Title: A stronger bond
Genre: Drama/Romance
Author: Regann (regann@kalyka.net)
Site: http://kalyka.net/tira (Whiplash - a shrine to Tira Misu)
Warnings: um...a tiny mention of a M/M relationship...but what can you expect with manga Mille Feuille on the prowl?

A Stronger Bond

As her eyes watched the grinning young man strut across the floor of the gilded hall, Chocolat Misu couldn't help the involuntary associations which ran through her mind.

Carrot Glace.



No, she corrected herself. Not mine. Yes, that was the truth of it. He wasn't hers and he never would be. She only need to look down at the frilly confection of lemon-colored satin and lace which she wore to know how true and irrevocable that fact was. The bridesmaid, she quipped, eyes on her gown. And not the bride.

Yes, Carrot had taken a wife.

But it hadn't been her.

The beautiful Hunter stretched her legs under the banquet table at which she sat, sipping at her bubbly champagne. When she chanced a glance around the room, she saw the looks she was earning from her friends and relatives: Marron's dark eyes were always shimmering with compassion when he looked at his brokenhearted foster-sister and Éclair would always offer her a timid smile of encouragement. Dota, proudly accompanied by the handsome Sirius, simply seemed pleased that Chocolat hadn't caused some kind of explosive scene as of yet; her bright face always looked relieved. She snorted at that. What had the winged girl expected her to do? She wondered. Had she expected crying and begging or perhaps threats of bodily harm to the actual bride?

If anyone had expected any of those, they were disappointed, she noted. Because Chocolat had sat demurely through the service, dry-eyed and silent. And she'd remained so through following banquet, her crimson eyes only slightly darkened by sorrow and her face composed but somber. The picture of tact and acceptance.

But, she admitted to herself, it might have been different. It would have been different if his choice of bride had been different. Chocolat would have bitched, whined, moaned and bullied…

…if Carrot Glace had not wed Tira Misu.

She is radiant, the elder sister admitted to herself as she watched the groom lead his shy wife onto the dance floor. Dressed in a traditional white silk gown, all flounces and beads and crinoline, Tira was resplendent, her hair glossy and her lovely face brightened by a smile and the blush which continued to stain her cheeks. Looking at that, Chocolat could not do anything to ruin that day. Not for her sister.

How could she? Did her family think that she was some kind of monster? She would never ever do something so crass as disrupt her baby sister's wedding. She loved the girl too much for that. Chocolat had spent her whole life watching after her, caring for her -- protecting her. When she closed her eyes to sleep at night, she sometimes dreamed of the night when Sacher Torte had almost killed them both. And she knew, years later, that she would still grab her sister and forcibly shield Tira's body with her own, as she had that night. The sisterly feelings she'd had at four years of age had only increased in those passing years. No one could hurt her sister and live. Not if Chocolat had anything to do about it. The mere idea of her sister being in danger, as she was often enough as a Sorcerer Hunter was enough to make her scowl.

Something of what she was thinking must have shown on her face because the lyrical voice which sounded behind her seemed hesitant. "Having a nice time, Chocolat?"

She turned to see Mille Feuille behind her, the young Haz Knight Captain. As always, he had opted to cross-dress for the occasion and was dressed in a lilac-colored gown very similar to the one which Chocolat wore. The elder Misu realized -- with a self-deprecating grin -- that he looked better in it than she did. His lithe, androgynous frame allowed the satin to flow and cling gracefully while her more ample and curvy figure seemed to want to burst free of their confines. Perhaps, she simply spent too much time nude.

"As well as can be expected," she answered truthfully, knowing that the knight would see through any false niceties.

"I understand well," he sighed sympathetically, choosing to seat next to the young woman. He patted her hand affectionately. "I know what it's like to have to let go of someone you love." His expressive golden eyes seemingly misty with unshed tears, he gazed out across the expanse of dancers, all moving to the music of the small orchestra.

"You can't tell me that you're pining for Carrot, too," she laughed. "It would be too much to bear."

Mille crinkled his nose at her. "No, of course not. I only play with him for my own fiendish amusement." His face was cheerful once more, but it held the smallest trace of lingering sadness. And suddenly, Chocolat felt that perhaps this was an honest expression. So many of his expressions were contrived, simply for effect.

"Then who? If you don't mind me asking…"

"It doesn't really matter, now, does it?" he philosophized. "I loved him but he loved another. And I don't play second fiddle that well…I've always been one to follow the melody." His eyes were serious as he fixed them on the redhead at his side. "Sometimes, destiny has plans for special people, places for them in history which carve their paths. And sometimes, those paths lead them away from the less special who love them as much as the other special ones might."

"So I should blame the cosmos because Carrot chose Tira over me?" she asked sardonically.

He shrugged. "Or Gateau," he offered, earning the laugh he wanted. "He can shoulder the blame quite nicely on those lovely muscles of his." His slender hand tightened over hers. "It will get easier, my dear."

"Easier?" she scoffed. "Not much of a consolation."

"I can't promise it'll go away." Mille's voice was soothing as his glittering eyes swept the banquet hall once more. This time, however, Chocolat noticed that they lingered ever so slightly on one person, too far away for her to discern. "But it will get better." His voice dropped to a near whisper. "He was my one true love."


The knight suddenly lost all of his sadness and his expression was serene once more. "Cheer up, girl. They say we all have partners out there, waiting. To each his own and all."

She returned his smile, although it did not reach her eyes. "Perhaps," she conceded.

"Mmmiiiiiillllllleeee," Cinnamon's long drawl as she approached the table effectively ended the conversation. Her glasses perched precariously on the end of her nose, she gave her hair an impatient toss when she sidled to the table.

"Yes, Cinnamon?" Mille returned, amused.

"IIIIIII neeeeeeeeeeeeeeedd to taaaaallllk…."

Mille gracefully rose. "That's nice," he told her, taking her arm. "How about we finish that sentence over here?" With one last understanding glance at his former companion, he and the other knight disappeared into the crowd.

Chocolat ran one long-nailed finger across the rim of her champagne glass idly, desperately wondering when the whole affair would end. She wanted nothing better than to return to her small suite of rooms in the Stella Church Main Diocese, strip off the hideous bridesmaid's gown she was wearing and sleep. Well, sleep after she had gotten roaring drunk with a nice fifth of tequila. Yes, that would be a fitting end to the evening, she decided.

As much as she wanted to escape, however, she knew that her early exit would only cause Tira, Marron, Gateau and probably even Carrot to worry about her -- and her intention was to not ruin the whole experience for them. The whole situation was so complicated, she despaired. She was being torn in two directions in her heart: part of her wanted to be happy and gracious for Tira's sake while another only wanted to wail and scream the fact that she had lost the man she loved to someone else. Therein lay the problem. She loved both of them, so very much. It was as if her heart had been split in two by the fighting affection, and the feelings were waging a war inside her soul, which only succeeded in leaving her aching.

Which love was stronger? She wondered. The love of a sister or the love of a woman for a man? At one time, she might have quickly answered that her love for Carrot overrode all else and that her heart was completely his. But, as she sat quietly and respectfully throughout the wedding, she thought she had her answer. She loved Tira enough to let Carrot go because she was her baby sister…a beautiful, sweet girl who Chocolat would have died to protect.

Yes, she decided, suddenly smiling sadly -- the stronger love was that for her sister. And for that reason alone, she would drown her sorrows in private later and remain the submissive bystander, watching quietly as the man she loved married someone else. But, as deep as that love was, she couldn't watch any longer. Some pains were too cruel to bear, even for one's family.

Decision made, Chocolat held her head high as she stood, striding purposely toward the door. She pointedly ignored the bridal family huddled together in the middle of the room: blushing bride and grinning groom surrounded by the father, brother and winged bridesmaid. No, she looked away, her dyed-to-match heels clicking as they carried her away from the painful scene.

"Onee-sama?" The timid voice calling out to her made her freeze in mid-step. She clenched her hands involuntarily but turned to greet the young woman who was still radiant in her wedding gown, now standing behind her.

"Yes, Tira?" she inquired, trying to keep her voice light as she willed herself to calm down.

The bride's expressive eyes shone with concern and sympathy. And also, love. "I was wondering…everyone was going to gather for a picture. Would you….I mean, would you like to join us?" she paused, gazing down at her hands. "It would mean a lot to me, Chocolat. It just won't be the same without you."

And suddenly with those words, the ice in her heart which kept the pain throbbing seemed to melt away, leaving only a lingering absence of where feeling used to be. And instead of a bride, of her triumphant rival, Chocolat saw a teary-eyed four-year-old begging for her to come outside and play.

"Okay," she sighed, defeated. "I'll go."

As if spring had arrived early, Tira's pretty face lit up. "You will! Oh, thank you, Chocolat!" Impulsively, she threw her arms around her sister.

The elder sister slowly returned the embrace, closing her eyes in a sign of accepted defeat. Yes, she thought to herself. A love for one's sister seems to transcend everything else; even pain. Aloud, she said. "Come on, then, girl. Let's get this picture taken."

Tira grabbed her sister's hand with one of her gloved one and pulled her back toward the group which Chocolat had been trying to avoid all evening. There stood them all: Onion, looking for all like an older version of his son, his face bright as a proud father should be; Marron, handsome in his finest white robes; Dota, bright and smiling in her bridesmaid gown; and Carrot, so happy that it hurt to look at him in his dark tuxedo. She almost faltered when her eyes first landed on the object of her unrequited affection, but the small hand tugging on hers was softly insistent. So, Chocolat bravely followed.

"Chocolat!" Marron exclaimed softly when he saw her. He smiled gently at her. "I see you made it in time for the picture."

"Of course," she rallied. "I couldn't disappoint the bride on her special day." Crimson eyes met with black and understanding flowed between them. Before anything else could be said, however, the photographer -- a wiry and overly energetic man with bad fashion sense -- descended upon them, prattling and prancing as he ordered them into the desire arrangement.

"Father, father," he yelped at Onion, deciding to call everyone by their titles within the wedding party. "You and the best man need to move to the back. Yes, yes -- You're too tall otherwise." Obediently, Marron and his father took places behind the bride and groom. "Now, you," he pointed at the Winged girl. "To the bride's right --- no, there!"

"Shouldn't the maid of honor stand here?" Dota questioned, looking apprehensive.

The little badly-dressed man shook his head. "No. It would weigh down that side of the portrait -- all that red hair on one side. Besides, your wings would be in the way. No, she needs to stand on the other side of the groom." Nodding, Chocolat stepped to Carrot's left as ordered, causing her nerve ends to spark by simply standing so close to him. Forbidden fruit and all, she shrugged mentally.

As the photographer continued to order them into varying positions, Carrot took a moment to lean closer to Chocolat and whisper, "Thanks for being here. You're the best sister-in-law a guy could have."

"Your welcome….Dar…..er, Carrot."

It was the first step, a tentative one, but she had taken it. He grinned in appreciation and nodded. "Yeah, like I said. Thanks."

"Now it is perfect!" the photographer exclaimed as he positioned Marron's hand on Chocolat's shoulder, finishing his perfect montage of family members to his satisfaction. "What a nice family."

"A nice one indeed," Marron repeated, squeezing Chocolat's shoulder affectionately.

As the photographer bid them to smile, the maid of honor smiled genuinely for the first time that day.

When the magical powder flashed, Chocolat was glad that she had stayed. Despite the pain, she knew what it meant to her sister for her to be there, in that snapshot of one of Tira's happiest days. A small sacrifice, on the elder sister's part.

But it meant all the world. And that was the stronger bond.

Author's Notes: This is my first try at a Bakurestu/Sorcerer Hunter fanfiction, so I hope everyone was in character. It's obviously based on manga; Mille is completely OOC to his anime version and I don't believe Cinnamon or Sirius make appearances in the anime. Also, Chocolat's attitude about Carrot marrying Tira reflects more the dynamics of the manga than the anime. She always struck me as a bit more selfish in the anime, especially when it came to Carrot. Oh, well. I adore Chocolat and so I wanted to show her as a graceful loser and good elder sister. Here it is. All reviewers receive cookies.