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

The Duke’s Wife

Chapter 2
In which a Lady decides to be a bride


Lady Mirajane’s visits turn more frequent, until one day, out of the blue, she asks, “My Lord, would you marry me?”

Chapter Notes:

me, walking home from tabletop game night @ 3 am: i’ll make laxus say that freed is the love of his life, also mira is a lesbian yes that’s good thanks

anyway! thank you for the comments last chapter!

Lady Mirajane visited a third time. Three times turn to four and then five – and by that point, she was growing uncertain whether she went because she had simply grown to resign herself to her parents’ whims, or because she actually wanted to come visit the Duke and his aide.

Her parents were always nicer to her when she came from Dreyar Mansion. This was when part of her would think that she was only moving to another cage – but a part of her felt that this was also a form of escape. She knew Elfman felt nothing but affection for her, so when he once told her that she always looked a little more sprightly after a visit with the Duke, she knew that he meant it.

She always told them the same thing when they asked how her calls went.

“Duke Dreyar is a gracious host.”

She meant it, too. Duke Dreyar was generous with his accommodations despite his trademark biting remarks and crude behavior. Mostly, she had grown to appreciate the dry humor and brutal honesty with which he approached all things with. She preferred that over the visibly forced politeness and careful dancing of everyone else on the Hill. The Duke never postured, and treated Lady Mirajane with detachment borne of simply not giving a care about where she had come from before she had turned up in his study that one fateful afternoon.

On the other hand, Freed always looked busy with various things, between University and his duties. But when his eyes were not focused studiously on books or fondly on his lover, they were pointed to her. Like she was another one of his academic papers, something to observe, to study. Lady Mirajane did not mind that much. She liked studying him too, and whenever she stared back, he never flinched. They were both mysteries to each other and to this society they navigate. They haven’t revealed all their secrets yet, but they were slowly starting to drop little truths around each other here and there. And for Lady Mirajane, that was enough.

When she looked at things as they were, afternoons spent with a Duke who let her breathe freely and a swordsman who somehow always managed to ease her mind, she found that she really did not mind these visits after all.





It was during Lady Mirajane’s eighth visit, as she sat on the floor of the Duke’s study helping the man put together an elaborate jigsaw puzzle, that she asked the question.

“My Lord, would you marry me?”

Duke Dreyar, who was sprawled on the floor across her and was staring down frustratedly at a handful of puzzle pieces, didn’t even look up. “Now, I know you came here upset, but I wasn’t aware you were that upset.”

“Are you asking him to, or was your question merely hypothetical?” Freed chimed in from his seat on the couch right behind her, looking over some documents.

“Yes, that, too. You don’t just ask a man to marry you while the love of his life is in the same room.” the Duke added. “That’s common good manners, Lady Strauss.”

The woman let out a weak smile. “My parents think that you’ll be asking for my hand any day now. I keep telling them that my extended visits here are simply due to your gracious hospitality.”

“Hah. Gracious.” Laxus snorted, thoroughly amused.

“I know, it’s foolish.” Lady Mirajane gave him a wry smile. “By now, they should have resigned to the fact that I will end up a spinster, live off my dowry in the country estate… Who would want to marry someone like me?”

She stopped when the Duke suddenly looked up, brows furrowed. “What do you mean? Someone like you?”

“I’m old, and I’ve been… spoiled.” she said softly, avoiding his piercing eyes. “No one would have me, with my reputation. I am damaged goods.”

“Did they tell you that?” he asked further, and Mira hated how cold his voice sounded.

“They don’t have to, I know it, everyone knows it-”

“But did they call you what you’re calling yourself right now?”

She paused, putting down the puzzle piece she was holding to dab at her eyes. She breathed deeply as she held more tears back. “They… didn’t know I was listening.”

The Duke didn’t speak further, but when she risked a glance towards Freed, the man put down his papers and extended a hand to her.  It didn’t take much for her to shift so she could face him and take his hand. It was strong, his grip tight, and when he leaned forward to cradle her face with his other hand, she finally broke down.

Laxus watched as she cried quietly on Freed’s lap. Even as she cried, she held back, letting out only the softest sobs and hiccups. The swordsman was silent, too, and only ran his fingers through her hair and rubbed comforting circles on her back.

When the tears subsided, the Duke was the first to break the silence.

“I would never ask to marry you.” he said. “As long as you offer yourself like that.”

She looked at him, tear-streaked. “Like what?”

“Like what you said – damaged goods, permanently.”

She frowned, hurt, because he was being cruel again and here she had almost begun to think that they slowly becoming friends. “Then how would you like to have me?”

He looked away. “Damaged, but healing.”

She felt Freed’s gentle hand wipe away a tear, and she leaned in to the warm touch. “I’m trying.”

“Then look like you believe you are.” The Duke stood up then, walking towards the door.

Before disappearing, he said, “Stay for dinner.”

His voice was so cold she visibly flinched, but as much as she found it terrifying, she did not feel that the anger in his eyes were meant for her. It as like waking up cold in the winter, and then sitting by a fireplace that has been ready to warm her.

She realized then that this was how Dreyar House had been making her feel for quite some time, after all.





Lady Mirajane stopped counting her visits after the first time she had stayed for dinner.

One afternoon, she had barely caught Duke Dreyar getting on his carriage.

“You really should let us know beforehand if you’re looking to call.” he said with a reprimanding sigh.

“My apologies. I can return another day.” she replied meekly. There had been several times that she had dropped by while the Duke wasn’t there, but usually she only had to wait an hour or two for him to arrive. The servants themselves had begun to be accustomed to her presence, and were always accommodating. However, this was the first time she came just for him to leave.

He shook his head. “Are you up for a visit to Magnolia House?”

She blinked, hesitant. “I… don’t want to intrude, if you have business there.”

“No, I was just going for a change of scene.” the man said. “Actually, I want you to come. I’ve been meaning to introduce you to someone.”

That settled it for her. With quick instructions to relay a message to her coachman, she let Duke Dreyar pull her into his carriage.



True to his word, when the Duke arrived in his Magnolia house, he only checked with the servants over a few important things, and then he claimed that he was going to take a nap. No one argued. They had all observed the shadows under the man’s eyes.

Lady Mirajane was left to the company of an old retainer called Yajima, who was very sweet and kind as they had tea together. He asked her about the countryside, and she answered his questions with fondness.

She felt an ounce of gratefulness to Duke Dreyar then, for introducing her to this kindly old man. It was refreshing to talk to someone from the city who had positive feelings for the countryside, where she had spent her last few years. A lot of her ‘peers’ in the Hill had seemed very unimpressed whenever their respective country estates were brought up.

After tea time, she found herself roaming the strange house, ending up in a salon, where she sat down in a divan and picked up one of the books on the nearby table.

It was a novel, and when she read the first few paragraphs, it quickly resolved itself into a romance. There was a single blue ribbon tucked in the book, must be to mark where the previous reader had left off. She made sure it stayed in place as she slipped off her heels, tucked her feet up beneath her and made herself comfortable on the divan to continue reading in earnest.

It was in this state that a rumpled Duke Dreyar came into the room and saw her, before sighing and muttering something about ‘unnecessarily drawn-out dramatic romance’ .

“You’ve read it?” she asked.

“Iris did, and wouldn’t stop marvelling about it.” he answered, scrutinising a tea set from the nearby table before pouring a cup for himself. “So she made Freed read, and he told me everything about it. It sounded dreadfully boring.”

“It’s quite exciting.” she said, smiling slightly, now wondering who the blue ribbon could be, if Miss Iris and Freed have both already finished their read.

By then she had thought that the afternoon will carry on peacefully, just her reading, and the Duke going about, drinking tea or whatever he did in his free time.

But then the door burst open and in strode a familiar face in a flurry of wild brown hair and green frills underneath a black and gold cape.

Lady Evergreen’s face was pale, her eyes panic-stricken as she sought out and found Duke Dreyar.

As soon as their eyes met, she let out a relieved gasp. “Laxus.”

Something seemed to snap inside the Duke, and he slammed down his tea cup and swiftly crossed the room to gather the distressed woman in his arms. She clung to him helplessly, sobbing against his chest.

“What’s wrong?” he asked, voice eerily calm and steady as he held her tight against him.

The answer was shaky. “Laxus, I’m sorry, I-… I’m so scared…”

He nodded, as if he understood fully. “You’re here now, with me. Tell me what happened.”

“My-… Everything! It’s all ruined! My dressing room, it was- All the dresses, and the flowers, they were all torn up. And the jewels he gave me, they’re all gone! He knows !”

At this, the Duke drew back slightly, studying Lady Evergreen’s face first before looking at the rest of her. “Are you hurt?” he asked, brushing brown hair from her flushed face.

She shook her head, and finally noticed Lady Mira watching from across the room. She turned away and hid her face in the folds of the Duke’s robe, fingers curling on the expensive silk. “I wasn’t there when it happened, I just found the… aftermath. The company quickly took me away, and I sent for one of the rats to fetch for Bixlow and get him to bring me here. I’m sorry, I- I don’t know if we were followed-”

“That’s not important.” he cut her off, rubbing her back soothingly.

“It is! What if they realize you’re involved in this-”

“Then they realize I’m involved. I don’t care. I’m not letting the bastard get away with this.” he said, and when she let out a miserable sob, he cupped her chin to make her look at him. “Ever- No, it’s not your fault. Ever. Where are you?”

She hiccuped. “At Dreyar House.”

“With who?”

“With you.”

“What did I promise you?”

She breathed deeply, closing her eyes and clinging tighter. “That you’ll keep me safe.”

“Yes, I will.” he said firmly, then pressed a kiss to her forehead. “I’ll take care of everything. You should rest. Let’s get you to bed so you can lay down.”

She nodded, and this time it seemed that she did not cling to him, but instead leaned against him as he began leading her out the salon.

Duke Dreyar cast a short look towards Lady Mirajane, and she only nodded shakily and watched the two leave.

She put down her book. She was not in the mood for it anymore.



An hour later, Duke Dreyar returned, picked up his tea, grimaced as he realized that it had gone cold, and then drank it anyway.

Lady Mirajane studied the way he breathed heavily, back turned to her. “Is… Is Lady Evergreen alright?” she tried to ask.

“She’ll be fine. She’s been through worse.” he said, still calm and steady.

She was burning to ask what happened, but thought it was not her place to do so. Maybe she should just leave, after all, it seemed like a private affair…

She looked up when the door opened and Freed walked briskly inside. He seemed surprised to find Lady Mira, but after a quick nod, he turned towards the Duke.

“She’s here?” he asked, his face a mask of coldness. The only other time Lady Mira saw that expression from the swordsman was before his duel, back in Lord Vastia’s luncheon, as he was spelling out the stakes of the battle.

Mira had an hour to come up with theories about whatever just happened, after Duke Dreyar left with a distressed Lady Evergreen. Now from Freed’s seething anger, new thoughts came to mind. Was Lady Evergreen the Duke’s lover, too? Did Freed know her, or about her and whatever the Duke had promised to her? Is Freed angry because of jealousy, or possessiveness?

“She’s sleeping.” the Duke answered, and for the first time that day, he sounded deeply tired. “Our bed.”

“Was she hurt?”

“No injuries, but she’s shaken.”

Freed nodded, and only said, “Fix this.” before he walked past the man and out the room again.

“I’ll need you.” Duke Dreyar called after the man.

“You better.” was the firm reply, before the swordsman’s footsteps faded.

So little made sense for Lady Mirajane at that moment, and as soon as the Duke sat down in the chair across her, she broke.

“Lord Laxus?”

He sighed and crossed his arms across his chest. “Don’t tell anyone.”

Of course he knew that she was going to ask.

She nodded. “My lips are sealed.”


“You and Lady Evergreen… you’re lovers?”

“Publicly, we wouldn’t deny that certain rumor. People’s assumptions are useful, sometimes.” he said. “Privately, it’s me suffering from her habit of using me as a pillow while she spends hours talking about her job, and her friends, and dresses she wants, and her most annoying admirers. Though sometimes, she whispers secrets to my ear.”


“A woman with charm, beauty, freedom and fame like hers? She makes a good trade in rich men’s secrets. And those men rarely care or think to care if she keeps their secrets to herself, or if she passes them on to someone.”

Lady Mirajane stared as realization dawned on her – Lady Evergreen was a seductress and a spy. Of course. Dreyar House wouldn’t be as strong as it was if Duke Dreyar didn’t have a safe network of information to keep its businesses and reputation secure.

“And you pay her to tell you these secrets?”

“I am a patron of the theatre, I contribute a reasonable amount to her art. After all, she’s a friend.” he said with a shrug. “But she’s not one to ask for coins for herself. She makes enough. She simply made me promise her safety.”

His eyes darkened then.

“Then… earlier… One of those rich men found out that she sold a secret?”

He nodded. “He’ll pay for it.”

“And Freed?”

“Freed will make sure he pays for it.”

“She’s a friend to him, too?”

This time, a rare, small smile crossed his face. “His best and oldest.”

Once again, things fell into place for Lady Mirajane. The coldness of Freed’s eyes when he arrived. His urgent question: ‘Was she hurt?’ His firm insistence that Duke Dreyar ‘fix this’, plain and simple.

She realized that she knew the Duke better when he was here in Magnolia House. That he might have welcomed her into his Hill mansion and shown her pieces of himself, but it was here in his sanctuary in Magnolia that she saw the things- the people who most mattered to him.

Duke Dreyar had a loyal and steadfast swordsman who he proudly claimed was the love of his life. An old guardian who gave him wise counsel. A beautiful actress who worked as his spy not for money but out of mutual friendship and trust. A host of people who attended his parties because of the freedom and liberation it made them feel.

These people, he protected fiercely.



The following week, Lady Mirajane went to eat breakfast with her family, and listened as her parents talked about a nobleman who fled to his country estates out of shame after losing a duel against Dreyar House. The man had denied accusations of spreading stories that spoiled several avenues of Dreyar’s trade and business despite solid evidence, and when he was questioned, he had foolishly and smugly accepted a challenge to his honor, not even hiring a swordsman and choosing to fight himself.

It was a foolish stand.

Accounts claimed that the gash on the man’s face was deep enough to probably leave a lasting scar.

Another realization settled in her then. This was a part of Dreyar House. Enemies. She might be part of rumors about her being her family’s shame, but no one would try to attack her for it. Dreyar House was more powerful, its enemies more ruthless, the rumors – it didn’t matter whether they were true or not – they were a threat not only to the Duke but the people under his protection.

It terrified Mira, to even consider being a part of something that so often fell under threat.

But it also gave her reprieve, for she knew that the Duke seldom made promises, but when he did, he always kept them.





Dreyar Mansion remained open for Lady Mirajane. She visited often, keeping the Duke company, listening to him complain about his work or the other nobles. A few times, Freed would be there, and as always he was a perfectly polite, but also bitingly entertaining company.

She was happy when the two asked her if she would like to accompany them to Magnolia House again.

While Freed went about preparations for another trademark Dreyar House party and Laxus set off to… somewhere, she found herself back in the salon, picking up the same book she started but never got to continue the last time.

The blue ribbon bookmark was in the same page, and once again she wondered whose marker it was. Did this person stop midway because they wanted to? Or had they simply not gone back to continue since the last time? Brushing the thoughts off, she went on to read.

She spent a good hour getting lost in the story, when a vaguely familiar voice brought her back to the present. “Oh, hello! I did not know that Laxus had a guest over!”

Lady Mirajane looked up to see the woman she remembered to be called Iris. She was wearing a simpler dress today, her hair in a loose plait. The girl had a friendly smile as she bound across the room and settled herself on the divan, right beside the other woman.

“You must be the Lady Mirajane I’ve heard much about.” she said, perfect smile still in place.

Lady Mirajane smiled back. “And you are… Lady Iris, if I remember correctly?”

A hint of surprise, quickly replaced with a laugh. “Please, just Iris!”

“Then call me Mira.”

“Mira.” the blonde nodded. Her eyes caught the book that her companion was holding, and she grinned. “Enjoying the story? It’s a very good one.”

“It is.” Mira said, looking down at the book. “The Duke doesn’t seem to agree, though.”

When was the last time a young lady close to her age talked to her so casually, without tip-toeing around pleasantries? As she studied the other girl, she couldn’t help but miss her sister. Lisanna would be around this girl’s age. Did she talk to Mira like this because she did not recognize her or didn’t know about the rumors? Or was it that she did not care?

“Laxus has no taste.” the girl said bluntly, with a roll of her eyes. “I don’t know how Freed could stand him sometimes.”

Mira would have to agree – sometimes the two men were so different that she found it difficult to see how they got along at all. But sometimes they come together so effortlessly that it left no doubt in her mind that they were built to fit perfectly together, like halves of a whole.

“Freed told me that he’s quite fond of you, though.” Mira said.

A touched smile. “I’m very fond of Freed, too. He’s a dear friend.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I meant the Duke.”

This time, a blink. And an answer that was as mysterious as it was revealing: “Well, I like to think that I’m as fond of Laxus as he is of me.”

Mira let out a wistful sigh. “How I wish I could think like that, too.”

Iris tilted her head and looked at her thoughtfully. “You think our beloved Duke doesn’t appreciate you?”

Mira looked sheepish. “Oh, he shouldn’t have to trouble himself with that. At most, I’m probably just someone he keeps because I do something he thinks is funny once in a while. I’m just grateful he lets me follow him around. It’s still a better time than whatever my parents push me into.”

The blonde hummed, and for a second Mira swore she saw amusement in those bright amber eyes. “Tell me, Miss Mira… Do you ask him questions?”

“Well… sometimes. I guess.”

“Does he answer?”

“Yes. He does.”

Iris then gave her a satisfied smile and reached out to give her a friendly pat on the shoulder. “Then I believe you’re doing nicely.”


“Laxus only ever entertains questions if he thinks you can handle the answers.” the girl explained. “Take it from someone who’s had to study his moods. I think he sees you more than you think he does.”

Mira stared back, brows furrowed, before she finally asked, “Miss Iris, may I ask what your relationship with the Duke is?”

A beam, and a nod. “I like you.”

Mira blinked. “T-Thank you?”

“Oh, and I’m his protege.”

“His… protege.”

“He’ll probably tell you I’m an annoying child he’s resigned himself to look after.” Iris continued, chuckling. “He won’t admit it, but I make him proud.”

Before Mira could ask further, her companion looked at the clock  in the far wall across the room and gasped. “Ah, the time! I’m sorry, I should really take my leave. My presence is demanded elsewhere. It’s nice to meet you, Mira.”

Mira nodded hastily, watching the other girl gather her skirts and stand up. “It’s been my pleasure, Iris.”

“You should come by and have tea with me. On the Hill!”

“I… I would love that…”

“Yes! I’ll be free to receive you anytime next week. Don’t trouble sending a letter, just come by the house, I’ll let the staff to know to expect Lady Strauss. Will that be good?”

“Um… Of course…” she answered slowly, caught off guard that the girl knew who she was, after all.

“Excellent! I look forward to it.” the girl said, walking towards the hallways that led towards the private suites. She stopped on her way. “Oh, and my friends call me Lucy. ” she winked, and then was gone.

Mira took several moments  to think about what just happened. She got invited to tea by a young lady her age, who was friendly and kind and so awfully sweet…

There was just one problem.

Which could be solved by the man who had just walked in, busy rifling through documents in his arm. He smiled when he noticed her in the room. “My Lady. Enjoying the book? It’s a good one.”

“I have a question.” she started, catching his full attention. “Where does Iris- I mean, Lady Lucy… Where does she live, on the Hill?”

Freed blinked, as if she had asked a trick question. “Well… in Heartfilia manor, of course.”

The name caught Mira off guard. Heartfilia manor? Was she a lady’s maid? But she invited Mira for tea, and she had a staff, so she must be a young noblewoman. Lady Lucy. Heartfilia. There was only one Heartfilia in the Hill that Mira knew of and that was- Oh. Oh.

“H-Heartfilia manor, you say?”

The swordsman nodded. “Yes.”

Noble lady lessons be damned, Lady Mirajane exclaimed, “ That was Duchess Heartfilia?!”





Tea with Duchess Heartfilia made Lord and Lady Strauss so happy that they didn’t insist their daughter throw herself at Duke Dreyar for the week.

Lady Lucy was everything her reputation claimed her to be, and more. She was undeniably graceful, but not afraid to laugh freely. She was gentle-hearted but mischievous, and ever-accommodating.

She was a friend.

“Laxus told me to take you away from him.” the young Duchess confessed. “And that’s how I knew that you’re something special.”

“What do you mean?”

Lucy smiled into her cup of chocolate. “I’m one of the Duke’s best-kept secrets, you see. Oh, our friendship is well-known in our circles, but most people simply think he likes me because I’m charming, and I bear with him because I’m a saint. We’re much closer than that.”

Mira nodded. “I see that now.”

“He trusts you, Mira. Freed does, too. They’re two of my most precious friends. They’re family, really.” Lucy said softly, looking into the other woman’s eyes. “So, I’ll trust you as well.”

Mira didn’t know what to say. “Thank you.” she managed weakly. “What… I don’t know what to do with that, I’m just… me.”

“You’re perfect.” the other woman said, without any hint of dishonesty. After a sigh, she continued, “That’s why you should ask him to marry you.”

Mira almost spilled her drink. “P-Pardon?”

“I think you’ll be a good addition to the household, Lady Strauss.”

“But- My… reputation- Everyone knows-”

“Oh, that’s nothing to Laxus. His reputation lets him do what we wants, including blatant disregard about anyone else’s reputation.” Lucy said with a roll  of her eyes.

“He already turned me down once.”

“Were you sure when you asked him?”

“Well… I was a bit out of it. I was terribly upset, and he knew it.”

“Then ask him again when you’ve made up your mind.”

“That’s… I don’t think I can, even if I wanted to.”

“You have to, because he won’t.”

“I know. Because he doesn’t want me.” Mira said, looking down, resigned. “I know he would never want me, not it that way, he already has Freed. But I had hoped he would consider it, at least in convenience. But… I guess he simply doesn’t want anything of me. I cannot hold that against him.”

Lucy sighed and shook her head. “Oh no, sweetheart, it’s because he cares about you.” she put down her cup and smiled softly. “Laxus is a Duke. I told you that he can do anything he wants – and believe me when I say that no one knows that more than him. He knows how much power he has, and he doesn’t want to use that over you. He doesn’t want to make you an offer that he knows you can’t refuse. Mira, if he asked you, would you ever be able to say no? Would your parents let you?”

Mira took that in. She had never considered that the Duke would want her, but if he did, what would she do? It would be so easy to say ‘yes’. That’s what would make everyone happy. Everyone except her, because the moment he asked her parents for her hand, it would be final.

Lucy’s eyes were knowing. She knew that Mira was starting to understand. “He wants you to come to a decision on your own, and trusts you to come to him when you’ve made it.”

“But… there’s… Freed?”

“Have you ever gone between them?”

“No, I would never, they’re… I admire them, apart and together, I could never dream of coming between what they have.”

Lucy nodded and looked at her with such a fond expression that made her breath hitch. When was the last time someone had looked at her so reassuringly?

“Going by that, I believe you’ll be fine.”





She told Freed first. Not because she was asking permission, but because she knew that he would be able to help her sort out her feelings about the matter.

“I’m glad that you were able to figure out what you want.” he said, and then he looked her in the eyes. “But there’s one thing I would ask of you before you ask the man I love to marry you.”

Mira nodded.  “I shall try my best.”

Freed’s gaze did not falter as he said, “Tell me the truth.”

She didn’t have to be asked twice.

Mira told him how her sister, the kindest and bravest of the three of them, fell in love and did not run away so much as she simply followed her heart. Lisanna had left, never to look back at a life she did not want for herself.

Mira told him that the fire in the Strauss country estates had indeed been her fault. She was shaken after her sister’s decision, had lost herself in her feelings and gave her everything to a lover who took so much more. She was young and naive, and let herself be fooled by a person who only used her.

Mira told him how she told her parents the truth, and of course she got the blame, someone had to get the blame – and for a family in a society like theirs, they had to hide in shame until people forget. But people remembered downfalls more than they do victories. And their meager fortune only served as a constant reminder, to them and everyone else.

It all sounded too simple, too detached, when she said it all out loud. She only realized there were tears in her cheeks when Freed raised a hand to wipe them away.

She saw the softest look she had ever seen on the man’s face. “Promise me something?”

“Yes?” she asked shakily.

“The very moment you become the Duke’s wife, you’ll let go of that burden on your shoulders. No blame, no paying, no believing that you’re only as good as everyone else’s opinions of you are – there’s been enough of that. We’ll start anew.”

She nodded. “I promise.”

Lady Mirajane let out a breath she didn’t know she had been holding. Somehow she felt like she had been holding it for years.





Laxus’ reaction was less impressive.

“Why the Hells would I marry you?” he said through a mouthful of cookies.

For a minute, she questioned her decision. But… well, nobody’s perfect. And maybe she could have waited until he finished eating to ask him to wed her.

Mira rested her hands on her waist. She had seen her governess do it, and she never realized how much confidence the pose could give her. “You need an heir, Duke Dreyar.”

“True, but why should I choose you for that?”

“Well, I am beautiful and healthy. And I like children.”

“Everyone can afford to like children if their husband’s rich enough.”

She took a deep breath and sighed. He was insufferable .

She loved him.

“Lord Laxus, for some reason, I trust you and I care about you. Not just you, but the people and the things you care about. I’ve grown quite attached to them too. I can promise that you can trust me, with yourself, with Freed, with Lucy, Lady Evergreen and that… strange funny man who claims to be your best friend but won’t give me his name, with Dreyar House here and in Magnolia… I am here for all of that. I want to be part of all that.”

He just stared. And then he shook his head. “That’s disgustingly romantic. I hate it.”

“Believe me, My Lord, I hate it too.”

“What else have you got?”

She thought about it. “This will make my parents happy, and I will finally be rid of them?”

“If I married every girl with dreadful parents, I’d have a rather large harem. No, not good enough.”

And then a strange gleam came to her eyes, and she looked at him with the most brilliant smile. “People have called me shameful. A loose woman. Past my season. My dowry isn’t even that big because my family is poor. We’re social climbers.”

He raised an eyebrow. “And your point is?”

Her voice was sickly sweet and innocent when she continued. “My Lord, wouldn’t everyone just hate it if someone like me managed to marry into the richest duchal house in the land?”

The Duke let out a hum of consideration.

Yes, maybe that was the answer he was looking for. A confirmation that the woman before him didn’t offer herself up to him in hopes that he could solve her problems but rather in determination that she herself could rise above them, with a little help from a rich, powerful friend.

He stood up. “Well, then, what are we waiting for?”

She blinked, watching him walk around his desk and grab his coat. “Y-Yes, My Lord?”

Laxus offered his arm with a grin. “Bring me home to your parents, Lady Strauss. I need to ask them a most important question.”





On her wedding day, Lady Mirajane wore a gown fit for a young queen.

“You don’t look terrible.” her new husband said.

She raised an eyebrow. “Is that the best compliment you’ve got for me?”

He shrugged. “Yes. You’re not exactly my preference.”

She laughed. “Neither are you mine.”

“Do you know what would make you look better?”

The woman blinked in question, and was answered with a finger cupping and raising her chin.

“Hold your head high.” the Duke said. “You’re a Duchess. Look the part.”

She nodded. She hadn’t held her head high in years, but she decided that she could get used to doing so, once again.





They spent their wedding night on the same bed – it was only right. There wasn’t much they could do after the exhaustion of the day’s events but to simply lay across each other, face to face, under the faint light of the moon from the window and the lamp in the bedside table.

Lady Mirajane spoke first in whisper. “Husband.”

A quirked brow. “Wife.”

“Tell me a story.”

He scoffed. “What are you, a child?”

She sighed. “No. I am tired, but cannot sleep. I am not used to sharing a bed with anyone.”

“You can always go to your room.”

He was right. She had her own lavish suite in the house, perfect for the Lady of the House. Many couples shared rooms after being wed, but staying separate wasn’t unheard of, either. A lot of noble ladies like space to themselves, to enjoy their privacy and have room for their wardrobe collections.

“No. I want to be with you. Tonight.” she insisted softly. “Besides, what would everyone think if we did not at least spend our wedding night together?”

“You have to get used to the fact that ‘what would everyone think’ hardly constitutes an argument for me.”

“Well, I used it once, and now we’re married.”

He had to admit that was her win. Damn woman and her sharp tongue. He groaned. “Why don’t you tell the story? Maybe you’d doze off in the middle. Everyone wins.”

“My stories are… not good.” she said, looking away. “They will make me miss my brother… and my sister.”

“Well, my stories are boring.” he argued.

“Including the ones with Freed?”

He frowned. “Of course not. Those are good ones. Most of them.”

“Will you tell me, then?” she tried, scooting closer. “How did you and Freed meet? It was in Magnolia, wasn’t it? He said it was in a… um, a house…”

Against the moonlight, her porcelain skin and silver hair looked almost luminous. He wondered if the lamplight lit his hair and his eyes too warmly, too – Freed always said it did.

“A brothel.” he supplied, eyeing the faint tinge of pink in her cheeks. “Don’t be afraid, o dear wife, I will not judge you for saying a dirty word.”

She pouted. “Fine. A brothel.

He sighed, finally resigning to his fate. “He was a gift.”

“A… a what?”

“My friends- well, former friends now, the good-for-nothing noble little shits – they thought it’d be entertaining to treat me to a whore for my seventeenth birthday.”

“And Freed was that… treat?”

“Yes. But after getting locked in that room, I saw that he was just this scared little thing who’s had a terrible day, and I’m a bastard but I wasn’t that kind of bastard – he was fifteen for Gods’ sake, that’s sick – so we ended up just sitting there… talking. About all sorts of things.”

She smiled softly. “That’s… sweet, in a way.”

He scoffed, but looked thoughtful. “And then I made the mistake of telling those fools that I had a good time – because I did , strangely enough, just not in the way they intended – and… Well, they wanted to kiss up to future Duke Dreyar, so they got ‘that one pretty whore’ from the brothel for me again . The fuckers had the audacity to sneak him into my bedroom while my grandfather was out in the country hunting with the other Dukes.”


“When I got there, Freed was reading one of my books, and then he told me that he also read the essay I left on my table – t’was something I had to do, assigned by some tutor – and he proceeded to ridicule my writing.”

This time her laugh was louder. “He didn’t!”

“Oh, he definitely did. This fifteen-year old boy, sitting on my bed all gorgeously dolled up and seductive, lecturing me about proper grammar and tearing all my debate arguments apart. He was absolutely ruthless about it all, too.”

“That does sound like him.” she said, grinning. “And then?”

Laxus ran a hand over his face before continuing. “And then I was doomed.”


“Because I hadn’t even touched him, not once, but when it came time for him to go, I asked him if he might want to come back for me again.”





Duchess Dreyar, after the wedding, was a revelation.

Before, Laxus knew that she had yet to fully open up to them. After, he realized just how much she had been holding back.

“Did you know about her?” he asked Freed one night, after their breathing had calmed down. Not much changed after Dreyar House welcomed its Lady, but at the same time it was vastly different from before.

“About who?”


“What about Mira?”

“Did you know that she’s… a lot?”

She was a lot . That was all he could think of at the moment. She was lively and outspoken, with an infectious laughter, a sharp tongue and a streak for mischief. He had known that she was smart, even wise, and specially perceptive. He hadn’t known that she took pride in those traits and knew how to show it.

It was surprising, how much she changed after she had moved out of the confines of her family home, after she had decided that the whispers about her didn’t matter anymore. Was this confidence new, or was it simply hidden deep, after her sister, after the fire?

He was distracted by Freed’s laughter by his ear. “Are you complaining about your new wife, My Lord?”

“No.” he said bluntly. “She’s perfect.”

He meant it, too.

“You didn’t answer my question. Did you know?”

“I had a feeling.” Freed replied softly. He meant it, as well. He had always felt that Lady Mirajane might have been holding back the life inside her. But oh, how beautiful it was when she let go. He could just as well value her for how she made Laxus laugh, but more than anything, it was rewarding to see her – just her – make her own decisions and take pride in them. “She’s good for you.”

“She’s good for you .” Laxus added, because he did not miss Mira hovering over Freed whenever the man got carried away in his work. He did not miss how Freed’s eyes soften in her attempts to help him with things around the house. He did not miss how their relationship had grown from kindred spirits to trusted friends.

House Dreyar was different with Lady Mirajane at its helm, and it was all the better for it.





Things fall into place. Days and weeks and months pass. Duchess Dreyar had grown into the house as if she had always been meant for it. Duke Dreyar reveled in getting other nobles angry. Freed kept busy because that was how he liked to be.

“So how’s the new Lady of the House, Laxus? I heard that she’s quite the good match for you.”

Laxus turned his gaze to where Evergreen was lounging luxuriously in soft pillows on his fur carpet, curled up with a heavy picture book of flowers and butterflies. He himself had his head pillowed in Freed’s lap as the two of them occupied the divan.

He glanced towards the fireplace where Bixlow and Lucy were intensely focused on a game of cards, then looked to Evergreen again. “What do your suitors tell you?”

Evergreen smiled as she traced a gorgeously-illustrated flower with her fingers. She wasn’t much of a reader but she had always liked looking at pretty things. “They tell me that only a madman like you would have taken such an unsavory wife.”

Freed let out an unimpressed scoff behind his own book. “ Unsavory .”

“Well, they’re missing out. Mira is brilliant. And do you know she plays a most challenging game of checkers?” Lucy chimed in.

“That, she does.” Freed said, still half-lost in his book. “I’ve never played such a good game with anyone other than you.”

“Truly!” Lucy laughed. “For years , I’ve had to pretend to lose against countless men on the Hill. And then there she was. Finally! A worthy opponent who’s not Freed.”

“Where is the Lady, anyway?” Bixlow asked. “I thought she would have joined us today.”

“If she knew you would all be here, she would have. But you all just showed up without telling me, and she’s busied herself, decided to renovate an entire wing of the mansion.” Laxus answered, eyes closed as he relaxed against Freed’s fingers idly scratching at his scalp. “About time, anyway. Cana had promised to bring some exotic carpets within the month, claimed they would make for perfect decoration.”

“Cana is back?” Lucy asked, pouting. “Why didn’t I know this?”

“Maybe because you’ve been too busy running around in the streets with your new toy.” Laxus said lazily.

Lucy frowned at him. “Loke is too kind and smart to be treated like a plaything, no thank you. He is my friend .”

Bixlow let out a low whistle. “All due respect, you know I am your humble servant, but the poor man looks at you like you hung the moon, milady… and your eyes usually say much of the same.”

Lucy turned her frown to the other man, disappointed – but really she should have expected that from Bixlow. The man made a living by being a snitch, after all.

Evergreen, never one to hold back on opinions, sighed. “My Lady, a swordsman? Really? You should know better, they’re all stubborn fools with a death wish.”

They all heard a cough.

“Except Freed.” the actress hurriedly amended, casting her best friend an apologetic look. Freed only shook his head and rolled his eyes, quick to forgive.

After all, he had been a stubborn fool with a death wish himself, on his starting years.

Lucy only laughed good-naturedly, before laying down her cards with a smirk and making Bixlow dramatically moan about never winning at cards against sweet Duchess Heartfilia.

As the two debated the merits of starting another round, Evergreen spoke to the Duke again. “While we are on the subject of friendships, has Lady Mirajane made any new friends yet? I know she enjoys spending time with you two, and there’s Lucy, but I imagine she’d want to expand her circle…”

Laxus thought about it. “She’s been planning a tea party for… who was that, again?”

“The Fullbusters.” Freed provided. “It’s just as well. Duke Silver is very generous with his friendships. Lady Juvia is easily charmed. As for Gray… well…”

“Oh, my dear Gray has a real soft spot for his lady wife.” Lucy said with a sincere smile, watching Bixlow expertly shuffling cards across her. “With a gentle heart over that. Mira made a wise choice, inviting the Fullbusters first. You chose a very sharp-minded wife, did you, Laxus?”

“Wrong.” Laxus said, finally sitting up.

He stretched as he yawned, and smoothly draped an arm around Freed’s shoulder, pulling the smaller man close so he can rest his chin on top of the other’s head.

He grinned at Evergreen’s and Lucy’s inquiring stares. “I’d say a sharp-minded woman chose me.”





Laxus knew from years of being with Freed that even when everything was fine, there would still be bad days. Sometimes, scars hurt even after years had passed.

He had discovered that Mira had those days, too. He was only grateful that she knew that she could come to him when she had them.

Hers was different. Hers was an eerie calm. Hers was silence and melancholy smiles. She would lean into his arm, rest her head on his broad shoulder, and absently watch him read and write and sign, working late into the night. She did not need to be held or to be left alone like Freed, but she needed to be accompanied. To be grounded .

“Still with me?” he asked, once, when her silence had been too long and deep that he felt like there was only a ghost clinging on to him.

“Yes.” she answered, soft and distant. “I’ll be okay, darling.”

After they got married, she had taken to calling him sweet names, claiming she liked that he lets her do so. He lets her because it was his way of telling her that he appreciated the open affection.

“Do you love me?” she asked after a long stretch of silence.

Whenever Freed asked him that question, Laxus knew that the man asked not because he had forgotten, but because sometimes he found it hard to remember. Laxus wondered if it was the same with Mira.

“Are you asking because you want to know the answer, or you just want to hear it?”

“I just want to hear it.” she said, clinging tighter, hiding her face in his shoulder.

“I do love you.” he said, honest and open, and he pressed his lips to the top of her head. “And you can always ask me again whenever you want to hear it.”

He felt the nod against his shoulder, and the grateful squeeze of her hands in his arm.

The silence broke with careful footsteps, and Laxus glanced over to see that Freed had entered, eyes sleep-heavy but intent. He paused when he saw them, and he didn’t need to ask – he just knew . The man crossed the remaining distance and raised his hand to stroke his Lady’s hair.

“Hello, Mira.” he greeted, voice a gentle whisper.

She managed a smile. “Hello, Freed.”

“Do you want to stay here tonight?”

“If you’ll have me.”

“Of course. Let’s get to bed? We’ve had a long day.”

Laxus watched as Mira let Freed pull her up to stand, and the two of them left to head to bed. He knew he’d find them later, curled up against each other later, safe and feeling better.

There were things the two shared that he could never understand, would never try to, because it wasn’t his place. He was content that they had each other for it, and that they know that they also have him.





Freed was smiling an odd smile when Laxus arrived from a meeting with some of their trading partners.

As soon as the man approached him to take his coat, Laxus raised a hand to touch the aide’s cheek in a silent question. Freed simply turned his head to press a short kiss to his fingers before taking his coat and walking away to hang it up.

“Hey, now. You’re acting very strangely.” Laxus chided, tailing the other man and capturing him in his arms. “What was that?”

“You’re required in the upstairs balcony, My Lord.” was Freed’s answer, though he did not make any move to withdraw and instead leaned his back against the other man’s chest contentedly, and even tilted his head to meet the kiss he already knew was about to be pressed into his cheek.

Laxus peered at him, all curiosity. “And what’s waiting for me there, may I ask?”

“Exotic carpets.” Freed said, still smiling that smile. “Along with something I think you’d find very interesting.”

“Cana’s already brought her wares, then? I assume Mira received her well?”

A chuckle. “You have to see for yourself. Go, I’ll be right behind you.”

Laxus let out a skeptic hum. “As you wish.” he said, finally releasing the other man and turning to heed the instructions.

He saw the carpets first. Most of them were rolled up and pressed against a wall, some unfolded and being scrutinised by some select house staff. They indeed looked colorful and majestic, but he’d look at them closer later.

He sought out his wife and their guest, and found them in the balcony as Freed had told him.

There was a set of drinks and snacks on the table. Lady Alberona, in her rule-breaking jacket and trousers attire, was sitting precariously on the balcony railing as she told what seemed to be a most exciting tale. Duchess Dreyar sat in a chair close to her, listening in rapt attention.

He had to knock on the doorframe to be noticed.

“Darling!” Mira greeted, smile and eyes bright. “Welcome home! Lady Alberona is here, as you can see.”

“Hello, Laxus.” Cana said with a grin. “I heard you settled down and I didn’t quite believe it. I thought everyone was only teasing, fooling poor ol’ me.”

“Well, you have the proof right in front of you now.” Laxus answered, nodding towards the other woman. “You’ve met my wife, Mirajane.”

“Oh, I have.” the brunette said, exchanging a smile with the Lady of the House, and her eyes never left the woman’s as she continued to speak. “And I think I understand why you simply couldn’t let her slip away.”

Laxus raised an eyebrow, while Mira laughed shyly. “Oh, you flatter me, Lady Alberona.”

Cana hummed innocently. “But you deserve all the compliments and more, Duchess.”

Laxus watched as Mira looked up shyly at their guest. He saw the bashful purse of her lips, observed the blush blooming on her pale cheeks, and the hopeful glimmer in her blue eyes and- Wait, hopeful? Oh. Oh .

He felt Freed step up beside him and looked pointedly at the man, who only raised both eyebrows and smiled expectantly.

Laxus turned to look at the two women again, and this time he did not miss the sharp glint of Cana’s eyes as she looked back. He recognized that look. It was one that she got whenever she eyed a certain piece of art that made her both want to stare at it for hours in fascination, and also to simply acquire it for herself at all costs.

And Duchess Dreyar was returning that look quite openly.

Well, then.

“Cana.” he started, and tried not too smirk too much. “Would you care to stay for dinner? Entertain our Lady with tales of your voyage?”

It was with effort that Duchess Dreyar and Lady Alberona withdrew their gazes from each other.

Cana flipped brown curls over her shoulder and grinned brightly. “Why not?”

Yes , he thought, as Lady Mirajane looked to him and to Freed with both apprehension, much like a deer caught in the headlights, a blush high on her face.

Instead of speaking, he only grinned at her and mouthed, ‘Why not?’



Chapter Notes:

are ya’ll ready for some canajane because whoo boi i am not i’m still writing it.

next week, maybe. yeah next week might be good.

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