To The Fire

Prologue


In ashes of despair, though burnt, shall make thee live.

-Sir Philip Sydney


She had been living since the day he died.

Truly living, not just experiencing. She liked to think that perhaps, she had been living before then, back when he was alive. Some evenings, when she sat up late at a kitchen table with a cheese pizza and a bottle of wine—classy, she knew—she would think back to those two years. The most influential ones in her long, long life.

It wasn't to say she spent most of her time reminiscing and living in the past. No, she was living in the present now—he would say the future—and it was only those rare late nights, usually when she was between lovers and jobs, that she felt like staying up to remember.

That crazy kid….

She had probably really been in love with him. She felt a half-smile form on her lips, and shook her head, taking another languid bite of cheesy goodness. She leaned against the chair, flopping her head of green hair back and staring at the ceiling. It was white, rather boring. Nothing at all like the ceilings back at the Emperor's palace. Not as interesting to look at as the ceilings in the various vehicles used by the Black Knights. Though, it was better than the ceilings of the hotels she had shared with Kouzuki that year.

The thought of the redhead made her smile, and she nearly spilled her carelessly held glass of wine. It had been the invite to the wedding that had brought C.C. back to Nunnally's New Pendragon. Orange had passed it along with his semiannual crate of citrus, and there was no way C.C. would miss throwing the girl a bachelorette party. She had confidentially informed the groom that she was invited only because she had been the stripper at said party. She visited them periodically for the next few years, and found it satisfying to think that he had never known the real reason. Blonds were fun.

She had known a few of her own, too. This time she did laugh, setting down her wineglass so as not to spill it. Poets were crazy—nearly as crazy as Lelouch had been—but fun to keep around because their affections involved many silly rhymes. They were rather like musicians, she mused, but without the ability to keep a tune. She snorted, and took another bite of pizza. She could find herself a musician, try the groupie life for a while. She wasn't sure if it was really her style… or if she really had a style.

Someone else would cheer her up, at least. She hadn't had much cheer since Sylvan's death. She sighed. Such was life… and as usual, she buried a tiny bit of jealousy. She wouldn't begrudge that man anything, and that had been over two years ago. Two years was time enough for life to change—Lelouch had taught her that.

She drank her wine. Yeah, a musician. She should look for a good one—maybe someone with a reputation for being a nice boy. She liked that, sometimes. A nice boy would treat her like a nice girl, and she always got a kick out of making a nice kid blush. But it wasn't likely she'd find that type in a band. But a school? Definitely a school. A library would do the trick, but if it weren't a college library, she ran the risk of some offended old lady calling the cops on her. But if she wanted someone—a nice boy—she could probably just walk naked into some university's law library…. She laughed again. Maybe she would, and make up some outrageous story to go with it. Life was only living if she did something she had never done before.

She could tell the shy, flustered kid that she had just escaped from a fairytale, that her wicked stepmother was stalking her, that the only way to outwit her had been to burn everything she had been given—including her clothes. She paused for a moment. She'd need to have something like a cape of stars to pull that one off. She smirked, and finished her glass of wine. She lifted the bottle to pour herself another, and then just raised the bottle to her lips.

See Lelouch? Life was fun.