Later that afternoon, Sayoko was alone in the massive palace kitchens. She was stirring a pot of soup for Princess Ophelia, who had, in fact, come down with a cold. Sayoko had often been told that chicken soup was the customary Britannian dish to serve to those sick with colds. However, in her experience, the Miso soup of her own native Japan worked just as well, if not better; it had done both the Emperor and his sister a great deal of good when they had contracted colds as children.
Footsteps nearby put her on low alert. She didn't turn around- it was probably some cook or servant passing through. And the speed and weight of the footsteps meant that whoever it was did not approach poised for combat. She kept track of them, but largely focused on stirring-
"I do not believe you told him."
"M-Master- Your Majesty!!" Sayoko yelped, spinning around on her heels. The Emperor himself stood across a counter from her! He had discarded his usual cloak, so she had missed the swish of fabric that normally accompanied him. After twitching spastically, Sayoko stilled her body and bowed deeply. "Forgive me, Sire, I did not anticipate you here! I assumed-"
"Shhh," Lelouch hushed her gently. "Calm down, Sayoko." He smiled. "It's just the two of us down here. We don't have to stand on protocol to talk to each other."
Sayoko inclined her head. "Begging your pardon, Sire, but I am a gentlewoman of your imperial household. Protocol is the essence of my duties."
Lelouch's smile actually grew wider. "It has always been that way, hasn't it?" Then he crossed his arms over his chest, and his face grew much sterner. "I observed Sir Jeremiah very closely when he returned to me after seeing you. He did not have the bearing of a man who has just been given the best news of his life."