When We First Met

An Eriol/Kaho fic by Vikki

Updated 4/19/03: With many thanks to Selenity for pointing out the typical American mistakes regarding British life! :)

Disclaimer: Card Captor Sakura is the property of CLAMP.  I own nothing and am writing this story for no profit. Please don't sue me.

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She hardly knew English.

"Class, this is Kaho Mizuki.  She is from Japan. Say hello, everyone."

"Hello," Everyone chorused obediently.

She couldn't find her voice to say 'hello'.  She fiddled with a lock of shoulder-length brown hair and wished for the ending of the humiliation.

"Now, I want everyone to help Kaho feel welcome here, all right?"  She couldn't pronounce 'Kaho'.

"Yes, Miss Hannah," everyone agreed with varying degrees of interest and boredom.

Miss Hannah showed her to a seat next to a boy with black hair and blue eyes and a bright smile.  He waved cheerily to her.  She essayed a small smile and waved back.

(He wasn't very flashy, sitting in the middle of the classroom wearing big round glasses that perched on his small nose and framed his large blue eyes.  But his smile … it was dazzling.  It was something that never changed to her eyes, just as his features never altered from their childlike state, even as the years rolled onward.  It was a sincere smile; it begged for all things wonderful and nostalgic.  Yet he could give such a smile in the face of the most horrible of the lies he was forced to tell.)

"Eriol, since you know Japanese, I would like you to please help Kaho get acquainted with the school," Miss Hannah suggested to the black-haired boy.

"Of course," he said pleasantly, his tone grown-up.  He turned in his seat and smiled brightly again, his eyes crinkling at the edges the way Kaho's mother's eyes crinkled when she smiled.  "My name is Eriol Hiiragizawa," he said in Japanese.  He had no accent.  His speech was smooth and fluid.  "It's nice to meet you, Mizuki-san."

She giggled when he used formal speech.  "It's nice to meet you too, Hiiragizawa-san," she answered.  "Can I call you Eriol-san?"

"Only if I can call you Kaho-san," he said smoothly, taking her hand and kissing it like an old-fashioned gentleman.

"Then it's all right," she answered, blushing, even as she pulled her hand away.

(His charm … that had always been the deafening part.  He could wriggle into the affections of nearly everyone, excepting, perhaps, the most suspicious person.  It had been hard for her to accept, at first, that so much of what he said was calculated and precise, a statement designed to elicit a specific response; he seemed so spontaneous, every loving gesture a momentary impulse, a pleasant surprise.  But in the end, even the preciseness of his charm held a certain appeal to her; that he would take the time to plan out a gesture to make her happy was a blessing unto itself.

And there was, of course, the delightful challenge of truly surprising him.)

"Oh no!" she cried as he was walking her home that day.  "I forgot my books!"

"On your very first day of school?"  He chuckled.  "It's all right.  We'll just go back to school and get them."

She was embarrassed, and the heat rushed to her cheeks as she bowed deeply.  "I'm sorry to cause you this much trouble," she said worriedly.

"Don't fret.  This is why Miss Hannah asked me to help you," he answered, turning back towards the school.  "Accidents happen."  His small smile was reassuring.

She smiled shyly, straightening and following him. "Thanks."

"Think nothing of it, madam," he waved his hand regally, and she giggled away her fear of his resentment.

(He was so calm, so happy, in the face of the small things as well as the large.  He was like a rock in a storm; never upset, never angry.  Perhaps the fact that he often saw what would happen before it occurred helped him iron out any undue emotions before they rose in the actual situation.  But she came to admire him for that cheerful confidence; from him she learned happiness in all circumstances.)

"How old are you?" she asked, blowing a bit of dandelion fluff off of her homework.  It was nice outside, and he had suggested they enjoy the pleasant weather.

"I'm twenty-six," he answered evenly, and she laughed at his joke.  He laughed too, but his blue eyes were far away.  "Eleven.  And you?"

"Eleven," she shrugged.  "But most people are eleven in year eleven, I guess."

"Yeah, I guess."  He shrugged as well and smiled slightly, doodling a little picture in the corner of his exercise book.

The silence seemed to stretch.  "How do you like school?" she asked, so the silence wouldn't get any longer.  "We have more classes in Japan, but you have a lot more free time.  I like it here."

He nodded his agreement.  "Yes, it's a lot less work here," he agreed.  "But I like school very much.  I've already completed university," he said as if it was nothing.  "I received a degree in history."

"I don't believe you," she laughed.  How absurd, someone finishing college before they turned twelve!  And besides—"Why are you still in year eleven, then?"

"Because I felt like it."  He folded his exercise book shut and looked at her.  "Because it was fate for me to meet you."

He smiled his dazzling smile, and she laughed and blushed and told him to stop saying silly things like that.

(He never really told outright lies, unless pressed.  She had been so mad at him at first, because he hadn't told her everything, but she had realized then that he had always told her everything she asked.

Incidentally, he had three college degrees by the time he decided to fly to Japan and meet the Card Mistress.  Ironically, his history degree included a specialization in the time period in which Clow Reed had lived.)

"You seem very mature for your age," she said one day.

"Oh?" he arched one thin eyebrow, apparently unperturbed by her announcement.  "What do you mean?"

"Well, my mom said that today.  That you seem very mature for your age.  It means you act older than you are, right?" she worried that she had said something she didn't mean to say.

"Yes," he said, looking thoughtful.  "Perhaps I am … overly mature."

"Oh, no, it's just what makes you special," she beamed at him and did not notice when he blinked at her, taken aback.  "Everyone has something that makes them unique, and yours is your ma- … matu-- … maturity," she managed.

He smiled.  "Your outgoing personality is what makes you special, Kaho-san," he said.  "Don't ever let that go away."

"I won't," she promised quickly, unfailingly.  "I love meeting new people!"

"I'm glad," he said, eyes closing as he continued to smile.  "I'm glad I met you."

She blushed, the light pink staining her cheeks as she lowered her gaze to her lap.  "Why is Eriol-san so glad he met me?" she asked, a little tremble in her voice.

"Because Kaho-san cared enough to be my friend," he said.

She did not know when she had become his friend, but it made her warm inside to hear him say it.

(He would later say that even though he had Seen she would be the Harbinger, he had not really expected to become so close, so quickly.  There was only so much he could See, he said, even with Clow's vast power.  But it was the little things he didn't See that kept him from becoming fed up.  'Unpredictability is the spice of life,' he would say, 'and you are my unpredictability.'

He had said it as he handed her the Moon Bell.  She wondered if he had expected her to use it on the Maze Card.)

She was surprised when he came into school one day red-faced and clammy to the touch.  "You're sick," she said softly as he sat down.

"It's a low fever," he answered, smiling a little.  "I couldn't very well miss school, though, could I?  You wouldn't have any help understanding the lessons."

That annoyed her.  She slapped her hand against her desk and stood up.  "Eriol-san, you have to stay home and get well!  I'll be fine!"

His eyes widened ever-so-slightly at her vehemence, and then he lowered his gaze, smiling at the desk.  "There's no need to be so worried, Kaho-san," he answered.  "But since you seem so adamant … I will go to the sick bay."

He excused himself from the classroom.

She came down to see him during lunch; no one would come to pick him up from school.  "It seems that no one is home," said the nurse, "but you can stop in for a bit and say hello, if he's awake."

He wasn't.  He was sweating, but even his sleeping face was peaceful and calm in the face of fever dreams.  But something about his flushed face was so sad and needing, as if he longed for something he would never have.  She tilted her head, trying to understand, and instinctively brushed his too-long hair from his eyelashes, and for the first time, she found herself thinking him handsome.

(Before that moment, he had been a friend, closer than any of the others in the strange land of England.  But then, in his moment of vulnerability, she saw a young man whom she thought that maybe … just maybe … she liked a little bit better than anyone else.)

At the end of the day she came down again.  He was pulling on his shoes; his face was still too red, but he smiled brightly at her anyway.  "Good afternoon, Kaho-san," he said.

"I've come to walk you home," she offered brightly, "Seeing as no one has come to pick you up."

"Ah, that," he said dismissively.  He inclined his head to her politely.  "Please.  I would be honored if you would walk me home."

She laughed at his charm and offered him his books.  "I brought them down for you."

"Thank you."  He slipped them into his backpack.

"Why didn't anyone come to pick you up?" she asked as they walked along in the early summer air.

"Ah, well, that is because there is no one home to pick me up," he replied brightly.

"Both of your parents work all day?"  Her parents both worked, but her mom was easy to reach by phone and she was always home before the school day ended.

"I live alone."  He said it casually, as if all year eleven students lived alone.  "I moved out from my parents' house several years ago.  I live on an estate inherited from my great-grandfather."

"How lonely," she cried, startled.  "How can you live alone like that?  It must be very sad."

He stopped, then, and he looked at her, and his gaze was understanding and sad and happy and surprised all at once.  "I'm not lonely, though," he said.  "Because of you."

She blushed to the very tips of her ears.

At his house she made him a cup of warm milk while he lay on the couch.  His house was so big … so empty.  "You should have some companions," she said as she handed him the milk.

"I'll think about it," he said, considering.  He sipped the milk.  "Mm.  This is very good, Kaho-san!  Thank you."

"You're welcome," she answered, blushing slightly.  "I hope you feel better soon."

"With your help," he said softly, a small smile on his lips, his eyes crinkling the way they had the very first time he smiled at her, "I know I will."

(He had meant it quite literally, of course.  But she didn't know that.)

"Hey," she had said softly, just then.  "I don't want you to be lonely ever again."  She looked for the words, and she had a hard time finding them.  "Is it all right if we promise?  Promise to be friends forever?"

He blinked, once, then smiled brightly, fully; like a flower blossoming his whole face lit up.  "Yes; I would like that."  He held up his pinky finger.  "This is how they do it in Japan too, right?  Pinky promise?"

She took his pinky finger with hers.  "Promise!" she agreed brightly.

(Her fate as the Harbinger was sealed that day, he said later.  But more importantly, he knew he had found the person who would understand him.

And for her, that was enough.)

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Note regarding translation: In Japan, one calls classmates by their last name and attach a '-san' or a '-kun' to the end of the name to show respect; therefore, when speaking in Japanese, Eriol and Kaho both naturally engage in Japanese polite speech.  When Eriol asks Kaho if he can call her by her first name, it's rather forward of him (or at least it would be in Japan).

The English equivalent of how they call each other is along the lines of 'Miss Kaho' and 'Mister Eriol', but it sounds too awkward that way, so I left it in Japanese.

Author's Notes:  This was sudden inspiration.  I mean, we know that Kaho moved to England, came to Japan for a while, returned to England, and came back again to teach at Sakura's school and prepare her for the arrival of Eriol and Yue before leaving again.  (She goes back and forth from England a lot.)  But I was wondering … how did she meet Eriol in the first place?  And how did it go from acquaintance to love?

A lot of people seem to assume that Eriol came into existence at the very moment of Clow's death and froze himself at age 11 (we know that he chose to remain at age 11, but we don't know how long he's been 11), but I don't know where that idea comes from.  Why wouldn't he reincarnate like a normal person (albeit in two bodies)?  Because Fujitaka and Eriol are inherently linked, coming from the same soul, I conclude that they probably reincarnated at the same time.  So they're the same age (35+ … probably older).  Which means that Eriol is actually older than Kaho (25+ or so).

Needless to say, this story pales in comparison to other Eriol/Kaho fics, but I thought I'd take a stab in the dark at how they met.  I hope you enjoyed.