Legal Reasons (Fantasy Heroine Snippets)
(Takes place between S4 E3 and S4 E4)
Leo poured himself wine as Robin tucked into his food, and for the next few minutes the silence in the Rose Room stretched out comfortably.
While he took the worst of the edge off his hunger, Robin pondered his previous conversation with Leo. Specifically, the significance of the sentence, ‘I’ll go and talk to her Ladyship.’
That overzealous formality wasn’t for his benefit, Robin was sure. And the fact that Leo was being even more formal than usual... didn’t bode well for the state of marital relations.
Still, Robin Waverley prided himself on impeccable comic timing. Which was why he waited until Leo had taken a large mouthful of wine before asking, ‘So, has Rosy deflowered you yet? So to speak?’
The wine went everywhere. Robin, satisfied that he hadn’t lost his touch, waited patiently while his friend finished aspirating his drink, and even mopped up some of the spillage with his napkin.
Just to be helpful.
Eventually Leo, trying very hard not to dwell on any of the images the question had forcibly shoved into his head, managed to choke out, ‘Sorry, what part of “marriage of political convenience” escaped you?’
Robin frowned. ‘The part where you’re still required to consummate it to make it valid?’
Leo froze. ‘Wait. What?’
Robin shook his head, smiling ruefully. ‘You know, I sometimes forget you’re not a...a...’
‘Posh boy like you?’ Leo grunted, recognising the tone.
‘Posh boy like me,’ he agreed affably. ‘Leo…it’s a marriage. There are...contractual obligations.’
Leo swallowed, and opened his mouth. No sound came out.
It wasn’t as if Leo hadn’t considered that, but given that Rosamund had only recently stopped flinching every time they made any kind of physical contact, he had assumed that Rich People Marriages probably wouldn’t require...
An image rose unbidden of Rosamund embracing him, face screwed up with disgust, body rigid-
Robin, even if he wasn’t privy to the horrors currently playing out in Leo’s head, took pity on him.
‘Of course, officially speaking, the marriage only has to be consummated by the solstice after next, and it’s unlikely that anyone is going to call on you at midsummer to vow before witnesses that you’ve done the deed.’ He shrugged, and started in on a chicken leg. ‘But technically you aren’t actually married until you do. And since Rosy is absolutely scrupulously honest...’ he looked a little uncomfortable, which, Leo reflected, at least meant that misery had company, ‘she’s not going to see a reason to wait.’
Leo digested this, a particularly complicated mix of hope and desire and abject horror brewing in his chest. And Robin hadn’t finished.
‘Having done my supremely awkward duty and informed you of this,’ Robin sighed, ‘be kind to her, please? I don’t think she’s coping terribly well with the news that Hugo was murdered, and as much as I love you both, this,’ he waved his hands in Leo’s direction, ‘would not have been my solution to her inheritance problems.’
The pair fell silent, Robin chewing, Leo sipping his wine. Carefully.
‘She…’ Leo trailed off, unsure where to even start, and Robin schooled himself to patience. Captain Collins, he knew from experience, was not much of a talker, and sometimes you just had to hold your tongue until he thought through what to say.
‘She still recites the Litany for the Dead for Hugo,’ Leo mumbled finally, looking down at the floor. ‘Every day, and I’ve heard her in the middle of the night sometimes when she can’t sleep.’
Robin grimaced in sympathy. Leo set his plate aside and sat on the bed, scrubbing his hands through his hair. ‘This is a mess.’
‘Do you love her?’ Robin ventured, and then grinned when Leo’s head snapped up. ‘Actually don’t answer that, Captain Collins, it’s all over your face. Well,’ and the look he gave Leo was suggestive, ‘at least I don’t have to worry about you turning her down?’
Leo groaned, and buried his head in his hands.
‘I wonder how quickly she’ll fall in love with you,’ Robin mused, and Leo lost his temper.
‘Robin, I JUST SAID-’ he began furiously, Rosamund’s tear-stained face still at the forefront of his mind.
‘I heard what you said,’ Robin replied comfortably, setting aside his own plate so he could relax onto the bed, ignoring Leo’s anger entirely, ‘but I’ve seen how she looks at you. She used to look at Hugo like that. So the fact that you’re painfully in love with her,’ he held up a hand, ‘and please don’t insult my intelligence by denying it, is ideal from my perspective.’
‘Because you married her, idiot, which solves at least some of her legal problems in the short to medium term. But you also love her, and even if she doesn’t love you now she could grow to love you in the future. She’s one of my best friends. I want her to be happy. So you’re on notice, Captain Collins. Try your best to make her happy, or else.’
And then, before Leo could even think the words, ‘or else what?’ (because ‘what’ encompassed a wide variety of things where Robin was concerned) Robin looked around the violently pink room again, and yawned.
‘I take it we’re in here for the duration?’
‘I can’t promise you a great variety of views,’ Leo said apologetically, relieved to change the subject, ‘but this seems to be the furthest room from everything, so as long as someone remembers to feed and water us, we’re probably not going to be spotted and arrested. Probably.’
‘Ah, how I’ve missed your indefatigable optimism, Captain Collins.’ Robin closed his eyes. ‘Wake me if the world ends, won’t you? It’s been a long day.’ Leo sighed.
Be kind to her.
He was in very serious trouble.