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Hawthorn And Wild Roses

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“Maxi! Leave them alone.”

All those years, and her son’s inability to recognise what is blindingly obvious to everybody else still manages to surprise her every time. Romance is not really his area, never has been; she casts her mind back to each of his disastrous marriages and the sparse few liaisons in between, wondering where exactly she failed in letting him see the difference between having a good time, and not having the slightest clue what to do with a woman once he got himself one.

(For a while, she thought he might be into something else entirely. Except that he wasn’t, not really; he’s not into anything, apparently, and she has long given it up as a lost cause.)

Anyone who has eyes can see what’s going on between Suki and Chesterfield; anyone but Maxwell, apparently, though he got close enough to figuring it out on that roof. As for herself, she guessed long before either of the young idiots worked up the courage to do anything about it.

(To be fair on the girl, she was probably giving him space until he finally managed to gather his strength as well as his wits – what with the tragic circumstances in which he’d lost his wife, and all the time he’d spent blaming himself for it. Suki was after all anything but an idiot, and her reluctance to make the first move was most likely down to the fact that she prided herself as a strong, independent woman who wouldn’t go where she wasn’t wanted.)

The truth is that she’s secretly looking forward to their union in the not-so-distant future, and for more than one reason; she has always been fond of the girl, even back to when she was all but a possibility in the womb of a woman who had been nothing more to Maxwell than a pleasant interlude between wife number one and two. Mrs House had been more than willing to provide for them both, without any undue interference from her son who was too busy being flattered by the charms of harpy number two at the time. (It’s such a pity that the boy has always had the attention span of a teaspoon, or he would have noticed what a lovely woman Suki’s mother was – a quality that still lives in her daughter, and to see the woman she has become is truly a sight for sore eyes.)

And it’s not only that she can relax again, knowing that the young woman is around to look after her unsuspecting father – Maxwell has always been such a ridiculous boy, she speculates as she pours herself another sherry; it has more to do with the fact that it takes an exceptional woman to deal with the combined inheritance of both the House and the Chesterfield family, and if there is someone who can handle such a burden of responsibility, that’s precisely Suki.

Her no-nonsense attitude does her credit; as well as her brains, and her unwavering loyalty to her own. That’s exactly why Mrs House chose to share the family lore with her illegitimate granddaughter rather than her own son – for all she loves him, she’s never thought for a moment that Maxwell could be trusted with the secret that has been passed down for generations, and mostly along the female line of the family for a reason.

She’s been lying earlier, when she told Chesterfield about the conversation she once had with his father; they didn’t speak about goblins or unicorns so much as they did about the Undead, and what little protection could be offered against their evil influence. And wasn’t it lucky that they did, given how that exact conversation ended up saving not only Maxwell and his little friends – including Theobald’s own son – but the entire country as well?

Thank heavens Count Orloff’s remains are currently buried somewhere inside Westminster Abbey, and everything is fine – even with the odd murderous robot than needs to be dealt with from time to time. That’s why she pretends not to notice when professor Chesterfield eventually escorts Suki downstairs; she might as well allow herself a little forty winks, her cat purring contentedly in her lap.