Actions

Work Header

One Geass to Rule Them All

Chapter Text

The servants looked on in awe as the esteemed Emperor, Charles zi Britannia, paced worriedly up and down the corridor in front of his wife’s bedchambers. Marianne was in labor, but no screams filled the air due to the effective soundproofing of the room. That didn’t stop Charles from worrying. It was the first time he’d ever felt so helpless. He’d never attended the births of any of his other children except for his eldest, but even that event hadn’t been nearly as stressful as this one. If something were to happen to his beloved, his Marianne-

Suddenly, the door burst open, and a nurse emerged to inform the emperor that the newest Prince of Britannia had been born. Before she finished talking, Charles was brushing past her, and shoving various medical staff out of his way. When he finally reached saw her, he was greeted by a strong wail. He came to a stop and smiled, marveling at the sound. He then marched purposefully towards the bed, intent on showering Marianne with his affection, and getting a glimpse of his youngest. However, as he got closer he noticed that she was looking down at the baby with a miserable expression on her face. His smile slowly disappear. Was the boy defective? What could be wrong?

Once she was in reach, he immediately gathered her up in his arms. His fingers intertwined with Marianne’s and together they clung to the baby’s swaddling blanket. He tried to look into her eyes, but she kept her face turned away. She was staring at the child.

“Marianne, what is wrong?” he asked, anxiety making his tone sharp. She didn’t even flinch. Instead, she tensed in his arms, but couldn’t bring herself to answer him. She knew that, eventually, he would find out, and then her son would know only suffering. No! Not my son! Not my Lelouch!

She tightened her hold on the child, startling him. He squirmed, scrunched up his face, and let out a loud cry. Oblivious to her son’s distress, Marianne was lost in her thoughts: she was Marianne the Flash, and she couldn’t protect her only child?

Thoughts of fleeing rattled around in her head. Already she had a plan half-formed that included slipping something in her husband’s drink, sneaking past the guards to the hangar where the knightmare frames were, and then using one to escape. All she had to do was keep anyone from realizing that-

Then the baby opened his eyes, and in the left one were the beginnings of a very familiar mark.

The Emperor’s gasp was like a knife stabbing her. He knows!

Instantly, Charles zi Britannia understood: this child would never reach adulthood. He felt a numbness spread through his entire being, and a wall form around his heart. This child would serve a higher purpose, but he could never be a true prince of Britannia. He looked at Marianne, and knew that what she wanted could not be done, not without destroying life as they knew it. He tightened his grip on her arm, drawing her close, bracing her.

“Fetch the witch,” he ordered the nurse who was hovering close by. She nodded and quickly left the room. At his words, Marianne grimaced and hunched over, as if shielding the baby with her body. At her reaction, Charles sighed. He reached up and gently guided her face until she was looking at him.

“My dear wife, we still have 18 years with the boy. How much contact you have with him will be your decision and yours alone. However, by the end of that time, you will have to let him go. For the sake of this empire, and this world, this boy must be dead on his eighteenth birthday,” he whispered to her. His eyes were cold, but Marianne knew her husband. Still, there would be no escaping this fate. Her sight became blurry as the tears overwhelmed her. Normally, she could keep them at bay, but the doctors and nurses had long since cleared out. No one besides her beloved husband would see her cry.

After a minute of sobbing, she managed to pull herself together enough to feel numbness setting in. It was then that the Emperor made her a promise; a promise that, for years to come, would be the only thing keeping her from spiraling into depression.

“My beloved, don’t cry. We will have another child. Do not worry, we will have another.”

Chapter Text

“Big brother, why are we going to live in Japan?” Nunnally asked, wiping the sleep out of her eyes. Earlier that day, their mother had unexpectedly roused the siblings from their sleep, shoved them in a helicopter, and sent them off with nothing more than the name of their destination. Nunnally had quickly fallen asleep, but Lelouch had stayed alert, contemplating the heated conversation he’d heard the night before.

After they’d landed, the pilot had helped the two children off the helicopter, and handed them a map with the Prime Minister’s home circled. He then pointed to path nearby and told them that they’d best follow it. Finally, with a quick good-bye he took off. With no other choice, Lelouch briefly studied the map before tugging Nunnally up onto the main road. They’d been following it for about thirty minutes when Nunnally asked her question.

His hand tightened, enough to make Nunnally whimper. He grimaced before letting go entirely and turning around to engulf her in a hug. His soft jet-black hair brushed against her cheek.

“Don’t worry Nunnally, mom and dad are just worried that the Aries Villa is no longer a safe place for us. Because of that, they are sending us to a place where no one will be able to find us,” he reassured her. After feeling her nod, he let her go and grabbed her hand again. They continued to walk down the path. He hoped that they’d reach the home of the Prime Minister, Genbu Kururugi, soon. Lelouch grimaced, and reluctantly picked up the pace. The sun was starting to set, and he didn’t really want to be stuck outside in a foreign land with no lights to guide them.

Some time passed, and it was only Nunnally tugging on his hand that made him realize that they were at the end of the road. Before them stood a grand oriental-style house with traditionally deep eaves, sliding paper screens, and a kawara-covered roof. Standing in the open doorway, staring at the two children were the Prime Minister and a young brown-haired boy. The brunette was clinging to the older man’s leg, and staring curiously at the two siblings. Lelouch smiled in relief when he saw them, glad to see that they’d clearly been expecting them.

“Welcome, Prince Lelouch and Princess Nunnally, to Japan. As Prime Minister, I will be in charge of your safety. This boy here is my son, Kururugi Suzaku. I hope the three of you will get along,” the tall man with thick-eyebrows stated formally. The young Japanese boy stared at the two strangers, both looking exhausted and a bit scruffy. He grinned at them, and rushed to grab their hands and pull them inside. He was sure that they would all be best friends.

~~~~~

“Hey Lelouch, why is your eye like that?”

The Britannian boy froze. It had been a few days since he and his sister had come to live with the Kururugi family. Out of courtesy, neither the host nor his servants had mentioned his eye. Genbu even went so far as to never look his guest directly in the eyes. It was obvious that the elder Kururugi knew what it was. His son was a different story. Lelouch realized that he should have known that Suzaku would eventually feel comfortable enough with him to start asking such an invasive question.

Still, despite lack of cooperation on his part, somehow Suzaku had started to grow on him. In fact, as of this moment, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the Japanese boy was his only friend. With that in mind, he found himself actually answering sincerely.
“I don’t really know.”

The Japanese boy only gave him the stink eye in response. The frown on his face clearly showed that he wasn’t buying it. Lelouch sighed and looked over at the nearby flower patch where Nunnally was busy trying to make flower crowns.

“Truly, I don’t know. I’ve had it since forever, so I often forget that it’s even there until I look in a mirror. My parents never talk about it, and neither do my siblings. To be honest, my mother has to constantly remind me that people will react oddly when they see my eye. You aren’t… disturbed by it, are you?”

“No! I- I think it’s kind of cool actually! I mean, I’ve never seen something like it before so I guess I was a little weirded out in the beginning. Ah- but I’m used to it now. Now, I think it’s just another thing that makes Lelouch… Lelouch,” the Japanese boy managed to spout, a light blush tinting his cheeks. Lelouch felt his face heat a bit as well. It was easy to ignore though in favor of basking in the happiness that had suddenly bloomed in his chest. He allowed himself to grin at the other boy.

Before he could say anything else, he was interrupted by Nunnally suddenly tackling him to the floor, laughing as she placed a flower crown on his head. Suzaku cackled at the other boy’s expense, but he soon ended up shouting protests of his own when Nunnally revealed the other flower crown she’d made just for him.

Their conversation was forgotten among the peals of childish laughter.

~~~~~

After four years spent living in Japan, it was time for the Britannian siblings to return. Seeing his mother and father for the first time, Lelouch was shocked to realize that he felt as if they were strangers. He knew that for his and Nunnally’s safety, contact had been virtually non-existent. While Nunnally had openly cried in the beginning, Lelouch had managed to keep his sadness and bitterness to himself. It had helped that Suzaku had been there. One night, the other boy had stumbled upon Lelouch crying, and had stayed with him until the next morning. Still, even understanding why they had kept their distance, he couldn’t bring himself to feel joy at the sight of them. He couldn’t- not when he knew what he’d be leaving behind.

He held Nunnally’s hand as the two of them marched towards their smiling parents. Something about their faces put him off. They were too… stiff, guarded. Yes, that was it. For all the years that they’d stayed with the Kururugi’s the only types of smiles that they’d received were carefree ones. Even Genbu had eventually warmed up to the foreign children under his care. Suddenly being faced with their parent’s carefully constructed version was… jarring. Then their gazes landed on Nunnally, the slight strain that had lingered on the edges of their mouths smoothed out. The smile, while not completely free, was more relaxed.

It was then that he realized that the only thing wrong was him. The urge he felt to flee, to return to the Kururugi house- to Suzaku- was strong. However, for the sake of Nunnally, he knew he couldn’t leave.

Memories of the one time that he’d fallen out of a tree, and been unconscious for a whole day entered his mind. By the time he’d woken up, his sister had pounced on him. Tears had been streamed from her eyes and Lelouch hadn’t been able to calm her down. Later, after all the tears had dried up and Suzaku was the only other person in the room besides the two siblings, she’d made him promise to stay by her side forever. After gently reminding her of the fact that he was three years older, he eventually relented when she’d started crying again. Now, as the memory replayed in his head, he knew that he wasn’t about to abandon her now. Whatever was wrong with him, he’d figure it out. Everything would be just fine.

As for Suzaku, who had become something more than friend- more than a brother- in the four years they’d been together, he’d wait for the day that they could meet again. After all, the other boy had promised to join Lelouch in Britannia as soon as he could.

“You’ll see Lelouch, one day I’ll be your knight! Then I can protect you, and we’ll always be together!”

The memory brought a smile to his face, which he used to greet his parents. His mother enveloped him and Nunnally in a hug that was no longer familiar. His father placed his hands on their heads and ordered them into the airplane. Nunnally hadn’t understood his command until Lelouch quietly translated it for her. She then frowned and made her way onto the plane. Lelouch followed suit.

Nunnally’s presence by his side, and Suzaku’s promise were all that kept him from staring out the window in longing for the land he’d come to call home. Instead, he faced forward and stared at the leather of the seat in front of him. His parents were somewhere in the cockpit, and it was only him and Nunnally sitting in the passenger seats while staff bustled around them.

Eventually, he found that he could no longer keep his eyes open, and he drifted off into darkness. He knew that by the time he woke up again, he’d be in Pendragon. At the thought, he felt a single tear fall.

Chapter Text

Genbu Kururugi was furious. His only son had just told him that he wanted to become an Honorary Britannian and Lelouch’s knight. While he knew that he would never have the means to stage a revolt against the empire, he’d hoped that his son would continue his mission when he became Prime Minister. To that end, he’d worked hard to gather together the resources for his son to use. Now that same son was telling him that he had other plans.

Genbu felt something bitter in his heart at the thought of his son not harboring the same dreams and wishes that he had. Evidently, he’d lost his son before he’d even begun, and he knew who to blame. While he couldn’t hate the two young children who he’d come to care for, he found himself despising the distant Empire even more. Unfortunately, it was now clear that he’d never succeed in swaying Suzaku to his side, not while Lelouch still lived.

All these thoughts flashed through his mind in under five seconds. He looked down at Suzaku, his son, his heir. In the face of the boy’s determination, the only thing he could do was say yes. It took all he had not to frown while his son started yelling happily and hugging all of the servants.

When he heard years later that his sixteen year old boy had become the youngest and first Honorary Britannian to ever be made a personal knight of a royal family member, he drowned himself in alcohol. He spent the rest of the night lamenting the wasted talent, and trying to think of someone else who would continue his work in the future. In the back of his mind was the constant question of what it would have been like had his son never met the eleventh prince of the Britannian Empire.

~~~~~

Suzaku knew that becoming a knight would be difficult. However, he’d managed to persevere. In spite of the racism that chased his heels all throughout his military career, his hard work had paid off. He’d managed to rise up in the ranks! When he’d been informed by his glowering superior that his exemplary performance had caught the eye of a royal looking for a knight, he’d been ecstatic. While he did miss his father and Japan, his home had left that place a long time ago. Now, finally, after all his hard work, he’d finally be home again.

Lelouch, I’ll see you soon!

~~~~~

As he looked into the shy but glowing gaze of Princess Euphemia, all he could feel was bitter disappointment. He wanted to flee the scene. He wanted to find Lelouch and run away with him. Unfortunately, he knew he could do no such thing. Instead, he quickly wiped the stunned look from his face, and replaced it with a forced smile. He returned the gaze of this strange princess who he’d only ever heard of. He remembered the smile that Nunnally had on her face whenever she’d talked of this particular Princess, and he mentally encouraged himself to give her a chance. According to Nunnally, Princess Euphemia had spent almost every other moment with the two siblings. The thought calmed Suzaku. Even if he couldn’t be Lelouch’s personal knight, he’d at least be close enough to protect him anyway.

Sitting among the other royals, Lelouch watched the scene unfold, waiting for Suzaku to look his way. The other boy never did.

~~~~~

The first time he took the time to really look at the princess- his princess, he’d been blown away. To be sure, she was classically beautiful, with flowing pink hair, and a soft face, but that wasn’t what stole his breath away. She had a certain manner about her that made him constantly want to be with her. Her perpetually soft smile numbed any lasting pain, physical and emotional, that had remained from his grueling years in the military. However, even when he thought this, he was comparing her to Lelouch. While she was a balm to an aching wound, Lelouch was only true cure. For him, Lelouch was a constant. There was no life without Lelouch. Still, he couldn’t bring himself to resent her. Instead, he looked forward to getting to know her. Luckily, he had all of “Orientation Week” in which he and Euphemia would spend every second of every day together in a “safe place” (some island off the coast of the mainland) before he officially started his duties to get acquainted with the princess.

It was only after a few days as her knight that he realized that he started to feel warmth in his chest whenever he saw her. There had only ever been one other that had made him feel that way. It was after that week that he finally got around to asking after Lelouch.

Chapter Text

Lelouch first met CC when he was fourteen, two years after he’d left Japan and Suzaku behind. It had been an accident. He’d been running from his fencing instructor when he’d managed to run down a hall that he’d never been before. Despite occasionally exploring the palace with Nunnally, there were still places that were new to him. The palace was that big. Wasting no time he threw himself inside one of the rooms and quickly closed the door behind him. He let out a sigh of relief when he heard footsteps approach, keep going, and then fade into the background. When he was certain that the man had gone, his took the time to look around his newest hiding spot.

“Hello,” a feminine voice called out in the near-darkness. He let out a shriek and whirled around to find the source of the sound. He saw her. She was standing beside a comfortable looking bed and staring back at him, her piercing green eyes bore into him. He warily reached back for the door handle, and was about to flee when he heard approaching footsteps again. He froze and waited until the footsteps were gone, never taking his eyes off of the mysterious and intimidating woman.

“Are you the one that they will give to me?” she suddenly asked, cocking her head to the side. He tensed up, mentally preparing himself for any sudden movements. However, after a few moments of staring, the only movement she made was to sigh and move onto the bed. He remained tense, but he got the feeling that she didn’t mean him any harm. He bit his lip, internally arguing with himself about what he should do. Eventually, curiosity won over caution and he responded to her question.

“Excuse me?”

“I can tell despite the contact lens that you’re wearing. Even at fourteen, you can’t control it. Perhaps it will manifest itself sooner than they think,” she mused almost to herself. Lelouch bristled at her words, hand reflexively covering his left eye. When he’d first been forced to wear the violet colored contact lens, he’d immediately wanted to take it out, but his father had been quick to disabuse him of the notion:

“If you take that out, you will never see your sister again. We will be forced to hide you somewhere no one will find you.”

“It’s for her safety as well as for the safety of everyone else, my darling,” his mother had added, her hand caressing his face. Instead of taking comfort from it, he’d shuddered and moved away. A hurt look flashed across Marianne’s face before she abruptly stood up and left the room. The emperor watched her go before handing his son the case with a spare contact lens inside. With a sharp look warning his son to behave, and then he went off after Marianne.

“Ah, I see that they didn’t tell you about the fate that awaits you. Well, in that case, I won’t interfere. Go away, little boy. I will see you again in a few years,” the mysterious woman commanded. She then turned over and appeared to go to sleep.

When it was clear that she was done talking, Lelouch hurried to exit the room. He glanced once more at the motionless figure from outside the room before closing the door. As soon as he turned around he was greeted by the sight of his enraged parents who proceeded to yell at him while directing him out of the hall.

~~~~~

The next time Lelouch tried to find the room, he found that the entire wing had been closed off. However, whoever had boarded it up did a pretty terrible job, because he was able to wriggle through some boards without anyone noticing. Soon, his meetings with the green-haired witch became a regular occurrence- weekly, in fact.

Despite his attempts at mining her for information, the topic of his eye never came up again. If he outright refused to talk about anything else, she would simply ignore him and go to sleep. He’d learned quickly not to try and manipulate her into telling him either. He wasn’t sure how, but she was even better than Schneizel at redirecting the conversation. He was consumed with the mystery for a long time, so much so that he’d begun to ignore his sisters and Schneizel. However, after a few years of no leads, he resigned himself to waiting until his parents finally deigned to tell him the truth, like they had promised when he’d first returned to Britannia (and if he really didn’t want to know the answer, that was no one’s business but his).

~~~~~

When they finally told him, he was sixteen and had just been informed that Suzaku was to be Euphemia’s knight. He’d known that Suzaku had joined the army, and he’d followed the other boy’s progress since the beginning. He just hadn’t expected something like this- hadn’t predicted. He remained speechless for about five minutes before the anxious servant tried to get his attention again. Shaken from his shock, Lelouch allowed himself to be dragged to the ceremony, where he saw the two together for the first time. He stared at Suzaku’s face the whole time. Their eyes never met. Instead, the other boy seemed to rally himself before smiling at Euphemia. His eyes never wandered from her face the whole time.

When the ceremony was over, Lelouch tried to catch his best friend before he left. Unfortunately, by the time he caught up to them in the hallway, the two had their heads bent together as they talked. Her arm was looped in Suzaku’s, and every once in a while her head would shoot up as she let out a happy laugh. Lelouch shuffled in place behind one of the marble columns, trying to rid himself of the uncomfortable feeling that he’d be interrupting if he tried to say anything. He didn’t quite manage it. Disappointed, he made the decision to disappear behind the pillar and make his way to the opposite side of the palace, to the room that he wasn’t supposed to be in, to the room where no one would look for him.

Of course, it was there that his parents later found him. Marianne sat down with him instead of yelling at him, and he let her. The Emperor stood, of course. CC lounged about on the bed as per usual. Feeling suddenly lost and in need of something to ground him, he grabbed onto his mother’s hand. However, despite her reciprocal attempts to comfort him, all he could feel was trepidation, and loss. He breathed deeply and leaned into his mother. He was too distraught to realize that his parent’s couldn’t possibly know that he was feeling distraught because of Suzaku. He’d never told them of his feelings for the other boy. So when his father started speaking, it took him a while to realize that his parents had an entirely different reason for finding him.

“In this world, there is a power called Geass,” his father began, “It is exclusive to our family, and it has allowed us to rule for generations.” He then held out his palm to Lelouch, allowing the teenager to see a very familiar sigil. Every night before bed he would take out the contact lens, and that symbol was all he could see.

“However, there cannot be more than one user in this world at a time. The person who is meant to have it has it passed down to him or her from the previous user. The person who has the rightful Geass, is meant to rule. Thus, to have Geass, is to be the ruler of this Empire. Of course, there are others who gain a Geass by accident, by being born with it. You are one of these people. Unlike those who receive it, those who are born with it have to wait a sufficient amount of time for it to fully manifest so they can use it. The moment it is fully developed, it is duty of the current user to absorb this extra Geass,” CC continued. She hadn’t looked at Lelouch once throughout this entire meeting. Surprisingly, it was his mother who spoke next.

“That means that you will have to disappear from this world.”

“The moment you turn eighteen I must absorb your Geass, for the good of the Empire,” Charles finished, facing towards CC. He refused to look at the breathing corpse sitting before him. This was his duty. It had happened before, his own brother had been the sacrifice then. Having nothing else to say, he left.
Marianne felt a single tear fall down her cheek. Despite her own promises to herself not to get involved with this doomed child, to not invite the heartache that he would invoke, she couldn’t help but love this boy, this teenager, her first-born. However, even if she wasn’t consciously aware of it, that tear would be the last she ever shed for her son. This last meeting was as good as a farewell to the boy. After all, she’d had his whole life to accept this. For the next year or so that he would be alive, she’d be in another continent all together.

CC stared at the boy who was to be sacrificed. She’d grown fond of him. Each conversation they’d had had convinced her more and more that it was a waste to kill him. However, for the security of the empire, she knew she had to comply. Still, what a waste.

~~~~~

Lelouch left that room alone, and secure in the knowledge of what his future would be. While he knew that he should feel some sort of sadness or anger, all he could feel was resignation and numbness. After all, as his father had implied, if he stayed alive and his Geass fully manifested, terrible things would happen. As much as he valued his own life, he couldn’t put Nunnally, Euphemia, or Suzaku at risk like that.

He felt a sudden flare of defiance. As childish as it was to say, it was unfair. He wanted to live. He wanted to continue smiling with Nunnally, debating politics and playing chess with Schneizel, and spending his days aiding Euphemia in her hard-won campaign for peace. More than anything else, he wanted to see Suzaku again.

But if he wanted those same people to live, he had to accept this fate. With another pang, he realized that it would be best if he started to distance himself from the others. His parents had already done just that. All the rest, he knew, would eventually move on, save for perhaps Suzaku. However, that evening had convinced Lelouch that perhaps he didn’t have to worry about Suzaku after all. The newest Knight of the Round certainly had all the tools he needed to accept Lelouch’s passing.

While he knew that Suzaku would eventually seek him out, he recognized that he would have to take every opportunity to push the other boy away. Additionally, he could never allow the other boy to find out the truth. He simply didn’t have the energy to deal with Suzaku’s reaction as well as his own. Resolved, he continued towards his bedchambers, mentally preparing plans for every possibility.

Chapter Text

The long awaited reunion with Lelouch was upon him. He simply couldn’t stop grinning as he thought of seeing the other boy. It had been so long, and now it felt like he was finally home. When the door at the other end of the ball room opened, he couldn’t help letting out an enthused shout and rushing forward to launch himself at the leaner boy. They both went down in a tangle of limbs and Euphemia could only chuckle at the picture they made. During their talk, Suzaku had confided in her both the friendship and the beginning of more that he and Lelouch had shared. Looking at their obvious happiness, she felt a bit jealous (she wasn’t sure of who she was jealous), but she also couldn’t help smiling.

“Lelouch, I am finally a knight! I’ll be able to protect you, Nunnally, and of course Euphie!” the Japanese boy shouted happily. Lelouch gave a light chuckle in return as he carefully untangled his limbs from the other boy’s.

“Congratulations Suzaku. I’m very happy to see you again. Come on, I’ll bring the two of you to see Nunnally. Ever since I told her the good news, she’s been dying to see you both,” he replied, standing up. After holding out a hand for both Suzaku and Euphemia, he led them towards the wing of the Palace that he and his sister shared.

“Suzaku, Euphemia, congratulations you two!!!” Nunnally exclaimed, running up and hugging the two as they entered her bedroom. Euphemia and Suzaku exchanged a happy glance before regaling Nunnally with their latest exploits in promoting peace and cooperation throughout Britannia. The little girl gazed at them with awe, her eyes widening with each story they told. Lelouch watched the scene, content. He was content. How could he feel anything else?

Every once in a while Suzaku would look over at the other boy and try to include him in the conversation. Lelouch simply laughed each attempt off, saying that he wanted to know more as well. Eventually, he left after explaining that he had a meeting with Schneizel, which was true. He’d recently started dabbling in diplomatic relations at Schneizel’s side. After successfully, convincing some of the more difficult colonies that Euphemia’s mission of Peace was genuine, his older brother had been impressed enough to allow him some free reign.

He still had a few years to go, and he couldn’t remain idle throughout. If his diplomatic missions took him away from his family for extended periods of time, it was only an added benefit.

~~~~~

When Lelouch was seventeen, he’d indulged himself for the first and last time. It had been just over a year since Suzaku had returned to his side (well not exactly to his side). Since Lelouch had yet to choose a knight, much to his siblings’ chagrin, Euphemia insisted he take Suzaku with him on some of his more dangerous missions. Unexpectedly, this one had ended earlier and easier than expected, affording Lelouch an extra few days to himself before he had to leave for the next one.

Without anything to do, the only thing that occupied his mind was that there was only so much time remaining. For the first time he felt something similar to regret sink into his bones rather than the familiar feeling of numbness he’d embraced ever since he’d learned the truth. For the first time, he realized that he still wanted to live. He didn’t want to die yet.

It’s only for a few days, he thought to himself. And so he spent his free time letting go and allowing himself to enjoy Suzaku’s company. In fact, the two ended up ditching the rest of the security detail to travel around the Britannian countryside.

All it took was one night. Suzaku had looked at Lelouch who, for the first time since he’d been reunited with him, looked directly into the Japanese boy’s eyes. A heartbeat after, the two had ended up kissing. Instead of pulling away, like Suzaku had expected, Lelouch had pulled him closer instead.

The next morning, Suzaku had tried to talk about what had happened with Lelouch, but the prince ignored him. The only time he spoke was to inform him that Euphemia was asking for him. The Japanese boy had been forced to leave Lelouch’s side and hurry back to Pendragon, back to Euphemia. The next day, Lelouch finally returned to the capital with the same smile on his face that he’d had since Suzaku had become Euphie’s knight. Only those closest to him truly knew how brittle it was.

~~~~~

When Lelouch confided in CC, she hadn’t laughed at him like he had expected her to. Instead, she’d simply patted the spot next to her on the bed. He’d only hesitated for a moment before gingerly sitting down. After all this time talking with the green-haired woman, he’d almost say that she was his closest friend. He couldn’t afford to allow Suzaku to hold that spot any longer, and truly somewhere along the line they had slipped out of sync.

As if sensing his thoughts, CC smiled softly before scooting behind him and leaning against his back. They remained that way for the rest of day.

His eighteenth birthday was coming up. The Emperor and his mother hadn’t even mentioned it to him. There was no doubt that there would be a lavish party in his honor, if only to distract the public from the truth. The next day there would be an announcement of an assassination, and his father would say a rousing speech in his memory. He wasn’t sure if the Empire would mourn him. He wasn’t as public as his siblings. The only people outside of the family (and Suzaku) who would miss him might be the other ambassadors he met with daily. They constantly were telling him of how they appreciated how his plans always came to fruition.

“Lelouch, this time we’ll all bake you a cake, alright?” Nunnally announced happily. She gestured to Euphemia and Suzaku who both nodded enthusiastically in agreement. They had all noticed that something was off about the black-haired boy, but they weren’t sure what it could be. The eleventh prince simply smiled in response. He knew that they noticed his unease, but, so close to his death, there was little point in trying to keep up the facade. After all, he only had a few days left.

“I’ve also got a great present for you, Lelouch! I’m sure you’ll really like it!” Euphemia exclaimed with a chuckle. Considering Suzaku’s happily flushed face, Lelouch could guess what it would be. He’d heard rumors that Euphemia was shopping for a new Knight. He’d hoped that he’d been wrong. Evidently, he hadn’t been as successful as he thought at pushing Suzaku away. However, he couldn’t bring himself to feel bad about that.

With another considering look at Euphemia’s face, he realized that, if nothing else, his death might be the one thing that would finally push the two together. No doubt, after he was gone, they would be the ones to look after Nunnally as well. He smiled at the thought.

“Thank you, Euphie. I look forward to it,” he responded.

~~~~~

The day that Suzaku returned from his trip with Lelouch, he told Euphemia immediately that he loved the other boy. Despite the tears that streamed down her face, she told him that she understood and would give them her blessing. She had also jokingly confessed that she had known about them and had been confused about who to be jealous of. At his confused look, she’d told him of her crush on Lelouch. He had grinned at her in understanding. It felt as if a weight had been lifted off his chest as he realized that he was finally going to become Lelouch’s knight.

“I’ll find another knight,” she told him with a sad smile.

“I’m sure you’ll find the perfect person,” he assured her happily.

The next day, Lelouch had returned. Suzaku tried to approach him, but the other boy had managed to avoid him for the next few days. Finally, he’d been forced to return to Euphemia who had excitedly told him that the final arrangements would be finished Lelouch’s eighteenth birthday.
“We can tell him then!” she’d concluded happily. Suzaku could only laugh and agree. He couldn’t wait to see the look on the other boy’s face when he realized what his present was.

~~~~~

On Lelouch’s eighteenth birthday, Suzaku attended the party with Euphemia. He didn’t have to anymore, since everything had been finalized. He did it mostly out of courtesy, a final goodbye (although it wasn’t as if he’d never see her again). Still, it felt like something that had been special to him was ending. That feeling was eclipsed, however, by the excitement he felt at what was going to happen after.

He’d danced with Euphemia and Nunnally, but still had yet to talk to Lelouch. The other boy had been introduced at the start of the party, his parents standing imposingly behind him. Everyone had clapped politely before turning to each other and dancing. After that, Suzaku had been distracted by Euphemia asking him to dance.

Now that he was alone, he found himself looking around for the other boy. He would have continued to do so, if Nunnally had not then interrupted him for another dance. When he glanced up at the throne, he noticed that neither the Emperor nor Lady Marianne were there either. He frowned in confusion. He mentioned his observation to Nunnally who agreed with him that it was odd.

It wasn’t long before everyone noticed the absence of the Emperor, his consort, and the man of honor. Eventually, people stopped dancing in favor of whispering loudly to each other. It was clear that they too were confused about this out-of-the-ordinary behavior. Suzaku couldn’t take it any longer and moved through the crowd, determined to find Lelouch himself. However, when he tried to push on the doors, they wouldn’t budge. Panic pierced his heart. His distressed hammering on the door quickly attracted the attention of the other party-goers. They too tried to open the doors. When that failed they tried to open the windows, but they didn’t move either. Just before true hysteria broke out, the doors opened to reveal the Emperor himself.

Immediately, the crowd calmed down, although they were still outraged by their temporary imprisonment. They waited to hear what he had to say.

“Lelouch vi Britannia, eleventh prince of the Empire, is dead.”

~~~~~

The day after, when all the guests had left, the royal family had convened. There, the Emperor had calmly assured all his other heirs that the assassin had been caught and taken care of. They wouldn’t have to worry about suffering the same fate as Lelouch.

While most of the siblings notably relaxed, only Cornelia, Schneizel, Euphemia, and Nunnally didn’t looked satisfied. They, unlike the others, had noticed the glaring absence of Lady Marianne. More than that, they were the only siblings who had noticed the subtle change in both Lelouch and his mother about two years ago.

Before Euphemia could try to argue with their father, Cornelia placed a hand on her shoulder and shook her head.

Off to the side with the other knights, Suzaku stood paralyzed, unable to process what the Emperor was saying. Lelouch? Dead? Assassin? Why is he so CALM?!

~~~~~

It was sometime after the Emperor’s official announcement that the four siblings and Suzaku met up to talk to each other.

“Father is hiding something. Why had he and Lady Marianne disappeared for over half the party? He had to have known there’d be an assassination attempt ahead of time. If that was the case, why didn’t he inform any of the guards, any of the knights? Why would they target Lelouch, the eleventh prince, and not any of the other heirs?” Schneizel wondered aloud. The others nodded at his words.

“I must say, Lady Marianne seemed almost… unnaturally calm that day. For a long time now she’s been agitated. However, on that day, she seemed almost… relieved?” Cornelia commented. Nunnally’s head shot up as she looked up at her older sibling. Her violet eyes sparkled with anger.

“Don’t say that! Mother would never be relieved about something like this!” she cried out. Cornelia quickly apologized to the younger girl. Euphemia wrapped her arm around Nunnally’s shoulders.

“Unfortunately, there is no way to investigate. I’ve tried every avenue I could. The only people who know anything are the Emperor, Lady Marianne, and assumedly Lelouch. Since neither the Emperor nor Lady Marianne seem inclined to say anything, I fear the answers will continue to elude us,” Schneizel admitted.

“So what?! You’re just going to abandon this??!!!” Suzaku’s voice startled the royal siblings. The raw anger, the anguish in his voice, fed the fury that they all carried in their hearts. Out of everyone in the world, they had loved Lelouch best.

“I wouldn’t say that, we’ll continue to try. However, we’ll need to be creative. It is clear that everyone involved is invested in keeping the truth hidden,” Cornelia stated. Suzaku, still distraught, could do nothing but nod. He was so angry and distressed that he could hardly think.

Unfortunately, despite their suspicions and their investigations, no evidence ever showed up that would lead them to the truth.

It would take years, but eventually, they would all move on. The weight of Lelouch’s sudden death would never go away, but given time, they relearned how to live despite it. It was only Suzaku who continued to obsess, who continued to cry almost every night. Euphemia had offered to keep him as her knight, but Suzaku had taken one look at the disappointed look of the knight that would replace him and refused. He knew he was in no shape to look after the princess right now.

Nunnally stayed with him constantly at the beginning. She was all that stopped him from following Lelouch into oblivion. However, even she learned to move on eventually. It helped that she was quickly taken under Euphemia’s nourishing wing. Cornelia too, determined not to let down another sibling had taken it upon herself to care for Nunnally’s safety. She had been the one to train the boy who would eventually become Nunnally’s steadfast and loyal knight.

It was when Suzaku was at his lowest that he was finally approached by a green-haired woman. He was startled by her presence. He didn’t even bother grabbing his sword to confront this possible-foe. The world had long since lost its colors, lost its purpose, and if this woman was here to kill him, he wouldn’t stop her.

But her next words were accompanied by a sudden burst of color.

“You’re the one Lelouch would always talk about. I have something to discuss with you.”