Serena: So many nice reviews. :D hehe~ Thank you all very much for taking an interest in the story. ^^ I am aware that I am behind on reading and reviewing other fanfictions (every time I open my e-mail, the e-mail alerts throw apples at me). I am going to do that right after this is up and everything. And since it is indeed up…[goes to read/review things]
I would like to thank the following people for reviewing: Tainted Ink And Paper, Crispy Rice, kyouruhi24, Stoona, Satiah, Madamame la pluie, Yamiro, Kuyeng13-The Heart Logos, mochiusagi, Sparxyu, Ookami Fuu, roses-have-thorns911, oO0 neko518 0Oo, starichi, LookingForMeaning, Siry Pop, RiseofaRebellion, Incurable Spazz, and LolliDictator!
And now to announce the winner of that little "Guess The Mystery Person" thing. XD Two people guessed the right name, but the one that guessed first was kyouruhi24. The mystery person was Li Xingke (the guy who Lulu jokingly said "soiled" him).
Warnings: AU. SuzakuxLelouch. Vague mentions at LelouchxC.C. and a short chapter.
Summary: There was once a beloved prince who was due to be wed to a beautiful princess, but on the eve of their wedding, the prince disappeared. The entire kingdom conducted a desperate search, but all that was found was a single playing card and a mask.
Disclaimer: I do not own Code Geass. Story based on the Vocaloid song Joker by Miku Hatsune.
June was considered the ideal month for marriage. It was said that those who wed during this month would have a long and happy marriage, blessed by the gods themselves.
This belief was derived from an old Roman myth concerning the goddess Juno. Juno was the patron goddess of Rome and was considered the divine watcher over all women--as well as the patroness of marriage. Many temples were built so that devoted people could worship her and festivals were held each year in her honor.
'Rubbish.' was all Lelouch had to say about this belief. 'The marriage will only last if both parties involved can coexist peacefully and know each other's limits. If either one has the slightest doubt, the marriage will not last.'
And Lelouch's mind was filled with doubt after doubt concerning the longevity of this forced union.
'How do they expect me to be happy about losing my freedom? Does anyone honestly believe that this will last?'
The two kingdoms of Pendragon and Avalon were not on completely friendly terms as the two kings held a rivalry that no common man could match nor compete against. Constantly on the alert for ways of asserting their superiority and dominance, the two kings organized many competitions to show off their respective kingdoms power. Fighting tournaments were held to determine which kingdom had the strongest knights, races were held to determine which horses were the fastest, and a host of other competitions. Needless to say, the two queens became weary of this and joined forces in order to plot a way to make it end.
What better way to do so than to bring the two kingdoms together through marriage?
At first, both kings were against the idea. Particularly Lelouch's father.
"No child of mine will set foot into that lion's den."
Perhaps it was his overprotective side that caused those words to be said. The king, Charles, was just as protective over Lelouch as Marianne was--seeing as said prince was his only child. He had been the one to assign a knight to Lelouch before the prince was old enough to speak. He had been the one to teach Lelouch how to use the bow and arrow. (Marianne was the one to teach him how to wield a sword properly.) He had been the one insistent on not giving Lelouch "the talk" in hopes of keeping him pure--though the prince remained unsoiled, this was a vain decision as Lelouch learned all about it from some very promiscuous friends he made in the village.
But in the end, he had been the one to push for the marriage. (The reminder of the soothsayer's warning--that Lelouch was still unaware of--forced him to reconsider the proposal and it did not take him long to agree to it.)
Lelouch sighed, a displeased frown crossing his features.
"Is there something wrong, Your Highness?"
From his perch upon the windowsill and his unseeing gaze locked outside, Lelouch snapped out of his daze and turned to address the older man standing behind him.
After a moment of hesitation, Lelouch's frown deepened and his shoulders sagged in weariness as he sighed once more.
"…no…I am well." he answered, turning his gaze back to the window.
Orenji--or Sir Jeremiah as was his true title--let a frown of his own cross his lips at the melancholy aura surrounding his prince. He was no fool. He knew that Lelouch was upset over this marriage arrangement. That mask of indifference and calm he was wearing spoke a lie to each and every person who looked upon him.
Jeremiah had been Lelouch's knight since before the child knew how to speak. Naturally, when the king and queen first informed him that he was to be the knight to a newborn, he had his concerns and he had felt just the tiniest bit insulted. But his loyalty to Lady Marianne overthrew those thoughts. (And it was unbelievably hard not to dislike the adorable little bundle of joy that had been Lelouch. The young prince had even taken a great liking to him, always refusing to stop crying until the knight held him and then giggling cutely when he got his way. Also, when he first began learning to speak, he took a liking to the word "orange" and had referred to Jeremiah as such ever since. However, he had not been able to say the word correctly and it had come out sounding like "orenji".)
He had been blessed with the privilege of watching the prince grow from a curious little squirming bundle to a teenage intellectual and for that, he was grateful. Being this child's knight was truly a blessing.
'You of all people should know that I can tell when you are lying.'
"Forgive me if I am speaking out of turn, Your Highness," he began, watching as Lelouch turned back to give him his attention once more. "but even the most unperceptive of the castle's residents have noticed your melancholy mood this evening."
Lelouch allowed his lips to turn upward into a humorless smile.
"So I've been discovered it seems." he replied. "Pity. Here I believed that I was hiding it well."
Jeremiah's frown deepened.
Lelouch waved a hand in the air to halt him, asking for silence.
"Orenji…forgive me. I wish to be left alone for the time being."
Jeremiah sighed, but he straightened his posture and brought a fist to his chest in a salute.
"As you wish, Your Highness. If there is anything that you need, I will be awaiting your commands at my post outside the door."
Lelouch could only nod his head in acknowledgement before turning away to gaze outside the window once more.
Jeremiah turned and began to walk away, his body moving forward but his mind remaining with his prince. It was not his place to judge the king and especially not the queen for their decision to force this marriage upon Lelouch, but he could not help thinking that it was rather cruel to take that choice away from Lelouch. Jeremiah knew that it was an age-old tradition in the Pendragon line to create arranged marriages when necessary, but he still found it unfair and his heart was beating with the same melancholy thumping that his prince's was. He knew he was just being overprotective and selfish--he was attached to the prince after all--, but even still. It wasn't right. Not even Lelouch's ancestor--the great King Arthur himself--was denied the privilege of this choice.
'I truly hope you are able to find happiness despite this arrangement, Lelouch.'
One has to wonder, with so many people thinking this exact thought on this exact day, did that make the soothsayer's warning more absolute?
The future is not set in stone. Anything could happen to change the course of history for the better or for worse. However, it can be increasingly difficult to change with so many people pinning after the same wish. Does that mean that the fate the soothsayer foretold was a good one for Lelouch? Oh, not at all. That's just means that these people were wishing for what would make Lelouch happy.
And that was to escape the marriage arrangement.
The sky was being painted with streaks of orange and pink as the sun began its descent along the horizon. A pair of melancholy amethyst irises gazed across the ever darkening ground unseeingly, their owner deep in thought.
'There's no way around it.' Lelouch finally admitted to himself, a quiet sigh passing by his lips. 'Even though I am against this union, it is for the better of my kingdom that I marry Avalon's princess.'
As unfair as the situation was to Lelouch, he knew his place within the world. As an imperial prince of the kingdom of Pendragon, it was his duty to put his kingdom's needs before his own. Wedding Avalon's princess would bring a secured peace to the two kingdoms and it would continue his holy ancestral bloodline.
'It is times such as these when I truly wish I had an older sibling.'
He knew he was being selfish in thinking this way, but he felt so cheated and lost.
'If only there was some way I could escape this arrangement…'
An amused chuckle startled Lelouch from his thoughts and he jumped slightly as a hand was placed on top of his shoulder.
"But the question is: what are willing to lose, little prince?"
The voice had a slight accent to it and the question that was asked of him was spoken in a condescending manner that made Lelouch feel just the slightest bit insulted. (Though it was not written down as a kingdom-wide law, it was considered socially unacceptable to speak in an ill manner before a figure of royalty.)
Judging by the deep tone, the voice belonged to a male and it was unrecognizable to Lelouch.
"Who are you?" Lelouch demanded, doing well at hiding his surprise and speaking with the high authority that only royalty had. "How did you enter here?"
Swiftly turning to glare at the intruder, Lelouch could only blink in astonishment at the overall presence before him.
Brown wavy locks of soft-looking hair framed a boyish face that was partially covered by a black eye mask. He was dressed in a black tailcoat with black and white pinstriped slacks tucked into a pair of knee-high black boots. To complete his odd attire, a top hat was resting atop his head and a single playing card--the ace of hearts--was stuck between the white ribbon wrapped around the bottom of the top hat.
"Who am I?" the strange man asked, gesturing to himself with a hand. "Oh, no one particularly important. Just a drifter, stopping by for a visit."
A small smile graced the intruders lips as vibrant emerald orbs gazed down at him in amusement. He stood up straight, a hand reaching up to grab the rim of the top hat before he swept his arm across his chest and took a bow.
"But you may call me Suzaku and I am at your service, little prince."
Serena: This is a short chapter, but that seemed like a good place to stop. So, Suzaku has arrived and he is the trickster, yes? :D And it seems he has our darling prince set within his sights. But how did he get past Jeremiah? D: That sneaky sneaky.