|Once and Always|
|Book: Once and Always, Chapter 7|
Chapter 6: A Family Matter
Chapter 8: Hope and Desires
Chapter 7: Love Between Wind and Water
In all, a solid month had passed since the ball. The Musketeer Force was still guarding the academy, and Suzuka had grown accustomed to her parents working part-time at the inn with her. But... though she was now able to talk normally with him again, she still found it hard to meet Guiche Jr.'s eyes.
"It needs to stop." said Drako over dinner with Hermione one evening "I'm glad that they are talking normally again, but they still barely look at each other."
"And they still don't want to be alone with each other for more than a few seconds." said Hermione
"What are you two talking about?" Guiche asked coming up to them
"Nothing you need to know about." said Drako as Guiche sat down "Where's Suzuka?"
"Outside, sparring with Agnès." Guiche answered
"She's supposed to be taking a break from that stuff!" Hermione said, getting up and running outside
Both of this was perfectly true. Suzuka was outside with Agnès, sparring with their swords, and Suzuka just managed to knock Agnès's sword out of her hand.
Suzuka had been defeating Agnès a lot recently, because she couldn't move like she used to, but being in her late 30's, it wasn't because of age. Agnès was 8 1/2 months pregnant with her first child. The man she conceived with, but never married, had passed on a few months back, leaving Agnès on her own again. Despite being so far along, she refused to take leave of her duties as Captain of the Musketeer Force, denying all offers from Queen Henrietta to do so.
"Are you all right?" Suzuka asked, helping her sword teacher to her feet
"I'm fine." said Agnès, panting and placing a hand on her belly, which was now forty times normal size
"No you're not." Suzuka thought to herself
"You've been beating me a lot lately." said Agnès, sheathing her sword "You've improved quite a bit."
"Come on Agnès, you and I both know it's not superior skill." said Suzuka, sheathing her sword as well "You shouldn't be doing this. I don't know why I even agree to sparring matches."
"SUZUKA! MISS AGNÈS!" Hermione called running toward them with Guiche and Drako behind her
"Hermione, where's the fire?" Suzuka asked when they got to them
"No fire! Miss Agnès, why are you still doing this? This is no way for an expectant mother to act. You need rest."
"I'm perfectly fine, and so's my little one." said Agnès
"Stubborn as a mule. Just like my father said you were." said Drako
"Tell your dad, 'I still hate him'." Agnès replied
"I'll pass the message."
At this moment, Suzuka's eyes met Guiche's for the first time in weeks, and Suzuka looked away hastily. This went unnoticed by Drako and Hermione, but not by Agnès.
"What was that? I think I now know why she accepts my challenges, despite what she thinks I need to be doing. She wants to take her mind of mister Gramont Jr." Agnès thought to herself
"Uh... Suzuka?" said Guiche
"Yes Guiche?" Suzuka answered, still not looking at Guiche
"Can I have a word with you... alone?" Guiche asked
"You can," said Agnès "when I have a word with her first."
"Agnès?" Suzuka said bewildered
"Come on Suzuka. Walk with me, talk with me." Suzuka took off after her, and conversation started again within seconds "I saw that." said Agnès
"Saw what?" Suzuka asked
"The instant your eyes met Guiche's, you looked away." said Agnès
"What happened between the two of you?"
"(sigh) After I saw him with Erlea Gamo at the ball, he denied liking her, tried to prove it by forcing a kiss on me, and then I slapped him several times."
"I would if a man had forced a kiss on me." said Agnès coming to a halt
"It's taken us weeks to get back on proper speaking terms." said Suzuka coming to a halt herself "But I can still barely look at him."
"Well that needs to stop. Since he kissed you, and not somebody else, that clearly means that he likes you, maybe even loves you." Suzuka's face widened with surprise at this comment. Agnès, talking about love when she had barely sought it when she was younger? "Tell me, and be honest, how do you feel when you're around him?"
Suzuka hesitated before answering "When we're near, my heart pounds abnormally fast, or skips a beat. And, even though I can't meet his eyes, when he's not looking, I can't take my eyes off him."
"Exactly how I felt when I met my little one's father." Agnès thought to herself
"I don't know why I feel like that." said Suzuka
"Clearly, you love him as well." said Agnès, and Suzuka looked into her eyes in surprise, as if trying to catch one of them joking "Go back to him, and look him in the eye properly." said Agnès
Before Suzuka could do so, they both heard an explosion coming from the headmasters office.
"What in the world?" Guiche asked seeing the explosion from where he, Drako and Hermione stood.
"You again?" said Osmond up in his office. both the Musketeer soldiers that were guarding it were unconscious "How did you get past the security, and who are you?"
Instead of answering him, "Malcone seleom drackness!" the woman cast a spell that sent the room into temporary darkness, but Osmond was able to see perfectly fine with his own magic, and blast her back and outside again.
"The woman from last time!" said Guiche as they neared the spot she landed
"Hermione, stay behind me." said Drako, and Hermione obeyed "Didn't learn the last time? Who are you?"
Instead of answering, the woman cast magic-blasts at them.
"Guiche look out!" Suzuka shouted, jumping on Guiche and pushing him to the ground and out of harms way. Drako did the same with Hermione
"So you're the bandit I was told to guard this school against." said Agnès, aiming her pistol at the figure
"Indeed she is?" said Osmond appearing nearby
Knowing she was outmatched against four mages, and the Captain of the Muketeer Force, the figure quickly took her leave, before they could attack her.
"Suzuka, you're still on top of me." said Guiche once the woman was gone
"Oh! So I am." said Suzuka noticing she was still lying on top of Guiche, and looking him in the eye properly for the first time in a while. Neither knew why, but after a few seconds, both couldn't help but laugh at this.
"What's with them?" Osmond asked
"I don't think Drako and Hermione have to worry about relationship troubles between those two anymore." said Agnès,
"Do we?" Drako and Hermione asked
"No. You don't. Oh." said Agnès, just as she felt her baby kick.
"What?" said Hermione
"It kicked." Agnès responded
"Really?" Hermione asked pressing her ear to Agnès's belly to try and hear it herself
"Guiche, can I see you in my room later?" Suzuka asked, getting up off of Guiche
"Sure." Guiche responded, getting up himself
Later in Suzuka's room;
"So? What did you want to talk to me about?" Guiche asked, sitting on Suzuka's bed with her
"To start with... I wanted to apologize for the way I've been treating you." said Suzuka "And for what happened at the ball last month."
"I've been wanting to apologize too. I should've explained myself better."
"No, I should've listened."
"Regardless, it probably wouldn't have happened if had confessed my love to you sooner."
"Yes but.... did you just say 'love'?" Suzuka asked bewildered
"I love you Suzuka." Guiche responded "I always have. Your kindness, your courage. I just fell for you."
"Oh Guiche...." said Suzuka, hugging Guiche tightly with tears of joy in her eyes "I love you too."
With all they distance they had put between themselves gone, both closed their eyes and shared a blissful kiss.
From that point forth, Suzuka and Guiche Jr. were boyfriend and girlfriend.