Disclaimer: I do not own Code Geass or The Little Mermaid.
Chapter Three – The Mermaid's Brother
Getting anymore information out of Nunnally was impossible as` the moment she finished crying, she fell into a lapse of silence where she just wanted to be left alone. I called the maids and left them to dress her whilst I went and changed into a new dress. I then cancelled and rearrange some appointments and made a note to check if there was indeed a prince called Rolo – though judging by how many consorts the emperor had, it wouldn't be surprising if this Prince Rolo suddenly materialised out of nowhere claiming to be his son.
I sent off letters (forging Nunnally's signature on the one sent to Lady Kaguya) to cancel all appointments to occur in early afternoon and stroke off an entire page of possible suitors (effectively breaking their hearts, ruining their possible fortune and crushing their hopes as my pen passed through each letter of their names), not even considering what their requests might be. There was no way I can have the princess appear before them when she's like this – puffy-eyed from crying and nose as red as berries from hanky (nay, my sleeve!) overuse.
Luckily, I managed to corner a Sir Kururugi on my way back to Nunnally's chambers.
"Sir Kurugi…ruru…rugi!" Oh bothersome, why was this knight's surname so difficult to remember and say?
The boy frowned and thoughtfully corrected me, "There are only two 'ru's in my name, Miss. C.C.. It really isn't that hard to say."
Hm, I must be losing my touch if my thoughts are so easily readable. "Forgive this simple maid for not being able to say more than one 'ru' at any one time," I chuckled with a curtsey. "I need to corner a certain Prince Lelouch sometime – preferably now – would you know whereabouts he is?"
"Um…" The knight glanced down at the nearest pot of flowers as he thought. Being Princess Euphemia's knight, he naturally only knew the princess's schedule and not that of her brother's but they were close enough friends that I'd figure he'd have some vague idea of Lelouch's as well. "The certain Prince Lelouch might be….in…um… his office, probably…?"
"Good," I said with a click of my tongue. My skirt swished around my legs as I turned on my heel and started down the corridor with the action amusingly reminding myself of my stepfather and his ever-amusing sashays. NOT that I sashay but spinning skirts will forever remind me of his robes curling around his hips with each step he took. "Shall we go then?"
"Wait, pardon? Go? Where? Miss C.C.! Wait up! Did something happen to Nunnally? What is the rush? Wait up!"
"I hardly need to wait, your legs are much longer than mine. You can catch up with ease so if I don't get a head start then you're going to out walk me within ten steps," I said flatly without turning to look at him or halting my feet.
Suzaku sighed, running a hand through his brown locks and glancing down the path he was originally taking before following me, catching up – as I predicted – in a few strides. "Miss. C.C., I know I always say this every time I see you but I'll have to repeat myself: now I know why Lelouch hired you; you're as uncooperative as ever when you needed things done."
"Why of course, you didn't expect me to laze around all day and just eat pizza, do you?"
"Is that not what you do all day already - apart from the occasional breaking of young boys' hearts and organisation of a princess's timetable?" he said with a grin then his brows furrowed and his eyes took on that faraway look one gets when one was imagining something. From his last words, I guess he was probably imagining what life would be like if I was Princess Euphemia's social secretary instead of Nunnally's. Dear Britannia, he would probably require to book timeslots several months in advance to meet his sweetheart if that was so – not that Princess Cornelia wasn't making him book them several weeks in advance already.
"Miss. C.C., what do you think of me?" he finally said and I presumed my guess was correct. He stared at me with eyes that would sit comfortably on a puppy wanting the owner's doting attention.
I kept walking, tucked a strand of hair behind my ear and regarded him from the corner of my eyes. "I think you're a good knight, Sir Kuru…gi" – that was his name, yes? – "and I do not think poorly of you at all so if I ever get fired from my job, do try to put in a good word for me over at Princess Euphemia and Princess Cornelia's end."
The knight scoffed mockingly, "As if Lelouch would ever fire you. Had you not ate enough pizza to make his nose turn and had he not been so naturally adept at keeping track of his own schedule, I'm sure you would have got a promotion to become his own social secretary by now."
"Heh, I would hate to work for him. He'll limit my pizza supply and my promotion will only spark even more rumours," I snorted with a roll of my eyes. There were enough rumours as it is and believe me when I say the other servants regarded me warily during the first few weeks of my employment. Maids whispering in every corner of the castle, butlers staring at me as I pass by and the princesses and princes all books appointments with Nunnally only to sneak an ogle at the green-haired secretary that the prince saved from a kidnapping madman several months ago.
"Well, you did dan-" Kururugi started to say before his words got cut off by a sudden quickening of my steps, forcing him to catch up again.
"A single dance, Sir Kururugi" – ara, would you look at that, I think I finally got it right this time – "if that single dance hinted I'm in a relationship with him then he must be married to all the young ladies he had more than one dance with."
Alas, our arrival at our destination cut our conversation short. I motioned for him to knock the door but he only regarded me with bafflement in his eyes. "Why me?"
"Ara, no matter whose secretary I am, I'm still essentially a high ranking servant. You however, are a knight and close friend of Prince Lelouch. It is less preposterous for you to knock the door. The rumours, Sir Knight. Think about what the servants will say about me if I knocked this door."
Suzaku's mouth formed a very flat line, not entirely sure what to think now knowing that I dragged him all the way here just to do something as trivial as door knocking. And also wondering if my excuse was really a valid one or not since there were no servants in the hallway as far as he could tell. He knocked any way and I barged on in the moment Lelouch said 'come in'.
The knight followed quickly behind me, his black boots squishing and making bigger footsteps in the carpet on top of my smaller ones. We both witness the lovely surprised look on Lelouch's face before he rearranged it to his usual calm and collected expression. "Suzaku," he acknowledged with a nod of his head. "And C.C., what is it now?"
On a normal occasion, I would have teased him on that statement alone. Why was it said in a tone that hinted I'm always here to cause problems? But finding out his sister was really a mermaid didn't really qualify as a normal occasion.
I marched up to his desk, curtseying quickly upon reaching it then straightened my back and asked, "Your highness, please tell me why Nunnally cannot walk anymore."
Lelouch regarded me carefully then closed the document folder he was working on. He glanced at Suzaku who was staring at me who was staring at his highness who was, oh lovely, we made a nice little triangle with this staring contest. "Isn't it general knowledge by now?" the prince asked rhetorically, setting his document down on the polished wood of his desk..
I allowed a trace of a grin to tug at the corners of my lips. "I would like your account of it, your highness."
"Why does those two words ('your highness') always tinted with sarcasm when it's coming from your mouth?" Lelouch sighed. I smiled impatiently at him in reply and with the frown still in place, he shook his head and laughed, thus waving aside the issue.
I waggled my eyebrows. "Your story?"
Curious about my sudden inquiry, he laced his fingers together and leant back in his chair making me realise two things. One, he didn't offer for me or Suzaku to sit down – how rude! – and two, what beautifully elegant fingers our prince have. I can see that Nunnally will grow up to be a fine young woman if her brother was anything to go by.
"We were out at sea on one of my father's ships, having an early tenth birthday party for me. At the end of the celebrations and on our way back to land, a storm struck. We were literally within view of the harbour when the waves flung the ship into a rock, smashing part of the hull. We could have probably still made it if we ploughed on, hole or no hole in the ship's body."
It was interesting, I mused. How Lelouch could retell the story that stole her sister's ability to walk with so little description and almost as if he was reading it out of an article. Was it because he wanted the story to be over and done with quickly? Yet I want the juicy details, not just the bare backbone…
"But the waves overwhelmed us. The ship was flipped over."
I waited for him to finish the story but he simply stared back at me in return. Well? Are you finishing it or not? You don't just have me as an audience. You have my audience as an audience too. And Sir Kugi – Kurugi! Kururugi! Aha! I turned towards Suzaku and strangely found him watching me expectantly with those green eyes of his instead of watching Lelouch. What? You mean that was the end of the story?
"What more do you want, Miss. C.C.?" the knight asked, blinking at me curiously.
"How you (Lelouch, that is), Nunnally and your family survived it could have been nice," suggested I with a raised eyebrow even though I heard and read what happened before.
Lelouch sighed, sitting back up from his chair to placed his elbows on his desk. "I don't know why you're suddenly so curious about this when it's all common knowledge by now. As far as I know the majority of people involved were saved by lifeboats sent both from our ship and the harbour. My father was saved in such as way, as well as the rest of my siblings. Mother clung to the rock that hit our ship. I, myself, can't remember much apart from almost drowning. I woke up several hours later in my own bed, surrounded by nurses and my hysterical mother."
"She was the one that saved me. She clung onto me and a piece of debris until the waves spat us onto the harbour itself. Nunnally, she…"
Ah! Finally, a pause - a reluctance to tell the story because of the painful memories it recalled. Ready your tea and coffee, my dear audience. Here come the juicy details.
"She landed on her spine in such a way that she was paralysed from the waist down," Suzaku finished.
"Were you there for all this, Sir. Kururugi?"
"I only met Nunnally and the Lelouch for the first time several months after the incident."
Lelouch's pretty eyebrows knitted together in yet another frown and his eyes suddenly unwilling to look in my direction. "Are you satisfied with the answer now?"
"Hm…" I rolled the question around in my mind, letting it settle in every nook and cranny of my brain. I was so sorely tempted to answer him with a 'no, your account of the story was incorrect. Your sister was turned into fish in this incident and that's how she saved you and also why she couldn't walk now' but that would probably get me either not taken seriously, fired or pizza banned. Oh no, can't have that now, can we? I do need my fresh out of the oven, cheesy flatbread with tomato sauce and delectable pepperoni slices. Peppers too. I've grown rather fond of peppers with my flatbread.
"For now, yes. Onto the next topic then," I took a bold step forward and Lelouch's mouth twitched, not being able to decide between amusement, curiosity and annoyance. Boy, do I feel special for being able to induce all three emotions at the same time out of our highness. Whilst behind me, Suzaku was no doubt putting this as another mark towards his shipping of my and Lelouch's relationship. It cannot be helped that he witnessed all this because without him here, the castle will no doubt be abuzz with rumours of the prince's meeting me in private.
Oh, how ironic it was for the one being used to stop the rumours was also the one who believed in them the most.
Actually, that would be a lie. The ones who believed the rumours the most would probably be Euphemia, Nunnally and her majesty the empress herself – in that order. For the latter, you do not know how many excuses I made up in order not to sit and have tea with her as she grilled me more gossip about this secretive relationship I have with her son. Ah, we're getting off topic, yes?
"Do you have a brother named Rolo?" I asked and Lelouch stared at me blankly from the front whilst his sister's knight did the same from behind me. To have two men's eyes solely focused on me, how honoured I must feel – not.
Lelouch's answer was a confused, "No?"
Followed by Suzaku's equally confused, "No?"
Which was also followed by my somewhat confused, "No?"
"Um, no?" was Suzaku's continued attempt to keep this circle of single word answers and confusion going.
Breaking out of the loop – spoilsport, that he was - Lelouch nodded once and firmly replied again, "No, I do not have a brother called Rolo. There's Clovis, Odysseus, Schne- surely, you already know who all my brothers are already."
That I do know which was why I was as confused with my own question as he and Suzaku was. "Nunnally said she had a brother called Rolo and he will be visiting soon," I replied with a shrug.
"Nunnally said that?" questioned the beautiful prince. "She had been acting odd lately and even she should know that she's too old to play imaginary friends now."
Suzaku very smartly refrained from pointing out that Princess Euphemia, Nunnally and his cousin, the Lady Kaguya, still indulge girly tea parties complete with imaginary scenarios when they're together and bored. And yes, I did participate in these tea parties because it gave me a wonderful excuse to indulge in pizza outside of set meal times; isn't it wonderful when the imaginary scenario is a pizza parlour and the princess MUST have the flatbread in order to suit it?
"Is she free right now, C.C.?"
I reached into my bag and pulled out my hefty scheduler, flicking through it with practiced ease. "Should be. Shall I pen you in?"
He answered my question by sliding his chair back and shrugging on his jacket. I pulled a pen from his pen pot and scribbled his name into today's morning slot.
"Your handwriting is as boring as always," remarked the prince as he walked towards the door, Suzaku following closely.
"And yours is as flowery as ever, your highness," I teased right back, taking up the rear of the group and closing the office door behind me.
END OF CHAPTER THREE