Tomoyo placed her art project alongside Sakura's.Her best friend's painting was the locket Li gave her lasyt year.Li's painting,on the other hand,was the teddy bear she gave him last christmas.
She looked at her painting:the video camera her mother gave her back in fourth grade.She considered this as the best christmas gift she ever received because this enabled her to join her best friend in her Clow Card hunts,and later,battles with Eriol to gain her title as the rightful Card Mistress.
Eriol.The thought of the person made her blush again.She missed him terribly.Why wasn't he going to school anymore?She had so much to say and so much to ask,and only Eriol held the answers.
She absent-mindedly stepped aside when another person placed a painting on the platform.
She turned to the voice and saw Kaho."H-Hi.What are you doing here,Ms.Mizuki?"
"I came here to bring Master Eriol's art project.He will not go to school anymore starting today."she explained,her eyes saddening.
"But Master does have a message for you.He told me to invite you over for dinner tonight in his place."
"Well.."Tomoyo vaguely remembered that she and her mother are going to join the Kinomoto family tonight in the Christmas Eve dinner,but.."Ok,I'll go."
"Great.See you at seven pm sharp."The woman was about to stand up when Tomoyo stopped her."One question,Ms.Mizuki."
The red-haired woman looked at her expectantly.
The girl reddened."Is Eriol y-your,um,boyfriend?"
Kaho laughed,to the girl's astonishment."Oh no,Tomoyo!I am not a cradle snatcher!And even if I was,he will not even notice me."She smiled."He's deeply in love with someone else."
Tomoyo's heart pounded."W-Who?"
She winked."Ask him."
Eriol was just enjoying the beautiful descent of the sun when Nakuru suddenly arrived,holding a dark blue dinner coat."Hey Master!"
He smiled feebly."Why,if it isn't my favorite sweets pacman!"
"Kaho told me to dress you up."She unbuttoned his white coat.
"She said that you must join us downstairs in our celebration."When she saw the wry smile on his face,she fluttered her lashes."Pretty pleeeeease?With chocolate syrup and Oreo cookies on top?"
"Please stop that!You're scaring me."he shook his head,smiling.
"Oh cmon,Master!It's just a few hours before christmas!Let's celebrate!"She pasted an even brighter smile on her face but deep inside,her heart was breaking.Her master looked years older because of the tired lines etched in his face that was as cheerful as the chopping board in the kitchen.He looked like he'd faint when he carries so much as a pencil.His body was wasting away greatly in a span of forty-eight hours,and she knew it would take a miracle for her master to make it to the Christmas Ball tonight.
"I'm sorry to disappoint you,but I really do not feel well enough to join your celebration downstairs."he murmured apologetically.
She fell to the floor,sobbing."Oh Master,this is so unfair!You don't smoke,you don't drink and you don't take drugs,but why do you have to die so young?"
Spinel came out from her pocket and sat on its Master's lap wordlessly.
"Take my life,Master,please!Use it to extend your days here in Earth.I know that your powers sustain my existence and you can use my life span to add more days in your life."continued Nakuru.
"Take mine too."said the raven cat.
Eriol smiled."Thank you,but I will not do it.Death is inevitable,like change.Nothing in this world is forever,and taking your lives will not change that fact."He turned to the steady fall of the snow that began as the skies darkened."Besides,I still have one more task for you to do."
She rubbed her eyes."Anything,Master."
"Take care of Tomoyo for me.I want you two to look after her when I can do so no more.I want you to treat her like a mistress."
"Will do!"said Nakuru as she buried her face on her master's knee.
Spinel sighed."She is a very special girl in your life,Master.Therefore,we swear to protect her with our lives."
He stroked Nakuru's hair."Don't be sad,my friends.It's just five hours before christmas."
Her eyes looked at his own pleadingly."Will you spend it with us?"
Great pain and sorrow flickered in his face,but before he could reply,Kaho entered the room."Master Eriol,a special visitor awaits you."
His forehead creased."I am afraid I do not expect any.Besides,I feel to exhausted to even stand up.May I ask you to tell my visitor to come up instead?"
"Yes Master."she closed the door.
"Well I guess we better get going."Nakuru stood up and looked out to the snow again."Yue once told me that it was snowing like this when Clow Reed passed away."
Eriol nodded."I have a weak recollection of that day.I remembered passing away peacefully in the presence of my two loved ones,Yue and Keroberos."
Her face crumpled again,but she bravely wiped the tears away and smiled."I'll send a food tray for you."
"With lots of champagne!"added Spinel before they left his room.
He was bathed in darkness once again after the door was closed.He leaned on the chair and rested his head.Special visitor?Now who could that be?His foolish heart dared to hope.Maybe,just maybe..
Suddenly the door opened.He turned and saw Tomoyo Daidouji smiling at him tentatively.She was carrying a food tray."May I come in?"
He rubbed his eyes to make sure she was real before he forced himself to sit properly."Certainly."
She set the tray down on his desk before she sat in front of him."Hey there,long time no see."
His eyes twinkled.She's not mad at him after all!"Yes."He smiled."You look stunning,Tomoyo."
He saw her cheeks turn pink."Eriol.."She then turned serious."You look pale and sick.What's wrong?"
Her eyes were unbelieving,but she said nothing.
"It is not important.Anyway,what brought you here?"he wanted to know.
She was dumbfounded."Kaho invited me over,saying you invited me to come for dinner."
"I never-"he chuckled."That little witch!"
Tomoyo understood what he meant."So Kaho was lying."
"It doesn't matter.I will just have to thank Kaho later."He turned to the food."Let's eat!"
A few hours later...
Tomoyo checked her watch.It says 11:45."Man,we chatted for more than 4 hours already!Time flies so fast when I'm with you."
He smiled before he reclined."Do you mind if I close my eyes for a second?"
Tomoyo remembered what Kaho told her before she went up to his room hours ago.She must never let him sleep even one wink."Just fifteen more minutes before christmas,Eriol.Don't sleep."
He felt very,very sleepy.This he told Tomoyo but she begged him not to sleep.
"Eriol,come on!We'll celebrate the first minute of christmas together.Don't sleep!"she cried out,almost desperately.She sensed something ominous about Kaho's warning.
He opened his eyes with great difficulty."Tomoyo,listen.I'll tell you something important."
She nodded.Talking would surely keep him awake!
"I..I'm leaving you soon,and I will not come back anymore."he began.
"To London?"She remembered what Kaho told her about Eriol not going to school anymore.She heaved a sigh of relief.So that was it!She thought it was because of something else."I-It's Ok.We can write letters,call each other,and even visit each other once in a while."She paused when she saw the answer in his clear blue eyes."No!Eriol..no!Don't say it!"
He shook his head."I'm sorry,Tomoyo.I'm dying."
"But how?Why?"Tears welled up her eyes.
"It's too complicated to explain.Let's just say I'm not supposed to exist in this world,for I already lived in another lifetime already."
"No!"Tomoyo sobbed and threw her wself in his arms."It's not true!"
"Tomoyo,please don't cry."He tipped her trembling chin up."Seeing you cry is much more painful than dying.Don't cry please."He cupped her tear-streaked face and kissed her tears away one by one."Alright,I'll try my best to stay awake for you."
She nodded before reaching for her bag and pulling out a green-and-red box tied with a golden ribbon."This is my christmas gift."
He eagerly unwrapped it and gasped.It was a small,handmade teddy bear with a Santa cap.
"I know you once told me that those teddy bear tales are not true-"
"Thank you,Tomoyo."He hugged the bear."May I call it 'Tomoyo'?"
She nodded."My thoughts exactly."
Eriol felt his heart leap."Then 'Tomoyo' it is."
Tears were threatening to spill from her eyes again."Eriol..Eriol,I.."
He then felt his chest tighten and his breath run short.He immediately knew what it meant.He stroke the girl's soft delicate hands and brought them to his lips."I must go now."
She tightened her grip on his hands."Don't!Eriol,please don't!We still have to attend tomorrow's ball,remember?I'm going to wear a fabulous gown and it will be a shame if I don't have an escort.Eriol!"
"I can hear the angels singing.."
"It's only the christmas carols outside!"
"..and the stars are twinkling beautifully tonight."
"It's only the christmas lights outside!"she insisted tearfully.
He gazed at her,memorizing the contours of her face."Tomoyo,can I kiss you goodbye?"A lump formed in his throat when the thought of leaving her crossed his mind.
Her voice broke."E-Eriol?"
"You are the best thing that ever happened in my whole life,and if I live to a hundred,I will love only you again and again."He then sealed her lips with a farewell kiss.After they parted,his eyes grew misty.He leaned back on his chair and closed his eyes.
His grip on her hands tightened.
His grip loosened.
His hands fell limply on his lap.
"Eriol,I love you!!"she cried."You are the most important person in my life!Don't leave me alone!Please keep me company!!Eriooool!!!!"
I love you so.
At the stroke of twelve and the beginning of christmas,Eriol Hiragizawa is gone.
It had always been my dream to lead a perfectly normal life:to get a stable job,marry my beloved girl,and start a happy family.I then met you,and a part of my dreams was realized,for I found my lifetime happiness in you.
It's just too bad that everything was cut short by my illness.I know it doesn't have a cure,and I can only escape it through death.So I accepted my fate as a course of life.
But when I met you,I suddenly feared dying.I thought I had taken care of that fear already,but when you're in love,you would find it hard to leave her,especially when you are already attatched to her.I still wanted to see you,talk to you, and live my everyday with you.Even if I just love you from a distance,it is fine.As long as you don't go away.I am aware that my feelings will only lead to nowhere,but I simply can't stay away from you.You are irresistably pretty,smart,kind caring and a million more things I can't express into words.All I know is I love you more and more in each passing day.
I'm sorry when I kissed you back in Dance class without your permission.It's just that I had to show you how I feel in one way or another or I'll explode.I'm really sorry.Someday,I hope you forgive me.
Thank you for coming into my life just when I needed you most.You made me so happy in the few days left in my life.You gave me the reason to continue living the rest of my days to the best I can.
I'm probably already gone by the time you're watching this,Tomoyo,but I want you to know that you are the first time I loved forever.In those few days we had shared,I felt I have known you for a lifetime already.I felt I was ready to share my whole life with you.Surely,this must be the forever that poets speak about:the moments,however short,you spent with the one you love dearly.
I love you very much,Tomoyo.Take care,and be happy.
Tomoyo pushed the stop button of the VCR.Her vision was blurred with tears.Kaho handed this tape to her awhile ago in Eriol's burial.This was taped on the night of the twenty-third.This was the last message Eriol had for her that he asked Tomoyo to tape since he thought he'll never see her again.She watched the tape right after she attended the christmas ball,where she saw a big crowd of people looking at Eriol's painting admiringly while wondering who the subject was that the artist took great care of bringing into life through his colors.
Her heart then stopped.It was her.Kaho came up behind her and told her that Eriol painted her because she was the best christmas gift he ever received that came in advance because fate knew that he wouldn't be there anymore for christmas.
True enough,under the painting were the words:
The loveliest of presents do not need fancy trimmings or wrappers at all.To my beloved rabven jewel,Merry Christmas.