Title: Just Like Magic!
Chapter Title: The Wrong Castle
Summary: A fairy tale gone wrong, in which Suzaku finds the wrong castle and Lelouch is a not-princess with some serious family issues. SuzaLulu.
Rating/Warning: M-Language, Mild Violence, Sexual Content
Disclaimer: I do not own Code Geass, nor do I make monetary profit from this.
Commentary: ... Sorry about the title, but I kinda like it. And thank you to my beta LawlietxRinoa.
Suzaku was the third son of a humble woodcutter and had been born to greatness. There'd been a prophecy at his birth stating, "This one is born to greatness. He will find his true love in The Castle of the Fairy and he will gain a kingdom."
So you see, it wasn't ego.
No one was quite sure from whence the prophecy came. He'd been born, a booming voice had declared it, and his mother died a few hours later. That last is probably unrelated. Probably.
When he was seven, Suzaku's house was destroyed by a freak forest fire, restricted to the small cabin where he lived with his father and brothers, taking his family and all he had known with it.
Because every hero needs some sort of guilt or inner confliction, Suzaku blamed himself for the fire. There was no reason for this, he simply did. Ergo he was doomed to live the rest of his life with a black cloud hanging over his head.
After the death of his family he was taken in by a local farmer who could be described as "kind" if the definition of the word was altered to read "one who has no human feeling whatsoever and a propensity to love all things bright, shiny and capable of killing someone in a number of ways." The farmer's name was Lloyd, and he would have had to declare bankruptcy some years ago were it not for the intervention of his assistant and god-knows-what-else, Cecile, whom he liked to refer to as, "farm wench."
There had been a brief custody battle, there were courts in those days, between Lloyd the Manic Farmer and Tohdoh the Miracle Worker, so named because of his ingenious method of growing plants year round in large glass structures. Lloyd won because Tohdoh was found guilty of growing illegal narcotics in his Large Glass Growing Structure. (It should be noted that the only reason Lloyd wanted the boy was because the he thought he had potential to be useful in his unholy experiments.)
It was from Lloyd the Manic Farmer and Cecile the Farm Wench that Suzaku learned the use of swords, throwing knives, regular knives, hatchets, throwing hatchets, and all other assorted items that were bright, shiny and capable of killing someone in a number of ways. He had had a basic education in the subject from Tohdoh, who had been something of an uncle to him, but under Lloyd's spastic tutelage he learned much, much more.
When he turned seventeen, a man grown by anyone's reckoning, he set out on his epic quest with only his steed, a pony named Lancelot, for company.
It took many days and nights— Well two, actually— but he made it to the castle.
It was dark and foreboding, but he knew he must enter, for it was his destiny. He went in bravely upon Lancelot's back, sword in hand, only to find the dragon dead and rotting at his feet. Holding his nose, he dismounted and tied Lancelot to a light fixture, heading up the stairs to the tallest, and only, tower.
It was a long climb up the dank spiral staircase, covered with dust and redolent with the smell of decay. It would have winded a less fit man, but Suzaku had been a healthy child and was now a healthy teen. Very healthy, freakishly so, according to Lloyd, but that made him a better test subject for his experiments that—No, best not to think about those.
Suzaku was perfectly fit, but not particularly observant, which is why he failed to notice the footprints that disrupted the dust. In his defense, the windows were pitiful arrow slits, the sky was dark and the torches had all long since gone out.
There was only one room at the top of the tower. The door was some sort of dark, heavy, wood, bound in black iron. Suzaku knocked hesitantly, afraid of what he might find and mindful of the dead dragon below.
There was no answer, but there was a slit of light beneath the door so someone had to be there, right?
He pushed the door open; it was as heavy as it looked.
It was a small, plain room, with sparse furnishing; a bed, a plain wardrobe, a stuffed bookcase and a desk with someone sitting at it. The someone was keeping their back turned and didn't seem to notice the opening of the door.
Suzaku cleared his throat impatiently. No response.
"I'm in the middle of a paragraph if you don't mind, and if you're looking for a princess you're in the wrong place.
The figure was male. That complicated things a bit.
"Hush." The order was quiet but commanding none-the-less and Suzaku snapped to attention.
There was the quiet sound of a book being closed. The figure turned.
He was pretty enough to be a girl, with delicate features and large purple eyes. And a very menacing scowl that rather detracted from his femininity. It certainly was nothing like how Suzaku thought girls should be; he hadn't had much experience there. There had been Shirley and Milly, but he prayed they were the exceptions and not the rule.
A delicate—tweezed?—eyebrow raised in not-too polite inquiry, "So, why are you here?"
Suzaku felt distinctly flustered, the only one he knew with a stare that intense was Lloyd and he wasn't one for eye contact. "I'm, um, here to rescue the princess? Do you know where she is?"
"I'm the only one here."
"Ah, er. That, um…"
"Why are you here?"
"There was a prophecy at my birth, stating that I'd find my true love and a kingdom here." Suzaku was blushing horribly, he was sure of it.
It was slightly consoling to note that the not-princess's face had a certain pink tone to it as well.
Then purple eyes narrowed in suspicion, "What exactly did the prophecy say?"
" 'This one is born to greatness. He will find his true love in the castle of the fairy and he will gain a kingdom.' " It was easy to remember it word for word, he'd made the mistake of telling Lloyd, who'd acquired the habit of quoting it at him whenever he felt Suzaku was getting full of himself after a particularly successful training exercise or experiment.
Purple eyes rolled towards the ceiling, accompanied by an exaggerated sigh. "Because there's the castle of the fairy, F-A-I-R-Y, and then there's the castle of the faerie, F-A-E-R-I-E. This is the latter."
"Don't you know how to read?"
"Lloyd didn't ever bother to teach me," Suzaku murmured, embarrassed.
Another eye roll. "Well, you're probably in the wrong castle, so I apologize for your wasted time." He turned back to his book.
Suzaku nodded to himself, not quite daring to say anything. He stopped at the door. "Why are you here?"
"Paragraph." A pause and then purple eyes were locked unwaveringly upon him once again. He seemed to be considering something and then he eventually said, "I'm waiting for my one true love to rescue me."
"Maybe you missed her."
"Well, the dragon's dead."
"That was me."
"What?! How did you kill a dragon?" It wasn't that unjustified of a question, the man at the desk was quite slight.
"A high dose of sleeping pills in its nightly herd of cattle."
"How—? Where—? Huh?"
"I have time. Lots, and lots of time." The last was said with a tone of long suffering.
"So why didn't you leave with the dragon dead?"
"Can't escape fate."
"That's a positive attitude," Suzaku snorted as he moved over to sit on the bed.
"What do you—?"
"Did you ever even try?"
"Try to leave."
He hesitated, "Well, no, but—"
"What's your name?"
Another period of lengthy consideration, "Lelouch. Lelouch vi Britannia."
Suzaku's green eyes widened, "You're a prince!"
Lelouch rolled his eyes yet again, "Of course. Did you think commoners were routinely locked in towers? That, idiot, is a right reserved for royalty."
Suzaku muttered something under his breath.
"I said that you're an ass."
"And you're an idiot. 'Gain a kingdom'" he snorted with disdain, "Honestly!"
"Better an idiot who tries than a royal ass who never even tried to escape."
Lelouch was on his feet, "Fuck you and the horse you rode in on! Let's see how hard you try to escape when—"
Green eyes narrowed, "Pony." Suzaku was defensive of Lancelot, he was a good steed. "And when what?"
"Nothing," he returned to his seat and book.
"What were you about to say, Lelouch?"
"I wasn't about to say a thing, so please leave, whatever-your-name-is."
Suzaku stood and bowed stiffly, "Kururugi Suzaku at your service, your highness," he snapped. "I'm so sorry to interrupt your reading time and try to rescue you. I'll be going now, by your leave, your highness."
Lelouch's head snapped up, "You weren't trying to rescue me. You were trying to bag yourself a princess and get a kingdom in the process. An empty-headed twit like one of my precious sisters, no doubt."
"How can you be so jaded when you're all of, what, fifteen? Yeah, you really know everything about the world, except you don't and you know nothing about me! So shut your pretty little mouth up."
If he wasn't so angry, he would have been mortified to hear himself call any feature of another man "pretty". Luckily, Lelouch was too angry to care… at the moment.
"At least I'm not a stupid idealist who can't even tell a prince from a princess and rides a pony!" He jumped to his feet and poked Suzaku in the chest.
Suzaku took a step closer and glared down at him.
If this were one of the romance novels Lelouch had been forced to read by boredom, this would be where they started kissing "passionately" before falling on the bed and "making love." As it is, this is where Suzaku punched Lelouch in the face. Lancelot was a good steed.
Suzaku really was quite strong, so Lelouch went reeling and ended up stumbling over his chair and falling on his royal ass. He glared up at Suzaku, fingering his bleeding lip.
Suzaku's eyes widened, he had never really hit someone before. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean—well, I did mean, but—"
"Shut up. You talk entirely too much." Lelouch got to his feet unsteadily.
He stared at Suzaku for several minutes, silent. Suzaku stared back.
"Now what?" he asked finally.
"I dunno," Suzaku shrugged, "I guess I should be leaving."
Lelouch nodded absently, gazing around the room. "Right."
"Do you want to come with me?"
"Well, you never even tried leaving and, well, I dunno. It was a stupid idea."
It was a stupid idea, but Lelouch found himself considering it anyway.
"But you probably know where the other castle is, and you must be bored here, and I—"
"I'll go with you."
"Are you deaf? I said I'd go with you."
"Oh. Alright then."
Lelouch nodded to himself and crossed to the wardrobe.
Suzaku fidgeted. "So why were you waiting for you true love here?"
It was a long moment before Lelouch answered, still digging around in the wardrobe. "Witch's curse," he said finally.
"And why'd you kill the dragon if you knew you were going to be rescued?"
"I've been here eight years; I got impatient and figured she could use a little help, if she ever got here. Father said—never mind."
"Father said what?"
"I said never mind!" He emerged from the wardrobe, triumphantly holding an ugly sack into which he stuffed a spare outfit or two.
Suzaku decided to drop the subject. This was clearly a prince with issues.
"So what do we need the sack for?" he asked as they started down the stairs.
"Money and clothes."
Suzaku stopped, shook his head, and kept walking. But he just had to ask, "Where do you get your clothes anyway?"
A brief note on Lelouch's wardrobe, it consisted of tight pants, black, the style of which was about twenty years old, a loose shirt, white, fifty year old style, and a short jacket, black, a mere ten years old in style. This odd assortment was topped off with a belt from which hung a sword and knee high black riding boots that had clearly been made for someone else. It was all in remarkably good condition, and very well tailored, because with all that time, Lelouch had learned to sew.
"The dragon's hoard," he said shortly.
They descended in silence, hands on the wall, as little as possible, for guidance, the moss was that of a distinctly unclean feeling variety.
"I'm seventeen by the way."
"Hmm?" Suzaku had been concentrating on counting the steps, only two hundred to go.
"You said I was fifteen. I'm seventeen."
"The same age as me."
"Lovely. I feel like we're best friends already."
"Are you ever not an ass?" Suzaku demanded, nearly falling down the stairs.
"So, how long does it take to get to this other castle?"
"About a month if memory serves, the dragon should have maps. It collected everything."
"Better be a pretty damned awesome princess," Suzaku murmured to himself as he thought of the month ahead.
After several requests for breaks from Lelouch, they made it to the bottom of the seemingly unending stairs and a quick plundering session which yielded many gold coins and a map or two, very outdated, and a crossbow and quiver full of bolts which Lelouch claimed to be proficient with.
"Wow, it really is a pony."
"Of course!" Suzaku snapped defensively, "What else would it be?"
Lelouch shrugged, "I thought you were kidding."
Suzaku bit back a snippy retort and untied Lancelot, leading him outside.
"Wait," Lelouch stopped dead under the portcullis, "where's the other horse?"
"What other horse?"
"The one I'm going to ride."
"There is no other horse, just Lancelot," he stroked the pony's nose affectionately.
"No, just no."
"Something the matter, your highness?"
"Yes! One, that thing's back is at waist level, it can't carry us both. Two, there is no way in hell I'm gonna spend a month clinging to some guy's back, the idea is very unappealing."
Suzaku's eyes narrowed, "Lancelot is a good steed. He is stronger than he looks and can carry us both. And would you rather I cling to you?"
Lelouch took a step back, horrified and blushing, "No!"
Suzaku sensed an opening, and the angry sadistic part of his personality he hadn't known existed until punching Lelouch moments before jumped on it. "Are you sure? I could wrap my arms around your waist and—" he groped for memories of the books from which Shirley and Milly had read to him to make him feel awkward, "and press myself close to your—"
"I'll walk!" Lelouch shrieked.
"And double our travel time? Look, I know you want to spend time with me, me being your one true love and all, but that's a little ridiculous."
And then Lelouch stopped being appalled and went back to fury. "You are not my one true love and you are not going to touch me anymore than is absolutely necessary. I will ride on that thing only to free myself of your company as soon as possible, because if there's going to be an antagonistic protagonist, it's going to be me!"
Suzaku smirked; Suzaku: 1, Lelouch: 0. "So, front or back?"
Lelouch weighed the options. He hadn't ridden a horse in eight years, which meant he had to—"Back, I haven't ridden in years."
Suzaku nodded amiably and attached the sack to Lancelot's saddle. He swung easily into the saddle and patted the space behind him, "Hop on, princess."
Lelouch glowered but wisely said nothing, acknowledging that he had lost. He got in the saddle and gingerly placed his hands on Suzaku's waist.
Suzaku, still smirking, nudged Lancelot to a gallop, causing Lelouch to squeak and, verily, cling to Suzaku's back, burying his face in his shoulder.
Suzaku slowed down the pace after a good distance. Harassing Lelouch was all well and good, but there was no reason to tire out Lancelot in the process.
"You can let me go now, you know. I promise not to go so fast again, I didn't know you were so easily frightened."
Lelouch loosened his death grip on Suzaku's waist. "Are you sure you don't want me to cling some more? I am so very pretty after all."
"What?!" Suzaku jerked his neck around to stare at the prince, who just smirked.
"You called me pretty earlier. I suppose you could have been lying to get into my good graces… shame on you, playing with a poor lad's heart!"
Suzaku very nearly died. "I only said your mouth was pretty," he gritted out eventually.
"So you admit it?!" Lelouch beamed, "I am so glad, us being destined lovers and all."
Suzaku remembered a saying of Lloyd's that discretion was the better part of valor and applied it to this situation. Sometimes it is best to keep your mouth shut.
They rode in silence until night fell in truth and they could no longer see the road in front of them for more than twenty or so yards.
They dismounted and located a small clearing, relatively close to the road to settle in for the night.
"We forgot food, didn't we?" Lelouch asked sitting cross-legged on the ground, staring at the moon, marveling at how big the sky was.
"I have some supplies…" Suzaku said slowly, "I didn't plan well enough ahead to account for the extra mouth. We'll have to ration."
Lelouch shrugged, tired, dazed and more than a little frightened. He'd been confined to that castle for eight years, and now he was out in the real world with some idiot he didn't even know surrounded by bandits, highwayman and god knows what else. In a twisted way, he longed for the familiarity of his stone walled tower. "Okay."
"What did you eat when you were in the castle?"
Suzaku was spreading out a blanket on the ground, "I only brought the one," he explained, "you can have it. The ground is fine for me."
"Okay." Lelouch drew his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around them.
"I'll make sure Lancelot is settled then start building a fire."
"Hey, are you alright?"
"Okay." Lelouch was shaking, he noted dimly, and unable to do anything but huddle closer into himself.
"Lelouch?" No answer. "Lelouch!" Still nothing.
Suzaku knelt before the huddled form and slapped him across the face, not very hard, but enough for a very audible effect.
Lelouch snapped awake, holding a hand to his cheek and staring at him with wide, accusing eyes. Then he looked away, "Thank you."
"No problem." He built a fire.
"Yeah?" He was more than a little surprised to be addressed by name.
"Could you… talk to me? Just so I don't phase out again."
"Alright." He poked at the fire. "So, assuming that I'm not you're one true love, which is a definite, why do you think you were able to leave the castle?"
Lelouch pondered this for a moment, "I guess the curse was fake."
"Father—Father bargained the witch to curse me. I went a little… nuts when my mother died and he did nothing about it. So he got his witch to lock me in the castle with a curse. An unbreakable curse, he said, because no one could, or would, ever love me."
Suzaku was silent for a moment, "Your father sounds like a massive asshole."
Lelouch choked, then chuckled ineptly, as if he hadn't done it a while.
He looked better when he smiled. "You could say that, yes," he leaned closer toward the fire. "My sisters aren't empty-headed twits by the way. Cornelia would haul me out to the practice courts and beat me black and blue if she heard me call her that."
It was Suzaku's turn to chuckle. "You're in a sharing mood."
"I guess it's just nice to talk to someone else."
It dawned on Suzaku for the first time just how much spending almost half your life locked up by yourself in a tower would suck.
"We should sleep now."
Lelouch nodded, smile fading, "Right."
Hehe, that's it for now. Please review if you liked it!