Disclaimer: I do not own Code Geass and the story of Cinderella. They belong to their respective owners.
Apologies to adorable betas as usual for not letting them read this beforehand. I started this in order to see test myself and see how far I can go without help. I managed to finish it and I know there are numerous mistakes everywhere and you're probably grimacing over how OOC the entire cast was. I apologise and I thank both of you for letting me continue. Thank you.
A/N: I have a love-hate relationship with this chapter but then again, I have this kind of relationship with many works from my hand. Tis normal and I've learnt to no longer let it affect me…that much.
Chapter Nine – Cinderella's Ever After
I sat at the edge of the garden, in the shade of a veranda decorated with some clinging plant I don't quite recognise – wisteria possibly, though I was never terribly good at naming flowers even after all that time I spent with Mao in the garden in the past.
I watched with little interest as my employer's sister stared disappointedly down at her sketchbook before putting it aside on the picnic rug she was seated on. "It doesn't look right," I heard her voice say to her art teacher. "Can I not draw something else?"
Her art teacher shook her head and placed the sketchpad back into the princess's hands, gently coaxing her back to finishing the piece.
I sighed, sipped my cup of tea and flicked idly through the princess's schedule in front of me. Who knew that being a princess's social secretary was so… blissful? Not only do I get to sit around and not do anything most of the day save accompany her highness everywhere, I also get to bully every socialite who wanted a bit of Nunnally's attention. There was always the bonus entertainment of seeing how much they're willing to give in attempt to bribe me into inserting their names into a few scraps of paper.
Hm, if only I could have pizza everyday delivered to me then this job would be perfect.
"You have a certain look on your face when you think of pizza," a voice noted and I stopped daydreaming to see Prince Lelouch step into the shade of the veranda beside me, unnoticed by the art teacher and Nunnally who was still going about their lesson at the other side of the garden.
"Oh? Is that so?" I asked, neatly plucking a stray petal, which had fallen into my cup, from my tea and sipping at it once more. "And what kind of look would that be, your highness?"
It occurred to me that I completely forgot to bob a curtsey to him like I was taught to by the other servants but by then, I had swallowed my tea and was far too lazy to get off my seat. Instead, I covered my mistake with a smirk and pretended that the entire lack of action was intentional.
"No curtsey? What a rude servant."
I chuckled into the rim of my teacup. "Surely a gentleman like yourself would not expect a young lady, who is still recovering from her injuries, to get off her seat just to greet you."
His violet eyes went down to stare at the hem of my dress where my feet were hidden. "I recall you were walking fine earlier today."
"If being fine meant leaning most of my weight on your sister's wheelchair and limping along behind her then, yes, I was walking fine."
"And what of the time your step-father visited?"
"I was sitting for most of that meeting so it hardly required more exercise than lifting a teacup and sipping from it." I chuckled at the memory, it had been amusing to watch him squirm in the chair nervously now that he knew I'm in such close contact with royalty. Aa, but I was far too lazy to consider a punishment for all the things he put me through and he was lucky (or unfortunate, perhaps) that all I asked was for a say in Tianzi's upbringing and anything that concerns her.
For my young timid stepsister was the one who heard my muffled kidnapping and peeked through the window to see Mao stuff me into the carriage. She was the one who ran, terrified, into Xianglin's room and cried for help. She was also the one who ran, tripping over her nightdress, to the stables whilst Xianglin stalled Gao Hai (who woke up from Tianzi's cries) and shook Xingke awake. She was the one who begged then shakily ordered Xingke to climb on a horse and gallop to the castle to summon help. Without her, my cavalry wouldn't have been so quick to follow Mao's trail and found me lying at the bottom of a hill.
How could I possibly leave that child alone in that house with Gao Hai ruling her life when she has done that much to me? The least I could do as her stepsister is to ensure she grows up a fine young lady and to ensure my step-father don't marry her to a pig of a man. Oh, Gao Hai was not pleased with the amount of say I demanded over Tianzi's upbringing but when he considered the prospect of how close a contact his daughter could have with members of high society and royalty due to my post, he reluctantly agreed.
Aa, I'm wandering off in my memories again…
"And what of the time I saw you heading towards Mao's cell?"
"Did you not see the young servant boy who was acting as my crutch for that trip? Mao complains about the quality of your prison food, by the way, and your guards are getting rather unnerved by his constant madness talking so do hurry up and decide what you want to do with him."
He turned and leant against the wall, watching Nunnally on the grass with her lesson and then slid his gaze to one side to watch me from the corners of his eyes. "And what do you propose we do with him?"
I scoffed, "You? Asking for a servant's opinion? Is that why you're over here, risking more rumours-"
"I settled those fiancé rumours."
Another unladylike scoff escaped my lips, "Hardly, your highness. Your mother and sisters are still under half the impression that there are truths in the rumours."
He sighed and I continued my previous question, "is that why you're over here, risking more rumours about us, rather than being over there doting on your precious little sister like you always do?"
This caused him to raise an eyebrow in my direction. "The lady thinks too highly of herself."
"The lady is merely curious over the prince's purpose here under the veranda with her."
"The prince is only here to speak to the lady to rearrange an appointment."
I grinned, leant my elbow on my seat's arm and balanced my chin on the palm of my hand as I gazed at him through my lashes and bangs. "An appointment? With the lady?"
He turned to face me fully, slightly puzzled over what direction this conversation was going but mostly curious. "No, my sister."
"Hm, pity. The lady does think the prince loves his sister too much."
He showed the barest hints of a grimace but quickly composed his face. "Tch, say the lady who loves her pizzas too much."
"The lady is a witch after all," I answered effortlessly and flicked open Nunnally's scheduler. "Now, which appointment is the warlock referring to?"
"This afternoon, I'll be out of my other appointments earlier than expected so I can be with Nunnally longer."
"But she has a visit from Lady Kaguya at that time. You can always join them."
"I prefer… not to."
"Hm…" I lowered the scheduler, "I could rearrange the appointment for you but what can you give me in return?"
He laughed, "I'm your employer, C.C.. Surely that is enough reason for you to rearrange some time slots for me."
"Ara? I was rather sure you hired me because I don't bend so easily to power and rank," I smirked and leant even more forward on my propped up hand, fully challenging him with my posture. "So, what shall we settle on? How about having pizza cooked in the kitchens for me rather than I, myself, having to make a trip down to town to buy them and I'll allow you any time slots you desire?"
"That was not part of the contract," he replied coolly but I detected a small amount of frustration in his tone.
"We can make it part of the contract," I drawled out slowly, allowing the words to sink into his mind.
This time, it was his turn to smirk. "Very well," said Prince Lelouch and I blinked. Very well? That easily? He would get the royal kitchen to cook pizza for a servant just so he can have full control of his time slots with Nunnally? My, our prince's sister complex was more powerful than I thought.
"And how do you propose we add this detail to the contract? Since you sealed the original contract with a kiss. Are you going to claim I stole another kiss from you, my witch?"
I barked a few short laughs then regard him with eyes that I know were glowing with mirth. "A kiss on the lips is worth much more than a mere addition to the contract. No, we'll add it…"
I lifted my chin off my hand and raised the appendage into the air, fingers poised daintily like I've seen many ladies do.
"…like so," I finished, grinning victoriously.
He stared at my hand for a few seconds then came forward, with a grin on his face. "I see. Clever, my witch." He reached and clasped my hand, bending his head down until I could feel his breath on my knuckles. "You sealed a contract with a kiss and now you add a detail with another kiss of lighter weight."
"I am always clever, Lulu."
He grinned more and I felt his lips on my fingers, pressing firmly down on the skin.
A job where I laze around, do almost nothing and get to bully silly fools around.
A job where I don't have to be ash covered anymore.
And now, it's a job where I get to eat pizza every day every meal.
The prince lifted his lips from my hand and I closed my eyes and chuckled.
Finally, I can start my happily ever after.
Thank you, everyone, for reading this far and for all your kind thoughts and words. Thank you.