Lelouch was not a religious man, not in the Christian sense of the word. But in those rare instances of private reflection—instances which took place with increasing frequency after his final plan had been set in motion and the date of his death drew near—he would sometimes contemplate how an omniscient God, who had existed before time and seen the best and foulest of His creation, would judge him. Lelouch, like so many of the great minds in history, had read the Bible in its entirety. He understood enough to know that he was unqualified for salvation—he possessed no faith—but he also understood the concept of God's supreme will, which meant that all matters went according to His plan in spite of the freedom given to man.
He was not so naive to think that he could be blameless if that were true; he knew what it was to be a cog within the designs of others, including his very own parents. And yet he had pulled the trigger out of his own will; Clovis, Euphie, and others. He murdered them, their blood was on his hands, and if God were just He would surely find him wanting and condemn him to suffer alongside the Neros and Hitlers. Lelouch wondered whether the act of killing himself—thus removing the scourge to the world and saving countless others—would be seen as an act of redemption, or whether it was just one more sin for which he must answer. No matter, for he was certain that, as the pain from the sword stuck in his abdomen subsided—as the feeling of Nunally's hands framing his face grew cold and distant—the first thing he should see if he ever opened his eyes again would be the unquenchable fires of hell.
Which was why he was surprised when after a long, long sleep he felt a breeze upon his skin. He awoke in the same posture in which he'd fallen, on his back and looking skywards, but rather than columns of bellowing smoke rising into an impenetrable darkness, he saw a limitless expanse of clear blue sky dotted with clouds. Gentle rays of sunlight filtered through the swaying branches of a tree above, and he imagined that he heard the chirping of birds.
"Good morning, sleepyhead."
It was a voice he last heard a lifetime ago, which haunted him in both dreams sweet and terrible, where the happy dreams were hardest to bear. His head was resting in her lap, and a few strands of her pink tendrils fell close to his face.
He wondered if this was a trick; a preamble to his torture with a perversion of the image of someone he loved. But she felt real; her skin was warm as she stroked the side of his face. Her smile was not pale and waning but glowing and full of life. As though reading his mind, her fingers pinched him in the cheek and he sat up abruptly with a yelp. He turned and watched her with eyes wide as saucers; she was giggling.
"That's for thinking that I'm some demon in disguise."
And he knew then that it was indeed Euphie, but how? "Where are we?"
His wealth of knowledge and understanding failed him. They were on a grassy knoll in the midst of what appeared a vast garden filled with flowering trees and plants. The scene conformed to what many artists imagined Heaven would look like; it certainly did not resemble hell. But that did not explain the most crucial question. "Why am I here?"
"Why shouldn't you be?"
He found himself looking straight at the princess. Didn't she remember? Even if the effects of Geass caused her to forget, surely the truth was revealed after she came here. The expression on her face was inscrutable; perhaps she only wanted to hear him say it himself.
"I don't deserve to be here."
He remembered the look on her face when he shot her, the lingering red glow in her eyes, questioning as the patch of crimson spread through the front of her dress.
"No, you don't."
Lelouch felt his heart drop. Her voice held no accusation or malice but she had confirmed his suspicions. He smiled—perhaps this was the small reward that his sacrifice amounted to. Surely now he would descend to where he belonged. "I'm glad I got to see you one last time, Euphie… I'm sorry."
He bowed his head, convinced that his time was up, and waited for his surroundings to vanish into blackness; the chance to apologize to his first love was more than he could have hoped for. He waited, and waited, and then his eyes flew open when he felt himself wrapped in a close embrace. He was still here, and he could feel the happiness emanating from Euphie as she pressed her cheeks against his.
He didn't understand.
"Lelouch, ever so vain." She chided him in a gentle voice like childhood times, when she used to lecture him on his failure to perceive the way a girl's mind worked (she was right). "Why do you assume that everyone shares your standard of judging good and evil?"
She placed a finger against his lips. "It is true that you've done many bad things. Some were mistakes, some were not your fault, but many were. If God was fair then you should not be here."
He scrunched his brows. "Then what, God is unjust?"
"He is just, but He is also merciful, and ultimately He prefers grace over punishment; it is the only reason why any of us are here. Besides…" And then a grin that was mischievous and beautiful spread across the girl's face. "Rather than listening to you, don't you think God would grant my wish to have you keep me company instead?"
Euphie's answer left him speechless and feeling like a child. The prince stared at the girl before him, his mind filled by her astounding words, and then he understood. It came as little surprise to him that once again she was right, unseating all the cunning and logic which he was so proud of but which ended up hurting so many people, including himself. In the end, she always seemed to know the answers to the questions that mattered most.
"How did you get to be so wise?"
She folded his hands in her own. "I always was. You just didn't like to give me credit."