I never wanted to put this up; mainly because Chapter I was pure insanity, and Chapter II was written only for our own enjoyment (read: Anne, I know you're out there)(ahaha)... But that one soul that liked my Annaliese decided I should at least give her proper closure - so here it is, 'closure' so to speak...

The running gag in Chapter I was Diethard's Annaliese, I love you; the running gag in Chapter II would be Annaliese scolding back Dumme Diethard (german for 'stupid Diethard')... As I said, I know this will not be a popular story for two reasons: (i) not many ppl are die-hard Diethard fans (oops, punny name), and (ii) Annaliese is not real – and this is a semi-Annaliese-esque story... So I'd take it, however it goes; after all, I write for myself, not necessarily for the masses, lalala~~~

Yes, this should be the epitome of a brother-sister story; I'd like to think it fuzzy-peaches-sweet...

Italics for past, normal script for present, [square brackets] for spoken German (because I'd Google-Translate it, but I don't trust the grammar)...


He called in the middle of the night and said, "Annaliese, we need to talk."

His usual greeting conspicuously absent, she shot out of her bed, instantly awake, "Diethard, what's wrong…?"

"The situation with the Black Knights has… changed[1]…" he faltered badly, as if he was shaking; she panicked, "Where are you, Diethard? Come home…! Whatever it is, we'll—"

"Zero might contact you; your card was the only thing he stole…" he spoke as if he did not hear her, distant and distracted; she shrilled louder, "Diethard…! Don't you dare hang up without telling me where you ar—"

"Take care of him for me, Annaliese – you may be the only one who can…" he hesitated, then kissed the receiver; her insides knotted, sensing this would be his forever goodbye,

[I love you, Annaliese; never doubt, never forget…][2]

*click*

"Diethard…?" she gasped disbelievingly, the single tone from the other end mocking her efforts… She crumpled to the floor, phone yet attached to her ear; she pounded the carpets, [Dumme Diethard…! Don't leave your Annaliese, please… please… please…]

It was then, and only then, she began to cry…


She felt ill; this feeling of not-knowing, it tore her apart… not-knowing if her brother was alright… not-knowing if she should look for him… not-knowing how or even where to begin—

Her brother had never been truly far away, despite the physical distance between them; she had grown up knowing he was always there – and he never, never missed the chance to tell her he loved her: no matter the occasion (like the time she'd been engaged to be married [3a]; to which her then fiancé had to re-confirm *one* more time that her brother only loved her, and wasn't *IN* love with her), no matter the situation (like the time she'd *just* passed her driving exam, and he'd surprised her in the backseat of her car with a picnic basket [3b]; she'd resorted to banishing him from *any* vehicle if she ever had to drive it), no matter the circumstance (like the time she'd messed up the funeral arrangements for their mother, resulting in her being cremated instead of buried, her ashes scattered instead of collected in an urn; she'd bawled her eyes red, her throat raw… he'd just bundled her into his long arms and told her 'mother forgives you and likes this better anyway')…

On the fourth day, she sobbed anew; horrified at the thought that maybe, just maybe, her brother had been dying—or worst, already *dead*…!

[Why, brother? Why didn't you tell me…?]

Thus it had been almost sweet relief to see a shrouded figure loom menacingly over her – ah, an archangel, come to separate her from her sibling-heartbreak at last…

[Wait for me… Diethard…]


"… I dinna ask you to knock her unconscious…"

"I didn't have to – she keeled over as soon as she saw me…!"

"… you did the thing again, didn't you?"

"What *thing*?"

"… the thing with your eyes – the Suzaku Kururugi™ Death Glare[4]…"

"I did no such—there is no *thing*! Besides, yours is so much more—"

"Dumme Diethard…"

"… I think she called you 'dumb'…"

"Are you sure you didn't *scramble* her brain?"

She fluttered her eyes open; heaven looked morosely like her living room, and its angels looked disappointingly human… She groaned, rather disillusioned by the austerity of it all – where were the fluffy clouds and feathered wings and golden showers? Shouldn't it have been her mother or brother who've greeted her upon arriva—

Her eyes went wide as she recognized the darker-haired youth standing over her; her hand fell on the only available defense within her grasp – her trusty, solid, *metallic* document cylinder…!

She held it threateningly in the air to whapped it over his head – and would have succeeded, if it weren't for the quick reflexes of the brunette, twisting her arms behind her, her interesting choice of weapon clattering to the floor—

[Let me go!] she snarled, very nearly snapping at the elder one's nose as she struggled in his younger counterpart's arms; she made a fearsome madwoman, with her scathing eyes and wild hair, screaming bloody murder, [NULL! What did you do to my brother?]

Amethyst eyes blinked; he searched his head for the scarce memories of his own brothers teaching him snippets of European before he was shipped off to Area Eleven / Japan. The only word he needed to understand, really, was null; "H-how?"

She hissed fiercely at him, but ceased fighting against the stronger lad, seeing as she had little muscle to rival him.

"You may be without your ostentatious disguise, Herr Null, but you'd be foolish to think me obtuse," she spoke in common at last, tone yet edged with steel; she conceded her discovery thus, "Your measurements gave you away…"

"… excuse me while I take precautions…"

Half-an-hour and three yards of ribbon later—plus one failed-Geass-attempt (failed, only because his partner did the *thing* to him, a whispered squabble of gibberish flying over her head)(something to do with the Ragnarok Connection and Zero Requiem and you owe me a carton of Almond-crusted Pocky Deluxe!)—he finally felt safe enough to begin…

He sat upon her plush chaise ("Vintage Rococo," he commented dryly[5a], "Circa 1750s…")(she snorted elegantly as his comrade-in-arms rolled his eyes heavenwards, "… show-off…") and crossed his extraordinarily long limbs, gesturing to the other to sit upon the scrolling arm to his right. An odd sense of déjà vu washed over her, the image of the masked messiah and his emerald-haired enigma ghosting over the Britannian youth and his Eleven / Japanese companion…

Sudden sorrow stirred in her heart – for the presence of the other's protector reminded her of the obvious absence of her brotherly chaperone… She drew a shuddering breath, tapping into her inner strength, born of her independence; leveling a cool glare at the darker-haired beauty, she questioned, "… where is my brother, Herr Null?"

He sighed, averting his eyes first; a heartbeat too late – she'd seen the flash of guilt and regret.

"Under Prince Schneizel's commission…"

She nearly wept with relief, for it answered the foremost question burning through her brain—her brother was not dead…!

"… I see…"

It also provided details she hadn't concerned herself with before; her brother had mentioned an upheaval within the Rebellion… Had the Master Zero turned against Black Knights, or was it the other way around? No, her brother's precise words were that Master Zero stole her card, thus favouring the latter explanation; why such foolishness, then, against the Deliverer of Area Eleven / Japan? Why now?

Wait—the United Federation of Nations was massing against the Britannian Empire… but neither would be complete without Master Zero (the miracle worker) or Sir Kururugi (the lancer Knight)… Master Zero was here (unmasked!) with Sir Kururugi (also out-of-uniform!) – supposedly-sworn enemies of opposing political factions – working together; it could only imply their loyalties were not necessarily to their respective allegiances—in-as-much-as-it-should—but to each other…

That meant there were now – not two, but *three* superpowers fighting for the world; she had kitted the first two armadas at least once in its establishment—

"… I've no more cloth," she said by way of understanding, fragmented pieces falling into place; wryly, she wondered how she'd been subtly snared into this fiasco in the first place, finally surrendering to the fact that Fate had a sadistic sense of humour – in the form of her madcap brother! She continued, "And upon your orders, I've also destroyed the patterns to making any and all of your previous uniforms…"

He smiled meaningfully – this was Diethard's blood-sister, indeed; it had taken her all of three minutes and eighteen seconds to puzzle everything out. "Let me worry about the resources; as for the designs…" he reached into his bag and handed her a sketchbook, "… it is fortunate, then, that I want new ones made from scratch…"

She stared critically at elaborate images, held steady upon her lap by a rather reluctant right-hand-man (seeing as she was bound by his doing; he'd forgotten whether he'd used dead-knots, and prayed fervently that her ribbons were not too precious to cut). She squinted to scrutinize the details (her spectacles harrumphed noisily from her crown, shouting uselessly to its mistress), meticulously planning the pieces required: full body under-uniform (embroidered front), full body over-coat (embroidered lapels), full body outer-coat (embroidered back), revolutioneer's hat (embroidere—

"Are you making an Emperor suit[5b]…?"

The two men startled – their secret plan had been found out (by a custom clothier, no less)…! While the taller one spluttered and choked whys and hows and curse you, Diethard – your sister's an evil genius (that made her smirk), the tousled-haired one had better ideas—

*plang~~~*

"… I dinna ask you to knock her unconscious…"

"Don't you start that again…!"


They'd chained her to her worktable, an iron-manacle about her ankle…! She glowered at it, perhaps hoping the heat of her glare may melt it through or make it spontaneously combust…

… so she rebelled in her own little way, starting with a single word…

"No…?" he echoed, eyes wide with disbelief; one week to the most important day of his life, and he'd come down to find she'd nearly completed his order – his *low-priority* order. He slammed a fist into her worktable (making her machine swerve its line with a hiccup, and her accessories go *whee* *blam* onto the *ouch* floor), "What do you mean, No?"

"No, I have not started on your Emperor suit…" she repeated, busying herself with the trivial in-seam of some poor guard's pants ("Sorry, dear guard, but your Emperor thought you'd want a zig-zag line down your left butt-cheek…"); she did sigh and undid the whole thing, because—despite it all, d*mmit—she still had a reputation to keep. When he did not budge, she continued, "Nor have I started on Suzaku's suit, either; or C2's for that matter…"

He slapped the heel of his palm to his face, "Since when are you on a first-name-basis with *my* Knight[6]?"

She paid him no heed, plucking the stray threads and realigning her needles, "Since Suzaku is nice to me – he brings me real food…" she waved to the small collection of untouched boxes on a random countertop, "I don't like Chinese take-outs; try bon-bons – Dieter always bribes me with bon-bons…"

"So *when* will you get to *my* suits?"

"Cherry-liqueur bon-bons, please; specifically the ones from Dominique Marcolini's original boutique store in Luxembourg…" she continued to ignore him as she calibrated some other contraption to stitch relief-patterns into the dark cloth. She knew she was close to winning when she heard him splutter like a scandalized servant—only to turn around and count to ten in six different languages; perhaps she should do something before he passed out, for he'd gone nearly purple with rage. "Check back in a week for your first fitting…"

"I don't have the *time* for fittings, woman – I need my Emperor suit for the coronation…!" he argued, clawing through his hair (oh, those fingers were lovely), "What would you have me do, streak through the ceremony *naked*?"

She made a show of pausing, as if in deliberate consideration, "… now *that's* an idea—"

"Miss Ried…!"

"It isn't as if you don't have anything to wear; you should just waltz into the throne room in full Ashford garb…" she sniped back, hanging Royal-Guard-#1632773's uniform (headdress and face-shield included) onto a rack alongside its identical replicates; she reached over him to begin Royal-Guard-#1632774's main livery, arranging its matching gray trimmings, "Imagine the outrage: the Holy Britannian Empire outwitted by a mere school boy? And a disgraced Prince at that…"

An eyebrow raised, he stared incredulously at her; he had to admit, despite her animosity towards him, she was useful in providing timely advice… a sort-of Diethard stand-in, he supposed – blood *did* run thicker than water. He mumbled reluctantly, "… the notion has merit…"

"You're welcome…" she hinted as she hunched over her work – the coat sprouted sleeves as if by magic under her quick hands; so into watching her work, he'd almost missed her next remark, "You can call me Annaliese, if you like…"

She'd paused and turned slightly to acknowledge him, smiling serenely; he floundered for words, "… Lelouch… just Lelouch…"

"Lelouch…" she tested the name, rolling it off her tongue; she nodded once, "It's good to finally meet you, Lelouch…" then teasingly, she grinned, "Now go get me my bon-bons…"

"… fine…" he groused as he left her to meet her demands; but smiled nonetheless, for he was confident now that she was on his side and would do her best for him – and without the need for Geass. Then the smile turned into a chuckle; should he die come tomorrow, at least he'd die looking *good*…!

… he wondered what they had left in the kitchens – she deserved a home-cooked meal, after all…


Nine days following his declaration as Britannia's 99th Emperor, she sent for him. Suzaku – in full Knight of Zero dress-attire – escorted him down; seeing his bodyguard, made regal in his new uniform, he could guess the purpose for this summoning…

"She said I should wait here – something about needing to speak to you alone…"

He had been correct in his assumption; she sat waiting for him in her make-shift prison (still clinking her ankle chain). Its worktables had been cleared, replaced by dozens of boxes instead. They were all done up in ribbons leading to her hand; she could be as theatrical as he was with her craft…

"Your Emperor suits, as promised – twelve sets in all, excluding the boots," she gestured to the squares labeled with its content and number, each piece in its individual neat package. He nodded and stepped forward to receive them; she stopped him with a forward-facing palm, "Not so fast – I'd like to ask for something in return…"

He'd anticipated this, pulling out a cellophane-wrapped tray from behind him, "Cherry-liqueur bon-bons, as requested…"

She shook her head, "Not quite what I had in mind, but I appreciate the thought…" She directed him to a note on a nearby table instead; he relented, sliding the collection of confectionaries to read, if only to see where this was going.

Halfway through the note, he snapped back to her, eyes wide, "Annaliese, you don't mean—"

"I'm only being realistic, Lelouch," she replied, "In all honesty, would you have released me, without placing me under a Geass? If you commanded me to forget, then which memories would you have asked me to forget?

"My kidnapping? Then you would've robbed me of my time, forever questioning the blank void of three months… My work for you? Then you would've robbed me of my pride, forever envious of a masterpiece *I* had made with my own hands… My brother? Then you would've robbed me of myself, for I would not be Annaliese without Diethard in my life…"

There was an edge of pleading to her voice; now that her work was done, there would be nothing to distract her from the hollow loss of her brother (ironically under the command of *his* brother)… He recognized himself in her eyes – he'd lived through it twice through, after all[7]; and so, he did not have the heart to deny her…

"You realize, Annaliese, the consequences of this request," he spoke carefully, folding the note as he approached to stand before her, "I cannot promise it will work – there may be no turning back…"

"What worries you, Lelouch? Is it the possibility that I would be so lost, I can never return?" she smiled now – a sweet, sorrowful smile; it made him think of Nunnally, then Rolo, then Nunnally again. "Or is it the possibility that my brother will never come for me?"

"Either. Both…" he took up her hand; it didn't shake, as he had expected it too. But it felt cold – he wondered…

"I am not afraid," she declared as she stared up at him, blue eyes bright; it was confirmation enough… He uncovered his eyes; she gasped lightly, drowning in the crimson power of kings—

"Lelouch vi Britannia commands you… may you slumber till your brother, and only your brother, calls upon his love for you[8]…"

She froze in his grasp as he sensed the familiar trickle of his power taking effect. The last he ever heard from her was a breathless thank you before her eyes slid shut, him sliding with her as her strength gave out completely, crumpling to the floor as one…

He hadn't realized how, in the midst of his command, she'd handed him the ribbons leading to his destiny in a formal exchange; there, in his palm, sat a dozen ribbons, bundled together by a safety pin – with a note:

For the sake of those lost – Annaliese Ried…

Thus, it happened…


I asked to be put under Geass until you return. When this is all over, you'll find me waiting. Come home soon…

Remember I love you.

(ps: you should let him win – you and I both know it's only a matter of time…)


He hadn't thought it possible; a heartbeat before, he was watching Emperor Lelouch taunting Prince Schneizel through the screen… a heartbeat later, he was overcome by a low dosage of Refrain to his nape – not enough for insanity, but *just* enough for incapacitation…

"D*mmit… Why didn't I see it coming?"[9]

He'd defected to Prince Schneizel because he believed history was written by victors – and he'd believed the White King the superior victor… Had he been on the winning side all along? Had the Black King been the more deserving conqueror after all?

"You anticipated Prince Schneizel's thoughts… and recorded that conversation…"

… how ironic; how many times had he seen Zero do the same with his enemies – why should he assume Emperor Lelouch be any different? The boy could manipulate a man's fate with a strategic thought, could change a life upon the turn of a coin—

But Zero was chaos incarnate, and Emperor Lelouch would throw the world into turmoil – with the power of Geass, history itself would be mutable in the hands of a madman… His intentions to document the downfall of Britannia and the uprising of a new era would be for naught if it were to all crumble to ash for one boy-king's selfish desires…

"ZERO! Your story is finished – you never should've come this far!" he hollered, righteous rage unbridled, "You shouldn't even be alive, you bastar—!"

A shot rang out, the scent of smoking gunpowder assaulting his senses; dimly, he realized the gun in his hand shook too much to have been fired… It hurt to breathe, and he wondered if it were guilt or gunshot wound that made his heart ache—

His sister's lyrical laugh graced his ear, I told you to let him win…

He had the audacity to ask her, Him? Him who?

"What right have you to deny my existence? You have none…"

Her voice danced around him, much like his fading consciousness, You know – *him* him…

Had she seen something he did not? He knew she knew how to pick a thread of thought and weave its possibilities in the tapestry of time… Perhaps she'd known all along how the story would end… Perhaps she'd followed the lines closer to the truth and had jumped a step ahead of him… Perhaps—

When this is all over, you'll find me waiting. Come home soon…

No, his sister didn't care for all that… His sister only cared for the one thing that had never let her down.

"… Z-Zero… at least f-finish me… with your G-Geass, too…"

He wondered what Geass she'd been given; he wondered if he would receive the same…

"Sorry, Diethard, you're just not worth wasting my Geass on…"

He panicked; he knew he would die without it…! What would become of her…? How would he fail her…?

Dumme Diethard, she scolded quietly, an indiscernible whap delivered to the back of his head; as the gauzy haze of death settled upon him, his last thoughts were that somewhere, somehow, she would know… And somewhere, somehow, she was safe knowing he understood…

Annaliese, I love—

The world turned without him… but that was alright, because he had better things to busy himself with now…


… in an underground room where promises were made, a masked man slipped a prepared needled into her arm; her fingers tightened about the locket in her hands, only to release it all with a sigh…

He watched as she breathed her last, knowing that all would be well; for in the world of shades and shadows, her colours would stand for a lifetime – in the form of the suit on his back, her spirit bled into every stitch…


What took you so long? her brother grumbled good-naturedly as she floated clumsily past him, unused to the awkward wings she now possessed. She scrabbled to mess up his hair and growled back, eyes narrowed, I could ask the same; Limbo wasn't much fun…

That's only because *I* wasn't in it, he boasted, waggling his eyebrows at her; when she pouted, he reached out to pull her in a tight embrace, angelic status notwithstanding, Annaliese, I love you…

Dumme Diethard, she hugged back for all its worth, Remember I love you, too…


Notes

[1] Situation with the Black Knights have... changed... :: The best time to place this fic would be after Lulu escapes from them, on-board with Rolo (or according to my brother, Lolo ie. crazy & Roro ie. robotic person)

[2] Diethard & Annaliese speaking in German :: It came from Diethard's name (ie. very germanic in origin), hence I cast them both as Germans... And I'd like to think that their final conversation in life would be in their native language than anything else...

[3a] Annaliese, engaged to be married :: In an unrelated universe, Annaliese's fiance ran away because she was a workaholic (in her defense, it's in her name...!)(don't know what I'm talking about – read the notes in Chapter I)...
[3b] Annaliese, *just* passing her driving exam :: In an unrelated universe, my brother did this to me, sans picnic basket, on my *first* day out with a license... cost me a small fortune in repairs...

[4] Suzaku Kururugi™ Death Glare :: Tell me you've seen this – it's every look of loathing he sends to Lulu, post-Euphie's death (sniff)...

[5a] Rococo furniture, circa 1750s & [5b] Emperor suits :: The only reason I took so long writing this wasn't because of a writer's block, but because I was researching every costume on R2 and trying to figure the era it came from... The Britannian Royals are Empire inspired, what with the long outer coats and military-style jackets (esp. Schneizel, Kanon & Cornelia), but Euphemia's is predominantly modernized gowns from late 1800s, hmm...

[6] Annaliese, on first-name-basis with Suzaku :: Initially, I wrote an interlude between Annaliese and Suzaku; it explores their understanding of Lulu – Suzaku, being the only child, understands a little of why Lulu would do anything for Nunnally (despite her being 'dead'), and Annaliese, having never known Lulu previously, understands his madness stems from his messed-up childhood (Freudian Law!)... Oh, and in it, Suzaku brings her peasant-style mushroom rice to compensate for Lulu's idea of dinner (chinese take-outs) and C2's idea of dinner (cold pizza)

[7] Lelouch recognizing himself in Annaliese :: I think only Lulu would understand Annaliese' pain, having lost Nunnally before; which was why I had Lulu be the last one holding her hand, even if Suzaku was the more sympathetic one...

[8] Reference to Sleeping Beauty :: Grimm's tales are folk-stories from Germany, something Annaliese would have grown up with; slightly different from the French version by Charles Perrault...

[9] Diethard's conversation with Schneizel / Lelouch :: ... I watched the scene on loop, 18 times... it became ingrained in my head... having to think of the 'why' he said what he said, in-line with this story, took another decade of my life (*ahem* two days)


Miscellany rants

Though there are no reviews (sadness is me), I liked how this turned out... The brother-sister dynamics as an analogy to Lulu-Nunna's relationship was fun to do, and the mini-research on clothes through the ages ever more so (I don't think I'd ever forget about Empire clothes, oy~~~). I thank my very diligent student for letting me bounce ideas off her head (many dents and bruises)...

And Jared, if you're reading this, I think you understand best why I did this, hehe... Let's hope I find more of you amongst my star-students, lalala~~~