The Duke’s Wife

01 Jul 2018

On her first visit to Dreyar Manor, there were three things that Lady Mirajane Strauss was certain of.

First and foremost was the fact that her actions that day were a shameless breach of noble pleasantries that would surely prompt whispers among her family’s peers. Second, was her parents knew that it was so, they did not care – or maybe they did, but they were willing to risk it. They had willingly sent – ordered – their eldest daughter to enter the lion’s den and be devoured whole. The third and last, was that she came anyway. She was hesitant and terrified, but she was also resolute.

Her parents may have sent her for the Mad Duke, but Lady Mirajane made herself go for a chance to meet the swordsman with the beautiful long hair and deep blue eyes.

(From Lady Strauss to Duchess Dreyar – how exactly did that happen?)

Teen (13+)
Chapters: 3
Words: 35,155

Story Notes:

I’ve stewed on this fic for two months, it’s not done yet, but hell it’s gotten long enough that I should just post it now.
So. Behold! Duchess Mirajane backstory, because she’s terrific.

(This can be read as stand-alone, but you’ll enjoy it more if you’ve read the other stories. Or just read them after. Up to you! Enjoy!)

The Duke’s Wife

Chapter 1
In which a Lady from the country settles in the city


Lady Mirajane Strauss pays an unannounced visit to Dreyar Manor.

On her first visit to Dreyar Manor, there were three things that Lady Mirajane Strauss was certain of.

First and foremost was the fact that her actions that day were a shameless breach of noble pleasantries that would surely prompt whispers among her family’s peers. Not that there weren’t any unsavory stories about her already.

Second, was her parents knew that it was so, they did not care – or maybe they did, but they were willing to risk it. They had willingly sent – ordered – their eldest daughter to enter the lion’s den and be devoured whole.

The third and last, was that she came anyway. She was hesitant and terrified, but she was also resolute.

Her parents may have sent her for the Mad Duke, but Lady Mirajane made herself go for a chance to meet the swordsman with the beautiful long hair and deep blue eyes.

She arrived in her family’s best carriage, wearing her best dress, and promptly took the Dreyar Manor’s staff by surprise at her unannounced visit. They couldn’t very well turn a noble away. The family butler welcomed her cordially and she was led to a salon to wait as he informed his master of her presence.

As she sat down in a plush divan, she took in the room’s fine decor and furniture. There were beautiful paintings on the wall, decorative vases and little trinkets carefully-placed in well-polished tables and shelves. Everything looked expensive, gold-lined – hand-picked to form a grand display of wealth to any house guest.

For all that she wished she wouldn’t have to do this by herself, she was grateful that her parents had sent her alone. She did not know what to say if someone were to point out how much the Dreyar fortune visibly lived up to the house’s reputation, and what it could mean for the lucky young noblewoman who would manage to catch the Duke’s eye.

She did not have to wait long, as the butler came back shortly to lead her to a room he pertained to as the Duke’s study. She braced herself, took a breath, and followed.

Duke Dreyar was sitting behind his desk and did not look up when she entered, busy going through various documents. Mira kept quiet as the butler sat her down on a couch and another servant laid a tray of tea and treats on the low table within her easy reach. They asked her if she would require anything else and she only shook her head and conveyed her polite thanks. The butler asked the same of his master and was given a wave of dismissal.

The door was shut. Lady Mirajane watched the Duke continue to read, waiting for her host to address her first, because she may have called in unannounced but that did not mean she had lost all her manners.

But the Duke remained quiet, as if he had not registered her presence at all. His brows were furrowed in his work, but then Lady Mirajane had never seen him look peaceful. The handful of times they had attended the same event, he always looked bored, or slightly annoyed – and always always intimidating. She had never talked to him before, and maybe it was this fact that took her off-guard when he finally spoke.


It was one word in his rough, deep voice – and it was said in such a casual manner that Lady Mirajane actually thought she might only be hearing things in her head.

He proved her wrong the moment his eyes strayed from the documents and towards her, an eyebrow raised in question.

The only thing she could say was a shaky, “Y… Yes, My Lord?”

Not her most impressive, she’d admit that.

“Did you come here just to sit there and watch me read, or was there something else you wanted from me?”

She stared in poorly-concealed disbelief. She had heard stories that the Mad Duke didn’t care for rules and pleasantries, but she did not expect him to be so… dismissive.

Also, very rude.

Still. She was the guest, and he was her gracious host.

She quickly thought of an appropriate reply, but when she only managed to stammer, he stood up and put his papers down.

He sighed, shaking his head as he approached. “You poor thing.”

That finally got her indignant enough. She frowned deeply. “I beg your pardon?”

He raised an eyebrow, a hint of a grin on the corner of his lips. “So you can speak, after all. Good.” He grabbed a biscuit from the tray as he plopped down on the round chair across her. He nibbled on the biscuit and looked at her critically.

“I…” she started, gathered her composure as fast as she could, and then looked back at the Duke. Forget protocol, this was the Mad Duke. What’s the worst that could happen if she greeted him first? “Thank you, My Lord, for the warm welcome, even though I came unannounced.”

He hummed. “Figured it wouldn’t be very tasteful to turn away a lady who came to see me. So. Lady… what was it again?”

“Mirajane.” she provided, trying not to outright scowl.

“Strauss.” he finished, and the way he eyed her down and then up made her want to pull on a cloak to hide herself. “Lady Strauss, you’re the eldest child, is that right? I believe I haven’t had the pleasure of your acquaintance. You haven’t been in the City for some time.”

“That is indeed so, My Lord.” the lady said, this time trying for a smile. “I had been… spending my days in my family’s country estate, until lately.”

“And you are here now, why?”

“Well, you see… My parents thought it was about time we reintegrate ourselves in the City. We had been occupied on the business and estates in the countryside for some time and-”

He cut her off with a scoff. “Yes, yes. Everyone with working ears knows about that .” he rolled his eyes, as if details of her family and their lives were the most tedious things he’d ever had the misfortune of listening to.

Maybe he was right.

“What I meant was, why are you , Lady Mirajane Strauss, here ? In Dreyar Manor, unannounced and unaccompanied?”

Lady Mirajane blinked in surprise, but quickly recovered and reached into her purse. She took out a scented envelope and offered it to the man. “In behalf of the Strauss family, we’d like to extend our invitation for a musicale that we will be holding next week.”

The Duke accepted the envelope and only looked at it uninterestedly before snorting. “I don’t really like these things much.” he remarked, tucking the item, unopened, in his coat pocket. “And was I so important that you couldn’t have a messenger deliver this?”

She took a steadying breath, fighting to keep her smile as she had been taught. “Well, you are the Duke Dreyar.”

The smile he sent back was almost sweet, but she saw the sharp glint in his eyes. “And you’re an unmarried noblewoman at twenty-four – we’ve all heard why , our people spread news quickly. And you have a brother, of age now and with a cleaner name, who would surely be the one to carry the family’s meager fortune. So you… well, you’re in a pretty precarious position.”

She resisted the cringe, opting simply to look down in shame. She had told her parents that this plan would fail. Duke Dreyar might be mad, but he wasn’t stupid. He knew exactly what this little stunt meant.

He took the liberty of pouring tea for himself as he continued. “I was surprised, I’d give you that. But what I really want to know, Lady Mirajane Strauss, is… did you come here of your own will, or were you following your parents’ orders? Because the former would make me at least respect your bravery.”

She gripped her purse in her lap.

That was enough.

Since she arrived in the City a month ago, she had heard nothing but whispers and gossip about her, about her family, why they had withdrawn from society, why the first daughter remained unwed, and oh, where was the younger one? And the son? She had withstood her parents dragging her to luncheons and dinners and balls, trying to introduce her to potential peers and husbands, where the other guests only smiled and greeted out of courtesy, trying to avoid her afterwards.

And now she was in the study of an arrogant Duke, who hadn’t even bothered to greet her properly, and was now actively demeaning her-

“Twenty-three.” she finally said, lips drawn to a thin line. “I’m twenty-three, not twenty-four. You missed that part, My Lord.”

A shift in his expression. Was that what he wanted? For her to fight back?

“Ah.” he said indulgently, nodding before sipping his tea. No apology.

“And I came here of my own will.” she added. It was the truth, or at least some of it. She came on her own, although she had a different goal from her parents. “I know it’s unconventional, but I’d heard that prim and proper isn’t what Duke Dreyar was known for. So here I am, with an invitation. It’s the first event in years that the Strauss family will be holding in the City, and Duke Dreyar would greatly honor us if he granted us the grace of his presence.”

He finally grinned. “Well, since you went through all this trouble, Lady Strauss, I will consider it.”

She braved through, not letting him out too easily.“May I ask what my odds are?”

“Odds are looking good.” the Duke hummed. “Is that really all you came for? I get the feeling you’re still holding back on something.”

She met his eyes, fervently hoping to find something that will give his intentions away – they were a warm shade of amber, but they turned a stunning shade of gold in the light of the afternoon sun streaming through the windows. It was… startling. Disarming.

Oh, who was she trying to fool? She was not good at these games. The Duke was probably an expert.

“Hey, you said it.” he shrugged. “I’m not known for prim and proper. Try me, Lady Strauss.”

She didn’t want to try Duke Dreyar. She didn’t know what that would mean for her.


She had gone this far.

“Very well.” she finally nodded. “I take it you remember the Vastias’ luncheon last week, My Lord?”

He picked up another biscuit – he really seemed to like those. “I was there, yeah.”

“As was I. With my mother.” she continued. “I watched the duel that afternoon. You challenged a Lord and won.”

“You just said you were there.” he smirked. “Then you would know that it was the other way around. I was the one challenged, and thankfully I had my swordsman on hand. He’s very reliable, never lost a fight for me.”

“I am curious. May I ask what the challenge was about?”

“I thought you’d have heard. I spilled wine on a young lady by accident and her parents didn’t take too kindly to my apology.”

“I didn’t hear you apologizing. I only heard you insulting Lady Daphne-”

“No. Not insult. I was taunting your Lady Daphne. There’s a difference.” he said, and his tone was so serious she had to believe he meant it.

And now she was more curious than ever. “What’s the difference?”

He grinned, it was disarming in more ways than one. “You insult once . You taunt repeatedly .”

She raised an eyebrow, hardly restraining a smile herself. “And don’t you look proud.”

“Don’t you look pleased.” he countered. “Don’t like her much either?”

“I refuse to answer that.” she said quickly, looking down. “I just… I was curious. Is all. You seemed to enjoy your… taunting. One would have thought you spilling that wine wasn’t an accident.”

He stirred his tea absently. “Maybe so.”

“And your swordsman? He didn’t think it was too… petty?”

“There are no petty fights for swordsmen, Lady Strauss. Nobles squabble, their swords duel. No matter how terrible your point is, if you win the duel, you win the argument. That’s how it works.”

“You’re saying they don’t have opinions.”

“They shouldn’t have opinions, if they’re to be professionals.”

“But your swordsman is also your aide, isn’t he?”

“He is.”

“He doesn’t have… opinions, either?”

“Interested much?”

She stopped. She had forgotten herself, and she really was no good at this game.

He smirked, as if she had played right into his hands. “I won’t blame you. He’s a very interesting person, my Freed. That’s his name, by the way, if you didn’t know. He’s an invaluable part of my humble household.”

‘Humble.’ she almost scoffed. ‘You’re the richest man in the land. A King, if we still had one.’

She held her tongue while he put down his teacup, and held his eyes when he looked at her. “So. As I asked. Are you interested?”

“Yes.” came her answer, unbidden.


“He-” she struggled, caught her breath, and whispered her answer. “He looked at me.”

It was a far-fetched concept, what she was thinking about, but it had been keeping her awake for days. To the point that she actually went to ask her mother about it, and that was how she got into this mess in the first place.

She came up with an insane thought that her parents misinterpreted and eventually twisted into: ‘This is an opportunity, Mira. Maybe you caught the Duke’s eye, somehow? Maybe he would take you. We have to make sure – this is your chance!’

But it was never about the Duke.

It was about the long-haired swordsman and his piercing blue eyes looking straight at hers, from where he stood over his fallen opponent – (it was a fight to first blood, yet he cut a deep gash) – to where she watched amongst the other luncheon guests, as he declared the result of the match in a voice as deadly as his blade-

“You’ve bled. This duel about disgraceful remarks said against a Lady’s honor has been concluded.”

He had nodded, a curt one – maybe it was for his opponent, but Lady Mirajane could have sworn on her life that it had been for her.

Disgraceful remarks against a Lady’s honor. He hadn’t said which of them won, only that it was concluded. Maybe she was making foolish things up in her mind, because it was clear that his Master’s words won, no matter how inappropriate they were, against the Lady Daphne-

And yet.

Yet, she couldn’t perish the thought that it was another Lady he was referring to, and the alleged remarks were not the ones his Master made.

She couldn’t stop thinking that maybe he had fought for her .

She had been within earshot when the swordsman had returned to his Master. Duke Dreyar had leaned down to ask in a soft voice, “Better?”

And the swordsman, Freed, had only nodded and whispered, “Thank you.”

She had turned her back to them before they could notice that she lingered nearby.

That led to confessing to her mother a few days later, about what happened earlier in the luncheon, how that might have led into a duel that was vague enough to imply something else. Perhaps her parents thought she had lost her mind. But they were also desperate, and had somehow twisted her suspicions into another idea entirely.

So here she was now, about to confess the very same to Duke Dreyar, bracing herself for his ridiculing laughter.

And there it was – a chuckle.

But the laugh never came.

The Duke shook his head. “I told him you wouldn’t notice, and he claimed that he didn’t care.”

She looked at him with wide eyes. “D-do you mean…?”

“Were you satisfied?” he asked instead.


“It was the best we could do, at the time. Without drawing attention to you.”


“Why what?”

She didn’t bother anymore, she finally asked, “Why did you fight for me?”

“I did no such thing.” he replied, and this time as he crossed his arms across his chest, he had an unreadable expression in his features.  “It was all him.”

He fought for me ?” she asked again, disbelieving. “You knew- You let him, you made it happen-”

“He asked.” the Duke provided. “And I never could deny him anything, anyway.”

The duel was for me.’ she thought. A duel over disgraceful remarks against her honor. She had walked through Lord Vastia’s grand hallways and overheard Lady Daphne with her parents and sisters talking about her – why she had been hidden in the country so long, why she remained unwed, what foolish things she had done years before that caused shame and loss to her family – they were true , and that was why it hurt. She had made mistakes that still haunt her to this day, but did they really have to be so cruel about it – did they have to laugh?

Tears had fallen from her eyes before she realized, and she had whirled around to run, only to stumble against someone. He was a handsome man, finely-dressed but not a noble – with lips drawn to a thin line as the mocking laughter echoed through the halls.

He had offered her a handkerchief, too fine for a servant, and she could only shake her head and stammer out a dismissal before shoving past him.

An hour later, she would look into the eyes of the same man as he delivered swift justice for the words and mockery said against her.

So that was how it was.

Lady Mirajane wanted the truth, and now that she had it, she did not know what to do.

The Duke had asked if she was satisfied. She wasn’t. How could she be, when-

“Before you ask ‘ why’ yet again – you would have to ask him yourself.”

She nodded. Maybe, when she knew exactly why a stranger was the first person in years to fight for her, to take her side, she would have some peace of mind.

She looked at the Duke hesitantly. “When… When can I… meet him, if it’s not too much trouble?”

He seemed to consider before answering. “How about we make a deal, Lady Strauss?”

“A deal?”

“You make your parents happy by successfully bringing Duke Dreyar to your little musicale.” he started, slow, still considering. “In return, you come to my party, two weeks from now. Freed will be there, and you can ask him what you want to know.”

It… didn’t sound so terrible. But this was the Mad Duke, there had to be some catch, right? “Where will this party be held, My Lord?”

This time, he grinned. “At Dreyar House in Magnolia.”





“…and then you did what ?”

Laxus shrugged. “She wanted to talk to you. I figured the party would give you enough escape routes if you wanted to avoid her instead.”

Freed looked at him with a disapproving frown, but it didn’t look too threatening, with the man curled up naked under the rumpled sheets, still quite breathless. “You still gave me away.”

Laxus finished putting on a robe before joining him under the sheets. “I thought you’d be open to answering her questions.”

Freed avoided his gaze and instead burrowed further into the pillows. He looked soft like this, and even after years together Laxus still couldn’t help but he fascinated at the way those blue eyes shone under pale moonlight from his window.

“I regret it, you know.” Freed finally said in a whisper. “The duel. It was a foolish thing to do.”

“I agree. But it didn’t matter, at the time. You needed it.” Laxus said softly, tucking his lover’s tousled hair away from his face and behind his ear. “You never did tell me why.”

“There’s no… why. You already said so, I needed it. You knew how it was. One of those days.” Freed sighed, closing his eyes as Laxus brushed a thumb against his flushed cheeks. “It still is one of those days… I’m sorry.”

“No, you’re not doing that. Not with me. You are not going to apologize for the bad days.” Laxus frowned, moving to pull the other man against him. He didn’t miss Freed’s shaky exhale as he did so. “And you don’t have to tell me. You never have to.”

Freed shook his head. “I want to. I asked you to pick a fight for me. For a woman you don’t even know. You should know why.”

Laxus only pressed a kiss to his forehead and said nothing. He only waited.

After a while, Freed finally spoke. “I just… I heard what those people were saying about her, and I saw her face when she heard too, and she looked… so ashamed of herself. I-… It was a bad day. I remembered… things, from before. I had to- I just had to feel in control again. She was- That look she had… It used to be mine, I had to prove that they were wrong… and-”

When his voice broke, Laxus only held him tighter. He didn’t say anything as he felt tears leak into his shoulder and waited until his partner’s sobs died down before speaking again. “Those people were pathetic, and you beat them at their game, all on your own.”

Freed sniffled for a while before nodding. After catching his breath, he let out a soft, shaky laugh. “You know, I forgot how good you are at pissing people off?”

Laxus scoffed. “How could you possibly-? That’s my only talent, and you forgot about it?”

The laugh was more lively now. “No, no, I only meant-”

“I run my business by my reputation of pissing people off, and you say you’ve forgotten about it-”

Freed shoved him playfully. “No, stop-”

“I won’t, you just hurt my feelings.” Laxus persisted, chasing the other man with peppered kisses to his jaw, earning him more tickled laughter. “Only thing I take pride in, and you promptly forget, Freed. How could you? I-”

He finally stopped when Freed took his face in his hands and silenced him with a deep kiss.

They withdrew for breath. “I meant,” Freed said, breathless. “That it’s been long since we were angry, scrappy boys hiding out in the dark corners of Magnolia, picking as many fights as we could get away with.”

Laxus stole a short, chaste kiss before grinning. “You were sixteen and you’d ask me to piss off some fool so you could fight him.”

Freed let out an embarrassed groan. “I was silly.”

“We both were.”

This time, Freed managed a grin. “Yes, because what were you even thinking, the only Dreyar heir, spending his days running around with peasants, sleeping on a poor penniless scholar’s old battered couch?”

“You let me on the bed sometimes.” Laxus chided, fingers lightly tracing patterns on his companion’s bare side.

Freed huffed. “I pitied you.”

“I always brought you fish.”

“You didn’t pay rent.”

“I liked watching you study.”

“You always tried to distract me.”

“Also, you were a swordsman. No one dared lay a hand on me with you around. You were safe.”

Freed’s expression softened as he replied, “You, too.”


“You were safe, too.” he smiled, moments of their simpler life years ago warm in his memory.

For Freed back then, practically every day was a bad day – days when it was hard to meet other people’s eyes, when he felt everything and nothing all at once, when he should be perfectly fine but he still felt like everything was spiraling out of his control.

He remembered how Laxus was there trying to make most of those days better, until they were. Until years later when they were few and far in between.

He knew it was difficult to deal with him on those days – he either didn’t want to be touched in the slightest, or he wanted to be taken and wrapped up in his lover’s arms else he felt like he might shatter into pieces.

Laxus never questioned – no, that wasn’t right. Laxus always asked . He asked what he should or should not do, and honored whatever the answer was. It was the foundation of their relationship from the moment they met. In the beginning, Freed had thought that it was the noble gentlemanly manners instilled in him, but it was actually not anything that complicated. Laxus simply saw his choices as something to respect, and expected that same respect in return.

Their relationship was a series of questions and answers. Of asking ‘May I?’ and giving an honest answer.

It was why, whenever they let someone new to know them, the first thing they do was tell that person that they were free to ask anything.

That was how it was with Bixlow, when the informant found out years ago who Freed’s new lover really was, and promised to protect the secret simply in exchange for the truth as to why a noble son chose to wander with a fledgling swordsman amongst the dirty streets of Magnolia. That was how it was with Evergreen, when she asked why Freed and Laxus trusted her to be a spy who will never betray their trust by turning into a double agent instead. That was how it was with Lucy, when Laxus first decided to take her under his wing and make her the most successful Duchess in her long family history.

For them – for both of them – that never stopped. It was a constant. The questions, the answers.

As Freed thought this, he whispered, “You make it so easy to feel safe.”

Laxus pulled him close again, pressing their foreheads together. “For you. Always.”





Duke Dreyar was in attendance at the Strauss’ musicale the following week, surprising both the event’s hosts and their guests, who were mostly relatives, minor nobles and some richer merchants.

He looked bored and arrogant, but that was his usual.

When Lord and Lady Strauss personally thanked him for gracing them with his presence, he answered with a sharp smile.

“Your daughter was very persuasive. She didn’t even have to try much, really, with charm like hers. I wonder why you ever thought to keep her from us. Send her often, why don’t you?”

The Lord and Lady seemed very pleased, and then proceeded to call over their daughter to ‘entertain’ their most honored guest.

As soon as her parents left, Lady Mirajane clipped her smile for the Duke. “I have never seen my mother and father so happy with me in years, literally. It makes me wonder what My Lord said to them.”

“I told them to be kinder to you.” he said bluntly, making her blink in surprise. “Not that, exactly. But it should have the same effect.”

She looked down, considering. “Oh. Well… that is… I am grateful, then. You… You really shouldn’t have.”

He shrugged. “I did my part. So, can we expect you on Magnolia House next week?”

She took a breath before answering. “May… May I bring someone with me? My brother?”

He looked pleased. “Ah, that’s how I know you’re new here. Everyone knows Magnolia House’s parties are always an open event. But yes, do bring your brother, if you must. He might enjoy the festivities.”

Then, in a softer voice, she asked, “Should we bring masks?”

A chuckle. “You’ve asked around, at least.”

She tried to hide the embarrassed blush on her cheeks. As he said, she was new to the City. She might not have many peers yet, but she was able to subtly prod some of the servants to sharing whatever information they had about Dreyar House’s parties, passing her questions off for a country lady’s curiosity. They had very varied answers, but that was because Dreyar actually threw various parties. Some had told her that they were just like the Hill’s nobles-only balls, only a bit rowdier because of the common-folk in the mix. Some had said they were pandemonium. Most had said that a lot of them were masquerades.

“No need for masks, it’s not that kind of night.” the Duke finally said. “But you can still wear one, if you’d like. You wouldn’t be the only one. Some guests prefer their privacy.”

“Then we’ll be there, My Lord.” she said, granting a small smile.

Duke Dreyar only nodded. “Good. He’ll be there, as well.”





It took some white lies and pulling several strings. Mira was able to convince her parents to let her take Elfman with her to what she told them was a night exhibit of artworks by a foreign artist in town. Said exhibit did actually exist, and had been the latest buzz in the City for a while. Then it only took some well-placed coins for her to buy the coachman’s and the guards’ silence as she ordered them to bring her and Elfman someplace else.

Elfman was unsure of it all, and had been fidgety the whole way, but it was also rare for Mira to ask anything of him so he tried to be brave for his sister.

The gates of Dreyar’s Magnolia House were wide open. Guests were streaming in both on foot and on carriages. No invitation was needed when they entered the hall, and the festivities were on full swing, loud and lively.

It was easy to spot the party’s host. Duke Dreyar was standing atop the grand staircase like a king, a confident smirk in his lips and in an animated conversation with several ladies and gentlemen. He looked quite different tonight, Mira thought. A bit… softer. Maybe it was the light? Or the wine? Nevertheless, she stuck to her brother’s side and let him navigate them through the crowd – the people parted easily to make way for his large bulk, but most didn’t seem to spare them a second glance.

Elfman fetched drinks for both of them, and found an unoccupied divan for his sister to take a seat as they watched the other guests interact with each other.

It was, in some ways, reminiscent of the few times Mira had glimpsed the servant parties in the country. Rowdy dancing, toasts, unfiltered laughter. People were more free here.

She was roused from her thoughts when her brother coughed to get her attention, and she looked to see Duke Dreyar approaching them, a beautiful brunette on his arm.

“Young Lord and Lady Strauss, you both made it.” the Duke said with his signature grin. “Haven’t joined the party yet, though.”

“We just arrived, My Lord.” Lady Mira replied, standing up and curtsying as proper to the event’s host. “We’re still… getting settled in.”

The Duke’s companion let out a soft laugh behind her fan. “So polite. You must be new.”

“Be nice.” the Duke said, but his tone sounded lenient. He turned towards his other guests again. “This is Evergreen. The best actress that Crocus has to offer. You should see one of her shows sometime.” he introduced, while the woman in question smiled a dazzling smile.

Lady Mira let out a little gasp. She was told all sorts of people went to these parties, but she hadn’t heard about a renowned actress attending. “Oh! It’s an honor to meet you, Lady Evergreen! I am Mirajane Strauss, and this is my brother, Elfman Strauss.”

“Charmed.” Evergreen replied, her smile still in place. Her gaze swept across the siblings, and she raised an eyebrow at Elfman, who was staring dazedly at her. “Like what you see, Lord Strauss?”

Lady Mirajane had never quite seen her brother so flustered, mouth moving as if to say something, but failing repeatedly.

“Ever. No.” Laxus said, exasperatedly scolding now.

Evergreen looked innocently at him. “What?”

“You’re doing your thing again.” the Duke shot back.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Try not to intimidate our new guests, this is their first party.”

“All the more reason to give them something to look forward to, then.”

“Are you even trying?”

“Oh, I’m just that pretty.” Evergreen waved him off with her fan, then winked at Elfman, who blushed and stammered harder.

Duke Dreyar rolled his eyes. “And the poor man’s broken now.”

Lady Mirajane struggled to keep up with their banter.

“It’s adorable.” Evergreen argued with a pout, then turned towards Elfman again. “So, would you ask me to dance, or should I do it?”

They were all kind enough to wait for young Lord Strauss to stammer out a shaky ‘Milady, if you would you do me the honor-’ and before they knew it, the actress had whisked him away, leaving Lady Mirajane alone with the Duke.

“He’ll live. She’s not that cruel.” the man reassured her. “And you can drop most of the formalities. They just call me Laxus around here.”

She nodded meekly. “Very well. Lord Laxus?”

He snorted. “Eh. A bit better.”

She smiled. “This is… quite an event you’ve thrown. And such guests… Even in the country, we know of Lady Evergreen. Although few have had the fortune to see her Crocus shows.”

“You should join their ranks soon. Her performances are quite an experience.” he said, watching the actress in question tease Elfman Strauss as they danced.

Lady Mirajane nodded, fascinated at this new side of the Duke she was seeing. It wasn’t the light or the wine, after all. He was softer, tonight. He was still very much the tough and authoritative man she met last time, but there was a relaxed side to him. As if somehow he can breathe easier in this environment.

She had to admit, somehow she felt more at ease, too.

“Laxus, thank the Gods.” They were cut off when a man approached them, breathless. He had a mask on, so Mira couldn’t quite make out his face, but she noted unruly raven hair and an elegant attire. “I couldn’t find Freed.”

The Duke raised an eyebrow. “What do you need him for?”

“Miss Levy and Lu-… Iris.” he coughed. “We need someone to stop Miss Levy and Iris and my wife . And Cana! They’re about to do something that’s very impressive but also totally foolish. I tried, Bixlow tried, didn’t work- Maybe you can-”

Laxus rubbed his temples and groaned. “You got them drunk.”

“It was a game!” the man said despairingly.

A more pained groan. “Fine.” he sighed. “Go. I’ll be there.”

The man was both relieved and terrified. “Thanks.” He finally noticed Lady Mirajane, and bowed quickly before running off again.

“I have some inebriated damsels to save from themselves.” Laxus turned towards his guest. “And I’m saving you the tragedy of witnessing whatever it is they’re up to. You should enjoy your first party without being scarred.”

“Of course.” she said, laughing unexpectedly. Duke Dreyar’s sense of humor was dry and cutting, but she was getting accustomed to it. This whole party… this whole place, the people… they were so strange to her. They were… free, and they all felt so alive. For the first time in a long time, she felt eager to explore. “Please, don’t let me delay you.”

“Feel free to roam around. Talk. Watch.” he said, starting to walk away, but quickly reconsidering. He looked at her thoughtfully before speaking again. “You’re in the company of people who have better things to do than judge you. You can let go a little bit.”

She watched him go, and his words were still echoing in her thoughts long after he was gone in the crowd.



She kept mostly to herself as she navigated through the crowd. She was content to simply walk around with her drink in hand, watching the other guests mingle. Some of them made small talk with her, compliments about her dress and how pretty her hair was, remarks about the food, the drinks, if she had seen the Duke yet, about what they thought of this party compared to the last. She was surprised at how easy it came to her to talk with these strangers.

Ever since coming to the City, she had mostly hidden behind her parents and looked down when she was approached, knowing she was being judged, knowing that her reputation as the cause of her family’s shame was an open secret among these noble families they called their people. On the Hill’s luncheons and dinners, everyone who had tried to talk to her were either simply doing it out of politeness, or for their need to gossip.

Maybe that was why she found the Duke’s blunt and detached manner towards her so refreshing.

After a good while, when she noticed that her brother was still thoroughly engrossed with Lady Evergreen as they talked to other guests, and that the party’s host was still nowhere to be found, she chose to wander towards the quieter spots of the hall.

She ended up rounding a corner and found just the man she had originally come for.

The swordsman with the long green hair, the ocean blue eyes, the deep red velvet coat.

Freed Justine, she was told his name was. He was clearly making his way towards the great hall, but he stopped short at the sight of Lady Mirajane.

He didn’t bow – nobody bowed or curtsied in here, she had noticed – but he did stand straighter and nodded at her. “Lady Strauss.” he said by way of greeting. “This hallway leads to the kitchens, if that’s where you’re headed?”

“Oh.” was all she was able to say as she took a step back. “Um, I was… I was a bit lost, I’m afraid. Master Justine, is it?”

The swordsman smiled. “Please, just Freed. Should I show you back to the main hall, my lady?”

“No.” she answered, a bit too quickly for her liking, but Freed only tilted his head slightly in question. “I- I meant to say that… no, I left the main hall on my own, and… I just needed some space for myself, I suppose. It was getting quite crowded for my liking.”

His expression remained passive, professional. “I see. I can show you to a sitting room, if you’d prefer that.”

It was a common gesture. She nodded gratefully and followed him as he led the way to another hall and opened the door to a sitting room. Like everything else in the house she had seen so far, it was finely-decorated but not as lavish as the houses on the Hill, and had a more comfortable, lived-in feel to it. She settled down in a plush couch, taking note that Freed didn’t bother explaining or putting away the coat draped on the back of it, or the book sitting idly on the coffee table across her. Any other host on the Hill would have apologized for the ‘mess’.

“Thank you… Freed.” she said, not quite used to calling people without their titles.

He nodded quickly and started to turn. “Of course, my lady – let me see to getting some refreshments brought for you.”

“Oh, please don’t bother, I-… I am doing just fine, thank you.” she quickly said, almost raising a hand to reach out before remembering her manners.

Freed stopped in his footsteps and looked contemplatively at the door for a moment before turning to her again. “Then, is there anything else I can do for you, Lady Strauss?”

His face didn’t betray any trace of emotion besides professional courtesy. Before coming to the party, when she imagined their confrontation, she always somehow saw Duke Dreyar being in the same room. But now they were alone, and she knew that this was it . This was her chance – this was what she came for.

“I have some questions.” she said, not quite to-the-point, but direct enough that she conveyed her seriousness. “For you.”

He breathed deeply, bracing himself perhaps, and she was grateful when he answered with the same honesty. “I shall try my best to answer them.”

The Duke had been arrogant and all-knowing when she first talked to him, and Freed had been such a gracious and polite person so far… yet Mira felt more nervous talking to the latter than the former.

But she came here for a reason, she had seized this chance – she would not let go now.

“I’ve been told that the duel you fought during Lord Vastia’s latest luncheon was for me.” she said, meeting blue eyes only a shade darker than hers. “I’ve been told that it was your will, your decision… So now, I need to know… Why did you do it? Why did you fight for me?”

His gaze was unflinching as he answered her without hesitation. “Because I wanted to.”

“Yes, but what made you want to?” she prodded, and when she saw his surprise at her open curiosity, she retreated to herself. “I knew you saw me cry- Was it that? Did you- Was it… pity? Did you pity me?”

He was quiet. With each passing second that he didn’t answer, Mira deflated. Of course it was just pity, he seemed a good man, one with a sense of justice and fairness about him… and she must have looked pitiful indeed-


She raised her head to look at him.

He didn’t quite meet her eyes, but his brows were furrowed, as if he was struggling to say his next words. “I… I didn’t pity you. It wasn’t… It wasn’t you. It was all me. What you were going through, being… talked about, shamed… I had gone through that. It wasn’t my best day, that day… and seeing myself in someone else, I was- I let my emotions get the better of me, and I needed to direct the frustrations somewhere.”

Mira watched as he walked across the room. He stopped by the window and looked out to the bustling night streets of Magnolia before he continued speaking.

“I didn’t want to fight without a cause, so when I asked Duke Dreyar to give me a duel , I thought if I fought for you, at least, it wouldn’t be so senseless. That’s all it is.” he looked at her then. “Before you ask, I don’t expect anything in return. I didn’t even expect you to realize, honestly. I wouldn’t care either way.”

When he went back to looking out the window, she knew he had finished given her answer.

So that was it. The only person after all these years to take her side, and the truth was that he was simply confronting his own demons and she just happened to be there.

For a while, she had thought that someone had bothered to look at her, and found that she still had value. It seemed that she had been wrong, then.

It was disheartening.

“Did you believe them?” she asked, voice soft and resigned. “What they were saying about me?”

“I wouldn’t laugh like they did.” he answered, distant. “But yes. I know some facts. You let a thief in your house. Some said he was a lover, that you let yourself be seduced and deceived… or that you let him in on purpose to spite the family. There was a fire. Property loss. You had a sister. The official statement was that she died in the fire. Some swore that she had been gone before it. Many said you let her be taken by the thieves and your parents were ashamed enough to declare her dead. House Strauss hasn’t been able to recover from the damages since. Accounts vary, but you were always at the center of everything. That part must be true, at least.”

“And you still thought I was worth fighting for, when they were only telling the truth?”

He was unfazed. “You have kind eyes.”

She blinked, she didn’t expect his answer. “What?”

“When I met you.” he continued, still not looking towards her. “Your eyes were kind, and I thought that whoever that person was, the one they talked about, you are not that person anymore. You’ve changed, you looked sorry. So I thought it wouldn’t be wrong to take your side.”

She felt silent, again.

She had gotten her answers now. They weren’t what she expected, but she decided that she would take what she can get.

Someone had bothered to look at her, and found that she was kind . That was enough, for now.

Mira was about to thank him for his time and honesty, but she was cut off when the door burst open and two people stumbled inside the room, giggling and swaying on their feet. They were two women: one a pretty blonde with rosy cheeks matching her pink gown, while the other was a beautiful brunette with olive skin accented by an elaborate robe made of foreign silk – and they were very much engrossed with each other, lips locked and hands roaming clumsily to find laces to undo.

Freed cleared his throat. “Ladies?”

The two jumped at the voice and quickly sobered up.

“Freed!” the blonde squeaked, brushing disheveled hair away from her face.

“Oh, shit- Sorry!” The brunette laughed apologetically, but didn’t let go of her partner’s waist. “We didn’t know you’d be here.”

Freed rolled his eyes. “Clearly.”

“My stars- you have company! Hello!” the blonde said, smiling sweetly at Lady Mirajane, who wasn’t able to hide her surprise as she stared at them, one hand over her parted lips and another gripping her fan over her chest. She was blushing harder than the two were, who looked more apologetic than embarrassed. “We’re very sorry for intruding. We’ll be leaving now…”

“Yes, we’ll find another room.” her companion continued, already starting to walk away and pulling the other woman by the hand.

To everyone’s surprise, including her own, Lady Mirajane stood up. “It’s fine, uh, please, there’s no need for that-” she looked towards Freed, who looked slightly concerned. “I have to find my brother, anyway? It’s very late, and… well, my parents were told that we only went to see an art exhibit.”

“That’s a nice alibi.” the brunette said.

Freed nodded, walking towards her. “Very well, milady. Let me see you to the hall then.” He regarded the other two women with a pointed look. “You have a room upstairs, Iris.”

The blonde looked guilty. “But there are geese upstairs, including my room.”

Freed gaped. “Wha-? Geese?”

A nod from the brunette. “The bird.”

Live geese?” Lady Mirajane couldn’t help but ask.

“It’s a long story.”

Freed shook his head. “Where did you even-”

“Bixlow’s fault. Well, mine too… and Laxus! But mostly Bixlow! He’ll try to tell you that it’s me, but it’s him, really.”

“We really are sorry for the intrusion.” the lady in pink, Iris, finally said. To her and her companion’s credit, they did look sincere in their apology.

Freed sighed as he led Lady Mirajane out the room. “I’ll check on that, then. You two lock the door while you go about your activities here, please.”

The brunette nodded. “Sure, we’re just waiting for-”

“Stop.” Freed interrupted. “I don’t want to know who your third person is, Cana. I’ll see you both later. After I check on those geese.”

“Good idea. Laxus and the children are trying to catch them.”

“Gods.” was all Freed said as he sighed heavily and led Lady Mirajane out into the hallway again, closing the door to more giggles. He grinned softly as he took in the woman’s still flustered expression. “Quite a scene, no? Guests tend to drop most of their guard this late in the party.”

“I see.” Lady Mirajane nodded awkwardly. She didn’t expect to see something like that tonight, but then she should have known. The Mad Duke’s parties were famous for notoriety, after all.

“Iris and Cana. The Duke is quite fond of them, lets them do as they please. They enjoy… each other. Occasionally.”

She did not miss the implication. “I see.” she said again, but this time she looked thoughtful. “I feel like I’ve seen them before… somewhere.”

“Cana’s father is from the Hill. You’ve heard of Lord Clive.”

“Oh! That was Lady Alberona?”

“The one and only.”

“And the Lady Iris?” she asked, hopeful, because in contrast to Lady Alberona who already had a reputation as a rule-breaker, Lady Iris looked like a very sweet and gentle young lady. Lady Mirajane would like it if she had more peers like her on the Hill, ones who didn’t care for the rumors about her.

This time Freed gave her a mysterious smile. “She goes around.”

She was about to ask more – there was something about the man accompanying her, that she felt like he would accommodate her as long as she remained polite and sincere – but they had reached the grand hall again, and she saw her brother. As always, Elfman stood out simply because of his stature. He was looking around in agitation.

“Oh, the poor dear. I musn’t keep him waiting.” she said, laughing lightly. “Freed, I-”

She stopped abruptly when from out of nowhere, a child appeared between her and Freed. The little boy clung to the swordsman’s sleeve. “Master Freed, you gotta help us upstairs! There are giant murder birds!”

Freed groaned. “So I’ve been told. Now run along, tell Laxus I’ll be there shortly.”

The child was gone in a whirl of white and gray feathers.

Freed turned towards her again. “Now, should we get you and Lord Elfman home?”

“Please, there’s no need for that, we’ll see ourselves out.” she said, shaking her head with a smile. “It seems you are needed elsewhere. We don’t want to trouble you.”

If it were any other gathering, Freed would have insisted, but this time he nodded and stepped back. “I understand. There’ll be guards at the entrance to help with your carriage. I hope you enjoyed the party, Lady Strauss.”

“I did, very much. Please extend my gratitude to the Duke, for inviting me.” she replied in earnest. “Thank you, Freed. For… tonight. Your time and company, and… for being honest with me.”

He graced her with a small smile. “The Duke appreciates candor. As do I.”

“I can see that.” Lady Mirajane met his eyes. “And… I know you said you don’t expect thanks, or anything at all, in return for the duel, so I won’t insist. But I want you to know that I am very grateful, and what you did means the world to me.”

The swordsman only nodded quietly.

Having said her piece, Lady Mirajane curtsied gracefully, and then turned to fetch her brother. She accomplished what she had come for, and she was ready to go home.





The second time that Lady Mirajane found herself sitting on the couch in Duke Dreyar’s study, she wasn’t afraid so much as she was slightly embarrassed. Also a little bit angry, but she tried not to let that show.

This time, the Duke wasn’t too busy with the documents. Instead, he was lounging on his chair and tinkering with some kind of wooden toy in his hands. It appeared to be some kind of puzzle.

“You’re here again?” he asked, eyeing her as she sat down, struggling with the many ruffles of her dress. They were the new fashion, apparently. Everyone talked about how beautiful and graceful Duchess Heartfilia looked when she wore them.

“Yes, My Lord. I am here again.” she said, voice resigned. “My Lord father said I should deliver this invitation to you personally because it’s very important. My Lady mother insisted that you would just love to see me.”

A snort, and his eyes fell on his toy again. “What is it this time?”

“A luncheon.”

“I could very well afford my own luncheon. They know that, right?”

“With a short private stage play.”

“That settles it. I hate that shit. Not going.”

“I understand.” she nodded, unaffected. She had been expecting this. Surely, her parents weren’t really counting on the Mad Duke to humor their every invitation, just because he once said that she was charming. “Thank you for your time, My Lord. I don’t want to intrude further. I think I shall take my leave.”

He glanced at her shortly. “Well, you seem to be in a sour mood.”

She frowned. “I was forced to go here like some common messenger, Lord Laxus.”

“Hey now, don’t say that.” he said in a chiding tone, and she almost thought that he was trying to comfort her until he added, “You were forced to go here because your parents hate you, that’s all.”

Her eyes narrowed. “I beg your pardon?”

This was much like their first meeting, only now the Duke somehow managed to be more offensive.

Only now, Lady Mirajane was angry from the argument she had with her parents when they ordered her to deliver the invitation to Duke Dreyar, and that meant that she had been at her temper’s end upon coming to Dreyar Mansion. It was a bad idea, really, but her parents were stubborn, and there were two of them and one of Mira. So she had come, intent to go as soon as the Duke had rejected – because of course he would.

Really, she wouldn’t have snapped if the man wasn’t so insufferable and rude.

“You’re fun company when you’re angry.” he smirked.

She frowned.

“I was jesting. Partially.” the Duke said, still busy with his puzzle. “It’s just, I think it’s either your parents really hate you, or they’re desperate to be rid of you. Or both, also possible, but what do I know?”

“Why do you say that?” she demanded.

“Come now, Lady Strauss. We both know why they insisted you come here in a new dress, in your finest jewels. Again .”

It took all of her will to stay still in the couch. “Enlighten me, My Lord.”

“They want to marry you to me. You’re a porcelain doll they polished up and are trying to sell. Haven’t we established this the first time?”

She knew that. But it didn’t mean that she wanted to hear it. Hearing it made it feel more real. “You’re a Duke, Lord Laxus. Any parent would want their daughter wed to a man of such high position.”

“Oh, stop trying. We all know that no sane or loving parent would want to wish me upon their daughter. I’m terrible.”

“Indeed, you are.”

He raised an eyebrow and said, dryly, “It fills me with joy that you feel comfortable enough to say that.”

At this, Lady Mirajane knew that maybe she had gone too far. Well, in any normal circumstance, that was what she would call it, but Duke Dreyar always had a way of twisting and dancing around conventions. He did not seem to mind her little outburst. When it came to him, the lines to cross were different. Still, she felt bad that she lost her temper and took her frustration out on another person.

She sighed, shoulders slumping as she loosened her grip on her purse. This posture would earn her a reprimand from her old governess and her mother, but at the moment, she tried to set thoughts of them aside.

“You don’t care, anyway, do you, My Lord? That I think you’re terrible?”

He hummed. “Oh, now you’re upset. What makes you think you can be upset in my presence? Go back to being angry, that was fun.”

She looked at him with a weak scowl, then turned her gaze away again.

“Seriously, woman. Are you sulking ?” he asked, this time squinting at her from behind his desk.

This time she shrugged. And realized she had never shrugged before. It was part of her noble upbringing. A lady simply didn’t shrug.

After a while of sullen silence, she finally said, “I am sorry. I didn’t mean to be so… emotional.”

He waved a hand dismissively.

“This… might seem a strange request, but… would you allow me to stay here, for a while?”

That made him look up at her, expression curious. For the first time, she knew that he hadn’t expected her to say that. Good. So he can still be surprised, after all.

“N-not necessarily here , I don’t want to trouble your work. But… just in your house? A sitting room or even the porch will do-”

“Are you seriously hiding out here until your head cools off and you can face your parents again without yelling about how dreadful they are?”

The accuracy was too much that it hurt. Still, she was asking for a favor, so she held herself from talking back. “Yes.”

The Duke, for his part, looked amused. “You know, I literally don’t care what you do, Lady Strauss.”

She gave a half-hearted shrug. Gods, shrugging actually felt good . It’s what everyone should do when they’re at a loss for words. Why ever was she only taught to smile and look pretty and stupid?

“Please call me Mira.” she said, while the Duke thoughtfully studied his toy puzzle.

“Very well.” he finally spoke up. “Lady Mira. I think you would rather enjoy the gardens. It’s the Duchess Heartfilia’s favorite place in here. I assume you know how exquisite her taste is.”

She looked down at her beautiful but ridiculously ruffled dress and smiled. “I do, though I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting her.”

She didn’t know why he laughed, but filed that away because she didn’t know why he did more than half of the things he did, anyway. She stood up. “Thank you, Lord Laxus.”

“Oh, and take this.”

Lady Mirajane never in her life had anything thrown at her before, and she almost dropped her purse to catch the item that the Duke threw across the room. She stood there cluelessly, blinking down at the wooden toy puzzle now in her hands.

She blinked at the Duke. “Um… why?”

That was not a very graceful inquiry, but at this point, she was just grateful she was able to say something .

“It’s something to do. I don’t want to look out my window to see you in my garden miserably staring into oblivion.” he answered, finally sitting upright and cracking his knuckles as he looked over to the abandoned documents in his desk. “Also, it’s pissing me off, and distracting me from work.”

“Oh. Well… Thank you, My Lord.”

He waved her off. “Tell us if you’re staying for dinner too, just so we don’t surprise the poor cook.”

She smiled, bowed, looked at the puzzle in her hands again, and left.



“You like her.”

Laxus finished signing a document before he looked towards the window seat where Freed had comfortably settled with a book. His swordsman’s eyes were deep in thought as he looked out the window to what Laxus knew was a scene in the gardens.

“She’s surprising.” Laxus said. “And she asked to stay. Never had one like that, before.”

“Except Cana.”

“Cana is Cana.”

Freed chuckled lightly at this. “Mm. Cana is Cana.” He still remembered Lady Cana Alberona demanding that Duke Laxus Dreyar let her stay the night because she was ‘absolutely smashed, Laxus, give me a good bed, I don’t care if you’re in it I just wanna fuckin’ sleep- Don’t look at me like that, s’this the first time a drunk girl climbed up your window?’

Those were the days.

Well. Those were still the days. But not to get off-track- “Is this like Lucy again?”

Laxus stood up from his chair and massaged his shoulder as he walked towards the window as well.

He watched Lady Mirajane in the gardens. She had left her purse and expensive shoes in the fancy table and instead sat carelessly on the grass, surrounded by flowers as she busied herself with the toy puzzle. Every once in awhile, she would make pleasant conversation with the gardener trimming the nearby rose bushes.

“It’s different.” the Duke answered. “Lucy had everything she needed.”

“And Lady Strauss has nothing but her tenacity.” Freed nodded. “You know that you letting her stay here would just make her parents think you actually favor her.”

“I know.”

“But you think that’s for her to worry about.”

“I do.”

“You make her feel safe here, she’ll come back.”

Laxus reached out to cup the other man’s face, and Freed looked back at him with curious blue eyes. “Do you mind?”

There was a little amused crinkle in the corner of those eyes. “No.”

Laxus blinked. “You like her too.”

“I like her honesty.” Freed replied, bringing a hand up to the back of the Duke’s neck and pulling him down for a kiss. “I like that she’s stubborn. She reminds me a bit of you.”

Laxus raised an eyebrow when they parted. “Should I be jealous?”

“Never.” Freed smiled. “Should I?”

A scoff. “You never get jealous. You know how much you’ve got me wrapped around your finger.”

“I do, huh?” Freed let out a small laugh, and looked out the window again only to see that the subject of their conversation was gone from where they saw her last.

Instead, there was a knock on the door. Laxus stood straight, taking the other man’s hand from his neck but not letting go of it. “Come in.”

Lady Mirajane walked inside, looking a tiny bit disheveled, but much more relaxed. If she saw their twined fingers, she didn’t comment on it as she walked towards the table and set down a perfect wooden cube.

“I solved it!” she said with delight.

Whatever happened between her and that puzzle, it was clear that the activity greatly eased her mood.

Laxus pouted. “And that’s supposed to impress me why?”

“Because you were never able to solve it yourself.” Freed chimed in, amused. He turned towards the woman with a smile. “Congratulations. But it’s late afternoon. Will you be staying for supper, My Lady?”

She smiled back, but shook her head. “I’d love to, but no thank you. That would make my parents too happy.”

Laxus laughed. “Damn right. Can’t give them everything, huh?”

“I should make it in time for supper at my own house.” she said. “Thank you again for letting me stay, Lord Laxus.”

He shrugged. “Well, I didn’t want to throw you out. I’m not that terrible.”

“No, you’re not.” she laughed lightly. “It’s nice to see you too, Master Freed.”

Freed smiled. “Same to you, Lady Strauss.”

With that, Lady Mirajane bowed and left the room.

It took a few seconds before Freed realized something. “Oh. She just saw herself out. I was supposed to do that, wasn’t I?”

Laxus crossed his arms across his chest and squinted at the door from where their guest had made her exit. “You think perhaps I made her too happy?”

A thoughtful hum. And then Freed returned to his book. “I don’t see anything wrong with that.”

That afternoon, neither men could have known just how much Lady Mirajane Strauss would come to mean to Dreyar House.




Chapter Notes:

Fic has been chopped into smaller portions for your convenience. 🙂

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