| Lieutenant Bard Linn (bard_linn) wrote in drops_n_ripples,|
@ 2011-12-14 12:36:00
|Entry tags:||code geass, marianneverse|
Title: The Beginning
Authors: Bard Linn and Kiraya
Summary: The night after Marianne's assassination, Charles receives an unexpected visitor.
Notes: Girl!Lelouch AU. And I do mean AU.
Charles zi Britannia, Emperor of the strongest nation in the world, sat with his head in his hands, exhausted beyond measure. It had been a long day… and it would be a longer life. Last night his favorite wife, the one woman in the world he loved, had died — murdered by his own brother. Worse yet, V.V. had taken things upon himself to ‘cover up’ his mess by staging an attack on the Aries Villa in broad daylight the next day, with Marianne’s younger daughter as a witness. The attack had sent Nunnally into a coma.
Charles’ resulting fury had led to a nasty confrontation that had had grisly results, but thanks to the power known as the Code V.V. was the same as ever. Reluctantly, Charles had used his Geass to alter the memories of those who might have revealed his brother’s deception. While he didn’t approve of it, Marianne’s murder had to be blamed on someone.
He couldn’t believe she was gone. His love, his knight — his right hand. While they hadn’t been able to always be together, of course, Marianne had given him her undying loyalty. She had been instrumental in allowing him to claim the throne; she had borne him two beautiful daughters. Now Nunnally would likely never walk again because of his brother, and Lucienne…
A sound at the door made him look up. As if his thoughts had summoned her, there was Marianne’s elder daughter, Lucienne vi Britannia, the Third Princess of the empire. She had dark purple eyes and her mother’s long, wavy hair, and was extremely intelligent, so much that some of the universities had begged Charles to send her to them for special teaching. Marianne had refused; she believed in raising her children herself, the governess who watched over them while Marianne served in her capacity as Knight of Six notwithstanding.
Still, Lucienne was only a child. Charles wasn’t especially fond of children and now, burdened with grief, he wasn’t ready to deal with one, even if — especially if — she looked like a miniature version of her newly deceased mother. “Lucienne, go to your room.”
His daughter clucked her tongue reprovingly at him. “That’s not a nice thing to say to a grieving child, Charles, though I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.” She smiled and shook her head. “You’ve always been brusque when you get emotional.”
Charles’ eyes widened slightly; only years of practice at masking his reactions kept his shock less obvious. That gentle teasing, the affectionate tone of voice… “Marianne?”
“Yes, dearest.” His wife moved their daughter’s body across the room until she stood beside the bed.
Charles didn’t hesitate. He wrapped her in his arms and kissed her, trying to ignore how wrong it felt to be doing this with a wife who was suddenly half her former size. “What happened?”
“Hmm.” Marianne wrinkled her nose. “That was pretty weird. I think we should probably wait a few years before repeating it.” She managed, with Charles’ help, to get up onto the mattress. “I assume you know what V.V. did.”
“Yes. But you’re…”
“C.C. gave me a Geass. It allows me to live in others — though who knows if I could use it again, now that my original body is… well.” Marianne made a face. “I have the feeling this’ll take some getting used to. I can’t believe how annoying it is to be this short again!”
“We’ll all need to adapt.” Charles ran a hand through her hair. “While this doesn’t make the situation acceptable, it certainly improves it somewhat. Not to have lost you completely…”
Marianne smiled and kissed his cheek, then took one of his hands in hers. “And, at least with Lucienne, I'll have a perfectly good reason to be near you.”
“Yes.” Charles squeezed her hand. If not for the size of her fingers, he could almost pretend that they having one of their late-night discussions. “I’m worried for the children’s safety, though, especially after what happened to Nunnally.”
“Then tell your brother off,” Marianne said bluntly. She had never gotten along well with V.V., who’d resented her from the minute Charles had declared his intention to take her as his knight. He felt his old frustration with the situation bubble up, but firmly repressed it. Nothing he had done had managed to get the two of them to like each other. At best he’d managed to get them to tolerate each other. Marianne had made a few overtures of her own, but had always been rebuffed. V.V. seemed to want to keep his relationship with Charles exactly as it had been when they were both children. Not for the first time Charles pitied him. Frozen as a child, he had no understanding of how great a comfort a spouse could be. He had hoped once they succeeded in their plan, V.V. would understand how he loved Marianne completely — but that she didn’t replace him in Charles’ life.
“I already have. I accidentally broke his spine during the argument when I lost my temper, too, but things being what they are.… Well. It’s horrible, but it made me feel a little better.” He wouldn’t tell Marianne what else he had done to V.V. His brother had taken more than his love from him; he had shattered his trust. To go behind his back like this after they’d sworn to be truthful with each other… He shook his head. “In any case, even if V.V. does nothing himself, he has control of the Geass Order. I think it would be safer to send the children away. I’ve been negotiating with Prime Minister Kururugi—”
Marianne frowned. “The leader of the Japanese? Weren’t your ministers saying last week that they have a large supply of Sakuradite, enough that we’d be able to double Knightmare production if we had access to it?” No one could call his wife stupid. She narrowed Lucienne’s eyes. “You’ll end up going to war.”
“Eventually, yes — but they’d be safe there for a while. We have no Japanese agents; a Geass user would stand out.”
“Charles Henry David zi Britannia, don’t you dare even think about it! For one thing, I will not be kept all the way on the other side of the world from you. You get into too much trouble by yourself.” Marianne crossed her arms. “For another, do you want to make a lifelong enemy out of your daughter? She’s upset already that you didn’t visit today — you need to make it up to her tomorrow — and worried about their future. Lucienne’s smart enough to realize what being sent away would mean for them both, and proud enough to take it as an unforgivable insult.” Violet eyes narrowed. “And you’re doing it again — the ‘I have to push away everything that matters to me to protect it’ crap.” She punctuated each word with a punch in the arm. “I know you, and we both know you do stupid things when your emotions get the better of you. You aren’t pushing us away.”
Marianne glared at him, wearing that stubborn look Charles knew better than he would’ve liked to — the same one she’d worn when he’d arranged for her to have dinner with Bismarck in an attempt to get them together and keep her from his own deep affections, the same one she’d worn when he’d explained why it was a bad idea for them to marry. On both occasions she had responded with a blistering lecture concerning her feelings and his ‘excuses,’ as she deemed them, and he would prefer to avoid a repeat. Marianne was very… gifted with words, in her way.
“…We’ll need to protect them,” Charles finally said with a sigh.
Marianne smiled, and to her credit managed not to look overly smug about it. “Assign a knight to watch over her. One of the Rounds, or… Gottwald, maybe. He may have been a pretty new member of my Imperial Guard, but he was especially loyal.”
Meaning Marianne had managed to sway another man into loving her. Thankfully for him, she never let that love venture anything beyond admiration. With over a hundred wives, Charles didn’t really have room to be possessive — but that didn’t mean he wasn’t anyway. “If you trust Gottwald, we’ll use him for now.”
“Good. And you will visit the children tomorrow.”
Charles frowned. “You know too much of my attention could cause them problems—”
“You. Will. Visit. Them.” Marianne’s glare was impressive, even on the face of a nine-year-old. “You will hold them, and tell them everything will be all right. They’ve lost me. If you don’t take a personal interest in them, they won’t have any defenders in court. You might as well ask for them to be killed or disgraced.”
Marianne had her mind set on it, it seemed. “All right, I’ll visit them.” She was right about court, after all. Perhaps he should assign one of his Rounds to watch over them as well. Gottwald would probably be able to handle security, but the Rounds were more politically savvy.
Suddenly it dawned on him that he was now going to have to take care of his two daughters. He would need to make sure the governess was appropriate, keep an eye on their finances — perhaps assign a steward for that, but he would need to keep an eye on him — encourage their education…
Marianne yawned. “This is surprisingly tiring.” She snuggled closer to her husband. “If you can, try to plant the idea in Lucienne’s head to get physically fit. I won’t be able to take over all the time, and we have a lot of work to do if I’m going to be your knight again. Get Cornelia involved. It’ll be good for her.”
“Indeed.” Cornelia had been very close to Marianne, long looking up to her; undoubtedly her death was affecting her deeply as well. Teaching Lucienne, her daughter… yes, that would work very well. “I’ll speak to them both tomorrow. Should I take you back to Lucienne’s room?”
Marianne shook her head. “I want to stay with you. Tell Lucienne she sleepwalked when she wakes up in the morning.”
Charles shook his head, but carefully placed his wife under the covers. “I love you.”
“I love you too, Charles. I’m sorry — I can’t hold it anymore.” She closed her eyes and immediately fell asleep. The emperor took off his dressing gown and slid into bed next to her. It wouldn’t be the first night he had spent here.
Charles was glad Lucienne tended to sleep late; it would have been embarrassing for them both if she’d woken up curled around him. He used the time to order breakfast and conduct some of his morning business. By the time Lucienne began to stir he had crafted several strategies for handling her. Getting her wrapped around his finger was very important if he was to eventually have his knight back. “Good morning.”
“Papa?” Lucienne blinked up at him in confusion, before widening her eyes as she began to register her surroundings. “Lord Father? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to intrude.” Clearly confused, she blinked back tears as well when her eyes settled on the painting of Marianne opposite the bed. She clearly missed her mother — only natural, really.
Charles attempted to relax a bit, to be more welcoming and sympathetic. It wasn’t something that came easily to him, but he would try anyway. “It’s all right, Lucienne. I understand things are difficult for you right now. That you might sleepwalk isn’t surprising.”
The young princess slipped off the bed. “Still — I apologize for my intrusion.”
“Why don’t you have some breakfast?” Charles suggested. Lucienne glanced down at her nightgown, then raised an eyebrow at him. Charles felt a smile pull at his lips despite the seriousness of the situation. Marianne gave him that same look — though she never tried to quickly suppress it as her daughter was doing. “I had a servant bring your dressing gown.”
“Ah — thank you.” Lucienne slipped it on over her nightgown and pulled on her slippers before joining her father at the table already laden with food. She selected some fresh fruit, along with a serving of eggs and toast.
“I thought today we might go visit Nunnally together,” Charles offered as he began his own meal.
Lucienne’s eyes lit up. “Thank you, Lord Father. I’m sure she’ll get better if you come to visit her.”
“It may take a long time,” Charles cautioned.
“I know.” Lucienne’s face fell. “But still, I think she’ll be glad to know that you’re visiting. They say that people in comas sometimes understand what’s going around them.”
He really was lucky that Marianne ended up in Lucienne’s body. The child was brilliant, but also very realistic about some things. Had his wife ended up inhabiting, say, her younger daughter instead — especially considering Nunnally’s new circumstances — guiding her to knighthood would have been a much more difficult process, if not impossible. “True. I will not be able to stay for a long time, but I will try to visit when I can.”
Charles let the conversation trail off at that. Lucienne ate her food, but without much enjoyment, her eyes far away. As they finished their meal, Charles dismissed her. “Ready yourself for the day. We’ll go down to visit Nunnally when you’re finished.”
“Yes, Lord Father.” She curstied, as best as she could considering her current garments — her etiquette teachers had always spoken highly of her — before leaving. Charles contacted his aide and set the woman to checking on the vi Britannia finances and employees. Marianne’s lands (admittedly small, as she was new nobility) should have a steward in charge of them already, but it didn’t hurt to check. Having Lucienne manage them would be a good exercise for her, but she would need guidance.
When his daughter returned, she carried a book and wore a white dress with green trim, her hair braided up and out of the way. “Your Majesty.” She curtsied.
Charles did smile a bit this time. Lucienne’s formality was strangely endearing, particularly since Marianne had so often ignored such conventions. “Your Highness,” he replied gravely, offering her his hand. “Shall we go?”
Lucienne took it with a smile. “Please.”
Once they entered Nunnally’s room, Lucienne’s cheer faded. She settled into a chair by her sister’s bedside and carefully took her hand. “Nunnally, our Lord Father is here to visit you today. I brought your favorite book of fairy tales, too — won’t you wake up to hear them?”
Nunnally didn’t respond, but Lucienne didn’t take this as a deterrent, merely settling down and opening the book. She read to her sister for a while, and Charles tried to be patient as he sat and listened. There were several dozen things he could be doing right now — not all of which were earthshakingly important, but it would still be better than just sitting here.
Lucienne finished the tale of Cinderella and closed the book. Charles took advantage of the pause to speak to her. “Have you thought about your future?”
“Some.” Lucienne’s fingers traced the detailing on the book’s cover. “Without Mother to support us, things may be… difficult.”
“Yes.” Charles decided to be somewhat forthright with her. “Marianne did not have many supporters. Until you gain power of your own, it will be difficult for you here.”
“…power of my own? What do you mean?” Lucienne looked up at him in surprise.
“Your tutors speak highly of you. You have great capabilities. If you apply yourself, you should be able to secure yourself a position within the empire.” He wouldn’t give her a place. She would have to earn it, just like all his other children. Already her mother’s enemies would be noting that he’d spent so much time with her. Some distance was necessary, or else she’d be courting assassins — and not ones sent by his brother.
She nodded slowly, thoughtfully. “What should I focus on?”
There were so many ways that he could answer that question, but one thing immediately came to mind. “It’s important that you become a good judge of people; otherwise, you may end up hurt deeply by someone close to you whom you trusted greatly.” Betrayal was the bread and butter of imperial court. Trust must be earned, and even then, carefully given. Charles had learned that lesson well as a child.
It still stung that his brother had done the same to him, even if it had been ‘for his own good.’
“Also, it is important for you to develop your physical strength.”
Lucienne frowned. “If you think so…”
“Self-defense is very important. You may take a knight some day, but you should still be able to protect yourself.” He paused, and added, “I think your mother would have wanted a strong daughter to protect her younger sister.”
That cinched it, as he’d expected it would. “All right. It’s just… boring.” She paused, thinking. “Will Cornelia be in Pendragon for a while?”
“Yes. I was thinking about making her your knight.” At his daughter’s frown, he asked, “You don’t approve?”
“It’s not my place to disagree, your Majesty,” Lucienne demurred, “but… if I may, I was thinking of asking her to help teach me to be stronger, and if she were to do so, she shouldn’t be my knight. It would upset the balance of power between us.”
A good observation. A knight should obey his or her royal’s every whim; a teacher shouldn’t be so restrained. “Very wise. I will see to it that your security is maintained, then.” He reached out and put a hand on Lucienne’s shoulder. “I’m afraid I have to go.”
Lucienne immediately got to her feet and curtsied. “Thank you for coming, Lord Father.”
Thinking of Marianne, sleeping within her daughter, her managed to press a gentle kiss against Lucienne’s temple. It wasn’t quite fatherly, but it was close enough. The tactile contact was uncharacteristic for him, but it made Lucienne’s eyes shine. Marianne had been very hands-on with her daughters. He would need to try to fill that void. “If you need anything, just send a message.”
“Yes, Lord Father.”
Charles left, leaving Lucienne to watch over her sister. He had a few arrangements to make — and then he needed to talk to his brother. He would not lose his wife again.
Welcome to Marianneverse! Yes, this is the girl!Lelouch verse I’ve mentioned a few times. Some base rules:
- Lucienne is the Lelouch equivalent in this universe. She’s going to have some major differences from Lelouch, partially because of this change so far back in her background, partially because of a female viewpoint. Why Lucienne? We don’t think that Lelouch would have had the same name. So we looked at French girl names. We wanted something with either an Le or Lu beginning - (Le for Lelouch, Lu for ‘Lulu’) and picked Lucienne.
- Lucienne is a girl both because it’s really awesome and because it adds interesting pressures on Charles. We have nothing against boy!Lelouch. :)
- Charles and Marianne won’t necessarily fit their ‘canon’ characterizations. We want to see the parents who helped Lelouch become what he is — and Marianne was supposed to be pretty awesome.
- In this universe, V.V. organized the cover for Marianne’s murder on his own, then had Charles use his Geass on Nunnally to make her see what she thinks she saw. Charles did it only because the damage was already done. It isn’t that he necessarily loves his kids so much as he hates throwing away a potential resource; for him, Nunnally’s handicap does just that.
- Don’t expect everyone to show up. Code Geass has has a huge cast, and we aren’t going to force ourselves to twist the plot around to make someone show up when it doesn’t make sense with Lucienne in a primarily Britannian setting.
- What’s the pairing going to be? That’s a secret. :)
- Some parts of this may be very short. Some may be very long. Also, we will not necessarily be going in order (If you’ve ever read the FMA series "alter_series" you know what I mean.) Here’s a handy archive for you guys that we’ll keep in chronological order.