The room was dark, and as the young queen relaxed back against her throne of cushions she had one of her maids give her a pedicure while another massaged her shoulders. The doors opened and Leon entered, dressed in his usual armour. She smiled, "Hello darling. What do you have to report?" she asked.
He walked up the black stone steps and took a seat beside her, placing an arm around her shoulders. "Princess Sakura and Prince Syaoran are to be married in the early spring." He said.
"Oh really now? Perhaps we should send her a wedding gift…before the wedding." She smirked.
He laughed, "That's not very nice."
"I doubt we'll be getting an invitation, my love, but be prepared. I intend on seeing her on her wedding day in order to send her a message. She's not out of the woods yet." She said.
"As you wish."
"If possible, I want her dead so that she's not in my way. I can't have her interfering with my goal."
"What about her power?" He asked.
"I never said I was giving up on it. I'm going to send someone to bring her back here; I'll take her magic and then kill her. Now won't that be a nice wedding present?" She smiled.
Leon smiled back, "Alright then, my queen."
"What about the army that's been interfering with our plans?" She questioned. "I got a letter about Lord Alexander and Lady Leanne being murdered."
"Sorry, but I don't have any Intel on that. They move too fast for us to find out any information." Leon said.
She sighed, "That frustrates me."
A few more weeks passed, and the weeks turned to months. They were nearing the end of winter, and in the spring was the royal wedding. Meetings took place constantly, and so much work was going into preparations for the big day that it was hard to find free time. Sakura sat in the springs, allowing the hot water to relax her muscles. She was feeling nervous with the wedding not being too far off. She'd started staying with Syaoran at night more frequently, her dreams often waking her from her sleep. She broke away from her thoughts as she heard the doors to the bath open and close.
"Princess?" One of the maids called out.
"I'm here." Sakura replied. She'd gotten more comfortable around the castle, and had started expressing herself more, which pleased Syaoran and Rena.
"Lady Chii sent me to inform you of your tailor's arrival." They spoke.
Sakura sighed. Nearly every week for the past nine weeks Sakura had to make decisions regarding her wedding dress, hair, jewellery and make-up. It was really tiring. "Thank you. Let Anna-Maria know I'll be there shortly." Sakura replied.
The maid left and Sakura sat in the water, thinking. She got out of the springs, drying and dressing herself in her usual pink, white and gold. She wondered what Syaoran was doing, if he'd have any spare time for her in the day.
She looked up, and turned around to find Syaoran standing a little way ahead of her. He walked up to her and kissed her, smiling as he parted. She smiled back, pleased to see him. "Do you want to go out later?" He asked her.
"Aren't you busy?" she asked.
"I managed to get most of the work done yesterday." He smiled.
Sakura hugged him, "Yes, I'd like to go out."
"Great; I was thinking around lunch; a new restaurant opened the other day."
Sakura smiled, "That sounds lovely."
"Alright, I'll see you later; Anna Maria is here."
"Thank you Syaoran." She smiled softly and he turned to leave; he stopped for a moment, as if remembering something and turned back to her.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Before I go… Don't skip this dress fitting; I'm sure you don't want half the castle looking for you now?" He smiled jokingly.
She blushed. She didn't realise he knew about her skipping out on the fittings. "Who told you?" she mumbled.
"Rena did. Sakura, is there something you're not telling me…?" He replied. Sakura looked to her feet, feeling guilty. "Don't you want to get married?" He asked.
"Of course I do! It's just…I'm scared." She whispered.
He smiled gently, "I understand. I am too, to be honest."
She looked at him with surprise. "Why?" she asked. She wouldn't have thought that he'd be worried about anything to do with the wedding. He always seemed so calm.
"What if I fail you?" He asked softly.
She was so surprised she couldn't speak for several minutes. Syaoran continued to smile, and reached out to gently touch her cheek. "I don't want to lose you."
A tear slid down her cheek as she smiled, "You've always kept me safe, even in my darkest moments. How could you ever fail me?" she whispered.
"I just don't want to hurt you; you've been through so much." He replied.
"You can't protect me from everything, and that's ok. I love you, and that's not going to change." Sakura said.
He drew her into a hug and released a sigh of relief. "Thank you, Sakura." He kissed her on the cheek and turned, walking away to do what he needed to be done. Sakura turned and headed off to her room where Anna-Maria was waiting patiently, to find Rena on her bed reading the newspaper.
"Hey, she finally showed up." Rena said, placing the paper down beside her.
"Sorry I'm late…" Sakura apologised to Anna-Maria, who smiled.
"I was beginning to wonder if you even wanted to get married." The tailor said jokingly.
Sakura sighed, "That's not it." She quickly smiled and said, "So, where's this dress?"
Anna-Maria returned her smile and pointed to the bed, where a white and gold silk gown lay. It looked to be a traditional wedding gown of the royalty in Clow; the gown was sleeveless, with pale crème lace along the sweetheart neckline and decorated with elaborate patterns of flowers and ivy, which symbolised marriage and fidelity on the bodice and skirt. The back was lace up, so it could be easily adjusted to Sakura's comfort.
"This one's a little different to the others, but I'm sure you can choose which one you like best." Anna-Maria smiled.
"Thank you," Sakura replied as the tailor helped her out of her clothes and into the new garment. It had several skirts for volume, and a train. Sakura looked at herself in the mirror, examining the dress and how it looked on her. She quite liked it, and it felt comfortable.
"What do you think?" Anna-Maria asked.
"It's comfortable to wear, and I like the design and pattern work; what do you think Rena?" Sakura replied.
"Anything looks good on you." Rena shrugged, "I like it."
"I made a shawl to go with it, in case you get cold." Anna-Maria said.
"Thank you, it's much appreciated." Sakura smiled.
Anna-Maria helped Sakura out of the gown and back into her clothes, and then carefully folded and placed the gown back in its box. "I'll make the final adjustments and it will be ready for you shortly."
"Great," Sakura smiled, "I look forward to seeing you soon."
"Take care of yourself, Princess."
Sakura smiled and the young tailor left, leaving Sakura alone with her sister. "So… What news has the paper brought us?"
"To be honest, it's just jargon on the wedding, along with questions and shit." Rena replied dully.
"Well that's kind of lame…" Sakura sighed.
Rena laughed, "Yep!" she giggled, "By the way, how have you been feeling lately?" Rena asked her sister.
Sakura smiled, "Better than I have in a long time."
Rena smiled back, "Well that's good."
Sakura looked out the window, "You know, I never would have thought that after everything that we've been through, I'd be getting married." She said.
"Well I guess that just goes to show your progress, and the trust you place in him." Rena said.
"He's helped me in so many ways, and I'm so grateful to him for that." Sakura whispered.
Rena remembered the look on her sister's face earlier when she'd walked in, "Is there something you're worried about?" she asked Sakura with concern.
Sakura stayed silent for a moment, and then looked to her sister. "What if I can't carry out the duties as his wife?" she asked.
Rena smiled, "You and I both know that Syaoran expects nothing of you; he just wants you to be safe and happy and feel at home."
Sakura still felt anxious, "I'm frightened of the failure…"
"You won't. Look, no one is perfect; if you make mistakes, then you can better yourself by learning from them. Hey, you're getting married to one of the kindest people you'll ever meet; there is no doubt he'll help you through anything. After all, he loves you." Rena said comfortingly.
Sakura couldn't help but smile. "You're right, I can only do my best."
"That's the spirit!"
Sakura giggled a little and so did Rena, until they were both lying on the bed clutching their stomachs with laughter. Finally, Sakura settled and so did Rena. "Thanks Ren, I'm so glad you're here."
"So you should be." Rena smirked.
Sakura sat up, "Well, I think I might head over to the studio for a while and finish off that doll I'm making."
"Sounds good; have fun."
"I will," Sakura smiled, and left her room. Rena headed down to the target boards, deciding on some archery practice to pass some time.
Syaoran sat in a council meeting next to his brother who was drawing on the page in front of him, which he was meant to be reading while listening to the council members. They were having a discussion on the movements of the group who were after the girls; they'd been inactive for a few months now, but it wasn't safe to say that Sakura and Rena were safe just yet.
"With them being this quiet, there's no way to tell when they'll attack next." Fai said.
"It's possible they may try to disrupt the wedding; I advise that you place extra guards at the entrances and around the wedding for both yours and the girl's safety." Yuui said.
"How will we know when they decide to make a move?" Syaoran asked.
"We have spies spread throughout the country; if they plan or try anything, we'll know straight away." Kurogane answered.
Syaoran nodded, "Good."
"You haven't had any dreams in regards to the wedding or the group?" Fai asked.
Syaoran shook his head, "No."
"That's disappointing. If we had some insight on the possibilities of what might happen we could prepare for it." Yuui sighed. "For crying out loud, pay attention!" He yelled at Syaoron, who was still drawing on the back of his page.
"Not always. Sometimes I can't tell you what will happen, even if I wanted to." Syaoran said.
"So you've mentioned before." Yuui muttered.
"We received a letter from one of the neighbouring countries yesterday, informing us of the recent deaths of the king and queen." Fai said, sliding the letter across the table to Syaoran.
"And cause of death was?" the prince asked.
"Poison." Yuui replied, "And a very powerful on that attacks the central nervous system."
"Who could have made this sort of poison?" Syaoran asked.
"Only a very skilled medical practitioner." Yuui answered.
He thought for a moment and sighed. "Wonderful," he muttered. "Is there any antidote for it?"
"Yes, but it takes time to make."
"Get on it." Syaoran ordered. "Who knows what might happen at the wedding."
With that said, the council meeting ended and Syaoran left to go and find Sakura. "He seems a bit upset." Fai said.
"Well you would be too if someone was out to kill your soon to be wife." Yuui snapped.
"You better do what he says. We don't want him pissed off now, do we?" Syaoron said as he stood. He others dreaded the thought of the prince being so angry. He could be frightening at the most calmest of times, but when he got angry you were lucky if you got away with both of your arms. Luckily, he was rarely ever pushed to those limits. His calm and gentle nature allowed him to control his temper well.
Sakura looked up as Syaoran entered and she smiled. "How'd the meeting go?" She asked.
"It was alright." He replied as he came to stand with her. "How's it all going?" he asked, referring to her work.
She smiled a little, though it wasn't a happy one. "One of the arms exploded while it was being fired. I guess I should have checked the clay…" she said sadly.
"Are you ok?" he asked.
"Yes, it happens sometimes…I'll just have to try again." Sakura replied.
He looked at her hands which were shaking and held them in his. "Take a break for a while; tell me what's on your mind." He said.
She fell into his arms, clutching at him as she cried. "I'm so afraid of failing you," she whispered, "What if I can't complete my duties?"
He held her gently, "I don't want you to worry about that; I'm marrying you because I love you. Not for profit or to settle a war. I want you to be happy, and I'll do whatever it takes to keep you happy." He said softly.
"Shh, it's ok. We can take small steps if you want. Things will come naturally."
Sakura began to calm down and took in deep breaths; she remembered her teachings well, and Syaoran knew she'd been taught everything she needed to run a country. He believed in her abilities, and if it took small steps to get there then so be it.
Rena walked through the garden that was covered in melting snow and sat down on one of the benches by the fountain. She shivered against the cold and looked up at the dark sky. It looked like there might be another storm coming. She felt something soft and warm being placed around her shoulders, and she looked over her shoulder to see Syaoron looking at her with concern.
"If you don't keep yourself warm out here you'll get sick." He said.
She looked away and he sat down beside her. "What's wrong?" he asked.
"Have you noticed that those creeps haven't tried to attack in the last three months? Their last attack was at Sid's." She said.
"Yes, we spoke about that in the meeting." He replied.
"So then what-"
"We don't think they've been active for a while, but a couple of nobles have been poisoned to death recently." He said.
"So what's being done to protect my sister?" she asked.
"The guard has been tightened, and things are being put in place should anything happen at the wedding." He told her.
"Good." She said.
"It looks like there might be a storm. You should head inside before it starts." He said, standing up and heading back up to the palace. Rena sighed and followed after him, and when she was inside she headed off to find something to do.
The weather had worsened once Syaoran and Sakura returned home from being out for the afternoon. Wind rattled the windows as Syaoran sat in his room; Yuui was tending to him, though none of the others knew. "By the looks of your results, you're sick." He said.
Syaoran sighed, "Fantastic."
"Have you told Sakura?" Yuui asked as he checked his breathing.
"No, I didn't want to cause her any unnecessary stress if I wasn't." Syaoran replied.
"Sorry, but you're going to be stuck in bed for a few days. You have pneumonia and from the looks of it, a throat infection." Yuui muttered unhappily.
Syaoran sighed, "thank you, I'll tell her myself."
"Hell no. You're not going anywhere except for bed."
"Just send her here then!" Syaoran said, his temper rising.
"Alright keep your pants on-I'll go find her." Yuui replied, rolling his eyes and leaving to find the Princess.
Syaoran lay down on his bed, his chest sore with every breath he took. Hopefully the medicine would kick in soon and relieve his discomfort. His head throbbed and just seemed to make everything worse. He looked up as the door opened and his brother stepped in. "Well don't you look marvellous." Syaoron said as he walked over and sat in the seat by the fireplace.
"Appreciated." Syaoran replied before breaking into a coughing fit.
"I haven't seen you this sick in a long time; what did Yuui say?"
"He said that I've got pneumonia and a throat infection."
"Good job. Maybe now you'll learn not to overwork yourself." Syaoron said.
"Oh do shut up." Syaoran snapped.
"Better make sure you're alright for the wedding; don't want to miss the big day."
"Since when were you so annoying?" Syaoran asked.
"Since when did you overwork yourself to the point where you got so sick you were stuck in bed?" He retorted. Syaoran rolled his eyes. "Well, I should probably go. Rena wants me for something."
Syaoron stood and left, leaving Syaoran alone. The medicine was beginning to kick in, and he was starting to feel tired. There was a knock at his door and he called out for them to come in; Sakura opened the door and stepped in, closing the door behind her. She was dressed in a lightweight sleeping garment that clung to her curves. She must have been getting ready for bed.
"Yuui said you wanted to speak with me." She said softly.
Syaoran shifted himself back into a sitting position, and Sakura walked over to sit beside him. "What's wrong?" She asked with worry.
"I didn't want to tell you until I was sure, but Yuui just confirmed it with me." He said. "What is it?" She asked.
"I've got pneumonia and a throat infection." He said softly.
Her worry increased. He had an illness that targeted the chest and the lungs, and that could be dangerous. "Will you be ok?" she asked.
"I'll be fine. Yuui's given me some medicine, so I'll be ok."
She smiled and rested her head against his chest, "I'll stay," She said softly.
"You don't have to…"
"Please, I want to. You always stay with me when I feel unwell; let me return the favour." She said.
He smiled, "If you insist."
She slipped in beside him and he lay back down beside her after turning off the lamp, and he pulled her closer to him. She was hardly wearing anything beneath the thin layer of fabric, and he wondered if she was cold. "Aren't you cold?" He asked her.
"A little…" She replied. He pulled the blankets further up around her and she snuggled close to him. He rested his arm over her waist and kissed her on the forehead before closing his eyes to fall asleep. Sakura fell asleep shortly after he did, only to be woken in the middle of the night by something strange. Syaoran was still asleep, and she didn't want to disturb his rest; she sat up and flicked on the lamp beside her, looking around the room with caution. She could sense a presence, and it was familiar to her. It was the presence of one of the men who had repeatedly subjected her to torture. Suddenly, she felt a knife at her throat.
"Scream and I'll kill your fiancé." He hissed. Sakura stayed quiet, fearing for their safety. "Now, get up."
She spat in his face and her offender snarled at her, "I'll pretend you didn't do that. Now, get up or I'll kill him."
She did so, struggling against him as he pulled her over to the window. Syaoran woke briefly and noticed the lack of Sakura's presence beside him. His head felt a little fuzzy and his chest hurt like hell. He then realised the other presence and the lamp light; he looked over to see someone holding a knife to Sakura's throat by the window, and she was struggling against her offender. He clicked his fingers and Sakura's offender fell to the floor, paralysed but not dead. Sakura ran to him as he coughed violently, worried about him and called for the guards. Several guards came running in and Sakura was supporting Syaoran as he shifted himself into a sitting position.
"Take him to the dungeons; he's paralysed for now. Have Kurogane question him tomorrow." Syaoran wheezed.
Two of the guards picked the man up and followed his orders, and Syaoran looked like he was about to collapse. "Get Yuui!" Sakura cried, "Hurry!" The last guard quickly ran out to carry out his orders, while Sakura worried over Syaoran and his rising fever.
Yuui came rushing in a few moments later and saw the state of the prince; he quickly put together a shot and walked over. "Hold him down." He said.
"Why?" Sakura asked, on the verge of tears.
"Because this will hurt like a bitch." He replied, rolling the prince onto his stomach. Sakura held Syaoran, his head resting in her lap, and Yuui slammed the needle down straight into the muscle. Syaoran screamed in agony and gripped Sakura's clothes, digging his fingers into her skin beneath her clothes to assuage his pain. Sakura cried as she ran her fingers through his hair and over his face.
"He knows not to use magic when he's crook; it just worsens his state." Yuui muttered. "Don't worry, he'll be ok. He'll be sore, but he'll be ok." Yuui said, and then left the couple. Sakura didn't think she'd ever seen Syaoran cry before; the pain must have been too much for him to handle as he cried into Sakura's knees, clutching at her.
"It's ok," she whispered, "Everything will be ok." She said. She wanted so badly to ease his pain, to be able to do something for him. "I'm just going to move, ok?" she said, but he held her hands, not wanting her to move. "It's ok, I'm still here. I'm just here right next to you." She said shakily as she cradled his head, carefully moving to lay down next to him while still holding his hands. His grip tightened and she stroked his cheek, wiping away the tears that continued to fall.
Syaoron stopped Yuui on his way back to his room, having heard his brother's scream. "What happened?" he asked the doctor.
"Sakura was attacked by someone, and to save her your brother used magic." He replied.
"His condition worsened." The prince murmured.
"He'll be fine in a few weeks. Go back to bed." Yuui said, walking off. Syaoron looked down the hall at his brother's door and sighed before heading back into his room.