for taking so long, but seeing as I had to do some research to get some of the
scenes just right you can hardly blame me. But if you have to blame me, then go
ahead. It just means I'll be even slower in putting out a next story if that
moment should ever arise (evil laugh).
The traditions portrayed in this
chapter are by no means the ONLY ones in existence. Chinese traditions vary
from region to region, sometimes even from village to village. Do not take what
I have written down as being the only possibility for this tradition.
I'd like to give a hearty ARIGATOU to all of you who have read,
commented, or simply enjoyed my series. Without you all constantly pushing and
badgering me to finish it I would have never put in so much hard work into this
Arigatou to WingZer0 Z (Ken) and
FireflyAngel426 (Irah), who unknowingly inspired me to write Sakura and Syaoran
the way I did. You two are just so kawaii, no matter what your folks say ^_^
Arigatou to BCzeon27 (Ben) and
Digidynasty (Alexis), true fans and true soul mates if ever I met any and some
of the most romantically creative people I know ^_^
And arigatou to Chu-kun, for being such
a great sounding board for ideas when I hit my walls ^_^
But now I MUST drop out of sight to
work on the biggest project of my life: revising a manuscript for pending
publishing ° _ °
Domo arigatou, minna, and ja ne!! ^_^
II - Test of Evil"
Censored Version –
(Uncensored version available
at The MOUSE Hole website)
By : The
All of Kinomoto Sakura's senses
surfaced all at once, her Spring green eyes fluttering open to take in her
surroundings. All the colors and shades were soft, designed to calm and relax a
person sleeping within. A motif of peonies and bamboo greeted her eyes. She
blinked in the room's dimmed light, confused, feeling the tropical heat of the
air caressing her face and neck. The cool silk sheets caressed her skin gently.
Her memories were vague as to how she got to this bedroom, her assigned room on
the Li Clan's estate. Her last conscious memories had been of being within
Mummaro's Gate as it crumbled down onto her, then of being cradled tenderly in
Li Syaoran's arms within the estate's Reception Hall. How she had gotten there,
and everything that happened afterwards, was a total blank. Her nose reported
the delicate scent of burning sage and lavender wafting through the room.
Turning her head towards the scent and
the window she saw that a small prayer altar had been set up in her room,
complete with miniature idols of healing deities and smoking incense on it. She
Aren't I supposed to be dead?
"How're you feeling?" a tiny
yet familiar voice questioned from her other side.
Sakura turned her head away from the
window to find a small, yellow, winged rodent-like creature hovering at her
bedside with an expression of worry on its tiny face. She blinked at it.
"Kero?" She then smiled.
"You changed back."
He smirked and shrugged. "Hai, I
was getting tired of being ridden all day long by so many kids. This way I can
fly out of reach." He then looked at her carefully. "You had us all
worried. Are you okay?"
She smiled gently. "Hai, now that
I'm out of that place. How did I get out?"
"Life, Earthy and Death got you
out magically. When it was sure you were going to be alright, the Life Card
sealed itself and settled in the book."
"The gaki's in the same boat you
are, hurt but recovering. He woke up a little over two hours ago. He really
wanted to come here, but the healers insisted you should be allowed to rest. I
think his Okaa-san and Sisters led him off to one of the terraces."
Sakura smothered a giggle. "My
Kero snorted. "That gaki can
survive being away from you for a few hours. Hey, what're you doing?" he
suddenly exclaimed as the sorceress threw off her covers.
She struggled with stiff limbs to sit
up on the edge of the bed. "What's it look like? I'm getting up."
She grinned. "Syaoran may be able
to survive being away for a few hours, but I can't."
"You still need rest." the
Guardian Beast protested.
"Kero, I feel fine.
Besides..." She glanced at the ornate antique clock sitting on her
nightstand. "It's almost eleven. It's time I got up."
She teetered for a moment on wobbly
legs as she waited for her sense of balance to return to her, then hobbled
towards her dresser for a change of clothes. On the way she passed the
full-length mirror and froze, stepping back in front of it to see herself. She
was dressed in her pale pink slip now instead of the gown she had worn at the
dinner party, but that wasn't what was so surprising.
Where were the bruises?
Where were the scars and bandages?
Her body showed no sign of the
countless injuries she should have been riddled with. She looked to Kero with a
very puzzled expression.
"Magic, right?" she asked
him, indicating her lack of injuries.
He suddenly looked sheepish as he sat
on one of the bedposts at the foot of the bed. "Hai, magic can heal like
that, combined with, um, two weeks full rest." he answered hesitantly.
Sakura rounded on him. "Nani!?
"They had to make sure you would
heal properly and completely." he amended quickly.
"But two weeks!?"
"Kero, what's going on in
here?" Li Meilin Rae demanded anxiously as she and a concerned Daidouji
Tomoyo burst into the room.
Bright amethyst and fiery terra cotta
eyes lit up with sheer joy and relief at the sight of the Mistress of the Cards
up and walking on her own. Tomoyo let loose a delighted squeal before launching
herself at her best friend to enfold her in a tight hug.
"Yokata! You're alright!"
"She won't be for much longer if
you don't let her go." Meilin warned, having seen Sakura's wince of pain.
The teen videographer quickly released
the sorceress with a gasp of remorse. "Gomen ne, Sakura, I got carried
The recovering teen rubbed her still
healing side with a reassuring smile. "It's okay, Tomoyo. Had it been me I
would've probably done the same thing. It also lets me know what injuries I
still have to be careful of."
"You're sure you're
alright?" queried the Chinese girl.
"Hai, Meilin. A good shower and a
change of clothes and I'll be as good as new."
Tomoyo suddenly smiled brightly,
clapping her hands in supplication. "Oh, let me pick out your
clothes?" she near pleaded desperately. "Let me, onegai,
Both Meilin and Sakura couldn't help
but laugh at the stars dancing in their friend's eyes as little Kero groaned in
dismay at the girl's exuberance when it came to clothes. Sometimes that teen
could be far too fashion happy.
* * *
exclaimed Li Syaoran's four Sisters as if they had one voice.
Li Lerae gazed at her Son sitting
across from her on the private terrace, both enjoying the calm and a warm
sunbeam tempered by a gentle sea breeze. Part of her marveled how much he had
grown in the last five years. His tan slacks and white shirt perfectly chiseled
a body shaped and defined from years of hard training and fighting at his
sorceress's side. Lerae fought hard to stifle the elated smile that threatened
to spread across her lips from his news. She was sorely tempted to have a
reaction much like that of her Daughters now babbling excitedly. This was
fantastic news her Son had given her. His amber eyes shone with hope for her
"Are you certain about this
decision, Xiao Lang?" Lerae asked of him.
Li Syaoran nodded. "Hai, Ma-Ma, I
have no doubts."
Sisters exclaimed again.
Syaoran frowned at them.
Part of Lerae's smile broke through
slightly. "And this will be done according to the old ways?"
Sisters exclaimed again.
Again he frowned at them. "I was
thinking of asking Ann-Lee to be my spokesperson for this."
exclaimed yet again.
More of Lerae's smile snuck past her
barriers. "Your Aunt will be most honored to speak on your behalf for
this. A wise choice."
Syaoran smiled. "I know she can
be very convincing in her arguments when she needs to be. And for this she'll
have to be."
Sisters exclaimed again, receiving a glare from their little Brother.
"Not to worry, my Son. Ann-Lee is
a master negotiator. She will be successful. Do you wish them brought here upon
reaching an agreement?"
The warrior paused in thought for a
moment, then nodded slowly. "Hai. It would make the rest of it much
"Then I will arrange it."
The Little Wolf's eyes smiled.
"Arigatou, Ma-Ma. You
don't know how much your approval of all this means to me."
Sisters exclaimed again and Syaoran growled low in growing annoyance.
Lerae smiled gently. "Anything to
make you happy, Xiao Lang."
He fought back the blush trying to
warm his cheeks. "Arigatou." he voiced again.
Sisters exclaimed yet again.
"Will you four magpies just shut
up already!" the warrior exclaimed.
Feimei merely smiled brightly.
"We're just so happy for our little Brother."
Fanren grinned. "It's not
everyday he personally requests this."
Syaoran growled at their seemingly
innocent expressions. "Don't you have children to take care of?"
"Their nannies are doing
that." Fuutie replied.
"They go annoy your husbands and
leave me alone!"
Shiefa's expression turned devilish.
"That's actually not a bad idea." The other three seemed to suddenly
understand and grinned.
"Fine, then go!" and the
warrior rose from his seat to physically chase them off the terrace.
His four Sisters ran away screeching
in mock terror. This done he returned to his seat and leaned back on the settee
to lounge comfortably, a smile appearing on his lips, both satisfied and
whimsical. He was silent for a moment, enjoying the sun's warming rays, before
"It's all up to Ann-Lee now to
convince them. I'll have the list and the final details for everything else for
you by dinner tonight."
Lerae nodded silently.
"What final details?" a
sweet voice suddenly questioned.
Startled, both Okaa-san and Son jumped
visibly in their seats and turned in the direction of the voice. There stood
Tomoyo and Meilin, both looking amused. Kero was sitting comfortably on
violet-eyed Tomoyo's shoulder, his tiny eyes carefully scanning his
surroundings for danger that was not present. And slightly before the two girls
and the Guardian Beast, stood a confused Mistress of the Clow Cards. Sakura
wore a light, short sleeved white sweater and a dark grey, wrap-around skirt
that seemed to be made of a felt material. It was a degree more elegant than
the jeans and simple T-shirts her two friends wore. The Li Clan's future leader
felt a smile spread across his face at the beautiful vision the love of his
life made, her confused expression making her almost painfully adorable. He
held a hand out to her in beckoning as he lay back on the settee once again.
"You must have been in a really
deep conversation to not have noticed us walking up." the sorceress smiled
sweetly as she took her soul mate's offered hand and sat at his side on the
"Heaven forbid I even become that
absorbed ever again, my Ying Fa." he murmured warmly against her ear,
wrapping an arm around her slender waist to keep her close.
She shivered pleasantly and snuggled
against his side willingly, listening to his strong heartbeat. "Syaoran,
what final details?" she insisted softly.
Li Lerae chuckled at the obvious
devotion the young couple showed for each other. "Xiao Lang and I were merely
discussing the plans to an upcoming event he wishes to put into motion."
Meilin blinked as she sat in a nearby
wicker chair. "Event? What event?"
Syaoran shrugged slightly.
"Nothing over the top. The last Clan gathering we had got ruined by
Mesuinu and Higato so we're going to try this again with no interruptions this
Stars lit up in Tomoyo's eyes at the
chance to design another fabulous evening gown for Sakura to wear, a thousand
and one designs already dancing before her mind's eye. "When is it going
to be held?"
The warrior looked to his Okaa-san.
"I'm thinking four days?" Lerae nodded in confirmation. He turned
back to his friends. "Hai, four days from now. It should be enough time
for a few special, extra guests to arrive."
The three teen girls looked confused
as Kero scrutinized the sorcerer suspiciously. Syaoran had a secretive, almost
devilish grin tugging at the corners of his mouth and shining in his warm ocher
eyes. The Guardian Beast immediately knew he was planning something, but whether
it was a good or bad thing he couldn't yet tell. With a thoroughly amused smile
at the whole scene unfolding before her Li Lerae stood and bowed slightly,
elegantly to her guests.
"I must go inform Ann-Lee to
prepare if she is to have time to get her needed belongings together. She will
leave the moment she receives your instructions tonight, Xiao Lang."
Then Li-san walked away.
"Why is Aunt Ann-Lee leaving
tonight?" Meilin queried of her Cousin.
He gave her a very pointed look.
"She's to be my spokesperson... in Japan."
She raised a puzzled eyebrow, cocking
her head to one side. "Spokesperson? In Japan?"
Meilin met Syaoran's gaze spark for
spark, then blinked when he, too, arched an eyebrow in a you know exactly
what I mean expression, a smirk working at the corner of his mouth.
"Oh... Oh!" she
exclaimed when realization finally sank in.
Her hands quickly clamped over her
mouth, her face contorting as she struggled desperately to hold in her squeals
of glee or comments that would give away the revelation. It was plainly obvious
to her that her Cousin wanted to keep this wonderful news a secret from the
Japanese cheerleader. It was to be a surprise for her. The two remaining girls
and the Guardian Beast gave Meilin strange looks, silently questioning her as
to the reason of her strange reaction, noting how her face was turning purple
from her effort to restrain herself. Feeling she would crack Meilin quickly
grabbed Tomoyo's arm and Kero's tail to drag them both into the house.
"I bet Kero is hungry, let's go
to the kitchens and see if we can't find him something for him to eat."
she lied quickly as a cover for her rushed retreat with the two.
Sakura sat up in puzzlement and
watched Meilin drag Tomoyo and Kero away. She blinked in wonder. "Well,
that was wholly unexpected of her."
"But not unwelcome." Syaoran
She smiled at him from over her
shoulder. With a giggle she returned to his welcoming arms, sighing blissfully
as they enfolded her in a tight embrace. There was no greater sense of security
than the feel of his strength and his warm aura wrapped around her. The world
just melted away when he held her this way, tenderly and lovingly. Sakura would
have given anything and everything she had to remain exactly where she was. It
was well worth it to just hear the steady lub-dub of his heart and listen to
his gentle breath rising and falling in his chest.
Syaoran felt both blessed and
intoxicated by her presence. He was completely addicted and she was his drug.
Her aura blending and intermingling with his was like no other sensation in the
world; comforting, enticing, innocent. And her scent, that sweet and delicate
scent of cherry blossoms that seemed to follow her everywhere she went, was
euphoric. He could saturate his senses with that scent and still never get
enough of it. He suddenly felt her lithe arms tighten around his chest, feeling
her bliss change to some sort of fear. He looked down at the top of her head,
her honey auburn hair hiding her face from him.
"Sakura?" he questioned
"I was so afraid I'd never see
you again." she stated in a shaky whisper.
Syaoran slid down a bit to be at
Sakura's eye level, laying a warm hand on her cheek. Tears threatened to spill
from her emerald orbs. His thumb glided over her smooth cheek in a tender
caress, tightening his other arm around her to pull her closer against himself.
"Shhh, that's in the past
now." he soothed gently. "I'll never ever leave you."
Sakura's gaze met his as she held up
her pinky finger to him. "Promise?"
He gave her a shivery warm smile at
her adorable look of innocence, hooking his own little finger with her.
"Hai, I promise." he assured. "And this is a promise I intend to
keep no matter what."
An awed smile touched the sorceress's
lips. This adamant vow was one of the many reasons she loved him so much. He
always knew exactly what to say at any given time to make her feel better. The
warrior's fingers carefully curled under her chin and tilted her face up to his
own. His gentle smile sent thousands of shivers racing up the length of her
spine. Silently she thought it was such a pity that the handsome sorcerer
didn't smile more often. He has the most beautiful smile.
I only smile for you, My Love,
his mind whispered into hers.
Another pleasant shiver gripped her
and she leaned upwards, her lips brushing his in a tender kiss. His lips parted
in response to accept the kiss, his eyes closing, his callused fingers soft
upon her cheek.
"Aishiteru, Syaoran." she
whispered against his lips, then ducked her head beneath his chin to mold her
body to his.
He cradled her head against the side
of his neck, caressing her back from her nape to the small of her back.
"Aishiteru, Sakura." he murmured against the skin of her forehead.
"Now and always."
* * *
Tomoyo videotaped the young couple
lounging on the terrace, a bright smile on her lips. Meilin had just explained
the reason for her previous reaction and it was so sublime. And to think she
would actually be present to capture every wonderful moment and detail on film.
It was beyond her wildest dreams. Kero hovered just over her head, also
watching, also smiling. Despite all past grievances and name-callings between
him and Syaoran, the warrior made Sakura happy. He could forgive him the rest
for that alone. If anything Kero wanted his Mistress happy. Tomoyo giggled
excitedly and looked to Meilin.
"You're absolutely sure about
this?" she asked the Chinese teen.
"Positive." she replied.
"Asking Aunt Ann-Lee to be his spokesperson is a dead giveaway. It's part
of our traditions for it."
"It won't be easy for your Aunt
to convince them."
Meilin smirked. "It won't be easy
to say no to Ann-Lee. I think that's why Syaoran chose her. Then he'll announce
the results at the banquet."
"So that's why he wants to have
the second banquet." Kero grinned. "I got to admit, the kid has
flair; dramatic and romantic."
"Sugoi! I get to design a totally
fantastic gown for my Sakura to wear for that then."
"Nothing overly frilly,
Tomoyo." Meilin warned.
She looked mortified. "Of course
not! Frills are so passé. I see something of satin, silk or lace... or any
combination of." Both the Guardian Beast and the Chinese girl groaned
softly at this. "Tell me more about this tradition. I don't want to miss a
second of this."
"Over a snack." Kero added
quickly. "I'm starving!" to which the girls laughed.
* * *
A calm and quiet evening descended on
the island of Bing Di Lian. Attendants went about preparing the Li Clan's
estate for the night for when its occupants would decide to retire. The guards
assigned to the evening watch began their rounds to ensure the safety of all
those within the estate. A fine cool mist hung over the grounds, adding an air
of mystery to the already magical place. Sakura sighed silently as she watched
from the window as the night settled peacefully on the island. A smile adorned
her lips. She thought about how wonderful it could be if she could stay on this
estate all her life. She could learn so much about magic here, about Clow Reed
and the cards he had created. But, most of all, she could forever stay with her
adored soul mate. The thought sent goose bumps along her flesh pleasantly. Her
smile grew slightly wider as she continued to watch the night, reminiscing
about the day she had just had.
Anyone else might have considered that
day a complete waste of time, but to Sakura it was just as memorable and
magical as the island and the one she had been with. She had spent the entire
day in the company of Li Syaoran alone, though she had been positive a certain
camera happy teen had followed them just to spy and film. The Li warrior had
taken the young sorceress on a tour of the island, showing her his old hideouts
and some of the more spectacular locations the island had to offer. At one such
location he had thought it best to return the Book and Key of Clow back to
their rightful owner, the Mistress of the Cards. She had thanked him properly
for the considerate gesture. She knew he could have very well kept the cards,
but he was far too kind to her to do such a thing. A blush crept up the
Mistress of the Cards' cheeks as she remembered how they had interrupted their
own tour numerous times with sweet moments of tender kisses. It had felt as if
they could never get close enough though. Chances were that was exactly the
case. Silently she hoped that would change between them.
"Not if we can't stop Tomoyo from
taping us at every turn." Syaoran stated softly as he came up behind her
to tenderly grip her shoulders. A smile was in his voice.
She nestled herself back against his
chest with a blissful sigh, her smile softening lovingly.
His arms slipped around her waist.
He chuckled. "You were
broadcasting like a radio antenna, My Love." and he placed a gentle kiss
on the back of her head. "I could hear you without even trying."
She blushed. "Gomen ne."
Syaoran nuzzled the back of her ear
warmly. "Who says I didn't like it?" he murmured.
A tiny gasp escaped her lips as her
knees threatened to buckle from his gentle breath on her skin. Sakura wondered
if he knew just how seductive he was sometimes. His arms tightened slightly
around her slim waist to keep her close. To the teen sorceress it was
incredible how one man could make her feel so impossibly safe.
"Arigatou." Syaoran grinned.
Sakura giggled. "Now you
"Gomen, gomen." he chuckled.
"C'mon, dinner's about to start soon." and he gently tugged her away
from the window.
She pressed herself against his side,
her arms wrapped around his torso, her cheek to his shoulder as they slowly
walked down the corridors of the estate's main house. The warrior kept both his
arms around her, feeling that if he ever dared to let her go that he would lose
her this time.
"Ne, Syaoran?" she finally
questioned after a long silence.
"Are you ever going to tell me
what you have planned for the banquet in four days?"
He smiled. "Now where's the
surprise in that?"
She pouted. "Mou, Syaoran--"
The sorcerer gently warmed the
sorceress's lips with his own to silence her protest. "Patience, Sakura.
Trust me, I do believe you'll like this surprise."
They arrived at a set of double doors
where an attendant stood unwearyingly. He bowed to the approaching Card Captors
in much respect and opened the double doors for them to enter the room beyond.
It was a small room, large enough for ten people to comfortably sit around a
rectangular table and still have room for a few sparse antiques for
decorations. The Clan's matriarch was already seated at the head of the table,
entertaining Kero, Tomoyo and Meilin as they waited for the Card Captors to
arrive to beginning the evening meal. There was one more person sitting at the
table that Sakura hadn't yet met. She was a rather pudgy woman for her tall and
broad stature, with very black and very attentive eyes that sparkled with a
devilish mischief. She was an impressive woman, a shock of auburn streaking her
salt and pepper hair, wisdom clearly seen in her wrinkled face. She smiled
brightly, almost proudly, at the young couple as they walked in arm in arm.
"Ah, and here is the happy pair
now." the woman exclaimed.
"Did we make you wait long?"
the warrior queried with a look of apology, holding his girlfriend's chair out
like a perfect gentleman for her to sit.
"Not very long." the woman
assured. "Lerae and Meilin were just telling me more about your three
friends here. Simply fascinating people." She smiled at Sakura. "So,
is this the lovely tao?"
Sakura blinked in confusion and looked
to Syaoran as he sat. "Tao?"
A small frown creased his brow.
"Guess not all words are being translated." He looked at his partner
with a gentle smile. "It means peach."
Again she blinked. "Peach?"
He merely winked with an amused grin
in response. "Aunt Ann-Lee, meet Card Mistress Kinomoto Sakura." he
The sorceress bowed in her seat to the
woman. "An honor, Li-san."
"The honor is mine, Card
Mistress." Ann-Lee returned.
"Ne, you're the one Syaoran is
sending to Japan on some business for him?"
"Hai." she smiled.
"I don't suppose you'd tell me
Ann-Lee's smile grew a little wider.
"He trusts in my abilities."
"To do what?"
She chuckled. "To tame a
"Tame a tiger?"
"There is no use trying to pry
the contents of my mission out of me, little tao." she chuckled.
"Xiao Lang has expressed that this is to remain a secret, for now."
Sakura slumped slightly with a pout of
defeat, hearing her friends snicker softly at her failed attempt to learn this
tight secret. She turned to her boyfriend only to find him smirking at her in
She smiled sheepishly.
"Patience." he confirmed,
giving her hand a gentle squeeze.
She sighed softly, knowing she would
never convince anyone of his family to tell her what it was he was planning, as
the attendants took their unspoken cue and served the evening meal. Syaoran
used this opportunity to pass a small rolled-up scroll to his Aunt through one
of the servants. The aging woman accepted the message, carefully unrolling it
and reading over its contents. She raised only her eyes from the document to
look across the table to her nephew. Sakura listened carefully to glean any
clue possible to figure out what this important event would be.
"You are offering quite a lot to
them." she told him.
"I owe them a lot, infinitely
more than what's there."
She smiled knowingly, raising her
head. "Hai, I suppose you do. And this list down at the bottom here?"
"To be brought back here as well upon
reaching an agreement with the principle party involved."
The elder woman nodded thoughtfully,
returning her eyes to the scroll. "Hai. Six hours to get there, maybe two
days of negotiation and getting the rest of your list ready for departure, and
six hours back. That leaves a day and a half to iron out any problems that
might arise. Hai, this will do nicely."
"Arigatou for doing this,
She waved a hand absently as if in a
dismissal. "Save your domo arigatou until all this is
settled." She paused. "But this should not be too hard."
Lerae smiled at her Sister's
confidence and looked to her niece who was struggling hard not to laugh at the
Card Mistress's confusion. "Meilin, perhaps in the morning you could take
both Tomoyo and Sakura into town."
"Hai, that's an excellent idea,
Ma-Ma." the Clan's sorcerer agreed. "Take them shopping, show them
the sights of the Island City."
The sorceress looked a little
disappointed. "You're not coming with us?" she asked her partner.
He shook his head in a negative, a
look of genuine remorse on his face. "There's a ceremony I have to attend
here. A private, family ceremony that's going to last the vast portion of the
"Tradition?" she queried
He nodded. "Tradition."
"Don't worry, Sakura."
Tomoyo grinned. "Meilin and I will keep you so distracted that you'll
never notice time fly until we have to come back."
The Mistress of the Cards looked
apprehensive about leaving her partner's side for so long. Their last prolonged
separation had not turned out for the best, nearly resulting in their deaths
and the destruction of the world. But part of her mind agreed that she had to
do something to occupy herself while her Little Wolf attended to his
family's traditions. The more time she spent on the estate around his
relatives, the more she learned about her beloved warrior. About how he grew up
and lived before coming to Japan and just how important traditions were to his
family. And she would accept all these rituals and ceremonies. They
were a part of the man she loved after all. So if this was private and only
family oriented, then so be it. Sakura bowed her head and nodded, reluctantly
agreeing with the arrangements.
We can spend the night together
until then, if you want, Syaoran suggested gently in her mind.
She blinked in surprise and looked at
him from the corner of her eye, fighting off a smirk. You make that sound
naughtier than it really is, she sent, casually taking a morsel from her
plate with her chopsticks and popping it in her mouth deftly.
She heard him chuckle coyly in her
mind. What if I'm suggesting that very thing?
A fierce blush colored her cheeks as she
nearly choked, turning sharply to face him in shock. "Nani!?"
He laughed. "Gotcha."
She frowned, then playfully slapped
his shoulder, getting caught up in his mirth. I'm going to get you for
His golden eyes sparkled in seductive
mischief. I'm counting on it.
She giggled another blush. Libidinous,
Can you blame me with such a lovely
angel as you at my side? he told her in all innocence.
Now you're a sweet-talker, she
Can you blame me for that too?
No, but I can try, she teased.
Then, suddenly noticing the silence in
the dining room, the pair blinked back to reality and looked to their friends
and family. Five broad and intrigued grins, five pairs of curious eyes, and one
video camera lens greeted them. The Card Captors looked from one face to the
next in puzzlement, twitching slightly at their almost intense scrutiny.
"Nani?" the warrior demanded
of the five.
"We just think your bond is so
kawaii to watch." Kero teased as he munched on a rice ball.
Syaoran stiffened slightly and looked
to Sakura with a sheepish expression. We got carried away.
She merely smirked at him. That
seems to be happening a lot these days, and he chuckled in amused
"So how long ago did you guys
find out about this... this... well... link?" Tomoyo queried, intrigued.
Sakura had a thoughtful look as she
recollected her memories. "Um... at school the same day Li-san showed up
at Syaoran's apartment." she answered.
"We actually found out by
accident." Syaoran added. "We got brief flashes throughout the day,
bits of feelings, and a few sentences. They were fragmented at first, but
everything got clearer and stronger the more time passed."
"And, just now, this was a silent
conversation between the both of you that we witnessed?" asked Ann-Lee.
""Hai."" the soul
mates replied in unison.
"Can we know what you were
saying?" Meilin probed, a glint of pure curiosity in her terra cotta eyes.
""No."" they again
replied together with a knowing grin.
Li Meilin Rae responded with a pout to
which all the occupants of the dinning room laughed.
* * *
Li Ann-Lee walked daintily through the
thick snow of Japan's Tomeda District, aware of the strange glances passers by
gave her and her four attendants as they passed. She had to admit to herself,
they must have made a very strange sight, a group that seemed to consist of one
noblewoman and four men laden with numerous boxes each. But all these boxes
were necessary. There were the items and gifts she would use to negotiate with.
Turning another corner in this maze of small streets, Ann-Lee and her cortege
finally arrived at their destination. She gazed at the quaint two-story house
fondly. Love and peace simply radiated from it. This must have been an amazing
place for a child to grow up in. She only hoped its occupants were still there.
The elder Li woman had made it a point to get here early to catch the residents
before they left for their daily routine. At seven in the morning they had
to still be in. Steeling herself she walked up the narrow path to the front
door, attendants in tow, and rang the doorbell. Barely a minute passed before a
smiling, middle-aged man opened the door. He blinked at the sight of the
quintet standing before him.
"Konnichiwa. May I help
you?" he greeted as a younger man stepped just within sight down the
Ann-Lee and the attendants bowed in
deep respect. "We have been sent to you by Li Xiao Lang to offer you, on
his behalf, his most important request, Kinomoto Fujitaka-sama."
* * *
Li Syaoran woke to the crystalline
song of a sparrow from somewhere beyond his open window. He inhaled deeply as
he woke and smiled as his nose was filled with the delicate scent of heather
and cherry blossoms. He could feel a small and soft body breathing gently under
his casually draped arm. He curled that arm slightly, to tug the lithe form
closer, and opened his eyes.
There, sleeping peacefully at his
side, was the love of his life, Kinomoto Sakura.
Syaoran just lay there and watched her
sleep. Her mouth was open only the tiniest bit and curled into a slight smile,
a few strands of her auburn locks falling against her silky cheek. The gentle
morning light played on her face, making her skin seem to glow with the same
light as her silk slip that she still wore. The young sorcerer smiled
whimsically. Waking up next to her like this was definitely something he could
get used to. He didn't dare move, not wanting to wake the ethereal sorceress
from such a peaceful sleep. He looked to the clock just beyond her on his
nightstand. He had to squint to see the numbers in the morning's light.
It was just past six thirty.
Syaoran smile broadened a bit. His
Aunt was probably engaged in the negotiations in Japan. If she were
convincing enough, that bit of work would be done soon. All that was left for
this day was for him to get up soon to attend a very decisive ceremony. He had
no doubt in his mind as to the outcome of that event, but he hated the thought
of having to get up and be away from his Cherry Blossom's side. He
sighed silently and gently kissed her bare shoulder. Sakura's smile broadened
as she woke slowly, a tiny moan breaking from her lips. She turned to her side,
facing him, and snuggled against his chest. The Little Wolf chuckled.
"Konnichiwa, my Ying Fa." he
She pressed closer to him with a groan
of protest. "It's too early."
He smiled down at her. "I know,
but we both have a busy day so the sooner we start it the sooner it'll all be
She looked up at him, her bright eyes
glowing in the morning light. "I guess you're right." Then a bright
smile illuminated both her face and the room. "Konnichiwa, Xiao Lang."
He wound his arms around her and
cuddled her close, laying a gentle kiss on her brow. "This is going to be
one impossibly long day." he whispered.
"Can't everything be
postponed?" she murmured into the hollow of his throat.
He sighed. "What that I wish it
could, but no. Besides, I think Tomoyo is dying to see the latest Hong Kong
fashions on you."
"And no doubt managed to talk
your Sisters into coming along for a girls' day out."
Syaoran couldn't help but chuckle.
"Arigatou." Sakura giggled
Then, for a moment, she just stared at
him intently, her eyes seeming to twinkle with a kind of wonder. The warrior
blinked in confusion from her gentle scrutiny.
"Nani?" he asked.
She grinned. "About how the
hardest thing about sleeping in the same bed as you is getting up in the
He smiled. "And that's a bad
"Of course not." she cooed,
lightly brushing her lips to his.
A light tremor gripped the young
warrior from her soft action. "We... we really should get up." he
She pouted. "Even if we don't
"Even if we don't want to."
he confirmed. "It would be safer."
Sakura looked at him, blinking in
uncertainty. Then his meaning hit her and she blushed fiercely. "Oh."
she said with a sheepish grin.
He held her close one last time before
kissing her lips. "I'll see you tonight, My Love." he promised.
She sighed a small smile. "Until
tonight then, Beloved."
Then the sorcerer reluctantly released
his sorceress from his arms. She slid out of the warm bed and into her silk
nightrobe, padding to the door on bare feet. Once there she paused. She turned
her head to her boyfriend and found him sitting on the edge of the bed, just
watching her leave. Sakura smiled at him one more time, then disappeared out of
the door to return to her room. Syaoran stared at the closed door for a little
longer. With a broad smile he let himself drop to his back.
Life is good.
* * *
Nothing said at the intimate
breakfast, or during the long ferry ride, nor even during the car ride into
town, had prepared the teen sorceress or her fashion designer friend for what
greeted them at the entrance to the first mall they stopped at on their mini
Throngs of them!
They all clambered about the long
black limousine, desperately peering through windows and trying the locked
doors to get a picture or a comment to quote from members of the elusive Li
Clan. Tomoyo blinked at the crowd through the window and clutched her camera
preciously to her chest, knowing that these paparazzi would snatch it from her
if given the chance. She remembered the scene at the airport when they had
first arrived in Hong Kong, but she had dearly hoped these reporters would have
left them alone since Li Syaoran was not with their group. Afterall, he was the
important one now of the Li Clan.
"Now we know why Kero wanted to
stay at the estate." she voiced.
"Hai. With so many reporters he
would've been spotted for sure." Sakura agreed.
Meilin sighed in annoyance at the
reporters and photographers. "We go through this each and every time we
leave the island. It gets old fast."
"I can imagine." the
sorceress nodded absently as she continued to stare out the window rather
nervously. "What do they want?"
Fuutie sniffed at the ruckus the
paparazzi were causing. "An interview mostly. They are simply fascinated
about our Clan and the people who associate with us."
"But they are not ready to know
the truth about us just yet." Shiefa added.
"The guards have a path cleared
for us." Fanren announced. "Time to run the gauntlet."
Feimei took both Sakura's and Tomoyo's
hands. "Stay close to me." she instructed as they prepared to rush
out of the vehicle.
Taking a bracing breath the seven
women burst out of the limousine and ran towards the massive mall's front
entrance, ignoring the reporters as much as possible. It was a maddening rush
of flashing lights and a jumble of questions from those who made news their
livelihood. As soon as the Li women, the two Japanese teens, and their
attendants crossed the doors, mall security shut the entrance tight, preventing
the reporters from following.
Tomoyo suddenly giggled breathlessly.
"I pity poor Li. He's missing out on all this fun." she
quipped in sarcastic humor.
Meilin smirked. "I bet he's
having just as much fun at that ceremony."
"What exactly is he doing
anyway?" Sakura queried.
"Picking an appropriate
day." Feimei answered absently.
The others quickly hushed her with
hisses and glares while the Card Mistress looked on in confusion.
"Day?" the auburn haired
cheerleader asked further.
Shiefa nodded quickly in answer.
"To... to conclude his business. Very important. The day must be just
right, just perfect to ensure proper success in this."
"Oh, hai!" Fuutie agreed.
"Proper business is just as important as Fate and tradition. He must save
Sakura nodded slowly. "Hai, I
Fanren bobbed her head quickly.
"Hai, hai, but right now our business is shopping!"
The sorceress saw her sudden
enthusiasm and groaned softly, dropping to her knees when the other three
Sisters joined in. And she had thought Tomoyo was exuberant. Seeing the female
Card Captor fall to her knees the Li Sisters gathered around her in worry.
"No, I'm fine." she waved
sheepishly, dismissing their flurry of concerned questions.
As soon as she said this she
immediately regretted it. They grabbed her arms to haul her back to her feet,
then dragged her off into the mall towards one of the nearest clothiers. Tomoyo
and Meilin were close behind them, both smiling in conspiracy.
* * *
Mighty Keroberus, once again
transformed into his large lion-like form, lay silent and off to the side of
the group kneeling in the center of the estate's private temple. He was a quiet
observer for this. Thick clouds of pungent incense hovered near the ceiling
from prayer offerings burning on the altar. At the front of the small group
knelt Li Syaoran and his Okaa-san, both had their eyes closed in quiet
contemplation, dressed in their ceremonial robes of green and gold. The seven
Clan Elders knelt behind them, also in their ceremonial robes and colors. They
had all been praying this way for the last six hours, showing no sign of
fatigue. Keroberus allowed himself a smile. It was nice to see that the old
gods and goddesses still commanded respect even in this day and age. An old man
suddenly entered the temple, his arms laden with many scrolls. He paused at the
sight of the mighty Guardian Beast of the Seal lounging in the room, then went
to kneel before the praying group. Kero cocked his head.
He scrutinized the man's robes a
little more carefully and blinked.
No, a Fortune Master! Ah, it's been
a while since I saw one of those.
The wizened man bowed to the hierarchy
of the Li Clan and set out his scrolls before him. "Do you have both
candidates' eight letters?" he asked them.
Li Lerae nodded and placed two strips
of papyrus before the Fortune Master. Keroberus could barely make out the
characters neatly inscribed on each. He squinted for a better view. Eight
characters each: year, month, day, and time.
The old Fortune Master bowed in thanks
and began to carefully examine his numerous scrolls, every so often looking to
the two strips of papyrus as if in reference. The next few hours passed by
slowly as the Fortune Master did his strange and mysterious research,
scrutinizing astrological charts of seemingly every kind. Through it all Li
Syaoran kept his eyes shut as if in silent prayer for a favorable outcome.
Finally the old man sat back on his heels with a pleased smile.
"Never have I seen such eight
letters match each other so well. Fate smiles down upon you in this,
Li-sama. I see nothing wrong."
Syaoran sighed in relief and finally
opened his eyes. "What of the day?"
"I will require the eight
letters of all else involved, Li-sama."
The warrior nodded. "You'll get
them in a day and a half's time."
The aged fortune telling master bowed
in agreement to this term.
* * *
Sakura was already exhausted from all
her hard work and from precious little rest from the previous day's shopping
marathon with Syaoran's older Sisters, but she wouldn't let her fatigue show to
her sensei. She wanted to show him she could be strong. The morning sun was
already high above the horizon, the last few hours having just flown by
unnoticed. The sorceress blew a sweat-dampened lock of hair from her eyes and
took a more decisive stance before her sensei, her Bo staff held before her.
She drowned out all sounds and all other sights except for the person standing
in front of her. She saw his stance shift ever so slightly and she braced
herself for what would come next, narrowing her eyes. Her opponent charged at
her wordlessly, taking a low swing at her side with his own Bo staff. Due to
her previous long hours of practice, Sakura blocked the blow with rather ease.
The attacker's Bo abruptly changed
direction, suddenly aimed at her neck.
Again she blocked it.
The Bo swung several more times, each
swing blocked almost effortlessly. Finally her opponent just stopped and nodded
a very pleased smile at the lithe cheerleader.
"Well done, Sakura." he
She smiled, not yet relaxing her
stance. "I had a great sensei, Syaoran."
Syaoran chuckled and straightened.
"And I had an excellent student."
She blushed with an innocent giggle as
she, too, straightened. The Card Captors formally bowed to each other, calling
an end to this practice for the day. Then, as an attendant took away their
weapons, they turned to the other pair sparring not far away on the same grassy
terrace. Meilin swung her Bo low to knock Tomoyo's feet out from under her, but
the surprisingly nimble videographer managed to jump out of the way. Sakura
smiled at her two friends vying for a weakness as he boyfriend came up behind
her and gripped the young sorceress's shoulders. Syaoran kissed the back of her
head tenderly and she smiled blissfully.
"Arigatou for also teaching
Tomoyo." she told the sorcerer.
"The least I could do." he
murmured in her hair. "Even with all her bodyguards, she should learn to
defend herself. There'll be times when neither you or I or Meilin will be
around to protect her."
The sorceress nodded absently to this.
Meilin and Tomoyo's Bo staffs swung by
in a blur and collided with each other with a loud snap, both girls going still
for a moment. A frown crossed the Chinese teen's face.
"Hai, you can really tell Syaoran
taught you how to fight." she voiced.
"How's that?" violet-eyed
"You're actually beating
"Does that mean you're done for
this morning?" Syaoran interrupted, smirking at Sakura's attempt to
smother a giggle.
"Hai." Meilin agreed
grudgingly, both girls lowering their weapons and then bowing to each other in
respect. "I get the feeling that I'll never win a sparring match."
she complained, surrendering the Bo to the attendant.
Her Cousin frowned slightly.
"That's just it. It's a sparring match. There isn't supposed to be a
winner or a loser."
She waved it off casually.
The Card Mistress shook her head at
her friend in patient disbelief just as movement from the Main House caught the
corner of her eye. A pudgy woman, her graying hair visible even from this
distance, was waddling out of the house towards them, a broad grin plastered on
her face. The sorceress blinked in hesitant recognition.
"Isn't that your Aunt
Ann-Lee?" she voiced.
A small frown appeared on the
warrior's face as he nodded in confirmation. "She's back early. I hope
that means that nothing's wrong." and he walked forward to greet his
relative. "Ann-Lee, is everything alright?" came his cautious query.
The elder woman beamed proudly.
"All is well, Xiao Lang. Better that well. Better than that even."
Syaoran blinked. "Then... they both
"Hai. The younger one needed more
convincing, as expected, but all is settled now. And all of your guests are in
the Master Study waiting for you and your lovely tao."
He smiled. "You're the
"Hai, hai, so everyone
says." she quipped.
The Clan's future leader hugged the
old woman warmly in gratitude, then turned to smile at his adored partner in
card capting. "Sakura, it's time you saw the first part of your
Jade eyes blinked in confusion.
"The first part?"
"Meilin, Tomoyo." and he
motioned them over to him. "Go to the Master Study." he whispered low
so only they would hear. "Tell everyone there to be quiet until we arrive."
The two ran off giggling as Syaoran once again turned to his soul mate, holding
a beckoning hand out to her. "Ready?"
She stared at his hand for a moment,
then met his warm sunset colored eyes. They twinkled with obvious mirth, with
the excitement of a child about to play a favorite game. Pure curiosity shone
within the emerald depths of her eyes at this. He chuckled gently at how
adorable it made her seem, so lost and innocent that he wanted to wrap her in
his arms and hold her forever to protect her from the world. Taking her hand he
lightly tugged her away from the dispersing crowd of on-lookers and back
towards the house.
What are you planning? the
warrior heard her think intently, feeling her mind brush against his.
He soothingly pushed her mind away. No
peeking, he chided playfully.
"Mou, Syaoran..." she
pouted. "I'm horrible with surprises."
"Just a few short minutes more,
Sakura." he responded quietly, pulling her close to himself and placing a
light finger on her lips to silence her. "You'll like this first
She relented with a tiny sigh. A
tender smile touched his features as he cupped her cheek in one hand. Following
an impulse that was too strong to deny, he leaned in and warmed her lips with
his own in a heart-aching, loving kiss. The sorceress melted into the embrace
willingly. A loud howl suddenly erupted from the Main House, pulling the soul
mates apart. Sakura turned to her warrior for an explanation only to find him
staring at the house in apprehension. She cocked her head to one side.
"What was that,
He frowned at the house. "Part of
"Is it dangerous?" she asked
"Only for me." he sighed.
They continued to the house, the
Mistress of the Cards still pondering her sorcerer's last sentence.
What had made such a horrendous howl?
Why was it only dangerous for Syaoran?
What was this mysterious surprise he
was presenting to her in parts that everyone seemed to know about except her?
She pushed those thoughts away as they
neared the estate's Master Study. A few meters still from the door the warrior
"Close your eyes." he
"Trust me." he merely smiled
She closed her eyes, feeling his hands
take her shoulders to guide her the rest of the way to the study. He was being
ever so careful to make sure she didn't bump into or trip on anything. She was
turned into an open door where she heard some shuffling and hushed, giggling
voices. Then the warrior's hands disappeared from her shoulders. Sakura froze
in some fear.
"Open your eyes." he
replied, a smile in his voice.
Still a little fearful of what she
would see she slowly blinked open her eyes. A near strangled gasp escaped her
throat. She looked from face to smiling face as if making sure she wasn't
Her Great Grandfather, Amamiya
Tomoyo's Okaa-san, Daidouji Sonomi...
They were all there, smiling with
impish amusement at the expression of pure shock on Sakura's face. The Japanese
cheerleader suddenly squealed in utter delight and rushed to each and every one
of the newcomers to hug them all in welcome. Syaoran hung back from the
babbling group that now included Meilin and Tomoyo as well. He sported a tiny
smile at the pure joy written on his soul mate's features. He swore to himself
then and there to do whatever it took to make her smile that way every day of
her life. Before her knew it she abruptly threw her arms around his neck to
embrace him tight, her face pressed into the crook of his neck. His arms
reacted in instinct and crushed her close.
"How did you know that I already missed
them so much?" she whispered against his skin.
He pulled back slightly to smile at
her. "Do I really need to answer that?"
She giggled in understanding.
"No, I guess not. Aishiteru." and she kissed his smiling lips.
squealed Rika, Naoko and Chiharu as Touya growled low in a clear menace.
Syaoran dropped his face to Sakura's
shoulder with a small groan. "Great, more people who think we're
Sakura giggled as she nuzzled his ear.
"That's because we are kawaii."
He pulled his face back, favoring her
with a seductively sweet smile. "I know you are."
She tapped his chest in playful
chiding. "How will I ever thank you for everything you've done for
"You'll think of something."
he chuckled low.
"Ah, there you are!" a voice
sounded from the door to the study. "Li-san and the Elders wanted to know
if you wanted breakfast now or not." Keroberus relayed. He raised an
eyebrow at the Card Captors obviously shocked expressions. "Nani? You look
like you've seen a ghost."
"A... a talking lion...?"
came Rika's near terrified whisper.
The Guardian Beast glanced almost
casually to the voice, then turned to stare long and hard in growing shock
Seven new pairs of eyes were looking at him, were seeing him when he should not
have yet been known to those who knew nothing of real magic. His face became
panic stricken as he struggled with a way out of this awkward situation he had
"Um... Ah... Just a dream! Hai,
you're all just dreaming! Heh, heh... See? Just a dream!" he stuttered
quickly as he gestured wildly.
"Kero..." began his
Mistress, reluctantly pulling herself free of her boyfriend's arms.
Keroberus winced. "Gomen ne,
Sakura, I didn't know."
Syaoran sighed. "It's alright.
This was bound to happen sooner or later."
"I was kind of hoping for
later." the Beast mumbled, hanging his head.
"Matte, you guys know...
um..." But, for once, Takashi couldn't finish his sentence.
Meilin groaned. "I sense a really
long explanation on the way here."
"We can explain everything and
answer all your questions over breakfast, ne?" Tomoyo announced.
Daidouji Sonomi blinked. "Oh,
because you're involved?"
"Hai, of course I'm involved.
Just give us the time to freshen up a little and we'll join you in a few
"Kero, can you lead them to the
Dining Hall and let Li-san know what happened?" the Card Mistress queried
of her Guardian. Then, when the new guests made no move to follow the lion-like
creature, "It's alright, Kero's harmless."
"Hey!" he protested.
"Well, you are... unless you're a
desert item." countered Syaoran.
"Don't start with me, gaki."
"I'd like to see you try
something, cotton fluff."
"Kero! Syaoran! Onegai!" the
teen sorceress admonished. "Onegai, Kero, we'll be back in a few
The magical creature grumbled in
agreement and began leading the reluctant group of newcomers out of the study
and down one corridor while the Card Captors, Meilin and Tomoyo left in the
opposite direction. Sakura spun around as she walked, a broad smile
illuminating her face.
"I can't believe you brought them
all here." she giggled to her adored soul mate.
He gave her his most disarming smile
as he pulled her close to tuck her against his side. "Anything my Ying Fa
may want, my Ying Fa will get." and he kissed her temple.
"You're too good to me." she
sighed blissfully, nestling against him.
"And you guys are so full of
sappy sweetness that I'm about to become a diabetic just from standing near
you." Meilin mock grimaced.
"I think they're simply
kawaii." Tomoyo contested, her video camera having suddenly appeared in
her hand to record the cuddling duo. "I could tape them forever." she
"But you can't." Syaoran
"I can't?" Tomoyo blinked,
confused. "Why not?"
Sakura, too, smirked. "Because
this is your room and you have to get changed. Ja."
Pouting, the violet-eyed Japanese girl
watched her favorite filming subjects walk away from her and Meilin. Then she
began to grin slyly.
"Do you think she suspects
anything?" the terra cotta eyed teen questioned.
"Not a thing. My Sakura can be
kind of dense in situations with this much subtlety. That and Li has her... distracted."
"Hai, very distracted.
Won't she be surprised tomorrow night." she giggled.
* * *
Kinomoto Sakura generally prided
herself on having much patience towards her more fashion frenzied friends, but
today those same friends were putting that patience to the test. She silently
thanked her lucky stars for having chosen to sleep in her own room the night before.
She would have never heard the end of it had her friends discovered her
sleeping in Syaoran's bed next to the handsome warrior. Her foresight had
warned her something would happen. That morning she had been shocked awake by
the squeals and giggles of ten women bursting into her room. Her school
friends, Syaoran's four Sisters, and Sonomi nearly assaulted the young
sorceress awake, literally threw poor groggy Keroberus out of the room even
despite his size, then proceeded to bury the hapless sorceress in mounds of
material. As she tried to dig herself out from under the pile, part of Sakura's
mind marveled at how well Rika, Naoko and Chiharu had adapted to all of the
previous day's explanations. Tomoyo's vast video library had helped convince
them that this fantastic sounding tale of magic was the absolute truth. She
would never forget the looks of sheer awe she got from them all when they saw
just how many times she and Syaoran had courted death and won, nor would she
ever forget the look of terror on both Touya and her Otou-san's faces at that
either. Sakura peeked out of a pile of chiffon at all the bustling women.
Seeing her chance she leapt from the bed and dashed into the bathroom, locking
the door behind her.
Peace at last!
Are you alright, Sakura? she
heard a gentle voice whisper in concern in her mind.
She smiled. Hai, Syaoran. I'm just
being attacked by a horde of females on a fashion rampage.
The young warrior chuckled. My
poor Ying Fa. Buried in fabric?
No. Locked in the bathroom for now.
Just long enough to steel myself and then I face the mob.
Arigatou. So, what are you doing?
Finalizing a few details for
tonight with the help of your Otou-san.
She blinked. Otou-san is in on
Hai, and it's amazing how much he
knows about our customs.
She giggled. He is a
In archeology, he corrected.
Details. Then, she sighed. I
guess I should go face the fashion police now.
Knowing them, you'll probably be
stuck there for the day, but the final product should be worth the torture, ne?
I'll see you at tonight's banquet.
I'll miss you.
I'll miss you, too.
Sakura felt herself swoon slightly in
bliss at the incredible mental caress her warrior gave her as he reluctantly
slipped away from her mind. She swallowed hard the lump of sadness that built
in her throat. She always felt a great sense of loss when they parted, either
physically or mentally. It brought forth thoughts of what would happen when the
day finally came when she would have to return to Japan and his Clan's Elders
would most likely forbid him to return with her. She needed to be near him. She
pushed the thoughts away with a quick shake of her head.
Genki thoughts, Sakura, she
told herself. Smile, everything will surely be alright.
She quickly brushed the tangled out of
her hair, squared her shoulders bravely, and then re-entered her noisy bedroom.
Her friends immediately surrounded her from all sides with fabric and measuring
tape in hand. The Mistress of the Cards groaned silently to herself as she was
measured and wrapped in yards silk and lace.
This is going to be a long day.
* * *
"I have to admit, Li, this entire
place and your family is pretty impressive." Yamazaki Takashi voiced as he
gave the vast Reception Hall an appreciative glance. "It kind of reminds
me of a book I read on the history of banquets. There was one about the Hahn
Dynasty where the Emperor kept building larger and larger rooms in his palace
to accommodate all his guests. That was actually the origins of palaces, you
know. Everyone used to try to surpass each other in the way of party sizes and
the number of guests one could house at any given time. It's said the Great
Wall of China is actually the outer battlements of the world's largest palace
that got swallowed up by an earthquake."
Li Syaoran raised a skeptical eyebrow
as Kinomoto Fujitaka, Kinomoto Touya, Tsukisiro Yukito and Keroberus blinked
repeatedly at Takashi's small monologue. The way he had said it, so
professionally, left even the archeology professor wondering if this was really
true. But, due to years of experience from being around the Japanese teen in
school, Syaoran doubted the validity of this story. He gripped Takashi's
shoulder firmly with a stern look.
"Yamazaki, my friend, what would
your dear Chiharu say to you right now?" he questioned in a scolding tone.
"I'd tell him to stop lying,
that's what." an amused voice announced from behind the creative teen.
He whirled around in surprise to face
a lovely girl with bright red hair. She was dressed in a sleek black gown. Slim
spaghetti straps draped over her shoulders, a long slit revealing most of her
right leg. A simple strip of black velvet hugged her throat. Takashi felt his
mouth go dry at the sight of his long time girlfriend. Chiharu giggled at his
"Now here's something I never
thought I'd see. Takashi at a loss for words." she quipped, enticing a
laugh from the small group of men.
Takashi blushed. "Hai, hai, I get
the message in that. Close my mouth before I drool or say something stupid,
"Hai." she giggled, fixing
the lapels of his black tuxedo.
"Ah, speaking of
messages..." Syaoran suddenly stated as he fished out two rather bulky
envelopes from his suit jacket. "These are for you." and he handed
the items to Touya and Yukito.
Eternal smiling Yukito looked puzzled.
"What are these?"
"Those are brief physical
descriptions, home addresses, and phone numbers to nearly all my eligible
female Cousins,... as per their insistences." he ended in a mutter with a
sidelong glance at the Hall.
Touya blinked. "They're
The warrior chuckled. "You two
have turned quite a few heads. Just a small warning though. We Li are a
stubborn lot. We can wait for as long as it takes to get what we want."
"Is that what you did with my
"No, Kinomoto-san, it's
alright." the young sorcerer placated. "He'll obviously never forgive
me for hurting Sakura all those years ago. Kami-sama knows I haven't yet
forgiven myself. But that's something I've learned to accept from him... for
Sakura's sake. No, Touya, I didn't sit by and wait for Sakura to come to me. In
fact, and don't ask me how that's possible, I hated her. I hated her for being
the Card Mistress. I wanted nothing to do with her, but we were fighting for
the same thing so we kept running into each other. I didn't wait for her, she
won me over just by being herself, by not trying to be more than just my
friend. I love her more than anything and would die rather than let her be hurt
The elder Kinomoto sibling stared at
him long and hard, gauging the weight of his words. "You promise
that?" he finally asked.
"I promise and swear it."
"You're still not forgiven, but I
guess I have to let my Imoto make her own mistakes."
"Speaking of Sakura, where is
she?" Fujitaka thought to ask in an attempt to change the subject.
Chiharu smiled smugly.
"Daidouji-san and Li's Sisters insisted for a dramatic entrance. Didn't
take much to convince the rest of them. They should be here in the next few
minutes. Tomoyo really out-did herself with this dress, even if she says it's a
copy of one Sakura wore before. Be prepared to be floored."
As if her words had been a signal, the
massive mahogany doors to the Reception Hall opened and in giggled Syaoran's
four Sisters, Daidouji Sonomi and Tomoyo, Meilin, Rika and Naoko. They were all
grouped close together to conceal someone in their midst. Everyone gathered in
the Hall turned to peer at this group in curiosity. Then, after being satisfied
that indeed everyone was watching and with much dramatic flair for Tomoyo's
ever present video camera, the women peeled themselves away to reveal the
individual standing at their center. Soft gasps and murmurs of appreciation
rippled through the vast crowd of Li Clansmen at the now blushing Mistress of
the Clow Cards. It was the same model as the last ball gown she had worn, only
this time it was made of silver colored crushed velvet. Syaoran felt his heart
begin to race at the sight of his much-loved Cherry Blossom standing
there, looking adorably bashful from all the attention she garnered from his
With an amused smirk, Chiharu gave
Syaoran's shoulder a slight shove. "Go on, Romeo, your Juliet
The sorcerer blinked back to reality,
lost for a moment. "Nani? Oh right!" But he stopped in mid-step and
turned to bow in respect to Fujitaka. "By your leave, Kinomoto-san."
Fujitaka chuckled silently to the
young man before him and returned the bow. "Of course, Li."
Straightening with a grateful smile,
Syaoran turned and walked briskly to his ladylove. She smiled at him shyly,
almost demurely, as he approached. The sorcerer tenderly took Sakura's hands in
his own to tug her just a little closer, sharing a loving gaze with the
ethereal sorceress. He couldn't resist the urge to touch her, gently cupping
her cheek, gliding his thumb across her cheekbone. Her delicate hands curled
into the lapels of his tuxedo's jacket, tugging ever so slightly to keep him
close. He looked so regally handsome in the dark formal attire.
"I risk dying from lack of
breath." he whispered.
Her features became endearingly
"Each time I see you, you take my
breath away." he explained, gently gripping her chin.
Emerald eyes smiled and blinked in awe
as a deep rosy hue spread across her cheeks.
Syaoran chuckled. "And
Sakura giggled softly. "Exactly
when did you inherit such a honey coated silver tongue?" she quipped.
He shrugged. "I always had it, I
just never had a reason to put it to use until you entered my life."
A thrilling shiver raced up the young
sorceress's spine from his soft admission and the look in his dark amber eyes.
Sakura always felt the warmest of sensations when she looked into those fiery
orbs. At that moment part of her didn't care what the guests would think of
her, she just wanted to drag him away from so many watching eyes to be completely
alone with him.
She stopped herself before any more
ideas could form. Emotionally, those were painful wishes to have. She wanted to
laugh out loud at the cruel role reversal that this situation had now become.
Only a few short weeks ago Syaoran had been the one dreading the day he would
have to leave her to return home. Now she was the one who would someday leave.
More than anything she wanted to stay. The original reason she had come here
had been to find out more information and stop Mummaro's Gate. That was done
now. There was no real reason left for her to stay. She forced herself to smile
nonetheless. This was supposed to be a happy time for him, he had put so much
time and effort into making this night special for a reason she didn't yet
know. But she wouldn't ruin it for him with her sad thoughts. She saw his
expression change slightly and realized that it didn't matter what kind of
brave front she put on, he would always be able to feel what she felt. His
brows began to knit together in concern.
What's wrong? he whispered in
She smiled sweetly. Ask me again
Thankfully he didn't press the
subject, feeling her reluctance to talk about it just yet. Instead he took her
hands once again and led her towards the lengthy banquet table. The other
guests followed the young pair's lead and began to take their seats as well.
Sakura noticed how the seating arrangements were almost identical to the first
banquet she had attended on this island estate. All her family and friends were
seated near the head of the table as well, next to the hierarchy of Syaoran's
Clan. It was quite an honor for them. Silently she wondered if they realized
this. Just off to her left she could see her Otou-san and Syaoran conversing in
hushed tones about something indeterminate.
What are you two planning? she
The warrior paused in his conversation
suddenly and turned to smile at his soul mate. "Patience, Love." and
he gave her hand a gentle squeeze.
The meal continued pleasantly to the
gentle sounds of music and intelligent conversation and the tantalizing scents
of a sumptuous meal. Chiharu would pinch Takashi's arm every so often to
silence another tall tale while Naoko pressed Keroberus for more
information on magic and himself as the Guardian Beast thoroughly stuffed his
face with food. Rika spoke with some of Syaoran's Cousins and his Okaa-san
amiably about life in general. Sonomi and Sakura's Great Grandfather conversed
with Tomoyo and Meilin, asking for more details about the sorceress and the two
girls' obvious involvement in Card Capting. Touya and Yukito tried desperately
not to come into eye contact with most of the single women in the room, while
Fujitaka and Syaoran continued their secretive planning. The Elders seated at
Sakura's right kept the young sorceress sufficiently distracted from that
hushed conversation going on at her left with questions about her Okaa-san and
her life in Japan. It was only when someone began tapping their knife on the
edge of their glass that Sakura brought her attention back to her Otou-san and
her boyfriend. Fujitaka had been the one to tap his glass to get everyone's
attention. Both men were standing, looking a little nervous.
The sorceress blinked.
Her Otou-san never got
nervous in front of a crowd.
"For those of you, honorable
hosts, who don't know me, I am Kinomoto Fujitaka. I am Kinomoto Sakura's
Otou-san. A few days ago I received the visit of Li Syaoran's spokeswoman, Li
Ann-Lee, to negotiate on his behalf for something extremely precious to me. Both
I and my Son, Touya, were reluctant to give up our precious treasure at first,
but we knew that in the end if we refused we would be destroying our delicate
Confused, Sakura watched her Onii-chan
stand as well and bow with her Otou-san to the direct descendant of Clow Reed.
"We accept your offer and give
you our permission and blessings in return." Fujitaka continued. "Now
you must ask her for her permission."
The sorceress frowned ever so
Who was this her?
Syaoran bowed to the family of his
adored Cherry Blossom, paused to take a deep bracing breath, then
turned to the living angel still seated at his right. He couldn't help but
smile lovingly at the absolutely adorable puzzled look she sported. He gently
took her left hand in both his own, caressing it unconsciously as he struggled
inwardly with something. Sakura could easily feel his overwhelming sense of
nervousness, but couldn't understand why he was feeling this.
What was going to happen?
The warrior suddenly squared his
shoulders. A small chuckle broke from his lips. "You know, I've practiced
this a million times in my mind and now I can't seem to find the words
A light ripple of laughter moved
through those seated at the table, only serving to confuse the young sorceress
even more. The Little Wolf swallowed hard in resolve and smiled down
at the Mistress of the Cards.
"This is the second part of your
surprise, my Ying Fa."
Her head tilted to one side slightly
as she watched him go down on one knee, still not quite understanding what he
She could feel his hands trembling
slightly as they held hers. Deep amber eyes met emerald green, seeming to bore
to her very soul while baring his all to her. She felt every delicious emotion
rushing through him at that moment in time, burning herself on their
All his love.
All his loyalty.
All his devotion.
And especially his nervousness.
Part of her mind noticed how silent
the Reception Hall had suddenly become, save for the soft whirring of Tomoyo's
"Card Mistress Kinomoto
Sakura." Syaoran began, his tone formal, his cheeks flushing. "Would
you do me the immense honor and great pleasure of accepting to be my
Sakura's hand shot up to her mouth
with a surprised gasp. She could barely believe it, could barely wrap her
stunned mind around what she had just heard spoken from his very lips.
He loved her so much that he wanted to
spend every second of the rest of his life with her. He wanted to be with her
and only her. Awed tears misted her eyes at seeing the true depth of
his emotions, a joyful smile spreading across her lips. Everyone in the
Reception Hall began to shift anxiously in their seats, straining to hear what
the Mistress of the Cards' answer would be to their Clansman's question.
Syaoran watched her attentively, hopeful for a favorable answer as her hand
lowered to her lap. And then, as if a light had just been lit in the dark, he
knew. He could feel her acceptance and could see it written on her beautifully
smiling face, but he still wanted to hear it. He still wanted to make
All she had to say was one small word.
A happy, languid tear trailed down her
smooth cheek. "Hai."
Syaoran blinked, unsure whether he had
heard her right. "N-Nani?"
"Hai." Sakura repeated a
little louder, a giddy giggle forcing its way out from her throat.
"H-Honto ne? H-Hai?"
She near laughed at the stunned
elation flitting across his face. "Honto. Hai."
"Yokata!" he shouted in joy,
leaping to his feet.
Congratulatory cheers and applauds ran
through the crowd of friends, relatives and attendants for the happy new
couple. The young warrior gently tugged his sorceress to her feet and enfolded
her tightly in his arms. She buried her face in the crook of his neck,
breathing in deep of his scent of autumn and incense. Every sad thought she
might have had was now gone. She didn't have a reason to be sad anymore. She
would get her wish. She would be able to stay with her adored Little Wolf.
There were no words to describe what she felt at that moment. Happy was too
inadequate a word. Elated was still far too tame a description. Euphoric didn't
even come close. Rapturous would have to do until a new word could be found.
Arigatou, he whispered warmly
in her mind.
For what? she asked innocently.
Syaoran pulled back slightly to look
into her mesmerizing green eyes. For making me happier than I ever dreamt
possible, he smiled.
She returned the smile. You did
the same to me just by asking that question. Arigatou.
He gently kissed her lips, heart
achingly soft. Aishiteru.
Aishiteru, and she pressed
closer to him to deepen the embrace.
Sonomi sighed a blissful smile at the
sight of the two kissing teens. "Aren't they just so kawaii?" she
Tsukishiro nodded thoughtfully, a
small frown creasing his wrinkled brow as he watched the fiancés sit.
"There's something about them though." he voiced, stroking his short
"Tomoyo, make sure you capture
every last second." Sonomi instructed her still taping Daughter.
"What something, Grandfather?"
"If you watch them you can see
them have complete conversations without once saying a word."
"Isn't young love grand that
way?" she sighed.
"No, I don't think it's that,
having to do with love that is. It's more than simply lovers' eye contact. I
may be seeing things, but it's as if they really are talking to each
Sonomi chuckled lightly. "Now,
Grandfather, you know as well as I do that what you're suggesting is
A grin snaked across Meilin's lips.
"Not for them it isn't."
Both adults looked in confusion at the
Chinese teen sitting on the other side of Tomoyo. "What do you mean?"
"You didn't notice it on Tomoyo's
"Remember the tape where they
fought the Death Card? Remember them merging, their eyes glowing white?"
The adults nodded.
"Sakura and Li are soul
mates." Tomoyo continued. "The merging they did back when Li was a
spirit just kick started what they always had. What they always felt. They told
us once that it didn't matter where they were in the world, they could always
feel where the other was. After the battle, little by little, they started to
be able to feel what the other felt, to hear them. They're linked."
Tsukishiro and Sonomi stared at the
cuddling pair across from them in slow realization. A smile spread across the
elderly Japanese man's face, his thoughts drifting to Nadeshiko, his
Granddaughter and Sakura's Okaa-san. He knew she would have loved to know just
how happy her Daughter was now in the arms of this young Chinese man. Sakura
and Li were soul mates and they were deeply in love. One usually never lived
long enough to see such a beautiful sight. He felt blessed beyond words to have
been able to witness this. His Great Granddaughter was getting married.
Tsukishiro had regretted not having attended Nadeshiko's wedding, his reason
having been blinded by his anger and resentment of young Kinomoto sensei that
had swept her away so completely. He hoped attending this wedding would make
Sonomi's mind was working feverishly
to try to understand what it was her Daughter and Meilin had told her. The
young fiancés were soul mates. They had been destined to be together since the
moment they were conceived. And, due to their powerful and growing magic, they
could feel it when the other half of their soul was near, could hear their very
thoughts. She smiled almost whimsically. Their attraction made sense now. She
had met the young Li warrior five years ago, had seen how competitive the two
had been towards each other. Now that she thought about it, she saw that they
were really trying to impress each other, not be enemies. She now understood
why it was Sakura had tried so hard to get the reclusive youth to open up and
be her friend. As soul mates they were naturally drawn to each other.
Subconsciously, they were already in love.
"Kawaii!" she sighed in
bliss for the two.
Tomoyo giggled at her Okaa-san.
"Now you know why I was trying so hard to get them together. I just knew
they were supposed to be in love."
Through her viewfinder she suddenly
saw the Card Captors stiffen and examine their surroundings carefully.
Keroberus, too, was giving the Hall a cautious glance, now ignoring the
pastries before him. Tomoyo knew this look.
Before anything could be said, the
Card Captors leapt from their seats and raced to the terrace doors. Confused
and curious, the gathered guests followed suit, preceded by the Guardian Beast
of the Seal who had been a little slower in his charge due to an almost full stomach.
Everyone stood at a relatively safe distance from the magical duo, watching
them visually and magically scan the dark grounds. The young warrior already
had his sword in hand, staying just a step in front of his sorceress to protect
her. The estate grounds were shrouded in darkness from the depth of night, the
stars being the only source of light. The soft chirps of crickets were the only
other sounds heard.
Syaoran frowned at the pitch. Don't
you just love it when they hide like this? he quipped darkly, tossing his
jacket to an attendant.
Hey, nobody said Card Capting was
easy. A few light bubbles abruptly flew by. "Nani? Bubbles?"
"It's the Bubble Card!"
Keroberus called to them.
The sorcerer looked to the Beast.
"What exactly does it do?"
"It can create bubbles of any
Both Card Captors blinked,
dumbfounded. What kind of a card was that for Clow Reed to have created?
Guess that means it's an easy
capture, Sakura sent her fiancé.
It feels a lot stronger than just a
whimsical card, he replied.
Playing a hunch, Sakura let her senses
open up and focus on the strange multicolored auras all the Clow Cards seemed
to possess. Sure enough there was the weak, buoyant ripple of magic that
belonged to the Bubble Card, but there was another card's aura with it. There was
No, two more cards with the
Her green eyes flew open in surprise
at this. "Three cards!"
Syaoran growled a curse. "What is
it with these cards suddenly tag-teaming?"
Deeming it safer to be prepared, the
young Mistress of the Cards held her key-like pendant out in front of her. It
began to glow in response to her concentrated thoughts.
"O Key of Clow,
Power of Magic, power
Surrender the Wand,
The Force ignite!
Magic and light began to swirl around
her in a mad spiral of power, the tiny key metamorphosing into the Clow Sealing
wand. She twirled it expertly like a majorette's baton, a look of sheer
determination appearing on her lovely features.
"First things first, capturing
the card we do know." she stated.
"The Bubble Card is a friendly
card!" Keroberus called out. "It won't put up a fight!"
"That's good to know." the
warrior grinned in relief. He then gave an exaggerated bow to the Card Mistress
at his side. "After you, my Beloved."
She giggled. "You are just too
sweet, my Little Wolf." Sakura took a few steps away from him and
stood tall, her shoulders squared, her back straight. "Bubble Card!
Reveal yourself in your true form!" she ordered into the night.
The slowly drifting bubbled began to
swirl together wildly, coalescing into a form. At their center appeared the
shape of a woman dressed in a fanciful blue gown, her light green hair up in
twin curly pigtails. The more the woman twirled and laughed, the more bubbles
would be blown into the wind. Sakura smirked at the card's physical
"Bubble Card!" she called to
It stopped twirling and smiled down at
The teen crossed her arms over her
chest in a scolding manner. "You've caused a fine mess." she chided
Bubble bit its fingertip in genuine
remorse, still smiling though more sheepishly now.
"It's time to go back now,
The card nodded in happy agreement and
easily floated down to stand tamely in front of its Mistress.
"Onegai, before I seal you, tell
me do you know who the other two cards are?"
Bubble nodded and mimicked as best it
could what the remaining attacking Clow Cards were, its face contorting in
slight frustration as it tried to come up with a proper motion. But Sakura
understood and smiled in thanks to the helpful card. She held up her wand and
gently tapped the magical being's forehead.
"Return to your power
confined. Bubble Card."
In response to her soft chant a
glowing rectangle of magic materialized at the tip of her wand, almost
crackling with energy. The still smiling Bubble Card dissolved into a swirling
mass of mist and willingly entered the shimmering form before it. The geometric
shape then floated into Sakura's waiting hand, Clow's magical circle dimming
from sight. She turned to Syaoran, holding up the card and smiling proudly. He
smiled in return.
"What did it say the other two
cards are?" he queried.
"One is Cloud. The other
But, before she could answer, a sheet
of torrential rain fell from the sky only above her, therefore drenching only
the lithe cheerleader. Then, as abruptly as it had begun, the rain stopped with
a light, tinkering giggle, leaving behind one very soaked sorceress.
She groaned, annoyed. "The other
is the Rain Card." she sighed.
She shook her head to clear away some
of the excess water from her face and hair just as she heard an amused snort.
Looking up from wringing her dress of surfeit water she saw Syaoran trying
vainly not to laugh at her predicament, hiding his grin behind his hand. She
frowned at him, a small grin threatening to turn up the corners of her lips.
"You're not helping." she
"Gomen." he snickered.
"Need a towel?"
Just as he said this the sky seemed to
open up above him and drench the young warrior in a powerful downpour. Sakura
had to laugh at the sudden role reversal and at how pathetic her proud fiancé
now looked when thoroughly soaked.
"You were saying, Love?" she
A tiny pair of almost crystalline
voices laughed in pure enjoyment of what had just occurred.
Syaoran looked up at the overcast sky
and growled low in menace to the two cards still hidden up there. "Right,
I'll keep Cloud busy while you seal Rain." he instructed.
She nodded in agreement. "This
shouldn't be too hard... I hope."
* * *
Dressed in a warmer bathrobe than the
previous nights, Sakura plodded out of the bathroom on bare feet. She felt
frozen to the core from the card battle only hours before. Even after her hot
shower she continued to shiver. As it turned out Syaoran had gotten the easier
of the two cards remaining, Cloud not really having any sort of annoying
attack. Rain, on the other hand, could come very close to drowning a person
with its endless supply of rain. But all that water had given the young
sorceress an idea. A water element card had to be able to do something against
another water element card, maybe even contain it. So she had tried the
strongest water element she had in her possession: the Water Card. It
had done the job perfectly, encasing the Rain Card in a liquid bubble, keeping
it trapped for the sorceress to seal it. Syaoran had sufficiently weakened the
Cloud Card by that time to make that capture infinitely simpler, but instead of
floating to the Card Mistress's hand that card went to the warrior. She didn't
contest it. Afterall, he had done all the work for that one.
"That capture was so incredible
to watch first hand like that." Naoko voiced as Sakura sat on the edge of
"Easy for you to say."
replied the sorceress. "You weren't the one getting soaked every few
Rika and Chiharu were going through
the captured cards in the Book of Clow, marveling at each design and how much
power they imagined each contained. Tomoyo sat with them, explaining each
capture as she remembered them, spending more time describing each of the
battle costumes Sakura had worn during each. At the head of the bed lounged
mighty Keroberus, near dozing, with Meilin using his side as a pillow. The
terra cotta eyed girl seemed to be completely engrossed in an old book propped
against her up bent knees.
"What are you reading,
Meilin?" Sakura queried as she leaned back against her Guardian's
Meilin blinked, surprised out of her
reading. "Nani? Oh, I'm just brushing up a bit."
"Hai. On the more traditional
Immediately all other conversations
stopped to better concentrate on Meilin and her book. "Oh, tell us!
Onegai!" pleaded Chiharu.
"Well, according to this book,
everything will be decorated in red. Even the bride will be dressed in an
elaborate red kimono."
"Nani? Why red?" queried
"In China, red means good luck,
joy and wealth." the Chinese teen explained. "There are tiny
traditions you and Syaoran will have to do before the wedding day, Sakura, to
ensure good luck, but on the day itself you might get bored from all the pomp
"No, I won't!" Sakura
protested. "I only get bored if I don't pay attention or I don't take
something seriously. For this, I will pay complete attention and I will
take it all very seriously."
Meilin grinned. "Even through
hours and hours of ceremonial praying to the gods and our ancestors?"
"And through serving tea to all
the elders of both of our families?"
"And through the seven day
Keroberus's head snapped up.
"Seven days of food? Sugoi! I've died and gone to the Celestial
All the gathered teens laughed at
this. Naoko then reached over and took the ancient looking tome away from
Meilin, adjusting her glasses to better read the characters neatly inked on
"I absolutely adore that
translation spell Li-san used on us." she grinned. "Let's see... On
the day of the wedding the bride isn't allowed to touch the ground until after
she's married. She's carried everywhere by servants until then... The groom
can't see her face until the wedding night... And during the banquet she and
the groom are not allowed to sneak off to be alone until after the guests
leave... That even extends to when they're in the bedroom. According to this
family members sometimes play tricks on them until either the spokeswomen
throws them out or the groom charges at them to scare them away."
Tomoyo giggled. "Knowing Li,
he'll scare them away. What does it say about the planning?" she then
asked, her violet eyes sparkling.
Meilin grinned sympathetically.
"That's all up to Li-san, Kinomoto-san, and the Elders. Neither Syaoran
nor Sakura, nor anyone else has anything to do with those plans unless so
asked. The happy couple just agree."
A small smile appeared on the Mistress
of the Cards lips. "The good thing about that is that it takes away all the
major worries from us."
"And the bad thing?" Chiharu
"We have to suffer through Tomoyo
bemoaning about the dresses and decorations she could have designed for
this." answered Meilin as she pointed to a moping videographer.
"I just better be allowed to
videotape everything or I am seriously going to get ticked off, Elders or
not." this one grumbled, making those with her laugh a little nervously.
* * *
Li Syaoran felt cold.
Very cold and alone.
He could feel Sakura's presence just
on the other side of the wall above his head. She was asleep now, her aura at
peace now that her friends had finally left her for the night. He had been able
to hear most of their conversation until then. It had been about the wedding
and the preparations for it. He allowed himself a smile, still not quite
believing what would happen within the next week. He would marry the girl of
his dreams, the only woman he knew he was meant to be with. The warrior could
feel the magical aura belonging to Keroberus in the same room as Sakura. At
that very moment in time he felt jealous of the Guardian Beast of the Seal. He
could be with her night and day, could lie next to her at night without a care
in the world and no one would worry about it. Where as if Syaoran did this he
was either deemed obsessed or out to get lucky, as Chiharu had so
cleverly called it. The warrior flopped over to his back from the tight ball he
had been curled into and just stared at the ceiling. Life seemed just a little
more unfair now that he was engaged to his angel. He wanted nothing more than
to be with her, to hold her, to breathe in her intoxicating scent, but those
around them were far too afraid that it could lead to something traditionally
best left until after the wedding.
Damn traditions sometimes, he
He reached out with his senses and let
his aura gently brush the soothing presence of his adored sorceress. It reacted
unconsciously to him, allowing his presence to blend with hers. Silently he
wondered how it was that, even though his beloved was in the next room, she
felt so incredibly far.
Was it because he longed to be near
Hai, he did have that longing and many
more that made his blood boil and his usually chaste thoughts of her turn
hentai. But the feeling he was presently experiencing was due to something more
than just longing. It was something deeper. A horrid thought occurred to him.
Did this feeling mean their link was
Sakura's aura shifted against his
senses and he winced in remorse. His horror at the thought of losing his link
with her had woken her from her peaceful sleep.
"I have to stop thinking so hard
at night." he muttered ever so softly to the silence, his eyes closing.
But I like to hear you thinking,
Sakura's sweet voice whispered into his mind. I like hearing your voice. It
makes me feel safe knowing you're always nearby.
I woke you up though. Gomen ne.
He could feel her smile gently. It's
okay. There was a slight pause where he could feel her debating with
herself about something. May... May I come over?
He smiled kindly to the empty room. You
never have to ask me that.
Her presence in his mind seemed to
light up with the most incredible smile from her, a smile that chased away most
of the cold he still felt. She was simply amazing that way. Through the wall he
faintly heard her bedroom door open silently, then close again just as gently.
Mere seconds later her heard his own door open and close, the faint scent of
delicate cherry blossoms wafting to his nose as he heard her pad across his
carpet on bare feet. His smile broadened by a fraction. He was certain that
there would never come a day when he would ever tire of that sweet scent from
her. The bed shifted ever so slightly as she settled at his side on the King
"You look content." Sakura
murmured to him, a smile in her voice.
Syaoran opened his eyes to see her
sitting on her hip comfortably, leaning on her hand. She seemed to glow, even
in the dark. "I have every reason now to feel content." He then
crooked an eyebrow teasingly at her appearance. "Flannel?"
She grinned shyly, toying with the hem
of her oversized pyjama's shirt. "Tomoyo nearly had a fit when I refused
to wear one of her lacy nothings she had created."
"I can imagine." he chuckled
"But I was and am cold so I opted
for warmth instead of wispy."
"We had the same idea then."
and he gave his own warm pyjama's collar a tug. "Though I think I would've
really enjoyed seeing you in those lacy nothings she designed for you. I bet
they were real eye candy." he smirked roguishly.
She took a playful swipe at his
shoulder with a mock pout, unable to stop her giggle or her blush. "Oh,
hush! I didn't feel like turning into a Smurf--"
"Smurfette." he corrected.
"Whatever. Besides, you'll get to
see all of that on our honeymoon..."
She trailed off abruptly, a strange
look crossing her face and entering her eyes. Syaoran didn't recognize this
look nor the feeling he felt arcing across to him over their bond. It was
almost like a mixture of everything and nothing at once. He sat up quickly and
faced her in worry.
"Nani? What is it?"
She began to giggle uncontrollably. In
the evening darkness he saw her cheeks turn a deeper shade from a blush. He
blinked repeatedly at her in confusion. He couldn't understand why she was
blushing or giggling.
she finally tittered in response to his expression.
Again he blinked, then a slow smile
crossed his lips. "Oh, is that all." and he lay back down, his arms
behind his head casually.
It was her turn to blink. "It
that all? Is that all?" she exclaimed in disbelief. Sakura leaned
over him to peer into his innocently grinning features. "Do you realize
that you and I will be spending the rest of our lives together?"
"Ah, the bliss!" he quipped,
flashing a smile.
"Do you realize that in a week
you and I will be getting married?" she insisted.
He simply grinned against, impishly.
"Hai, I know. I'm the one who set all this in motion, remember?"
"Mou..." she mock frowned at
She could feel his own nervousness at
it all, but he wasn't allowing himself to show it. He was tense, afraid she
would suddenly back out of this at any given time. She could easily feel his
deep, underlying fear of losing her. Then a devilish smirk turned up the
corners of her lips.
"Turn over." she instructed,
nudging his side.
He eyed her cautiously. "What
"You'll see, now turn over."
He did so, lying as comfortably as
possible on his stomach, chin resting on his arms. He felt his mattress shift
again slightly as Sakura moved closer to him and was greatly surprised when he
felt her unexpectedly straddle his waist to sit on his rump. A small frown
marred his handsome features as he turned his head to see her in his periphery.
"What're you doing?" he
"Shh, you need to relax,
Syaoran." she soothed.
Before he could even question what she
meant by this or what she was planning, he felt her press her palms firmly into
his shoulder blades and start to move her hands in slow circles. The tension
release that followed her actions was almost painful so much it felt so good.
The warrior groaned long and low in pure enjoyment. He could feel every knot,
every stress just melt away from her ministrations. Her thumb pressed into the
junction of his shoulder muscle and the back of his neck next.
"Oh, yeah, that's the spot."
he moaned into his pillow, his body melting under her hands.
She smiled, pleased at his reactions,
and continued lower along his back. "Meditations may be great and good to
calm the mind and spirit, but nothing beats a massage." she whispered to
him, lavishing attention to every muscle in his back.
A goofy grin appeared on his face.
"Especially when it's given by the most incredible of angels." he
"Sweet talker." she accused
quietly, placing a tender kiss in the hollow behind his ear.
Syaoran groaned again in enjoyment
when her fingers found another sore spot. "Where did you learn to do this
"Years of practice giving
Otou-san back rubs."
"Mmmmm, lucky man."
"He was always so wound up and
tense after he came home from a dig or a lecture."
He nodded into the depths of his
pillow, barely able to speak anymore. He couldn't remember the last time he had
felt so impossibly relaxed and at peace. He never saw the positively devilish
glint that entered her lively green eyes at that moment. She pressed her thumbs
firmly along his spine, enticing another pleasured groan from the warrior.
Sakura grinned. She liked having this kind of control over him. She leaned over
him slightly to bring her lips closer to his ear.
"Syaoran?" she cooed softly.
"Hmmm?" he acknowledged
"You left your defenses down, my Little
Wolf." she whispered.
"Hmm? Nani?" he drawled.
Syaoran barely felt her light fingers
trail up and down his sides teasingly so much he was nearing sleep. He made a
small sound, halfway between a moan and a grunt. Sakura's touches then became a
little more deliberate and definite. He huffed an unbidden smile in response as
a breathy giggle escapes her throat. Sunset gold eyes brusquely snapped open in
almost dreaded realization. This was no longer an incredible massage or a
gentle caress. He raised his head off if his arms and looked at her from over
"Hm?" came her innocent
reply as she smiled.
"Wouldn't what, Syaoran?"
she asked, her fingers tracing his sides ever so lightly.
He squirmed a bit, swallowing a laugh.
She giggled again and that was when he understood that their link was allowing
her to share in the torture she was causing. He wondered if she knew this.
Syaoran tried to scramble out from under her, but she merely squeezed her knees
together at his waist to keep him in place beneath her.
"Sakura, don't you dare!" he
warned, his voice rising a notch in apprehension.
She grinned maliciously. "Umm...
Her nimble fingers easily found all
his most ticklish spots and launched an attack on each one mercilessly. The
helpless warrior couldn't help but laugh in reaction from the onslaught,
squirming and wriggling wildly in an attempt to get away from his sorceress.
She, too, laughed uncontrollably from the sensations she felt from him, that
she caused, across their link. It was an amazing experience. She could almost
truly feel fingers traveling along her sides and worrying at pleasantly
sensitive ribs. Both the sorcerer and the Card Mistress began feeling
lightheaded from all the laughter, their lungs beginning to burn for more air
than they were getting. At last, in a supreme effort over his laughing fit,
Syaoran managed to roll out from under Sakura still seated on his waist. He sat
up quickly, grabbed hold of her wrists to pull her roaming hands away from his
sides, and twisted her around to pin her back against his chest, letting
himself drop back down to the mattress as he held her arms against her. She
struggled for a moment, then settled down when it was obvious he wouldn't
release her so long as she was still a threat to his ticklish spots. They
panted for breath, slight giggles and chuckles escaping them still.
"Holy terror." he smiled
breathlessly against her ear.
A light titter gently shook her frame.
She shifted a bit, freeing her wrists from his restraining grasp, then turned
to face him. A sweet smile adorned her lips, a loving gaze in her emerald eyes.
His amber eyes easily returned the gaze. Syaoran felt blessed beyond words that
such an angel loved him as much as he loved her. He had once believed himself
to be cursed to live his life alone, to pine away for the enchantress for the
rest of his life and never have her.
He pulled her closer to his chest,
ever so lightly brushing his lips to hers in a sensual tease. She shivered
pleasurably, as he had anticipated. He was quickly learning what she enjoyed
him doing to her.
"Have I told you how much I love
you?" he smiled softly against her lips, his voice a bare whisper.
She grinned. "Not since you proposed."
He chuckled. "Then let me make
amends to you, my Ying Fa. Aishiteru." he whispered against her cheek
before placing a soft kiss there. "Aishiteru." and his lips brushed a
kiss on her other cheek. "Aishiteru." and he claimed her lips in an
ever so tender embrace.
The mixture of a blissful sigh and a
pleasured moan escaped her throat as her lips parted to deepen the embrace. Her
hands slid up the planes of his chest to allow her arms to wrap around his
neck. Both would have to fight with themselves to keep from going too far, but
this night neither of them would get much sleep.
* * *
Daidouji Tomoyo fidgeted slightly as
she, Li Lerae and Daidouji Sonomi dug through mounds and mounds of fabulous red
fabrics. Off to the side of them lay three more piles of cloth they still had
left to sort through, each colored pale green, light blue and soft pink of
various prints and textures. The three women had been up since the very crack
of dawn to begin this task. Only the most perfect shades of each of the four
colors could be chosen for the next step.
"You're sure it's alright with
you, Li-san, that I design Sakura's wedding kimonos?" Tomoyo queried
Lerae looked up from the swath she was
examining and smiled gently. "It is quite alright, Tomoyo." she
answered. "From what I have seen during Sakura's stay with us and from
what I have seen on your video tapes, the clothes you design are very lovely.
And you seem to take great pleasure in creating these designs. I would never
dream of depriving you of this joy."
"My Tomoyo is going to make an
absolutely fabulous fashion designer someday soon." Sonomi beamed proudly.
"Only because Sakura is such a
great model for me." her Daughter protested.
"Nonsense! The Amamiya women are
tenacious and creative workers and thinkers. You're following in a long line of
business women." Sonomi fished out another swath of cloth from the pile.
"What do you think about this shade of red?"
The teen looked over the selection
critically. It was a fabulous shade, not too bright and not too dark,
not too purple and not too orange. The right balance of every color. Faint,
intricate patterns were interwoven into the cloth in gold thread. Tomoyo's mind
worked quickly, imagining various makes and models of kimonos using this
fabric. As the twentieth design crossed her mind's eye a slow smile appeared on
"This one will be perfect to make
the ceremonial kimono." She looked up suddenly. "Unless you already
have a ceremonial one for her to wear?" she questioned Lerae. "You
know, a traditional one?"
Lerae shook her head with a tiny
smile. "No. That one was unfortunately lost in a fire when Xiao Lang was
but three years of age. It was a terrible accident in the kitchens that we
could not control fast enough. Since then all the women entering our Clan have
been allowed to design their own unique kimono for the ceremony."
The girl's eyes lit up brightly.
"Sugoi! I'll make her something totally spectacular to wear. May I design
those for the rest of the wedding party too?"
Both Sonomi and Lerae smiled at
Tomoyo's energy and exuberance when it came to making clothes of any kind. She
was a force to be reckoned with.
"Of course you may." Lerae
Tomoyo nearly leapt for joy.
* * *
The week flew by quickly due to all
the hectic preparations for the fateful day where the Mistress of the Clow
Cards would enter into the Li Clan. A momentous occasion required everything to
be absolutely perfect down to the minutest detail. For the entire time leading
up to that day the young soul mates were kept separate from each other. It was
a long-standing Clan tradition that every couple had to be kept apart to ensure
nothing would happen until after they were wed. Sakura was moved out of her
room next to Syaoran's and was relocated into the estate wing where all her
friends and family from Japan were staying. It had been hard of the young
couple to be apart this way. To love someone as deeply as they loved each
other, but to be forbidden to physically be with them for even a moment was
torture. Occasionally they would catch a fleeting glimpse of each other as they
passed in the hallways, but never once would their escorts allow them to come
near each other. The only contact they had left was their unique link and they
put that blessed gift to good use. Every night they would let their minds and
hearts reach out over the expanse dividing them and meet halfway in a ghostly
embrace. It was the only way they could somehow be together when all of their
family and friends followed the tradition to keep the bride and groom apart
until the wedding day no matter what.
Tonight was no exception.
Sakura's breath was slow and steady,
her eyes shut to the world around her as she kneeled on the carpeted floor of
her bedroom, her hands folded neatly in her lap. She stayed perfectly still in
the dark of her room. Keroberus lay on her bed, watching her carefully,
marveling at the control she showed with her newest of abilities. Only moments
ago she had bathed and changed into some new lace nightwear of an emerald green
that Tomoyo had supplied her with. As soon as she had been given this item she
had been left alone for the night. Before her bath she had lit some incense on
a small prayer altar set against one of her room's walls, the incense's pungent
aroma now soothing her nervousness as it filled the room in near invisible
smoke. Sakura was kneeling facing the small altar, but she was neither praying
nor meditating. She was communicating with her soul mate, her beloved Little
Wolf, as she had done every night for the last week.
Are you nervous about tomorrow,
Sakura? Li Syaoran's voice drifted gently into her mind.
Nervous, terrified, excited... Take
your pick, but I'm loving every second of this, she smiled. And you?
Hai, but I think I'm more anxious
than nervous... unlike your Onii-chan. From what I hear he's becoming more and
more irritable the closer we get to tomorrow, he chuckled lightly.
That's putting it mildly. He won't
let me out of his sight for a second unless he's sure I'm locked away in my
room and can't get out.
Again Syaoran chuckled. The case
of the over-protective Onii-chan. I just hope he doesn't plan to camp out in
our bedroom afterwards.
Sakura giggled softly. I like the
way that sounds.
The way what sounds?
She felt him smile seductively, the
gentle feel of phantom hands trailing up and down her bare arms. Hai. Our
bedroom,... with our bed,... with our
Sakura shivered. Onegai, stop,
being away from you is torture enough, Syaoran.
Gomen ne, he apologized in
The sorceress winced at his reaction.
She hadn't meant for that to happen. She had to make amends. Carefully she
focused her mind on her fiancé, picturing her arms wrapping him in a warm and
loving embrace. His mind sighed ever so softly at her ghostly touch. Spectral
arms wrapped around her form, holding her tight. She was almost able to pick up
his familiar and soothing scent so much the sensations felt incredibly real.
Focusing her mind again she saw herself gently kissing her partner in Card
Capting. He responded easily and willingly. It was as if she could truly feel
his lips on hers. Her spiritual self clung to him, reveling in the sensations
he woke in her. Meanwhile the mental projection of his hands began to drift
across her back to grip her arms. But then he suddenly stopped, pulling himself
away from her, leaving the Card Mistress dizzy. Her physical self was left
Why... why did you stop? she
finally questioned when she had recomposed herself enough.
She could feel him struggling with
himself for control before answering. As... as much as I would love to see
and feel just how far we could go like this, it would be safer if we waited
She smiled softly in understanding. Hai,
you're right. No use getting impatient now, is there?
Sakura felt him smile. Hai,
After tomorrow, you and I will
have the rest of our lives together, she cooed mentally.
Infinite eternities wouldn't be
long enough, his voice whispered, causing her to shiver pleasantly. Aishiteru,
She allowed her mind to brush his in a
loving caress. Aishiteru, Syaoran.
With a lingering smile, his presence
faded from her mind just as a soft knock sounded on her bedroom door. It opened
before she could acknowledge it. Opening her eyes she saw her Otou-san peering
in at her, his eternal Fatherly smile on his face.
"'Tou-san?" she questioned.
"One of Li's Cousins is here for
the hair combing ritual." he told her.
The cheerleader nodded to him and got
back to her feet just as a humbled woman stepped into the room. She bowed to
the sorceress and indicated a chair near the window for her to sit in. Once
Sakura was seated, bathed in the pale glow of the thin crescent moon, the woman
picked up a brush from the vanity table and approached her.
"This is truly an honor for me to
have been chosen to do this, Card Mistress." she fidgeted as she carefully
removed the ties that held Sakura's hair in two tiny ponytails.
"What's your name?"
"Low Ma, Card Mistress."
"Low Ma, onegai, just call me
Sakura. Tell me about this ritual?"
The woman smiled ever so slightly.
"It is meant to symbolize your and Li-sama's adulthood." she
explained as she delicately brushed the teen's honey auburn locks. "The
hair needs to be combed four times, each time consisting of forty nine strokes
for extra luck. Each combing has a special meaning."
Low Ma chuckled softly. "The
first combing symbolizes from the beginning until the end. The second
symbolizes harmony from now until old age. Sons and Grandsons all over the
place is what the third combing symbolizes. And the fourth combing wishes good
wealth, health and a long-lasting marriage."
A whimsical smile appeared on Sakura's
lips. "How beautiful."
"In this tradition, every action
has a specific meaning. In the morning, Card Mistress, you will be immersed in
a custom that is far older than even our Clan. I have always seen it as a
Sakura smirked. "Nothing against
a little romance."
Low Ma, too, smirked. "No, of
course not. I pray that you and Li-sama have many long years of love and
The sorceress smiled at the night.
"I know we will."
* * *
The morning sun crept slowly over the
horizon, announcing the beginning of a most joyous day. As the great celestial
orb warmed the isle of Bing Di Lian, raising wispy banks of mist along the
ground of the vast estate, attendants began the final preparations for the
day's events and the days that would follow. Shortly after the attendants woke
did the rest of the Li Clan estate awake as well. Spirits were high as everyone
got ready for a day that would always be remembered until the end of time. In
the guest wing of the estate's main house, all of Kinomoto Sakura's female
relatives and friends from Japan were gathered around the young sorceress to
help her dress for the happy occasion. She was now wearing the fabulous red
kimono Tomoyo had designed for her. It had been purposefully designed to mask
every feminine curve the Card Mistress possessed.
"It's to drive Li wild." the
Daidouji teen had explained with a mysterious Cheshire cat grin.
Everyone else was dressed in kimonos
as well, each one wearing a color that flattered them the best. Sakura stood as
still as she could while Rika and Chiharu styled her hair simply yet elegantly.
Tomoyo was occupied putting the final touches on the hem line while Sonomi and
Naoko prepared the ornate and beaded Phoenix headpiece that would hide Sakura's
face with a bright red, near opaque veil. Meilin busied herself coaching the
nervous Mistress of the Cards on what she had to do during the actual wedding
ceremony, reassuring her that everything would be fine. The men were allowed to
watch these last finishing touches from the door to the bedroom, standing proud
in their own ceremonial kimonos. Keroberus, in his full form, lounged on the
end of the bed, watching the women fuss over his Mistress.
"Nadeshiko must be proud of her
little girl." Tsukishiro murmured, squaring his shoulders with pride.
Yukito nodded in agreement. "No
doubt about that. You can almost feel her smiling down on all of us."
Touya smirked playfully at his Imoto.
"Well, look at that. The kaijou's all dressed up."
Sakura shot him a half-hearted annoyed
glare. "I am not a kaijou."
"Touya, be nice to your Imoto.
This is a special day for her." Fujitaka chided as he approached his
Daughter. He cupped her face gently, the hint of tears playing in his smiling
eyes. "My little girl... all grown up."
Sakura had heard his voice quiver ever
so slightly and it brought tears to her own eyes. Her Otou-san was afraid that
he was losing his only Daughter to a new family and new land. She threw her
arms around her Otou-san's waist, burying her face in his chest to hide her own
"I'll always be your little girl,
'Tou-san." she very nearly sobbed. "You're not losing a Daughter.
You're gaining a Son."
"A wise man once said a family is
never diminished by a wedding." Takashi stated seriously. "A marriage
only makes a family grow."
"For once, he's telling the
truth." Chiharu nodded in agreement.
Wiping the mist from his eyes,
Kinomoto Fujitaka smiled at them in thanks. "I'm being overly sentimental
today, I guess. I can't help it. It's not every day that your little girl gets
"And what a beautiful bride she
makes." Sonomi smiled, securing the elaborate headpiece to Sakura's head.
A gentle knock sounded on the door to
the Kinomoto family's suite. Yukito went to answer the door while everyone
began to gather in the main room for pictures of the happy bride hidden behind
her veil. At the door stood Li Ann-Lee dressed in her finest midnight blue
silks with bright leaf prints. Behind her stood a grouping of attendants, four
of which were carrying a sedan chair decorated in good luck charms, tokens
against bad or evil influences, and endless yards of red silk. With them stood
a procession of musicians. They all bowed to those within the suite.
"We are here to bring the Card
Mistress to the temple." the elderly woman announced eloquently.
* * *
Li Syaoran, mightiest sorcerer and
warrior of the powerful Li Clan, stood stoic and still as he stared out of the
open temple doors to the estate ground beyond. Red silk floated in the wind
from every possible location, adding an almost surreal quality to the day. In a
few minutes his wife-to-be would be carried up to that very door and then she
would glide gracefully towards him. His Cherry Blossom, Sakura. Outside,
Syaoran was the picture of calm, not a twitch or nervous habit showing. Inside
was a much different story. He was a raging bundle of nerves ready to burst at
any given second from the immense joy he felt in his heart. He could barely
believe it. His angel would soon be his wife. It made him tingle all over
pleasantly in anticipation. He looked to his Okaa-san discretely and found her
grinning in amusement. He blinked at this.
"What's so funny, Ma-Ma?" he
"Your attempt at remaining calm,
Xiao Lang." she near chuckled softly. "You are becoming the color of
a ripe tomato."
Syaoran looked away quickly, now
feeling the warmth of the blush darkening his cheeks. "I never knew I'd be
this nervous." he admitted. "I guess I really shouldn't be surprised
about it considering who it is I'm about to marry."
"If it is any comfort to you, I once
heard you Otou-san felt much the same way as you on our wedding day."
He glanced at her with a smirk.
"The Li men are lucky then."
She blinked. "What has led you to
"So far we all married beautiful
Lerae looked at her Son, noting his
impish grin as he stared ahead of himself. She gave him a grateful, Motherly
smile before returning her eyes to the doors as well. The Card Mistress had
indeed been a positive influence on the once reclusive young warrior, teaching
him that it was perfectly acceptable for a fighter to show his feelings to the
world every so often, that it was not a weakness as he had been taught.
"I must match the color of my
robes now." Lerae heard her Son quip softly.
She stifled a chuckle as the din of
gongs, drums and firecrackers filled the air. The bridal procession had
arrived. The Clan matriarch and the teen sorcerer watched as the attendants
carried the sedan chair up the short steps to the temple doors where the came
to a stop. Another attendant appeared to lay a red mat in front of the sedan as
the carriers carefully lowered it enough to allow the red clad Card Mistress to
disembark. The mat was to prevent her from touching the ground before she
crossed the threshold. Syaoran felt his heart begin to thump loud and fast.
Frozen in place all he could do was watch Sakura begin to walk towards him, her
family and friends filing in behind her to join his own relatives already
seated along the walls to witness the ceremony. He caught sight of Tomoyo
filming the entire event with her ever present video camera, a broad grin
plastered on her face in giddy enjoyment. Sakura came to stand before Syaoran
and his Okaa-san and bowed deeply to them in respect, which they reciprocated.
The male Card Captor could have sworn he felt the warmth of her million-watt
smile shining through her opaque veil. When the Mistress of the Cards
straightened Li-san stepped aside to allow her to take her place at Syaoran
side. Together, the young couple approached and knelt before the Li Clan's family
altar to pray and pay their respects to the Heaven and Earth, the Li ancestors,
and Tsao-Chün, the Kitchen God. Keroberus sat a few meters behind his Mistress
in his function of Guardian Beast of the Seal of Clow and as her Guardian. It
was his duty. Tedious hours passed, the Card Captors not moving from their
kneeling position, seemingly completely engrossed in their prayers of favorable
outcomes and good health and fortune.
Tomoyo did it on purpose to make
your kimono so bulky, didn't she? the groom suddenly sent to his bride.
Syaoran, you're supposed to be
praying, she admonished with a mental smile.
I am praying. Praying
that this ceremony ends soon.
She giggled in his mind. My turn
to tell you to be patient.
A week of not being able to see
you or hold you is a little more than I can stand.
Again she giggled, more gently this
time. Is this how you were when we were apart back in Japan?
My poor, beloved Little Wolf.
Before he could answer, a temple priest
and his acolyte, carrying a small platter and a goblet, came to stand in front
of the Card Captors. The priest motioned the pair to turn and face each other.
He then took the platter from his acolyte and held it between them. On it were
two bite-sized pieces of sugar molded in the shape of roosters. The young
warrior could feel his beloved's confusion at this particular ritual.
The rooster is for longevity,
he explained as he picked up one of the sugar effigies. The sugar is for
sweet relations between our two families and us.
He carefully raised the sweet to where
her lips would be behind the veil. In response Sakura raised the red silk just
high enough to allow him to feed her the carved sugar without yet seeing her
face. Syaoran gently brushed her soft, parted lips in the act, sending pleasant
tingles up both their spines. Their first physical contact in a week. When he
finally took his hand away she reached down to take the remaining sugar rooster
and held it up for him to eat. He kept his eyes fixed on where he could feel
her eyes gazing at him from behind the veil, allowing her to see and feel every
ounce of love he possessed for her and her alone. The platter was then removed
and then the goblet was placed between them. Both could see it was filled with
a rich, red wine.
I've never had wine before,
Sakura stated in his mind as he reached down for the goblet.
Neither have I, he admitted. But
this is part of the ceremony, to consecrate the whole act. Just take a slow
And he demonstrated by placing the
goblet between both his hands and taking a slow sip from it. The wine was warm
and sweet on his tongue, unlike what he had expected it to taste. It was
actually quite drinkable. He then held the wine out to the sorceress. She
hesitated for a moment, then raised her veil, as she had done only moments ago,
to allow him to raise the goblet to her lips and help her drink. The wine was
then taken away to begin the next and before final part of the wedding
ceremony: the wedding tea ceremony. Seeing the immense size of the Li Clan,
Sakura and Syaoran had been allowed to ask their friends for aid in serving tea
to every family member present. They began with Li Lerae, humbly offering her a
cup of tea in which had been placed lotus seeds and two red dates.
Lerae smiled at the sorceress,
accepting the cup. "Welcome to our family, Li Sakura, Mistress of
the Li Clan." she whispered so only the girl could hear.
Sakura bowed low to her in thanks, a
thrilled smile hidden behind her veil on her lips. Her title had been given.
She was now an accepted member of the powerful Li Clan.
Moving from family member to family
member, the bride and groom, with the help of their friends, offered tea to
each and everyone present. In return they all received red envelopes, known as lai
see, filled with either money or jewelry. Tomoyo was allowed to videotape the
proceedings of the tea ceremony, much to her delight, on the promise that she
made a copy of her video for everyone present. She happily agreed to have this
opportunity. She managed to catch every secreted touch and glance between the
young couple, as well as every smile the warrior offered to the veiled
sorceress when he believed no one was watching.
breathed ever so softly.
Finally, when everyone had been served,
the young couple stepped back to the center of the temple and bowed to everyone
collectively. Then they turned to the family altar and bowed to the elements,
gods and ancestors in respect for being witnesses to the ceremony. At last they
faced each other and bowed again. Before they even had a chance to straighten
the crowd in audience erupted into applauds. Surprised, Sakura looked at
everyone as they leapt to their feet to smile, cheer and applaud her and
It's alright, Sakura, the
warrior soothed. They're just congratulating us. The ceremony is over now.
He felt her mind light up brightly
from the happiest smile he had ever sensed from her. It was a heartwarming
sensation that warmed him to his very core. One more reason he loved her so
much. Those blessed smiles of hers that could be felt even from miles away.
Lerae approached the married pair at this point, smiling proudly at both of
them. She bowed slightly from the waist.
"Allow me to be the first to
formally congratulate you both on your nuptials. Also allow me to invite you to
partake of our celebratory feast prepared in your honor."
Taking hold of each other's hand to
remain close to each other, the wedded sorcerer and sorceress bowed in
acceptance of the offer.
* * *
Keroberus spent most of his time
walking around the large Reception Hall, stopping here and there to speak to
some of the Li Clansmen or just answering questions from his Mistress's
friends. They still had quite a few queries to pose him regarding his presence,
the Clow Cards, and Sakura's involvement in it all. He had done this for the
last week of this celebration now. It was a grand affair, reminding the Beast
of the old days. All the tabled were set very low, everyone seated on plush
pillows of the ground. Delicate music wafted through the air, a gentle contrast
to the delicious aromas coming from all the succulent dishes served to the
revelers. Standing next to his Mistress and her husband was Li Ann-Lee.
Keroberus had to smile at the elderly woman. As spokeswoman it had been her
duty to arrange that both Sakura's Otou-san and Onii-chan accept this wedding
to the young warrior. Not an easy task, knowing Kinomoto Touya. And now it was
Ann-Lee's task to make sure the banquet went smoothly for all the guests. Seven
days and she showed no sign of tiring, or running out of words of wisdom and
blessing for all her toasts to the happy couple. This seemed to be a recurring
trait in the Li Clan, their seeming lack of need for sleep. Many times during
this elongated celebration, the Card Mistress's friends and blood relatives had
dozed off many times, as well as Sakura herself. Keroberus had yet to see even
one Li yawn, though he was starting to see wary circles form under eyes here
He looked to his Mistress and his new
Master seated at the place of honor at the traditional feast. Sakura's head was
resting against Syaoran's shoulder to rest a little while the warrior spoke
with some of the Elders seated at his side. Keroberus smiled again. Even if he
couldn't see her face behind her red veil, he knew she was comfortable with the
sorcerer. In the sever days that the banquet had taken place the young
sorceress had been urged to change kimono a total of twenty eight times, four
times each day. This had thoroughly pleased Tomoyo since it had meant her
friend got to wear each and every item she had designed specially for her.
Presently the dozing Card Mistress wore a white silk kimono on which had been
embroidered delicate clusters of cherry blossoms. She still wore the elaborate Phoenix
headpiece as required by tradition. She would only be allowed to show her face
when she and Syaoran would finally be alone. With another small smile curling
up the corners of his lips, mighty Keroberus approached Li Lerae, sitting at
the honor table, and nudged her arm gently with his nose to gain her attention.
She met his golden eyes in curiosity.
"Li-san, I think it's about time
to call an end to the party." He motioned out to the guests with a jerk of
his head. "Some of your guests are falling asleep in their plates. Others
are just now starting to look pretty tired. Seven days is a long time to be
awake. Even Sakura is nodding off over there, though I doubt Li minds."
Lerae nodded. "Perhaps this was a
little extravagant. I merely wished this to be a grand celebration banquet
befitting of my Son, the Card Mistress, and their union."
"Well, you succeeded
"Arigatou. But you are right,
Guardian. Enough time has passed."
"Hai. As Card Captors they need
their sleep to be alert and have enough energy to catch the next Clow Card that
"And to produce many heirs to
their line. Lack of sleep merely hinders this process. Onegai, will you tell
Ann-Lee of this decision?"
The Guardian Beast of the Seal looked
across the Reception Hall to the toasting dajin and nodded in acceptance before
walking off towards her. He bumped his shoulder into Ann-Lee's leg to get her
to look down at him. From the corner of his eye Li Syaoran saw his Aunt
speaking with the Guardian Beast and immediately knew the content of their
conversation. They were about to call an end to the festivities.
Truth be known he, too, had begun to
feel a little fatigued. Seven days was sorely testing his limits as a warrior
and a sorcerer. He was also anxious to finally be alone with his angel, his
wife, though he doubted anything would be done this night. He could feel her
exhaustion from having willingly forced herself to stay as awake as possible
after so much time. It pained him to have to rouse her. Being ever so gentle he
woke his bride with a slight shake. She mumbled something incoherent, halfway
between the waking world and the dream world.
"Sakura." he called softly.
"You have to wake up, Love. It's time to bid our guests goodnight."
"Bid out guests goodnight?"
she muttered sleepily.
"Hai, then we can go get some
She nodded drowsily and he carefully
helped her to her feet, steering her towards the door while supporting her.
"Attention, minna!" Ann-Lee
announced in a clear, loud voice. "The bride and groom, and their
respected families, would like to thank you all for being witness to their
wedding and for joining them during these seven long days of celebration! But
now, seeing as it is getting rather late... again... they wish to bid you all
goodnight and good rest! Oyasumi!"
Standing near the door the exhausted
Card Mistress was barely aware of all the people filing out before her or of
the well-wishings and blessings each gave as they passed. She was much too
tired. It took everything she had to merely remain standing and also to bow to
each guest in some semblance of acknowledgement. Syaoran easily felt this from
her and kept a watchful eye on her reactions and movements just in case
anything happened. So when the last guest left and she began to topple over, he
was right there and ready to catch her to break her fall. Both his Okaa-san and
her family gathered in close around them, worried about the lithe cheerleader
"She's alright." the warrior
reassured the group. "She's just exhausted." and he carefully lifted
his wife into his arms, cradling her close to his chest. "Trying to stay
awake for a week long party is a little too much for my Ying Fa."
Sonomi blinked. "Ying Fa?"
"It means cherry blossom."
Meilin explained patiently.
Fujitaka smiled down at the young man
holding Sakura ever so tenderly in his arms. "Take good care of my little
"That means behave." Touya
snapped with a frown.
Tomoyo almost glared at him.
"Touya, they're married now."
"They don't have to behave!"
Syaoran chuckled silently at them,
then returned his attention to his Father-in-Law. "She'll be well cared
for, Kinomoto-san. I plan to grant her any and all wishes she might have."
Yukito chuckled. "Sakura always
was a hopeless romantic at heart. She'll like that."
"She be spoilt rotten every
single day of our lives together."
"Of that we all have no
doubt." Lerae smiled, then placed a gently kiss on her Son's forehead.
"The house has been prepared for your arrival. Ann-Lee will take you
"I'm coming too." Tomoyo
suddenly announced. "There's no way I'm missing a single kawaii moment of
the Universe's most perfect couple." and she chased after Ann-Lee and the
newlyweds already stepping out into the depth of the night beyond the doors.
The groom raised a wondering eyebrow
to his friend. You do know nothing will happen tonight, not that you'll be
allowed to film if anything does happen."
"I know." she grinned.
"But I can always hope to capture some sweetness between you, ne?"
"Hopeless." he muttered with
a shake of his head.
"So what's this house your Okaa-san
"It's a residence that was
finished just last year. It hasn't been lived in yet since it was meant for me
after I got married. You know, a private home away from the main house of the
estate. It's pretty secluded from everything."
She sighed in bliss. "How
"It's a very lovely home for our
Xiao Lang and his bride." Ann-Lee added, then looked at her Nephew.
"Will you be wanting attendants living there full time in the servants'
He winked with a roguish grin.
"I'll let you know."
They continued on the rest of the way
in silence, following a meticulously kept path of interlocking cobblestones
that cut through the lush foliage of the isle of Bing Di Lian. Small lanterns
set along the path were the only source of light to see by. Going around
another bend in the path the small group came upon a gate made of iron set into
a tall, lengthy stone wall. Beyond the wall lay an immense single level house
built in the traditional Chinese design. Everything of this edifice was made
either of paper, cherry wood, red clay or white washed stones. Tomoyo could
tell that this house would be incredible when seen in daylight. Ann-Lee let the
way over the thriving grounds and through the house's main door. The house was
wired with electricity for convenience and comfort, the lights kept dim to add
more romance to the ambiance. It was an elegantly designed interior, colored in
simple whites and pale bamboo. After the entryway, one had to walk up a step to
enter the vast living room with its plush cream colored and cherry wood
furniture. A cozy dining table had been set up near a bay window, an island
counter dividing this eating space from the kitchen. Tomoyo got a chance to see
the rest of the house in fleeting glances as she followed her friends to the
master bedroom at the back of the dwelling. A den, a training room, a dining
room for entertaining more formal gatherings, and five guestrooms that would no
doubt someday be converted into children's rooms. Ann-Lee opened the door to
the dimly lit master bedroom, revealing bamboo trimmed white walls and a
burgundy red bed set in a cherry wood frame. Syaoran walked over to the bed and
carefully set his wife down on the downy mattress.
She stirred lightly. "...
"Shh, I'm right here, Sakura.
We're... home." He couldn't help but smile at his own words. His home was
now her home.
With a barely perceivable nod, Sakura
sat up drowsily, her hand reaching for the Phoenix headpiece she had worn all
this time. He caught her hand in his to stop her and set it aside as he kneeled
before her. She didn't have the strength to resist. With Tomoyo's help Syaoran
cautiously removed the pins holding the headpiece in place and too it off
Sakura's head, veil and all. The warrior smiled at his sleepy sorceress, then
delicately cupped her cheek. Her green eyes fluttered open at his touch and
looked up to glow lovingly at her soul mate. He ran a hand through her silky
hair, favoring her with a gentle smile.
"Why don't you go take a hot
shower. It'll help you relax and you'll sleep better." he told her,
keeping his voice soft.
She nodded blearily, feeling his lips
touch hers in an almost ephemeral embrace.
"I'll be back in a bit, I'm just
going to show Tomoyo and Ann-Lee out, okay?" he continued.
"... Okay..." she near
Syaoran aided her back to her feet,
then steered the tired Card Mistress towards the adjoining bathroom. Once he
was sure she would be alright he closed he door and returned his attention to
his guests, motioning them back out of the room.
"Arigatou for all your help,
Ann-Lee." the warrior stated. "I would've never gotten Touya's
permission for this without you."
Li Ann-Lee waved it off casually.
"It was my pleasure, Xiao Lang. It is a real joy to see you so happy with
the woman of your choosing, not the Elders. You cherish quite a bit and she
loves you dearly."
He smiled and looked to Tomoyo.
"And you. Friend, nuisance, support and confidante all wrapped into one
neat package with a video camera. I'm actually going to miss you being around
and taping us every second."
The Daidouji teen grinned impishly.
"Not to worry, Li, I taught your Sisters how to use a high resolution
Syaoran groaned. "I should've
known." He suddenly smiled at her. "But domo arigatou for always
being there at our best and our worst."
"Just take care of my Sakura and
you can call it all even." she told him, giving her friend a quick hug.
He chuckled when she released him.
Bidding him a final goodnight, both
women finally left the nuptial residence to return to the main house of the Li
Clan estate. Moving back into his new home Syaoran paused at each room, first
to dream of the future these rooms would see, then to turn off the lights for
the night. The walls would someday echo with the sounds of children. He smiled
to himself at that thought. They would be beautiful children because of Sakura
rich innocence and allure, and magically strong due to both of their magic. And
they would be their children. He returned to the room he would share every
night and morning with Sakura and stopped at the door. His sorceress had
already finished her shower. She was lying in bed, facing the door, and was
sound asleep. She wore a white, nearly sheer lace nightgown that fell in a
loose skirt to her mid-thigh. The collar scooped low and the cuffs puffed
loosely on her forearms. Syaoran smiled at the adorable picture she made with
her hand tucked under her cheek. Silently he made his way to the bathroom, his
nose immediately struck by the sweet scent of honey, heather and cherry
blossoms as he crossed the door. The warrior took a quick shower to wash away
seven days of weary fatigue, his mind and body relaxing to the heat of the
water. He could feel his skin tingle pleasantly at the thought of what the
future now held for him and his beloved soul mate. When he was done washing up
he slipped into a pair of light cotton pyjama pants and silently re-entered the
bedroom. Sakura hadn't moved. A small smile came to his lips. The last week had
been truly exhausting for her. She wasn't used to the Li discipline of
remaining alert and awake for days on end. As silently as possible he crept
into the bed next to his new wife and gently pulled the silk covers up over the
both of them. He snaked his arm around her slim waist and pressed up close to
her back, inhaling her ever-present sweet scent. A small cry escaped her parted
lips as she slept on, nestling herself back against her husband's chest. It was
a purely unconscious move on her part, but it warmed Syaoran's heart to know
she was this comfortable with him around. He held her close, nuzzling the
sensitive spot just behind her ear. The days that would follow would be
amazing, but none more than in the morning.
Tomorrow would be their first real day
as husband and wife.
Syaoran smiled, closing his eyes as
sleep began to take him. He kissed Sakura behind the ear tenderly.
"Aishiteru, Sakura... Now and
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1. Default Chapter Title2. Default Chapter Title3. Default Chapter Title4. Default Chapter Title5. Default Chapter Title6. Default Chapter Title7. Default Chapter Title8. Default Chapter Title9. Default Chapter Title10. Dimensions II - Test of Evil (Part 1)11. Dimensions II - Test of Evil (Part 2)12. Dimensions II - Test of Evil (Part 3)13. Dimensions II - Test of Evil (Part 4)14. Dimensions II - Test of Evil (Part 5)15. Dimensions II - Test of Evil (Part 6)16. Dimensions II - Test of Evil (Part 7)17. Dimensions II - Test of Evil (Part 8)18. Dimensions II - Test of Evil (Part 8)19. Dimensions II - Test of Evil (Part 9)20. Dimensions II - Test of Evil (Part 10)