Lelouch smiled as he closed his eyes. It was finished.
He awoke to the sound of hushed conversation over him.
"He's coming around."
"Kaguya, do you really think...?"
"I'm certain of it." A hand settled on his forehead, as if to check his temperature. Lelouch struggled to turn his head away. "Shhh. Lord Lamperouge, you mustn't push yourself. You've been stationary for quite some time. Your body will need time to adjust itself."
Lord Lamperouge? That was... an odd combination to be sure. Lamperouge? That was a name he had made up. It wasn't real. The Demon Emperor was distracted from his thoughts by a warm hand taking his own. He could feel - dimly, as if his hand was asleep - a number of scars crossing the person's fingers. "Don't worry, Lelouch. Everything's alright - you did it. You saved Britannia."
He would have to be more than dead not to recognize that voice, though the tenderness in the tone totally shocked him. He hadn't heard Suzaku speak that way since... Euphemia, part of his whispered and he ignored it. And saved Britannia? What in the world? Perhaps I did save Britannia - but that was hardly our goal. Fiercely he focused on opening his eyes, finally managing to pry them open, though the effort left him panting. He glanced around the room as much as he could. Suzaku was sitting next to him, Lelouch's left hand enfolded in his. The other room's occupant caught him by surprise. What in the world is Kaguya doing here?The Sumeragi appearance surprised him as well; her hair was shorter than he remembered, and she was dressed in a long robe that was distinctly western in origin.
"Well, High Grand Master. Now that you're actually awake I can give you some more powerful potions to get you back up to speed. Suzaku, help him sit up."
Lelouch apparently had no say in this as he was shifted until he was resting against a pile of pillows. Kaguya pried his jaw open and poured several strange, oddly colored concoctions down his throat. He made a face. Those things tasted awful.
"Don't give me that look. If you hadn't done this to yourself you wouldn't have to be enduring this now." Kaguya finished administering the last dose, and sealed the bottles. "I'll give you two some time, Suzaku. He should be able to move properly in an hour or so. If you think he's well enough, get him back to his quarters. He should be able to open the wards, and he'll rest best there. And you." She turned to Lelouch with a fierce glare. "No magic until I clear you. Absolutely none."
Lelouch just blinked at her, practicing his poker - or chess - face. Magic? Seriously? What did Kaguya think he was, anyway? Maybe that whole 'demon' line had been going too far...
"I'll make sure he listens," Suzaku promised. He settled back into his chair and took up Lelouch's hand again. Taking advantage of his returning mobility - taste aside, those medications seemed to be giving him back feeling in his body, slowly but surely - he turned his head so he could look Suzaku straight on. His heart raged as he processed what Suzaku was wearing - the elaborate white uniform he had worn as Euphemia's Knight. He had only seen it a few times, but it never ceased to make him angry. Suzaku smiled sheepishly. "Sorry. I didn't take the time to change when Kaguya told me that you were waking up. I thought it was more important that I be here." He squeezed Lelouch's hand again. "You know you're the most important person to me. The uniform doesn't change that."
Lelouch gave him a look of disbelief. Apparently Suzaku had gotten drugged or something when he wasn't looking. Or I died - as I should have - and ended up some place where nothing makes sense."Can you fill me in on what's going on?"
"How much do you remember?" Suzaku asked.
Better not to reveal how confused he was, Lelouch decided. "It's... all quite a blur. Better start at the beginning."
"Well. France decided they wanted to try and invade again. We were doing all right holding them off until He- the Queen of the time was injured. We lost many of our fighters in the same battle. Our mages were tapped out, most of our fighters exhausted, and without the power of a Monarch on the field we couldn't win. They kept managing to sneak around our lines. So you decided to use some fancy spell to secure our borders."
"The Wall of Consciousness," Lelouch said, the words popping into his mind in a way that felt both completely natural and unnerving.
"Yes. You never did explain what it was."
"More or less what it says." Lelouch shrugged, feeling having returned to the upper half of his body. "A mage-wall driven by my mind."
"..." Suzaku glared at him. "If Kaguya wouldn't kill me for it, I'd punch you. How could you expect to pull that off without long term consequences? Around the entire island?"
Lelouch didn't say anything for a long moment. His slowly returning... memories, he supposed, indicated he hadn't expected to survive the experience at all. "It was necessary."
"Did you even stop to think about how the rest of us would think? What about Nunnally, or Rolo?" Lelouch jerked at the second name, surprise in his eyes - Rolo was alive? "Or her Majesty. What about me?"
"You have Euphemia."
Suzaku slapped him. "What part of I. Love. You. is so hard for you to understand?" Suzaku snapped, and grabbed Lelouch's face, kissing him fiercely.
Shocked, Lelouch remained non-responsive for a long moment, before he closed his eyes and kissed Suzaku back. How long have I wanted this...? He blinked up at Suzaku as the other pulled away, feeling torn between all he had ever known, and these new memories that were coming back to him faster than he could process them. "It was... the only way."
"I forgive you. But only because you woke up. Don't ever do it again."
Lelouch searched for a new conversation topic. "The Queen took you as her Knight? But I thought Guilford..."
"The former Queen abdicated in favor of her sister. She's going by Marianne now - after your mother." Suzaku caressed Lelouch's cheek with a thumb. Lelouch nodded, remembering the policy that the royal family went by names other than those given at birth, lest a magician use their True Name to control them. The reigning monarch went by title only. Though... if Suzaku is the Queen's knight, that probably makes the Queen Euphemia, and the Queen-Who-Was Cornelia..."The Queen plans to visit you as soon as she can. The Rounds are with her. Kallen said she could take care of things for a while."
"She's Knight of One, now. I'm not sure if she's glad Her Majesty took me out of the running, or if she's annoyed she's lost her competition. We still practice, but it isn't quite the same."
The Rounds, the best fighters in the realm, dedicated to the good of Britannia - and the Knight of the Realm, the personal knight to the King or Queen, dedicated to their safety and well-being... His mother had been Charles' Knight of the Realm, and his Champion. Also his lover. No one knew it (few knights married; many had children out of wedlock) but he, Nunnally and... Rolo? Yes, Rolo were all half siblings to the two Princesses who would rule when their father was killed, a few short years after his wife died in an assassination attempt in Camelot...
"How are you feeling?"
"I think I've just about regained mobility. Not sure how I'm going to be on my feet," Lelouch admitted. "But I would like to get out of here."
"I imagine you would. You've been here almost an entire year."
"A year?" Lelouch stared at his friend - and lover - in shock. "You can't be serious..."
"If it weren't for Kaguya's abilities we would have lost you. As it was... she wasn't sure there was enough of your soul to save." Suzaku slipped his arm around Lelouch's waist and helped him to his feet. "Here, slippers - the floor is cold."
"Of course it's cold. It's tile." Lelouch shoved the blue slippers onto his feet. "Back way. I don't want to have to deal with the stares."
"You'll have to deal with them eventually anyway," Suzaku pointed out, but indulged him, taking him out the servant entrance.
Lelouch was appalled at his condition. While he had never been strong, he had never felt this weak before. It would be a lot easier if he just lightened his weight a bit with magic-
"Don't even think about it."
"How do you dothat?" Lelouch muttered. He hadn't even started the spell for levitation that had popped into his mind before Suzaku had poked him in the ribs.
"I know you, that's how."
Thankfully, his quarters wasn't far from the healers wing. That was intentional for two reasons. First, because he had certification in the healing arts along with the other twelve branches of magic. Far too often he needed to help out with the wars that had been raging since Cornelia took the throne. Second, the sorcery arts being what they were, he had needed to be patched up himself more than once. Lelouch raised his hand and placed it against the door. Without so much as a sound, the door swung open.
And he was home.
Every object, from the books lining the walls - including his own personal journals (he knew every word in by heart just by looking at them) - to the strange substances hanging on the ceiling or in jars stacked in the cabinets at the far end (potion ingredients) - to the floor covered in a rug so thick and plush his feet sank into it (more than a bit of a challenge to get that transfiguration correct, but worth every second for the warmth in the winter) - sang of home. He could feelit, echoing in his veins, along with his heart.
"It really does make quite a difference. Your color is better already." Suzaku observed. He stepped inside and removed his sword, placing it on the wall. There were several other weapons there as well, and Lelouch knew that if he went into the bedroom he'd see even more. Suzaku was fond of being prepared. Wisely, he didn't keep any automatic weapons here. They didn't last long around the amount of magic in the apartment. Lelouch wasn't sure Suzaku even bothered with them anymore. After all, Suzaku was quite magical himself, being a Knight-Mage, and they probably had jammed on him more often than they worked.
"It's good to be home."
"Let's get you back in bed. You'll want to be rested by the time the Queen comes to visit - in about two hours."
Lelouch groaned. "I don't know if I'm up to Euphemia's enthusiasm right now."
"Too bad. You owe her - and you need to stop using her Name."
"Right. I forgot."
Suzaku gave Lelouch a look. Lelouch knew what it was for, too; he wasn't the type to forget that sort of magical fact. He wasn't sure how to explain that in the world that felt more real to him magic didn't exist - at least not the way it did him. He would have to say something. There was no way that Suzaku wouldn't realize something was wrong. He knew Lelouch inside and out. But for now... Lelouch tangled his fingers with Suzaku's as they stepped inside of the bedroom, pulling him close for a kiss.
"You need to rest."
"I need this more." He reached up to the laces on Suzaku's uniform, and deftly began undoing them, all the while placing kisses along Suzaku's jaw line. He briefly wished he could just banish the uniform, but Kaguya wasn't one to be crossed. Besides, he'd probably pay for it before they managed to get to bed.
"The Queen," Suzaku's protested weakly, his hands fisted in Lelouch's robe.
"Two hours is plenty." Lelouch smirked. "Or has your stamina dropped that much?"
Suzaku swept him into his arms. "Two hours, hmm? I'll wear you out in half the time."
Lelouch laughed, and kissed him, letting himself forget everything else for a while. He had Suzaku. That was what mattered most. He could figure out this crazy world later.