Hey, people! It's Lelouch-sama's birthday! Happy Birthday, Lelouch-sama! I hope this is not a belated birthday gift. I tried to finish it as soon as possible but was sidetracked. XD
Walking down the sea of people, I was, for once after many, many years, without my Zero outfit. However, no one would recognize me here, thanks to the elaborated mask I was wearing. No, it was completely different from the head gear I usually put on which cover my entire head. This was just a half mask covering only the upper part of my face, with, I would say annoying, feathers at the sides.
Why? This was a Masquerade ball.
"Nunnally-sama." I greeted the Empress, immediately assuming my post at her side. She glanced up at me with a disapproving look on her sweet face.
"Zero. How many times had I told you to just call me Nunnally?" She reprimanded me. I felt slightly guilty for disobeying her. I wanted please her, pamper her and spoil her as much as I could, in the place of a certain someone. But this was something I could not do. I feared that if I was to call her name so casually, she would pick up from my voice who I truly was. What was more, usually, that mask would had muffled my usual voice. Now, there was none.
"Anyway, I'm glad you changed out of your dreadful black suit for once." Her previously annoyed tone vanished into thin air. I gave her a stiff smile. I had not come out in public without my cloak and suit which marked me as Zero for twenty long years. Finally, after much persuasion, I gave in to the girl I was assigned to protect for life.
"Stop being so stiff and go enjoy the ball, Zero. I didn't organize a ball so that people can stand around like a tree instead of dancing." She teased. After 20 years since that incident, Nunnally had matured immensely. From the little girl we used to watch over, she had become a splendid woman, a capable Empress. The world was at peace. Everything was as he had planned.
"But I don't dance, Nunnally-sama," I replied simply, brushing away her offer gently. I could not stop the soft sigh escaping my lips, knowing her. She was biting her lips, a symbol she would not admit defeat yet. She would let the subject drop for now but when she had thought of a better idea on chasing me away from her side, she would bring it up and be successful at it.
"I'm sure you can, agile as you are. Suit yourself if you are so stubborn. How many years had it been for me to coax you to shed off that Zero outfit and you had finally took it off. So why don't loosen yourself today a little? No need for those uptight manners and politeness." She waved her hand, signaling a servant to come forward. A little while later, the boy returned with a slightly shorted chair, placing it beside the throne. Her wheelchair was stowed away behind the curtains.
"Sit." Her tone was firm, allowing no room for arguments. I sat obediently as she had ordered. I did not have to strength to rebel today.
"How many years had it been?" She asked softly. Her amethyst eyes, two shades lighter than her brother's, was staring far out at the turning and twirling peoples, all their face hidden behind fanciful masks.
"20 years." I answered, knowing perfectly what she was asking about.
"Is that so? I never really notice." I could tell it was untrue. As for why, it was because on how she had insisted on holding a ball today. It was the 5th of December.
"Who are you really? Even without your full mask, I could not tell." She turned and asked the same question she had asked a million times at my face. Of course, she would not have known how I look liked. She never saw my face before.
"I am Zero." I smirked playfully, responding to her question partially.
"Hmph! You are just so stubborn like my brother." Catching me unguarded for a moment because she mentioned someone, she tried to reach for my mask but my quick reflex held onto to it before she could remove it.
"Please, Your Majesty." I begged without further words for her to stop her actions. It would not be a good thing if some people here recognize me. The real me should be six feet under the earth. Even coming to the ball in this half mask was a huge risk already. She gave in to my request.
"Fine. Then, you shall entertain me by dancing with that pretty lady over there. You can't say no to that. She had been staring at you for quite some time." She nodded at the woman she mentioned, giving her a smile so serene for marking her victory. I sighed again before getting up, bowing to her and moved as slowly as I could towards the lady in black dress. Her mask was black as well, simple and elegant with no feathers or whatsoever.
The female in topic was standing at a corner, so there was not much crowd. Everyone was busy chatting and dancing to notice that a differently dressed Zero had moved away from the Empress. I wonder if they even know I was Zero. I could be easily mistaken for the Empress's relative for sitting so friendly beside her.
"May I?" I asked the girl, extending a hand towards her. All the while I was walking towards her, her eyes never left mine. Without a word, she placed her hand on mine and we moved to the centre of the floor. The music started.
I was lying when I said I did not dance. I knew the basic of it and was good enough in this kind of event. My feet moved naturally, guiding her around. Surprisingly, she was light on her feet as well, matching mine with good grace. I wondered which family lady was this when I noticed her continuous stare at me. Looking back, I was shocked. The eyes returning my glance was deep purple, sparkling mysteriously. I missed a step and nearly tripped but regained my balance almost immediately. For the whole song, my eyes were glued to hers as well as hers to mine. There were no words.
"Thank you for bestowing me with this dance." I bowed and she curtsied at the end of the song. As I turned and began to make my way back to the Empress side, she caught hold of my hand with her gloved one. I was rather astonished. However, when I looked at her for an explanation, her gaze was at Nunnally, of whom we had stopped in front of without realizing.
"Can he come with me for a while?" She asked directly at the Empress. I was shocked by her bluntness. There were no greetings or any sign of politeness everyone used when around Nunnally. Nunnally was not offended by this. She simply nodded. I noticed there was a slight sadness in her expression when she saw the eyes of my partner. I was guessing that it reminded her of that particular person to let the impolite question slip. Not that she was really particular about all these formalities anyway, I noted to myself.
"Thank you." This time, the lady curtsied deeply at the Empress, a small smile on her face. Somehow, I felt those words carried more meaning than it should. Without missing another beat, she tugged me away, surprisingly strong for her lean figure, towards the garden. As we moved further from the ballroom, we gained speed. I was letting her lead the way.
When we stopped, I realized we were at the Garden of Paradise, the same place where we had sat talking the few weeks before Zero Requiem. I was shocked. How did she know about this place? Even those working in the palace had trouble finding this place but this lady found it effortlessly.
"…" I was speechless, unable to bring up the right words. I could not bear to break the serene calmness that washed over us as she stared out at the lake reflecting the full moon.
"Thank you." She said simply.
"Huh?" I blurted. She turned to face me, her skin glowing in the moonlight. Now that I noticed, her complexion was really pale, translucent. It reminded me of someone I should have forgotten, I tried to forget, as he had instructed.
"Thank you for what you and Nunnally had did. There were castella during the party. " Her words were still mysterious but I thought she was thanking us for making the world peaceful. A lot of people expressed their gratitude to us. But, wait! She just called the Empress without a suffix or whatsoever! Just so nonchalantly!
"Who are you? Calling the Empress so rudely by her name!" I exclaimed. Was this person a person who was one of those minorities who tried to cause disturbance once in a while?
However, she simply smiled. She moved slowly towards me but I inched back cautiously. When she stretched her hand out to caress my face, I jumped back two steps.
"Suzaku." I stood frozen. It was not that I did not want to run away I couldn't. My feet were heavy, they would not move. She continued her advance and gently stroked my face. Then, she leaned in, brushing her lips so softly across mine as I stare. The tears fell immediately. The familiar touch of those lips. I would never be wrong on that. I tried to struggle. But still, I could not move.
"Le-!" I tried to call his name but he shushed me with a finger on my lips.
"Shh…" That person wiped off the tears from my eyes and covered my eyes with her, no, his hand. Then, leaning once again, I could feel his breath on my face.
"Thank you for all you had done. I shall release you from this curse now. This is my greatest birthday wish. I love you." He whispered in my ears. Every single spot where he had touched me began to warm. When he removed the hand covering my eyes, I could see his entire being glowing. He was also turning more and more translucent, more insubstantial.
"No!" I yelled before realizing I was free to move again. I grabbed his waist, crushing it to mine at the same time as I crashed my lips on his fiercely.
"Don't go! Don't leave! I love you!" I pleaded shamelessly. But he merely shook his head before removing his mask, revealing the face so I loved so dearly. There was that crooked smile on his face.
"I can't. I am not meant to be in this world." Brushing his pale fingers once again at the side of my face, he kissed me lovingly. I could taste his sweetness, feel the warmth of this temporary body. It was all so painful at the thought that it was vanishing.
"You are free now, Suzaku. Be free." He breathed. When I opened my eyes next, he was gone. Once again in a long, long time, I cried.
"Neh, Suzaku-san! It's brother's birthday tomorrow! Can you get some cake, please?" The young blind girl that came to our house to live with her brother asked one day. I looked at the calendar. It was the 5th of December tomorrow.
"I don't know… I might be able to do something but you think he would want to eat it? He still doesn't quite like me, you know," I told her. She just laughed, a sweet, gentle sound that rang throughout the small dark room.
"Onii-sama likes you a lot. He just doesn't show it." She smiled.
Though still doubtful of her words, I got a Japanese sponge cake, castella, just to please the little girl. That was the reason I told myself. But I felt really happy when I saw his face light up like the candle on the cake when he saw it.
It was 25 years since Zero Requiem. Once again, it was 5th of December. I resigned my place as Zero, telling only Nunnally who I really was. It seemed that she knew all along and she knew that lady 5 years ago was her brother. Seeing her so wise and capable, all grown up, I could leave her on her own to rule. She would be fine. I truly believe that from watching her these last 25 years.
As I stood in front of the glass coffin preserving his perfect body, I saw my own reflection on the glass. Smiling softly, I lifted the same sword I used on him years ago to my heart. Looking at his sleeping face, I pushed the sword down.
'If you are not meant to be in this world, I shall go to where you are meant to be…'
I was free, at last.
Yay! Happy birthday once again, Lelouch-sama! I love you! Not as much as Suzaku though! XP I rushed through this so it might not be as good but still… *shrug*
PS: Castella are really yummy! But I wonder if they will hold candles? XD