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January 2015
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Sam Cyber Cat [userpic]

Title: A Cold House
Rating: G
Genre: Friendship
Series: Professor Layton
Shipping(s): Angela/Henry fake marriage, references to Angela/Randall and one-sided Dalston/Angela
Character(s): Angela Ledore, Henry Ledore
Summary: Her first day as a married woman wasn't at all what Angela had expected it to be, nor was she with the man she'd longed to marry.
Notes: Written for Sudoki, as part of the Professor Layton Tumblr Secret Santa 2014. The prompt was for a fic about Henry & Angela, set during their fake marriage and struggling to get over being too formal around each other. Decided to base the fic literally a day after they've gotten married. Contains a lot of spoilers for Miracle Mask (even this description does, sorry).

She heard the door click shut behind them as Henry entered the house.

This was it. Their first night as a married couple in their new house. House. Definitely not a home yet. It takes years of familiarity to create a home, Angela felt, and those were feelings she could not bring herself to have about this house so quickly. Perhaps she never would.

No, she couldn't think like that. Thinking like that was as bad as saying she'd accepted Randall would never come back. Everything she'd done lately had hinged on the belief that he would. She wanted to believe that he'd return as strongly as Henry did.

Henry was the one who had arranged this entire marriage and provided a house for them both to live in. It wasn't a real marriage, but no one was to know that. The alternate had been to go through with a wedding arranged for her by her parents, to a man she didn't love. This way, Henry's way, she was still to be married to a man she didn't love, but it was a simple place-holder for when the person she did love came back. Henry would step a side once Randall returned, allowing for Angela to be with him once more, regardless of what anyone else thought.

She hoped that would happen soon.

In the meantime, Angela was thankful to Henry for getting her out of that situation. And also for providing a place for her to live, away from her parents. She didn't think that she could stay living with them after all this. Besides, it was expected for husband and wife to live together, was it not?

All the same, tonight was her first night away from the home she'd grown up in and that prospect was daunting.

Looking around, Angela had to admit that the house was beautiful. Clearly, a lot of care had gone into making it look as presentable as possible. Which didn't surprise her, given the way Henry was. He'd grown up in the service of others and had only recently stumbled upon a large amount of wealth himself. Because his whole life had been about tending to the needs of other people, he couldn't adjust to doing anything but that. Angela imagined that he would probably maintain the entire house on his own and this was fine by her – the less other people within their employ, the less likely it was that anyone else would discover the truth about their situation. Those involved in the search didn't count, as they wouldn't be close to the house very often. Or even at all, if it could be avoided.

Henry seemed to have gone out of his way to make the house look exactly how he probably felt that she wanted it to look and she appreciated the effort. They both silently knew that he wasn't going to be around very much, at least not while there was a single stone in the ruins of Akbadain that remained unturned in the search for Randall. Henry was going to be out searching and organising others to search, while Angela would stay here and look for ways to keep herself occupied.

It was almost a cruel fate, but Angela knew that it was only going to last until they found Randall and the three of them could move on with their lives together.

“Are you cold, Miss Angela? I could fetch you a warm drink if you like,” Henry offered. The sudden sound of his voice made her jump and, as if to justify speaking up, he added, “The desert gets very cold at night.”

“Please Henry, just call me 'Angela' now,” she insisted, breathing out in relief that it was just him speaking up and wondering what she had been expecting instead, “I know that there'll be a lot of changes for both of us, but you can't keep calling me Miss Angela now that we're married.”

Least of all because, by all intents and purposes, she was now technically Mrs. Angela Ledore.

“Very well M- ...Angela,” he resigned and she could tell he felt uncomfortable.

“I'll be fine for the moment, as well. But thank you for the offer,” she went on, answering his earlier question.

Angela wasn't a stranger to the desert and had been here many times during the search for Randall. True, she had never stayed the night before, but she'd have to get used to the temperature if she was going to live here indefinitely until the search provided fruitful results. The chill did bother her a bit. She's expected it and felt she had prepared for it, yet even so it seemed to creep under her skin. It was all she could do to stop herself from shivering.

Just as she started to feel herself becoming lost in her thoughts once more, Henry's voice cut through; “Would you like me to give you some time to get settled?” he asked.

She focused on Henry. In his eyes she could tell that he felt just as uncomfortable as she did. Standing around was not something that Henry could handle very well and she knew that he wanted her to dismiss him, so that he could busy himself with other tasks.

He was not her servant, however. Perhaps he was also not truly her husband, but she was not going to treat him as if he was in her employ, either.

“No, I'd like you to stay, if that's all right,” she answered.

“If that is what you wish,” he replied.

There was no point in arguing that what she wished was for him to do what he wanted, because it wasn't fair to put that on him, after he'd spent a lifetime following the orders of others. She knew that staying here wasn't what he wanted to do. What he wanted to do was go back to searching for Randall. But she needed company right now, enough to warrant contradicting her desires for him not to feel like a servant.

Angela walked over to the sofa and sat down, looking up at him pointedly. In response, Henry came over and sat on one of the chairs, hands folded on his lap. This choice of seating said everything. He did not feel comfortable sitting with her on a sofa, because it felt like an invasion upon her relationship with Randall. He still felt like a servant to her, not a husband. As he watched, she knew that he was silently hoping any new words that came out of her mouth would be instructions, so that he could bring her something she wanted or else get back to his other duties.

Instead, she made small-talk.

“I was glad that Dalston came to the wedding,” she began.

After enough of a pause that it was clear she wasn't going to add anything else, Henry replied, “Yes, we really don't want any ill-will towards our position.”

She chuckled a little, “I think it's a bit late for that. You're never going to be Dalston's favourite person now. But he's a good soul and I know that deep down he wouldn't have been happy knowing that I would have gone into a forced marriage with him while I still loved Randall.”

“And yet he was still prepared to go through with it,” Henry reminded, in what was the closest he'd come to putting forward his own opinion on the situation since he'd suggested the fake marriage in the first place.

“I think that he hadn't thought ahead. If he'd had more time, he probably would have come to the right decision, it's just that we didn't have a lot of time to spare,” reasoned Angela.

“Maybe so,” he replied and it was clear he wasn't as certain about that as she was.

“This way he's free to pursue his career in the hotel business and we're free to... to keep looking for Randall. It works out better for everyone,” she went on, to add some light to the situation.

“Yes, I do think that this was best for everyone,” agreed Henry.

“All the same, I very much doubt this will be the last we see of him,” she said, smiling fondly, “I'd be surprised if he hasn't opened a hotel here by the end of the decade.”

“If there's the business to warrant it,” Henry replied, “Though I've been surprised at the amount of interest we've had in the search.”

“There's not enough work in this area for people to pass up the opportunity to make money,” Angela put forward.

“That's a very good point. Fortunately for us, we seem to be making more money than we lose, so there'll be no worries of having to end our search any time soon,” Henry confirmed.

“Even if... well, it goes on for years?”

“The search will continue until we find Master Randall.”

“Of course, I'd never think otherwise. And I'm sure that we will find him before long, with so many dedicated people helping to look.”

Although Angela suspected that the amount of time that elapsed between Randall's disappearance and their finding him wasn't at all Henry's concern. His concern was simply finding Randall, no matter what happened in-between. There was no doubt that he'd keep looking until he either did find Randall or he died. Nothing else would stop him.

Henry didn't reply to her statement. Making any comment on the amount of time that Randall had already been gone for would mean being unable to avoid the possibility that he may well be dead. And there was no way Henry would allow himself to accept that.

So instead the two of them fell into silence, staring off at different points in the room. They both avoided making eye-contact for some time.

Unsurprisingly, it was Angela who eventually spoke up; “You can go back to the search if you want.” Henry's head jerked in her direction and she continued, “I know that there's a lot to do and you don't have time to waste sitting around here.”

He rose from his seat, hesitating for a moment, before walking over to the sofa. Then he placed a hand on top of Angela's. Their two wedding rings clinked against each other, like a couple of strangers bumping into one another in a crowded place.

“Being with you is never a waste of time,” he whispered, “I am very glad that you decided to be here with me and believe we'll find Master Randall. You didn't have to. And I wouldn't have blamed you if you didn't, but I'm so glad-”

Angela silenced him by standing up suddenly and pulling him into a tight hug. She could tell that he felt tense, but right now, she didn't care.

“What sort of friend would I be if I didn't?” she mumbled into his shoulder, “You came to me when I was at my lowest point and made me believe what the rest of the world convinced me was impossible. We will find him. Because of you...”

“Th-thank you Miss- ...thank you, Angela,” Henry murmured, his shoulders visibly relaxing.

Pulling away to look at him, Angela said, “I know that this is going to take a lot of getting used to for both of us. But we can do it. We're both friends who care about each other and believe in the same thing.”

“I'm glad you have that much confidence,” Henry replied, with an awkward little half-laugh.

“Don't pretend that you don't,” she scolded, warmly.

“I have faith in those that I care about. And over the years Master Randall and yourself are the only people who have extended me the kindness that is worth caring for,” admitted Henry.

“That's very sweet,” Angela concluded, and then she pushed lightly against his chest, “Now go and get back to looking for Randall. I know that you'll find him.”

“I won't let you down,” he promised, bowing and turning to leave. At the door, he looked back and said, “Though I'll try to be back before you retire for the night. It's just a few things that need sorting out amongst my notes on the caverns, so that the teams aren't treading on each other's toes.”

“You're a man of your word, so I know you'll be back,” said Angela, “Just take care.”

“You too. And if you need anything, just call,” Henry instructed. After that, he left.

She waited until the door had clicked shut behind him before sinking back down into the sofa and releasing a breath. It may well be a very long time before this house felt like a home, she knew, but somehow it felt warmer now. They were in this together, her and Henry. Perhaps the line between husband and wife was not clear, but their friendship definitely was as clear and unwavering as it ever could be. As long as they held onto that, they'd be fine.

And thus, the newly wed Angela Ledore began her wait for the man she loved to return to her.