So I'm Back and with a new chapter. Please enjoy it an review, it helps out alot.

Lihua rolled to her right with a small sigh of comfort. She felt herself being sucked in by her bed, the covers binding her, not letting her move even an inch. Not that she wanted to.

To be fair, she had always a hard time getting out of bed, which was why Xingke routinely came to wake her up every morning. She hogged the cover and made herself into some kind of ball reminiscent of a small rodent, a purr of pleasure was next.

Basking in delight, Lihua's sleep addled mind came across an anomaly. 'Why… why hasn't Xingke come yet?' the girl asked herself. Deciding it was not worth pondering on, she lightly shook her head 'He'll be here eventually.' the girl rolled to the other side once again, then paused, feeling a disturbance.

Something that felt like a face and a nose. A rough grunt of annoyance also caught her attention. The gears in her mind started to roll; now that she thought about it, she never remembered getting back to her room.

Lihua went from zero to a hundred in less than a second. The lithe body immediately sat up, her eyes opening in shock. Upon appreciating where she had slept and the other occupant of the bed, she had to hold in a squeal of embarrassment. She could not let the traditionalists get the wind of this, it would deeply hurt her reputation.

She had to hold in a second squeal when she saw that her nightgown had slipped down her shoulders revealing a considerable portion of her pearly-white skin. It would be an absolute lie to say that the shy collarbone that peeked out was less than enticing. Her shapely legs were also on majestic display, with the nightgown having hiking up. leaving little for the imagination. She wasted no time in making herself more presentable.

If she was found like that it would most definitely cause a scandal that could destroy both her and Lelouch.

She brought a head to her forehead to stave off the sudden headache as she remembered that Xingke had probably already gone to her room to wake her, and knowing him, he would panic and call for a palace wide search. Lihua's eyebrow twitched in anger once. Twice. She had no idea what to do.

The Tianzi looked at her peacefully sleeping companion, considering waking him up. Shaking her head, she decided against it; bringing him into this would only complicate the issue. Giving him a bashful kiss on the cheek, she began planning her escape.

Fortunately, Xingke had made her memorize all the winding passages in the palace in case of emergency. 'Who would have thought that emergency would be a daring escape after a secret tryst?' she thought, shaking her head in exasperation.

The first issue was mobility. As she was, long hair and camisole falling to the ground, sneaking through the palace would be nigh on impossible. Grabbing a piece of cloth that held some of the curtains in the room she tied her hair into a ponytail making sure it didn't touch the ground. Although movement was her primary concern, t she also took note not to ruin the hair she took so much pride in.

Lihua looked down to her camisole and frowned. It reached beyond her knees, making it difficult to move swiftly. Finding a solution, she quickly tied it into a knot above her knees to give herself some leg space. Still, she found herself a bit self-conscious about the amount of skin she was showing.

Lihua approached the door and leaned in to see if she heard any footsteps. Not detecting anyone nearby, she looked at Lelouch one last time with a soft smile before frowning 'I'd best get back quickly, before Xingke hyperventilates.'

She cracked the door open ever so slightly, only to be stopped short by Jeremiah's imposing form, standing guard outside. The Knight looked over his shoulder, hearing the soft click of the opening door, and raised an eyebrow at the sight of the Chinese Empress trying to sneak out of the room on all fours.

The girl gave him an imperious look, crawling outside with as much dignity as she could muster and quietly closed the door behind her, before standing up and brushing her gown down, her posture the very picture of a dignified royalty.

He gave a pointed cough and looked away, standing at attention. Ignoring her questioning look, he subtly pushed a sizable trunk towards her, most likely Lelouch's belongings.

"If my Lady is willing to swallow her pride for a few short minutes, we will get through this with no issues."

"No one shall know off this" the Tianzi whispered, glaring at him, her eyes cold as rubies.

"Not even the Prince himself" Jeremiah assured her.


Shirley was hesitant. She didn't want to knock, the fear of what she might find her there eating at her. With a hand clutched above her breast, she hesitantly raised the other one to knock. She stopped a mere centimeters from it and took a deep breath,

Just as she was about to commit the deed, the door opened, revealing Lelouch already dressed for the day. Shirley slightly jumped back with a blush on her face. "G-good morning." she stuttered, unconsciously looking behind Lelouch's back for signs of the white haired menace.

"Morning…" Lelouch answered with a raised brow before looking behind him curiously "something the matter?" The Prince inquired while turning back.

The orange haired teen quickly realized what she was doing and turned her gaze downwards "N-no, nothing's wrong." she mouthed. "It was just difficult spending the night in… well, in a palace. I felt really weird."

Lelouch nodded "I understand. The decorations are lavish and exotic, it takes a while to get used to it"

"Anyway, Lulu. How did you spend the night? Was everything alright?" Shirley hoped she wasn't being too obvious.

"I had good night's sleep." he answered while getting out of the room and walking towards the hall where they would have breakfast , Shirley followed suit "Lihua came at night to talk, but don't tell that to anyone. God knows the Traditionalists will take any chance they get."

"O-Oh really!?" This is what Shirley wanted to know "Where is she now?" she almost whispered.

"Knowing her, probably asleep." The Prince answered casually.

"In y-your room!?" Shirley exclaimed in horror, covering her mouth with both her hands.

Lelouch just turned around with a baffled expression. He took a moment to let what his girlfriend had said sink in, all the while looking at her with that same baffled expression. "No…" he simply answered "Why would she?"

Shirley blushed profusely and looked down. There was no way to explain how she reached that conclusion. "It's nothing, just forget it." She said while closing her eyes and slightly cocking her head to the right with a smile, quietly relieved.

Lelouch stared at her for a second before turning around, leaving his companion behind. The girl's smile turned into a grimace once she was out of Lelouch's sight. 'She still came at night to see him…' The bundle of concern that had settled itself within her refused to leave. Raising her head she saw Lelouch walk away.

A lump formed in her throat. Lelouch seemed different, he seemed… happier, reinvigorated. It was as if his back was naturally held straight, as if he was not holding it up like she had seen so many times. Something had given Lelouch comfort, a comfort she had not been able to provide. It hurt Shirley.

Before she noticed, they were already at the door. Xingke, who seemed oddly out of breath for some reason, was waiting for them. "The Empress is waiting for both of you." The captain of the guard said, opening the door and revealing the Tianzi already in her morning attire.

"Ah, Lelouch… Shirley. Welcome." She greeted them, smiling broadly and gesturing for them to sit down. The Tianzi seemed dreamy, as if something incredibly good had happened. "The chefs have prepared an assortment of pastries, as well as some fruit for us. I prefer having a light breakfast."

Lelouch looked pleased and sat down, not that Shirley noticed. The girl was more interested in the alarming change in the Tianzi since last night, springing her paranoia to new heights. 'She looks extremely happy for some reason.' she thought while eying the interactions. 'They get along so well…' the insinuating smile on Lihua's face was not helping either.

The swim club member felt someone next to her, snapping her out of her thoughts. Upon further inspection, he revealed himself to be Jeremiah. He was dressed in his usual white suit. Acknowledging her, he gave a small bow.

"My Lady."

Shirley couldn't help but feel uncomfortable, she had yet to get used to the Knight's overly polite manners. "Hi." she responded in an awkward manner to which the green haired man only nodded and began to work at his breakfast.

In the background, Lelouch and Lihua could be heard chatting animatedly with no concern for the somewhat jealous look Shirley was giving them. "They do get along." the Britannian girl muttered, dispirited.

"Well, they have been through a lot together." observed Jeremiah who had listened in to the girl's thoughts. "In their position, it's hard to find someone to lean on, they were lucky enough to find each other."

Shirley looked down at her plate.

"I see…"

With that, she started to gingerly peck at her breakfast. It was undeniably good, a bittersweet pleasure given the situation. A tap on the shoulder got her attention, it was Lelouch. Once her attention was focused on the table, Lihua started to speak.

"I have important business for the day which will leave both of you alone all day long." there was a barely noticeable click of the tongue that only Shirley caught.

'Did she just click her tongue!?' Shirley thought with disbelief.

"Anyway, I told Lelouch you have access to most of the Forbidden City." She took a sip of tea before continuing "There are monuments, baths, halls filled with history and art, and of course…" a nostalgic smile spread across her lips, but it wasn't her who finished the sentence.

"The gardens with the old peach tree." Lelouch cut in before turning towards Shirley "It's quite a beautiful place, we should visit it."

Shirley nodded meekly, trying to regain a semblance of positive attitude now that she learned she was going to spend all day alone with Lelouch. She grabbed a pastry and took a bite out of it, its deliciousness greatly helping to improve her mood.

"Looking forward to it." she answered with renewed happiness.

Lihua was about to say something but was politely interrupted by Xingke who leaned in to whisper something. After the swordsman finished, Lihua was left with a pensive expression. "I see…" The Empress turned towards her guests "There have been some unforeseen events… as such, I must leave you. Feel free to take your time with the breakfast."

"Good luck." Lelouch wished his friend with sympathy. The Empress gave him a wry smile that bothered Shirley more than it should have before leaving.

The breakfast went on in relative silence. Shirley saw a small smile form on Lelouch's face as she nibbled on one of the pastries. The prospects of visiting the garden seem to bring a smile to his face, it was obvious that place brought fond memories.

"Ready?" Lelouch stood up offering a hand to Shirley, which the girl gingerly took with a small blush. "Any preference of where to go first?"

"Yes, the garden would be nice." Shirley answered.

"Good choice." Lelouch pulled her by the hand as he started to walk towards the garden that held so many memories. On the way, Lelouch told her about several landmarks they passed through, such as a fountain constructed to honor an old Emperor, and reminiscing about old memories.

They finally arrived to their destination, and Shirley could see why Lelouch was so fond of this place. The serene garden seemed to calm the heart. The wind lightly shook the leaves, playing a hypnotic melody. The scent of the leaves and flowers reached Shirley's nose as the breeze blew over, it was majestic.

"I spent three years of my childhood beneath this peach tree." He gestured for her to take a seat next to him "Somehow, it's one of the most calm and reassuring places in the world for me." He breathed out in relaxation "It's really nice to be here again."

"I can see why." Shirley said while sitting down and looking around "It's beautiful." she was truly left breathless.

"Oh, there was also something I needed to tell you." Shirley's stomach constricted, instinctively feeling that she wasn't going to like this.

"Lihua has some important and private matters to discuss is with me. After dinner I'm going to head to her room for a bit, it might take a while so feel free to go to bed" he casually stated

Shirley was right, a grimace unseen by Lelouch spread through her face.

"I can ask Jeremiah too keep you company or take you around the palace if you don't find anything to do meanwhile, there are still some beautiful parts that we won't be able to visit today"

Shirley couldn't bring herself to respond and only said one crestfallen "Ah."


Lihua finished signing another paper at her desk with a flourish. Dealing with the tedious Traditionalists had been extremely tiring today, but alas, she was finished for the day. Lihua felt there was nothing better than finishing paperwork, it was liberating. She leaned back on her chair, letting it sink in.

There was a knock on the door, and she smiled, knowing exactly who it was. She quickly grabbed her hair and put it in a more proper manner, placing two strands of hair on each shoulder and leaving the third, bigger strand at her back.

The Tianzi stood up to open the door to see Lelouch standing there, waiting. Lihua interpreted his inexpressive features a sign that he wanted to know the reason this "secret rendezvous". Also to note was that instead of the casual wear he had fashioned the rest of the day, he wore a more elegant outfit as if he was expecting this to be an official meeting. He wasn't wrong, just a bit off track.

Lihua smiled "Lelouch." her red eyes scanned him from top to bottom, that formal wear did look good on him. Fully opening the door and moving to the side, she invited Lelouch in.

With a nod, the Prince entered the room. He looked around, reminiscing on the old times he had spent in these chambers. "I have a feeling that being in the Tianzi's room alone with her would cause a major diplomatic crisis. So for you to bring me here, it must be quite important,"

"You are partially correct," Lihua answered while walking towards her desk "I've ordered Xingke and members of my personal force to cover us, you can rest at ease, this is the only place where the traditionalist are blind at the moment." she smiled at seeing how Lelouch's shoulders lost their stiffness.

"So, top secret?" Lelouch already knew the answer.

"No one out of this room can know of what's being discussed here." she reiterated while rummaging through the deepest parts of her desk. She found the hidden compartment, cleverly hidden underneath a fake "hidden compartment" and well protected by a steel chute and a biometric lock.

"Is the situation that dire?" concern tinted Lelouch's voice, who sat on a cushion behind a short table meant for teatime. His eyes had already starting to analyze the situation and figure out the problem himself. As per custom, Lelouch clasped both hands in front of his mouth.

Lihua smirked at his trademark expression and turned around with a PDA and a brown envelope in hand. "There is no situation, I just wanted to show you something." the Empress calmed him while approaching, handing him the PDA and sitting next to him, crossing her legs.

"I didn't know PDAs were allowed in the Forbidden City." Lelouch observed curiously.

"They aren't." she replied with twinkling eyes.

With a shrug, Lelouch pressed a small button on the side and began his inspection "What is this?"

"Your baby." Lihua gave a small smile and waited for his reaction.

"This is…" Lelouch was silent for a second before turning towards her "a report on the Black Knights." the group he had created as a private army for the Tianzi and the group he had been appointed leader of. In anonymity of course, as the masked man named Zero.

"Through over hundred and fifty different fake buyers, financed with my own personal fortune, we have acquired fifty squads of Knightmares. All of them Gekka class, manufactured in India and totaling at two-hundred, not counting the command units, of course" Lihua spoke animatedly, grinning at the glint in Lelouch's eye, this truly was his baby.

"What about manpower?" Lelouch asked, having trouble keeping a similar smile off his face.

"Around five-hundred, five-hundred and seventy counting all special operations teams and spies" She waited for Lelouch to review the data before continuing. "Every recruit is handpicked, their loyalty unquestionable. And if it becomes questionable… well."

Lelouch nodded distractedly "It also seems that the training is brutal, they must be some of the best; if they complete the training, that is." The plethora of physical training required made Lelouch wince just by looking at it.

"They are the deadliest in the Federation." She agreed politely, taking a sip of tea and waiting for him to notice, it shouldn't be long now, his expression would be gold.

The Prince's eyes widened with amazement "This is an air carrier! By the gods, Lihua, how did you manage to get that without leaving a trace?" he was truly amazed. It wasn't as if one of those would go unnoticed, the few that existed were numbered and trackable.

"We built it from scratch. Brought a brilliant Indian scientist on the project" She leaned back "It was a real pain to manage" she breathed out with another proud smile, blowing at the steam rising from the cup held between her hands. "But that's not the main reason I asked you to come."

Lelouch raised his head to see Lihua holding a brown envelope close to her chest. It was crumbled, aged, its extensive use evident. With slight hesitancy, Lihua gently passed him the envelope.

Lelouch grabbed it, shooting an inquisitive look at Lihua who still kept it on her grasp for a few seconds before letting go.

Lelouch carefully opened the envelope and took out the worn papers. He almost dropped them the moment he set eyes on them.

With probably the only look of awe Lelouch had ever given, he looked at Lihua. Words failed him "Lihua this… this is…"

"Ambitious?" Lihua asked with a small nervous laugh, fiddling with her fingers.

"No, not ambitious, far from it, this is madness." Lelouch replied still recovering from the shock.

"I know…" Lihua stood up, she could no longer take the pressure "This will be my life's work, my legacy." she said excitedly, her twinkling eyes glued onto his.

With a small laugh, he set it aside and stood up "This will probably outlive you." he brought a hand to his eyes "It's more than likely that you will need to leave a successor behind to finish this."

"I-I know, there's also a plan for… for that." Lihua replied with a small blush, pointedly looking away from him.

Lelouch sighed and sat down once again with a heavy breath. "You will need a miracle to accomplish this."

"I have you." she instantly shot back, then immediately realized how embarrassing it sounded and blushed profusely.

"I suppose I am pretty damn close to one." Lelouch laughed ironically.

The room was in silence as Lihua waited for Lelouch to process the news.

He was the first one to break the silence "I don't know if this is better or worse than what I had imagined." he turned towards Lihua "you are pretty damn courageous."

Lihua took the compliment with elegance and grace, or at least as much as a girl in love could muster. "This would not be possible without you, so I thought you had a right to know." Lihua said, getting them back on track.

"I need a rest." Lelouch declared, standing up and walking towards the door with heavy footsteps, his mind at a hundred percent as he analyzed the new information. Just as he started opening the door, he turned around to see Lihua behind him.

"Lelouch…" She had a truly thankful expression, the brightness of her smile only matched by the happiness in her eyes "Thank you for not opposing."

Lelouch looked down for a second and then turned to her "If there is anyone capable of pulling it off, I think it's you." With that, he exited the room, leaving Lihua a steaming mess.


Lihua garbed a kettle and a blend of her self-made tea. Starting a small fire to boil the water, she smiled, it had taken the better part of her courage to show her plans to Lelouch. The thought that he might disapprove, that he would try and convince her otherwise made her stomach churn.

It had been five minutes since Lelouch had left, and she was basking in victory and enjoying the small lived freedom she now had. There were no eyes in this room at the moment, and even though that would change in one hour, she simply relaxed as she felt the weight of her position lessen.

A knock. It was probably Xingke coming to inform her of someone's approach. The question was, who that someone was to not be arrested or taken down on the spot. "Who is it?" she asked, concealing her annoyance at having the precious time stolen from her.

"It's Miss Shirley, fast approaching. No doubt she wants to have a word with you." came Xingke's voice, muffled through the door.

'Speaking of thieves.' Lihua immediately regretted her harsh words. The girl wasn't at fault in any way, and as a host she had to tend to her guest's needs. "Escort her, if you would."

With a small "My Lady." Xingke walked away.

Lihua prepared a second serving of tea for the visitor, unable to shake the eerie feeling that something bad was about to happen. She quickly dismissed as her own paranoia and hidden nervousness. "Gods help me." she muttered without noticing.


Shirley gulped at the presence of the Chinese Empress in front of her. Truth be told, even though the Tianzi had welcomed her with friendliness, the small girl was still imposing.

She hadn't even expected to actually meet her alone, and had been surprised when one of the servants escorted her instead of sending her away.

Now, she awkwardly sat, cup of tea provided by the Empress in hand. Her legs were also beginning to cramp, she was not used to sitting on a cushion rather than a chair.

"Usually, this isn't allowed." Lihua broke the silence. "But you are my guest and an... important person to Lelouch. A small exception can be made." she gave a small smile.

"Ah, yes! Thank you for having me." Shirley took a fast sip of her tea. "Actually, I quite admire how calm and confident you are in situations like this, and with being a world leader. It's amazing." there was no shortage of truth in Shirley's words.

Lihua gave an unreadable smile and stirred her own tea. "I deal with politicians every day, if you are not calm and collected, or at least appear to be, it could spell your doom"

"But enough of depressing politics." Lihua quickly changed topic "I imagine you had a reason for coming all the way here."

"Well... yes" Shirley looked down, gathering her courage. The girl had come here with clear objective. She lowered her teacup and took a deep breath. "Do you perhaps like Lelouch?" her voice was almost a whisper. Nevertheless she quickly raised her head for the Empress's answer.

She was met with a shocked expression that slowly turned into a bitter smile.

"Yes, I love him."




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