Moonlight on Paris

By Ekai Ungson

DISCLAIMER: Card Captor Sakura copyright CLAMP and other related enterprises. Characters used without permission.

An Eriol x Tomoyo, 2/30 of Fic Challenge

For Chelle, of course.

Snow had just began to fall on a cold winter Paris night—slowly, gently—like petals of jasmine falling from the sky. The air was chilly, but the young man made no move to cover himself from the cold. To him, the winter air was nothing—loneliness was colder in its vengeance. He stared out at the sidewalks, watching couples walk by, holding each other. Everyone seemed to be walking in twos, and he thought, yes, loneliness is colder indeed.

A few stray snowflakes had made their way near his coffee cup, settling there and melting away. There was always coffee in Paris, no matter the time or the place or weather, and he found that he preferred it over the boring tea back home.

He continued to hang around in that coffee shop, mildly wondering what the hell was wrong with him exactly, that not only did he choose the tourist magnet of the whole damn city, but also because he wasn't inclined to leave. He pulled out a few bills, ready to bail, but he felt a heaviness he couldn't identify, and he stayed, watching lovers go by. He then declared himself a masochistic freak.

Or maybe, he was just trying to punish himself.

Paris, the city of love. It wasn't a surprise. In the middle of it all, he stood out, alone, loveless. What the hell was he doing in such a place, anyway?

He had been in parts of the world less lonely than this, where everywhere he turned he was reminded of love and his apparent lack of it. There was New York—ever busy, people running around as if their lives depended on it, where more usual, it did. China—overpopulated, noisy nationalistic people that spoke in sharp tones. Holland—open fields, picture perfect skies, sentimentalists.

Yet he went to the City of Lights to nurse a coffee and, of all things, a broken heart.

He felt it more appropriate to drench his heart in wine. Surely, somewhere in this city, there was a bar for people like him. But he stayed, holding his sobering coffee, feeling it grow cold.

The futility of it was depressing.

He sat a few minutes more, promising to leave as soon as his coffee had grown cold. Finally, when the cup had all but frozen over, he stood up, dusting the snow off his coat, his hair. It was then that he heard someone gasp faintly some few paces before him.

He looked up and was fairly tempted to gasp, himself.

"Eriol," she said, brushing her raven hair from her eyes and tucking the loose strands behind her ear.

He barely noticed that he had moved toward her. "Should I even ask, Tomoyo-san?"

She could think of a million words to say, but found that she could not articulate. She blinked once and recovered her voice. "I— I could ask the same of you. Honeymooning?"

He shook his head, gesturing about himself. "I'm alone."

She didn't understand, at first, but she looked in his eyes and realization came slowly to her. "I'm sorry, but—I heard Sakura-chan say—I meant, well—you married—"

"Kaho," he supplied. "I did. Three years ago."

"I know…" she said softly. "I know."

I know, she'd kept saying to herself, three years ago. I know. Even when she held him at night, kissed him in the morning. I know.

It had been crazy from the beginning, first borrowing time, and then stealing it altogether. Dodging the world because they should never know, it had to end some time soon, there was no way around it, and one day, it did.

"I love you," he told her, in the heat of noon, in the mist of midnight, holding her close she could feel his heart.

And she? Half her life she had loved him, half her life spent her days wanting what wasn't hers. It was a strange illicit affair.

He had been in Japan to sell the last of his properties, to finally leave and never come back. To say goodbye to old friends. The night he arrived a big party was thrown in his honor, and it was there that he announced to them—"I'm getting married."

That same night, in her apartment, much, much later, she kissed him. "A year today," she whispered. "A whole year today, of you and me."

"I'm getting married," he told her as he held her to him. "I'm marrying her."

And she said, "I know," as she kissed him. "I know."

"I should go," she said, then. "It was nice seeing you again." She nodded politely to him, smiling, and began to walk away.

"Wait," he said, and her hand was caught in his, so she turned.

She looked at him. "Wait for what?"

On the day of his wedding, he had waited for someone to show up and halt the proceedings. He had been half-wishing it. But his bride marched up the aisle, he said his vows, exchanged rings and not a peep from the pews. When the minister declared "—or forever hold your peace," and there was no sound, he knew. He accepted his fate, married to a woman he thought he loved. He stayed by her side three years before he realized that he could lie to himself no longer.

In the end, she broke it off, from frustration, exhaustion. He packed his bags gladly and left the house to wander the world. His journeys brought him to places less lonely than home, but never happy enough to rid him of the regret in his heart.

And today, tonight, his journey brought him to a coffee shop in Paris where he came face to face with Destiny.

"Wait… for me," he said then, finally, after a long time. "Wait for me, Tomoyo-san."

Around them, couples, and the snow still falling. She looked at him and was not afraid.

She smiled faintly, weighing her words.

"For the past three years, Eriol," she whispered, "I have done nothing else."

They began to walk, hand in hand, away from the coffee shop, away from the tourists. Side by side they walked away from the past, from the pain and the regret of loving each other but lying.

And under the pale light of Paris' full moon, a second chance was born.