It didn't take long for the girls to settle in; Rena was a bit more at ease than Sakura was, but she had her days where she wasn't coping well. Since Sakura was placed with two guards at her side, she was well protected. She'd grown used to their presence, and had grown close with Chii and Tomoyo in the months they had been there. Rena loved the girls as much as Sakura did, and she was glad that Sakura was smiling again. Nothing unusual had happened since Fern's visit, which was a relief, and the boys were hoping it would stay peaceful for as long as possible. They didn't want to see anymore sadness, and they didn't want to see any more violence.
When Sakura woke one morning she felt alone. She'd been feeling that way ever since she'd gotten her room; she didn't like sleeping alone-she hated waking up from nightmares in the middle of the night and not having the comfort of the person she loved beside her.
She rolled over and buried her face in her pillows to go back to sleep-she hadn't been sleeping well either. Just as she was about to fall back to sleep…
"Knock, knock! Come on Sakura, it's time to get up!" Chii called out, and then opened the door to walk in.
Chii opened the curtains, letting light pour through onto her bed. Sakura groaned.
"Five more minutes…" She mumbled.
"Come now Sakura, it's almost time for breakfast!" Chii said cheerfully.
She groaned again.
"I never would have imagined you the type that would be hard to get out of bed; you're just as bad as Syaoran sometimes." Chii sighed.
This aroused Sakura's interest. "What does he do…?" She asked tiredly.
"Oh he generally throws pillows and tells me to get out." Chii replied.
"Oh…" Sakura mumbled, falling back to sleep.
"Come on! Breakfast is almost ready-it's one of your favourites." Chii called out cheerfully, and then left Sakura to get up.
She got dressed into a plain white dress with gold decorating it, and then left her room. Her leg was feeling much better, but she still had a bit of a limp and sometimes needed to be carried. Hopefully it would heal soon. Sakura finally had the castle memorised, as did Rena, and made her way to the dining hall where the boys were waiting.
"Good morning," Syaoran smiled.
"Good morning." Sakura replied, smiling back.
Rena came running in a moment later, looking around. "Where is that pesky cat!?" she shouted.
"Great way to get your exercise, chasing Boris around." Syaoron muttered.
"I yield!" she groaned, and sat down.
"You're looking much better these days." Syaoran commented.
"Why thank you!" Rena beamed.
Rena's wound had healed up nicely, leaving behind a scar. She was still a little weak, but she'd regain her strength. Sakura was the one who had the most healing to do.
"So, what are you all up to today?" Rena asked cheerfully.
"Preparations for the ball." Syaoron muttered.
"Have fun!" Rena smiled.
Sakura shook her head and picked up her glass; she realised that it was a sweet wine, and looked over at Rena. "Oh no…" She groaned.
"What?" Syaoran asked.
"Rena and alcohol…" She mumbled.
"Hmm?" Rena looked up, interested.
"Nothing." Sakura mumbled, picking at her food.
After breakfast, Sakura sat down in her room looking out the window. She didn't do much during the day; Rena found entertainment in archery and in chasing the guys around the castle and beating them up. Sakura used to like embroidery and painting, but…she was too shy to ask. Instead, a lot of her time was spent sitting and staring out her window.
There was a knock at the door, and she jumped, falling off of her chair. Her door opened and Syaoran stepped through.
"Sakura?" He called out, looking for her.
He spotted her on the floor, her skirts up over her legs and body sprawled out on the wooden floor at the foot of her chair. She groaned.
"Sakura!" He rushed to her side and lifted her into his arms. "What happened?" He asked.
"I fell off…" she mumbled.
"Are you hurt?" He asked.
"No…it just came as a bit of a shock." She said, sitting up. "Sorry to bother you…" She mumbled.
"Don't apologise, I actually came to see you." He said with a soft smile.
"Why…?" She asked.
"Is there some reason I can't?" He asked.
She shook her head and moved to sit on her bed. "I just thought…you were busy…" She mumbled.
"Just because I've been busy doesn't mean I can't spend time with the girl I'm spending the rest of my life with." He said with a smile.
She blushed. He walked over and sat beside her, resting his chin on top of her head as he pulled her into his arms. She slipped her arms around his waist, returning his embrace.
"The tailor is organising gowns for you and your sister for the ball." He murmured.
"I seriously hate fittings…" She mumbled unhappily.
He chuckled, "Yes, but they aren't that bad." He said. She hugged him closer. "Sakura, I noticed you don't do much during the day… Don't you have anything you like to do?" He asked.
"Well…I like painting and other types of art…I used to make porcelain dolls and sew, practice embroidery as well as paint…" She said quietly.
"Why didn't you ask?" He asked. She seemed well acquainted with the arts, and he'd like to see what she could do.
She looked away from his face and down at the floor. "I didn't want to bother anyone…" she said, burying her face in his shoulder.
"You aren't bothering anyone." He said.
"But…canvas's and paints take up a lot of room…" she mumbled.
"So? There's a spare room you can use." He said.
"You're living here now; if there's something you want, don't hesitate to ask. Your sister certainly doesn't hesitate." He laughed a little. Sakura nodded, but she still felt uncomfortable. He noticed her unease and kissed her cheek, "It's ok, it takes time to settle in. You'll be fine-and you're not bothering anyone." Syaoran said softly.
"Thank you," Sakura smiled, resting her head against his shoulder.
Rena lay on the grass in the gardens, tired from running around. She kicked off her shoes and rolled on her stomach. She breathed in the fresh air, and felt a sharp stabbing pain in her side. It seemed she was still healing.
She looked up and saw Syaoron standing above her. He didn't look particularly pleased, and had a vague sense of worry plaguing his features. "Hello," She smiled.
"Don't overdo it; you're still healing." He warned.
"You're no fun." She mumbled.
"I mean it."
"I know!" She snapped.
Silence fell between them and he sighed. "I'll be inside if you need me," He said, and headed back inside.
Rena groaned. Why did they always argue? She knew he cared about her, but even so they continuously broke out into arguments. She wished that they'd stop arguing all the time. It was painful, and she didn't want to feel the pain she was feeling.
A couple of days passed, and it was time for Sakura's first fitting. Chii ran up to Sakura in the morning as she was headed for the gardens after breakfast, grabbing her friend around the waist.
"Sakura!" Chii grinned.
Sakura squeaked with surprise, and span around out of Chii's grip to face her friend. "Chii?"
"You have your first fitting today! Come on!" She smiled. Sakura groaned.
Chii pulled her along to her bedroom where a tailor was waiting; she was pretty with pink eyes and brown wavy hair that just came past her shoulders. "Good morning my lady; how are you doing today?" She asked.
"I'm doing well, thank you…" Sakura smiled timidly.
"My name is Anna-Maria. I'm your tailor." She smiled.
Sakura looked her over. She was about her height, maybe a little shorter, with an average bust and wide hips. She was wearing a red-brown dress with sleeves that ended at her elbows, and around her waist was a black ribbon. She wore black boots, and around her wrists were silver bracelets. Her skin was pale, and her nails well kept.
"Thank you for your time." Sakura smiled.
Anna-Maria pulled out what looked to be a simple prototype of the dress that Sakura would be wearing to the ball, and with her assistance Sakura changed into it. Sakura could feel her pinning things in place and making small notes, adjusting the dress to her size. Once Anna-Maria was done, she was able to take the dress off. It was a rather quick fitting, only about fifteen minutes.
"Thank you, my lady." Anna-Maria smiled.
Sakura smiled back and quickly got dressed into her light pink gown. The young tailor left and Sakura sighed; Syaoran had been busy lately, and didn't have much time to spend with her. She was beginning to feel a little lonely. She wondered how he was doing, if everything was going ok. She pulled on her shoes and left her room; she decided she could at least make use of her time by painting something. As usual, the two blondes followed her.
Syaoran went through the letters from royals and other nobles and aristocrats on his desk, all replying to invitations and inquiring about marriage. He was tired, and starting to get really annoyed. He brushed them to the side, deciding that they could wait till the ball to find out, and moved on to the rest of the work he needed to deal with. He wanted to see Sakura-see what she was up to-but he was so swamped with work that he had hardly any time, and when he did have time he was so tired he practically just fell asleep anyway.
There was a knock at the door, and without looking up he called out, "Come in."
Syaoron entered and raised his eyebrows. "You look like hell."
"Much appreciated. What do you want?" He muttered.
"Wow, you're far from your usual self. Get out, I'll take over. You haven't eaten, have you?" Syaoron said.
"How do you know?" He asked.
"You weren't present at breakfast; Lady Sakura was worried. You should go see her-after you've eaten." His brother replied.
"It's irritating how much you know me so well." Syaoran muttered, standing up.
"It is such a pity." His brother sighed and shrugged. "Now get out, before I kick you out."
Syaoran rolled his eyes and walked out of the room, heading for the kitchens.
Sakura sat in the small room that Syaoran had Chii set up for her; she was sitting in front of an easel with a large canvas in front of her. She was painting a picture of an autumn fairy, the background made up of oranges and yellows and reds and browns. Leaves plagued the background, along with autumn trees. She was in the middle of painting the figure of the fairy; from what it looked like, she would have a long dress and beautiful large wings of golden amber. She had a wreath of red and orange autumn leaves around her head, her hair long and black.
Standing outside the door were Fai and Chii, chatting away happily as usual unless Sakura required assistance with something. The two blondes looked up as the prince approached, "Wow, you look shocking My Lord." Chii said.
"You're not the first to say so. Is Sakura inside?" Syaoran asked.
"Yes, just don't frighten her-she seems rather indulged in her work." Fai replied.
"Thanks," He replied, and entered the small art studio.
It smelt strongly of paint and flowers; there was a desk with paints and piles of canvas's and other art materials stacked on top of it, and sitting by the window he spotted Sakura. All feelings of irritation seemed to leave his mind and body, and he smiled. He spotted the painting she was half way through, and raised his eyebrows. He never knew how much talent she had.
"That looks amazing." He said as he came to stand beside her, gently placing a hand on her shoulder.
She jumped and looked up, surprised to find Syaoran standing beside her. "Thank you…" She said with a slight blush.
"You're very talented. Could I display it when it's completed?" He asked.
"It's not that great…" She mumbled.
"If…you really want to…"
He looked over at her, "Yes?" He asked.
"Are you alright? You look really tired…" She said, worry plaguing her beautiful eyes.
He smiled softly, "I'm fine." He said.
She stood up and hugged him, "Please, get some rest…" She whispered.
"I'm fine, really." He insisted.
She hugged him closer, "Please…" She begged.
He let out a sigh of defeat. "Will you come with me?" He murmured.
She nodded and he smiled, "I'll relieve Chii and Fai for a while then." He said, and while she cleaned up her things he let the two blondes know they were relieved of their duties for a while. They didn't question it, just walked away chatting happily, probably glad to have a break.
He turned around and Sakura was already beside him; they walked out and headed for his room, and he noticed she was able to walk better. "How's your leg?" He asked.
"It's still a little sore, but it's much better than it was." She replied.
"That's good," He said.
"There are still days where I have to be carried places though…" She mumbled.
"I'm sure it will heal." He smiled.
They reached his room and entered; the curtains were still shut, which was strange for Syaoran, and he locked the door behind him so no one could enter. Sakura toed off her heels as she looked around, and he placed his own shoes by the door.
"Have you not been sleeping in here lately…?" Sakura asked.
He looked away guiltily. "No…I've been sleeping at my desk, more or less." He replied.
"I'm sorry…" She mumbled.
He crossed the room and hugged her, "For what?" He asked.
"Maybe I'm only a burden…" She whispered.
"Please don't say that about yourself. It's not true." He said. He pulled back and looked into her deep emerald eyes, and leant in to kiss her. Her eyes slid closed in bliss, and she suddenly felt her want for him. It felt good to have her in his arms again, and all the evenings they had spent apart seemed to slip away.
Rena knocked on the door to the study, hearing a quiet "come in" and entered. Syaoron was working quietly at the desk, and so she shut the door carefully and sat down in one of the large chairs. He looked up at her and then back at the page.
"What's wrong?" He asked, noticing the unhappy look on her face.
"I…wanted to apologise for the other day. You were only worried about me and I threw it back in your face. I'm sorry." She whispered.
He sighed and stopped writing, looking up at her. "I'll know when you mean what you say when you're angry, but thank you." He smiled.
"I don't mean to snap at you…" Rena mumbled, looking at her hands.
"Don't you get angry?" She asked with worry.
"Not really," He shrugged, "I know you're going through a hard time. It's understandable."
"I don't want to argue…" She said sadly.
He smiled and stood, walking round to her. He lifted her chin so they made eye contact, and a tear crawled out the corner of her eye. He wiped it away gently, and then leant forward to kiss her on the forehead. "You'll be ok." He said softly.
"I don't want you to get hurt because of me." She whispered.
"I'll be fine; I can protect myself, as can my brother. You have nothing to fear." He said.
Rena stood up and hugged him, her shoulders shaking with sobs. He stayed with her, stroking her hair and comforting her while she cried.
Sakura woke in the throne room-she quickly realised she was dreaming, and took in her surroundings. She could hear a storm raging outside, and she realised she was standing beside Syaoran who was sitting on the throne. He didn't look pleased at all. His brother was standing on the other side, and Rena was beside him looking a little uncomfortable, unsure of what was to come. Sakura looked up, and the doors opened; a woman walked in-someone Sakura and Rena recognised.
Sakura's eyes flew open and she realised she was safe in the arms of Syaoran, and relaxed. He was still sound asleep, exhausted from his long hours of work. She looked forward to being able to spend her life with him; she knew she'd be happy with him, and Rena was close with his brother. She continued to lie there with her head resting on his chest for a while, waiting for him to wake up. She didn't know-or care-how much time passed. She enjoyed it too much.
When he shifted, she knew he was awake. He opened his eyes and looked at her with a smile. "Hello." He greeted. She smiled back and threaded her fingers through his. "Are you feeling better…?" She asked timidly.
"Yes, much better. Thank you." He smiled.
"I'm glad…" She said.
He looked better; he didn't look so tired anymore, and there was a bit more colour in his face. She smiled in contentment, loving the feel of his skin against hers and the warmth of his body. It just occurred to her that she didn't know his age…
Rena probably did. Perhaps she could ask her. She wondered if he knew how old she was. She guessed that he probably found things out through his brother.
She looked up, and he gently wiped something from her face. She didn't realise she'd begun to cry again. "I'm sorry-I didn't mean to…" She whispered.
"Don't apologise. Will you tell me what's wrong?" He asked softly.
"I…was just thinking… My sister and I were taken captive on our seventeenth birthday." She said quietly.
He didn't need any more words. Her eighteenth birthday was when everything went wrong for her. "I understand. It's ok now; you're safe." He said.
She squeezed his hand, "You've done so much for me; how can I ever repay you?" she whispered.
"Just staying is enough for me." He said softly.
"That's all I want."
She smiled in defeat. She watched as he reached over to his bedside cabinet and picked up a small green box from the top of it. "Here, this is for you." He said, handing it to her.
She opened it to find a platinum chain with a small crystal teardrop pendant that held a peculiar ball of light inside it, changing colours every now and again. There were earrings to match, and she couldn't help but gasp.
"It's beautiful…" She whispered.
"I'm glad you like it," He smiled. "The stones are rare; I thought they'd suit you."
"Thank you so much," She whispered happily.
He squeezed her body tightly and kissed her forehead. "Come on, we should get up." He said softly.
She nodded and moved to sit up, carefully swinging her legs over the edge of the bed and standing up. He sat up after her and gathered his clothes. They got dressed and left his room, however Syaoran had to return to his work, so he went with Sakura to find Chii and Fai and left her in their capable hands.
"You were together for a long time." Chii commented.
Sakura looked at her sideways, "How long?" She asked.
"Well you were together since eleven and its four now. What were you doing?" Chii replied.
"He was just sleeping…I kept him company…" She mumbled.
Chii's jaw dropped. "You what!?"
"No, you're taking it too literally…" Sakura tried to defend herself and lover, but Chii wasn't listening.
"I think what she means is that she just stayed by his side." Fai stepped in.
"Oh! Duh." Chii waved it off and laughed.
"He gave me a gift…" Sakura said softly, her eyes glowing with happiness.
"What did he give you?" Chii asked.
Sakura showed them and Chii gasped while Fai whistled.
"You're one lucky girl," Chii winked.
Sakura looked away, closing the box and headed for her room so she could put it away safely, and then returned to her painting.