A/N: Thanks to Charis who listens to all of my ideas and then fixes them!
Standing to the side Suzaku watched as Lelouch presented his sister with a thin portfolio that she accepted and promptly threw across the room.
Guilford picked up the folder and Cornelia yelled, "I said trial basis, you little fool!"
Suzaku stood a little taller, straightened his posture, and the Prince frowned a little.
"Why, so you can snatch him up the second I'm not looking?"
Cornelia pressed her lips into a thin line but didn't defend the accusation.
"Tch," She sat back in her chair with a scowl, and ordered, "Sit or I'll have you thrown out."
The Prince sat and all three bystanders watched keenly as the Princess pulled a small folder out from behind her and passed it over to Lelouch who opened it and immediately began to read.
"You should have done better research." Cornelia looked satisfied as Lelouch glanced up with cool eyes and went back to reading. "Still want him?"
"I don't see why not." Lelouch snapped the folder shut. "I already knew most of this, and would have guessed the rest in short order."
"He's practically illiterate!" Cornelia looked like she wanted to throw something again as her hand inched towards a nearby vase. Suzaku was first very confused and ashamed, and then worried that the Prince was about to get a dozen roses in the face. He looked up from the vase to Guilford who shook his head almost imperceptibly, his lips turning upward a few millimeters.
"He reads and writes Japanese perfectly well," Lelouch crossed his legs and sat back, steepling his fingers in front of him with his elbows on the chair arms. He eyes were narrowed, and his look dark as he confronted his sister. "He speaks English fluently-"
"He has an accent," Cornelia huffed. Suzaku winced.
"Barely noticeable, Cornelia. You're stretching."
"He hasn't even finished algebra," Cornelia replied primly, her smile sharp. "And his written reports look like they belong to some dyslexic middle-schooler."
Lelouch looked like he was suppressing a laugh as he countered, "He can dismantle bombs, pilot a knightmare, and operate any weapon handed to him with nearly perfect aim…and you think I'd drop him because of his penmanship?"
"Knights have to have certain standards, Lelouch," Cornelia said, leaning back negligently, "I won't approve."
"You will approve," The Prince's voice had dropped into something dark, nearly chilling. "I have claimed Kururugi Suzaku as my knight and now he will be fit for nothing else."
Cornelia and Lelouch stared at each other for a long time, never blinking. Suzaku felt as though he was involved in one of the Prince's chess games but this time, and somehow it comforted him, Suzaku was not another player but his Prince's piece.
Finally Cornelia held out her hand and Guilford handed over the portfolio along with a pen. She opened and read the only document inside, nodding a few times before finally putting her name down in a large flourish. After snapping it closed she looked back to Lelouch.
"He will attend classes with you during your studies but will work with a separate curriculum. It's been a long time since a commoner was tapped for knighthood, so he'll need to be prepared by the inevitable backlash from both his status and his," Cornelia made a face," –heritage."
Lelouch sighed and stood. "You're such a snob Cornelia. Ultimately the sum of the mainland is less than the sum of the Areas. By the time you're dead Britannia will be made entirely of the honoraries."
Lelouch found four tumblers in the corner cupboard and began to splash ice and alcohol in varying sums. He put these on a small tray and brought them over and Cornelia said, gruff, "Then thank god I'll be dead. Sit down you two, and have a drink."
Suzaku sat at the empty space beside his Prince and Guilford sat beside his lady. They both watched as Lelouch handed out glasses. Suzaku was not very surprised to see that the amount of liquid in Cornelia's glass was significant. Lelouch handed him a glass of moderate amount, mostly ice and took one for himself.
"Well, I suppose we should toast this damn thing." Cornelia shook out her hair and undid the buttons to her jacket, scowling fiercely in Suzaku's direction the entire time.
"Um," Suzaku didn't want to say anything…but there were some things that had to be said. He found himself suddenly surrounded by staring eyes, and knew he was blushing when he said, "I'm not old enough to drink alcoholic beverages, your Highness."
Cornelia caught his attention because she was the first to react, pursing her lips a little, before thinning them back down to a line, until they twisted again. Her eyes went wide and then narrowed as she made a choking noise, as if she was trying to clear her throat. The Princess' shoulders jerked and the liquid in her cup nearly sloshed over the side when her hand spasmed a little. Suzaku had just enough time to panic that he'd injured her somehow as her cheeks began to pink.
Lelouch sighed and Cornelia burst into laughter so suddenly and so loudly that Suzaku flinched back, nearly dumping his cup on the couch. After a few moments the Princess had to wipe the tears from her eyes, before giggling to herself, "Not old enough…"
"I wasn't making a joke," Suzaku whispered to the Prince, "I really am too young to drink. I just turned seventeen last-"
He was cut off when Cornelia snatched his collar and pulled him forward, nearly costing him his balance..
"Are you saying you've never had any alcohol?"
"Well," Suzaku winced a little. "Once at a party I drank some fruit punch that didn't taste right, but I spit it out, so-"
A hand up to her mouth, she had fingers just as long as Lelouch's - Cornelia li Britannia, the terror of every Area in Britannia, started to giggle uncontrollably. Suzaku looked to the Prince but he only shrugged a little, sitting back into the lush leather couch as he took small sips of his drink, looking calm and completely composed.
Finally, still smiling and laughing a little Cornelia took off her coat and visibly relaxed, uncrossing her legs as she took a healthy swig of her own drink. From the look on her face Suzaku started to feel a little nervous and more so when Guilford smiled behind his glass before drinking.
"I, Cornelia li Britannia third Princess of the land, hereby order you, Sir Kururugi, to drink until you are very drunk."
Suzaku was a soldier, Cornelia was a lady of the empire, and Lelouch didn't seem to have a problem with the order.
"Yes…your Highness…" Suzaku felt like he wanted to cry a little when he brought the glass up and immediately jerked back from the smell. Cornelia and Guilford were watching avidly, leaning forward in their seats. Suzaku didn't need to look back to see that the Prince was watching too, lazily and maybe smiling a little, but still watching.
Suzaku stopped breathing through his nose and finally, carefully took a gulp—
-and promptly spit half of it on the floor, coughing hard to the sound of the Princess' hysterical laughter and Guilford's snickers.
"He wasn't lying. Are you happy now Cornelia?" Suzaku was comforted greatly by the soothing motion of the Prince's hand on his back.
"Of course not," Cornelia sat back and emptied her glass, handing it over to Guilford. "Get him something he'll be able to drink, Guilford."
Guilford rose, and Suzaku concentrated on Lelouch's touch, so by the time he was handed a cold glass he was able to sit up and breathe without wheezing.
"Orange juice?" Suzaku took a sip and just like the punch it tasted a little…off, but palatable. The Prince gave a heavy sigh and his hand slipped back to his own lap. He looked a little sleepy, his smile soft and his body loose.
"Baby brother can't hold his drink," Cornelia chuckled and when Guilford returned to his spot he sat a little closer than he had before, his thigh nearly touching Cornelia's. Suzaku looked away casually but when Cornelia caught his eyes again there was something a little extra in her smile.
"Drink up, Kururugi…I want to see what you're like without your inhibitions." She chuckled, "You don't really know a man until you drink with him."
Suzaku didn't say anything, he didn't have to. He just locked eyes with Cornelia and finished his juice, again…and again…and aga-
"You're unnatural," The Prince said, a hand shadowing his eyes. "I mean, really."
"I'm sorry you don't feel well," Suzaku said softly. "I'm told this helps, my lord."
Suzaku handed over a large glass of water and two white pills and Lelouch downed them immediately, finished with a weak groan. Suzaku wanted to say something upbeat but had the distinct feeling that he would probably lose a few fingers in the process. The way Lelouch was glaring suggested a certain degree of homicidal rage that Suzaku was keen on avoiding.
However, "Lady Cornelia told me to inform you that lessons start at nine." Suzaku couldn't help it. "And that you can only get the negatives back if you show up at the upcoming ball."
Lelouch groaned pitifully. "Fine. That witch…ugh. I'm taking a shower. Obviously you've had yours. Are you an early riser as well as possessing a stomach of iron?"
"All soldiers are, my Lord."
Finally letting his hand drop Lelouch made eye contact, looking wan and pale. All Suzaku could think was that it made his eyes even more magnificent, brightened by the sun and free of the restraint of everyday life. The Prince sighed again and slipped from beneath the covers, putting a hand to the bedpost to steady himself, just as Suzaku caught his elbow.
"Do me a favor and order tea… and while you're at it tell them to bring you something to wear. If you're going to school you need proper clothing."
"I have my uniform," Suzaku murmured, "it really isn't necessary to-"
Lelouch raised an eyebrow, and Suzaku ended, "Yes, my Lord."
"Brown is ugly." Was all he said before disappearing into the bathroom. "I'm not going to let my knight gallivant around being poorly dressed."
"Yes, my Lord."
The shower turned on and Suzaku sighed. The Prince's idea of fashion fit him well, but it was definitely unique. On a person like Suzaku silks and ornamentations would look ridiculous and feel costume-like. And how was he supposed to run or, hell, move in a skin tight-
"Yes, the Prince would like tea this morning," Suzaku said to the voice that answered the service line. "and coffee for me, if you don't mind. Black."
"Of course, my Lord. Is there anything else?"
"Well, you don't have to call me that, for one," Suzaku felt uncomfortable with honorifics he didn't deserve. "And the Prince said something about…proper clothing."
"What should I call you if not, 'My Lord'?" The man sounded a little amused, and far younger when he strayed from the usual script. "It's easier than Warrant Officer Kururugi."
"That is a bit of a mouthful." Suzaku agreed, smiling. "Sorry."
"That's no problem at all, my Lord… also, I'll send for the tailor. Lady Cornelia called him last evening, so there are already garments waiting."
Suzaku whispered even though the shower was still going, "The Lady? Thank god…and thank you."
"Anything my lord, your tea will be up in a few moments. I've also sent up a bite of breakfast. We're under standing orders to feed you whenever possible. There was a stir in the kitchens last night. Cook is delighted with the challenge."
Suzaku laughed again just as the shower stopped, "I have to go. Thanks."
"Good Luck, Sir Kururugi."
The line went dead and there was a knock at the door that Suzaku answered, making sure the table was cleared as a young lady set down a tea service and a breakfast sandwich that had Suzaku's mouthwatering.
"I'm going to get fat." He murmured idly, nodding his thanks to the young lady who curtsied with a wink.
"A few more pounds wouldn't hurt." A voice brought Suzaku's head to the side as a short man with a garment bag stepped into the room. "Is the Prince here?"
"Getting ready for the day." Suzaku said, watching the white bag warily. "Ah, about this clothing thing-"
"A standard school uniform, sir, with certain added accoutrements." Another man whom Suzaku assumed was the tailor followed and opened the bag, revealing a navy two-piece uniform that made Suzaku sigh in relief. There were unnecessary embellishments, fleur-de-lis, gold piping and the like, but when he looked close enough Suzaku grinned. The belt, also embellished, had a gun holster, and the other side…
"Obviously you're going to have to remove your sword when you sit, but that can certainly be arranged." The man's assistant pulled the top out, and the tailor undid a few catches, showing that there was a carefully hidden zipper near the waist to hold an extra clip or whatever tools Suzaku desired.
"We can change the jacket to make room for an inner holster, if you'd like, but the side holster is mostly concealed by the length of the uniform. Lady Cornelia left that to your preference."
"That's fine. I might want a back-up if you haven't already planned that."
The tailor grinned, showing off white, crooked teeth and dimples.
"At the ankle, my Lord."
Suzaku nodded and the assistant handed over a case that the tailor put on a seat. Open it revealed enough weaponry that Suzaku actually grinned, pulling out the automatic to check its weight, and then popping in the clip. It was an officer's standard weapon so he knew how to use it, but never had the rank to actually pull the trigger. Cornelia was giving him an unspoken compliment along with a dagger and a small back-up gun.
"Somebody is having fun." Lelouch said dryly, walking up to inspect the uniform that was nearly identical to the one he was already wearing. He frowned at the tailor before adding, "Exceptional work as usual, Haws."
"Thank you, my lord," The man grinned and bowed. "The rest of your order should be arriving shortly."
"Is there any need for alteration?"
The tailor looked at Suzaku speculatively for a moment before answering, "None, my Lord."
"Wonderful. Go away."
"Yes, my Lord."
Suzaku was a little taken aback by Lelouch's tone but Haws walked out with a grin and as soon as he was gone Lelouch smiled a little, as if a joke had been made but he wasn't allowed to laugh. He took the blue fabric between his fingers and smiled.
"Perfect." He murmured, "But we shall have to have you fitted for other occasions as well. There's a ball coming up, after all."
Suzaku felt a little nauseous for a moment at the thought of dancing…but it couldn't be that difficult could it? As a child he had never been allowed to the grand dinners his father had been invited to every year, though he'd heard stories which made the occasions almost mythical to a young boy's mind…but the Prince was still smiling and the day was beautiful, so Suzaku counted his blessings and ate breakfast with Lelouch vi Britannia.
"Can you play an instrument?"
"Um. The bugle."
The man made a noise like Suzaku had just hit him with an iron pipe, his bushy eyebrows furrowing into one long caterpillar. Dr. Fetch was a very tall man who was very annoyed at having to teach a very ungifted student while the Prince sat only meters away being brilliant with a much kinder looking gentleman.
"For a little while I was forced to play the shamisen…but that didn't end very well…and then I tried the piano-"
"And what exactly made you cease your piano lessons?"
Suzaku cleared his throat, blushed, and murmured, "I maybe broke my instructor's fingers. On accident."
Dr. Fetch turned a little pale and grunted a few times.
"Is there anything else you'd like to tell me?"
Suzaku had the sudden feeling that he'd been very, very bad and was about to get punished for it. The doctor stared down his nose, which was easy since he was much taller, and Suzaku bit his lower lip. After a moment of dutifully trying to remember any other instrument-based traumas, Suzaku said, "Once at a festival they let me hit one of the big drums-"
The doctor closed his eyes and buried his face in his palms with a low moan. After a moment of recovery he stood tall again, taking a deep breath, saying, "I think for now we'll avoid the musical section of your education."
"That's fine with me, Professor." Suzaku sighed, "I'm not sure I'd have much use for that sort of thing."
Not for the first time the man looked down at the gun on Suzaku's hip and swallowed nervously, his hands fidgeting slightly at his sides.
"Alright, something useful then." Dr. Fetch looked back up into Suzaku's eyes, "Foreign languages. What do you know?"
Suzaku smiled, a little relieved, "Well, English, obviously-"
He was cut off by a sudden, thunderous frown as the doctor snapped, "Young man, in Britannia English is most certainly not foreign."
They stared at each other long enough that the two in the corner hushed, looking over to catch the disturbance.
"My humblest apologies, Professor." Suzaku said, imagining that he was still in the brown uniform as his heart began to pound in panic. "I know various phrases in up to seven foreign languages. One of them is: Put your hands up or I'll shoot. Another is: Surrender now, we have captured your leader. Others are: 'If you do not comply your comrades will be executed', 'Drop to the ground and put your hands behind your head', 'We will not hesitate to use lethal force' and 'You are now a prisoner of Britannia, bow to the flag or be put to death'."
Suzaku could only have been more monotone if he was in salute and staring down a rifle, but as it was they were only in a large room full of books and sunlight. Still, Suzaku knew that if the doctor wanted to he could have Suzaku's Britannian status revoked for such a simple statement. Instead he was sweating slightly and trying to tear his eyes away from Suzaku's gun.
From the corner, sounding slightly amused, Lelouch said, "He should probably start with French."
They stopped for lunch around twelve thirty, the professors going one way and the students going the other, but the two groups still in plain view of each other. Suzaku was slightly surprised when all Lelouch ate were some crackers with his tea but it didn't stop him from devouring his own meal; a sandwich bigger than his hand span and a tall glass of chocolate milk.
"You know," Lelouch murmured, looking over his shoulder, "I believe you've terrified that man."
"I'm sorry, my Lord." Suzaku whispered back. Lelouch gave him a look and Suzaku responded, "…I had to. I accidentally said that English was a foreign language and he…well, he…"
"Spit it out, Suzaku." Lelouch looked, for a lack of better word, concerned.
"My Lord," Suzaku could barely even hear himself. "My status as an honorary Britannian could be revoked over something like that."
Lelouch didn't reply, but he set his tea cup down much more slowly than needed, his head dipping forward. Like that Suzaku couldn't see his face, but he could read the tenseness in the Prince's hands and shoulders and began to worry.
"A little thing like that?"
"Yes, my Lord." Suzaku crossed his hands on the table. "Most civilians would let it slide, but in front of an officer or a nobleman…If he wanted he could have me jailed and tried for treason."
"So you intimidated him instead." The Prince laughed, barely a breath of air. "By telling him the truth, incidentally."
"Yes, my Lord."
"You don't sound very proud." The Prince finally looked up and Suzaku sighed to see a smile on his face. "You should be."
"I don't like making people afraid." Suzaku finished his milk. "I don't like being afraid."
"Karma?" The Prince laughed. "Does this mean you're expecting something in return?"
Suzaku didn't say anything and he didn't have to, no one had ever accused him of being able to hide his feelings. The Prince leaned forward with a small amazed look on his face, amazed and intrigued.
"You're superstitious?" He said it like Suzaku had just fallen to earth from the sky. "Do you …wear amulets?"
Lelouch laughed, low and interested as he pushed his tea cup forward. The Prince leaned close and asked, "What do you see?"
Suzaku ducked his head and pressed a smile into a thin line, opening his eyes wide as he carefully examined the fragile teacup. It was very light and beautiful, but Suzaku had to wonder how the Prince could even lift the cup when it was full without the handle breaking. Nevertheless Suzaku took hold and carefully turned it towards the sun. The lacquered porcelain was even more beautiful in the daylight. He felt a familiar pressure against his shoulder as the Prince leaned close.
He smelled wonderful. Like…lavender maybe, or something lighter. The only reason Suzaku didn't bury his nose into Lelouch's hair was because he was having a little too much fun. The Prince had shown a small sense of humor but what Suzaku was about to do…he tipped the cup slightly and gasped.
"What?" The Prince was interested but Suzaku heard the skim of, if not mockery, then certainly pleasure being taken at the thought that that Suzaku was half the way to being ridiculous, and he sounded as though he was about to inform Suzaku of that particular detail. Suzaku made a few faces he had seen an old fortune-teller make, murmuring a little, before he gasped again, putting a hand to his chest.
The Prince moved in close, "What is it? What do you see?"
Suzaku turned, looked him in the eyes and smiled a little, "Soggy tea leaves, my Lord."
Lelouch's face went through a number of expressions (some that were worrying) before settling with an expansive sigh and a rueful look as he took the cup and poured himself another glass of tea.
"I deserved that," He murmured. "I apologize."
Suzaku just sat back, enjoying the sun, "I'm not superstitious, my Lord, and not really that much interested in karma…but there are certain things that hurt the soul when you do them." He leaned in more closely. "I've frightened him, yes, but now I have to worry about how he'll react. I have to worry that there hasn't been something in his life that would make him want to destroy someone who scares him."
"I see the logic in that," The Prince murmured, "but still…you were afraid because Britannian sentiment has been proven untrustworthy when it comes to the Areas …will there ever be a backlash for that? Will Britannia ever tremble over the mistreatment of Honorary Britannians?"
The Prince wasn't heading for some kind of entrapment, Suzaku knew that much from the tone of his voice, but once again his curiosity was on display. He looked to Suzaku for an answer with intense, dark eyes, giving them a breath of privacy with the forward swing of his hair.
"I joined the army with a goal in mind." Suzaku said, leaning on his hand, "I'd make my way to the top by being the very best, someone my superiors couldn't just put off to the side-"
"And succeeded admirably."
"-Thank you, my Lord. I wanted to change Britannia from within to make it a safer place for people like me, people trying to win a new life after losing the war."
"Very well said." The Prince put his cup down, but didn't stop staring.
"That was my goal. I don't know how it would have come to pass, but I'd hoped-"
The Prince put his hand up, and asked, "That was your goal…then what is your goal now?"
Suzaku didn't have to think but he smiled first, with all the warm feelings that backed up the statement, showing all the awe and wonder and admiration that he felt when looking into his Prince's eyes.
"To guard you and support you as you become the man you want to be."
When Lelouch paused the world seemed to take a breath, watching as his thin fingers mingled with each other, as he looked away from Suzaku and far away…as if to divine his future in the reflection of a tea cup.
"Suzaku" Lelouch whispered, "You give me a heavy weight to bear."
Suzaku leaned forward until Lelouch was forced to look him in the eye. The Prince seemed very troubled, his eyes drifting away as soon as they could.
"I'll bear that weight, my lord, with happiness…because I know that if you want to you will be magnificent."
Lelouch didn't say anything and he pulled his eyes away, and just as Suzaku was starting to be concerned he trailed the pads of his fingers against the back of Suzaku's hand.
"It's time for lessons," He said, rising, but from one look, one confused, melancholy glance, Suzaku knew they would be speaking again.
"Dr. Fetch," Suzaku smiled and bowed, "I apologize for my outburst. That wasn't fair and I'm sorry. It won't happen again."
Dr. Fetch only blinked for a moment, his eyebrows nearly in his hairline as he fidgeted.
"I accept your apology," He finally blurted, and then he made a face. "…and apologize for my own," he cleared his throat, "unpleasantness."
"Great," Suzaku grinned and fidgeted in excitement, sitting on the desk behind him and swinging his legs.
"I had," Fetch cleared his throat again, "…an idea concerning your, ah, musical mishaps. I believe that we should start with something a little more straightforward. I suppose in your field it is important to have manual dexterity."
"Very important," Suzaku agreed with a wince. "It's the difference between getting singed and getting blown up."
"Ah," The man pressed his fingers together and smiled a little. "I suppose it is…and if it came down to memorizing a great deal of information?"
Suzaku had to think for a moment, it had been too long. He swung his legs a little, and said, "Upside down I can memorize two sheets of eleven font text in the time it takes to read. Right side up I can do four pages at ten point font. I'm afraid I wasn't very good with that sort of thing-"
"No, that's fine," And surprisingly the man did look pleased, his moustache curling with a smile. "We will work on music theory and then pick an instrument, instead of starting from scratch."
Suzaku smiled back, but it dimmed a little when the man said, "Now, penmanship on the other hand-"
Suzaku sighed but could do nothing but obey. He felt stupid tracing letters, especially the cursive ones, but still, under the Professor's eyes he began to learn and just as he tried…began to make himself just a little bit better.
"If you don't like it we can always redecorate." The Prince lounged up against the doorway and watched Suzaku's open-mouthed astonishment from the doorway. They'd passed a group of paint-splattered individuals on their way back and Suzaku finally understood why.
The smell of fresh paint was pungent even despite the wide open window looking down on the garden but Suzaku didn't mind. He was too busy gaping at the open armoire full of uniforms and clothes, the lush looking bed in the corner and the giant mahogany desk. It was like a scene out of his wildest fantasies, when he would stare up at the creaking springs of the sagging top bunk and dream of what it would be like to live like a human.
Just the idea of being the only one to use the bed was fantastic and there was the Prince smiling and giving him his own room.
"What?" The Prince made an odd face, an expression Suzaku was becoming familiar with. "Did you think you'd be sleeping on the floor? Knights are no longer required to sleep at the foot of their masters' beds, Suzaku."
"Oh." Suzaku blushed. "This is so much, my Prince, too much, and-"
"We're not done yet." Lelouch looked determined but melancholy as he stepped further into the room and revealed what had been leaning in the shadows behind his slim body. Suzaku sucked in a breath through his teeth and felt like a fool as Lelouch smiled.
"Every knight needs a sword."
It was a beautiful, royal blue inlaid with precious stones and gold filigree that made it come alive in the sunlight. Lelouch held it out with both hands and Suzaku knelt down, taking the offering with due reverence and then clutching it to his chest like a favorite child. The metal was very warm and well-polished, but obviously used with small signs of wear on the pommel.
"It belonged to my mother." Lelouch stepped in closer, laying his hand on the curve of Suzaku's skull. He brushed his fingers through Suzaku's hair in a soft, rhythmic motion that was reassuring and very comforting. "She was my father's knight before she was his consort."
"My Prince…it's too much." Suzaku followed the slight increase of pressure until he was pressing his forehead against the Prince's thigh.
"It is just enough and no more." Lelouch chastised gently, continuing the petting motion. "It is what you deserve."
There was a time, Suzaku thought, when he would have died before kneeling to a Britannian Prince, but that boy hadn't understood what Suzaku knew now; that a comforting hand meant the difference between a beating heart and a life beginning to turn black around the edges.
"Thank you, my Prince." Suzaku sighed as Lelouch's other hand came to rest on his cheek. He turned his head and brushed his lips against the Prince's knuckles. Somehow all of his insecurities seemed to settle when the Prince did little more than accept the touch and continue to brush his fingers through Suzaku's hair.
"No, my knight." Lelouch whispered. "Thank you. I think-"
Suzaku lifted his eyes to see Lelouch staring down pensively before nodding once and smiling.
"No, I know." Lelouch amended. "My mother would be very proud."
And Suzaku finally realized that he was home.