A/N: One of the first fics I've posted in my weeks-long absence. Dang- sorry if I've been absent for so long. O_O SCHOOL tormented mai life.
Now I'm on summer vacation and I'm FREEEEEE!!!! (Free of school, weee!) By April 6, Monday - I'll be leaving for my mother's province to go to my grandparents' place. No computer and internet there, and I'll be staying for a week. O_O BUT, this current week, I'll be sure to make up my three weeks plus upcoming one week absence by stuffing everyone with fics. :D Hope you enjoy reading this one.
Set after the defeat-in-the-Damocles thing, before Zero Requiem.
A PROBABLE HOPE
Anya woke up with a start that morning. She sat up so abruptly that a sudden rush of dizziness suddenly evaded her head. She could barely support her little form as she weakly brought a hand to massage her temple. A few minutes later, she had registered her location: a luxurious bedroom that she could only remember as a distant memory from her childhood.
A guest room in the Brittanian Palace.
Then something clicked on her.
The door flew open and in strode a tall man with dark blue-green hair, followed by a maid pushing a cart of breakfast. He smiled gently at her and greeted. "Good morning, Miss Alstreim. Finally, you're awake."
Anya blinked her red eyes. "...Jeremiah Gottwald??"
Jeremiah nodded. "You've been sleeping for two days straight already." When the girl made no move to intervene, he continued. "You are currently residing in a guest room in the Royal Brittanian Palace. I took you in after our battle in the Damocles, do you remember that?"
She nodded timidly. "What did you do with my memories?"
"I... to simply state it, I restored them. I nullified the geass that the 98th Emperor bestowed upon you. I hope it did not do anything to disrupt your mental activities or those sort of complications." The man smiled reassuringly. "You said that you always fail to remember things."
Another nod. "Thank you."
"Call me Jeremiah."
"Anya." she looked at him straight, and strained a small smile. "Is Lelouch still Emperor?"
"Then.. where are... the Prince Schneizel and my subordinates?" Something inside her was feeling bothered by this. She is safe in here, but... are the others, too? What happened after she passed out in the battle?
Jeremiah avoided her gaze. "I am afraid to tell you that.. they are all in the prison cells. Including the prince, and the other captured Knights of Rounds. And the Black Knights, too."
"How about me? I fought you. And Lelouch."
"You are directly under my care now. You are safe, assured. The Emperor has given me permission to keep you."
"What will happen to them?"
"They are..." the man swallowed before going on. "sentenced to public execution in three months."
Her breathing hitched.
"My duties call me for the meantime, Anya. You are free to roam the castle, but.. please, eat breakfast first. I will meet you again at lunchtime and hopefully, I can entertain more questions."
"Jeremiah.." she called quickly before he could turn around. "Is Former Knight of Three Gino Weinberg sentenced, too?"
The older man nodded, and then quietly exited, with a soft whisper of "I'm sorry."
She roamed the castle, as Jeremiah had advised - and found the Empress - the green-haired mystery - absently lounging in the Royal Gardens. The scene of green, black, white and gold was perfectly serene as C.C. sat under the shade of a tree.
"Take a seat."
The pink-haired girl hesitated, blinking curiously at the nonchalant tone of the woman's voice. But after a few seconds, she obeyed the soft order.
"Worried about someone on the row? Perhaps your loyalty still lies on the Second Prince." the voice was devoid of emotion, but for some reason, Anya trusted the woman.
"The Knight of Three." she started. "He's on the row."
The woman shrugged. "He's yours and Kururugi's friend?"
Gold eyes darted towards a nearby tombstone that bore the name of the Knight of Zero. A dark blue cat stood nearby, dozing off peacefully.
Red eyes followed the scene, Anya sighed - she managed to stop the tears somehow. It's just that not being able to talk properly, or say goodbye to Suzaku was... saddening. They had been good friends in what little time it lasted.
"He's special to you, isn't he?"
"Suzaku is a good friend."
Anya shrugged. "He's... important."
The woman looked up at her, and then to the tombstone once again. "You don't have to worry, though."
The girl looked oddly at the Empress, frowning.
"You'll be alright. With him." C.C. continued, twirling a lock of her flowing green hair, and then smirking up at her. "I know it's hard to believe me, but you know I won't lie to you."
"How could I trust you?"
"Just do." the woman drawled on. "Both of you will be okay in the end."
Anya was skeptical. She could see no sense in the woman's words. Her whole message was an irony in itself. She watched the green-haired beauty stand up, pat her gown, and extend a hand.
"Let's pay your friend a visit."
No hesitation crossed Anya's mind when she took that hand. She didn't know if it was her, or she was still groggy from the morning news.
Gino Weinberg looked up when the guarding soldier called his name.
"Weinberg?! You have a visitor!"
"I thought visitors are not allowed." a Black Knight he knew as Toudo-san grumbled in his corner of the cell. The high-ranking male officers of the Black Knights and Prince Schneizel's Battalions share the same, big prison quarters. Across theirs was the females'. Across them, the women were whispering to each other about the said 'visitor'.
"I'm here!" Gino finally shouted back at the guards.
And then, a face he thought he'll never see again came and almost stopped his heart's steady beating. Anya ran to him, wearing a simple, dark red knee-length dress and simple sandals, biting her lip, looking at him in honest worry.
Anya never ran - he thought. She never did, unless required by military protocol or duty. But now she was running frantically.
She did not speak, but he can see the apprehension in her form. For the first time, he saw her tremble - not only that, she had kneeled to level herself to his sitting position and had grabbed his arm from across the steel bars. She just slumped so carelessly that he almost thought she dropped herself.
Her hold on the pure white prisoner uniform he wore tightened as she tugged on his sleeve.
And then, when he finally realized that the scene unfolding in front of him was real, he finally reached out from the bars and touched her face with both hands.
"Anya." he breathed out her name once again. "You're... safe."
He saw light in that nod. And for the first time in days, he had a reason to go on.
She visited him everyday. C.C. stood by the doorway to the dungeon-like quarters, and Anya sat directly in front of him across the steel bars. His big hand always took her small ones, and she always listened to his random, useless babbles. He didn't sound like a man on death row. He talked his normal, cheerful tone. He whined, complained and laughed. He joked around.
"There was this time I suddenly remembered Suzaku-... Oh. Uh, how is he?"
Her voice was strained and she gulped before speaking. "He's alright. I visit everyday."
"Always with him."
Yes, that was the truth. Gino knew it too, and he didn't miss that flicker of sadness in her eyes - though he thinks that the ones in his are probably more visible. He touched her cheek slowly, sweetly. "It's a good thing he'll be there for you, right? And Arthur too. And if the Jeremiah guy is who you tell me he is, and if the Empress is really as understanding as you say so, I won't worry anymore. You'll be okay when I go."
He was about to add a jovial laugh - she cut him off.
"Don't say that. We'll be okay. Both of US."
"Hm? Aren't we?"
"Stop kidding around, Gino. I mean it."
This was one of the few moments that he was forced to act his rightful age.
He frowned and looked down, clutching her hand limply, swallowing. He hated the truth in his situation.
He hated to think that he'll be leaving her.
"Sorry I keep acting weird. It's just so hard to keep being sad that I want to force myself to be happy. I don't want you to see me moping around before I die-"
"Shut it." she hissed this time, voice low. "You won't die in this. C.C. tells me that everything will be alright for us."
The doubting groans from the former members of the Black Knights were discouraging.
"The Empress?" Gino asked, shaking his head. "You believe that 'alright' thing? It's impossible, Anya. The sentence is final, you'll live a good life - I'll be dead. And you believe the empress-"
She half-glared. "I want to."
As those three words sunk in, he looked at her again.
He couldn't blame her.
He pat her head, and behind the bars, saw her smile a little.
He smiled back.
"Alright, let's believe her, then."
And even in the little probability that hope had, Gino knew that they both wanted to cling to it.
A/N: Whaa~ This took me months in word and sentence construction. I just really find these two hard to write - I always get them off-character! O_O Anyways, thanks for reading!