As much as it embarrassed him to admit, when he’d made the acquaintance of Euphemia li Britannia, he couldn’t help but Google her afterwards. With limited knowledge on how to act in the presence of a Duchess, he had done some research when he’d gotten back to his room at the hotel even if he knew there was very little, if any, chance at all that he would be given an opportunity to put the knowledge into use.
He was very much surprised to discover how close the Duchess was to the royal crown.
“In the case of the heir apparent’s death, the crown would then be passed to the Duke of Windsor and his bloodline.”
Very much in awe, he had leaned back in his chair as he thought back on their meeting. So he’d been that close to real-life royalty, huh? The thought made shivers run up his back. Thank God he hadn’t known at the time, or else he’d have made an even bigger fool of himself.
But what was more shocking than the news of the Duchess was her half-brother, who was described as a “blight on the otherwise spotless reputation of the Windsor duchy.” He wondered if there was something that the half-brother had done – if he was some reprehensible douchebag – when he clicked on the link that would lead him to the half-brother’s Wikipedia page and found himself staring at a portrait of none other than his professor’s husband.
Suzaku wasn’t quite sure how much shock he could take in one day.
Briefly scrolling down, he skimmed through the article and glanced over a couple of pictures – one of him as a child, another as an adolescent, and then finally a third as an adult – as he tried to wrap his head around what his eyes were seeing. What did it mean he was the illegitimate child of the Duke? What did that even mean? Did Professor Corabelle know? He wasn’t sure but if he had to hazard a guess, he still wouldn’t have known because firstly, it wasn’t really any of his business to know what Lelouch vi Britannia had or hadn’t told his wife, but he would assume that he had because he seemed like a nice enough guy, and nice enough guys didn’t really hide things from their wives.
But Jesus. No wonder they had left the Henley so quickly.
Troubled, Suzaku tapped his foot as his brows were drawn together.
Jesus. Who would have thought? Who would have thought? He sure as hell hadn’t.
. . .
Something she liked to do from time to time was take out the photo album and go through the pictures of when he had been younger. There was a sort of fascination she harbored for when her husband had been younger, and with every fuzzy photograph she studied, that fascination grew larger and larger until she couldn’t hold it in any longer and then peppered him with questions. She was nearing that moment when he handed her a steaming mug of cider.
“Oh, why are you looking at that old thing again?”
“But you’re so cute. Look.” She held out a faded photo of a six-year-old him. “Look at your smile.”
“I’m missing my front two teeth.”
She giggled. “And it’s adorable.”
He only made a face. “I prefer to have all of my teeth when I smile, thank you.”
She quietly flipped through a few more pictures before speaking to him again.
“Were you happy to see Alexei again?”
“It was nice, even with how he wouldn’t shut up about rowing.”
“Do you think we should set him up with someone? He’s as old as you are and he doesn’t even have a girlfriend.”
“I’m sure he’s very much enjoying the bachelor life. Though he did say to me once that if he did have to marry someone, he’d marry you.”
She glanced up at her husband. Alexei Aleksandrovich had quite the pair of balls on him if he had said that to Lelouch vi Britannia about his wife. Best friend or no best friend, he could be very possessive, and a comment like that wouldn’t have passed by without some strong reaction following.
“And what did you say to that?”
He didn’t say anything. She sat up to look at him properly while he tried to ignore her question by hiding behind his mug. Yanking on his shirt, she asked him what he had said.
“He said that several years ago, so whatever it was that I said obviously doesn’t matter.”
“Oh, yes it does. What did you say? I want to know.”
He stared into the depths of his mug for a long, long time before muttering, “I told him that it was fortunate that he liked his lifestyle so much because it was either that, or him dying by my hand.”
“Oh, that’s a bit…” She couldn’t help but smile. Quite extreme to threaten to kill your best friend, but she couldn’t deny it was somewhat flattering to hear. All the same, she scolded him.
“You’re a bit stupid sometimes, do you know that?” she asked. He frowned.
“I’m not going to apologize. I still haven’t to this day, and I don’t plan to. I meant what I said.”
“That’s not the problem. I don’t care if you meant it or not, you shouldn’t have said that.”
“I can’t believe you’re taking his side.”
“Who said I was taking his side?” Rising up onto her knees, she leaned against him and loosely wrapped her arms around him. “I’d never take his side. I love you too much to take his side.”
He was so obviously pleased with himself, she saw him smile even though he’d turned his face away.
“But you really were being an ass, and I hope you’ll at least consider apologizing to him. My husband wouldn’t be so petty and rude to his friends.”
Later that night when he slipped into bed next to her, she didn’t mention anything about the long-distance call he’d made before bed, save for a kiss on the cheek. He didn’t say anything about it either but secretly, as they lay in bed together, he felt better for making the call.
Besides. What could he say? She made him want to be a better man.