Chapter 1

"Do you see this? Do you understand what this is? This is what happens when you go back on your promises." A lurid blue haired man asked as he grabbed his sobbing wife by the back of her head and held her face up for the world to see. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying, and makeup streamed down her face, giving the woman an almost monstrous appearance.

Fearfully, a young blue haired boy dressed in the robes befitting a noble known as Jeremiah Gottwald nodded slowly, taking in the sight in front of him. His mother, with her dress halfway torn to shreds, was being forcefully beaten by the vicious and unrelenting man in front of him, his father, Lord Gottwald.

"Do you regret it? Huh?" Lord Gottwald screamed in the woman's ear, causing her to wince in a combination of pain and fear. Jeremiah could see from his vantage point that her hands were shaking violently as whimpers of pain rocked her body viciously, almost like she was in the middle of an earthquake, caused by the monster standing above her.

Unconsciously, Jeremiah took a tentative step forward, and immediately, he was rebuked by his father.

"Step back!" He screamed, and immediately, Jeremiah stopped in his tracks. With a pleading look in his eyes, he stared at Lord Gottwald, hoping to find some sort of pity in the man's eyes, but he found nothing but anger, instantly sending him stepping backwards in a natural reaction. With a hint of resignation, Jeremiah nodded, and took yet another step backwards.

After all, he was nothing else if not a well bred and well taught aristocrat, who did as he told.

Soft music played in the background, punctuating the silence of the room besides the sobbing of Lady Gottwald. The sounds of a violin wafted in, being played with what Jeremiah always imagined to be long elegant strokes that coaxed forward a euphony of sound from an ordinary piece of paper that was inscribed with some scribbles of notes, perfectly complimenting the bassoon, which lay almost unnoticeable in the background of the music, which had expanded to encompass drums and various woodwinds. He knew the score well.

It was the Rite of Spring, by Igor Stravinsky, a relatively famous composer from the European Union. Britannia wasn't on great terms with the federation of countries politically, but that didn't mean that they couldn't enjoy some European music from time to time.

With each strike, Jeremiah could see the man he knew as his father change into something new. He was no longer the calm and collected aristocrat that was the patriarch of a powerful Britannian noble family. Instead, he was something more feral, a ferocious monster that was a whirlwind of rage and fury.

Gone was the warm and loving smile that usually graced the man's lips, replaced by a snarl and gritted teeth that seemed sharp enough to bite through the delicate skin of the woman who had cared for Jeremiah all his life. She seemed so fragile in that moment, like a little porcelain doll that was currently being torn apart, bit by bit.

Gone were the vibrant orange eyes that he had inherited from his mother, usually filled with excitement of happiness. They were the same orange, but conveyed something different altogether. There was no joy or hope, only fear and pain in those dull orange irises.

The music built in the background of all this, with the various instruments increasing their pace, playing at a faster and faster speed until it became almost frenetic. The strings began taking shorter and shorter strokes, and the drums banged wildly, until it reached a fever pitch and climaxed in a glorious, yet discordant note, cutting off immediately afterwards.

Desperately, Jeremiah reached out a hand to help, but stopped short as an exceptionally loud smack rang through the air, sending his mother reeling to the ground, hitting the ground with an audible thud. With the music finished, the sound of it was only amplified for the young boy, who watched helplessly, and in horror.

For a moment, it was silent as the woman lay on the ground completely still. Seemingly satiated for the moment, Lord Gottwald left the room wordlessly, slamming the expensive mahogany door shut behind him, rattling the large chandelier that hung over their drawing room, which was the very picture of an ideal Britannian noble home, although the serenity that normally hung over the room was shattered by the crumpled figure in the middle of the room.

"Mother!" Jeremiah shouted, kneeling beside the woman, chest heaving as she gasped for air. Her neck was red and swollen, and her face was streaked with a combination of blood, sweat, tears, and the latest Britannian mascara, all mixed together in a dull red combination that sent chills down Jeremiah's spine as he stared at it.

"I'm fine." She whispered back, waving him off and plastering a fake smile on her face. Despite the pain, she had to keep smiling. She couldn't show any sign of pain, no matter how much it hurt. Even if she couldn't save herself from her husband, she had to protect Jeremiah for as long as she could, at least until he could get out of this house.

Though still unnerved, Jeremiah nodded, accepting the response for now. After all, his mother had never lied to him before. She had always done what was best for him, and she was merely doing more of the same now, though for what reason, he couldn't understand.

"Just listen to what your father says. Don't ever forget your loyalty to someone, all right? That way, you can be the chivalrous knight you've always hoped to be." She managed weakly before she closed her eyes in a desperate attempt to alleviate the pain.

"I understand." Jeremiah said softly, getting off of his knees and standing up straight. He didn't exactly understand why his mother had said those words to him, but he wouldn't waste her advice. He would stand strong, and his loyalty would follow in stride. It would have to.

After all, he was nothing else if not a well bred and well taught aristocrat, who did as he told.

Sir Calares looked out among the classroom of cadets of the Imperial Colchester Institute to find that absolutely no one save for a few select was listening to his lecture on the workings of Knightmare Frames. Honestly, they were the future of warfare, and not one of these students actually cared about how they actually worked, only really paying attention when it came to learning how to actually pilot one. This was why he hated teaching. If he ever got the chance, he swore that he was going into politics.

Trying to reassure himself that his job wasn't a total waste of time ,he looked for one of the more reliable students he had, "Gottwald, stand up and explain how the Yggdrasil Drive works."

"Yes sir." Jeremiah replied without hesitation, standing up out of his seat. He knew that he was called on almost every time by the teacher, but he never once disobeyed Sir Calares' order.

After all, he was nothing else if not a well bred and well taught aristocrat, who did as he told.

"Sakuradite flows into the Core Luminous as electrical currents that are conducted by liquid inside of the core. The liquid then begins to turn the motor, converting mechanical energy into electrical energy, which is used to power the Knightmare Frame." He explained perfectly, without any detail left out.

"Good. Nice to know someone is paying attention in class." Sir Calares said pointedly, making the implication clear to the rest of the class.

From her seat beside him, Villetta Nu watched Jeremiah Gottwald with awe. Being a commoner, she already had a deep admiration and envy for most nobles, but something about Jeremiah was different from most aristocrats in their class. Whereas someone like Kewell usually made a show of his background, she had never heard Jeremiah say even one word about his family, much less anything of his wealth, which she imagined to be quite impressive.

Instead, he kept his head down and worked harder than anyone else in their class, aside from her, of course. She was going to become a knight for the sake of her family, so that they could live the life of nobles as well, and she worked hard enough to be qualified as one of the top students of the Institute, eventually skipping two grades and shooting straight to the top of the class, second only to Jeremiah and another girl in their class, Cecile Croomy, who was a genius in her own right, having skipped several grades herself as well.

"Jeremiah, that was amazing." She whispered to him, but she received no reply as he looked at the board with a blank look on his face before he returned to his paper, scribbling down notes.

Jeremiah had heard her, but obviously, he couldn't reply. Not when there was a lesson to be learned. He had promised his mother that he would become a knight and loyally serve the Empire, and that was exactly what he was going to do. He had understood, after some time, what his father always meant. It had been about his marriage to his mother, but Jeremiah found that it was a valuable lesson regardless.

He had to be loyal, and do what he was told. If he didn't his mother would never live in peace, and that was unthinkable for the woman who had raised him practically on her own, given that his father was out of the house on business most of the year. She always told him stories about how his father was once a shining knight of the Empire, and not the abusive husband he now was. And he would always promise that he would do much of the same and become a knight in his own right. One that would make her proud and do as he was told, like any good solder should.

After all, when he didn't follow orders, bad things happened. That, he had learned long ago.

And so, he was going to study, and do as he was told. And hopefully, that meant that instead, good things would happen. He wasn't exactly sure what the tangible effects were going to be, but he knew that something good would have to happen as a result of his actions, it just had to. He had structured his entire life around that belief, after all. Everything he had done, it was to ensure that he would better the Empire through his loyal service one day.

He would be a knight. One that stood for justice, loyalty, and strength. And he would bring back a smile to his mother's face. He would make her proud, and see those dull orange eyes light up once more with a vibrancy and life that he had not seen in far too many years. But all that would have to come until he was out of this Academy. And so, he would have to press on in his studies, until the day would finally come for him to fulfill his promises.

"Gottwald, did you check the corridors yet?"

"Yes Ma'am. They're clear, and I've taken the liberty of posting extra sentries for the time being." Jeremiah replied quickly to his superior, Princess Cornelia, the head of security for the Aries Villa, also known as the home of Empress Marianne and the Princesses Lelouch and Nunally vi Britannia.

"Good work then. I knew I could rely on you." Cornelia said gratefully, nodding to him before she walked off to perform duties of her own.

Jeremiah couldn't help but to beam at the praise heaped upon him by a member of the Royal Family. This was what he always wanted after all, to be a guard at the Aries Villa. He had graduated at the top of his class, and had turned down offers to join the military as an officer, all for the sake of becoming a guard to a Royal Figure. It was an honor beyond description for him, and he wore the gray uniform with a red sash and carried his ceremonial rifle with distinction.

His mother had been so proud of him when he returned home to tell his family the news of his post. He had seen, for the briefest of seconds, joy flash into his mother's eyes, and his father had even been able to crack a smile. It made every agonizing hour of studying and training, the endless all nighters and all of the hard work worth it.

"You heard what she said! Get to work and secure all of the hallways before the Empress gets here!" Jeremiah yelled, causing several of his fellow guards to roll their eyes in annoyance.

"Gee Jeremiah, you could lighten up once in a while. It's not like we're ever going to get attacked here." One of the guards mumbled as he shuffled off to do his duty.

Jeremiah flinched as he heard the insult, but did not waver from his orders. They could insult him and grumble about him all they wanted, but he was going to see his job through to the end. If that made him a prick, or a hard ass, then so be it. He was doing his duty, as a knight of Britannia.

"All right, the Empress is coming through! Clear the way!" Cornelia barked, causing several guards standing off to the side to stiffen their backs and stand at attention as their charge glided by with an ethereal manner to her gait.

For his part, Jeremiah did not step out of the way, but instead, opted to stand at attention, a hand up in a salute while his other arm cradled his rifle, balancing the heavy weapon on his shoulder.

"Empress." He greeted stiffly, standing with perfect posture that had been drilled into him at the Institute.

"Ah, Jeremiah. How has your day been so far?" Marianne replied cheerfully, just exuding poise and confidence.

Marianne vi Britannia was the Empress of the Holy Britannian Empire, and amongst all of the figures of the Royal Family, she was the one that Jeremiah admired the most. She was an exceptional pilot, being a member of the Knights of the Round, and she had almost single handedly brought Emperor Charles to the throne through her piloting skills alone. All of which was public knowledge, which only made guarding her even more of an honor for Jeremiah.

Truth be told, he idolized her. She represented everything he hoped to be one day: a faithful servant of the Empire who only brought success and prosperity through her actions. Most of all, she was the ultimate example of loyalty, having risked her life in the service of her husband and empire. Yes, she was everything he had ever wished to become in his dreams.

"Excuse me Empress, but shouldn't we get moving first? Your party will be starting soon, and if we do not hurry, we will be late." Jeremiah said, not wanting to bog down the woman with the meager details of his life.

"Very well Jeremiah, you can tell me all about it on the way there." Marianne said with a wink, and Jeremiah bowed in response.

"As you wish." He said before lifting his head back up and turning around so that he could lead the way for her.

"All right then. Lelouch, Nunally, come along now." Marianne said, gesturing for her children to follow along.

Lelouch was a beautiful eighteen year old woman with long black hair that reached the small of her back and hypnotic violet eyes that seemed to hold countless secrets, at least to Jeremiah. She was every part the ideal Britannian princess, with gentle features that were not dissimilar to her mother, who was quite beautiful in her own right, and a powerful personality that made it clear that she was not one to be played with.

On the other hand, Nunally was a fifteen year old girl with light brown hair, with more childish features that made her a less imposing figure. Instead of having her sister's force of personality, she was more soft spoken and innocent, not at all cut out for the cutthroat world of Britannian politics. More likely than not, she was going to just be one of the many princesses who were put through an arranged marriage to gain favor with one noble or the other, unlike her sister, who was in the thick of the competition for the throne.

The two walked in behind their mother, each dressed in beautiful dresses made from what Jeremiah knew was the finest silk that the Chinese Federation had to offer. Each of the three was dressed in a different color. Marianne had a bright orange dress that seemed to accentuate her figure perfectly, although Jeremiah quickly steered his thoughts in another direction.

Nunally was in a beautiful pink dress that seemed to only reinforce the notion that she was the most innocent member of the Royal Family, with a conservative neck line that kept most of her pale skin shielded from the sun. And finally, Lelouch was dressed in a provocative white dress that hugged her developed figure far more tightly than either her mother or her sister's dresses did, accentuating all of her…assets and making Jeremiah quickly suck in a breath of air as he saw her.

"Ahem. Let me lead the way then." Jeremiah coughed, averting his eyes from Lelouch as best as he could.

"Please do, Sir Gottwald." Marianne said gratefully, following behind him as he walked down the hallway that led to the grand staircase, where a large gathering of nobles was already in procession.

"Wait, please take Lelouch and Nunally down with you first. I actually have a few matters to attend to for the time being." Marianne said, just as Jeremiah took his first step.

"I understand." Jeremiah said, bowing quickly before he proceeded on, carrying out his duty.

After all, he was nothing else if not a well bred and well taught guard, who did as he told.

He shepherded the two Princesses down the stairs, where they were greeted by polite applause, and into the crowd of nobles that quickly crowded around the two girls, seemingly overwhelming Nunally, and giving Lelouch the attention that she craved.

Jeremiah, as were his orders, kept an eye on both of them from a small radius, not close enough to interfere in conversation, but still within range to protect each of them, if it was necessary.

"And introducing, the Empress of the Holy Britannian Empire! Marianne vi Britannia!"

The scattered polite applause from before increased in volume as the woman was introduced, far outclassing what Lelouch and Nunally had received, evidencing Marianne's popularity.

She began stepping down the stairs gingerly, taking her time with each step and soaking up the applause that she received along the way.

With an approving nod, Jeremiah looked over the staircase, when it suddenly hit him. The guards that would have been normally posted at the foot of the stairs, as well as the head, were all missing, leaving Marianne completely unprotected.

She was an open target.

With lightning speed, Jeremiah shoved Lelouch to the floor, screaming, "Get down!"

As he did so, he began shoving his way through the crowd, who had all eyes on him in light of the commotion he was causing. He quickly made his way to the front of the crowd, finally having caught the attention of Marianne.

"Jeremiah? What are you doing?" Marianne asked with a confused look on her face as she saw him suddenly run up the stairs, hell bent on reaching her.

In slow motion, Jeremiah saw it all unfold before him. From behind him, he could hear the unmistakable chatter of machine gun fire, and he reached out a hand to push her down in desperation.

However, he was too late.

Before his eyes, he saw Marianne's eyes widen in surprise as bullets tore through her dress, and blood leaked out of the wounds, which were appearing all over her body.

And then, in an instant, it was all over. The gunfire stopped, and time resumed as Marianne collapsed forward into a shocked Jeremiah's arms in a lifeless and bloody heap.

Helplessly, Jeremiah cradled the dying woman in his arms, not caring about the blood seeping into his uniform. He looked down at her with desperate eyes, helpless to do anything but to comfort the woman.

"Someone, get a medic!" He screamed, but no one dared to move, too shocked to do anything but to watch.

"Please, someone!" He screamed again in desperation, again receiving no response. He looked down at Marianne, and couldn't stop tears from streaming down his face as he tried his best to hold her close as she took deep ragged breaths, clearly having had her lungs punctured by the tortured way that she sucked in air.

"Jeremiah, Lelouch…protect…" Marianne managed before her eyes went blank and her body fell limp in his arms. Gently, he lay her onto the stairs, doing his best to preserve her beauty, trying to fool himself into thinking that she was just taking a nap.

After all, there was no way that she could really be dead, right? She was Empress Marianne vi Britannia, Marianne the Flash! There was no way that she could have been gunned down right before his eyes. However, as he gazed deeply into her eyes, completely devoid of life and any sort of emotion, the realization hit him. She was dead, and she was never coming back.

Jeremiah stared at his hands, soaked in the blood of the Empress. How could this be? He had followed orders, hadn't he? And still, she had died in his arms. Everything he had ever known had been shattered before him.

What was he to do? He had lived his whole life in a way so as to follow the path of justice and loyalty, and it cost him the Empress. Had it all been wrong? Had it all been a delusion of his, some fantasy to cope with the realities that he never wanted to face? If so, did that mean that his life had been a mistake, that he had wasted it all?

"Jeremiah!" He heard a voice call out and he looked up to see Lelouch standing above him, dress torn in various places, undoubtedly due to the fact that he had pushed her down as soon as he heard the gunshots.

An expression of shock was plastered all over her face as she looked down at the corpse of her mother. Of course she had to be surprised. Her mother, so lively and energetic just a few moments ago, was now lying dead before her eyes. He would be shocked in her position too.

However, despite all that, she remained surprisingly calm, given her current position. But, he supposed that, from a young age, she had been trained not to show weakness at any moment, even at one such as this.

For a moment, Jeremiah stared at Lelouch as he felt his world fall apart. The sun was right behind her, giving the illusion that she was some kind of angel, bathed in bright light and clean white clothes, a gentle expression on her face as she tried to stay calm in spite of herself.

And suddenly, he saw it. His new purpose in life. He had no choice now. He would have to continue on, for Empress Marianne's sake, and protect Princess Lelouch, as she ordered him to. Maybe his life wouldn't be a waste if he could at least accomplish that much. And so, he would follow her dying order.

After all, he was nothing else if not a well bred and well taught guard, who did as he told.

"I understand." He whispered to no one in particular as he gently grasped Lelouch's hand to silently comfort her, smearing it with blood as well, and got off his knees, standing up to face his new purpose. It seemed strange and unfamiliar, but there was something strangely comforting about knowing what he was destined to do. And so, he took the first step towards his new future. His new life.

To anyone who read Sliding Doors, I have officially put that story on hiatus because of my writer's block concerning that story. Honestly, it just got too far out of hand, with several storylines and perspectives that each needed an equal time to be devoted to each one. It just got to be too much. So, in exchange, I've started this story, with Jeremiah as the main character and the only perspective from which this story will be told, if I get support to continue it. If this story continues, I plan to focus just as much on the politics of Britannia as I did in Sliding Doors, but overall, I just think that the story will flow better and I'll be able to write more with a story in this style.

And also, I just love a female Lelouch, don't ask me why. It's just that stories with male Lelouch have been done to death, and I want to do something different.

Like I've said this entire author's note, I might not continue this story if there isn't really any support, so please, leave any thoughts and ideas in a review or PM. I would really appreciate any and all feedback!