00 - Petite Rébellion- 00

A Code Geass one-shot (a one-shot! I promise!)

that started as a prompt on the kink meme.

The prompt on the meme was, and I quote: "Princess Lelucia (or however you want to call her) lived all her life in a golden cage with a prim and proper upbringing and very little room for her own choices or anything resembling freedom. One day, fed up with everyone and everything, she decides to do something daring for once in her life and has a one night stand with one of the guards. It was even better that he was an Eleven.

She didn't quite expect to fall in love."

They're in her chambers, pouring over pictures – or well, Euphy is. Leloucia is mostly keeping to herself, sitting on a chair by the window and staring out into the garden.

"Hmm," Euphy hums, peering at the photographs, light frown on her face, and cheeks slightly puffed out in concentration. "This – this one's not bad." A rustle, and Leloucia knows she's waving some photograph in the air right now. "Hey – Leloucia -"

Leloucia turns her head to look at her sister, pale pink knees peeking out from beneath a white skirt folded over the chair she's sitting on. There's honesty and sincerity on her face now as she waves the picture of a young, aristocratic-looking man in her hands. "Him. Duke Schalkenberg." She smiles. "He's not bad, is he?"

Leloucia lets her eyes flit over the man – he is good-looking, she supposes, mouth set into a strong jaw, eyes a fierce blue staring back at her – and then she goes back to staring out of the window.

A late-blooming sun ladles syrup over the trees.

"Leloucia," Euphy huffs, and there's honest concern there, Leloucia knows. "Father has pre-approved all of them." A pause. "Wouldn't it be better if you picked one yourself rather than waiting for him to make the decision for you?"

Leloucia bites her lower lip.

"He's handsome," Euphy says, tone one half convincing and one half dreamy. "He's not a -"

"I don't care about his looks," Leloucia says, maybe a bit sharper than she intended. "Romantic compatibility doesn't happen through mutual physical attraction alone."

"But it certainly helps." Euphy's smile is resigned but honest, and – yes she might be naïve, but it's not like she's entirely without a point -

"In any case," Leloucia says with a wave of her hand, and finally slides off the windowsill, smooths down the fabric of her purple dress, and proceeds to saunter toward the door. "It's not like him having a nice face to look at negates the fact that I have absolutely no intention to marry some random stuck-up aristocrat I've never even met."

"Well." Euphy hesitates. "But you could. Meet him, that is." She gives her a small and very fond smile. "It's not like you're lacking in high-profile suitors, Leloucia."

She's by the door now. "I'm not interested," Leloucia says, and the words fall from her mouth with finality. "It's my responsibility to stay here with you and Nunnally – and mother. Not some man in a foreign country."

Euphy sighs. "Wait – Okay. I'll put the pictures away, okay? Can I - can I just brush your hair?"

Leloucia considers. She has always liked having her hair brushed by Euphemia, and they have done each other's hair since they were little girls. She almost wants to refuse (maybe a bit of childish stubbornness there – didn't they just have the closest thing to a sisterly dispute since the time Leloucia broke her porcelain doll when they were ten?), but then –

"Fine," Leloucia says with a sigh Then, a bit more gently, "Sure." She walks over to the dresser looming in the corner, settles down on the satin-covered chair. The mirror blinks back at her, and then there's a flash of pink in it when Euphy steps up behind he.

"Hey Leloucia," she says, and leans forward to snatch one of the brushes off the counter.
Her voice drops to a girlish, conspiratory whisper. "Is there someone you like?"

Leloucia frowns, and her mirror image frowns back at her; eyebrows drooping toward stoic purple eyes framed by high cheekbones and sloping down to a narrow jaw. "You're asking me if there's a boy I like?"

"Sure," Euphy says, voice bright. "You're seventeen."

She wants to say, "I'm not aware that seventeen-year old girls are somehow required to be lovestruck fools," but bites back her tongue – she doesn't want to offend Euphemia in case there is someone she likes, and well - she's brought up her opinion about her crushes more than once. So she just shrugs, and watches as some of her hair rises and flows with the movement. "No, I'm not interested in anyone."

"Huh," Euphy says, eyes on Leloucia's hair, fingers slow and languid as she smooths it down with the brush. "No, I guess no one's quite good enough for you." It's entirely without malice or mockery; she really means it, says it with the utmost sincerity, and Leloucia sighs again and wishes she never had to leave her.

Leloucia pauses for a moment. "What about you?" Leloucia says, voice testy. "Is there someone you like?"

There's a blush on Euphy's cheeks now, and her hands go still.

Leloucia stills right along with her for a moment. "Who?"

"Oh, it's – it's no one special," Euphy says, and gods, she is actually flushing now, just a little, a fine dust of pink stretching over the paleness of her cheeks. "I've never even actually spoken to – to him." She shakes her head to herself and adds a bit too hurriedly, "It's nothing."

Oh, Euphy and her puppy crushes, Leloucia thinks with an internal sigh. There have been so many of those, starting with the son of the Chinese maid when they were eight and culminating in a dramatic episode last summer with a Britannian commoner (the butler of a patron) she met at a banquet. Always the same: the blush settling on her cheeks like a barometer of excitement, and eyes shining with girlish joy.

Sometimes she wonders who her little sister has inherited that sentimentality from.

But no matter now; Leloucia has more pressing matters to occupy herself with. She watches Euphy weave a purple headband around her hair out of impassive eyes, the wheels of her mind trotting along the roads of her winding thoughts.

She's barely even listening when Euphy meets her eyes in the mirror and asks, "Hey. Um." She fiddles a little, insecurity heavy in her tone. "Going out with a – a guard is pretty much the worst thing we could do, isn't it?"

Leloucia shrugs, mind not really with her. "Of course. The guards are all commoners. Some are even Numbers. Off-limits."

"Yes," Euphy says, and her eyes dart away. "I guess that's so. It's not like we're allowed to date even if it's someone of noble standing." She giggles to herself, somehow off-key and nervous. "Off-limits..."

Leloucia nods, says, "Thank you for brushing my hair," gives Euphy a small smile, and leaves, already so lost in thought that she has forgotten the conversation entirely by the time she reaches her chambers.

She's shaking with anger.

"Now receiving: 9th Princess of Britannia, Leloucia vi Britannia," a booming voice announces, and the doors in front of her creak open. Light rushes into her face and almost blinds her.

She hopes the light rushes in to fill the cracks the fury has left in the mask of her usual apathy.

She keeps her head held high, and spills into the hall with a long stride. Her heels click along the way, and she feels eyes on her – dozens, hundreds of them, most of the court assembled to watch her strut along the carpet with her hair swinging behind her and her features set in what she hopes is cold determination.

Even as the sweat trickles down her back and she can feel the fury clench her stomach into a painful knot that leaves her face aflame and fingers icy.

She doesn't recognize most of the faces along the way, and she doesn't care – the silhouette of him – her father, the Emperor – first a blob and then a human that grows into his colossal size the nearer she draws, until she's close enough that his features snap into sharp focus.

She comes to a halt in front of him, and holds his gaze. Her jaw is tight, her hands are balled to fists – and she waits.

"You have requested an audience?" the Emperor asks.

Dislike writhes in her stomach.

She raises her chin, dares herself to look as haughty as she can, and says, "Honorable Father." She can't help it – her upper lip curls upward as if she's tasted poison. "I'm here concerning the proposal -"

"Oh yes." He nods his head, but his wig's waxy curls remain static. "The dear Duke Schalkenberg. I'm sure you were," he gives her a smile that burns, "most overjoyed to hear his family has accepted my request."

Leloucia has to take a moment to compose herself, to quell the warring emotions.

She rarely sees her father. Of course, he has to keep up appearances – oh, of course, the Emperor loves all of his children and all of his mistresses and is not treating one more favorably than the other, thank you very much – but Leloucia has always been able to sense it.

The way he looks at her as if she were an especially interesting species of a butterfly he couldn't wait to study, dissect and crucify upon a spindly needle.

Interested, maybe, but distant.

Leloucia grinds her teeth a little harder, fumbling for the slippery rope of her emotions. "I am here to request you to reconsider." She pauses, and adds sharply, "Honorable Father."

"Oh?" He raises an eyebrow at her, and he's amused, she can tell. "And why would that be?"

She licks her lips. "I do not wish to get married at the moment." Or ever. "I have duties to attend to – and Nunnally – and –"

"Duties?" He wonders aloud. "I can scarcely think of a duty both more honorable or more suitable for you than that of a wife in the name of the Empire. Dutiful and beautiful and obedient as you are -"

She wants to spit at him, but she contains herself. "Honorable Father," she says, and she holds her breath, knows everyone is looking at her, and pauses before she lets the hammer fall with, "My body is not yours to auction off. I am-" and her eyes harden, "-not your whore."

A frisson runs through the hall, communicates from bystander to bystander, through the whole eagerly gossiping mass of them.

She ignores them all and looks at no one but him, looks at how his eyes first widen, then narrow, glaring -

The pain is a flare of agony, and she's on her hands and knees before she knows it. Mind dazed and cheek throbbing, and it takes her a second to piece together that he has just slapped her - slapped her like this in front of everyone, and -

He's standing before her, tall and regal, and when she looks up at him, she's five years old again.

She can hear the hall gasping in surprise, people breaking into gossip ("Did you see-" "She had it coming-" "She's-") but she's not listening, she's not hearing, she's looking at him, glaring at him, with the hatred churning in her stomach.

And then he booms, "Silence."

All sound cuts off, smothering them in a vault.

Leloucia looks at her father.

He looks at her.

Voice like steel, he says, "You will obey me."

She feels the tears needle at the back of her eyeballs, from pain and humiliation and worst of all, resignation.

She can't win. She knows she can't.

She thinks this at about the same time an idea hatches, and the splay of the determination cracks its shell.

Her eyes never leave him when she scrambles on to her feet – slowly, wincing at the pain throbbing at her cheek – and then she's standing again, and the royal robes are heavy around her shoulders and nearly drag her down again.

She descends the ladder from white-hot rage to controlled anger.

"Fine," she says, and her voice almost cracks, but doesn't. "Fine." Her tone hardens. "Have it your way, Your Majesty."

"Now if that wasn't a temper tantrum," C.C. greets her in a somber tone.

Leloucia doesn't even look at her. She can't - she can't deal with the court witch of all people right now, even if they have become somewhat reluctant friends (comfortable to the point that C.C. will invade her private chambers without announcement or apology), but not. Right. Now.

"Shut up," Leloucia seethes, and flings the door shut with a kick. "Shut up, shut up, shut up."

Leloucia's not looking at her, but she knows C.C. is shrugging right now. She says nothing and Leloucia is glad for it; she storms off into the corner of her bedroom and yanks open a drawer. She rifles through the things - lip stick? As if she'd need that right now. Did Euphy leave her that little pink stuffed toy? Ah, there - money.

She collects the coins in her palm and stuffs them into a pouch, her fingers shaking around the metal. Her heart is in her throat and the gate in her mind has been lifted, the thoughts storming into her head while falling all over each other like racing horses at the starting sign.

" - now?" C.C. finishes.

Leloucia snaps her head around to glare at her. "What?"

"I asked," C.C. says, and slides forward on the bed she's sitting on, closer to the edge, "what you think you're doing to do now, little girl?"

Leloucia bites her lower lip. "Leave," she says. "Leave. I can't stand being here for a second longer. I don't -"

"You're not allowed to leave at this hour," C.C. interrupts, tone even and bored. "As I'm sure you're well aware."

"I don't care," Leloucia snaps, and she stands there with the money pouch pressed against her chest and stares at the woman lounging on her bed. "I don't care. I don't."

C.C. holds her gaze. "Interesting. Didn't you say you wanted to protect Nunnally and Euphemia?"

"Of course I do. Just not - not right now. I need to get out." She pauses. "I'll be back soon enough. In a few hours, or tomorrow."

"Oh?" C.C. cocks her head. "Coming back to marry your prince after all?"

Leloucia grips the pouch tighter. "Shut up."

C.C. shrugs her shoulders. "You always did hate not being in control. Is this your form of rebellion?"

She can't stay here right now, not after - not after the humiliation out there, not when everybody has seen her get slapped, not now when she knows Nunnally will come to her with gentle concern in her voice but her eyes creased with worry and she doesn't need pity.

"I can't be here now," she says again, almost to herself, trying to calm herself down, rationalize herself. "Guh."

C.C. hikes up her voice a few tones to imitate Leloucia's speech, "'I hate my father." Her voice drips with gentle mockery. Then sighs. "Teenage girls never do get any more original throughout the ages."

Leloucia straightens herself, and her voice is cold when she says, "I didn't ask for your opinion, witch."

"Of course you didn't," C.C. says. "If you did, giving them would be boring."

"I'm leaving," Leloucia says. "Going out into the city. I need air. I -"

"Going to bribe the guards with that?" C.C. nods toward the pouch in Leloucia's fingers. "You think that will work?"

Leloucia shakes her head, runs a shaky finger through her hair. Not right now. Just - not right now. "I'm leaving," she says, and struts over to the door. "Keep an eye on them for me."

She stops at the door when C.C. speaks again. "Try not to hate him too much." She can hear C.C. shift on the bed, maybe curling up, drawing her knees to her chest. "I've been here long enough to know it's fruitless, little girl."

"We'll see about that," Leloucia seethes. Mostly to convince herself. "We'll see," she presses out, and then she opens the door, and she's gone.

And then she's not, because C.C. stops her one final time. "That Duke will be delighted, you know," she says neutrally. "To be wedded to a Britannian princess. Proper manners. Impeccable upbringing. Beautiful." She pauses. "Chaste and virginal and all."

She has her back pressed against the wall, glancing around the corner.

Maybe her father has already issued a command to keep her in the palace at all costs, or maybe she still has a chance to slip away - she's not sure, but whatever the case. She presses the pouch a bit closer to her chest, and darts her eyes around.

High ceiling, dangling chandeliers, European art clinging to the walls - no trace of a human.

She allows herself to relax a bit, and rounds the corner, toeing down the hallway. Just a bit more, and there will be the door to their private kitchen, where she knows there's an employee's-only door connected to the gardens.

She throws a glance at the windows lining the hallway, and sees the sun dipping down to sink into the grasp of another palace, and she knows - there won't be anyone in the kitchen at least, and with any luck -

Which is when she sees a guard rounding the corner.

Her breath hitches in her throat.

She tries to duck behind one of the flower pots, but - shoot, she knows it's too late, knows he's already seen her, so she tries to save what's left of her dignity, straightens her back, and fixes him with a cool glare.

He stops in his tracks at the sight of her, surprise spilling over his features. "Your - your Highness?"

"Indeed." She eyes him with a look that she is suitably insulting. "And you are?"

She's seen him before, she realizes; there's something about his face that's strangely familiar, but she's not sure where she's seen him before. Perhaps she's just seen him around the palace a few times, but she pays so little attention to the guards that none of them ever stick in her mind.

This one in front of her is a guard through and through: the white royal guards uniform fits snugly around a lean, now very straight and tensed body, this tension mirrored in his guarded, unsure, overly polite look. She notes the unusually intense color of his green eyes, but other than that, she finds little out of the ordinary.

Then she realizes that his eyelids curl down at the corners into an almond shape and she can finally place the guard's ethnicity.

The East somewhere, the Chinese Federation, maybe - but no, they don't have Chinese guards anymore, do they? She checked this in the data base just a week ago. Which leaves - Area 11 or 12, possibly?

Then he snaps out of his reverie, and finally remembers his manners: he slaps his fist against his chest and bows his head, a torrent of soft-looking brown curls tumbling down along his tanned skin. "Suzaku Kururugi, Your Highness," he says hurriedly, almost reverently.

She ponders the name. "Eleven?"

He keeps his head low. "Yes, Your Highness."

Leloucia decides right then and there that she kind of likes him; at least this man knows his place. So she lifts her chin and decides to begin with the obvious: ignoring him.

Keeping her eyes pointedly drawn at the door right behind him, she starts walking, black skirt swishing at her ankles. Maybe he'll just let her. Maybe he'll -

"Your Highness," he says, voice unsure, and when she looks at him, his face is puzzled. "Might I inquire where you're going at this hour?"

She looks at him in a way that spells, 'don't you dare stop me,' and says, "Out." Just that, and that single syllable seems way too loud in the deserted hallway.

He licks his lips. "I don't think I can allow you to do that, Your Highness."

"Oh, really?" She raises one eyebrow at him. "I'm not sure if people will be quite happy to hear I was harassed by a guard on my way out."

He looks at her for a moment, long and twining, and Leloucia's just about to snap at him for looking at her like that when he says with a slow, apologetic shake of his head, "I'm sorry, but I have orders not to let you go out tonight."

So Daddy has made precautions. Anxiety blocks her throat at the very back of it, but she swallows, wills it down. "Let me pass. I just want to get some fresh air. I'll be back soon." Her eyes narrow. "It's an order."

A long moment passes before he breaks it with a quiet, "I apologize." And gods, he actually looks apologetic.

Leloucia promptly revises her earlier favorable opinion of him.

He shakes his head. "But I have orders from the Emperor and I'm afraid he outranks you, so."

She'll have to resort to this, then. She tosses him the money pouch, almost disgustedly, and it hits him on the shoulder and then tumbles to the floor in a loud clutter. "Will this sway you, then?"

The guard - Kururugi, she reminds herself - actually flinches, then eyes the discarded pouch. "Your Highness," he says, and gods, he sounds almost appalled, "are you trying to bribe me?"

"'Bribe' is not a pretty word," she answers easily, and crosses her arms over her chest. "I prefer the ring of 'persuasion'."

They look at each other for a moment, long and drawn-out, and she knows she's smirking, just a bit, looking at him and taunting him with her eyes.

Then he shakes his head again, and, out of all things, smiles.

Leloucia is so taken-aback she doesn't know what to do.

"I guess that's how it works for the royals," he says, and despite the tone he's still smiling, in a way that lights up his eyes with fake understanding and fake fondness and he squints his eyes. "And I might just be a lowly guard, but - I have my principles. Your Most Revered Highness."

"There's a lot in there," she seethes. "Fishing for more before you have even checked the amount?" She nods. "Shrewd."

He shakes his head, and still won't let go of that smile. He falls into a crouch, and it's so effortless and elegant that Leloucia can't help but stare as his tanned fingers close around the purple pouch before he leaps on to his feet again, fluid like water. "Here." He holds out the pouch toward her.

Leloucia frowns. "Are you stupid?"

"Possibly," he says, not looking the least bit offended.

"You're a Number and you're working here. Under the very people who subjugated your country. And I'm willing to pay you enough to quit and leave, and you don't take it?"

"To summarize," he says. "Now, if I can escort you back to your -"

Leloucia is too stunned to answer for a moment. So much, in fact, that she doesn't realize he's walked up to her, that he's put his hands on her arm, and she flinches and takes a step back. "Don't touch me."

"I apologize," he amends, and his features fall. "I apologize, but -"

A lifeline, she thinks, there has to be a way out of this. She's always been good at finding the loophole in things, brilliant at finding the last way out of a hopeless chess match - surely, she can -

"Who," she presses out, and she knows her eyes are probably blazing at this point, "ordered you, exactly?"

He hesitates. The hand he put on her arm still up in the air. "Um. It was Sir Jeremiah, to be exact -"

She latches onto the opportunity. "I outrank him," she says. "I outrank him. You like ranks, don't you?"

"But the orders did come from His Majesty -"

"Did he say that or was it just implied?" she presses. "Did he say, 'these are direct orders from the Emperor himself'?"

He didn't, Leloucia realizes with a thrill that scuttles down her spine. He didn't - she can tell, from the way his features falter, the way the hesitation splays over his features, can practically see the wheels in his head churning -

"If it wasn't the Emperor's direct orders," she says, hoisting herself up on the rope of opportunity, "then my wishes are definitely to be considered before his." She gives him an icy look. "Mister Kururugi."

She sees the emotions shift on his face. There's surprise there, then contemplation, and when that ebbs away what she's left with is finally - "Understood." He lowers his eyes. "Your Highness."

"Good," she presses out. "Good. I might actually not fire you now. Consider yourself fortunate." A beat. "And you can keep the money."

With that, she turns on her heels, chin raised, spine straight, and she's just about to go when he speaks up again.

"I'm not saying this out of my duty as a guard, but - it's dangerous out there. You shouldn't go out alone. Though I can't and will not stop you." Leloucia hears his footsteps, and she turns around.

He takes her hand, and presses the pouch into her palm. "And I won't be needing this. Though I'm grateful all the same, Your Highness."

She curls her upper lip. "I'll be fine," she says - almost spits out - "I've gone out there hundreds of times."

"Like I said," Kururugi says. "I won't stop you. Even if it will get me fired." He pauses, and adds with a half-pained, half-forcefully cheerful expression, "Which it definitely will."

And she almost wants to ask, 'what's wrong with you?' because she can't figure him out, not one bit - why is he doing this for her now when he knows he's getting fired, when he knows that outranking strategy was just her betting on his stupidity? But then she thinks of nothing much anymore because he's smiling at her again and gods -

She wonders how in the world it can both look so fake and so -


She searches for his eyes and waits.

And again, she's sure she's seen him some time somewhere before, she just can't remember the time or place. But she remembers, faintly; there was a boy like him before, looking at her like this, and she searches the chambers of her memory (so many guards, so many insignificant people) and when the neurons finally connect and something in her head pings, she gasps.

"You-" she says, and her voice almost breaks. "You - it's you. From ten years ago."

He doesn't answer, but his expression - that little quirk at the corners of his lips, and the flash of recognition behind his eyes - is answer enough.

She licks her lips. "You pushed Nunnally out of the way of the truck that day."

He looks a bit embarrassed now, eyes darting to the floor.

She remembers now, if only bits and pieces from so long ago; her and Nunnally and their mother stepping out the car on their way to a dinner party, and her getting into an argument with one of the bodyguards, just long and intense enough for Nunnally to slip away until they heard that screech -

And that boy who shoved her out of the way until she collapsed and how he asked her, "Are you okay?" in broken and accented Britannian while holding her. And then she remembers: her mother shrieked and ran toward them, and yanked Nunnally out of his arms; and as for him, she recollects the little self-deprecating, that little resigned smile of his.

"You saved Nunnally that day." Something in her chest moves. "You saved her, and I never thanked you."

He shrugs, and finally meets her eyes again. "You don't have to. Of course I had to do something."

She sees him in a completely new light now. She's thought of him before - of that boy - but never knew he was right under her nose. And now it's so obvious she doesn't know why she hasn't recognized him sooner; those haunting eyes are so unique, and she never noticed even though she must have seen him in the halls dozens of times.

And in that moment, she thinks he's - she doesn't know.

But she's torn now, decision wavering. She wants to go, she wants to stay here, she wants to look at him, she wants to - whatwhathwat she wants she doesn't know, but then she doesn't get much time to decide because there's footfalls in the distance, rounding the corner somewhere, and Leloucia does the first thing that she can think of.

She grabs his wrist, hisses, "Come with me," and tugs.

He shoots her a confused look, and for a moment she half-drags him after her before he falls into step next to her, and they're walking down the hallway, her leading with firm steps and him following her, and she's barely processing where she's going. Corners, doors, the click click click of her heels, and then some time during her march she notices she's heading toward her chambers.

Well, where else would she take him to have a talk, she rationalizes. Where else, and - oh gods, she just hopes C.C. isn't in her room right now, because if she is, she'll -

She decides to take a gamble, and flings the door to her room open.

Her shadow wavers in the midst of the strip of light that falls into the dark room now, looking like a fly in amber. Something in her stomach clenches, but she ignores it, and switches on the light with a flick of her fingers, and drags Kururugi in behind her.

Once inside, she looks at him, and wonders what the hell she's just done.

He's probably thinking the same thing, judging by how he looks at her out of wide and surprised eyes.

"Sit down," she says by way of invitation.

He throws a look around the room.

"Not on the bed," she says.

He blinks. "Bed? Who said -"

Heat pulses into her face. "No one." She makes an awkward motion. "Sit down on the sofa."

He gives her one last questioning look before obeying. She watches as he walks over to the sofa.

Her eyes dart around the room nervously.

He sits down and looks at her. "I'm not really supposed to be here, Your Highness."

"I know," she says, maybe a bit more sharply than she intended. "Men are not allowed in a princess's bedroom." Of course. "Just shut up, will you?"

One of her hands flies to her lips, finely manicured thumb nudging between them. So she didn't get out after all - can't really walk out now and have him get into trouble for her hot-headedness, not when he - not when she's somewhat indebted to him, oh gods, she doesn't know what to do anymore. She wasn't thinking when she decided to bring him to her room, of course - this is highly illegal, men are not allowed anywhere near the princesses, to such an extent she's half-surprised the guards aren't all eunuchs (not that she knows of, anyway -) and -

Calm down, Leloucia, she tells herself. Calm down. You can't run on emotions, can't lose in the the whole tangled mess of them. Think. Her thumb nail clicks against her teeth.

Then one thought cuts across the others and resounds: Men are not allowed in my chambers.

Because -

But she doesn't get to finish that thought.

"Your Highness?"

She looks up, and stashes the strands of her emotions back behind her cool veneer. "Yes?"

"I take it's about what happened earlier." He shifts a little on the seat, and he has his hands folded over his fanned out knees, kneading them. "It's not really my place to say that, but - I've heard nothing but good things about Duke Schalkenberg." He tries a small smile. "And I'm sure he'll treat you well."

"Oh?" she asks, already annoyed with him again. "And why is that?"

"You'll make a perfect wife in my humble opinion, Your Highness," he says. "Beautiful, intelligent - confident and straightforward."

Leloucia looks at him. "Are you calling me pushy?"

"What?" His features broaden in surprise. "Oh, no. I apologize. I didn't mean it like that. I mean it in a perfectly flattering way."

"Well, I have absolutely no interest," she says. Then pauses, considers how much she can or wants to reveal and finishes with, "Protecting Nunnally and Euphy is of a higher priority than being sold off like a prim and proper, chaste little -"

She stops. And something in her mind clicks.

Her hands drop. She gulps in breath. Her head spins for a second in the vertigo of that thought, spinning and spinning ("impossible" - "but, it's perfect -" - "I could never -" - "Yes, you can" - "But -")

It's the perfect rebellion, she thinks, and when she fastens her eyes back on his, she knows she's staring, probably with a blush on her cheeks and her eyes dancing. Even better that he is an Eleven. Even better.

Better even than running away and hiding out behind some tree just to spite him. Better than anything else she can think of - the single most taboo thing she can do.

The single biggest no-no.

And as soon as the thrill of that - and a thrill it is, something that showers down her spine and makes her shiver - passes, she realizes what that really means, and panics.

And hiccups. In a decidedly un-princessy manner.

Suzaku jumps on to his feet in alarm, and he's next to her before she knows it. "Your Highness -"

"It's -" Hiccup. "-Okay, I -"

Damn hiccups. She presses her fingers against her lips, and darts him a glance out of the corners of her eye.

He's close now, so close she can smell him, smell where the scent of pine and metal lingers, and she suddenly stumbles through a brief but intense haze of attraction that makes her stomach clench.

Then she blinks. Pulls herself back together, and when she trusts herself to speak, she says, "If I don't run away and get you into trouble that way, will you do something else for me?"

He looks surprised. "Of course. Of course, Your Highness. Anything."

"Anything?" she asks, her voice probing.

"Yes, of course, it's my -"

"Duty, I know," she finishes with a roll of her eyes, and lets her hands drop to her sides, straightening herself.

He's not much taller than her at her five-foot-eight, but different, broad across the shoulders where she is narrow, leaner where she is wider. Her heart is at the back of her throat when she asks, "Are you clean?"

And he - blinks. "Um. I showered this morning, Your Highness."

"Not that kind of clean," she spits, and thinks, 'gods, don't make me say it, you idiot.'

He gives her a blank look before the recognition sets in: first in his eyes, then lingering outward to broaden his face, and - "Oh. Oh. I - what?"

"Are you clean?" she repeats, because there's no backing out now anyway, and she steps a bit closer until his eyes are wide and large in her peripheral vision, and she can feel his warmth, and the tension is so thick she almost chokes on it.

The haze of confusion still clouds his eyes.

She groans. "Do I have to spell it out for you? Fine. Do you have any sexually transmitted diseases or infections?"

He still looks confused. "We - we get physical check-ups every month, Your Highness."

"Good," she says, keeping her voice steady. "Good." Then her voice lowers as she moves in for the kill, "Wouldn't want to catch anything, after all."

His eyes widen. Impossibly, almost comically so, and Leloucia -

- grabs him by the back of his head and pulls him down into a kiss.

He lets out a muffled sound of surprise.

Leloucia ignores him (her heart, it's beating so fast she's dizzy - thump thump thump) and she presses against him and forces his jaws apart borderline-violently, and pushes her tongue into his mouth before she can give herself a second to think about it.

It's her first kiss, but he'll never know that.

His body goes stiff against hers (in shock, she assumes), and his mouth freezes - allowing her to subject him to the dictatorship of her own biting teeth and demanding tongue.

She has no idea what she's doing really; it's wet and it tastes of nothing but slick heat, but his tongue is soft when she moves hers against it, soft and pliant, and kind of pleasant, and her stomach tightens, tightens, tightens, into a tangle of a million nervous threads.

His hands fly to her shoulders and he breaks the kiss. "Your Highness -"

She feels a pang of insecurity at his bewildered expression. "You said 'anything,' Mister Kururugi."

"It's Suzaku," he says, then quickly adds, "But - I'm strictly forbidden to touch any of the princesses."

She still has her hand on the back of his head, and she fists through some of his hair. "It's under my order. I take responsibility for it." A horrible thought twists through her, and her hand relaxes. "Unless you don't want to...?"

It's not like she wants to force him -

He looks so confused it's almost adorable - blush on his cheeks, and complete non-comprehension written all across his features in bolded italics. "I -"

"You don't," she says with resignation, and she shudders with the avalanche of shame rolling down her spine.

"No. No, it's not that - I mean, being with one of the princess - it's -"

She takes a gamble. "Every guard's secret fantasy, isn't it?" She has no idea if that's true; Cornelia once said that, in a stern tone that followed a tirade about how they had to stay away from them, preserve their virginity - but really, she doesn't know, she doesn't know anything, but she somehow manages to keep calm on the outside.

"... Well, yes, it kind of is, but -"

"It is?" she confirms. "Well, then." She takes a second to compose herself, and (she's choking on her own heart, oh gods) and looks him straight in the eye. "As the 9th Princess of the Britannian Empire, I hereby order you to sleep with me. Effective immediately."

And kisses him again, because if she doesn't she feels she might faint (did she really say that - she couldn't have - oh, but yes, she did), and clings to him, and presses up to him, and it's all so new and strange, and she's scared.

She can tell the exact time when his resistance snaps.

Leloucia's pressing up to him, and his body's stiff and slightly shaky beneath her touch one moment, and the next - his resolution's gone, just like that (to hell with it, he might have thought), and his lips press down against hers and his arms wrap around her, and he breaks her dominance over the kiss.

She gasps, or maybe he does, she's not sure; either way it's swallowed by the both of them, and suddenly it's not her tongue in his mouth anymore, it's his in hers, large and warm and insistent, stroking against her tongue, running over the walls of her cheeks, and she -

Feels tightness in her lower body, feels herself clamp down, and she thinks, oh gods, oh gods, it's really happening, and she clings on to him tighter, one hand tangled in his hair and the other on his waist, and when he presses up against her, there's something hard pressing against her lower belly down there, and she nearly chokes on his tongue when she realizes what it is.

Too real now. Too real, much too real.

But now's not the time for second-guessing herself, and so she leans into him, then starts pressing against his chest until he yields and he lets himself be pushed back by her, still kissing, still clinging, and then he hits the bad, and pulls her down with him -

They land in a tangle on the bed; their lips disconnect, smearing saliva over both their mouths before they're kissing again (she doesn't know if she kissed him or he her), and she's on top of him now, awkwardly hovering above him on her hands and knees. She's too flustered now to lead the kiss and so he does, dictating the pace of their circles (it seems like that's how it works, circling their tongues and licking and biting a bit) and then when she lowers herself on him, such a sharp pang of fear jolts through her that her mouth slacks completely.

Oh, gods. It's his - pressing up against her, against the panties beneath her skirt, so very hard and so very strange, but - she doesn't have the time to think, because she's already close to losing her mind over it, and if she doesn't hurry up now, she'll panic, she'll ask him to stop, and she can't now, she can't.

She breaks the kiss, and looks at him. His pupils are wide, the green now a fevered circle around it, and he's aroused (she thinks, she guesses), and she moves her hips awkwardly, rubbing herself against him. She wonders if that's correct, if that's what she's supposed tobe doing, but it feels good, kind of, the friction, especially when she grinds her clit against him through the clothing.

He speaks against her, and she feels his breath against her lips. "How far? All - all the way?"

"Your incomprehension of my orders is appalling. I believe that's what I said, yes." It's embarrassing how out-of-breath that sounds, and she blushes so hard she ducks her head so some of her hair falls over her face and hides the redness. The faster they do it, the sooner it's over, after all.

She's - she's not sure what to do. Should she touch him down there? Just open his zipper? Kiss him down his chest or something? She suddenly regrets she's never been interested in the romance novels with the long-haired men and the big-breasted women she's seen littered around Euphy's bedroom; she tries to remember everything she's ever learned about sex, but comes up with an embarrassing blank.

So, she decides to do the first thing that comes to her mind: sex requires being naked, right? She lets her hand trail down, finger tips sliding over the fabric of his uniform until they brush against the zipper, and she starts to fumble with it.

He - Suzaku, he told her to call him, she remembers - is looking at her out of dazed eyes now, and she avoids them, looks somewhere, anywhere else; the purple pillows, the way the strands of his hair splay over the sheets catch the light from above and glimmer in light auburn, and she readies herself, pulls together all the courage she has, and pulls the zipper down, down, down, and then his shoves his pants right along with it.

And she can feel it. Brushing against her panties, much warmer, much hotter now. Then he's saying something, but she can't hear, can't hear it over the rush of her own blood in her ears and the constant wailing of ohgodsohgodsohgods, so he says it again -

"Wait." His voice is low, urgent. "Wait, Your Highness, there's a - there's a condom in my pocket -"

"No." The word falls off her lips so easily that even she is surprised. "No condom." She's not even sure why. Why, of course she should -

"Why?" His breath is hot and desperate against her mouth, and he struggles beneath her.

"Because," Leloucia says, and realizes halfway through the sentence that it's true, "not using one is even worse."

And before he can say anything else - before he can ask, 'are you on birth control,' or one of those embarrassing things she knows he's going to say - she leans down and kisses him again, hard and fast and breathless.

His muscles tense and his hips buck up, maybe involuntarily, maybe not, and she can feel him pressing against her panties now, so she reaches down, kissing him to distract him as much as herself (don't think don't think), and when her fingers brush against her panties, she winces.

Already wet. So very wet. When did she -

She may or may not have let out an embarrassed groan, she's not sure, but it's lost in the coupling of their lips and tongues. His hands are on her now, everywhere - running down her back, cupping her waist, one hand trailing up to cup one of her breasts through the material of her dress.

The hand she has placed on Suzaku's chest tightens. The other pushes her panties down, over her hips and down legs, then shakes them off until they land on the bed somewhere.

She feels exposed; the shame rushes to her face and settles on her cheeks, she knows it without even having to look into a mirror, and she kisses Suzaku harder to dull it.

Then his fingers are down there, and he's brushing against her, and a finger's inside of her before she knows it.

"Nnng." This time, the kiss doesn't muffle the sound. She breaks away from his lips, stringing a rope of saliva between both of their kiss-bruised mouths. She doesn't want to look at him (eyes shining, flushed red, eyes firmly trained on her), and she looks away again, over the pillows and off the edge of the bed.

It feels - strange, but pleasurable, when he pushes his finger in deeper, past the second knuckle now (she thinks), curling his finger inside of her. She slumps forward a little, and notices to her horror that her hips are moving on their own now; moving down, down, down onto that finger, pushing it in, in, in.

"Are you all right, Your Highness?" His voice is warm and muffling, like a blanket. "Does it hurt?"

She shakes her head; no, it doesn't, it really doesn't, but it's embarrassing and weird, and she'd rather just hurry it up, and so she reaches down - down over her billowing dress (at least he can't see her down there), and snatches his finger out of her, then searches with her other hand, wraps her hand around him (it's hot and hard), and positions herself.

And 'wow, I'm really going to do it,' is the last thing she thinks before she lets her hips drop.

He gasps, low and masculine.

She does, too, high and pained.

It stings, it burns. It's an awkward fullness down there that stretches her, forces her apart. Tears sting the back of her eyeballs, and she drops her chin to her chest, trying to hide as much of herself as she can.

And Suzaku's -

"You're - you're a virgin?"

- flustered enough to even forget to tack on the "Your Highness," and his hands fly to her sides, trying to steady her or push her away, she's not sure which.

She rips his hands off of her and pins them to the bed. "Of course I am. Everyone knows the princesses are virgins." She says this as coolly as she can while rocking beneath the assault of the pain.

"O-of course, but - seeing as how you were so, um - straightfoward, Your Highness, I thought -"

"Oh, you thought I regularly sleep with random people?" she spits. Did her hymen just break? She wonders if she's bleeding, if there will be blood stains on the sheets tomorrow ( and how would she explain that to Sayoko --)

But no matter now.

Too late. She's here now. Fucking an (almost) random Eleven in her bedroom without protection while her wedding's coming up in a month.

The thought alone is so wrong that it makes her feel better. Just a bit.

"And just shut up now," she orders, "And let me do this."

Something in his eyes melts, and trying to help her, trying to steady her with his hands.

She swats them away. She shifts a little on her knees, searching for a less painful angle; when she resigns herself to the idea that she's not going to find one, she lowers her hips, taking him in inch by ripping inch.

A lot bigger, less flexible, and decidedly harder than his finger, she decides.

She settles down on his lap when she takes in the last bit, and lets out a breath she didn't realize she's been holding. It comes out as, of all things, a groan.

She keeps still like this, trying to get used to the feeling; when the pain has finally dulled to something a bit more manageable, she begins to move. Slowly. Lifting her hips, then gritting her teeth and letting them fall back down. Up and down once; up and down twice - and oh gods.

It hurts.

Which is when Suzaku rolls them both over and he's on top of her suddenly, and still inside her.

She stares up at him.

"Let me do this, Your Highness," he says; looking at her humbly, almost shyly, as if they were not in the middle of - that. "It will hurt less if I -"

"No," she spits. How dare he take the control away from her? She struggles beneath him, trying to roll him back onto the bed, but the more she struggles, the deeper the press becomes, and then his hands are on her wrists and he's holding her down, and she's about to scream at him, yell at him to get off this instant, when he leans down and kisses her again and her mind is swiped clean of all thought.

He's not moving his hips, just holding her down and kissing her, nudging her lips open with his tongue, and she opens her mouth almost instinctively, and then they're kissing again, and it feels good (that, at least, feels good), and she doesn't remember that she stopped struggling, but must have because then his hands are on her body, cupping her breasts through her dress, caressing her sides, stroking her hair, and Leloucia's muscles - are drained of tension.

Her jaw slacks. Her hands are on either side of her head now, not moving. And down there, she also feels herself -

He pushes in deeper just as her muscles unclench, and she moans into his mouth. Just once. Low and sweet.

She wraps her hands around his neck, and pulls him closer, and he deepens the kiss, pushes his tongue in as far as it can probably go, stroking along the back of her tongue, and she's so distracted she doesn't even notice he has started to thrust, just small little movements of a few inches, but she doesn't mind anymore, not at all, and the pain - lessens to a dull throb between her legs.

Moving her head to the side, Leloucia breaks the kiss, and she says, "Harder. Do it harder." If he refuses to let her be dominant all the way, at least she can control that.

She can't see his face now because it's buried in the crook of her neck and she's glad for it, because when he does do it harder - withdraws a bit further and pushes back in with a bit more strength, hard enough to slap against her pubic bone - she gasps. "Ah."

Suzaku lifts himself up on his elbows, and looks at her. Smiling; a bit crookedly now, but still encouraging.

And Leloucia thinks that looking into his eyes while having sex with him is probably the most chillingly intimate thing she's ever done. Something in her chest slides and moves and re-arranges, and she's in the midst of deciding what that new feeling is, when - "Ah." Another thrust, another gasp; half-pained and half-pleasured now, and then -

She arches her back, and she knows her mouth is open and she probably looks disgusting, but she doesn't care, not right now; now she's not prim and proper, for once she's not a princess (and certainly not a virginal princess anymore); now she's everything she's not supposed to be.

She kind of loves it.

"Why are you... grinning, Your Highness?" Suzaku asks, skin flushed, eyes glassy, hair a curly mess, and slams his hips home ("Ah").

Wrapping her legs around his hips, she pulls him closer. "You're doing... good." ("Ah. Ah.")

She only notices that her hands are between her legs when there's a spark. "Ahhh - what?"

His thumb is on her clit, pressing and moving in slow circles while his hips keep on moving.

Leloucia pulls him closer, until he leans down to hide his face in her neck again.

She buries both of her hands in his hair and lets the feathery strands run through her fingers. "Ah."

And then, he picks up on speed.

Leloucia cries out, and suddenly there is nothing - nothing but the steady slap of their pubic bones grinding against each other, and the wet sounds they're making, and her own staccato "Ah, ah, ah," and she's tearing at his hair now, probably hurting him but she doesn't care, and it feels good, finally, the pain drawing back to make her feel good, his thumb still massaging her clit, pressing harder until she's shuddering, until she's jerking her hips upward to meet his thrusts, and the surroundings blur, and she doesn't know anything anymore, nothing but this, this, this, and then, her orgasm suddenly hits.

It catches her by surprise, and she shrieks.

Suddenly she can't think, can't think about anything anymore; can't think and only feel, feel how her insides are being shot through by jolts of pleasure, and how her lower body contracts in rhythmical waves, once, twice, thrice -

She shudders and moans and then shudders and moans some more, until she stumbles down from her peak and reason trickles back into her thoughts enough for her to remember who she is.

She blinks. Snaps her eyes back into sharp focus.

His thrusts slow down, and his thumb on her clit stops moving.

He's looking at her, and his entire face is lit up with, of all things, pride.

Leloucia really feels like smacking him. "What?"

"Nothing, Your Highness," he says, the teasing evident in his voice.

"Stop looking so smug."

His face straightens. "I apologize."

And she almost wants to laugh at how absurd it is he's apologizing to her while they're still in the middle of having sex.

Only, they're about to stop having it, she realizes, when he proceeds to pull away from her.

She grabs him by the shoulder and pulls him back down. "Where do you think you're going?"

His eyebrows rise in surprise. "But Your Highness - you have already -"

She grits her teeth in embarrassment. Does he have to be so obvious about it? "You're not going anywhere." She pauses, and then says, "Just hurry up and finish." Just to make sure in case he still doesn't get it. He seems kind of stupid, after all.

Hesitance flits over his features before he nods. "I'll be quick then, Your Highness. Please do tell me if I'm hurting you."

And she just wants to say something like, "Don't flatter yourself," and is almost about to - mouth already open, words at the tip of her tongue - when he picks up speed and whatever words she's had prepared only come out in a low and deep, "Nng."

He picks up speed again, and this time, it looks like he's really not holding anything back: his hands grab her by her waist to angle his thrusts, and he's pounding into her - really pounding now, harsh slaps and all, in, in, in - so hard she's surprised it doesn't hurt her as much as it probably should. He pushes her up along the bed every time he rocks his hips, making her shudder right along with him.

He was mostly quiet and very attentive before, but now his eyes are starry and he's groaning with every increasingly sloppy thrust; he's trying to make himself come as fast as he can.

And after a few minutes of this, she hears his voice, thick and husky; his accent thicker now, words lilting, "Y-Your Highness - I am... about to -"

She barely registers the words (feels too nice now, much too good), but then the meaning sinks in, and she tugs even harder at his hair. "Y-Yes. Do it."

"I have to -" his breath comes out strained, and there's another thrust ("Ah") - "- pull out -"

Which is when Leloucia sees the opening.

She grabs him by the shoulder and pulls him to the side.

His eyes widen in shock, but he is too far gone to resist.

Pulling him down onto the bed, Leloucia climbs back on top of him, somehow managing to never let him slip out of her as she does so, and once she's back on top of him, she hugs her knees along his torso, and pushes her hips down hard. "No."

His eyes are so very, impossibly wide. "Y-Your Highness. I -"

"No," Leloucia says. She raises her hips and then lets them fall. Sharp. "No pulling out."

"I -" His hands dig into her wrists. "I - nng."

Leloucia watches him come.

His eyes squeeze shut. His hips start jerking up, movements messy and uncoordinated for once.

And all Leloucia can think while Suzaku pants his release is, 'I wish His Majesty could see me now.'

When he relaxes beneath her, she moves up and down a few more times before she feels him getting soft, and lifts up her hips. Wetness trickles out of her, thick and lazy.

Suzaku looks at Leloucia, face to equal parts bewildered and sated.

Leloucia looks at Suzaku, thinking she probably looks as thrilled as she is feeling right now.

Then, some of the satisfaction on his draws back to let the confusion take center stage, and he pulls out of he scoots away, backs away from her, up toward the headboard of the bed.

And as for Leloucia, the thrill shrivels up in the red-hot glare of the embarrassment, and she snaps her knees shut and sits down on her heels to smooth her dress over her legs.

The silence is so thick and all-encompassing that it feels like a physical miasma in the air, and even the sound of her swallowing her own saliva, when she draws it to the back of her throat and then presses it down, is loud and jarring.

He fixes his clothing, zips and buttons his uniform back up, and then climbs off the bed.

He looks just like he did when she saw him in the hallway. A slender man with tousled hair and interesting eyes set in a casually handsome face.

It's kind of hard to believe now that she just slept with this man, and that she's no longer a virgin. Even though a slow ache pulses between her legs, and even if she can feel the wetness, now trickling slowly.

No longer her father's perfect little marionette.

The silence finally shatters when he says, "Shall I take my leave, Your Highness?"

"You have not been dismissed yet," she says with a frown. Then shuffles on the bed to examine the sheets.

Specks of blood dot the fine white linen like dark freckles on pale skin.

His eyes are drawn to that spot, too, and she sees something resembling guilt settle on his features -

She really has no patience for that right now, so she takes a pillow and covers the blood with it, and tells him, "Sit down on the bed. And you can skip the, 'Yes, Your Highness.'"

He lets himself lower on the edge of the bed, keeping a respectful distance between them.

She starts to speak in a low monotone. "You don't have to worry about the consequences. No one will ever know it was you. Even if someone asks me. I will not betray you. Whatever you might get fired for, it won't be because of what happened in here. You have my word."

He looks at her. "I - I wasn't even thinking about the consequences for myself, Your Highness. Though I thank you -"

She frowns. "And I'll take responsibility for any other consequences. And you may call me 'Leloucia'" she says, and she doesn't even know why - but suddenly it bothers her, suddenly she doesn't want him to call her this over and over again.

"I - thank you." He tests out the name with a small, "Leloucia."

"Did you like that?" she asks casually, and doesn't even know why she cares.

He pauses, and she can visibly see him floundering for the answer. "To be honest, I don't know what to think about it. But as long as it's what Your Highness wanted -"

"That's not what I asked," she says coldly. "Do you have problems with the Britannian language?"

"... Physically, it felt amazing."

She sighs, and decides to take pity on him and stop asking him what he feels. "How old are you?" she asks, and doesn't even know why she cares.

"Seventeen, Your - I mean. Leloucia."

"The guards keep getting younger." She grabs another pillow, and hugs it to her chest. Strands of her hair tumble forward to splay across her vision.

"I decided when I was very young that I wanted to serve in this palace."

She hugs the pillow tighter. "Tell me more."

He hesitates for a second, two - then says in his lilting, quiet voice, "I decided it the moment I held Her Highness Princess Nunnally in my arms. From that moment on, that was my wish." His voice is quiet, but she hears the emotion brimming in it. "To protect you."

"Even though my mother just slapped you away and never thanked you?" Leloucia says, and the irritation needles just beneath the edge. "You should have decided right then and there that your oppressors were terrible people not even decent enough to thank you for saving their life. Rather than - deciding to protect them."

"Your mother might not have thanked me. But I saw the gratitude in Her Highness Princess Nunnally's eyes. And yours."

I never forgot your eyes, either, she thinks. Outwardly, she only says, "You have no self-respect, Suzaku."

He ponders this for a moment. "Maybe not. But I think that there are things in the world more worthy of respect."

She wants to kiss him again, the impulse searing sudden and irrational.

This, her spiteful small rebellion, has already been completed, and there's no need to kiss him anymore. No need and no reason.

So she doesn't.

"You're dismissed," she says, and draws her eyes to the pillow.

She's brushing her hair all by herself today, trapped in an orbit of calm pensiveness.

She's been doing that a lot lately, too. Euphy has told her she's been more quiet and withdrawn than usual, and whenever she sees C.C., she only thing the witch seems to want to do is tease her.

She hasn't talked to Suzaku since that night either. She has, however, seen him around a few times, wandering down the hallways on duty, mostly surrounded by a mob of clangorous guards, who nearly tripped over themselves bowing to her when she greeted them in passing.

Suzaku bowed, too, with an obedient, "Good morning, Your Highness," and it's only from that little clench in her guts that she knows that she really doesn't like when he addresses her like that anymore.

They don't talk, but sometimes they catch each other's eyes, and everything else will warp away and scatter to insignificance.

Though then she will invariably remember - see the pictures dragged up from her memory (the way he smiled at her, that wounded yet determined expression when he told her he wanted to protect her, the way he contorted his face when he came inside her -) and emotion zips through her so sudden she has to look away.

She came to a decision one night, wrapped around her blankets and burying her face into the pillows.

And right now, although she is expecting it, the knock on the door still makes her flinch.

"Come in," she calls, and puts the hair brush aside.

Nunnally steps into her room, quiet and hesitant.

Leloucia smiles at her, full and unwavering. "Sit down, Nunnally. I have something to tell you."

Nunnally lowers herself on the filigree couch. "It's about the wedding, isn't it?" Nunnally asks, and looks at Leloucia with a small smile on her face. "You always were so stubborn."

Leloucia gets up from the seat in front of the mirror, and walks over to sit next to Nunnally on the sofa.

She swallows. Stares at her hands. Tries to muster the courage and - "I'm going to propose that we leave the palace."

Nunnally says nothing.

"It's not just about how I don't want to marry this Duke. It's also about you. Because after me, and after Euphemia, you are next." She pauses. "And it might be the right choice for her, but I don't think you're any happier with the situation than me."

"No, I'm not," Nunnally says with a slow shake of her head. "I'm not happy with it, either, Leloucia."

She digs her canines into her lower lip before letting it slide back out. "I'll be honest with you. I know it's a lot to ask. We'll be disinherited. We'll be on our own. It won't be easy."

For a moment, Nunnally is quiet. Then, a slow smile spills on her face and she asks in a tone that is both gentle and teasing, "Dearest sister... could this mean that you are pregnant?"

Shame burns down her spine.

Nunnally is the only one she's told about her romp with the guard. C.C. is not shy about voicing her suspicions (and they're embarrassingly spot-on), but Nunnally is the only one she told, in a moment of weakness and insecurity dulled by the blanket of sisterly bonding, and Leloucia is starting to regret telling even her.

"No," she says, almost with too much force. "That is... I don't know yet." She draws her eyes back to her hands. "My period's due in a few days." She's still not sure how she feels about the possibility of that, but she'll take it either way - she was the one to insist on this gamble, after all.

But she doesn't want to shuffle down that particular writhing, creaking mental staircase right now.

"But it doesn't even matter if I am or not. This proposal has little to do with it. I don't want to live in the cage of this palace any longer. And I don't think it's the right place for you, either."

Nunnally considers it for a moment, her pale violet eyes probing and searching.

Then, she says with a soft smile that lights up her eyes, "Wherever you go, I will follow."

Leloucia shudders. "But I don't mean it like that. I don't want you to feel you have to follow me if you like it better here." She takes her hands, and squeezes them. "Would you really?"

Nunnally smiles wistfully. "Under one condition?"


Nunnally laughs. "You tell His Majesty about it."

And Leloucia feels so many things at once she almost can't define them all. Relief, for once, overwhelming relief. Love, love for her sister, so much it almost makes her dizzy. And followed by the heels of that, the dreadful churn of fear.

"I will," she says. "I will tell him we're leaving. I will. I can."

"And make sure to tell him about the fact you're no longer a virgin, too. As a parting gift?"

Leloucia sighs, then grins, just a little. "Telling him what I did will be highly amusing. He'll freak out."

"Dear sister, what I think you mean to say is that he'll have a cow." Nunnally laughs.

"Just like old times," Leloucia says, and she's laughing, laughing with the sheer joy and absurdity of it all, and she hugs Nunnally close.

"I love you," she says, low and choking. "I do."

"I know," Nunnally says, and strokes her hair. "And you don't need to deny yourself love of any other kind, either."

Leloucia buries her face in Nunnally's hair and breathes in deeply.

Author's Notes: Am I ever not able to write silly PWPs or what? That's a whole lot of words and plot for a porn fic. I think. O.o

Um yeah. Though I am most often a yaoi writer, I've got to say I almost find straight sex easier to write. Hmm. And God, do I ever love Leloucia. I just do.

Beta'd by (as per usual) Hedonistic Opportunist. Again, I'm going to be shameless and remind everyone of our new kink meme on livejournal, cgkinkmemeii. :D

Reviews are loooooooooooved forever and ever. ^_^

Btw, expect a bit of a porn spam from me this weekend. I was busy on that meme. O.o

- Cat