Lawli: I made a vow to post a Code Geass fic today, in honor of Lelouch's birthday. This is my fulfillment of that vow. And I'll apologize to you now, Lelouch, for throwing you into the situations you will face in this story just for the sake of my own (and hopefully the reader's) amusement. While I'm at it I'll apologize to Suzaku for the same thing.

Please read, enjoy, and don't forget to review! As this is my first chaptered (and AU) Code Geass fic I would love your feedback!

Warnings: AU fic! This means there is probably going to be some OOC-ness, though I am trying to make everyone as in-character as possible given the storyline. If I start to make any character drastically/annoyingly OOC just let me know and I'll correct it, though! Also, there will be crossdressing and yaoi (malexmale) in later chapters. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Disclaimer: I don't own Code Geass. Obviously.

The Charlatans of Circumstance
-Chapter One-

"Welcome home, Master Lamperouge."

The young man smiled pleasantly as the door to his limousine was held opened for him by the chauffeur who had just spoken. He placed one boot-clad foot on the ground and hoisted himself out from the sleek vehicle. The chauffeur handed him a black hat, which he took gratefully and placed on top of his head in order to hide his unruly mop of black hair. He nodded his thanks to the chauffeur, who in turn bowed respectfully and returned to the opposite side of the limousine, seated himself behind the steering wheel, and drove away to go park.

Lelouch Lamperouge watched the vehicle disappear before turning his violet eyes on the large manor before him. He took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of the many roses and other colorful flowers which were planted alongside of the pathway, and began walking towards the house. Once he reached the entrance, as if expecting his arrival, the heavy oak doors were pulled open by two servants.

They greeted him with identical obligatory smiles once he stepped inside, offering to take his coat and his hat. He declined and strode further into the foyer. While he walked, he examined the elegant room, taking in the black, white, and gold décor. It was exactly the same as before he had left. Honestly, he could not pick out one thing that had changed over the years. The house was impeccably clean, tastefully decorated in his mother's three favorite colors, and defined by the large flag that hung from the ceiling, proudly bearing the Lamperouge family crest in the center.

Yes, this truly was his home. Prim, extravagant, and dull as usual.

"Lelouch, my darling, is that you?"

The young Britannian turned his head to the grand staircase, where he could see a middle-aged woman slowly descending the white marble steps. She wore a well-designed lavender dress and tucked in her ebony tresses were several jeweled clips. She was his mother, Marianne Lamperouge, and she looked exquisite, as always.

"It is I," Lelouch reassured.

She stopped when she stood beside him and embraced him, kissing his forehead lightly. He smiled pleasantly and returned the display of affection.

"It's been a long time, mother," he said.

His mother nodded in agreement. "Yes, yes; very long. Too long," she replied. "Oh, my son, I have missed you dreadfully. You must tell me, how was Spain?"

Lelouch closed his eyes. "Spain was wonderful. It is very beautiful at this time of year, mother; truly exquisite. You would have enjoyed it."

"I rather think I wouldn't," the woman disagreed.

"Oh, mother, will you ever stray from this old house?" Lelouch asked, taking her hand and leading her into the sitting room. After all this time of being away – almost four years now – he still remembered the location of every room in the large estate. Nothing had changed, it appeared; not that he expected it to.

"No I will not," she replied as she seated herself on one of the white couches, crossing her legs at the ankle. "And I think it is foolish that you do. Everything you could ever want is right here, Lelouch. I have always given you what you desired, and all that I've ever asked in return is that you stay here in Britannia." She shook her head, disappointed. "Oh, but you have that same silly sense of adventure that your father possessed – that is why I hate you and love you so much, my son."

But Charles Lamperouge – Lelouch's stepfather, now deceased – was not the only one who had such a 'silly' sense of adventure. In her younger years, Lelouch remembered, his mother had owned up to her nickname of 'Marianne the Flash.' She had been a feisty and courageous woman whose spirits and love for exploration had been doused after the accident that took her husband's life.

Marianne sighed quietly. "You are just like him in every way. Except," she smiled proudly, "I must say that you inherited your looks from me. Your father was never as pretty as you are, Lelouch."

Lelouch rolled his eyes at her, wondering if he should be offended. Men were not supposed to be considered pretty; they were supposed to be handsome. To be called pretty – even if just by his mother – was rather insulting. But all his life he had been considered a pretty little boy. Now he had grown and matured and was nearing his twenty-first birthday and he was still being referred to as pretty – and not only by just his mother anymore, either. Where was the masculinity in that?

Pretty. Ridiculous, ridiculous woman!

"Mother, please," he begged, swatting her hand away gently when she removed his hat and began to fuss with his hair, and silently trying to will away the unbidden blush that had risen to his cheeks.

"Why must you wear your hair like this, Lelouch? It looks horribly messy."

Lelouch was already wishing that he had postponed his visit home another few months. He had only been inside for a grand total of five minutes and already his mother was driving him mad. He loved the woman dearly, but her constant nagging made him absolutely sick. Perhaps that was why he left his homeland so frequently – not due to a sense of adventure (because he severely doubted that he possessed even one adventurous bone in his body), but because he was constantly stifled by his family and needed some method of escape.

His mother moved from the subject of her son's hair to what she deemed to be a more pressing matter – the subject of Lelouch finding a wife. Lelouch had to suppress a groan when she began mentioning the names of some of the young girls he had grown up with.

"Miss Fenette stopped by the other day. You remember her, do you not? I told her that it was a royal shame you wouldn't be arriving for another two days, for I'm certain you would have been thrilled to speak with her after all these years. You should have seen her, darling. She looked positively lovely in the dress she had on. And – you won't believe this – she was wearing that white ribbon you had given her when you were children. She treasures it, you know. Just as she treasures you..."

Lelouch sighed and leaned back against the headrest of the couch in order to get more comfortable. The cushions sunk slightly underneath his weight. "Mother, we have already discussed this."

"I know, I know. I'm just telling you again that I think Miss Fenette would make a brilliant wife for you. She would agree readily if you asked her."

"If I asked her... which I won't," the young man assured.

"Darling, why must you be so stubborn? You're never going to get married at this rate if you show such little interest in the women around you." She suddenly gasped and gave her son a scrutinizing glare. "You're one of those homosexuals, aren't you," she questioned, or more like assumed, in a highly disapproving tone.

Lelouch's face flushed at the accusation. "M-mother! No!"

"Then why are you not interested in Miss Fenette?"

Lelouch stood from the couch, squaring his shoulders slightly. "Mother, I have already told you countless times that I am not comfortable discussing this subject with you."

At his mother's demanding gaze, he situated himself back down next to her. He always gave into her when she looked at him that way – and she knew it, the shrewd woman.

"I just haven't met the right woman yet," he explained. "And, before you even say it, no; I do not believe Shirley Finette to be the right woman for me. She is indeed very beautiful, but she is very..." his voice trailed off as he lost the words to express the way he felt.

"What?" Marianne beckoned. "She is very what?"

Lelouch frowned and placed a finger against his bottom lip, tapping it occasionally as he tried to think of the best way to describe the girl who had been, in a sense, his childhood sweetheart. "Ordinary," he supplied, exhaling deeply. "I don't know." Sighing once more, he stood up heavily and turned his gaze away from his mother. "It matters not. I am in no rush to get married, mother."

"You say that now," his mother smirked. "But before you leave this house next week, I will make sure that you change your mind."

Lelouch's mouth fell open and he raised one of his thin eyebrows elegantly in query. A small grin tugged at his lips and he chuckled silently at the thought. He would allow his mother to think what she wished; he knew that her belief would never become a reality. Lelouch considered himself a rational and responsible man, unlikely to do anything as rash or spontaneous as falling in love at first sight. The mere thought was ludicrous.

Yes, he would leave his mother with her hope intact. The chance that Lelouch would actually fall in love (or at the very least discover someone he would even consider marrying) in the course of one week was highly unlikely, no matter what sort of tricks his mother had at her disposal.

Lelouch laughed again and nodded, bowing politely to his mother before excusing himself to his bedchambers. The ever-perceptive violet eyes of his mother followed him as he left the sitting room and made his way to the large staircase located in the main foyer.

Once he was out of eyesight, Marianne uncrossed her legs and averted her gaze to the ceiling thoughtfully. A pale, slender finger rose to her cheek as she thought for a moment, and then her expression lit up considerably.

"Sayoko," she called to a servant girl who had been standing several feet away, pretending to dust the antique plates which resided inside of an old wooden display cabinet.

Sayoko paused in her chore and turned around so that she could face the mistress of the house. She bowed respectfully before approaching.

"Lady Lamperouge," she asked, "how may I be of service?"

"Be a dear and fetch me my address booklet," Marianne instructed. "I need to plan a small get-together."

The servant nodded her head. "Right away, my lady," she said before disappearing around the corner to go fetch the requested booklet.

Upon arriving inside of his bedchambers Lelouch discovered that his luggage had already been brought inside and unpacked neatly, the suitcases stashed away inside of the separate changing room. For this he was grateful, as he was feeling far too exhausted by the squabble with his mother to even think about putting away his own clothing.

Not even taking the time to admire his grand bedroom – which he now realized he had sorely missed while living in Spain – he approached the four-poster bed and flopped rather unceremoniously onto the mattress, his pale cheek pressing against the comforter. He kicked off his shoes (relishing briefly in the feeling of his toes being fable to finally breathe again) and climbed the rest of the way onto the bed, already feeling more at ease as he allowed himself to relax.

As he was teetering on the border between consciousness and pleasant slumber, Sayoko entered his bedroom. Lelouch sat up, blinking groggily, and jolted when he caught sight of her.

"Sayoko," he all but yelled, voice jumping an octave to his own surprise, "it is hardly polite to enter without knocking first!"

The Japanese woman stared at him questioningly. "But Master Lamperouge, I did knock," she said. "You did not answer. I apologize if I have made you uncomfortable, but your mother asked me to come up here, sir."

Lelouch stood from his bed, pausing to smooth away the possible wrinkles on his clothing before addressing her again. "No, it's fine. You startled me, is all. What did my mother need?"

Sayoko made her way to his changing room, disappearing through the door and reappearing moments later with a rather large box. "She wished for me to present you with this," she explained, lifting the top of the box away and revealing a suit beneath the layers of packaging paper. "And she requests that you wear it this evening."

Lelouch removed the suit from the box, admiring the fine material it was made out of but stopping before he could reach out and touch it as Sayoko's words finally registered in his mind. "This... evening?" he repeated, dumbfounded.

"Yes, sir," affirmed Sayoko. "This evening. Your mother is planning a small dinner party in celebration of your arrival." And then she added, smugly, "She is inviting many young ladies."

Lelouch's eyes narrowed minutely at this. Without a doubt, it was the first attempt of the week to find him a wife; he hadn't expected her to act so quickly, but apparently his mother was even more eager to see him wed than Lelouch himself anticipated. That was understandable, as it was most likely every mother's dream to see her son happily married, but Lelouch would not give her the satisfaction of winning this little bet.

Placing the suit on the bed, he thanked Sayoko and then placed his shoes back on his feet. "Kindly inform my mother that I am out taking a walk, and that I may or may not return in time for dinner this evening."

Sayoko caught the scheming grin on her young master's face and nodded her head. "Of course, Master Lamperouge," she promised with a small chuckle. "Do enjoy your walk."

"I shall."

And with that, Lelouch exited his room and made his way towards the front door of the grand estate.

He had absolutely no intention of making it back for dinner.

Lawli: Anyone else besides me like to imagine Lelouch in a top-hat? 8)

Happy holidays, everyone! Please give the gift of a review to this poor authoress on your way out! Constructive criticism is also appreciated.