Alright, here's the third in the series. Sorry for the long wait! I have my website to keep. This is quite long, though, but nevertheless, this involves Lelouch, C.C. and Nunnally all the better.
He turned to look at her and smiled as he saw her fiddling with the shopping bag in her hand. "Yes, C.C.?"
She turned to look at him curiously, glancing at the four other paperbags in his hands. "You brought me new clothes, new shoes and... Cheese-kun fluffy bedroom slippers."
"Yes, I did. And...?" the Black Prince urged her to continue as they entered the vicinity of Pizza Hut and he sat her on a table for two, even taking his time to pull out her chair for her. C.C. had numbly sat on the chair and eyed him speculatively as he ordered a Pepperoni pizza with extra cheese. Lelouch turned to her afterwards and asked. "What is it?"
"What will you ask me to do?" she questioned. He treated her. He went out with her, brought her to the mall, dragged her to the clothes department, and specifically let her choose her wardrobe - from the hats to the boots. He was smiling at her the entire time. So she deduced that Lelouch must have wanted something from her for him to be so smiley and sweet and generous.
Lelouch just nodded smilingly at the question. Of course, he expected her to see through this. But the fact remains a fact: he did not want to ask her help in the first place.
Nunnally's birthday was usually something he took matter with his own hands. He will buy her something she likes: a music box, a new dress, hair ribbons and the like.
It was only last week that he realized he'd given her almost everything he can think that a girl her age might like. Lelouch didn't want to be so cliche and give her another dress - or another teddy bear - or another doll.
No, he didn't want to be repetitive. He didn't want to be so common, either. And he disbelievingly knew that the only one who can help him successfully here is C.C.
Because he had accepted the fact that C.C. can make Nunnally happy in her own unusual ways - and that happy means 'geniune' happy. He had accepted the attachment, and the fact that he had to seek his witch's help for something as trivial as a birthday present.
"Let me ask a question first, C.C.", he started as soon as the plate of pizza was served on them. They each took their slices and started their meal. "Do you appreciate what I did for you today?"
The pizza-lover shrugged. "Maybe I do. But still, the truth is you're spoiling me today because you have a favor to ask me. And that's not something you appreciate much, hm?"
Lelouch nodded. "Alright, I should apologize for faking everything." when she gave no reaction, he decided to get to the point. "C.C., I need help. From you."
"Oh? This is out of Black Knights Business, if I may presume?"
"Yes. It's about Nunnally."
The witch grinned at him. "What about Nunnally?"
"Her birthday comes next Thursday and I have thought of every possible gift she might like, but the problem is I've already given them to her." he explained briefly, taking a bite from his pizza.
"Very well, I'll help." was the nonchalant reply.
Lelouch was glad she's too busy with pizza for her to retort any further.
After their little shopping trip, they went straight home. Nunnally was busy with her homework in her room, so they did not bother her anymore. Lelouch went for a shower and so that left C.C. wandering about the house like a cat. She strayed to some random rooms and that's where she found a room that caught her attention.
The Gray Witch strided inside and walked towards the only furniture that resided in the quarter. Her fingers traced the jet black surface of the grand piano and she noticed that it was dusty. Nevertheless, she opened its lid carefully, sat on the piano chair, and her hands strayed over the keys.
Do. Re. Mi.
It sounded in tune enough.
She pressed three fingers into three keys. A G major chord.
It sounded alright enough.
C.C. smiled softly to herself as her fingers began pressing expertly in the keys, and soon, her piece was in full bloom as she tapped her feet softly to avoid herself from straying from the time signature. Her left hand fingers pressed two to four keys at a time, her right did the melody itself. Soon her left was playing individually, and she found herself playing fluidly to notes she had memorized in her head.
It was a light-hearted tune that carried an air of sorrow in it, but C.C. played it in a high octave so that it sounded enriching enough. She continued on her playing until some notes and some chords were not recovered from memory and she started improvising, and soon enough, her playing slowed down to a tempo of slow, until her fingers pressed the final chord and she stopped playing.
How many years was it since she had last done this?
"That was good.", Lelouch's voice behind her interrupted her thoughts on what to play next. "Though the last part sounded... odd."
"I was improvising on that one." she mused, not turning to look at him. "It still has an overture but the chords weren't right in my mind and I knew you were watching, so I decided to stop."
He strode over to her and pressed a key. He chuckled once before sitting beside her. "I never learned how to play this."
"Oh?" C.C. said with faked curiosity. "Why's that? You're smart and coordinated, I thought you can be friends with music."
"I skipped the lessons." he said, face a bit sheepish. "But mother really liked the piano, that's why Nunnally had kept one in the house."
"Neither of you play it, anyway." the witch said, preparing her fingers to play another piece. "And I have an idea, Lelouch. Why not play a piece for Nunnally?"
That was when Lelouch looked at her as if she's a ray of light at the end of the cliched tunnel. "That's a brilliant idea."
"I know one she might like. But don't ask questions regarding this.", she suggested with a crooked smile on her face as her hands started their work again. Lelouch watched in awe as she played fluidly a tune he thought he had heard somewhere before.
The start was a high-pitched melody with little accompaniment by the lower octaves, and soon, after maybe an estimate of five staffs, his witch's left hand started playing the lower keys with frequency, and if that wasn't enough, the melody became faster, picking up a peaceful, light-hearted, playful pace.
The high notes sounded so carefree and happy, while the low notes she was using were just too nonchalantly playing along, adding substance to the music, thickening the impact, complimenting the all-too jovial aura of the higher ones.
It was so controlled, yet it sounded too free to be caged. Lelouch listened harder, and the music sounded as if it has its own accord - its own will.
It sounded so... so Nunnally.
Lelouch saw C.C. smile at him as she continued playing. He looked at her fingers. It always looked so easy. But by experience, he knew looks are deceiving. And he had to admit it - she's good. She can still look around and look so relaxed while her fingers pressed keys and coordinated themselves as if they had a mind of their own.
She paused abruptly, her left hand pressing various keys, as if testing how they sound, and then she continued the piece. Alright - she is above average.
He didn't notice that his eyes were on her face already. Her golden eyes were shining in contentment, and her lips were curved into a small smile. She looked as if she could care less about anything else in the world.
He didn't even notice he was also smiling and that her piece was coming to an end.
"So what do you think?" she asked, and for the first time in a long time, he saw her eyes twinkling happily. Did music really make her happy like this? If so, he'd take her here every chance he gets.
"It's perfect." he answered, his fingers pressing into various keys softly. "So you will give me lessons on this?"
"And you will give me pizza in return, right?" she leaned on his shoulder and prepared her hands again. "You couldn't say 'no'." Her right thumb made its way to the middle C key, her right fingers followed.
"I wish I could." he said, placing his fingers to the same position, two octaves higher.
She pressed a key, he did the same.
She pressed another one, and he did too.
"Let's start with the melody.", she said.
He nodded, and they continued that pattern until they decided that it's time to sleep.
Over the next two days, Lelouch and C.C. spent their free time in the piano room. Sayoko stumbles upon them, C.C. and Lelouch sitting together in front of the piano, and the two had pleaded her not to tell Nunnally - that it is supposed to be a surprise. The maid gladly assures their secrecy.
But Sayoko couldn't help but blush when she sees their 'developments'.
On the first two days, it was just the way C.C.'s head was on Lelouch's shoulder and his free hand was on her waist as they used their right hands to play on different octaves. C.C. was instructing him which notes to play at what order.
On the days that followed, it was their right hands were on top of each other's as C.C. instructed Lelouch further and they were playing the melody itself on one octave now.
It progressed till they were playing at pace with each other, right hands in sync. That was when C.C. started in making Lelouch memorize the sound of the accompaniment - the left hand. He played the melody with his right and she played the accompaniment with her left.
Sometimes he got lost, but her right hand was fast to lay on top of his and assist him, reminding him of what comes next.
Sayoko could swear that once, a very sweet scene happened between the two.
Lelouch lost his melody again, and C.C. reached fast and guided him with her free hand. She was laughing lightly, and he did chuckle, too. Then as soon as he recovered, he used his free hand to pry away her guiding one, and as they put their hands down in between them, Sayoko didn't see a flicker of effort in them to unlock their intertwined fingers. They were holding hands until the piece ended.
Lelouch had difficulty learning to play with both hands. At first, he was okay practicing with the left hand alone, but when his right joined in, his left stopped moving.
"That's natural." C.C. had said, putting her hands above his own again. This time they played together, hands on top of each other's, and Lelouch was getting a hang of it.
But it wasn't that easy, of course. Everytime she let go, he still got lost with the left hand not moving again. Lelouch was going frustrated.
"I'm never gonna finish this."
"Oh? How about Nunnally?"
"Alright, let's do it again."
She smirks and teases him, then continues the lesson.
Once they had an idea for a better position. C.C. tried sitting between Lelouch's legs, and they tried playing together again.
It worked. They finished the whole piece without any mistake.
Though he will abolish the Black Knights even before he'll admit it, Lelouch liked the warmth of her body that close to his, the way he can rest his chin on her shoulder as they played. They way she leans back on his chest when she gets bored. But it made him uneasy, still. And Lelouch complained about the odd position to get it over with.
"Who plays with a girl sitting infront of him?"
Right. He gave up.
"Okay, but the hair bothers me."
She ignores his statement and tells him to give it a rest. He nods and withdraws his hands from the keys, resting them on his sides as C.C. decided to play a new piece, this one sounding like a lullaby.
"Nunnally will be happy, you know." she mused, playing softly. But she was answered with nothing. Until she felt his head on her shoulder and his arms on her waist. "Lelouch?"
And she realized he was snoring lightly. The boy couldn't take this much labor over music, huh? But well, it's the dead of the night, anyway. She kept on playing while he hugged her and leaned on her, using him as a pillow.
C.C. decided to finish the lullaby before resting her hands, leaning her cheek against his raven hair, and putting the piano's lid shut. She closed her eyes for a few minutes before nudging him to wake up because they shouldn't be sleeping in front of the piano.
"Practice - I haven't... finished... tomorrow.." he grunted as she pulled him to their room. "...Nunnally.."
"..will be overjoyed. Come on, Lelouch - we need sleep."
"A surprise?" Nunnally asked as C.C. wheeled the girl down the halls and towards the piano room. "..For me?"
"It's your birthday, Nunnally." the witch said softly. "And we prepared a special gift for you."
"Really?" the girl said excitedly. "I can't wait, C.C.-san!"
When they reached the room, C.C. settled Nunnally down just right beside the piano. Sayoko had taken refuge by the doorway. Lelouch was already sitting by the piano, and he waited 'till C.C. sat with him before greeting his sister.
"Happy Birthday, Nunnally. This is for you."
"Thank you, onii-san." the girl said gratefully.
Nunnally gasped when she heard the first note strike. Lelouch and C.C. started playing the intro, and the girl had her mouth slightly parted as she listened to the music, a familiar tune that she had certainly heard before.
She could hear whispers, giggles and chuckles along with the piano notes - Lelouch and C.C. must be having fun.
Both glanced at Nunnally for a moment as they played. They saw the joy in the girls face as she listened contentedly at the piece. There was a moment of confusion in the princess' face, but the girl shook it off and smiled proudly until the last note was rung.
Both Sayoko and Nunnally clapped their hands. C.C. joined them as she looked up at Lelouch, who was sighing in relief.
"I didn't mess up.", he mumbled in the witch's hair.
"It's wonderful, onii-san! This is the best gift you've given me!" Nunnally said, tears threatening to fall. "I loved it! What is the song called?"
Lelouch was hesitant for a moment, but C.C. answered for her. "It's called 'For Nunnally'."
They laughed at the obvious lack of creativity, but had thought it fit well. The song was for Nunnally, after all.
"But I didn't know onii-san played the piano.." Nunnally pouted, confused. "Didn't you always run away from music lessons, onii-san?"
"Well, I didn't run away this time." Lelouch said, stroking her soft hair. "Do you want to hear it again?"
"I would love to!"
"Then let's play it."
Nunnally found herself now the one sitting between her brother's legs, as she positioned her right hand on top of his. Lelouch began playing the melody, and Nunnally felt every single note he pressed. She was surprised to hear C.C. doing the accompaniment, and was more taken aback when C.C. grabbed her left hand and put it on top of hers.
"This is fun! Let's do this always!" Nunnally exclaimed, letting the hands guide her first 'recital'. She felt Lelouch nod at her and heard C.C.'s agreeing muse.
Sayoko saw Lelouch's free hand climb up to C.C.'s waist again, and C.C.'s free hand supported Nunnally's shoulder.
They were perfect. She took this time to take out her camera and take a silent snapshot at the beautiful scene. The maid even thanked the afternoon sun's sepia-colored rays that went through the windows, splashing a surreal tone to the already breath-taking view.
"Onii-san?" Nunnally called as she held her big brother's hand - their usual routine before Nunnally's bedtime. The girl lay in her bed and smiled at her brother. "Thank you."
"Happy Birthday, Nunnally." he whispered, kissing her forehead. "And you're always welcome."
"Onii-san, where did you learn that piece?"
"C.C. helped me with it."
"Huh? Are you... sure?"
Lelouch raised an eyebrow. "Certain. Why?"
"Because I can't be wrong about this." Nunnally started. "That song was mother's composition. I can't forget how it sounds, and you played it exactly the way she did. Mother always played the piano for both of us, right? That's the song she composed for us. Don't you remember?"
Lelouch's eyes widened at the realization. Yes. That's why he swore he had heard it before - it was his mother's composition. He had to ask C.C. about this.
"Very well, Nunnally. Good night. Sweet dreams."
"Good night, too, onii-san."
"So it was mother's composition, huh?"
"I told you not to ask about it." C.C. said, facing him.
He buried his head on his pillow and nodded. "I'll let this pass for now."
He drifted to sleep. C.C. adjusted the blankets covering him and decided to surrender herself to dreamland.
'Marianne, did I get all those notes right?... Good, because I should know by heart what songs we wrote together.'
She heard him mumble something in his sleep, that made her smile slightly.
"Thanks for the lessons."
The she heard him say her real name with a smile on his lips.
A/N: Yes, please pity me if this is boring. And pity me for making it turn out too LelouchXC.C.-centric. I really can't get this off my head - I wanted C.C. to play the piano so badly! XD I don't know if Marianne really plays the piano or not, but what are fanfics for? ;D Anyways, the piece I used as the reference is Moonlight, by Yiruma. It's a really sweet tune.
And yes, I play the piano. Not as good as C.C., but I can manage. :D
AND - I was finishing up my website so this came out late! And I have some Code Geass stuff in it. Please check out my profile for the link! (Bams own head for advertisting) Sowwee...
Hope you liked it! :)