Chapter 6: The Meadow
The next morning Ruka went off with Haruka and Michiru early, dressed in a tan, sleeveless blouse, a pair of finely made stretch denim pants, and brown lace up boots, and leather gloves that went to her mid forearm. Luckily her mother had come by to see the twins and was able to do Ruka's hair, allowing her to French braid it which she never let anyone do. Haruka was dressed similarly and Michiru wore an Aqua sundress with tights and black boots. Kiyoko thought that they all looked very cute together. Michiru began leading Ruka out of the suite, while Haruka stayed behind.
Haruka stood and stared at Kiyoko for a few seconds, then she picked her up in an embrace, twirling her once more. She grinned at Kiyoko, "I can't tell you how much I've missed you. I'm not letting Usagi make those trips alone anymore. We will see more of each other. Besides, it looks like I have another adoring pupil in the making."
Kiyoko laughed, "I've been telling her about you since before she was born. You've always been and will always be very precious to me. I love you Haruka. Now could you put me down?" Haruka set her back on the floor and kissed her cheek before bidding her farewell and going to catch up with the others.
Once she'd left, Kiyoko turned around to find Endo looking intently at her. He was one of the only people she'd ever known who was able to surprise her, and the look on his face just fed that. She could sense he wanted to say something but was hesitant, "Go on and tell me what's on your mind sweetheart."
Endo chewed on his lip, which made Kiyoko smile because she did it too. She waited him out. Endo would tell her when he was ready. He always had to think things through. He finally replied, "I think if she didn't love Michiru so much, she'd have been by your side a long time ago. She doesn't know it though. She only sees it as familial affection, but I can sense that she rides a fine line sometimes."
Kiyoko stood there speechless for a moment. The first thing she thought about was how old Endo sounded when he said all of that. The second was that he could be right. However, that was a non-issue. After a pause she replied, "Perhaps. But I love Seiya and she loves Michiru. So it is a moot point. She's family, that's what matters." Endo nodded and then they headed out to fetch Usa-chan and Setsuna, who she'd sent word to while she was getting herself ready this morning.
When they reached Usa-chan's chambers they found Setsuna waiting there as well. It looked as if they were ready to go. Usa-chan wore a lavender pink sundress and leggings that matched with soft grey boots. Setsuna was the picture of grace with dark red blouse that flattered her perfectly and a pair of beige capris and light brown Maryjane slippers.
Seeing Kiyoko eyeing the two of them she laughed, "You look lovely as well your highness. And my prince, you're so handsome." Kiyoko smiled and Endo blushed. Kiyoko had chosen a silver camisole with a sleeveless black blouse, grey capris that matched her camisole and black Maryjane slippers. Endo was dressed in a deep blue button down dress shirt and denim pants with a light wash and simple black boots. He'd also decided he wanted to wear the cross of his grandfather again as well. And so the four of them set out to the meadow.
As they walked they talked, Usa-chan asked many questions about Estara. Kiyoko enjoyed answering them. Satsuna and Endo walked behind them, Endo very curious about her role as the Guardian of Time. This chatting continued until they'd reached the meadow. Both of the children stopped when Kiyoko took her first steps into the meadow and every single flower bloomed brightly in greeting of the priestess they'd never forget.
Satsuna giggled and called out to Kiyoko, "I think you caught them off guard Kiyo-chan." In a sense this made Satsuna happy, obviously Kiyoko hadn't been overusing her magic on Estara. But the look on Usa-chan was priceless as well. She was completely in awe of her Aunt. She'd heard stories, but seeing first hand was another thing entirely.
Endo was the first of the two to step into the meadow with his mother, "What Rika wouldn't give to have seen that." He turned and extended his hand to his cousin. She took it tentatively and stepped among the flowers. This was like nothing she'd seen before and she had been here many times.
Kiyoko walked to the exact center of the meadow, unable to forget this spot. She could still sense traces of the spell she'd cast ten years ago. That day would be vivid in her mind forever. As she looked at Endo and Usa-chan Kiyoko smirked at the difference. He was excited and she was nervous this time. Satsuna simply stood, smiling at the children. Kiyoko held out her hand, "Come here and hold my hand." Both children ran to her, Endo encouraging Usa-chan the way he would Ruka.
When they reached Kiyoko Endo gasped, "I can feel such strong magic here!" He looked like a kid in a candy store, beaming at his mother.
Usa-chan looked upset and Kiyoko took her hand, wanting to understand. With hesitation and sadness in her voice Usa-chan spoke, "I can't feel it." Her eyes began filling with tears. Endo squeezed her hand, wanting to sooth her. Kiyoko nodded and thought on the matter.
After a bit of chewing on her lip she took Endo's free hand and thought, "Let's see if we can help her. Concentrate on lending her strength," Endo nodded just an inch. Then she spoke aloud to her niece, "Concentrate my sweet, block everything out and concentrate on feeling. Endo and I will help you. Now close your eyes."
She did as her Aunt said and the others followed suit. Kiyoko tried to let some of her magic flow into Usa-chan and Endo tried to connect with her as he did Ruka so often. Soon the little princess gasped, not opening her eyes, she spoke, "I can feel it!" She'd spent her short life living in a world filled with magic, but this was the first time she'd truly been able to feel it in her core.
Kiyoko slowly let her magic recede in order to see if Usa-chan would still feel it. She opened her eyes to see Setsuna smiling and Endo concentrating harder than ever before. As she looked at her niece it struck her. He'd established a link with her. When she nodded it shocked Kiyoko even more, they were having a conversation. She didn't want to interrupt what she felt was a monumental moment for both children so she took there silently supporting them.
At last it was Setsuna who spoke, "It's impolite to leave others out of the conversation prince and princess." However her face shone with happiness for both children. Her eyes widened just a touch and then returned to normal, the joy never leaving her face. Kiyoko looked questioningly at the Guardian of Time. She shook her head, clearly smiling, "You are developing this habit of changing the time continuum my dear Kiyoko. You will always keep me on my toes, won't you?" Kiyoko only smiled in response. When Setsuna looked back at the children she saw that they both looked in awe again.
Kiyoko noticed this as well, "So, what's more impressive, that you can communicate with each other that way or Setsuna?" Endo blushed, clearly unable to decide.
But Usa-chan replied, "Both. I never thought I'd even be able to feel the magic around me. And Setsuna always amazes me, plus she is an excellent tutor." She ran over and hugged Setsuna.
Kiyoko laughed, "Still tutoring I see. That's wonderful. I always enjoyed your lessons." She walked over to Setsuna and touched her arm gently. She loved her dearly.
Setsuna chuckled, "No one will ever be as challenging as you Kiyo-chan. But I will always cherish the years I spent teaching you. Why don't we let them go play? Then you and I can catch up." And so the children went off and played among the flowers. Setsuna and Kiyoko sat, watching them and talking for most of the day. Occasionally they'd see Endo and Usa-chan stopping and holding hands, clearing working on their communication.
At one point Kiyoko looked at Setsuna and asked, "They'll always be close, won't they?" Setsuna nodded. Kiyoko laughed, "Now I feel sorry for both princesses. He sets the bar high for anyone who tries to be by their side."
Setsuna nodded, "He's simply honoring a long line of gentlemen, including Haruka and Seiya. And you know I'm right."
"You are the Guardian of time. Who am I to argue?" Kiyoko responded. Finally she called the children back over and they all headed back to the castle for dinner.