Fear of the Dark

Family

The newspapers were beginning to hold rather disturbing stories of the public; people going missing, a homicide, burglary. Normally these things were immediately reported to Syaoran and were dealt with on spot, but lately things had been different. As he sat reading the daily newspaper, he caught sight of an article about a child having gone missing the day before. He called in Fai and asked what was going on, why he hadn't been alerted sooner, and Fai sighed.

"You were already under so much stress that we decided not to tell you and assist ourselves; I can have you rest assured that every one of those cases has been solved."

"And what of the child that went missing yesterday?" Syaoran asked.

Fai blinked in surprise. Syaoran stared at him expectantly. "Well…"

"Well?"

"I'm afraid that not even we knew about that." Fai confessed.

"Get on it." Syaoran ordered. "I want all of the details; about her and about the person who kidnapped her when you find them."

Fai left the room quickly to tell the others of his orders and carry them out while Syaoran sat in his seat, staring at the black and white photo photo of the little girl on the front page; she was only seven, and her curls came down to her shoulders. She was wearing a pale summer dress, and from the background she looked to be playing in the backyard of her little house. From what the article had said, the little girls' name was Emily.

He stood and left the study in search for Sakura; he needed to let her know where she was going, otherwise she'd worry. He walked down to her studio where he knew she was, because that was where she'd been locked up for the past few days, immersed in her work. He knocked lightly on the door and heard a quiet "come in" from Sakura; he opened the door and walked in, noticing her careful and precise detail in the skull and flowers as she focused on her painting.

"How many hours have you been in here for today?" He asked.

She jumped and looked over to find him standing by the door. "Syaoran…" she released a sigh of relief. She thought for a moment, "Maybe since just after breakfast?" she replied with a smile.

He smiled, "Thought so. You should take a break; relax your shoulders and get some fresh air."

"I guess you're right…" she said.

"I need to go out for a while; I don't know how long I'll be." He told her.

"Where are you going?" Sakura asked.

"Into the main city; a little girl was kidnapped yesterday, and I want to know what happened and speak with the family." He said.

Worry clouded her beautiful green eyes. He smiled, "Perhaps you'd like to accompany me?"

Sakura smiled, "ok."

After alerting the others of where he was going, the two headed into the main city. The carriage they were sitting in was driven by two white mares, and Sakura could see clearly out of the window as the velvet curtains had been pulled back. Large deciduous trees were starting to show their autumn colours, leaves falling to the ground and making paths of red and brown.

"Do you like autumn?" Syaoran asked.

Sakura nodded.

"It's a lovely time of year." He smiled.

She smiled back in agreement, "It is."

When they got further into the city, buildings became visible along with houses. Children were chasing each other, parents running after them, adults and apprentices working. Others were shopping, buying groceries or goods for themselves and their families.

Sakura smiled.

The carriage came to a stop and the door opened; Syaoran stepped out and then helped Sakura down. He lifted her by the waist and brought her to the ground; she looked around herself, curious about the place surrounding her.

"Sweetheart," Syaoran called for her attention; she looked to him and he held his hand out for hers, and she took it. They walked through the streets, and because of Syaoran's status they received a lot of waves and people coming up to congratulate them on their engagement, obvious by Sakura's hair piece and how they held onto each other. Sakura smiled and Syaoran thanked them as they came and went.

"You're well respected here…" Sakura said softly.

Syaoran smiled, "I suppose so," he said, "The house we're headed to isn't too far off."

"I hope that little girl is alright…" Sakura said.

Syaoran squeezed her hand, "So do I."

They turned down a road with several houses along it, and came to a stop in front of a small cottage. There were roses blooming in the front garden, along with daffodils and tulips. Syaoran walked up to the door and knocked; shuffling could be heard making its way to the door, along with irritated, upset mumbling.

"Who could possibly be here at a time…"

The door opened, revealing a young woman who could only have been in her early twenties, with black hair that fell in ringlets down her back, some pinned back from her gentle round face with a red flowery clip. Her hazel eyes were red and puffy from crying endlessly, and she wore an apron over her dark brown skirt and white top. She was utterly speechless upon seeing the Prince and his fiancée at her doorstep.

"Your highness…I…"

He smiled sadly, "I heard about your daughter, Emily. Is there anything we can do to help?" He asked.

The woman shook her head, "I just want them to find her." She whispered.

"I'd like to ask a few questions, if that's ok?"

The woman nodded and stepped to the side, allowing them through. The cottage was nice, with neatly arranged furniture and a small fireplace. There was a small preparation area for food, and a soft couch where presumably they sat at night after dinner. Apparently the woman's name was Clarice.

"Please, have a seat." She said as she moved around, unable to concentrate well.

"Thank you," He said, and took a seat beside Sakura on the couch.

"Emily's father is out with the search team…" she said as she placed the kettle over the hot coals.

"What happened, exactly?" Syaoran asked calmly.

The young woman sighed as she ran her fingers through her hair. "We were only out for a little while; down at a small meadow having a picnic. She was running around as any seven year old would, laughing and having fun. We only looked away for a minute, and suddenly she had vanished." She painfully recounted what had happened, and Syaoran nodded.

"Does Emily possess any magical abilities?" Syaoran asked softly.

She shook her head, "None," she said.

"Thank you, I appreciate your cooperation. If you need anything, let me know."

"Thank you very much." She said, standing to let them out.

Syaoran stayed silent for a time as they walked, and Sakura couldn't help but feel worried. "Syaoran, that little girl, Emily; if she was with her parents how could she have been taken?" She whispered.

"Well…there's only one possible way." He said softly. She looked at him with confusion. "She was somehow lured away from her parents."

Sakura looked to her feet.

"There is one thing we know for certain though." He said.

"What's that?" she asked.

"She wasn't taken for possessing magical abilities."


On their way back to the carriage, Sakura felt a strange presence. She looked around herself, but could only see hundreds of people who lived in the city. She tried to ignore it, and continued on with Syaoran. Syaoran stopped for a minute, side tracked by something, and he walked over to one of the shops across the street, still keeping hold of Sakura's hand. When they were over the street, Sakura realised it wasn't a shop but a bar. Fear struck her and she stopped in her steps. Syaoran turned around to see what was wrong, and saw her looking at the floor.

"Sakura?" He called her name, but she didn't look up. "Sweetheart, what's wrong?" He asked.

Her eyes flicked to the bar and then back to her feet. He was confused for a moment, but then he understood. "I see; it's the bar, isn't it?" He said.

She nodded.

He smiled softly, "It's not busy during the day; a close friend owns and runs it, I just wanted to see how he's going-I'm sorry, I should have said something earlier." He apologised.

She smiled back timidly, "Ok…" she said.

With permission granted, he entered the bar whilst still holding onto her hand. Few were sitting up at the bench, and standing behind the bench was a man around Syaoran's age; he was tall with dark hair and hazel eyes, his hands holding a beer glass and drying it with a cloth. He looked up and spotted Syaoran, and his eyes widened.

"Well if it isn't the prince himself; what brings you here Syaoran?" The bartender asked.

"Adrian." Syaoran nodded his head in greeting. "Just thought I'd come say hello." He said as he took a seat at the front bench. Sakura sat beside him, pulling her shawl tighter around her shoulders in hopes to cover her bare skin. Syaoran noticed her discomfort out the corner of his eye and placed his coat around her shoulders. She felt a little bit better, but it did little to quell her anxiety.

"Who's the young woman with you?" The bartender named Adrian asked.

"This is my fiancée; Sakura." Syaoran said with a soft smile as he looked at her.

Adrian bowed, "Nice to meet you, princess."

She smiled timidly, "Nice to meet you too."

He raised an eyebrow, "Timid," he commented, "So, what will you have?"

"The usual," Syaoran replied.

Adrian turned around and pulled a bottle of red wine off the shelf and uncorked it, pouring some of it into a wine glass for him. Syaoran smiled and picked the glass up, bringing it to his lips. He placed the cup back down after taking a small mouthful, "Don't think you've had that one in for quite a while." He said.

"I haven't," he said, "So when I got some I saved a bottle." Adrian smiled smugly. "Anything for your fiancée?

Syaoran looked to Sakura and she shook her head, "I don't really drink…" She said.

"I didn't think you did." Syaoran smiled.

"So, how's Syaoron?" Adrian asked.

"He's good," Syaoran said. "I didn't see you at the ball the other night. Whatever kept you?" Syaoran wondered.

"I'm sorry I wasn't there, but I'm sure you understand that I can't very well leave my bar?" Adrian smiled.

"Hmm, I think you just didn't want to see your family." Syaoran said.

"Alright, alright, you got me. They'd surely try to haul me back home…" Adrian muttered.

Sakura looked at Syaoran, confused by what was going on. "I don't understand…" She said.

Syaoran smiled, "He's of royal status, like us." He replied.

"Except I ran away from my country." Adrian added.

"Oh…" Sakura looked away.

"So, when's the wedding?" Adrian asked.

"I'm not sure yet; we're still trying to figure out a date." Syaoran replied.

"I see. Let me know when you've got one."

"I will." Syaoran smiled.

Suddenly, his hand flew to the throat of the man standing directly behind Sakura, about to attack her. "Touch her and you'll regret it." He threatened.

He raised his hands in defence and backed off; Syaoran stood, keeping Sakura safely behind him, and faced Sakura's assailant.

"What do you want with her?" He demanded.

He smiled, "To give her over to my master," he said. His voice was raspy, but Syaoran could tell that under the hood was a man who could only be in their early thirties at least.

"You're not getting her." He snarled.

Sakura watched as they were suddenly launched into a fight; she watched as Syaoran skilfully blocked each blow, dodged and attacked. Her attacker probably realised he was outmatched and back out the door fast, leaving the bar quiet once more.

Syaoran sighed, "I'm sorry, Adrian." He apologised.

"I'd be apologising to your fiancée; I think you need to buy her a gift or something."

Syaoran walked over to Sakura and she flung her arms around him, silent tears crawling down her face. Her heart was hammering against her chest and her hands were shaking. "I'm so sorry." He whispered.

Sakura hugged him tightly, not letting go for several minutes as if to make sure he wouldn't disappear. Syaoran looked at his empty glass and then to Adrian, "I think we should leave." He said.

Adrian nodded, "Have a safe trip home."

Syaoran lead Sakura out of the bar, and keeping his arm around her, they headed back to the carriage. Luckily, they were left alone and got back to the castle safely.


Syaoran sat Sakura down in the lounge room where no one else was; there was a fire burning in the fireplace, keeping the room warm. "Are you alright?" He asked softly, holding her hands in his.

She nodded, "I'm sorry, I was just scared."

"That's natural; it's ok. Is there anything you want? Can I get you anything?" He asked.

"Don't leave me," She whispered, "I'm scared."

He smiled and leant back against the cushions, patting the spot beside him. She shifted so that she was sitting beside him, leaning her head against his collar bone while he wrapped his arm around her waist. He knew how sorry he was but she was grateful that he was protecting her; she loved him for it, for his commitment to her. She smiled softly as she gazed into the fire, "Thank you Syaoran."


Rena could move now that magic had been used to close most of her wound up, but it still hurt and she required assistance often. Chii was helping her around the castle, and she made her way out into the gardens for some fresh air.

"What is Syaoron doing anyway?" Rena muttered as she sat on the edge of the fountain.

"He's tending to the massive pile of papers that need signing, which Syaoran was going through this morning." Chii replied cheerfully.

"Oh." She muttered unhappily.

"Is my company not good enough?" Chii complained.

"I'm sorry, that's not what I…" Rena groaned and face palmed.

Chii giggled, "Sorry, it was just so tempting."

"Do you think Lord Syaoran and Sakura are back yet?" Rena asked.

"Oh yes; they came back not too long ago." Chii replied.

Rena smiled, "I'd like to go and see the city someday as well…" She said.

"I'll let slip to the prince for you," Chii winked.

"Really?" Rena asked.

"Sure."

The princess smiled, "Thank you."

"Did you know that the council is already making preparations for Sakura's and Syaoran's wedding?" Chii piped up.

"But the ball was only a few weeks ago; surely it won't be for a little while?" Rena said.

"Syaoran's trying to hold it off for your sister's sake; he's waiting until she's feeling a bit more comfortable with life here." Chii said.

"I'm glad she found him…I never would have thought she'd be able to recover after what had happened to us-to her."

"It's the same for her you know; she's glad you're happy here." Chii smiled softly.

"I know." She smiled.


Fai knocked on the door to the lounge and opened it, only to find the young couple asleep on the couch. It had been almost six hours since he'd been sent out with the others to gather information and assist the investigation. Now he had to report back to him, and it was best not to wait.

He carefully woke the prince; Syaoran woke from his shoulder being shaken, and he waved the blonde away, alerting him he was awake.

"What?" He muttered, annoyed about having being woken.

"Sorry to wake you, but I have the information you asked for." Fai said, sitting down on the couch opposite from him.

Syaoran looked to Sakura who was still sleeping, and sighed. "What is it?" He asked.

"They found Emily about an hour ago, and captured the criminals responsible." He said, handing over the folded parchment with all of the information about the case.

"Ta," Syaoran murmured, taking the folded pieces of paper and unfolding it to the first page. He was both disappointed and relieved to find that the kidnappers seemed to have no connection to anything to do with Sakura or the people who had taken her. The child possessed no magical abilities, however her father did, but that didn't seem to hold any special connection.

"Luckily when they found the girl she wasn't harmed; just frightened and confused and wanted her mum."

"Thank you; I'll go visit the family tomorrow." Syaoran said.

"How was the visit today?" Fai asked.

"Emily's mother was distraught." He said.

"What parent wouldn't be?" Fai said.

"I know. She couldn't handle herself well, but she did her best to answer my questions." Syaoran said softly.

"How did Lady Sakura find the city?" He asked.

"She enjoyed herself for the most part, I think." Syaoran smiled.

"That's good." Fai smiled.

"Yeah…" Syaoran's smile fell and was replaced by a look of worry.

"Is there something on your mind?" Fai asked.

"Someone tried to attack Sakura while we were in the city…I could sense someone following us, and I'm sure she could too at some point." He murmured.

"Part of me wonders if I hadn't stopped to see how Adrian was going, then maybe she wouldn't have been attacked."

Fai sighed, "You can't blame yourself for something like that. The princess wouldn't want you to either." He said.

"You're right," Syaoran said, looking at Sakura's sleeping face. "She wouldn't want me to blame myself, but the guilt is still there. I know I can't control everything, but I would at least like for her to feel safe here."

Fai smiled, "What attracted you to her, anyway?" He asked curiously.

"I'm not sure…I don't think I have any great reason, other than because she's just herself. Underneath all of that fear and anxiety hides a strong girl with a caring heart, who holds all those she loves dear, and tries her best to protect them." He said softly.

Fai smiled, "You're truly perfect for each other." He said, and stood up and left.

Syaoran looked back to Sakura after watching the blonde leave, and he brushed some of her hair out of her eyes. It was almost dinner time…

"Prince Syaoran?"

Syaoran looked over to see Chii standing in the doorway. "You can come in; she's only asleep." He said.

Chii walked over, and he realised she was holding a letter in her hand. "Your brother asked me to give this to you…" she said, holding it out.

He took it and opened it, breaking the seal which he recognised as Sid's, his cousins, and read the contents of his letter.

"Thank you." He said.

Chii left and he sighed. He felt Sakura shift a little beside him, but he shrugged it off. "Is something wrong…?" Sakura asked sleepily.

Syaoran looked to her and smiled. "I just got a letter from Sid." He said.

"What news…?"

"He's getting engaged, and having a ball to announce it." He said.

"I see," She said, "When is it?"

"About four weeks away. Well, we have time…" he murmured.

"Time for what?" Sakura asked, confused.

"To get things ready." He answered.

Sakura groaned, "Does this require more dress fittings?" She asked.

He laughed a little, "Sorry love, but yes."

"I'd rather sleep through them." She mumbled.

"So would I," he whispered in her ear, "but that's the way life is for us, I'm afraid."

Sakura turned her head to catch his lips with hers, and kissed him. She licked his bottom lip in plea for entry, and he immediately granted her permission. She enticed his tongue to dance with hers, the beginning of a long and passionate kiss. She clutched at his shirt, pulling him closer to herself and desperate for his warmth. They parted for air and she went to kiss him again, but he stopped her by placing a finger to her lips.

He looked into her eyes lovingly with a hint of what looked like he might be teasing her, and said, "After dinner, my sweet." He whispered.

She blushed madly, her entire face turning red.


As they lay in bed together, tired and sweaty, Syaoran ran his fingers through Sakura's hair while she rested against him. "Sakura, how have you been feeling lately?" He asked softly.

"Hm…why…?" she asked tiredly.

"You've had such a stressful week; I'm worried about you." He said.

She smiled, "You worry too much sometimes," she said. "Relax, I'm ok; I'll let you know if I'm not feeling well, ok?" she said.

"I'd like that." He smiled.

"But in return, I want you to tell me when you're not feeling well." She said, opening her eyes and looking at him.

Surprised and caught off guard, he couldn't help but smile. "I promise." He whispered.

She smiled back and closed her eyes again. He went back to running his fingers through her hair.

"Hey Syaoran?" Sakura murmured.

"Yes?"

"You never got to tell me how your dream ended…" she said softly.

He smiled, "I woke up before it could." He confessed.

"Oh…" she mumbled. "Was it a dream of the future…?" she asked sleepily.

"No; just an ordinary dream." He said softly. "Why? Do you want children one day?" He asked.

She smiled, "I'd like a family of my own one day…yes…" she said, just before drifting off. Syaoran smiled and kissed her forehead before closing his eyes to fall asleep. The idea of having their own family one day made him feel an indescribable happiness, and he looked forward to that day.


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