Silent noises filled the office, as the lone woman dressed in a carnation pink blouse under a white coat, with a matching short white skirt—very uncharacteristic of her if only the time was a little different—flipped the pages of a white folder in her hands. It was the only sound, really, aside from the occasional sigh which escaped the woman lips. However, that cycle of sighs would soon disappear as she was expecting a cup of tea only a few minutes from now. The flipping was almost rhythmic; it wasn’t the first time she had read over the contents of the folder after all. There wasn’t much else to do, at least for the day. She couldn’t say if it was the workload that lessened or if it was just the newness of things getting to her, but she certainly had noticed that she wasn’t as stressed as she used to be when it came to work. Well, things were different now.
The gentle sound of the flipping were followed by the sudden beep of the intercom. She could almost feel some sort of relief from the change of noise. She had been stuck inside the office for quite a while, hearing nothing but papers hitting against each other. The new sound made the woman stop from her flipping pages, and she carefully placed the folder down on her desk. With a quiet sigh, affirmation was carried from the inside of the room to the awaiting person’s ears outside the office. The door slid open, and a small smile appeared on the sitting woman’s lips as a man in a gray suit entered the room in a calm stride.
When the sight of his princess greeted him, Guilford’s lips for an unseen smile. His vision had gone back to normal—well, to what it used to be before the FLEIA warhead limited his comfort to only dimness—and that was after Cornelia had finally convinced him to take the surgery for it; before that, he had continuously rejected all of Cornelia’s pleading. She could easily order him if it was what she really wanted, but all she did was plead to him to finally do it, and finally he gave in. After the optical surgery, he began to use his clear eyeglasses again, instead of the dark lenses.
“Ah, Guilford,” Cornelia raised her chin as her posture straightened, “what… Oh.” Her voice faltered and she stopped when her eyes grazed on what her former Knight was holding in his hands, and certainly, it wasn’t the files she had asked him to get from Ms. Chawla. She raised eyebrows in surprise, and slight curiosity.
Guilford came closer and said, “These are for you, milady,” as he handed the bouquet of white daises to Cornelia’s waiting hands.
“O-Oh,” Cornelia said as she accepted the flowers, confused, but if one looked a little carefully, there was a small tinge of a blush slowly poking through the skin of her cheeks. Well, she didn’t have any suitors did she? Certainly not. However, the only thought that persisted was that Guilford had given her a bouquet of daisies, and it was what made the color finally emerge. It was, she admitted—out of the blue—and while it wasn’t the first time he had done this, she would be less surprised if it was at the appropriate time. There wasn’t any event, was there? It wasn’t her birthday. Not that she didn’t like it, however… “Thank you, Guilford,” she said a little reluctantly.
Guilford simply smiled. He replied, “You should deliver those words to Her Majesty Nunnally, Cornelia. Those flowers are from her. They arrived today.” He handed out a white card to Cornelia. “This came with the bouquet.”
Embarrassment hit Cornelia as her own assumption wronged her. If anything, it made the color of her face worsen. Oh… Of course, how could she expect something like that? As soon as she could feel it well up, she immediately pushed away the traces of embarrassment from her face and mind. And Cornelia wouldn’t allow herself to feel disappointment, but, perhaps, there was a small trace of it. “Of course,” she said, back to the usual, as if nothing happened at all. “I will be talking to her later. Thank you, Guilford.”
She took the card from Guilford and looked at it earnestly. Without mistake, it was Nunnally’s handwriting. She inwardly scolded herself for expecting that the bouquet came from Guilford. The image of Guilford holding a bouquet in front of her was familiar, a distant memory, and perhaps, in the endless abyss of herself and the wars and battles she had fought, she had hoped that she could see that image before her again. Cornelia knew it was too much of a dream, almost of a young teenager dreaming of becoming a princess to wait for her Prince Charming to come to her. Cornelia knew that Guilford was no Prince Charming. Guilford was a Knight. Well, used to be. And, she might add, she was not a teenager dreaming of becoming a princess. She couldn’t remember thinking of such line of thought even in her own adolescence. And that was not because she was already a princess.
This may be out of the blue, but I just wanted to send you some flowers. They’re daisies; I hope you like them. I didn’t know what your favorite flower was, and I couldn’t ask—I didn’t want you to find out. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to send you anything on your birthday at all. Please treat this as my compensation.
I hope you are having a great day. :)
Cornelia smiled after reading the card. Nunnally hasn’t changed a bit, she thought. Nunnally actually reminded her of Euphy. If Euphemia was alive, she might have done the same thing, too. Nunnally used to be a sweet girl, and she was still so until now. Cornelia blamed herself for being unable to protect Lelouch, Nunnally, and most especially, Lady Marianne and Euphemia, but those were a thing of the past. Slowly, the sacrifices of her brother, the ‘Demon King’, and her dear younger sister, Euphemia, had taught her to slowly forgive herself. She still could not believe that she had survived up to this point, where she could see the results of her brother’s sacrifices. It was Euphemia’s dream. The present world was almost surreal. Before, Cornelia thought such a world only existed in her childhood dreams, and yet, she was able to see for herself that such a world can exist. However, it still made her feel quite uncomfortable at times, that she was part of Euphemia’s dream, and Euphy herself wasn’t.
But that, she realized, was also a thing of the past now. Euphy’s wish for her was to happily live in a world of peace. They never knew when the peace would last, so here they were trying to keep it. That was part of Cornelia’s work, and Guilford’s, too, and everyone else’s.
With this, Cornelia stood up from her chair, revealing long black boots that covered her feet to her middle thigh, preventing any more skin from showing, not to mention again that she was wearing a short skirt. Her whole outfit was feminine, but still modest. She walked by Guilford, her scent trailing her way as she looked for a vacant vase to put the flowers into.
“And here are the files you asked to retrieve,” Guilford added. “I will just be placing on your desk.” And he did so, putting the papers just beside the folder Cornelia put down a few minutes earlier. Then, he looked at Cornelia and calmly walked up to her. “Can I be of any help to you, Cornelia?” he asked kindly.
“Ah, yes.” Cornelia continued to look around the room, but glanced briefly at Guilford, saying, “Can you help me find a vase for the flowers? I remember having a vacant one somewhere…”
Guilford nodded and looked around the office. He saw stacks of papers and folders neatly arranged on the tables and in the bureaus. There was not much to see in the room. After the war, both of them had settled in a small office that they believed was enough for the kind of work they had. Cornelia once said that a huge office would be of no more use to her. Her office before was practically useless, she muttered before, for she kept on traveling around the world to different Areas to confront Numbers and their Knightmare Frames. There was a tall window, just a few meters away from her desk and his; it overlooked a training ground for Knightmare Frame pilots.
Guilford’s eyes traveled to the small spot in the corner of the room, just beside the window’s draped curtains. There was a pale green vase sitting quietly there. He went closer to the vase to get it. It might have been a few weeks since he did a cleaning of the whole office. Dust was beginning to collect in the insides of the vase. He took a tissue from his pocket—it came along with his cup of coffee in the canteen this morning—and started to clean the vase with it, blowing away dust from the inside of the vase.
Without him noticing, Cornelia was already behind him. “Hmm, I think that’s fine. Where did you find it?”
Guilford took a moment to glance beside him. Their position was familiar, but if he remembered correctly, he was usually the one at the back. “It was just beside the window.” He did the finishing touches and presented the vase to Cornelia, turning around. “Here, Princess.”
As Cornelia took the vase from Guilford’s hands, Guilford smiled a little. Cornelia noticed; he had been smiling more recently. Their proximity was not new to the both of them. They’ve had their moments, in fact, especially before and during the war, when he had to comfort her, when he needed someone to talk to, and when he just couldn’t help but get closer. This time, however, with their titles stripped away from them, they had the freedom to do anything. He had the freedom. Deep inside, however, there were times when Guilford hoped that, he had the freedom to get close to her like this anytime, too. He looked down, his blue eyes watching the hands of his princess holding the white vase he used to hold. Cornelia removed what wrapped the bouquet, and then, placed the flowers inside the vase. Guilford kept on watching her.
After finishing, Cornelia raised her head, dark blue orbs to blue gray orbs, whispering a small, “Thanks.”
Guilford was sure, that somewhere behind what used to be the cold façade of a war commander, that he saw a sincere smile form in Cornelia’s lips. He held his breath for a moment. Finally, that was what he had been waiting for after the death of Princess Euphemia. He noticed, too; she had been allowing herself moments to smile more recently.
He looked at his watch.
“It’s time for tea.”
Cornelia nodded and walk towards the door. Guilford followed after her, saying nothing. They would be going to the canteen together. It was their routine.
“Oh, and Guilford?”
Cornelia turned her head to look at him accusingly, “You called me ‘princess’ again.”
Guilford apologetically smiled. “I apologize.”
“You will no—I mean, I ask for you not to do it again.”
“Yes, Cornelia,” Guilford said as he dipped his head in acknowledgement.
“You don’t need to do that,” she told him, referring to his actions.