Rena decided to go see what her sister was working on; she loved her sister's artwork. Back home she had often hung Sakura's work up on her bedroom walls so she could look at it whenever she wanted. It was often displayed around the castle as well-the castle they once used to live in. She remembered a time when she had gotten really angry with her older sister once, and had ripped one of the paintings her sister had created. Even after her endless crying and apologising, Sakura had still managed to recreate the image perfectly with the difference of adding in another figure: Her sister had painted an image of the two of them together, and it had been her favourite piece since. Unfortunately that piece was now lost to the destruction of their home.
She skipped down the hallways in her deep red dress, and soon arrived at the door to her sister's studio. She opened it after smiling and greeting the two standing guard outside the door, and entered.
She found her sister painting the picture of the fairy, and gasped in awe. "That looks beautiful." She said.
Sakura placed her brush down and turned to her sister, smiling. She noticed the beautiful red stone hanging on a gold chain around her sister's neck that sparkled in the light, and the matching earrings in her ears.
"They're new," She commented.
"They were a gift." Rena smiled.
"Red and blue always did suit you." Sakura smiled.
"Green, pink and a lot of the softer colours were more for you I think, but you do look great in red and-or-blue." Rena grinned.
"So what have you been doing?" Sakura asked.
"Oh you know-nothing terribly interesting. I wanted to see how your art was going." She smiled.
"I suppose it's alright…Syaoran wants to display it when it's done…" She mumbled.
"That's great!" Rena beamed.
"Yeah, I guess." Sakura said.
"What's wrong?" Rena asked.
"I don't know…" She mumbled.
"You're feeling shy?" She asked.
Sakura nodded, "I'm not used to living here yet…" She said.
"Just think-if it's displayed it'll feel more like home!" Rena smiled.
Sakura smiled, "Yeah, you might be right." She said. "Oh…do you know how old they are? Syaoran and his brother, I mean."
Rena blinked, "You don't know?" She asked.
Sakura shook her head.
"They're twenty, two years older than us."
"I see…" Sakura murmured. She wasn't bothered, really. "How'd you react when you found out?" she asked.
Rena sighed, "I was pretty surprised." She said.
Sakura giggled, "I noticed you're growing close to his brother." She smiled.
"…Yeah…" She looked a tad awkward and a faint blush crossed her cheeks, and Sakura wondered what was happening between them. "Anyway, I better go. I have something I want to do." Rena smiled and left her sister to her work.
Syaoran spent the rest of the night in the study, much to everyone's displeasure, and continued to work long hours and get hardly any sleep. He wasn't present during meals, which often worried Sakura. Roughly a week passed, and during that week it didn't take long for Sakura to finish her painting on the large square canvas. She stood up and headed out of her studio with it in her arms, and Chii looked at her with a curious look.
"What are you doing?" she asked curiously, yet cheerfully.
"Syaoran wanted to see it when it was finished…" she said.
"Oh, well then my lady, let us head to the study." She beamed, and headed off with Sakura to find the all too hard working prince.
Sakura knocked on the door and heard a quiet come in, and entered. He was concentrating on something, and he didn't look particularly happy. She shifted uncomfortably, and then he looked up.
He smiled, "Sakura, what a pleasant surprise." He said.
"I'm sorry for bothering you, I know you're busy…" she said.
"No, no, I need a break." He said.
She looked away. "…You haven't been sleeping properly." She said.
"I'll be fine," He smiled.
"You don't look it…I'm worried." She said softly.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to worry you." He apologised, looking away. He looked pale again, in danger of collapse. "Have you finished your painting?" He asked, changing topic.
"Yes, I thought maybe I should bring it to you…" She said. "Well-you said that you wanted to see it…"
"Thank you." He smiled.
"I'll leave it to rest over here." She said, standing up and leaving it over against the wall.
It was then that Yuui barged in. "You!" He said, pointing to Syaoran disapprovingly. "Get some sleep now-doctor's orders! I will not have you collapsing from exhaustion because you're not sleeping and taking care of yourself like you should be. And you," He said, pointing to Sakura. "Make sure he stays there!" He frowned.
"But-" Syaoran went to protest, but was cut off quickly by the blonde.
He rolled his eyes in defeat and stood up, leaving the study with Sakura following behind. She caught up with him and noticed he looked irritated, and stopped in her tracks. He turned around, waiting for her, but she stayed where she was in her strapless deep emerald green gown.
"I'm sorry…" She whispered.
Why was she apologising-again?
"Why are you apologising?" He asked.
"You looked upset…I'm sorry." She whispered.
He walked forward and took her hand, "You haven't done a thing. Come on." He said.
He didn't once let go of her hand as they headed for his room, and when they reached his room he pulled her in for a long hug.
"Can I stay…?" She asked.
"I'd like that," He said softly into her hair.
They lay down together, and she stayed while he slept, eventually falling asleep at some point as well.
When Syaoran woke it was dark; Sakura was already awake beside him, off in her own little world. He tapped the lamp beside him and kissed her temple, gaining her attention.
"You're awake." She said quietly, rolling on her side to face him.
"How long have I been asleep for?" He asked.
"It's pretty late…" She answered.
"I see…" He murmured.
"Don't push yourself too hard, ok?" Sakura said softly.
He smiled, "Thank you."
"Are…you always this busy?" She asked quietly.
"Not usually. It will quieten down after the ball." He said.
"Can I help somehow?" She asked.
"Just knowing you're here is good enough." He said, pulling her into a hug.
She looked up into his eyes, and then leant in to kiss him. He pressed her closer to him, ran his hands down her back and pulled her sash away from her waist. She didn't deny his want for her; she wasn't afraid-she knew he wouldn't harm her. Her dress fell loose as he undid the ties keeping it together, and she shook herself out of it, her garment sliding off the bed and onto the floor. She shivered a little. He kissed her lips, and then her neck. She forced the both of them to sit up, and she pulled off his shirt. She pulled him in for a kiss, and then allowed him to push her back into the pillows.
He pulled her into his arms as they lay together, gently kissing her lips. "You're special to me, you know that right?" He said softly, moving misplaced hairs back into place.
"Am I?" She blushed.
"Yes, and I want you to be happy." He said. She pressed herself closer to him, "Thank you…" She whispered.
The next morning Syaoran slept in to appease Sakura's worry, and when he woke he left her to sleep, not wishing to disturb her. He dressed himself and quietly left the room after kissing her on the forehead. He sought out Chii and Fai before going to eat breakfast so that he could tell them where Sakura was, and found them wandering the castle halls. They spotted him almost immediately, and wandered over to greet him.
"Hello your grace. Have you seen Sakura?" Chii asked almost casually.
"That's what I wanted to speak with you about; she's in my room, sleeping. Leave her be, just wait outside for her." He said.
"Okidoki!" Chii smiled.
"What are you going to do now?" Fai asked.
"I'm going to go eat something; there's still a lot of work to do that I need to get back to." Syaoran replied.
"Don't forget that breaks are important too; people will expect to see you at today's meals." Fai said.
"Alright," He replied, and disappeared down the hall.
Chii sighed, "He shouldn't be this busy, I wonder what's going on?" She wondered.
"Not sure," Her partner replied. "But we'll most likely find out at the ball."
They came to stand outside Syaoran's room, and Chii couldn't resist the urge to poke her head in and check on her beloved friend. She opened the door and peered inside, and gasped. Sakura lay stomach down with the sheet halfway up her back due to the warmth of the day, sound asleep. Chii closed the door quietly.
"I think I know the reason as to why he's so busy." She sighed.
"Oh?" Fai murmured with interest.
"I'll keep it to myself." She said with a smile. They were obviously keeping it a secret for a reason.
When Sakura woke she found she was alone, but she didn't mind. She sat up and stretched her muscles, and then dressed herself in the clothes she was wearing the day before. She felt the need for a bath, and sighed. She stepped out of his room, finding Chii and Fai present outside the door.
"Good morning, my lady! Sleep well?" Chii asked cheerfully.
"Yes, thank you… I'm going to go have a bath; could you collect some clean clothes for me please?" Sakura asked politely.
"Sure, I'll leave them in a basket for you." Chii replied.
"Thank you." Sakura smiled, and headed off towards the baths.
Syaoran looked up from his desk to the painting that was resting with its face to the wall. He stood up and walked over, picked it up and held it in his hands. He took in all the fine detail of Sakura's work, and smiled. It was a truly wonderful piece of art. The way she brought out the glow of the wings and the light of the sky. In the corner she had signed her name in gold paint.
He called upon some workers of the castle to have the painting hanged-somewhere everybody could see it-so he suggested one of the main halls. He warned them to be extremely careful and he would not be pleased if any harm came to the piece, and sent them off.
He sat back down and looked at the pages that lay before him. On them was a design of a traditional headpiece for ladies of the higher class of when they became engaged for his country. He was to present Sakura with one on the night of the ball, and his brother was presenting Rena with one also. He sighed; he wished his sister was still around to see this.
After Sakura had finished her bath, she went to eat something for breakfast and then went to find her sister. She found Rena practicing archery down in the gardens over a large green plane of grass, shooting at a target board.
"You always have enjoyed this sort of thing, haven't you?" Sakura said as she walked up to her sister.
Rena looked over and smiled, "Yes, much like you and painting I suppose." She said. "How are you feeling?"
Sakura shrugged, "I'm ok. What about you?" she asked.
"I'm fine. I had a fitting the other day; brings back old memories." Rena sighed, returning to shooting arrows at the board, hitting a perfect bullseye every time.
"It does, doesn't it?" Sakura murmured.
"I noticed that Lord Syaoran certainly seems to be running himself ragged." Rena said.
"I'm worried…" Sakura said softly.
"Yeah, but I'm sure it'll all work out. Heard he had to be told to go to bed by Yuui though. Laughed at that." Rena said.
"Yeah, I was with him." Sakura said.
"You really care for him, despite what you've been through." Rena smiled.
Sakura hugged her knees. "Can I tell you something private?" She asked.
Rena lowered her bow and sat beside her sister. "Sure."
"We've already…kissed…" She mumbled.
Rena smiled, "So you're like me." She said.
Sakura's eyes widened. "You've…?"
"Syaoron and I. Keep it a secret though." She winked.
Sakura smiled, "I will." She said.
A couple weeks flew by, and the evening of the ball had finally arrived. Sakura stood in her room, terrified, her gown laying on her bed and she standing in a silk robe. She was terrified of the people who were going to be there, and of what to do. Chii entered Sakura's room wearing a beautiful light blue empire line gown with her hair done up in a French bun with curls coming out the top and a light touch of make up to her eyes and lips.
"Sakura? Whatever could be the matter?" Chii asked upon laying eyes on Sakura's panicky figure.
"I'm terrified!" Sakura cried.
"I don't know what to do-I'm scared of the people…" Sakura whispered.
"Shh, it's ok. You have us with you, and Syaoran and Rena." Chii smiled.
Sakura tried to smile as well, and Chii looked over at the bed. "Let's get you into that ball gown." She said.
The gown consisted of a beautiful peacock blue corset, with the skirts colour starting off with the same beautiful blue and leading into a beautiful array of purples towards the bottom of the skirt. She wore silver strappy sandals with a slight heel on them, and around her shoulders was a silvery white shawl made of silk. Chii did her hair up in a bun with a braid around its base, just like the first time she'd done her hair, and Sakura noticed the small package on her vanity.
"What's this?" She asked.
"That's from Syaoran; it's the reason I came in the first place." Chii smiled.
Sakura unwrapped it and lifted the lid of the box to find a choker and earrings inside. The choker was white gold, with the design of crystal flowers and leaves. In the middle was a tear drop of the same gem with the glowing ball inside it hanging from the necklace, between two leaves. She put her earrings in and turned to Chii.
"How do I look?" She asked.
"You look amazing." She smiled. But just for a touch," Chii giggled, picking up some pale pink lipstick.
Rena looked at herself in the mirror; she didn't mind her dress. It was a deep red that faded into orange. The back of her corset was laced up with black ribbon, and as much as she hated ball gowns, she'd deal with it. On her feet were delicate black heels, and her hair was pulled back into the same hair style as her sisters. She wore deep red lipstick and a choker of red roses around her neck with a tear drop of a red stone in the middle. She had matching earrings in her ears, and around her shoulders she wore a black shawl. She wondered how her sister was doing as it was nearly time to head down to the ballroom.
Sakura hid in the wing of the ballroom, peering out to find the hall filled with people she didn't know. She easily spotted Rena in her beautiful gown of red and orange and black, staring into her glass of red wine looking incredibly bored as men tried to hit her up. Sakura felt a hand on her shoulder and span around, relieved to find that it was only Syaoran.
"You look beautiful." He smiled.
She blushed, "Thank you." She said. She looked him over, and noticed he was wearing a black coat with a black top underneath. He was wearing a blue sash, and black pants. His coat had silver embroidery on it, around the cuffs of the sleeves and the collar.
"What are you doing back here?" He asked.
"I'm a bit scared…" She confessed.
"I see. Do you want some company?" He asked. She nodded and he smiled, "Come with me. It's not that scary, I promise." He said.
She trusted him, and trusted he would take care of her, and so she followed him out of the wing. People stared as he walked by, whispering and murmuring as they noticed their hands.
"Syaoran…" Sakura tugged on his sleeve, but he smiled.
"Don't worry. It's nothing important." He said.
They made their way over to Chii and Tomoyo who were standing with Fai, "Good evening." Tomoyo greeted with a smile.
Sakura smiled back timidly, her eyes flicking around the room to other people, anxious of those around her.
"Is something wrong, Sakura?" Chii asked.
She whipped her head back round, eyes filled with fear. Chii smiled comfortingly, "Everything will be ok." She said, as if able to read Sakura's mind. But Sakura was still uneasy. Syaoran brushed his fingers against her hand, calming her. She relaxed and looked up at him; he was smiling gently, and she felt comforted by this.
Rena was getting really ticked off as several men her age pined for her attention. She turned to take a step away, but bumped into someone. She looked up to find the familiar face of Syaoron standing before her. He was wearing something similar to his brother, only he was wearing a red sash and his coat had gold embroidery on it.
"Help," she mouthed. He looked at her, confused, and then clicked.
"Would you like to dance?" He asked, holding out his hand for hers. She smiled and took it, and he led her to the dance floor, away from the men after her attention.
Sakura watched as her sister danced, unaware of the presence behind her. Syaoran was tending to other guests, but had told her he would return shortly. Someone tapped her shoulder, and she jumped. She turned around to find a tall man with dark hair and blue eyes looking her over with interest-most likely inspecting her aura. He made eye contact with the startled young Sakura, and smiled apologetically.
"Pardon me My Lady, I didn't mean to scare you." He smiled politely. Sakura noticed his aura was gold, like Syaoran's, devoid of all deception and lies-pure and trustworthy. "My name is Sid."
"Sakura…" She murmured her reply.
"You look very alone. Are you with anyone?" Sid asked.
"Yes…" Sakura replied.
"May I keep you company until they return?" He asked. She nodded reluctantly, and hoped Syaoran would come back soon.
Sid was alright; he wasn't forceful with topics nor did he press matters that she rather not go into. He was calm and mature, much like Syaoran was.
"I've always hated that chandelier." He said very casually. "I tried to burn it once when I was about twelve."
Sakura stared at him, wondering who on earth this person was.
"Of course, it didn't do much-all it really did was light the candles. Sora was very amused-she never let me live it down." Sid continued to talk as Sakura stood there feeling very awkward.
Eventually Syaoran walked over to see Sakura, and saw Sid.
He smiled, "Good evening Sid, how have you been?" Syaoran asked politely.
"Quite well, yourself?" Sid replied.
"Rather busy, but it's alright." Syaoran smiled.
"I imagine so with preparations for the ball." Sid laughed. "How's your evening been?"
"Talkative; a lot of people wish to speak with me concerning…matters." He sighed.
"Ah, well you are of age." Sid smirked.
"Ha, much appreciated, but I already have someone." Syaoran smiled, and then looked to Sakura. "Would you like to dance?" He asked her softly. She smiled and took his hand, allowing him to lead her to the dance floor.
Sid smiled as he watched Syaoran lead Sakura to the floor, and then headed off to find Syaoron.
Rena felt at ease as she danced with Syaoron, but she could still feel the eyes of many nobles on them as they moved around the dance floor gracefully, ladies and gents all looking for their attention but never getting it.
"You look lovely tonight." He said.
Rena blushed, "Thank you." She smiled.
"I thought those jewels would suit you." He smiled.
"You seem to have figured me out." She smiled back.
"I like the colour red on you." He said.
She blushed, "Really?" She asked.
"It suits you." He said. She smiled. "You don't like it when other men talk to you, do you?" He asked.
"No." She replied, looking away.
"Effects of your past?" He asked.
"Something like that…" she mumbled.
"I'll keep you safe." He smiled.
Sakura felt restless as she danced with Syaoran, her eyes constantly moving to survey her surroundings. She was frightened and tense despite the fact Syaoran had his hand on her hip and was holding her hand gently.
"Sakura, you need to relax." He said calmly. "You'll trip over your feet."
He head whipped back around and her eyes met his; his gaze was as gentle as always. She relaxed almost immediately, completely captivated by his eyes. He smiled, "Just focus on me, nothing else." He said softly as they danced. She held his gaze, finding love and affection in his eyes for her.
"How is your leg?" He suddenly asked.
"It's much better than it was." She replied.
"Do you still get pain?" He asked.
"Not often, just sometimes." She said, still holding his gaze.
"I suppose that's better than before. I'm glad." He said with a smile. She smiled back. "Your sister told my brother about where you used to live." He murmured.
Her smile saddened. "So you know who I really am?" She asked.
"I'm sorry for your loss. But yes, I know you're from Ainz, our sister country, and that you are a princess." He murmured.
"You aren't mad…?" She asked.
"What? No. Why would I be?" He asked.
"…I don't know."
"Whatever you tell me about your past is all up to you, I'll always be here to listen." Syaoran said as they span around in a circle. She looked deep into his eyes and he gazed back, leaning into her. She lifted her chin and their lips made contact. She didn't care about the attention they got; she just didn't want the moment in his arms to end.
People whispered and gasped at the couple as they kissed, but they paid no attention to it. As they parted Syaoran smiled, "The dance is ending." He said softly as the music came to an end.
Sakura felt disappointed, and a sadness came over her as she realised he may have to leave her again. "Don't leave me…" She whispered.
"My brother and I have to make an announcement now; I'll see you shortly, I promise." He whispered.
"What is it?" She asked.
"About the engagement. I'm to present you with something special. Rena gets one from my brother." He smiled. Sakura wondered what she was to be presented with. "I'll be back soon, go find Rena. Also, you don't have to worry about Sid; he's my cousin." He said softly.
She nodded and turned to walk away, heading off through the whispering crowd to find her dearly beloved sister. She didn't realise that Sid was Syaoran's cousin, but it made sense-they were so alike. She smiled and felt a little more at ease. It was nice to know a little more about him.