Oooooh man, you guys, you have no idea how nervous I feel about this chapter! It's important and big and AH! Stressful. I'm so sorry it's taken me so flipping long. I still don't have it exactly how I want it, but I hope you are all at least okay with it. I've beat it up so much I don't think I can do much more. Seriously, when I first wrote it, I loved it, then I came back to it and didn't like it, then I left it alone for a while and loved it again, so I'm leaving it! Frustrating. Just to give a warning, it's extremely sappy, just like everything else in this fanfiction, but more concentrated!
I really hope the name is acceptable to you, too. It's not traditional French (I guess the only 'French' thing about it is its spelling, eheheh!), but when I found the name it really struck me as a nice one. Feel free to complain if you don't like it too, but I don't think I'll be changing it any time soon.
(And by the way, I'm totally guessing on a lot of the hospital stuff here. Unfortunately I haven't the experience, sorry. Oh, and excuse me for twisting canon a bit when it came to the naming process. I thought it'd be cooler that way! This is already pretty AU anyway, eheh.)
Anyway, hope the name or anything else doesn't deter you from reading, please do enjoy!
Chapter 12- The Beautiful, Unexpected Gift
"Suzaku!" Lelouch whined as he pushed Suzaku's shoulder, harsh enough to awaken him.
"Mhm?" He heard Suzaku mumble from beneath his pillow, and Lelouch yanked it from beneath him.
"You never woke me up!" Lelouch nearly yelled, obviously quite angry. The fire dancing in his eyes was proof enough.
Suzaku had to pull himself out of the hole he'd just dug himself. "Well, you needed sleep." That was the best argument he could conjure on the spot. Perhaps when accompanied with something heartfelt and sappy, he could pull it off. "We also can ask for her and get her in here at any time we want now." He told him, a sweet smile gracing his face.
Lelouch was the one to make the first move, which was rare and caught Suzaku a bit off-guard when he felt Lelouch's lips crashing onto his own, nearly desperate. Suzaku moaned and returned it, holding his face in his hands as he released quickly. He raised a questioning eyebrow.
"What?" Lelouch muttered, averting his gaze. Suzaku laughed.
"It was just unexpected, sorry." He apologized, and finally removed his hands from cupping Lelouch's face to call a nurse. Upon asking the near-immediate service about where the ward was that allegedly held their daughter, they were told quick directions.
"You should be alright by now; it's been at least twelve hours, right?" They both nodded. The nurse wheeled in a wheelchair for Lelouch and briskly took off back into the maternity ward. They took their time getting Lelouch comfortably positioned in the wheelchair before Suzaku started pushing him down the halls, following the signs they'd been directed to follow.
"We can start thinking of names once we see her, right?" Suzaku nearly whined, and Lelouch nodded. He must have been nervous, because his hands were slightly clenched. Suzaku put a comforting hand upon his shoulder, and he felt Lelouch's stress melt out of his muscles almost instantly. "We'll be fine, Lelouch." Another nod.
"Last name?" The nurse they'd consulted about bringing her out had asked without bothering with greetings at all.
"Lamperouge." Lelouch nearly whispered. The nurse went into the room and started sifting through the many newborns' files. Suzaku's breath nearly stopped when he saw her pause at one of the babies—a baby girl.
The nurse smiled and picked her up, and Suzaku nearly had some sort of attack right there. Unfortunately, he didn't quite know what it was he was feeling, but he was almost glad Lelouch was too far below the window to see the action. She brought her out in a pink fleece blanket, and he could swear he heard Lelouch stop breathing too.
The nurse handed her to Lelouch, who was in some state of shock at the moment. "Lelouch?" Suzaku whispered, trying to snap him out of it.
Lelouch looked up and smiled so wide his face might fall in two pieces, giving Suzaku a clear shot of their baby's face.
"My God…" Suzaku barely spoke, "She's beautiful." Suzaku always heard older women say that every person thinks their babies are beautiful regardless, but he could swear she was an angel. He understood the cooing mothers and proud fathers he'd seen as a child now.
"I-I know." He heard Lelouch say as he turned back to her and let one of his fingers stroked her face, and he could swear he could hear him sniffling.
"Lelouch, are you crying?" Suzaku asked, laughing.
"S-shut up! Don't try to tell me you're not." Lelouch fought back without showing him his face, and Suzaku couldn't fight with that, as he could feel the tears welling up in his eyes.
"Can we take her back to the room?" Suzaku asked the nurse, and she nodded with a smile on her face, as she'd just watched the display. Suzaku began to slowly wheel them back to Lelouch's room, and he thought he could hear Lelouch's voice whispering in their daughter's ear.
They made it back to Lelouch's room in one piece. Suzaku spun around the wheelchair and picked up his entire family in his two arms, placing them securely upon the hospital bed and sitting, for he could no longer stand.
Suzaku caught Lelouch's gaze and they stared into each other's eyes, comatose with the sudden reality check that was squirming in Lelouch's arms. They were broken from their trance when she made some sort of squeaking shriek, and both their eyes landed on hers. She looked up at them so purely then, and Suzaku watched as Lelouch smiled, took her tiny fist and held it in his own.
"Well, hello there." He breathed as he kissed her tiny fingers, his lips larger than her entire hand. She squeaked again as she stared with her mouth parted, her eyes squinting from the action. Lelouch's eyes were wide but he was smiling, and Suzaku knew that he was just as scared as he was.
"Names, names…" Suzaku heard Lelouch mumbling, a troubling look taking over his face, and their baby noticed. Her expression disappeared too as she simply stared into his violet eyes, intrigued.
"You'll be much better at that; I'm not any good at anything but Japanese." Suzaku told him, and Lelouch's attention was finally severed from their daughter's face and whipped up to him.
"You can help me still." Lelouch said, his voice much softer than it had previously been. The instinct had already settled on him, and Suzaku had to hold back the urge to chuckle. "You should get to hold her too." Lelouch said, motioning over with his hand.
Suzaku was handed her delicately, and he was immediately drawn to her face. "She has a really strong grip." He said, chuckling as she curled her fingers tightly around his own by instinct.
Lelouch's eyebrows indented and his signature thinking expression turned on. Suzaku took this as a chance to start playing with combinations.
"Ara, Are, Ari…" He muttered, thinking hard on each sound as to which felt right. "I'm sorry," speaking as he grinned sheepishly, "I'm still thinking in a Japanese name mindset."
Lelouch sighed as Suzaku trailed off on his suggestions. "We can try more later, you know."
Suzaku pulled his finger from their daughter's hand and placed it upon her nose. "We'll think of something soon, we promise."
It was inevitable that Milly and her Council gang would invite themselves into Lelouch and Suzaku's hospital room, and Lelouch had almost counted the hours as he waited. The foreboding was just so great he couldn't leave it alone as he glanced at the door nervously every time a nurse came to check in on him.
"Lelouch?" Suzaku had asked of him as he saw a troubled look spread onto Lelouch's face, probably let through his facial expression barrier accidentally.
"When do we get her again?" He asked, longing so powerful in his voice.
"Can't you just relax and rest up like a normal person? You were never really normal, actually, I take that back." A pillow flew by Suzaku's face. "And you're still terrible at throwing and aiming." Another pillow and a snarling glare, but it was met with not even half of its usual pump.
As if on cue, in burst the Student Council- well, the girls anyway.
"Lulu! Why couldn't you wait until after the festival to make a fuss?" Milly whined.
"The baby went into distress early." Lelouch muttered.
"That counts as making a fuss, Mister!" She argued, her eyes furious. "Ruining my plans day in and day out; you live to ruin parties!" She nearly screeched. Shirley literally was hiding behind her as she scolded him for something Suzaku definitely deemed to be impossible to control.
Shirley took the silence as a chance to swipe out from beneath Milly's outstretched dramatic arms and sit at Lelouch's bedside. "Have you gotten any names yet?" She asked, eyes shimmering excitedly.
"No, not really." Suzaku said with a sigh.
"Well," Shirley began as she pointed at the door, "we have someone who wants to help!" She jumped up and opened the door in question to reveal Nunnally, with Sayoko behind her wheelchair.
"Hello, Nunnally." Lelouch said, a bright smile on his face now. "I'm sorry we left without warning last night."
"Onii-sama, you were going to the hospital! You're allowed to leave without warning in that situation." She acted troubled, but she still had an angelic smile on her face. "How is he or she?"
"Just fine, but we haven't seen her much recently." Lelouch responded politely, but it was matched with a competitive smirk. "And I was right, it was a girl." He boasted gently.
"Anyway, I have names to discuss with you!" Nunnally smiled, ignoring his later response and pointing to a list Sayoko must have written down for her of names she'd accumulated in secret over the past several months. "I know you said not to think of names, but I couldn't help myself with all of my extra time to spare! However," Nunnally began with a smirk that everyone was surprised to see on her face, "you are incredibly lucky that you were right that it was a girl, or I would have been no good help at all!"
Lelouch chuckled at her comment and allowed her to come over to his bedside. Everyone excluding Nunnally, Sayoko, Suzaku and Lelouch was silently asked to leave. They did as such, and Nunnally waited until the door clicked shut to continue.
"I went through our family records to see if there were some nice names in there, which there were." Nunnally stated, and she nodded to Sayoko, who began to read some aloud.
Sayoko cleared her throat. "Aaralyn su Britannia was the forty-seventh Holy Britannian Emperor's Queen and first Imperial Consort. She was very beautiful and wise."
"Hmm," Lelouch audibly thought, "it's very pretty, but I'm not quite sure." Sayoko nodded and went to the next name.
"Your great-great grandmother was named Adele Lamperouge, from your mother's side."
"Adele…" Lelouch thought on it hard.
"I'm not sure why, but it doesn't seem right either." Suzaku added, and Lelouch agreed.
"Your father's great great grandfather had a sister named Faye." Sayoko suggested, even if she sorely doubted Lelouch would agree.
"I don't want my daughter to have anything to do with him." Lelouch grimaced, and Sayoko nodded, understanding.
"There is only one more name left." Nunnally jumped in and took Sayoko's place, seemingly knowing the names by heart. "Mother had a sister once, did you know that, Onii-sama?" Lelouch shook his head as she spoke. "Mother had a younger sister, who passed away at three years old when Mother was seven. Her name was Avarielle."
"Avarielle..?" Lelouch whispered to himself. He felt a strange feeling in his stomach as he realized that he had a family member he hadn't previously known about. He couldn't remember his mother ever saying anything, but just thinking of his mother playing with a younger version of herself warmed his heart. He could even imagine her pristine innocent smile, even though he hadn't ever seen her before.
"That sounds beautiful…" Suzaku spoke under his breath.
"Do you think..?" Lelouch looked over to Suzaku, excitement in his eyes as he didn't feel the need to finish his sentence. They could both feel something about the name that sat right in their hearts.
"Perhaps, yes." Suzaku said with a smile, and Lelouch wrapped his hand around his. "Do you agree, Nunnally?" Suzaku asked.
"I suggested it, didn't I?" Nunnally giggled, and she asked Sayoko to let the whole gang back into the room.
"So? Did you think of a name?" Shirley asked as soon as she jumped into the room, making the four of them chuckle at her impatience.
"Yes," Lelouch nearly whispered as the rest of them slid into the room, his eyes bright as he smiled up at them from his bed. "We'll name her Avarielle." Lelouch cursed himself for allowing tears to well up in his eyes, for the second time.
"That's a beautiful name." Shirley said, agreeing.
"I doubt either of you boys thought that one up, so good job, Nunnally!" Milly said, sending Lelouch specifically an evil smirk. "So, when do we see the pretty lady?"
"We don't get to see her again until later today, I'm sorry." Lelouch told them, and he watched as Shirley's face fell along with Nunnally's.
"Ah, don't worry about it," Lelouch said, attempting to reassure the obviously downed posse, "You'll get your fill of her when she gets home, I promise." He smiled, and Shirley giggled, confusing him just slightly. "What?" He asked.
"You are so girlie right now, Lulu." She said with her hand covering her face. Lelouch wanted to protest and opened his mouth to speak, but found he couldn't quite think of a witty response before Milly took her turn.
"Maybe you should tone the maternal instincts down a bit." She said, teasing with a wink.
"Okay, let's file out now!" Suzaku herded them out as quickly as possible; he could nearly see the steam pumping out of his fiancé's ears. Sayoko wheeled Nunnally out quickly, catching the vibes. Milly and Shirley put up quite a fight, but he managed to ward them off. He leaned against the finally closed door, nearly panting. He then turned his attention back to Lelouch.
"Why can't Milly just come, say 'hi' and leave?" Lelouch groaned, and Suzaku laughed.
"It's in her nature to destroy your expectations." He replied, his voice too calm for Lelouch's comfort.
"Can't you just say 'I don't know', kiss me and calm me down?" Lelouch pouted.
"Are you demanding I do so then?"
"No, the purpose of that was for you to have done it spontaneously!"
"My honest opinion will crush you," Suzaku warned, walking back to Lelouch's bedside fluidly, but with hesitation in his eyes, "but I think you've gone cra—"
"Then please don't tell me, Suzaku!"
"How does that make any sense at all?" Suzaku was by now too thoroughly confused to keep up the light banter.
"It does." Lelouch scowled, but Suzaku was unfazed as he slid next to him on the hospital bed. Suzaku kissed him sincerely then, holding Lelouch's hair in his fingers.
"I'm sorry, love." Suzaku whispered on his lips, but when Lelouch tried to catch more kisses he pulled away.
"I know you are." Lelouch could not help but smile, despite the fact that he was both angry and taken advantage of in the past few minutes.
"Shall we take our afternoon nap then?" Suzaku asked, wrapping his arms around Lelouch's waist and holding his lips to his neck as he spoke in a hushed tone. "I think your medications have messed with your brain a bit too much."
"Alright." He heard Lelouch mumble.
"It wasn't all bad. Our daughter has a pending name now, you know, because of Milly's visit." Suzaku whispered in Lelouch's ear.
"Avarielle Lamperouge." Lelouch responded with a smile, and they both fell asleep within the following half hour.
"Suzaku," Lelouch began, scowling, "It was entirely possible for me to walk through the doorway and sit myself down."
"Not in my house." Suzaku argued illegitimately, and he laughed as he watched Lelouch flounder about as he laid him down on the main couch.
"This isn't your house, it's mine!" He argued back, eyes blazing.
"Technically, it's Milly's family's house. So neither of us has any claims." Suzaku pointed out as he flicked Lelouch in the middle of his forehead. He sincerely loved annoying his fiancé out of his mind.
Lelouch was honestly too exhausted from his (mostly) sleep cycle in the hospital to really put up a good fight as he was laid on the couch. It was so relieving, to finally be back at home. He groaned audibly and rested his arm across his forehead.
"Have you contacted the school?"
"Yes," Suzaku assured him for the umpteenth time, "and you will not be attending classes for a full six months. After that, you'll have to at least alternate days with me so you can finish school." Another groan and Suzaku hushed him as he pulled a light blanket over Lelouch from his feet to his nose.
Lelouch's eyes fluttered open as he wrinkled his nose and pulled the blanket down from his face. He repositioned himself to allow for Suzaku to sit at the end of the couch, but it was to no avail as the Japanese boy pulled him up, sat himself down and laid Lelouch's head upon his chest. A deep exasperated sigh followed. "I suppose I'll just have to accept your babying since I am in no place to revolt."
Suzaku laughed heartily. "As long as I am willing, you'll never escape it. Enjoy it for a while." A devilish smirk was placed upon his lips, and Lelouch's immediate reaction was to sigh into his frown and slouch back into Suzaku's frame.
"Dear God, Suzaku, I'm scared." Lelouch finally said, biting his lower lip. Suzaku raised his eyebrow but did not allow Lelouch to see his own worry as his arms around Lelouch's chest squeezed their grip. Lelouch didn't admit to feeling emotions like that very often.
"I know, but we'll be alright. We've always made it through things before." Suzaku reassured him, truth embedded in his voice. Lelouch caught the confidence and relaxed even more, allowing Suzaku to wonder just how tense Lelouch could be if he was still able to let go his strain.
"I'll believe you." Lelouch mumbled as he let his head fall unrestrained onto Suzaku's shoulder, his eyes closed. However, his peace did not last more than ten minutes as the equilibrium was shattered and he found himself up in the air once more, Suzaku's strong arms spreading heat behind his knees and around his back.
Lelouch did not fight as Suzaku carried him slowly up the stairs and into bed. He faked being completely unconscious as he felt Suzaku put him down on the bed and reposition his limbs to a less awkward position. Strong, thick sheets were pulled just over his shoulders and a shift in the weight on the mattress occurred as Suzaku also laid down in the bed to rest. Unfortunately, as the seconds passed Lelouch's façade was becoming less and less fraud and he found it hard to keep himself conscious; the last thing he could register was Suzaku's lips upon his forehead, wishing him sweet dreams in a soft whisper. He almost laughed at the tickling breeze Suzaku's breath had blown over his forehead as he spoke before going completely unconscious beside him.
Avarielle Lamperouge was brought home not a week later. Another last-minute party was held by the order of Miss Milly Ashford herself, and most if not all of Ashford's students attended. (Also, by the order of Miss Milly Ashford.) There were drinks and snacks and small conversations, anything you'd expect from a normal party; unfortunately not to be expected from Milly Ashford.
"Milly, where's your usual array of mischief?" Lelouch asked, a smirk in his eyes but an innocent twitch of the mouth upon his lips whose paradox would have made anyone other than Milly shy away.
"I can't have much of a boisterous party when a newborn is nearby on campus!" She said with a wink and a beaming smile that made Lelouch's expression relax into peace. "Where's your usual supply of inappropriate public behavior?" Milly asked, the same smirk Lelouch had previously worn stolen from his very face as a blush settled on his cheeks.
"M-Milly!" Lelouch could only manage to choke out in his sudden embarrassment.
"What?" Milly asked, fake innocence evident all over her facial features, "Suzaku loves snogging you in public places. I think it makes him feel like he has a hoarded treasure in you, when he can make sure people are looking as he does improper things to you in their faces." Milly continued much to Lelouch's humiliation, a finger poised on her lower lip.
As if to save the day, the missing link arrived at Lelouch's side with a drink in one hand and a cookie in another. Lelouch graciously took the offered glass and sat down upon a nearby ledge. He watched as Suzaku and Milly had some sort of hilarious conversation. Honestly, their combating charisma seemed to compete whenever they held casual exchange. Suzaku eventually, after worrying about his fiancé's disappearance, strode over to the edge of a fountain where Lelouch now sat with his half-empty glass.
"You okay?" He asked sincerely, but Lelouch looked up into his eyes for just a second before flashing back down to the ground.
"I'm alright." Lelouch responded as he twirled the liquid in his glass in a rotating circle. Suzaku's troubled look did not go away as Lelouch had wished and he sat beside him, snaking his fingers into Lelouch's.
"You don't look okay." Suzaku protested, and Lelouch sighed before giving up and resting his head on Suzaku's side.
"Then why did you ask if you knew the answer?" He muttered. Suzaku didn't have an answer, so they were engulfed in a silence interrupted only by the party's muffled noises. "I'm nervous about leaving her back at the house." Lelouch finally said through an exhale.
"Sayoko is perfectly capable of taking care of Ava, Lelouch. In fact, she's probably even safer with Sayoko than if you were home alone with her." Suzaku shot the last statement at Lelouch with a sneer, and the expected elbow-in-the-side did come as he expected. The disgruntled statement he had also prepared for had not come, however, and it was left at that in perfect silence; the noise from the party seemed to have been blocked out by magic.
"You want to go home?" Suzaku asked, and even though he didn't want to leave, when he saw Lelouch's frown and nod, he escorted the both of them out quickly. They took their time wandering through the grounds.
"The stars are pretty tonight." Suzaku said with a bright smile as he stopped walking and watched as Lelouch took a few extra steps before realizing Suzaku was no longer at his side, swung his gaze around and tilted his head in inquiry. The moon cast a milky glare on the curve of Lelouch's face and spilled into his eyes, making them shine almost unnaturally. The view made Suzaku unknowingly hold his breath.
"They are pretty, I suppose." Lelouch responded, lifting his gaze up so he almost felt dizzy from the dazzling view of the navy blue sky. The moon's illumination slipped over his nose and into his silhouette like an outline. Suzaku followed him and stared up into the twinkling stars, his fingers mingling with Lelouch's as they simply stood there in silence for uncounted minutes.
"I do believe we should get back home," Lelouch said, tearing his gaze from the sky, "Nunnally may get worried." Suzaku nodded and started his stride, allowing Lelouch to fall into his step as they walked down the paved walkway to their suite, their arms still linked and their faces still enlightened by the moon.
"Ava? You have a nickname for her now?" Lelouch asked after a while, interrupting the silence.
"I can barely pronounce Avarielle, you know that." Suzaku said with a nervous chuckle.
"Should we teach her Japanese?" Lelouch asked of him.
"Of course, she lives in Japan, doesn't she?"
"Should she know of my true identity?"
"Every girl dreams to be a princess, Lelouch, I just think we should wait until she understands that it's a secret."
"Okay…should we move out of Ashford?"
Suzaku stopped playing along now. "Move out? Now?"
"Yeah," Lelouch looked down, "I should have enough credits to graduate high school now anyway, even without the last six months of Senior year. We could definitely afford our own house on your salary combined with the Ashfords' incentives."
"But what about Nunnally?" Suzaku asked. Lelouch closed his eyes and took in a deep breath.
"Nunnally's old enough to be okay without me. She's definitely grown up considerably, don't you think? She could maybe even move into the girls' dorms and live a less sheltered life without me just as easily, so long as she had roommates who were willing to assist her." Suzaku squeezed Lelouch's hand. "It'll be hard for me, but I think it would help her and me in the future."
Suzaku turned and held Lelouch in a long hug once he stopped talking. "Let's wait a year or two, until Nunnally has nearly left school. I know it would destroy you if you just left her here all alone to finish school." Suzaku suggested.
"Alright." Lelouch sighed, secretly relieved at Suzaku's idea and he turned himself out of Suzaku's embrace to face their front door. "Are you ready for this?" He asked Suzaku.
"I'm pretty sure I am. You?" Lelouch nodded. They walked in sync with each other's footsteps up the front stairs and opened the door together. "We'll be okay, I promise." Suzaku looked at Lelouch as he looked back at him, and they each smiled at the other. They would be just fine.
Awww, a sappy ending! Cue up the random moe ending song!
Thank you all so much for reading, reviewing, alerting, and favoriting over the months! It's been a pleasure writing for you, and don't forget to check in with me for post-pregnancy tidbits! I wish you all well in your lives!
And, finally, until next time, Code Geass and all of its attributes (c) Sunrise/CLAMP/Bandai Entertainment/Goro Taniguchi.