Lelouch vi Britannia is known for many things. He’s a genius. He wants to topple the Holy Britannian Empire and create an ideal world just so his sister could live in peace. He’s an anti-hero. He’s twistedly nice. He’s a Batman looking for vengeance, more so in a Machiavellian way.
But Lelouch’s muse for rebellion and his most important partners in crime (or should we say partners in justice?) are somehow all women.
Is there anyone Lelouch actually loves? Or are they all just pawns in his game?
Nunnally vi Britannia
Let’s get rid of the most obvious… Lelouch’s sister.
Lelouch wants to create a just world where Nunnally can live in peace. After her mother’s death and getting shot in the legs, Lelouch vows an entire revolution for Nunnally’s sake.
Of course, you have to love someone to want to change the world for them. But the more you watch the anime, it’s evident Lelouch’s convictions don’t really come from a place of love but rather are excuses to justify his violent plots.
He uses Nunnally to rationalise his thirst for revenge against the royal family. By saying it’s all for the sake of her happiness, Lelouch deludes himself and perpetuates his monstrous ideologies.
Nunnally has mentioned time and time again that her vision of happiness is with Lelouch.
But in the end, Lelouch kills himself, meaning he only cares about his version of Nunnally’s happiness, not hers. Is that love?
Since the beginning of Code Geass, Shirley has had the biggest crush on Lelouch.
It’s clear that Lelouch cares for her. He decides to erase her memories so that she’s kept away from the destructive path he’s led himself and thousands of others on.
And when Shirley dies, Lelouch’s rage is unquenchable.
But as Shirley’s love deepens with the episodes, and even rebounds despite her memory loss, we never see Lelouch reciprocating those feelings in the same enormity, at least romantically.
It’s more likely that Lelouch liked her only as a friend, someone he was deeply affectionate to, but someone he could never be entirely himself with.
Even though you made me forget everything, I still fell in love with you. Even though my memories were tampered with, I kept falling in love... with you all over again - Shirley Fenette
Euphemia li Britannia
Euphemia is Lelouch’s half-sister. She doesn’t really share any particular moments with Lelouch to qualify for this list, except that one time Lelouch holds Euphemia at gunpoint and blatantly confesses that she is his first love.
But it’s highly unlikely that Lelouch meant it in a romantic way. Lelouch cared for her enough that he agreed to stop the rebellion for her, which he wouldn’t have done even for Nunnally, and that he trusted her with his Zero identity, which he didn’t with Nunnally. But it’s less likely because of romantic love and more so because of their identical dreams to create a just world for Nunnally.
By first love, Lelouch must have meant Euphemia is her first confidant in the royal family – the first ally.
Nobody had more moments with Lelouch than Kallen.
Unlike all the previous contenders, Kallen gets to be part of all aspects of Lelouch’s life. She is his classmate in Ashford Academy as well as his partner in rebellion against the Holy Britannian Empire. Kallen knows what he’s like and has accepted him for it.
Lelouch refuses to use her as a pawn and instead turns her into the most valuable chess piece in the game. He has protected her multiple times and even risked the fate of the Black Knights for her.
But even with Kallen, Lelouch fails to open up all of himself. He fails to reciprocate her kiss towards the end because, given the circumstances, he knows there isn’t any space for love between them.
There’s no one else in the show who has known Lelouch as deeply as C.C., both with and without the mask.
Vice versa, there’s no one who knows C.C. as deeply as Lelouch does. It’s no surprise that he confides everything to her. C.C. has access to all of Zero’s plans. Even Kallen doesn’t have that privilege, despite fighting on the front lines.
It might be true that in the beginning, Lelouch uses C.C. to reach his own selfish ends, but eventually, it develops into something more, where they’re no longer just fighting an evil empire, but for the dreams of each other.
The intimacy that develops between Lelouch and C.C. cannot be found between any other characters. After all, Lelouch promises to fulfil her real wish – to be loved – and to make her smile. In return, C.C. is ready to forsake her wish to die so that she can live with him.
If there's anyone Lelouch truly loves, it is C.C.