I don't know how this happened but it did. This is a 13+R fic (what the hell was I on?) Anyway, there is also a mention of 1x2 and sloight hints of 3x4 and 6x9.

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A Change of Opinion

I step from the sleek, black, limousine, reluctant to leave the sanctuary it affords me. Behind, Noin instructs the driver on where to wait. She returns to my side and escorts me in silence to the hall where the dance is being held, while I wave gracefully at the reporters who line the steps.

My grip on her arm tightens as we step into the ballroom and are accosted immediately by various nobles, all eager to be seen with the ruler of Sanq Kingdom, Relena Peacecraft. Noin squeezes my arm, offering what little comfort she can from the circling vultures in silk.

God I hate these functions! Being dressed up like a doll and brought out to symbolise Romefeller's desire for peace. I snigger in my head. Peace! The Foundation don't know the meaning of the word. All they want, all they understand is control.

I smile and nod my way through the evening, laughing politely at all the right moments, wishing that a Gundam would would show up and crush them. What would the public think if they could hear the total pacifist' thinking this way? Tell them to come to one of these functions and see how well they cope!

I am slipping away from yet another dance, hoping to escape for a few moments, when he arrives, a picture of elegance in his formal OZ uniform. As soon as I see him, my stomach knots. This is all his fault. It's because of him that my brother and Heero and the other pilots were captured and are probably dead. And it's his fault that Romefeller took control and made me their little puppet. Abruptly I turn and stalk out onto one of the balconies that is blissfully empty, and stare out over the darkened garden below.

I do not bother turning when I hear footsteps approaching and a figure leans against the railing next to me. I truly hope he does not expect me to make polite conversation. I have nothing to say to him. We stand there, the silence growing between us until he breaks it. Miss Peacecraft...

I cut him off. I have nothing to say to you Khushrenada.

He sighs almost inaudibly and I am surprised at the bitter note in his voice when he replies. Neither does anyone else here, yet they still try to drown me in their meaningless conversations.

I snort. At least they listen to you. You aren't treated like a child left to her own devices while her parents talk business. You have a true part in the Foundation, the great General Treize Khushrenada of OZ.

He turns to me suddenly. On the contrary. No-one in the Foundation listens to me. I am merely the leader of OZ because it suits them to keep me as a figurehead. Once, maybe, I did have true control over my organisation, but not anymore.

His words stop me from voicing the scathing remark I had planned. He is just a figurehead? A symbol for people to look at while others pull the strings? I shake my head. Of course he's just saying that, trying to get my support. I turn as if to leave and return to the bustle of the crowd but stop. Here is a chance to tell the man what I really think of him, without the worry that someone may overhear. I hate you. My voice is acid and I expect him to lose his temper or reply in the same tone.

What I do not expect is for him to chuckle. Hardly more than I hate myself. His voice is light but I can hear the self loathing just beneath the calm words. That pauses me in my retreat and, for a moment, I am torn between wanting to get away from this man who I blame as the source of my problems and wanting to find out why he speaks so. I am on the verge of leaving when he speaks again and I return to my place against the balcony railing. I never intended for things to turn out this way.

He is silent for a moment and I sense that he is deciding whether or not to confide in me. I meant to bring peace to the colonies and Earth, he says finally. The old Earth Alliance was corrupt and under them there would never have been peace. He shrugs. I made a mistake and it led to this. He gestures towards the ballroom and I can hear the hopelessness in his voice. He truly blames himself for what what happened. All of a sudden I am having to revise my opinions of this man. I want to say something but am not sure what would be appropriate so I settle for placing a hand on his arm gently. A small gesture but it is worth it to see a spark of wonder and hope in his eyes. The silence that follows is different, comfortable rather than hostile.

The nights air is getting cold and I shiver slightly, rubbing my arms left uncovered by the ballgown. He must notice because the next thing I know, he is taking off his jacket and placing it around my shoulders gently. I pull it around me, huddling into its warmth and I smile up at him and am rewarded by an answering curve of his lips as he reverts to his former position.

Where is your aide tonight? I ask. I thought she would insist on accompanying you.

Lady Une is at my estate near here. She detests these functions and most of the people who attend them, so I told her to stay behind. How is Noin may I ask? I saw her earlier but did not have a chance to speak with her.

She is as well as can be expected, I reply, wondering what his true feelings are for one of his ex soldiers. I think that she still misses my brother. She loved, still loves him and she took his death hard.

A strange look passes across his face and he frowns as he reaches a decision. He stands suddenly and offers me his arm and I take it hesitantly. What is he doing? Miss Peacecraft, I would like you and Noin to accompany me to my estate. I gasp, about to say something but he stops me, placing a finger across my lips. I have something I need to show you, both of you. I give you my word that neither of you will be harmed in any way.

I pause, thinking. Whatever else Treize may be, he is honourable and will not break his promise. I nod and we walk back into the ballroom and over to where Noin is standing against one wall, looking incredibly bored. Her eyes widen when she notices us and she steps forwards, prepared to protect me if I should need it. I shake my head and she relaxes a little, but looks intently at us, awaiting an explanation. Noin, Treize and I have reached an understanding and he has invited us to his estate to show us something.

She looks stunned, knowing how much I hated him. I lean forwards to her. I'm sure we shall explain on the way there. Please let's go. She shrugs then but glares at me as if to say You'd better explain it!'. As you wish Princess. I'll inform the driver.

Treize stops her. It's surprising how quickly he has become Treize' and stopped being him'. He stops her and gently moves his arm away from my hand. No need. I'll make sure he is notified. Please meet me at my limousine in five minutes and we will be taken to my estate. He leaves and I am left facing a very puzzled and slightly annoyed Noin. Her expression softens slightly when I tell her of our conversation and she leaves to make our excuses.

*******

The ride to Treize's estate passes mostly in silence, each of us lost in our own thoughts until the car stops. As Treize moves to get out I halt him a moment. What is it you want to show us? A smile graces his features and he answers cryptically with one word.

The door is answered by Lady Une who seems surprised to see myself and Noin, but hides it as she welcomes us in warmly. Treize takes her aside for a moment to speak with her and she calms. She seems a very different person to the OZ Colonel who assassinated my father and I realise with a start that I do not hate her. She is softer somehow, far less severe, more human.

We are led through the luxurious halls of the mansion with no explanation of where we are going, until we reach a set of double doors leading into a small meeting room. A lone figure sits at the table on the other side of the room, staring intently at the screen of a laptop. He seems so familiar.

He looks up as we enter and stands, a long braid swinging into view and violet eyes widening as he sees who we are. I throw myself across the room towards him, pushing him back into his chair and wrapping my arms around him. He grins and hugs me back. I'm so glad to see him! He pushes my hair from his face. Hey Relena. Long time, no see babe!

I missed you so much! I say and he laughs. I can vaguely hear Lady Une speaking, Should I go and ask the others to come here Treize-sama?

And here was I thinking you were following Heero around and I was just an annoyance who shot your prince! I pull away slightly so I can see his face. He is grinning broadly just like he used to, but I notice a tiredness that wasn't there before. I was a silly child, I say seriously. I realised just how irritating I must have been. There have been many times over the past couple of years when I've longed for your humour, when I've longed for any of the pilots, not just Heero. He smiles secretively. Well, perhaps if you're very good, your wish may come true.

There are footsteps outside and we both turn as Lady Une returns with several people following her. Noin is staring at one of them as if she has seen a ghost and Duo waves cheerfully. Noin breathes as a tall blonde man steps into the room. I whisper. My brother is alive and so are at least some of the Gundam pilots! The other two people pass him as he greets Noin and come towards us. I recognise them both from the announcements of their capture almost two years ago. Trowa Barton and Quatre Winner.

I look at Treize who smiles at me. When he said hope' did he mean what I think he meant? I want to know what is going on! I may not be that silly girl who refused to realise that Heero did not love me, but I can still be just as stubborn. I clear my throat loudly and the occupants of the room all turn to look at me. Would someone please explain to myself and Noin what is going on?! We were told that the pilots and my brother were captured, and yet we find three of them in the house of one who used to be the enemy of the Gundams! Where are the other two? Are they safe?

Treize gestures to the table. If everyone would like to take a seat, then all will be explained.

The others come to sit at our end of the table and I end up between Duo and Treize. Milliardo smiles at me before taking a seat next to Noin, who still seems to be having trouble believing that it is him, touching his arms occasionally as if to reassure herself that he is not a hallucination. Lady Une takes her place on Treize's other side while Trowa and Quatre sit together, the smaller boy's head resting on Trowa's shoulder.

When we are settled, Treize begins. Firstly, pilots Heero Yuy and Chang Wufei were safe, as of their last report.

Noin asks, her face puzzled as she looks at him.

Quatre nods. The two of them are currently on a mission, sabotaging a Romefeller controlled base.

Suddenly it clicks. You're trying to bring down Romefeller aren't you?

Duo nods smugly. Yeah. After the Foundation took control we went into hiding because if we did anything then we'd be blamed for destroying the peace. He snorted at the word. We got a message from Sally Po, saying that Treize wanted to set up a meeting. We accepted after a lot of thought and well, here we are.
How are you planning on destroying Romefeller? Noin asked. And why haven't there been any reports of terrorist acts?

Milliardo speaks for the first time in the meeting, his voice serious. Romefeller is doing a wonderful job of covering up any damage we do, making sure that they seem in control and unopposed. As for us, we haven't exactly been going in in our mobile suits, guns blazing. We've been sticking to more covert missions, while at the same time, trying to build up a group of those who will aid us against Romefeller. He looks at the impatient expression on my face and continues hurriedly. We didn't bring you in before because none of us were able to contact you; the pilots and I were unable to meet you without exposing ourselves, Sally Po has been travelling from country to country for several months and tonight is the first time Treize has been able to speak with you alone.

I smile at Treize, glad now that I did not run from him at the ball. He pats my hand and looks at me seriously. Will the two of you help us? I nod as does Noin. If it helps get rid of the Foundation and bring peace then I will do it. What do you want us to do? I'm beginning to realise why people would follow Treize. There is something compelling about him. He smiles gratefully. For now... listen. People speak far more freely around you than they do me. If either of you hear anything then tell us.

Of course we will, Noin says and I agree.

Duo hugs me again. Thanks Relena, Noin, it means a lot to us that you'll help. Have you any more questions you want to ask?

I shake my head and stifle a yawn. Maybe later--I'm still trying to take in all this information at the moment.

Lady Une stands. Would you like me to call a car to take them home Treize-sama?

Treize shakes his head and looks at me. Miss Peacecraft and Noin can stay here for the night--if that is acceptable for them?

I stand and curtsey formally. Thank you for the offer. That would be wonderful.

Duo stands and shuts down the laptop, holding it beneath his arm. Hey Quat, Trowa, should we take her Majesty and Miss Noin to a couple of spare bedrooms? He bows and offers me his hand in an exaggerated gesture and helps me to my feet. Milliardo waves his hand. I would like to talk with Noin for a while longer if she does not object, Noin shakes her head emphatically. Then I will ensure that she finds a room later.

I would like to thank you for talking with us, Treize says. It means a lot that you were able to overcome your misgivings and trust me, despite what I have done in the past. He takes my hand and places a kiss against it gently. As we leave the room I realise that I am blushing furiously. Why? It was just a polite gesture from a nobleman to a lady, nothing more. So why is my stomach fluttering at the thought of it?

*******

Here you are. Duo stops outside a door, a few down from the room that Trowa and Quatre have, and pushes it open. It is large and lavish, as most of the rooms on Treize's estate are. He catches my arm as I enter--a slightly worried expression on his normally cheerful face--and follows me in, shutting the door behind us.

I settle on the sofa and look at him as he leans against the wall. Is something wrong Duo? I ask, concerned about the braided pilot.

I... I have something I think I should tell you Relena, I just don't know how you'll react.

I shrug and pat the sofa, inviting him to sit next to me. When he does I turn to him and take his hand, trying to reassure him. Whatever it is, Duo, you can tell me. He looks at my face and then drops his eyes. Yeah, well... it's like this, there is a long pause and he takes a deep breath, Heero and I are... involved. We're lovers.

He shifts away from me slightly and then looks up, trying to gauge my reaction. Whatever he expected to see, it isn't what is actually on my face. Tell me one thing Duo, are the two of you happy together?

Duo nods. Yes. As happy as we can be considering present circumstances. I care about him a lot.

I smile and shrug. Then I'm glad for you. I meant it when I said that I'd realised how stupid I'd been. He was a crush and I wanted a fairy tale prince. I've had the last year and a half to think about it and I know I don't love him that way. When he returns tell him that I'd like to be friends.

Then you aren't mad?

Of course not! I laugh. If the two of you are happy together then that wouldn't make any difference anyway.

He stares at me a moment longer then embraces me warmly. Thanks Relena. I guess I should leave you to get some sleep now. He stands and exits, leaving me alone.

*******

I breathe in the cool night air and sigh contentedly as I look over the rose garden from the bench I occupy. I am once more at Treize's estate. I have spent much of the past month here since that first night; spending time with the pilots and my brother--although he spends more time with Noin than anyone--and getting to know Lady Une, the doctor, Sally Po and of course Treize.

I've found myself becoming more attached to all of these people than I ever though possible. I have trouble believing that I once considered Treize my enemy--although we continue the charade when under the eyes of the Romefeller Foundation--we have become close since we agreed on our truce and I look forward to spending time with him. He understands people startlingly well and although I still disagree with what he did as the head of OZ, I can understand his reasons.

From the room behind me I can hear the strains of the duet Quatre and Trowa are playing. When I came outside I left Noin and Milliardo curled up together on one of the sofas--their relationship having grown wonderfully over the past weeks--and the Chinese boy--Wufei--reading in one of the room's overstuffed chairs. Lady Une and Sally Po had left after dinner and Heero and Duo are on missions.

It is a beautiful night isn't it Relena? My heart leaps at the sound of Treize's voice and I drop my head to hide a blush as he sits next to me. It is indeed, I reply, hoping my voice is calm.

The silence stretches between us and I begin to get nervous, fidgeting with the hem of the blouse I am wearing, Why does he affect me like this? Finally, just when I think I will break, he speaks, Do you think that we will succeed? I look at him startled. Except that first night, I have never heard him sound anything but sure of himself. I make my mind up to say something reassuring, but I find that I cannot lie to him. I don't know. I believe that we can, but whether we will or not is another matter. Whether we win or lose, I would just like to say that it has been worth it just to get to know all of you properly and spend time in your presence.

He smiles at me and I wonder if he know who my final words were really meant for. Somehow I think he does, he never misses anything. And it has been an honour to be with you Princess Relena and to hear you say those words. My blush spreads further and I find something incredibly interesting in the skirt that I'm wearing.

Warm fingers are placed underneath my chin and my head is lifted until I am looking straight into those dazzling blue eyes. My breath catches in my throat as he leans in towards me. Slowly, gently, he brushes his soft lips across mine and I am sure that my heart is beating loud enough to wake the entire continent.

He draws away and looks at me intently, waiting to see my reaction. He seems so wonderfully vulnerable in this moment and this endears him to me further. He takes my silence as a rejection and moves as if to stand but I touch his shoulder, asking him silently to stay. Are you sure? he asks, his voice breathy and barely above a whisper. I nod, not wanting to speak lest it break the moment.

He leans forwards once more and presses his lips to mine, harder than before, more urgent but so sweet. His hands slide around to cup my face. I open my mouth slightly allowing him entrance and I am lost in the sensations of his mouth on mine and the taste of him on my tongue. Rich and sweet and dark. Burgundy and roses.

Finally he breaks away, leaving me panting and wishing for more. His right hand brushes my skin and the look in his eyes takes my breath away. Thank you, I whisper, though the words are woefully inadequate at describing what I feel; warm inside and out and my skin feels as if it's humming.

His voice is as trembly as mine when he answers. Don't thank me. It was a pleasure.

We fall into silence because words are no longer needed in this moment of time. His arm is wrapped around me protectively and possessively and I like it. Occasional lingering touches tell each of us what we need to know. I gaze upwards. The stars are truly beautiful tonight. I know that somewhere up there are the colonies and I suddenly know what to say. We will succeed. It will be a struggle, peace always is. But we will succeed.

He breaks in, taking my hand in his at the same time, laying a soft kiss on my palm. he whispers and it has never felt so close, so attainable as when he breathes it across my skin.



~Owari~