|Prétear 2: Light My Way
Author: PeaceLightVictory PM
Himeno and the Knights have won the battle. Everyone is trying to live a 'normal' life. But when a new girl shows up at Himeno's school, the former Pretear can't help but feel like there is something different about her. Kei is also drawn to her. KeixOCRated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Romance - Kei - Chapters: 15 - Words: 72,384 - Reviews: 46 - Favs: 32 - Follows: 33 - Updated: 03-13-13 - Published: 02-01-11 - id: 6706343
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Light My Way
Chapter 1 Episode 11: Forgiveness
Natsue looked up from where she sat, reclined on a sofa as her husband walked into the sitting room of their bedroom. She wore a short-sleeve T-shirt - uncharacteristic of her thanks to Karou's influence - so that the bandages around her thorn-scratched arm wouldn't be bothered by fabric.
She smiled wearily at him and welcomed his presence on the open space beside her. "How are the girls?" she asked, concern evident in her voice.
"The knights and Tanaka took care of the scratches on Mawata and Mayune. They should be fine," he sighed and rubbed a hand over his chin. "Himeno is - quiet but she hasn't retreated to her room. I think that's a good sign. Last I saw her she was sitting with Mawata.
"The servants went into Himeno's room," he continued slowly, "I think she'll need a different room until the damage is cleaned up."
"I think it would be best if she shared a room with Mawata for now," Natsue declared emphatically.
Karou nodded, agreeing silently that this solution would be best. They sat in mutual silence, thinking over the events.
"What about Hikaru?" Natsue inquired.
Taking a deep breath, Karou replied, "She's still unconscious. Sasame says she's only exhausted. She and Hajime both need to recuperate. Apparently," he turned to look at his wife, "this was a much stronger Seed than what they've faced previously."
"I hope that girl comes through this all right, Karou." Natsue shifted so she could lean against the man's side.
He wrapped a comforting arm around her and held her. "She has the knights, my dear. They took care of Himeno. I'm sure they'll do the same for Hikaru."
"What about her family, Karou?" Tilting her head back so she could look into her husband's eyes. "Do they know what's going on? I wish we had known what Himeno was going through - we could have been there for her."
"Perhaps we can speak to her about that after she has woken up," Karou suggested. "Right now, all you need is some rest."
Natsue giggled. "I'm fine, Karou."
"Please, Natsue, do not deny me the opportunity to nurse you back to health." His teasing brought another bout of laughter from his wife.
Pressing her lips to his for a chaste kiss, she said, "I could never deny you anything, Karou."
Mawata sat still and stared at her reflection in the mirror. A brush ran through her wet, blue hair. Glancing at the other reflection that stood behind her own, she smiled. Himeno's reflection smiled timidly back at her.
"You don't have to do that, Himeno." Mawata tried moving away from the brush for what seemed like the hundredth time.
"I want to though," the red-head assured. "I've ignored you for so long and sisters don't do that."
Mawata sighed and settled back again. She closed her eyes and just let Himeno run the brush through her curly locks. Mawata still felt sore from the fight. Her nerves were on edge from falling off the balcony. She suppressed a shudder when she remembered the feel of the thorns cutting her skin and the horror of almost seeing Goh get hurt more than once.
"Did the shower help?" Himeno's question broke Mawata from her memories.
Blue eyes met brown. "Yes. I feel much better. Although, I'll probably take Sasame's advice and take a nap soon."
"Sounds like a good idea." Himeno set the brush down and hugged her sister. "I think I'll help with dinner tonight. I'll - make everyone their favorite dish. It could be like a buffet!"
Mawata smiled. "Sounds like an excellent idea, Himeno."
"Need help getting to your bed?"
"No," Mawata shook her head. "I can manage."
The red-head gave her sister one last squeeze before making her way to the door. Mawata called after her, "Himeno!" The girl turned to look expectantly at the younger girl. A smile broke out over Mawata's face. "I'm glad you're back to normal."
A small, sad smile twitched Himeno's lips up. "I am too." She turned and walked out the door.
Mawata stared at the door and listened to it shut with a click. Sighing, she stood and began shuffling toward her bed. Before she could pull the covers back, there was a soft knock at her door.
Thinking it was Himeno, coming to ask a question, Mawata called, "Come in!"
The door opened slowly and Goh's head poked into view. His smile disappeared when he saw her standing next to her bed. "Oh, I didn't know you were about to sleep. I'll talk to you later, Mawata."
"Oh! It's all right. I can talk now. Please, come in." She spoke in a rush, not wanting to seem rude. Mawata gestured to some seats and began shuffling slowly over to them.
Goh rushed to her side and wrapped an arm around her waist and took her other arm with his strong, warm hand. "Here, I'll help."
Flustered, she only nodded and allowed him to lead her to the cushioned seats. Mawata glanced surreptitiously at the bedroom door. He'd left it open. She smiled. He was such a gentleman.
Once she was settled, he stepped back and sat in a seat across from her. "I won't take long," Goh assured her. "I just wanted to see how you were doing."
"I'm doing well, thank you." Mawata smiled, folding her hands in her lap.
Goh's red eyes glanced down at her ankle. "You going to be okay?"
"That's what Sasame said," she assured him. "I'll be sure not to go tripping over vines ever again." Mawata smiled at him and was pleased to see his own smile return.
"Well - if you do - I'll try to be there to catch you again."
She blinked in surprise at his confession. They both blushed and looked away, feeling awkward yet pleased.
Mawata cleared her throat, looking bashfully up at the knight of fire. "I haven't thanked you yet for coming to my rescue."
He grinned easily. "I'm a knight, Mawata. Saving people is what I do."
"I know, but, I still want to thank you."
Goh tilted his head in silent acknowledgement. "How do you plan on repaying me?"
Mawata bit her lip and thought. What could she do? What would he appreciate?
Seeming to sense her conundrum, he reached out his hand and clasped it around hers. "Could I make a request?" She smiled and nodded gratefully. "Would you give me the honor of going on a dinner with me?
"I know all the best restaurants," he hastily explained. "I just don't go to them very often because it doesn't feel very comfortable going by myself and taking my brothers out for fine cuisine is out of the question because it would be embarrassing and they wouldn't appreciate it and -"
"Goh!" Mawata laughed as she cut him off. Tightening her grip on his large, warm, and safe hands she answered, "I would be happy to go with you."
His face beamed in excitement. "Really?"
Goh leaned forward and wrapped her in an abrupt hug. Mawata squeeked in shock. At the sudden sound, he let her go, blushing profusely. "I - I - uh -"
She blushed and giggled. Goh was so adorable when he was flustered. Mawata leaned forward and gave him a quick hug before settling back again. "Let me know when you are free," she said. Yawning, she stood. "I believe I will take a nap now."
"Let me help you." He stood before she could object and, once again, Mawata found his arms around her and helping her walk to the edge of her bed.
As she sat on the edge, she looked up at him with a timid expression. "Will - will you be here for dinner? Himeno is cooking. I think this is her way of trying to make up to everyone after all that's happened."
Goh's expression turned serious. "Himeno will need to verbally apologize to us. Especially Hayate," after he said that his expression softened. "However, I'm sure the gesture will go a long way in making things right. Of course I'll stay. In fact," he winked as he helped her with the covers, "I'll even slip into the kitchen and lend a hand."
"Thank you, Goh."
"For what?" He tucked the covers gently around her.
Mawata smiled sweetly up at him as she settled against the pillows. "For just being there."
Locking his red eyes on her aqua-marine orbs, he said, "I'll always be here, Mawata."
Himeno banged around the kitchen, humming and enjoying herself. The cooks stood back and smiled to themselves. It was good to see the young woman acting like her usual self again.
"Let's see," she mumbled as she glanced at a propped open notebook. "This calls for some basil." Looking around in frustrated confusion, Himeno said, "Where the heck is it?"
One of the cooks stepped forward. "I believe we are all out, Miss Himeno."
She sighed and rubbed her hands on the apron she wore. "Darn."
"One of the servants could go out to the garden to pick some for you," he suggested with a bow of his head.
Himeno hummed as she thought. Snapping her fingers, she grinned. "That's all right, Mr. Nakahara. I've got some herbs growing in my room. I'll be right back." Shedding the apron, she raced out of the kitchen, leaving the cooks to watch over the various pots and pans.
Himeno rushed past the sitting room where Sasame, Kei, and Hayate were relaxing. She had invited them to stay for dinner only to learn they planned on staying until Hikaru woke and it was confirmed that the Prétear was all right. Himeno cheerfully announced that they would join her family for dinner.
She knew Hayate was still wary around her. Sasame and Kei seemed to be relieved that she was normal once more. They agreed and thanked her for her hospitality while Hayate sulked and stared out a window.
His cold reaction to her invitation dampened her cheery spirits. She was trying to make amends. Couldn't he see that she was sorry? That she wanted to fix things?
With a shake of her head, she pushed the troubling thoughts to the back of her mind. She needed to focus on something else. She didn't want to cry.
Himeno climbed the stairs two at a time, she nodded to the servants she passed but didn't really hear what they said to her. As she walked down the hall toward her room, she mentally went through the recipe that she had memorized.
When she reached her bedroom, she didn't notice the door that was flung wide open neither did she comprehend why it would be so. Himeno stepped into her room and stopped short.
She stared at the mess that was her room. Himeno stepped gingerly over plants that were still in a tangled mess from Mawata's fight. "Mom, when did I let things get so out of hand?" her mumbled words seemed to be muffled in the cluttered room.
Himeno walked over to the balcony and felt her heart sink at the sight. All her plants that she had tended so carefully and with her mother's memory in mind, were all dead and useless. The next moment, her heart completely stopped.
"Mom!" She rushed forward to the plant she had tended and spoken to as if it were her deceased mother. Hot tears sprang to her eyes as shaking hands cradled a withered leaf. It snapped off its twig and fell from her hands.
"What have I done?" she sobbed, kneeling before her mother's plant.
"Himeno?" The red-head turned to look with tear-blurred vision at the speaker. Shin stood on the threshold of the balcony, staring sadly at her.
Lifting a hand to rub the tears away, Himeno said, "Shin, I - I didn't hear you come in."
The blonde-haired boy stepped toward her. His green eyes grew sadder still as he looked at all the pots that held nothing but dirt and lifeless stalks. "The Princess of Disaster - she did this, Himeno."
Himeno starred in melancholy at the plant she loved the most. "No, Shin. I - I chose to listen. I could have trusted you guys, but - I didn't."
A tear traveled down her cheek. "Some former Prétear I turned out to be."
Shin sat cross-legged beside her. "We all make mistakes, Himeno." He gave her a reassuring smile. "No one - not even Prétears are perfect."
"He's right you know." The pair looked up to see Mannen and Hajime standing on the balcony. Mannen folded his arms in front of his chest. "I mean, look at Hayate! He's the leader and the eldest and he makes mistakes all the time."
"So did Sasame." Hajime nodded.
Himeno looked down at her hands that were clutched tightly in a fist. "But - I failed you all. I allowed myself to fall into the Princess of Disaster's trap. You all got hurt. My family got hurt. I neglected you - my friends." She looked up at the boys. "You all never neglected me. How could I do that?"
"We could have done better at being there for you." Mannen settled down in front of her. "Hayate should have talked to you. Shouldn't have left you in the dark or whatever."
"In a way," Hajime said, "we all failed each other."
Shin's hand rested on Himeno's. "But we won't fail each other again, right?"
Forcing a smile onto her face, she nodded. "Right."
The youngest knight smiled back at her before turning to look at her favored plant. He stood and touched the brown, dead thing. "Le-aese," he spoke and the healthy color of a living plant returned. Soon the plant was perking up and looked as good as new.
Choking back a sob, Himeno wrapped the boy up in a hug. "Thank you, Shin."
The three youngest boys helped Himeno move her plants to Mawata's room, meeting up with Goh just outside. They quietly placed the pots in the room, careful not to wake the sleeping teenager.
Once Himeno had the herbs she needed, she and Goh returned to the kitchen while the boys went to play a game somewhere in the large house. The pair of cooks busied themselves, working in tandem.
Without needing to be prompted, Himeno spoke to the knight of fire about her regrets over her actions, asking his forgiveness. He readily gave it like the young knights.
Sighing she said, "I need to talk to Dad and Mother. Mawata's already forgiven me. Then there's Mayune - and Takako. And Kei. Sasame." Himeno fell silent, her shoulders sagging.
Goh looked up from the cutting board he was working at. "And Hayate?"
Himeno nodded her head. "I'm - not looking forward to that. I must have disappointed him. How could he ever forgive me?"
"Well, if he isn't a complete idiot, he'll forgive you before you can ask for forgiveness." The pair looked up to see Sasame leaning against the door frame.
"Sasame," Himeno said, surprised to see him there.
"Goh, would you mind checking on the boys?"
The knight of fire rolled his eyes before wiping his hands on a towel. "Is that code for 'give me a few minutes to talk with Himeno privately', or 'the boys have broken something somewhere, go fix it'?"
Sasame smirked and answered, "Both."
They waited until Goh left, grumbling under his breath the whole time. Sasame sat on a tall stool and watched Himeno. She shifted her weight, not daring to meet his penetrating gray eyes.
"Quite honestly, Himeno, I'm not surprised that this happened." Her lead lifted to stare in confusion at the knight of sound. "If I'm surprised by anything," he continued, "it's the fact that none of us did anything to prevent history from repeating itself."
Sasame bowed his head in shame. "I believe an apology is in order."
"Sasame, you know that I'm sorry." Himeno interjected. "What can I do to prove that I am?"
He shook his head, smiling ruefully at her. "No, you misunderstand. I meant the other knights and I owe you an apology. We failed you."
Himeno walked over to another stool and sat down across from him. "But I chose to listen to her lies."
"True." He nodded in consent. "However, we gave rise to those doubts with our actions, did we not?" Sasame questioned. "The Princess of Disaster would not have held sway over you if we had not treated you as either a possible danger or completely ignored you." Gesturing with his hand he explained, "Hikaru was correct - you have a great deal of knowledge that she does not have. It would serve her well to get your insight instead of depending solely on the knights."
Himeno looked away then back at Sasame's concerned face. "Then - we forgive each other."
Sasame smiled and nodded once. "Agreed."
She sighed in relief and worry. "I still need to talk to the others though."
"I believe Kei has taken his vigil over the room Hikaru is staying in." Sasame smirked knowingly. "Your parents are resting and your sister I believe is - well Mayune is setting up a surprise for you."
This news caused Himeno to groan and roll her eyes.
"Hayate," her brown eyes focused on Sasame once more as he spoke, "Hayate is still in the sitting room. I believe he is - thinking." Sasame stood. "Perhaps you should talk to him once Goh returns. As for Tanaka, she would be more than happy to see you tomorrow."
"Thank you, Sasame." Himeno smiled as white-haired knight turned to leave. Goh re-entered the kitchen, rubbing the back of his neck. Himeno smiled at him too before returning to the task at hand.
"How'd your talk with Sasame go?"
"Better than expected," she answered.
Goh nodded, picking up a knife once more. "You know, while I was cleaning the mess Mannen made, I remembered someone else you need to talk to. Two people actually."
"Yayoi, for one." Goh scooped the carrots he had chopped and dropped them into a pot of boiling water. "And Hikaru."
Himeno nodded, slowly. "Yeah - you're right."
Glancing out of the corner of his eye, he looked at the gloomy and repentant young woman. "I can hold down the fort here, Himeno, if you want to - talk to some people."
A smile made its way to Himeno's face. Removing the apron once more she nodded. "Thank you, Goh. I'll be back soon." She rushed out of the kitchen and made her way first to Mayune's room.
Knocking on the door, she waited. Shortly after, the door opened. Mayune stood wrapped in a fluffy, pink bathrobe. Arching a thin eyebrow she said, "What?"
"Mayune, I am very sorry for the way I've treated you." Himeno explained, "I shouldn't have pushed you, Mawata, or Mother away."
Mayune sniffed disdainfully. "No, you shouldn't have."
"Do you forgive me?"
Folding her arms over her chest, Mayune looked away in order to hide her trembling lip. She said, "Fine! Just don't let it happen again."
Himeno grinned and quickly hugged her startled step-sister. "Thank you, Mayune!"
"Let go! I just took a shower! You're going to get me all dirty again!" The tall girl shrieked in outrage.
"Do you know where Tanaka is?"
"I need to borrow a phone. I don't know what happened to mine." Himeno rubbed her head. She didn't want to go back to her demolished room to look for the missing cell phone.
Mayune rolled her eyes. "Oh for pity's sake! Here," she reached into her bathrobe pocket and pulled out a sparkling, pink phone. "Use mine. Give it back to me at dinner. Don't get anything on it!" She stepped back into her room and shut the door.
Himeno smiled once more before quickly dialing the number of her best friend. She waited, listening to the ring.
"Yayaoi? It's me, Himeno."
There was a long pause. The girl on the other end of the phone said, "Himeno? Are you all right?"
A watery, tearful laugh passed the red-head's lips. "Yes, yes, I'm all right. Better than before, actually. Listen Yayaoi - I - wanted to say I'm sorry."
Himeno nodded and swipped away some tears. "Yeah, for - being such an idiot. I can't believe I ditched you like I did. Forgive me?"
"Of course, Himeno!" The girl sounded relieved and joyful. "What brought this on?"
"Let's just say, I had some sense beaten into my head." Himeno leaned against the wall of the hallway. "I've got to go. We've got company and I'm making dinner."
"Sounds like the Himeno I know." Yayoi chirped, cheerfully.
"Yeah. So - lunch on Monday?"
"You'll have to fill me in on all the new stories you've dreamed up."
"Naturally! Bye, Himeno."
"Bye, Yayaoi." Himeno hung up and sighed in relief. She never realized that forgiveness felt so good. Pushing off the wall, she walked down the hallway.
Her mind wandered. She still needed to talk to her parents and to Hikaru. Hayate. Himeno became worried when she thought of her boyfriend. What was she supposed to say to him?
So lost in her thoughts, she didn't realize there was someone in front of her until she walked into them. "Oh! I'm sorry!"
"Look where you're going, tulip-head." Himeno's head snapped up and she stared at the knight before her. Hayate stared down at her, his expression blank.
"Sorry," she mumbled, taking her eyes away from his gaze. "Um - how are you feeling?"
Hayate shifted on his feet. "Fine. Sore. Um - I probably shouldn't have joined the fight but - I'm a knight. It's what I do."
Himeno nodded. "Right. Did you - ah - need anything? Painkiller?" She winced. If Hayate wanted something for the pain, he would have talked to Shin. Maybe that was what he was doing when she ran into him.
"No. Thank you."
With another nod, she moved to step around him. "Let me know if there's anything I can do to help."
"Yes?" She looked up, hopefully.
Hayate grimaced and looked away. "I don't think you're a burden."
Himeno blinked several times but didn't speak. The knight continued. "I - I only said that because I was angry. Not at you," he hastily added. "I was angry at myself for not being able to - to protect you. This whole mess," he growled irritably, "was my fault. I should have trusted you. Should have talked to you."
"I was so blind!" He raged, lifting his hands in the air before running one hand through his hair. His fingers caught on some knots. Hayate tugged at them till they came loose. "I did everything wrong."
Himeno clasped onto one of his hands. "No! I was wrong too. I should have talked to you too. Didn't I learn anything?" she fussed to herself, looking away again. "You'd think I'd learned this lesson before. You'd think I'd remember I don't have to keep stuff from my friends and family." Glancing sheepishly at him she added, "You'd think I'd know I shouldn't keep stuff that's bothering me from my boyfriend."
Hayate watched her throughout her long rant. He listened, but he was still caught on the fact she was holding his hand. When was the last time they had simply held hands? He couldn't remember when he last hugged her. Or kissed her.
His mind swiftly sorted through what she said and his frown deepened a little more. "Himeno," he said, "no one learns a lesson permanently the first time around." Hayate lifted his other hand and brushed his fingers down her jaw. He felt her shiver under his touch. Did she miss contact as much as he did?
"If anyone should have learned from their mistakes, it's me." Hayate sighed.
Himeno gave him a small smile. "Well, the knights are at an agreement on one thing. Everyone should have known better."
Hayate huffed a short laugh. "I suppose so."
Glancing at their entwined hand then back at Hayate's blue eyes, Himeno said, "Hayate - I know I screwed up. I know I shouldn't have been jealous -"
"Jealous?" Hayate's brows dipped in confusion. "Jealous of what?"
Himeno shifted on her feet, embarrassed and uncomfortable with what she was about to admit. "I - I thought you - and Hikaru -" she trailed off and looked up at him, hoping he would understand without her having to vocalize it.
Hayate waited in silence. When the red-headed girl did not continue, he pressed, "Hikaru and I what?"
Sighing in defeat, Himeno pulled her hand away from his and wrapped her arms around herself in a defensive manner. "I thought you liked her," she admitted in a quiet voice.
Two strong and familiar arms instantly wrapped her in a tight hug. "How could I ever like any other woman? I could I love anyone but you, Himeno?"
Tears came to her eyes as she returned the embrace and clung to her boyfriend for dear life. Himeno buried her face into his chest. "I never should have doubted you." Her voice was muffled by the fabric of his clothes.
Hayate held her close. "I didn't give you reason to trust me." He smiled wryly as he thought back to what Sasame said. "Good relationships are built on trust. I should have trusted you with the information from the beginning." He pressed a kiss to the top of her head. "I should have trusted that you could handle battles on your own. I shouldn't have tried to be overprotective."
Himeno slapped his arm gently then returned her arm to embracing him. "Yeah. You should have and shouldn't have." Sighing she said, "But I should have talked to you."
"Hey," Hayate stepped back so he could see his girlfriend's face. "We both messed up."
Himeno giggled, trying to keep her tears away. "I've heard that a lot today." Taking a deep breath she plowed ahead, "Hayate, do you forgive me?"
He brushed a tear away from Himeno's cheek. "Yes, Himeno. Do you forgive me?"
A smile brightened her face. The pair hugged again as Himeno answered, "Yes."
She was someplace soft and warm. Covered in blankets. Hikaru's sleep buried mind wondered if Takumi had taken her to bed after falling asleep during a movie - or had she been working on reviewing a website and fallen asleep on the floor? No. Maybe it was the car ride. They made it to the apartment and she'd finally fallen asleep despite the storm –
Hikaru jerked awake with a start. Eyes wide open, all she saw was darkness. The room was dark. Completely. Dark.
Whimpering, she thrashed about in the bed as she tried to sit up and detangle herself from the sheets. Her efforts to get out from beneath the blankets only tangled her further. Panic rose in her chest and choked her.
Hikaru cast about for something - anything. Making her way to the edge of the bed, she tumbled down to the floor. Hikaru landed with a loud thud.
A door opened, letting light flood in from the hallway. The next moment, a light turned on and lit up the room.
Hikaru blinked dazedly and stared at the floor. Her hands held her propped up. They were shaking. Her breathing came in short wheezes. Sweat prickled her forehead.
The light was on. The darkness was gone. Takumi –
"Hikaru? Are you all right?" Her head snapped up at the kind, concerned voice. Frightened gold eyes met concerned gold eyes. His eyes were so warm.
Taking a shaky breath, she forced a smile to her face. "Yes," her voice cracked as she spoke. A wince formed on Hikaru's face. She cleared her throat and continued, "Yes, Kei, I'm fine. I just - woke up a bit disoriented. That's all."
Kei reached for the sheets that were still wrapped around her legs and assisted her in getting free. He smiled at her, concern still radiating from his gaze. "I'm sure you're a bit shocked from everything that's happened these past few hours."
Hikaru timidly accepted his hand and support as she stood up. Sitting on the edge of the bed, she looked around. By the looks of the room, she was still at the Awayuki's house.
Kei sat a few inches away from her, giving her space. "You blacked out after using so much energy to defeat the Seed." He grinned at her. "You did a marvelous job, Hikaru!"
"So did Mannen." She ducked her head, not wanting Kei to see her blush at his praise. "Thank you," she added.
The blonde-haired man tilted his head in confusion. "For what?"
"For backing me up." Hikaru looked up at him once more. "So, I blacked out. How long have I been out?" She glanced over at a window. It was dark outside.
"Three hours," the knight answered. "We figured you would need your rest. Himeno made dinner for everyone - we've just been waiting for you."
Hikaru sat in silence for a moment. "Three - three hours? I was supposed to go to the hospital."
Kei remembered Hayate's order and shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Should he tell her to take a break from the volunteer work? No. Not yet. Not when she had just woken up from a battle.
"Well, one day won't hurt, will it?"
Her gaze returned to his face and a sad, strained smile forced its way to her lips. Kei wondered what that expression meant. Hikaru said, "No. I - I guess not." Standing, she continued, "Well, I suppose we've made them wait for dinner long enough."
Kei smiled and stood up. "You're right. Lets go!"
Dinner was outstanding. Himeno outdid herself and left Hikaru wondering how the older knew her favorite foods. Talk was easy. Hikaru wondered how Himeno had managed to get everyone at ease with her again. No one brought up the battle and no one gave Himeno a hard time about what had happened and what almost happened.
Hikaru wished to herself that she had a family like this growing up.
A smile came to the red-head's face when she saw Himeno and Hayate look at each other. The pair had returned to how they acted around each other before. It was good to see.
Hikaru slipped a hand under the table to her pant's pocket and reached inside for her cell phone. She chanced a glance down at the time and decided a phone call needed to be made.
Turning to Mawata, who was sitting on her left, Hikaru whispered, "I'll be right back."
She snuck out of the dining room before anyone noticed or could question her. Hikaru glanced over her shoulder as laughter rose in volume. She didn't want to leave, but she needed to talk to someone.
Hikaru entered the living room and walked over to a large window. She gratefully sank onto the cushions of the window seat. Dialing the number that she knew by heart, Hikaru held the device to her ear and listened to the ring.
"Akemi and Daichi Memorial Hospital. Intensive Care Unit. How may I direct your call?"
"Hi, Mrs. Shiori? This is Hikaru Yoshida."
"Hikaru? Where are you? You didn't come in today." The nurse's kind voice held an edge of worry to it.
"Something came up. An emergency." Hikaru looked out the window to the gardens below. "I'll try to swing by later -"
"No you will not, young lady!" Shiori scolded. "And what do you mean an emergency? Are you in trouble? Should I get someone to come help you?"
"No. No. I'm fine, Mrs. Shiori," the girl assured. "It - the problem was taken care of. It just took longer than I expected. And it would be no trouble at all to come in."
"Hikaru," the nurse chided, "you have school in the morning. It's much too late to come in tonight."
Biting her lip, Hikaru mumbled, "But I promised."
"Hikaru, nothing has changed." Shiori's tone melted to sympathy. "I know you want to see him, but he wouldn't want you to come in and fall behind in school - right?"
Hikaru blinked rapidly, fighting the tears coming to her eyes. "You're right. I - I don't want to disappoint him."
"You can always see him tomorrow and explain. I'm sure he was wondered about you."
"He wouldn't worry, would he? That could be bad for him!" Hikaru's grip around her phone tightened.
"No! Hikaru, I'm sure he knows you have other obligations." The nurse hastened to reassure the teenager. "He's fine. Don't worry yourself."
Relaxing only a little, Hikaru sighed. "Okay. I - I better go."
"Thank you for checking in and explaining, Hikaru." The nurse's voice held a motherly smile in it.
"Thank you for taking care of him." Hikaru wiped at her eyes. "Good-bye, Mrs. Shiori."
"Good-bye, Hikaru." Hikaru didn't wait to hear the line to go dead. She pressed the 'end call' button and settled back against the wall.
Staring blankly out the window, she didn't hear Himeno come in. The other red-head stood in the doorway and watched Hikaru before cautiously stepping forward and calling, "Hikaru?"
Startled from her thoughts, Hikaru looked up. "Oh! Himeno. I didn't know you were here."
"I just walked in." Himeno smiled shyly. "I noticed you were missing and asked Mawata where you went."
Looking away sheepishly, the younger girl apologized, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to stay away so long. I just - needed to make a phone call."
"To your brother?" Himeno tilted her head to the side.
Hikaru jolted then relaxed. "Sort of. It's - complicated."
Himeno sighed and walked forward to close the gap between them. "I understand that you need a reason to trust me and the knights," she sat down beside Hikaru and said, "but haven't we proven that you can trust us?" Smiling at the new Prétear, Himeno said, "If there's a problem, maybe we can help."
Hikaru returned the smile and shook her head. "That would be nice, but I don't think anyone can fix this -" she trailed off and looked away again. "I - I count you all as friends, but - I - I just can't tell anyone yet."
Himeno nodded, holding back another sigh. "It's okay, Hikaru. I won't push you." She held out her hand and waited for Hikaru to look at it. "We never got to finish talking. To answer your question, yes. I want to be friends again. Will you forgive me for acting like a complete idiot?"
Hikaru stared at the hand for only a second before settling her own hand in Himeno's. The pair beamed with smiles. With a firm shake of their hands, Hikaru said, "Yes. I forgive you."
Himeno's smile turned into a grin. "You know - if you fight as well as you did today, you're going to be a great Prétear."
"Not as good as you." Hikaru blushed.
"Don't say stuff like that!" Himeno scolded, "You don't have to be like me. Just be you. That's what the knights taught me." Standing and motioning with her head toward the door, the older girl said, "Let's get back to the table. I've got dessert waiting for us."
So you think you've won, eh, Hikaru? The Princess of Disaster stared angrily at the swirling mist before her that showed the two Prétears as they walked together. You think that just because you've managed to prove your friends loyal that they will help you defeat me? Help you avoid punishment for what you have done?
Tilting her head, the woman listened to something hissing in the air around her. A cruel smile twisted her lips. Yes, Fenrir. I believe you are right. If we cannot weaken her through her friends – we will take other measures.
The mist swirled around her and then stopped. A new image appeared. A young man with dark brown hair lay on a white bed. The Princess of Disaster's smile faded. Soon, my love. Reaching out a manicured hand, she tried to stroke the face of the sleeping man. Soon I will have enough leafe to bring you back. And I will punish the one who did this to you. Who took you from me.
End of Chapter 1