She looked up from the papers she’d been organizing when she heard a knock.
“Hello, sweet pea.”
She smiled as he walked into the empty lecture hall. Taking the pink bouquet from his hand, she greeted him.
“How much time have we got?” he asked as he leaned against the desk. Pulling her nose away from the flowers, she told him that they had two minutes. He clasped his hands together and asked her how her day had been.
“Every second has been agonizing. I can’t stop thinking about how I’m thirty now. I feel so old.”
“How do you think I feel? I’ve been thirty for four years now.”
“I’m talking about me here. Now if I tell people that I’m in my 20’s, I’d be lying.”
“Well, I think you’re still quite beautiful for someone as old as you. You put those flowers to shame.”
Even the flush of her cheeks rivaled the peonies as she buried her nose in the flowers again. Leaning over, he kissed her on the cheek before her lips.
“You really shouldn’t,” she mumbled. “Someone could see.”
“So let them see. What’s so wrong if a man kisses his wife? Especially on her birthday.”
Weaving their fingers together, he looked at her intently. “I’m sorry I didn’t see you off today. But I really was so tired. It’s been a while since we’ve had a party.”
“We didn’t have to have one.”
“Oh, yes, we did.” She hadn’t said anything about her birthday, but he had known that she had wanted a party. Not a large one, but one with her friends at a nice dinner was always something she enjoyed, and it had been some time since she’d last seen a lot of them. So he’d made calls and drawn up a menu and seen what he could arrange. The only difficult part of it all had been her birthday gift. He’d spent a good amount of time contemplating what to get her. He didn’t feel that jewels would be enough. Always a nice and appreciated present but one that never quite had sincerity to if given too often. Not to mention how she restricted herself since wearing so many diamonds and pearls were poorly looked upon – and with a dean who was out to get her at every opportunity…
The couple turned to see Suzaku standing nervously in the doorway. Glancing every which way, he mumbled an apology before hurriedly taking his seat. Lelouch couldn’t help but smile in amusement. Was he always so skittish?
“You should probably go,” she said softly. He nodded and she raised a hand to touch his cheek as she leaned in to kiss him. Her wedding ring didn’t escape his notice (though admittedly it was somewhat difficult to focus as she kissed him).
“Since I’m a real adult now, I thought I’d start giving no fucks about other people and what they think,” she offered in explanation. He laughed quietly.
“You know best.”
As more students began to filter in, she slid her hand down to his chest and nudged him towards the door.
“You really should go.”
“I’ll see you tonight then.”
She nodded and he, squeezing her hand, left. Smiling softly to herself at the bouquet of flowers, she set them gently by her folder before turning to her class. She’d put them in water when she got the chance. For now, she had her other garden to care for, and God knew how many weeds there were to pull.
. . .
“Ah, time for the husband’s present! What wondrous miracle could he have possibly prepared for his wife!”
The table laughed, and C.C. flushed. She watched as he got up from his seat and left the dining room. To her left, Milly laughed as she teased.
“Surely no matter what he got her, it can’t be as great as the present he has waiting for her once we all leave.”
C.C. smiled graciously but neither confirmed nor denied Milly’s little quip. What happened after all the guests left or not had very little to do with all who were seated at the table, as much as she loved them all.
“And here he is! Not a little black box this time, eh?”
Lelouch only made a face as he stood behind his wife. Carefully setting the small wicker basket in her lap, he rested his hands on her shoulders. She felt the basket jiggle in her lap and curiously glanced up at him.
“Go on. It’s all yours.”
The moment she opened the flap, something jumped out and warmly licked her face. Gasping, she let the basket fall to the ground as she held a warm, fluffy ball in her arms.
“Oh, it’s a puppy!”
“He never fails to impress, does he?”
C.C. beamed at him. To the others it may not have seemed like anything particularly special, but to her, she knew it was his way of saying that if there was a will, there was a way. A puppy could never quite substitute a human child, of course, but in some ways, they were one and the same, and as he knelt by her chair, she couldn’t help but feel tears well up.
“Happy birthday, my love.”
He leaned forward to kiss her, when the puppy leaned up to lick his face instead. The table laughed aloud, as did the new parents, and C.C. fondly cuddled the baby.
“What’ll you name her?”
“I think,” she said softly, “I’ll name her Liesl.”
“After the character in The Sound of Music?”
She nodded, and Milly raised her glass.
“Then to Liesl. May she be spared from her parents’ friskiness and given all the little doggy treats she desires.”
Liesl barked as if in thanks. All the adults drank in her honor, save for her parents who were too busy kissing one another and welcoming her into the family.
What a wonderful world it was.