|Once and Always|
|Book: Once and Always, Chapter 6|
Chapter 5: A Heavy Heart
Chapter 7: Love Between Wind and Water
Chapter 6: A Family Matter
Not even three days passed since the disastrous first date. The students were getting accustomed to the presence of the Musketeer Force around the campus. The headmaster’s office was now the most heavily guarded room in the academy. Suzuka was still mad and avoiding Guiche Jr., and was still finding it hard to even look at him. When they were together, they barely said two words to each other. Now, in the middle of a special celebration, during Suzuka's evening shift at the Enchanted Fairy Inn, she was about to get something else to occupy her. A familiar royal carriage made its way to the front of the inn.
There was a celebration inside the inn.
"Everyone," said Scarron lifting a drink "A toast, to the Enchanted Fairy Inn's twentieth anniversary."
"To the inn." Everyone said raising their glasses too. Just then front door opened with a slam.
Scarron goes over to the front door to meet the woman. "I am sorry madam, we are closed for celebration." said Scarron, but the woman wasn't listening, looking straight ahead and just walked right past Scarron. Scarron stood there with his mouth open as she walked past.
"Suzuka!" said the woman, in a firm familiar voice that only Suzuka and Siesta, who was present with Hermione, recognized. They snapped straight up with their mouths and eyes wide open.
Suzuka dropped the tray she was carrying on the floor, turned around, and saw a middle-aged woman with graying pink hair, wearing a scowl.
"G-g-g-g-grandmother!" Suzuka said, frozen in shock. Everybody turned to look at her.
"Grandmother?" everyone said with surprise.
"M…Mrs. Vallière." said Siesta nervously "W…What brings you to the Enchanted Fairy-?"
"Silence Siesta!" Karin Vallière commanded, she then approached Suzuka. "Suzuka! I never would've believed, a young lady of noble bearing, working in a tavern serving peasants."
"Grandmother Karin, I can explain." Suzuka pleaded.
"No explanations!" She grabbed Suzuka wrist and began dragging her outside to the carriage. Suzuka frantically trying pull away.
"Madam Vallière, please be reasonable." said Siesta, trying to stop her pulling on Suzuka other arm.
"Quiet Siesta." Mrs. Vallière looking at Siesta with her laser eyes. "Keep in mind, the only reason I allowed your daughter to be Suzuka's personal maid was because you were Saito's personal maid. But after what has happened here, your daughter will never be allowed to speak to Suzuka again!"
"You can't do that!" said Suzuka looking at her.
"Watch me. Let’s go Suzuka." She continued dragging Suzuka to the carriage.
"You can't do this, let go of my hand."
Karin only let Suzuka go once they were in the carriage, the door slam closed, and they were on their way.
Inside the inn;
"Mommy, what happened?" Hermione asked Siesta.
With sad eyes looking at Hermione. "Don't worry about it, I'll straighten this out." Siesta answered.
Later at the Vallière Mansion;
In the living room of the Vallière mansion an hour later;
"I am extremely disappointed in you Susan." said Duke Vallière "It’s one thing to lie to others about what you do, it's another to lie to us."
"My name is Suzuka. And I didn't lie to you, it's just, I knew what you'd say." Suzuka retorted sitting on the couch squirming a little knowing she wasn't lying, but not telling either.
"Regardless. Working in a commoners tavern, is beneath a lady of the Vallière Family."
"I'm not a Vallière." Suzuka Shot back.
"Maybe not by name," said Karin "But by bloodline, you are a Vallière. In spite of the common blood your mother brought into our family."
"Leave mom out of this." said Suzuka
"Mother, father, that's enough." said Cattleya stepping into the room. Eléonore was right behind her.
"Stay out of this Cattleya." said Karin
"You, take Susan to her room." Duke Vallière ordered two of the butlers, who obeyed.
"Her name is Suzuka!" said Eléonore once Suzuka was out of the room.
"And she needs to behave more like a lady." said Karin "She'll be staying here for now, instead of going back to the academy. Eléonore, I want you to start looking for a suitable husband for her." Eléonore was shocked.
"But what about that Guiche de Gramont Jr. boy?" Cattleya asked as Eléonore made a face of surprise.
"From what we've heard, she will barely look at him anymore. Which is just as well, I never approved of that boy in the first place." Karin responded and looked at the Duke.
In Suzuka's room;
Still unawares that she was about to have her husband chosen for her, and still finding it difficult to believe she might never see Hermione again, Suzuka didn't sleep well at all that night. Or the following morning....
"Good morning miss Vallière." said the maid sent to wake Suzuka, opening the curtains to another bright sunny day.
"I'm not a Vallière." said Suzuka, waking up trying to block the sun shine with her hand.
"Regardless. Your grandfather is gone for today, but your grandmother orders that you start acting like a lady today."
Before Suzuka could protest, she was pulled out of bed, forced out of her nightgown, and began to be dressed.
"What is that?" Suzuka asked as the maid wrapped something around Suzuka's breasts and upper waist. Looking down at the contraption being wrapped around her.
"A corset." The maid responded as she began to tie it in place "Madam Vallière said that you should wear one." Suzuka felt like she was being hog tied.
"Suzuka?" said Eléonore entering the room "How's it coming?"
"Aunt Eléonore, it's difficult to say." Suzuka responded as the maid finished and she seemed no longer to be able movie freely anymore or breath.
"I'm sorry about this." said Eléonore as the maid now helped Suzuka into a dress "I can't change my mother's mind."
"It's not your fault." Suzuka responded in a bit of a wheezy voice and feeling helpless.
"Are you alright?"
"I'll be fine." Suzuka looking down at the dress.
"All done." said the maid, and Suzuka walked out from behind the curtains and looked down at changes that were made.
"You look lovely." said Eléonore "Your mother used to wear that same dress."
"I doubt she wore a corset." said Suzuka, who was barely able to breathe now.
"No she didn't." said Eléonore with a grave face
Meanwhile, in Albion;
"You think it was a good idea to leave Suzuka alone?" In the Albion royal palace Saito said over tea with Louise, Henrietta, Tiffania, now queen of Albion, and Tabitha, now queen of Gallia.
"I'm sure she'll be fine." said Louise taking a sip of tea "Why do you ask?"
"I just get the feeling that something against the way we raised her is going to happen."
"You worry to much." said Tabitha
"Easy for you to say." said Saito "The last time you ever saw her was her tenth birthday."
"Now Saito, calm down." said Henrietta trying to put Saito at ease.
"Saito Chevalier de Hiraga?" said a soldier who just walked in the room. Saito turns to look at the soldier.
"Yes?" Saito responded.
"You have a letter from home." He passed a letter addressed to Saito and took his leave.
"It's from Siesta." said Saito looking at the letter and wondering if there was something wrong.
"What could this be about?" Tiffania asked as Saito opened the letter and reading it.
As more he reads the letter he is getting more and more agitated. "I don't believe this!" said Saito when he finished reading.
"What's wrong?" Louise asked wondering what is wrong.
"Your mother's causing Suzuka grief." Saito responded.
Within the hour, Saito, Louise, and Henrietta were in the carriage and on their way back to Tristain to sort this out.
Meanwhile, for almost a week, Suzuka had been forced to put up with the continuous presence of suitors chosen by Karin Vallière rather than Eléonore, as Eléonore refused to find any. All the while, she was taking continuous lessons on proper behavior. Suzuka was getting frustrated with the walk this way, curtsy, yes mam, and yes sir and manners at the table.
"I can't take this anymore!" said Suzuka one evening while Cattleya helped her remove the corset.
"I'm sorry about this Suzuka," said Cattleya as they removed the corset at last. "But there's nothing Eléonore or I can do. I'd gladly help you escape this place, like I helped your parents once before, but that's not going to be possible this time." Suzuka was glad to get out of that straight jacket.
"Oh, aunt Cattleya, where are mom and dad? They would never let this happen to me."
"I received a message from Siesta explaining that she had already sent them a message." Cattleya pulled the covers over Suzuka as she laid down "They should be here soon." she then kissed Suzuka goodnight
By lunchtime, a couple of days later, Saito and Louise finally arrived.
"Mother-in-law!" Saito shouted as he and Louise barged into the dining room.
"What took you two so long?" Eléonore asked dropping her silverware.
"Louise, Saito, what are you doing here?" Karin asked standing up. "Suzuka, stay seated." She looked at Eléonore and Cattleya, wondering which sent a message to them.
"Don't tell her what to do." said Louise "Suzuka, you and aunt Cattleya wait outside. Eléonore, you stay here."
Suzuka and Cattleya looked at each other and left the room.
"We've heard that you've been giving Suzuka a hard time." said Saito
"She has." said Eléonore. Karin gave a side look at Eléonore.
"She needs to learn how to be a proper noble, as well as have a suitable husband." said Karin.
"This is why we never left her in your care while we were away when she was younger." said Louise "She needs to be her own person, not the person you think she needs to be."
"What's wrong with what I believe she needs? I'm only thinking about what's best for her." Karin snapped back. "She must know the rule of steel.
"No you're not, you're being selfish." said Eléonore "You're trying to turn Suzuka into your perfect granddaughter, since you were unable to do Louise they way you wanted."
"She's a Vallière, and she needs to act like one." barked Karin.
"Maybe by blood, but still, her surname is 'Hiraga', she's not your child." said Louise.
"I know that." said Karin.
"Clearly you don't." said Saito "This discussion ends here. We're taking Suzuka away from here, and she's not coming back."
"Saito!" Karin exclaimed.
"Pass a word to father, stay away from Suzuka." said Eléonore. And with that Saito, Louise, and Eléonore left the room.
On the carriage ride back to the Academy;
"Mommy, daddy, I don't know how to thank you." said Suzuka like a person being reprieved from a death sentence.
"No need." said Louise "It was wrong of your grandmother to try to deprive you of your freedom to decide your own life."
"You OK?" Saito asked, seeing that Suzuka wasn't looking too good.
"No. Grandmother's been making me wear a corset this whole time." Suzuka explained as she wiggled to get comfortable. "I can hardly breathe."
"Turn around." said Louise, and Suzuka did, allowing Louise to undo the corsets many ties. Saito had to look the other way after Louise gave him a look.
"Thanks mom." said Suzuka taking a breath of fresh air and throwing the corset out the window. It looked like a bird trying to escape in the wind.
"We're just glad you're OK." said Saito "And we don't care what your grandmother says, you can keep your job at the Enchanted Fairy Inn."
"You knew about that?" Suzuka asked sitting back down.
"Jessica, Siesta and Scarron have kept us informed since you started working there." said Louise "We never made any objections because we are former employees."
"You never told me that." said Suzuka as she looked at each of them in amazement.
"We thought it irrelevant." said Saito trying to make quick talk about it.
"That gives me an idea." said Louise with a smile and twinkle in her eye.
Later at the Inn;
"Little Louise!" said Scarron with enthusiasm giving Louise a hug. "It's simply wonderful to have you back here and in uniform."
"Thank you Scar- I mean mi mademoiselle." said Louise, who was wearing a black adult-sized fairy uniform wondering if this is a good idea.
"Everyone," said Scarron "Seventeen years ago, before many of you were born, Saito and Louise were employees here, and now they've come back to join their daughter, Suzuka. Lets all give a warm 'welcome back' to Louise and Saito."
"Welcome back!" said everyone in a line standing in front of the bar, followed by applause.
"When you said you had an idea, I didn't think it was this." said Suzuka as they stopped clapping.
"Surprised you, didn't I?" said Louise.
"By they way." said Saito wearing his old apron "I'm not sure you're aware, but that uniform you're wearing is the same uniform your mother used to wear."
"It is?" Suzuka asked looking down at it.
"Yes." said Scarron "Though Louise didn't have much of a bust back then, but you make it look absolutely superb. Believe it or not, some customers will come around only just to see you."
"I hope that's not the only reason you have her here." said Louise sternly looking at Scarron.
"Believe me, it's not." said Jessica.
"Suzuka! Welcome back!" said Hermione, running up to Suzuka and hugging her.
"Thanks you so much for getting my parents involved Siesta." said Suzuka.
"I knew they were they only ones who could be really forceful with Mrs. Vallière." Siesta responded. "Who knows what she would've done to you if I hadn't called for them."
"Well don't worry, we're not letting her, or her grandfather, near her again." said Saito
"Shall we get to work mom?" Suzuka asked looking at Louise.
"Yes, lets." Louise responded with a smile.
From that point forth, Saito and Louise worked at the Enchanted Fairy Inn alongside Suzuka.