Leon S Kennedy believed that tragedies were a constant - a state of flux. It didn't matter if you were born in the upper echelons or raised in slums or farms: a tragedy was a tragedy and Leon's life were dotted with them like stars scattered across the night sky. However, it was through perseverance alone that Leon made it through his set of tragedies which included the death of his parents when he was but twelve summers - an incident that activated his Guide and Omega genes simultaneously. The second tragedy to befall him was the loss of Sherry Birkin's parents who were kind enough to take him in and raise him alongside their much younger daughter who was also discovered to be an Omega at the tender age of twelve years old, a fact that Leon found ironic considering that he, too, lost his parents and was an Omega at the same age. Leon, ashamed, was internally grateful for the coincidence considering that he was at a loss as to how to comfort the little girl was able to use it to find the stable ground and bring her and her crumbling household together to function enough for her to pass her examinations and be competent enough to introduce herself as Lady Sherry Birkin of Shrewsbury at the tender age of eighteen years old, an act that was unprecedented within their Society due to her being an Omega and a Beta Guide, both of which allowed to hold no titles unless she was married, a law that Leon saw as an idiotic and barbaric. It held people who had potential down and forced them to abide by rules that worked for those who were blessed to be Sentinels and Alphas. The rules didn't work for those who were less fortunate and were born as Omegas, Betas, or Guides. It was unfair and the reason why Leon would see it that Sherry could and would do anything that she saw fit.
Even if that included becoming engaged to one Jake Muller.
"You disapprove?" Sherry folded her hands across her lap and met his gaze calmly from across the desk that separated them, but Leon believed that the distance was far greater as of late and he couldn't say that he wasn't part of the problem.
"I said nothing of the sort, Sherry." Leon folded his hands underneath his chin and return her stare with one of fondness and sympathy. "I merely ask that you take a step back and consider what lies ahead of you, Sunflower." Leon rose from the desk chair and rounded the desk before dropping to his knee before his little one and grasping her hands with his own and staring up at her with a small smile. "I don't dislike, Earl Muller."
"You just think that he's too old for me?"
"He's used to be a mercenary?"
Leon opened his mouth to protest, but stopped when what said caught up to him and he found his eyebrows raising. "And you're telling me this on the eve of your engagement because...?"
"It wasn't necessary," Sherry responded, lowering her gaze when Leon shot her a chiding look. "It was in the past and it didn't need to be addressed."
"It needed to be addressed." Leon rose to his feet and moved towards the tray filled with tea and moved to the scotch. "I am part of the Birkin Household, Sherry. What if someone comes up and starts a conversation with me about Jake's past? Do you realize how embarrassing it would be if I didn't know what he or she was talking about? I didn't know that the new Lord of Shrewsbury was a former mercenary?"
"I-" Sherry began before looking thoughtful and a touch ashamed. "I didn't think about it. I didn't think about how much his former life could have an impact on our marriage because I thought it didn't matter, Leon. If I did, then I would have told you. I'm sorry, Leon."
Leon pursed his lips before setting the crystal tumbler down and turning back to Sherry who was looking at him with such a sad gaze that he instantly felt guilty about being harsh with her and her decision and that, in turn, made him feel even guiltier. Sherry was old enough to make her own decisions and it was time Leon acknowledged it. She was the Lady of Shrewsbury and he was beneath her in terms of titles and lands and the only thing they had in common was that they were both Omegas. It was time to accept that Sherry was moving on without him.
"I love you, Sherry." Leon murmured, approaching the young woman and taking a seat next to her. "I love you with all that I have and I just want you to be happy, safe and loved."
"I am and I will." Sherry reached over and grasped his hands with her own, giving them a gentle squeeze that almost brought Leon to tears. "I love Jake and you would too if you gave him a chance, Leon. Sure, he's rough around the edges and he has a rather callous attitude, but he is kind and gentle and he treats me as if I am his entire world. I would be a fool to turn such a man away because of his past and his bloodline. Weren't you the one to say love like that comes only once in a lifetime?"
"You're not allowed to throw my words back at me, Sherry."
Leon's eyes slid closed and he took a deep, shuddering breath before lifting his gaze and meeting Sherry's pleading blue gaze. She really was grown up, wasn't she?
"I wish you all of the happiness that God can offer, Sunflower," Leon whispered, giving his former ward a small smile when he felt nothing but pure, unadulterated happiness pressing against his mind. "You have a wedding to plan, don't you?"
"Yes," Sherry rose from her seat before wrapping her arms around Leon and squeeze him tight enough to draw out a breathless chuckle from the older Omega. "I can't thank you enough, Leon." Sherry stepped back, shooting him another bright smile before swiftly marching towards the door, a pep in her step that Leon hadn't seen in a long time. "I have to go write to Jake and tell him that he is to drop everything and come to meet you. I have so many letters and requests-"
"Which I will take care of in the morning. It is late, Sherry. Please, write your letter to Jake and rest in your chambers. I will see you in the morning."
"Yes, Leon. Good-night."
The door clicked closed and Leon found himself alone before a soft chuckle came from the windows, startling Leon whose expression morphed into one of displeasure.
"Lady Wong." Leon greeted, taking a seat at the desk again before turning the chair back to the window to see a slim woman with short, back hair and hazel eyes. "Good Evening, Lady Wong."
"Good Evening, Leon." Lady Wong gracefully stepped through the window before slipping it shut and locking it. "You should be careful about the windows - especially with five Omegas in your Household."
"I am more than capable of defending myself, Ada. You saw to that, did you not?" Leon folded his arms and regarded the Alpha with a well-placed smile. "Would you like some tea?"
Ada's red lips pulled into an apologetic smile and Leon's stomach dropped. He wasn't fond of that particular smile and when it appeared, it usually meant trouble for the other party involved.
"He's asking about you." Ada murmured, a sense of pleasure running up her spine as a delicate blush stole across Leon's cheeks. "Again."
"I have no need for that type of information," Leon uttered, a swell of frustration entering his chest when Ada shot him another smile. "He's more than capable of writing a letter if he wishes-"
"To see you?" Ada goaded, a small chuckle burst past her full lips. "To make love to you? To marry you?"
"To inquire about my health." Leon deadpanned, cursing when his cheeks darkened at Ada's implications. "Why are you pushing this so hard, Ada? What we had together was nothing more than a little summer affair and we were both children."
"Yet, why is it that you think he still inquires about you? If it were that simple then he wouldn't be sending letters your way, correct?" Ada dug into her cloak, pulling out a small envelope with a stamp of a wolf. "I owed him a favor and he asked me to deliver this to you. If you would be so kind as to read it and send a correspondence?"
"When did you turn into a courier?" Leon teased.
"Again, I owed him a small favor and I'm simply paying a debit-read the letter, Leon. I do have other business to attend."
"It's not a letter - it's an invitation to a wedding." Leon's eyes scanned the paper and he was quite surprised at the names: Lady Jill Valentine and Lord Carlos Oliveria. He didn't think for a second that Lady Valentine wasn't going to marry anyone but Lord Redfield, but it seemed that ten years invited a number of changes.
"Oh? Is Lord Redfield finally tying the knot?"
"No," Leon responded, his stomach fluttering at the thought of Lord Redfield being married or engaged-Leon shook his head, pushing those thoughts of his mind. "It's Lady Valentine and Lord Carlos Olivera. I haven't seen Carlos or Jill in years. I never expected them to end up together let alone get married." Leon looked at the invention with a closer eye and swallowed when he spotted a single question at the bottom left corner: Would you do me the honor of being my plus one?
"Ah." Leon placed the card carefully on the desk and turned his attention to Ada who blessed him with a slow blink when he made no move to pick up a pen. "He invited me to the wedding as his plus one."
"Ah," Ada repeated, but Leon wasn't fooled, he could hear the suppressed laughter in her voice and he wanted to call her out on it, but she would deny it to the day she died. "Are you going to accept? It would be good to see Jill and Carlos and I believe that Sherry and Jake were invited."
"She neglected to inform me of the invite." Leon wasn't pleased by the information and fully intended to confront her about it in the morning. "I suppose that it would be a good opportunity for them to make appearances as a couple."
"She's not married and it's inappropriate to be seen without an escort." Ada protested, disapproval clear in her tone and it only made Leon smile. Ada might have thought herself above the rules at times, but even she followed certain etiquette when it came to Sherry.
"Which is exactly why she didn't inform me of the invite," Leon concluded before returning his attention back to the invitation. He supposed it wouldn't hurt to attend the wedding and he would be keeping an eye on Sherry in the meanwhile, right?
"If you would, Ada, please send Lord Redfield my regards." Leon swept his pen on the back of the invite before sliding back into the envelope and handing it back to Ada who took with a pleasured smile.
"Of course, but what's in it for me?"
"Ugh, don't even start with that disgusting man." Ada scoffed, returning to the window and sliding it open, turning back to Leon with a tight grin that failed to reach his eyes. "You know I would never force you to do anything that risks your life or emotions, but I think that this is the best for you, Leon."
Leon couldn't respond to Ada's words, for she slipped out of the window and into the night before he could open his mouth. He scoffed before rising from his desk and leaving the office. He never expected his day to end with the learning of Jake Muller's past and accepting a wedding invitation from Chris Redfield-
"Alpha Sentinel Chris Redfield." Leon corrected himself softly. "I forgot about that rather prestigious title, eh?"
For an instant, Chris' face flashed before Leon's mind; strong, kind and just a touch of mischevious that always worried Leon when he was within distance of it. Chris Redfield was trouble and it raised a number of red flags when he received a letter from him after ten years and Leon didn't want to think about Ada's words, that Chris still held feelings for him after almost a decade and if that was the case, then why didn't he say anything earlier? It made no sense and it was one of the reasons why Leon had accepted the invitation. Chris couldn't still be in love with him, couldn't he? Still couldn't hold feelings for him, right?
"Of course not," Leon uttered. "It's impossible."
Almost as impossible as Leon still being in love with Chris.
The last thing Leon expect was the excited buzz when he rose shortly after dawn the next morning. It was usually quiet enough so that he could enjoy the still and cool air the morning and low sun provided, but he was quite surprised when Sherry entered his room dressed in a traveling gown with a harried maid on her heels.
"What's the meaning of this?" Leon questioned, watching with a wary air as Sherry moved to his wardrobe and opened it with a small huff. "What are you doing, Sherry?"
"I am packing your luggage for the trip which we shall depart in two hours. Sarah? Be a dear and start Leon a bath, yes? We don't want to arrive at the Wolf Manor smelling of sweat and slick do we?"
"Yes, Lady Birkin." Sarah scurried into the bathroom and not a moment later, Leon heard the rush of water and shuffling of shelves which gave him ample time to turn around and address the situation.
"It's seven o'clock in the morning, Sunflower-"
"It will take four hours to reach Wolf Manor." Sherry cut in swiftly. "I don't mean to be the last one to arrive-"
"You're nervous." Leon cut in, smoothly moving out of the bed and approaching Sherry with cautious steps. "It's the first time arriving at an event as Lady Sherry Birkin of Shrewsbury. It's okay to be nervous, Sunflower."
"It is not okay to be nervous when I have been invited to a Duke and Duchess' wedding." Sherry bit her lips, careful not to disturb the rouge that was painted on her lips. "I know that is because of Lady Redfield that I am attending and she said it was fine that I brought Jake as well, but she inquired on whether or not you were coming with us."
At the question, Leon stilled and realized that while Sherry was nervous about the upcoming nuptials, Sherry had no idea about the summer affair he shared with Lord Redfield.
This was going to be pleasant.
"I spent an entire summer next to the Redfields after the Lord and Lady Birkin passed away," Leon responded, giving the younger woman a half-truth. "You don't remember because you spend the remainder of the time with your grandparents."
"Oh." a flicker of sadness passed over Sherry's eyes and Leon would have rushed to apologize, but Sherry spoke up, her voice solemn. "Nana and Papa never approved of my parents adopting you-unofficially, but my parents were good friends of yours and you were-are-always good to me, Leon. You've always been there for me when I needed it the most." Sherry grabbed his hand. "I know Jake will be with me at the wedding, but I think I will feel even more comfortable if you were to come. Say you will come with me?"
"I-" would it be wise to tell Sherry? About his connection to Chris? The last thing he wanted to do was blindside her which could turn into humiliation if everyone, but Sherry knew about his little affair with Chris and the last thing he wanted was to make Sherry uncomfortable. "I was given an invite." he finished with a nervous smile. "He invited me as his plus one."
"Oh?" Sherry looked confused before it vanished into a teasing gleam that made Leon want to bury himself in his blankets. "What's his name? Do I know of him and how come you never told me?"
"It was Lord Redfield," Leon responded, watching as the teasing gleam in Sherry's eyes slowly become replaced with shock. "He remembered me from all those years ago and knew that I was friends with Lady Valentine and Lord Oliviera."
"So, you're relationship is nothing more than that of a friendship?" Sherry sounded disappointed and Leon decided it would be best for that disappointment to remain. After all, the last thing he wanted was to give her false hope.
"Yes," Leon confirmed, although, he wasn't exactly sure what his relationship with Chris entailed. "He's merely a friend who was kind enough to invite me." Leon stepped away. "I have to bathe and dress. Is the carriage ready?"
"Almost." Sherry sounded disgruntled. "One of the horse's shoe was clipped and had to be repaired. He's one of our fastest so I don't dare leave him. I set out your outfit for the trip and your luggage has been packed and sent to the carriage." Sherry turned on her heel and made for the door, her steps cautious and spoke of a woman just entering the world and it made Leon's heart melt. It would only be a matter of time before his little sunflower no longer needed him.
Leon pushed the thought aside and made to move to the bathe and dress, his movements careful and considerate of the journey and eventual meeting. He settled on a pair of black trousers that hugged his legs with a pair of knee-high traveling boots that matched his black waistcoat and long-sleeved blue shirt. He completed the outfit with a simple black jacket that did an excellent job of hiding his neck and mating gland. With one last look in the mirror, Leon moved out of his room and towards the foyer where Sherry waiting and greeted him with a small smile, grasping her gloved hands at his appearance.
"You look wonderful - as always." Sherry reached up and adjusted the collar of his jacket to display his mating gland. "I wish you wouldn't hide it. At this rate, you will never find a decent Alpha."
"I am content to remain as I am now, Sunflower." Leon reached up and placed a careful hand on Sherry's head, gentle as to not to disturb the curls. "You don't have to worry about me-"
"I am and I will always worry about you, Leon." Sherry stepped back, her gaze lowered and her shoulders tense. "We're family, right?"
"Of course." Leon stepped forward, placing his hands on her shoulders and turned her towards the door. "Shall we? We don't want to be late to the Wolf Manor and Lady Redfield-Burnside will be happy to see you again, yes?"
"Yes." Sherry glanced at him over her shoulder. "But, don't think this conversation is over, Leon."
"Of course, my lady." Leon soothed, internally wincing at the thought of the next four hours. It was indeed, going to be a long journey.
He just hoped it was going to be worth it.