded. The only person he knew had been led away to some nook and cranny into a more private part of the small palace, and with nothing much else to do, he had enlisted himself among the militia scrambling about. But, even with the hand that he was lending, it wasn’t until later in the evening when he was seated at the dinner table that Suzaku understood what was actually happening.

“Thank you for being so kind,” murmured the lady. She blushed, triggering him to flush as well. “We normally wouldn’t have placed such a burden on a guest of ours but as you can see, there was much to do with so little time.”

“Excuse me but,” he resisted the urge to tug at the collar of his dress shirt. Were dinners normally so formal here? “what exactly are we preparing for…?”

She looked taken aback, and the young man couldn’t help but flush a darker shade of red. Had he said something wrong without even knowing? Well, the situation was ripe for any such mistakes. What would he know about proper etiquette? “Oh, I had thought you knew. You were the only one C.C. said she would invite to the wedding.”

He looked up to see the empty seat across from him. The couple hadn’t yet come down to the dinner table yet, and the rest of the family, after introducing one another to him, was waiting for the head of the household to descend. He turned back to the beautiful lady.

“I… Wedding?”

“Tomorrow morning. Did C.C. not notify you?”

“Not…not exactly,” he mumbled. But then again, when did she ever? A voice joined their private conversation.

“To be fair, C.C. is a very…exclusive person. Nothing like you, Euphemia.” The man grinned cheekily before turning to Suzaku, who couldn’t help but feel a strange twinge of jealousy. He extended his hand towards him. “Alexei Aleksandrovich.”

“Suzaku Kururugi.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Suzaku. And don’t feel too badly about not knowing; no one beyond Lelouch’s immediate family knows of the wedding tomorrow. With the exception of you and I, we’re the only ones non-relatives who know.”

He sat quietly. It wasn’t too much of a surprise – kind of. Trying to reason through the conundrum, Suzaku studied the stitching of the silk tablecloth. As Alexei Aleksandrovich had pointed out, C.C. was the kind of person who didn’t enjoy baring her personal life for the public eye. There was nothing more that she hated than the media, which seemed in itself somewhat ironic as she was part of the media. But if Suzaku had had to guess, he would have assumed that she would have wanted a larger wedding…? At least larger than 5 people. C.C. didn’t have many friends, but that wasn’t to say that she didn’t have any. It was just…somewhat strange that they would be clandestine about this all. Weren’t weddings usually affairs that merited excessive flaunting? And rightfully so since they were usually such happy events. It just seemed somewhat strange…

“Oh, they’re here.” Euphemia clapped as she smiled. “And C.C. looks beautiful.”

The trio watched as the couple finally appeared. The Duke ran a hand through his hair, his signet flashing in the low light of the dining room. “I apologize for the tardiness.” He glanced at his fiancé as she swept her hair over the shoulder of her navy dress. “We had some business we’d been meaning to recover for some time.”

Sometimes Suzaku wondered how some people could make even the dirtiest things sound so elegant.

“Shall we begin?”

And so all took their seats at the table.

.         .         .

After leaving the courthouse, they all returned to the manor where there was a feast waiting for them in the gardens. By this time Suzaku had made himself comfortable enough to begin sweating whenever he was within five feet of Euphemia li Britannia, the younger sister of Lelouch vi Britannia, C.C.’s new sister-in-law, and quite possibly a person whom he would very much like to get to know better.

Euphemia sighed contentedly. “I’m so glad to see how happy they are.” Suzaku watched the newly-weds whisper and giggle to one another before husband kissed wife on the cheek. “Lelouch was feeling horrible these past few weeks, and I’m so happy to see him smile. We all are.”

“Was there something bothering him?”

Euphemia glanced at him before shaking her head. “It’s nothing worth discussing at a time like this. It’d be best to forget about it at least for today. Today is for celebration. No matter what may happen tomorrow, today at least is for their happy future.”

And what she said was true: all matters grave and serious were relegated to the following day. After a day of eating, laughing, and dancing in which Suzaku saw a side of his boss that he would have never imagined possible, he woke the following morning with a slight headache and 23 messages from Kallen in regard to the snubbed princess as well as something about…?

C.C. was not present at the breakfast table, which Suzaku quickly discovered as his presence was requested. Abandoning his own plate, he rushed to the bedroom door, which he quietly knocked on. There was an angry “Come in.” He swallowed.

She was sitting up in bed wearing a shirt much too large for her. It was obviously her husband’s; it couldn’t have been hers. He had helped her pack, and as far as he could remember, they had never packed a white dress-shirt. A tray with an elaborate breakfast lay on the empty half of the bed; she set her teacup down before glaring at him.

“My husband,” she said quietly, “is absent as you can see. He’s been called away for a press conference regarding the uproar that’s been caused by yesterday’s events.”

“…What…happened yesterday?”

“Did you or did you not speak to a member of the press, Suzaku?”

“I-I didn’t. I swear to God I didn’t, I… C.C, I don’t know what’s happening but I haven’t-“

“That’s enough,” she snapped. “I don’t want to hear any more from you. Go to your room and pack. You’re being sent to London. There you’ll prepare for the rest of the week. Kallen will contact you later so that you can perform your job as you’re meant to.”

“C.C., I-“

“Goodbye, Suzaku.”

And there was nothing more that he could say or do but leave.

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One thought on “Absence

  1. Sean O'Brien says:

    That first line was heartwarming enough since you already know the answer of course. I do continue to enjoy Suzaku as our wide-eyed view into this world where he’s continually caught off guard, but seems to persist due to his own loyal and affable nature. That the person he’s in the employ of also isn’t really that bad helps quite a lot too. No wonder C.C. looks so different since I would hope the day of her wedding would be a happy one where she had no reason for the ice queen persona.

    I suppose he still hasn’t had the time to really settle and take all that’s going on. The way he talks about being rushed everywhere at the estate is sort of like this whole trip really. I’d think helping out the staff would actually be a grounding experience since it’s just simple work and by his nature he seems the helpful type. Sort of does seem they made the decision to go through with this wedding rapidly. Probably in part to get ahead of the vultures circling. That he got dragged along without being told anything is hilarious really, though I wouldn’t be surprised if C.C. felt he should have been able to figure it out. It is quite sweet that he was the only one she invited. At the very least, Suzaku seems to be hitting off well with Euphemia.

    It certainly is a strange irony that someone in her position doesn’t like the media as Suzaku points out, though perhaps that’s why she feels that way. The strange circumstances and seeming rushing of it all certainly seemed motivated by what’s going on with Lelouch’s family. I’d imagine the spectacle of such a thing at this time would reflect poorly on them and there might be no telling when there would be a moment to be wed. And good lord, they held up dinner because they were getting busy? A bit open with it too since I’d imagine a number at the table could figure out what he meant.

    Haha, didn’t take long for him to start taking a shine to Euphemia, which is an interesting prospect given the status difference. Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things, but some would make a big deal of it. The idea of this C.C. giggling is very sweet to see with how happy she is about everything. I get not talking about it at such an occasion, but Suzaku is essentially as in the dark about what precisely is going on as we are.

    I’m a tad confused on the ending. I’d imagine what got leaked was the wedding or where the impression that Suzaku spoke to the press is coming from. My assumption is that he didn’t but they found out some other way and she’s just lashing out at him. Certainly bad circumstances to be leaving on after such a happy occasion.

    Thank you 🙂

    Like

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