Author's notes:

Disclaimer: I do not own Yu-gi-oh or CardCaptor Sakura.

Well, here I am, promising never to write another crossover again only to have it
deliberately broken ;P. This is a request for my long-time fanfiction buddy, Myst-
Lady, who's always there to lend me a supportive hand and chat about the wonders of
crossover writing. What can I say? Myst-Lady, you're the best! :)

You better grab some Aspirin cause this is going to be a romance one-shot! Oh, and
this is an AU (for the CCS side) since I'm just borrowing their characters.

Warnings: Mild swearing, mild violence, angst.

*************************************

"Away, away! I'll fly to thee!"

- John Keats, "Ode to a Nightingale"

***************************************

A Lotus for My Mistress



He slowly wiped the sweat collecting on his brows with one of his cuffed
hands, careful not to let the metal sting his fair skin. He was small for his age, face
and frame built to permanently resemble those of a child, eyes a bright amethyst. Had
a merchant come striding along and seen him, they would have immediately whisked
the slave off at a reasonable price for other, more self-indulging purposes.

However, he was hidden from sight, fair face cleverly shrouded by layers of
sand and limestone dust so that it appeared worn and wrinkled. Even his vibrant
golden, red and black hair, naturally elevated and jagged, lay limp, slightly touching
his shoulders in a messy clump.

"You!"

He winced as the crack of the whip pierced his back once more, though it was
a light blow, compared to some others. The boy turned around to face the slave master
who addressed him.

"It's time for your break, _slave_." The slave master snarled, spitting out the
last word in harsh disdain.

Mutely, he nodded, waiting for the release from his manacles before taking a
few, tentative steps. His legs felt numb and bruised, his back sore with stinging cuts
and welts; yet, he dared not complain.

He quickly followed the line of other momentarily freed slaves, joining the
procession with dull, listless eyes, bobbing his head back and forth to prevent himself
from collapsing in exhaustion.

Once he had collected his mid-day meal, a gruesome mix of gruel and a half-
filled bowl of water, he slowly made his way to his personal area, a secluded rocky
overhang situated beside a small sub-river of the great Nile River. Large boats, some
pleated in fluttering sheets of white, swam lazily by, strutting like the swans he had
heard of in countless memories.

A dragonfly whizzed by his head, spinning madly a few times before situating
to a stop directly in the center of his water-bowl. It was amazing, how such an
exquisite creature could balance itself on top of the water like a feather. He, however,
was not concerned with that, but rather, at the fact that there _was_ a bug inside his
bowl. The boy made a few shooing motions at the insect, trying to scare the dragonfly
away from his precious supply of clean water.

A giggle interrupted him from his momentary distraction, causing the boy to
look up in shock and astonishment. It was a childish voice, high and slightly lilting in
a melodical tone.

He immediately looked around, slightly scared. A slave sitting alone could get
in trouble, even in his resting time. "Who-who's there?" He whispered, trying to
locate the sound.

His wide amethyst eyes immediately locked with a pair of soft emerald ones,
as green as the papyrus reeds swaying in the water-shore.

The owner of those eyes could be no older than twelve, her hair trimmed
neatly to her chin, though some stuck out just slightly, curling around her cheerful
face. She had a small flower entwined into her hair, and wore the simple linen-white
dress of the Egyptian nobility, decorated with jewels around her neck, wrist, and
anklet.

Truly, he had never seen hair like hers, so bronze and golden a colour that it
sparkled like fire-gold against the dull-yellow of the sands around him. For a moment,
as he continued gazing into those eyes, he was struck by her sense of overwhelming
presence; a gentle beauty seen but not understood.

She smiled, flashing her ivory-white teeth just slightly. Her skin was fairer
than most Egyptians, making her appear exotic and foreign.
"My name's Sakurah." She exclaimed, rather too-enthusiastically. "What's
yours?"

He wanted to reprimand this girl, to tell her off and warn her of his unworthy
position as slave. Yet, just staring into those vibrant-green eyes, he found himself
suddenly compelled and unable to protest even the slightest.
"I-" He began, before frowning slightly in disappointment. "I don't have a
name." Somehow, the word 'slave' had stuck in his throat before it could be
mentioned.

However, she just laughed, a trilling giggle. "Don't be silly! Everyone has a
name!"

Slowly, he shook his head. "Sorry, Mistress Sakurah." He began, addressing
her by her formal title. "I really do not have a name."

"Don't call me Mistress!" Sakurah berated, huffing a bit. "It makes me sound
old and more noble than I can act!" She smiled, upon seeing the other relax slightly.
Her eyes lit up. "I know - you're just playing a game with me! You're trying to make
me _guess_ your name."

Frankly, he didn't quite understand how someone could be so enthused and
mistaken, but he didn't have to heart to tell her otherwise, simply reducing himself to
nodding numbly.

Sakurah crouched onto the ground, beginning to trace hieroglyphs on the loose
sand in front of her. She smiled, humming a bit to herself, occasionally wiping away
some of the letters with her hand.

He was curious now, gazing at the words etched on the ground. Having been
born and bred of the slave ranking, he had never seen the likes of hieroglyphs, save on
the buildings of the rich, and those were few and far between. "What are you
writing?" He cocked a head to one side, rather curiously.

"Your name, silly!" She responded with a vibrant smile. Slowly, she pointed
to each etched letter on the sand. "That's a 'Y', and then a 'u' with a 'g' and 'i' at the
end."

"Yugi?" He scratched his head, rather confused. It was an odd sounding name,
slightly foreign to the touch.

However, Sakurah only nodded. "Yes. It means 'Game' in my native tongue.
You like games, so you're name must be Yugi!"

He had a million ways to defy her logic, though once again, he hadn't the
heart. And once again, he only mutely nodded, accepting the name not with reluctance
but rather, with amusement and a slight excitement. He had never been acknowledged
before, and it felt so strange to have someone, save the slaves, talk to him like this.

"I'm actually from a place to the east of this kingdom." Sakurah finally
professed. "But we were invited by Egyptian ambassadors to stay here, because my
father is an important merchant from where we live." She staged her voice in a stage
whisper, tone always vibrant and eager. Then, she stopped, now looking at the other.
"Where do you come from, Yugi?"

At that question, he found himself gazing back at the ground, rather
embarrassed. "I… uhm…" He blushed a slight pink. "I'm actually not of nobility."
The words came out slightly too fast.

Sakurah blinked, hesitating just slightly. For a brief moment, Yugi wondered
if she was about to leave then and there, abandoning the slave because of his position.
Yet, she did no such thing, but instead, put her hand on the boy's shoulder, patting it
in reassurance. Her hand was soft to the touch, slightly cooler than his own sweltering
skin.

"Come with me." Sakurah suddenly said, emerald green eyes filled with
promise. "I'll bring you away, and you can come and live with us!"

Yugi wanted to say no. He wanted to protest and tell the girl about his duty,
and permanent confinements. And yet, he felt those promising emerald-green eyes,
filled with such fire and passion, and suddenly, a light feeling lit in his heart.

A loud clanging rang overhead, signalling the end of the break. Slowly, the
slaves all around them began to gather their used bowls and obediently trod to their
masters.

Sakurah looked once more at Yugi, face shining beautifully, full of promise.
"Will you come with me?"

"I don't know." He still had enough logic and uncertainty to defy the girl's
statement. "I don't know if I can."

"If you're worried about whether or not you can come," Sakurah stated, "My
parents can take care of that. They wanted me to have a personal slave anyway as a
companion, because they knew I was getting lonely."

Now, his resolve began to falter at that comment. "I'm still not sure…" Yugi
trailed off, hesitantly.

However, Sakurah would have none of that. She grabbed the slave boy's hand,
pulling him up and away from the others. "Come on! I'll show you to my parents!"

Yugi felt himself tearing away from the crowd of slaves, his path, for once,
crossing into a new one of promise and hope. Could this girl be the key of freedom to
his soul? Here, Yugi was almost positive.

And so, he allowed Sakurah to pull him away, to bring him into a new world
of promise.

**************************************

"Come on!" Sakurah turned around, looking over the cliff and down at the boy
still struggling behind. "You're such a slowpoke!"

It was three years later, and Yugi, under Sakura's family and tutelage, felt
himself entering a new life. These were years of complete transformation: from
ignorance and suffering to knowledge and understanding; from pain to hope and
understanding. Never before had Yugi ever met such wise and considerate people as
Sakurah's family, and he felt proud to be among their household, even as a personal
slave.

Sakurah actually had a handful of slaves to herself, more handmaidens than
anything else. They consistently fawned over her and loitered around, giggling like
parlour ladies, though Yugi avoided them most of the time. He was Sakurah's
personal favourite, and that often caused grudges and slight rivalries between him and
the more experienced slaves.

Yugi was now trailing behind the girl, not because he was exhausted, but
rather, because he remained dubious over the path they had taken. It was a nice path,
situated right beside a clear oasis, decorated by the occasional palm tree.

Sakurah had matured a lot over the course of those three years; her smile had
never faded but grown in vibrancy and beauty, her face softened into a feminine
grace. She was the exquisite jewel Yugi could never claim, and so, he was satisfied at
just gazing at her, just admiring her grace at a distance without ever intruding upon
her personal life. For even with his freedom from labour tasks, he still remained a
slave, and he still had to act like a slave and know his position.

"Isn't it dangerous up there?" Yugi stated, brows furrowing slightly in worry.
It was funny, since the older slave was shorter than Sakurah herself, making him
appear slightly younger than the girl.

"What, are you scared?" Sakurah mocked, placing her hands on her hips rather
impatiently. "Doesn't your name mean 'Game'?" She teased. "Where's the adventure
in a 'Game' if you can't play?"

An innocuously sly smile crept onto Yugi's face. "Game?" He stated
innocently, while subtlety crawling towards the impatient girl. "What game?" And
suddenly, he pounced on the other, his added weight with hers tipping them both off
balance so that they fell like stones into the oasis behind them.

Sakurah gave a delighted shriek as she plunged into the cool waters,
submerging completely wet, hair dripping along the sides of her soft face. Yugi
surfaced seconds later, spitting out water and trying to slide the soaking golden bangs
plastered on his face while simultaneously treading water. He gave her a grin,
enjoying the look of mock indignation spreading on her pretty face.

"You!" Sakurah exclaimed, voice breaking into a sudden laugh, playfully
trying to shove the other away. "How dare you get someone as noble as I soaked!"
She pronounced in her best imitation of a 'high-blood woman', making sure to tilt her
nose into the air in disdain.

Yugi grinned. For once, his exhilaration seemed to be defying his normally
abashed nature, and he squirted the girl with a bit of water from between his closed
palms.

Sakurah responded with a squeal of indignation, bringing her hands into and
out of the water to thoroughly drench the slave boy. She immediately redoubled her
efforts as Yugi joined in on the fight, both of them endlessly splashing water at one
another, arms moving at a furious rate while they struggled to remain floating,
laughing like a pack of hyenas.



The early evening found Sakurah and Yugi outside the manor, gazing at the
numerous white-sailed boats passing by. They sat on the shore, dipping their feet into
the cool water, which proved to be quite an amusing task for Yugi, though he endured
Sakurah's laughs with a light heart.

Finally, both lapsed into silence, simply staring at the boats, even when the
sky finally transformed into a blanket of midnight-darkness.

Yugi suddenly bent over so that he stepped into the water, reaching for
something partially hidden from Sakurah's view.

The girl looked at the other in curiousity. "What are you getting?"

Slowly, Yugi stood up, re-seating himself once more beside Sakura. He held
in his hand a perfect flower, whiter than the Pharoah's cranes, glowing with ethereal
delicacy.

Sakurah's eyes widened. "Wow! It's beautiful!" She proclaimed. She smiled
at the offered object, taking it delicately with one hand. "I didn't know that they had
lotus blossoms in this moon[1]." She proclaimed, twirling the stem so that the flower
swirled in all its petaled elegance.

Yugi smiled softly at Sakurah's amazement. "It's a bit early for its usual time
of bloom, which is why I wanted to show it to you."

Sakurah smiled in return, bringing the flower to her face to capture its soft
fragrance. The white petals tickled her nose, and she giggled slightly. "It's a pity to
pick such a beautiful flower though." She remarked, rather remorsely.

However, Yugi only shook his head, regarding Sakurah with serious eyes. "I
think it's even more of a pity never to notice it."

That night, the two of them, slave and mistress, stood in their mystical world,
surrounded by the brilliant landscape of stars, bodies decorated by the glow of
fireflies. Yugi had gently entwined the lotus in Sakurah's hair, and now it shone like a
gleaming jewel, its pristine, virgin white reflected by the moonlight glimmering
overhead.

It was here that both Sakurah and Yuugi kissed for the first time, the embrace
was almost shy at first, finally blossoming to a hidden profession of love. For young
couples, love was not a hidden, underlying emotion, but an expression to profess their
long-held feelings.

Out of all the virtues: hope, pride, friendship, trust, and wisdom, only love
defied all barriers between age, appearance, personality, and most of all, status.

****************************************

He paced around the room, feet digging into the ground in agitated steps. He
really shouldn't be here; he should be working and toiling like all the other slaves, but
right now, he found that he didn't have the heart.

It was just yesterday that she was smiling and laughing, frolicking together
and cuddling intimately by moonlight.

It struck her like lightning. Her condition suddenly dropped, from beautiful,
vibrant, and healthy to suddenly pale, and deathly-sick. Her emerald green eyes had
dulled into a distilled ochre, her healthy pink-tinged cheeks now a clammy, chalky
white.

And she wouldn't stop coughing. Almost every moment of the day, she would
break into a seizure of hacking coughs, face deliriously hot, forehead continuously
collecting beads of sweat.

He couldn't stop thinking of her. Those gentle eyes, that smiling face,
suddenly depleted of all colour and vibrancy. He felt himself shaking with rage. Who
had dared to steal such brilliant beauty? She had done nothing to harm the world
around her, but rather, had smiled at everything with equal elegance and charm.
Gladly, he would have traded spots with her upon a moment's notice, just to lift the
pain from those fever-bright eyes, and relax the coughs from her pain-filled chest.

She would get better. The doctors had all reassured her parents so, to the point
where the parents finally ordered all the frantic worrying handmaidens and slaves
back to work.

"_You_ did it." One of the handmaidens had accused. "You didn't take proper
care of her, and now, she's dangerously ill."

And how could Yugi argue with that? It was true – it must have been his fault
for her illness. He was the only one who brought her outside, as was in charge of her
outdoor activities. The guilty piece of information had sunk into his heart like a chunk
of lead, slowly corrupting his mind until he was no more than a pile of withered,
worried corpse. He would sit by her bedroom day upon day, mouth muttering
incoherently, glassy eyes ignoring all that passed save any sign of her well being. He
had even discarded habits such as eating and sleeping just to stand beside her and
watch his angel.

Now, he was still sitting here, lost in his own delirious world, when the
doctors once again went inside to check their little fragile patient. It was only a few
moments later before they came out, alarming Yugi with their sudden, rushed states.

The boy suddenly stood up, facing the lead doctor without any other care for
the world. "H– how is she?"

The doctor's face broke into a soft smile, upon seeing the slave boy's
concerned face. "She's fine. She's just resting now, but in a few days, the worst of her
fever will have disappeared altogether."

It was more than Yugi could have asked for. With an elated shout, he fell to
his knees, babbling and worshipping the doctor like a god descended from the
heavens. The doctor dismissed all of it with a small save of his hands, though a smile
poked out from his serious expression.

********************************

Sakurah lay, head resting on Yugi's lap, looking straight into the night sky.
Moons after the fever incident, she had taken extra precaution when going outdoors,
always making sure to wear extra clothing in case she caught got too cold or such.
Now, she looked as vibrant as ever, occasionally breaking into a slight fit of coughs or
sudden sweat, though she assured everyone that it was just a slight after-reaction to
her fever. Days, even weeks after the fever, Yugi could relate to and understand. But
_moons_?

"Look at that star." Sakurah pointed a finger at the midnight-black sky,
causing Yugi to break from his musings and look up.

"That one?" Yugi pointed his own finger at the star, not sure which one she
was trying to show, since there were millions upon millions of them scattering the
sky.

"No, silly." Sakurah giggled. "_That_ one!"

Yugi gave Sakurah a comical look of enlightenment. "Oooooh. _That_ one. I
get it now."

"You!" Sakurah shoved Yugi rather playfully, though it caused her to break
into a fitful of coughs once more.

The slave boy looked at her in surprise and fear. "Are you alright?" He
exclaimed, suddenly worried. "Do you want to go back inside?"

But Sakurah simply shook her head. "Don't make me go back. I like it
outside."

"Mm." Yugi agreed. "Me too."

Sakurah's gaze eventually trailed from the stars to the glassy darkened river
below them. A series of glitters caught her eye. "Look!" She pointed excitedly to the
orbs of glowing white in front of her, scattered along the banks of the river. "There's
so many of them now!"

True to her word, there were lotuses scattered almost as far as the eye could
see, each one in full bloom, brilliant pearls shining against the shining darkened
water.

"They are amazing." Yugi agreed, stroking Sakurah's hair where the previous
lotus was once entwined. "Want me to get you one?"

Sakurah shook her head slightly. "No. Leave them like that. That way, I can
see them all, together."

Yugi chuckled. "If you insist, my mistress."

Sakurah once again gave her trademark scowl, the one she saved only for
Yugi.

And he laughed, a good natured laugh, full of hope and longing.

The pair paused, no longer speaking but just gazing happily at everything
around them.

"You know," Sakurah finally said, "You only realize exactly how beautiful
and precious everything is when you can't appreciate it. Usually, you take everything
for granted; but when you're really sick, or trapped, you can't ask for any of them.

"I know what you mean." Yugi nodded. "It was exactly like that before, when
I was a labour slave."

Sakurah suddenly stopped talking, and Yugi wondered if he had said
something wrong. He briefly debated internally over the statement before finally
deciding to bite the bullet.

"I love you." He finally professed to Sakurah, looking down shyly and rather
afraid. "I always did, even the moment I first saw you, when I was covered in dust
and grime."

"Silly." Sakurah muttered to Yugi, who looked slightly hurt from that
statement. However, she only giggled. "I've loved you just as long. And it's been
quite disappointing for me not to hear it until now."

Yugi broke into a wide grin, his face glowing. "Well, how was I supposed to
know?"

"Your heart." Sakurah rolled her eyes. "You were supposed to use your heart."

But Yugi remained unperturbed. "I was too busy caught into trying to capture
yours."

**************************************************

"Up, slave!"

The crack of the whip added with the comment ensured the force behind the
command.

Slowly, and painfully, Yugi clambered to his legs, eyes never loosing their
dull, lifeless look.

Gone. She was gone.

Love, hope, truth, beauty? It meant nothing. It didn't prevent her from
disappearing just days after their profession of such emotions.

It was the fever. The fever had come back to haunt her, reducing her into a
ghostly apparition, and finally, one fatal day, into only a shell.

Gone, lost forever, just like the lotuses that used to blossom by her house,
never to reappear again. The house had been sold, and her family had moved back to
their country, away from the grief that Egypt and the Nile had brought.

But he still had to live. He was still alive, tied into the bonds of life, forced to
continue. No longer a personal slave, Yugi once again returned to his old status, a
labour slave under the same type of relentless master.

Never again would he experience the same hopes, joys, and passions he had
dared to taste once. They had all died with the beautiful girl.

He remembered on the date of her passing away, how they had placed a
beautiful bouquet of lotuses over her lifeless hands, and folded them away to allow
her body to placed in a casket and carried away by the life-giving rivers of the Nile.

"Didn't you hear me, slave?" The voice boomed.

Snap, another crack of the whip, this one painfully sharp, digging into the
softened flesh on Yugi's back.

For a brief, impulsive moment, Yugi dared himself to look at the slave master
in the eye, daring himself to believe that he was equal. "My _name_ is Yugi."

Any other type of slave master would have beat the boy on the spot, but this
slave master had a particularly wry sense of humour. He broke into sardonic laughter,
spitting out his disgust, while flexing his whip a few expert times. "Sorry, slave, but
as long as you're here, you have no name. You don't deserve a name, because you are
the very dung under the Pharoah's horses' hooves. You could die tomorrow and no
one would care."

And then, the slave master set to beating the slave, making sure that the slave
felt every moment and vibration of the stings.

The slave master was right. He, a slave, was worthless. He, the slave, should
have died instead of _her_. But fate gave no pity, and now….

The whip cracked one more time, tracing a crude etch against his back, lines
shaped the many petals of the lotus.

*****************************************

End notes:

[1] "Moon" means "month".

Sorry about the slight OOC, but you can just pretend it has a meaning ^^().

The setting from this story was inspired after my dad came back from his trip to
Egypt. Oh, and lotuses are one of my favourite flowers ^^=.