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28 March 2010 @ 11:07 pm
Tuesday, April 15th, 2940
Marseille, France

The Palais Longchamp was technically the political home of the European Archduke Bédoier and Archduchess Cassia, the king's younger brother and his lovely wife. However, Bédoier spent more time holing himself away in the Château d'If than he did at the palace. It was only during special occasions such as these that he dragged himself over to his formal residence. And it was a special occasion without a doubt. Odo had taken the liberty of inviting over a good number of the world's leaders for a party without giving Bédoier much more than a day's notice. His frustration was obvious, but there was nothing that could be done. No would not be taken as an answer. He and his wife pulled the event together at the last minute as requested and put on the facade of happy, inviting diplomats.

Why Odo had insisted on throwing the party was the big question. Knowing Odo just got enjoyment out of making him more miserable at every turn, he hadn't questioned it. However, the fact that he had promised a happy surprise to the other people he had invited did interest him. Dinner came and went with much amusement despite the lack of an explanation and then the group retired to the next room for a drink before dessert.

And finally the reason came: Queen Bernadette was expecting. Bédoier was calm, quiet, but shaken to the bone at the announcement while the others cheered and gave their congratulations. They chatted excitedly in the room for awhile before being called back for dessert. The Archduke did not follow. He sat there staring into the fireplace with a blank expression, as if completely tuned out of the world. One arm rested on the chair's armrest with a glass of scotch loosely held in his hand, the other lifted to cover his mouth in silence.

Odo was much less surprised at his brother. He motioned the others to go on without him so they could have a moment alone, shut the door to the room, and walked back to where Bédoier was seated. Even though Bédoier's troubled reaction was subtle, he knew very well that there was something wrong. Odo leaned over the back of the chair with a smile.

"You're not going to join the others?"

"Chacun est vraiment heureux, oui?"

"Why wouldn't they be? Every king needs a son to carry on the line. It's a celebration!"

Bédoier frowned and raised his glass to his lips for a drink. He didn't understand why Odo always had to dance around these subjects like everything was alright when they both knew what this was about. "Ces personnes ne savent pas que tu es stérile."

"Oui, c'est vrai. Mais, si ils ont eu des doutes, le secret ne sera pas menacé maintenant!"

"How can you be so calm about this?"

"Why shouldn't I be?"

"Ce n'est pas ton enfant!"

"Berdy m'a dit déjà tout."

He had figured as much. While it would've been nice if their secret could have been kept, this was not the sort of thing that could be kept under wraps with a baby on the way. At least not from Odo. It wasn't like he didn't think the other would find out eventually anyway. He just didn't want him to find out like this... He slumped over slowly and softly sat his glass down on the coffee table in front of him. "Pourquoi...? Pourquoi n'es-tu pas fâché? Tu ne deviens jamais fâché...même si c'est quelque chose comme ceci?"

"C'est l'enfant des deux personnes que j'aime les plus," Odo explained, giving Bédoier a comforting pat on the shoulder. "There's no reason to be mad."

"Pourquoi ne peut-tu pas me détester?!" He got up and slammed his hands on the back of the chair, looking his brother in the eyes. It was a question he had asked himself so many times and it was met with the exact expression he assumed he'd be given. That smile. It was always that smile as if nothing was wrong between them. So many times he had wanted to beat that smile right off of his face. His grip on the chair tightened, but he was stronger than that. He would not be made the fool. He let go and started walking towards the door. "I'm going back to If."

Odo didn't bother stopping him, but he laughed at the idea. "But if you leave now, the others will get the wrong impression. No one ever trusts a jealous uncle, Bédoier."

"Je m'en fous!"

"And what about Cass?"

That caught him in his tracks. That's right... His guilty conscious would not let him forget about her, but he hadn't wanted to think about possibility of her ever finding out the truth. She still didn't know about what he had done. If she did...

"Cette femme ne peut pas savoir. Non, ma femme ne peut jamais savoir..." Bédoir trailed off, covering his mouth again in silence.

"Oui, mon frére. Donc, je te suggére de rester," Odo said calmly, but it seemed like more of a happy command than it was a suggestion. It wasn't that it was a harsh tone, but it was still a dangerous one coming from him. In any other situation, Bédoier would've snapped back and reminded him that he had no right to suggest he do anything. But this was different.

The younger brother didn't dare move. He knew it then even though it hadn't came to mind until that moment. He had lost most everyone on his side to the political world some time ago. All that remained was himself, his ship, and his queen. Everyone had considered the game over when he finally agreed to take the title of Archduke for the European lands after the former king's unexpected death. He had backed down, but he and his brother knew very well that their game had never really ended in all of that time. This was it though. Right now. Whether he and Bernadette knew it ahead of time, she had been used to bring about his final downfall. The Red Queen had unknowingly led him into a corner and he never saw it coming. He had been blinded by the one thing he finally felt was true in his life. He had no way of knowing if any of this was really Odo's plan all along, but he was trapped now. He couldn't turn to the one person who had remained by his side and running would do little good now. He was alone on the board and unable to take any action.

Stunned, he turned his head and looked back. Odo stood with a wide grin that seemed to go as far from ear to ear as it possibly could.

"Échec et mat."
Mood: productiveproductive
Music: The Birth and Death of the Day by Explosions In The Sky