A/N: I feel that this is one of my best pieces, right next to TeacherStudent. I've also become taken with Milly and her mind and just how she works. She is severely underloved. I feel this is something that makes her just who she is. I'd also like to take this time to warn you there IS character death. If you do not like that and decide not to read, I will not be offended in the slightest. But if you don't like it, then please, I ask that you do not criticize me for that solely. As always, I hope to receive some lovely input from you all! Enjoy. "Did it occur to you that maybe... you could've been ugly?" "It never did. People were made to be beautiful." "Believe that. But the longer you stare at yourself in the mirror and find solace in your exterior, the more your soul and who you really are will deteriorate." "And that is a risk I am willing to take."
I'd also like to take this time to warn you there IS character death. If you do not like that and decide not to read, I will not be offended in the slightest. But if you don't like it, then please, I ask that you do not criticize me for that solely. As always, I hope to receive some lovely input from you all!
"Did it occur to you that maybe... you could've been ugly?"
"It never did. People were made to be beautiful."
"Believe that. But the longer you stare at yourself in the mirror and find solace in your exterior, the more your soul and who you really are will deteriorate."
"And that is a risk I am willing to take."
There was the morning. There was always morning.
Mornings were new beginnings, the cleansing the night brought done, and the freshness of another chance offered. The sun rose, the birds sang, the flowers uncurled their petals to greet the day. People awoke to start again, to continue routines, to go forth and find what adventures lay in wait. Warm. Bright. New. That is how days begin, and people live. With the hope that the next day is going to provide something exciting and different.
But some people fall into routine.
And some people don't love mornings like others do- they forget just what new life is. They cling to the previous day, the glory that remains in the past, what once was. It's difficult for them to shift into mornings, as the night has taken away what they previously had. The scowl upon the morning, for trying to give them a clean slate when they know they are undeserving, or frankly, they just don't want it. What do second chances have to offer when the first chance was perfect?
And nothing can be both an evil and a good. For nothing can be absence of fortune, and nothing can be the restraint of horror.
But nothing can tell her she's not as beautiful as she believes.
Camilla has been blessed, a shining ray in everyone's life, willing to understand what mornings really were, and willing to be as good as humanly possible. She prides herself on her good looks, her physical allure, that her exterior is what makes her Milly.
She is a gorgeous young woman, and there is not a single thing in existence that will be able to convince her otherwise.
There are mornings when she is willing to admit she is not as pretty as she is typically, but that does not mean she is any less so than anyone else. But she believes that she is the most gorgeous of all, that Aphrodite and Eros together could not have ever created anything better than her being, that Narcissus could only wish to be so stunning, that Helen of Troy herself could not compare to such a being, and that Paris would have her as his gift. It's not just ego, it's something she believes in, far more than anything else.
She will wake up, and look at herself in the mirror, and smile. She's a classical beauty, with golden hair, and eyes the colour of oceans and skies, and a body that men would do anything to have on them. And she knows all of that. There's not a doubt in her mind that she isn't something special. People are not meant to be ugly creatures, and she is not going to start to be the exception to the rule. She will wake up alone, or with one man, or many women, or someone she says she cares for, but each and every person will tell her the same thing, the same thing she's heard before anything else, and the same thing she will hear for decades to come.
"Milly, you are beautiful."
The mirror does not deceive; it can only show you truth. What you see, in mornings or evenings, is pure honesty, that you are just as you see. It will not tell you lies to make you feel better about yourself. It will not tell you that you are radiant when your eyes can clearly see you are not. The mirror is a gracious friend, promising to always reveal to you your shortcomings and just what you can be proud of. At least, that is what Milly believed.
She'll sit for hours in front of the glass, staring at herself, brushing her hair, laughing with such a beautiful face, her vanity the grandest. (in her room. in her being.) The mirror is gold framed with beautiful and intricate patterns around it. Ivy and roses and daffodils (which also rest in a vase on her dresser) and other flowers that are striking in gold appear to be attempting to break free from their gilded prison. The table before it is wood, dark, deep and rich in colour, carved as antiques would be. Occasionally, she places a yellow silk skirt around it, when she may need to hide items or secrets, or just to make the bleakness of winter seem a little less depressing. She sits upon a plush seat that is made with the same yellow silk as the skirt, always bright and beautiful. Resting on the wood are perfumes, blushes, powders, liquids, candles, brushes, combs, and a hand mirror that is an exact replica of the one before her. Of course it's smaller, but the hand mirror came first.
Smaller girls didn't need such luxury and extravagance as they did when they were women. And Milly, whether her parents and her grandfather wanted to admit it, was a woman.
She takes a moment occasionally to examine, to appreciate her mirror, and sometimes, she'll touch it. Certainly not prettier than her, but it could try to be. She wonders how people could create such works with just their hands from nothing. People were born as beauties, but art started from nothing. Art didn't have to hope to be blessed with good looks; art didn't have to hope it moved people to want it. Art just did, and it could be beautiful without worrying people disliked it. A statue was perpetually perfect, and people would still love it long after its creator died. Milly was perfect, she was, but she also had to work at it.
She was jealous of artistry. She was jealous of the creations made. She was jealous that they didn't have to try to be loved.
Her fingers follow the curve of the ivy, the cold metal smooth and unwavering. In the dim light of the evening, the gold is resplendent. The gold is resplendent in any light, and it is resplendent effortlessly. She wants to be effortlessly perfect. She was born into money, power, fame, beauty; if she could have all of those things, why couldn't she have eternal grace and youthful appearance? Why did art have what she couldn't have?
She takes her hand away from the mirror, and steps back, blue eyes looking everywhere but the glass. Parting with the metal, she laughs, flipping her hair. Her thoughts are irrational. She is perfect, and nothing is going to ever outdo her. Nothing could ever try. But she agrees with logic, and that exhaustion is getting to her, and that she should rest. Morning will bring coherency, new beginnings.
There was the morning. There was always morning.
And she rises from her slumber, the beautiful lady, with golden hair and light eyes. But she is alone today. (good.) She glides across the floor, her feet barely grazing the wood, greeting the day with grace and serenity. There are people that need to see her, and things she must do for her own good. The mornings are a blur, but always a good start to a great day. Nothing can ruin her life. She won't give it a chance to try. She's vibrant to many people who greet her, each of them waving to her, smiling, enjoying her presence. But she's in a hurry to see her friends, the people who love her the very most.
And there they are. Lelouch, Suzaku, Kallen, Shirley, Rivalz, Nina, Nunnally. All beautiful, but none so as her. They all come to her, happy to see her, as she is happy to see them. But they have things to attend to. This is the Student Council, after all. Something she could be proud of, perhaps. She looks to Lelouch, and smiles, asking if he has any updates, anything they should be looking towards. Lelouch nods, and pulls out a paper and reads it- "The Britannian Institute sent us a letter this morning requesting we host an art festival here on the grounds."
She freezes. She glares at Lelouch briefly, but smiles, her face unblemished. "I see. Nonetheless, I feel we do not have enough time."
Lelouch smirks and she frowns. A face like his is both exquisite and dangerous. She knows. He speaks again, his lips curved. "We have nothing planned this month, Madam President. We have more than enough time."
She knows that. She had hoped he didn't. But there's another smile for him. "Well, I feel that art is unnecessary. We won't host it at all-"
"-Madam President! How could you deny the arts! They're crucial!"
She wants to clench her jaw, to give such outspokenness what it deserves (the cruellest of punishments), but her face is serene. Nothing could bother her. Not even Shirley's words. Shirley Fennette. Her closest friend, her fiercest admirer. She did enjoy her, her antics, her pining for Lelouch, the simplicity and naïveté she had... It was endearing. But she was also beautiful, and Lelouch, the man she found to be more handsome than any, favoured her. She was not a threat, entirely, but enough of a concern that she would proceed with caution. So she does.
"Shirley, I don't want them on our grounds. I don't think their cause is good enough."
"But it's art and what people make and finding beauty in-"
She may have said more, but Milly didn't hear. There it was. The word she so desperately clung to. Beauty. Shirley could have spoken for hours more, but she was not focused on that. Even Shirley, her confidante, believes that art could outdo her. That it deserved a place in her school. She is not going to allow it. She is not going to let it (art was competition to her. she would never say, but it was.) into her haven, the one her family had created. If Shirley so wished to enjoy such a nuisance, she would do it on her own time. She smiles, cruel and cold, and takes notes.
"Shirley. This is Ashford Academy. I am Camilla Ashford. I have the final say. We are not having it here."
Shirley's lip quivers in such an unattractive manner, and Rivalz shakes his head. "Geez, Prez, you didn't have to say it like that."
She looks to Rivalz, her patience thinning, reminding herself to never go out with him. She knows he loves her, but to stand up for Shirley instead of her... she scowls and takes notes again. Rivalz is no threat, but his lack of loyalty is infuriating, to say the least. Shirley should not have swayed him in any manner. The smile remains, laced with ice and malice. Blue ice, blue eyes.
"I'm sorry, Rivalz, but I don't want such a festival at this school. I don't think it's something worth wasting time on..."
"Well, Madam President." Lelouch scoffs, and clicks his pen. There is a pause between his sigh and what he says. "Aren't you being quite ugly today..."
She stops, and her eyes widen. Ugly. He said she was ugly. A hideous noise barely escapes her lips, and she scans the room for support. There is none. All of these fair faces and not one of them is coming to her aid. Her lips are dry, parched, unable to form words. But she will not lose her composure. She does not distort her face in anger, she does not grimace. But she licks her lips slowly, her eyebrows raised slightly, trying to keep from losing her temper completely. She stands, and grabs her bag, lifting it to her shoulder. She scans the room again, and sees everyone is holding their breath. Beauty can take their breath away, can't it? She wants to laugh, but she won't.
"Lelouch, if any of my teachers ask for me, say that I was not feeling up to par. If my grandfather finds you before he finds me, tell him that I'm in my room and willing to speak with him. Do not even attempt to forward plans for that festival." She heads toward the door, and when she reaches the doorframe, she pauses, and looks behind her. "I will see you all tomorrow morning."
There was the morning. There was always morning.
Morning fades into evening, and Milly remains at her vanity, brushing her hair, candles alight, the mirror's frame shining. It's a lovely way to relax after fretting. She spoke with her grandfather, and he told her that while he would like to see Institute help them, he understands that the student council didn't want to be burdened with planning and preparations. What a lovely way to put things. He had hugged her, saying if she needed anything, he would be happy to be there, and left her to enjoy the rest of her day in peace.
So she spent it with herself, talking to her reflection, consoling herself by telling herself she was pretty and that Lelouch was just jealous. He was. He had to be. She chuckles at the thought, and looks at herself in her hand mirror. She holds it up, and fluffs her hair. She's such a beautiful girl. Nothing could compare to her. She caresses the mirror, touching the metalwork on the side, and suddenly, in the glass, her face distorts; that can't be hers.
That can't be hers.
Blonde hair and blue eyes, but a nose that's like a hawk's, and thin wrinkled lips, and scars all across her cheeks. Her eyes have lost their lustre, her hair is thin and patchy. She puts her hand to her face, and she sees in the mirror that her hands have become gnarled. she terrified of her own appearance. That can't be her. It's some magic, some trickery, someone playing a horrid prank on her, Lelouch teaching her a lesson. She couldn't look like that. Before, she was beautiful, a goddess, perfection. Her reflection was not perfection. It was a monster.
A monster that was her.
Her skin feels fine, firm, fresh, but it does not appear that way. She puts the mirror down on the table and runs to her bathroom, and there, the mirrors show her as haggard, old, and most of all ugly. Her clothes are rags, and her skin is marked with brown age spots. Her fingernails are more like claws, and her teeth are broken and rotten. That can't be her. She's wearing only the finest cotton, imported from the other colonies, but the mirrors are showing her in burlap. She can see the dress on herself, but in the mirror, it's far different. She's frantic. This cannot be. This isn't happening to her.
Beautiful people didn't have these things happen to them.
She bolts from her room through the house, running to each mirror, and each mirror shows the same. She is grotesque, foul. Not one reflection shows her to be a young lady of nineteen, a prize rose. This is Lelouch's doing! She knows it. She swears at him, vowing that when she finds him, she will have his head on a platinum platter served to his sister. No one ruins Camilla Ashford. No one taints the one thing she truly cares for, far beyond people or possessions or her own life.
It is her appearance that she cares for beyond anything else.
She does not stop running. There must be a mirror in the manor that wasn't messed with. There has to be one. Tears fall. He couldn't have gotten to every mirror in her house. There's no way. She stumbles. That would take too much time. He would never waste so much time on every mirror in the house-
Every mirror shows the same.
She flees, retreating to her room. Locking the door behind her, she runs straight to her vanity and sobs on the table, not understanding why Lelouch would do this to her. She sobs for what feels like hours, days, and won't stop. She is not hideous. She is gorgeous. She has to be. She is Milly, with golden hair and eyes the colour of oceans and skies. But when she looks in the hand mirror, it is not so. She's the most foul in that mirror. A gargoyle. Monstrous and deformed. She places the hand mirror down in dismay and looks to the large mirror, and expects to find this new face of hers.
She finds one far worse.
It is hers. Frazzled and scared, her eyes have dark bags underneath, and her eyes are red-rimmed. Tears have stained her cheeks, and her hair has become tangled and damp with sweat. Her hands are shaking, her whole body is trembling. She can't believe she has become like this. She tips over the seat, trying to scramble away from it, taking the hand mirror with her. It's habit. She can't help it. She looks to the mirror and there is that face of hers, blue eyes and light hair, young and scared. Her hands trace the artistry, and she feels the anger building up inside of her. It's still beautiful, and she isn't. It wasn't fair. She grips the frame in her hands tightly, the metal pressing sharply into her palms, and she screams at the mirror.
"How dare you lie to me! How dare you tell me that I am not beautiful! Are you trying to outdo me? Are you trying to show me that I am not beautiful like you are?" She gasps and holds onto the mirror tighter- it's the only thing that's been brave enough to go against her. The gold shines, even as she screams at it. "Nothing will be more beautiful than I. Nothing! No one can create anything better than me, and you are not going to ruin me!" She shrieks. She cries. Her flesh is torn by small daffodils.
"You can't tell me I am not beautiful!"
"But you're not, Milly."
She looks to her vanity, and inside her mirror, there is Lelouch. He is smirking at her, looking at her like he has won against her in some battle. She doesn't let go of the mirror. She won't. Her face twists into a snarl, rage building against him. Blood from her palms drips on her toes. The last candle on the table snuffs out. But he still smirks. "Look at you. You're a monster wishing you were gorgeous. Your soul is shallow, ruined, rotting. You could never be beautiful like this.
In her fury against him, she tosses the hand mirror at his face with a ferocity unlike any other, the glass of the vanity shattering everywhere, pieces sticking up on the floor, little shards scattered across the wood, the top of the hand mirror stuck in the backing of the vanity. He would never say those things about her again. She screams at him, and runs over to the table flipping it over, all of her brushes and powders and liquids and perfumes falling to the floor, breaking as well and releasing their contents. She steps away, breathing heavily, and stops. He's not there. He can't tell her lies. He can't ruin her now.
But there is the sound of ripping wood. Like metal (like gold) pulling up finely-laid floors. She looks at the large mirror, and it's tipping dangerously towards her. She can't run; she's too scared. She puts her hands out to stop the frame falling on her, but it's too heavy. Falling back on the broken glass scared for her life, it falls, the mirror handle aimed straight for her heart.
It does not miss its mark.
She feels the pain briefly, only for a moment, before realising that she's going to look disgraceful when they find her. She does not scream. She does not cry. Those are ugly sounds. But she gasps, and knows they will find her in the morning.
There was the morning. There was always morning.
And when morning came, and there were seven people waiting for Milly, and yet. She wasn't there. She wouldn't normally be late for a meeting. Thirty minutes go by, then an hour, then two. Lelouch and Suzaku agree they need to get to her manor and get her. Shirley, Nina, Kallen, and Rivalz ask to come along. Lelouch asks that Nunnally go to class. She does, smiling, and the remaining six go to her house, where her grandfather is taking tea. Lelouch asks if Milly has left for the day, and he says that she asked for no interruptions. But she arranged a council meeting, Lelouch says. It's very uncharacteristic of her to miss a meeting. Her grandfather agrees. So he says for them to be nice about visiting her upstairs. They all thank him, and head up the grand staircase to a door that couldn't be anyone else's. It is Milly's, for certain. Lelouch knocks. No answer. He knocks again. Nothing. He yells for her. Nothing. He tries the handle. Locked. Suzaku kicks down the door, and the sight before them makes Shirley scream.
Milly is dead.
Everyone is panicking, and no one can understand how this happened. Rivalz runs over to her body, sobbing, trying to get her to respond, and Lelouch and Suzaku are both frozen. Kallen is trying to remain calm, as well as keep Shirley and Nina under control. But Nina backs away from the room, and throws up in the hall- the smell permeating from Milly's room (of perfumes. of blood. of death.) is nauseating. Shirley cannot help but ease towards Milly. She's scared that what she sees is true. It can't be. No. Both can feel the glass under them, but that can be dealt with later. Milly was alive yesterday. She can't be dead.
Suzaku begins to cry, and Lelouch attempts to compose himself. Though, while he doesn't understand everything, he knows Suzaku liked Milly enough. Enough to cry over her dead, broken body and hope that she'd come back for him. He kisses her bloodied hands, sobbing, not understanding what could've happened. Lelouch examines the room, trying to see if there was foul play involved. But nothing stands out more so. Nothing that looks like an intruder escaped. Only entered. But he isn't of sane mind at the moment, and shakes his head, regarding her with such sadness. He steps toward Suzaku, Rivalz, and Shirley, and ask that the two boys lift the mirror off her. They are shaky to do so, but together they get the metal up off her. The handle of the mirror exits her chest, and Shirley sobs again. Lelouch kneels next to her, and strokes her face. It's so serene, calm, graceful. She just looks like she's sleeping, even if the blood she is drenched in says otherwise. Violet eyes see that she fell on glass, and that if the mirror handle didn't kill her, the crushing weight of the metal would have. He sighs, and kisses her forehead.
Rivalz won't stop trying to wake her up.
Shirley is still sobbing, the despair of losing Milly making her unable to form anything like thought.
Kallen is scared, frozen, not daring to run, not daring to step closer.
Nina is still out in the hall, trying to keep from vomiting again, crying.
And Suzaku clings to her hand, repeating her name.
They are a sorry sight, disgusting in her presence. Her grandfather will be notified of this very soon, Lelouch thinks, and he shakes his head. stroking her hair. He frowns, and sighs, "Even in death, she is still beautiful. Beautiful to the very core."
He will make funeral arrangements. He will sit with all of his friends late into the night and do his best to console them. He may be Zero, but he is not so cruel. He sheds a tear, and goes about finding a maid to help them all, to tell her grandfather, to begin the grieving process. This could not wait another moment, and certainly not until tomorrow morning. He sighs once more.
The was the mourning. There was always mourning.
"Even daffodils die one day."