I Promise You a Rose Garden

Dedicated to S+S fans, especially to Larz-chan (na naman. Miss na kita, friend! ^^ Yngatz lagi!)

Note: This was based on Tsubasa's setting, though I haven't actually read the entire manga. Just leave me a note in your reviews on mistakes and stuff.

His young amber eyes followed the graceful movements of the young, lovely princess of the palace. She was escorted by one of her maids as she went to her usual seat – the swing set amidst the lush palace garden.

Ah, Sakura. His day would never be called complete without him seeing her delicately beautiful face. She was barely out the cocoon of young age, and she was already breathtakingly beautiful. Especially when she smiles like so, her emerald eyes sparkling in innocently sweet fashion.

He watched quietly from the gates as Sakura sat down elegantly, but paused just in time to see a fresh stem of rose on her seat. Her eyes lit up.

He grinned and turned his back on the scene. He barely managed to escape past the palace guards just to sneak in his everyday offering to her, and he knew that every passing minute he spends within the forbidden private palace grounds was jeopardy in his life.

"The same young man again?" inquired the maid politely as the Princess' mouth melted into a soft smile.

"Yes." Sakura sniffed the tender rose bud delicately. The morning dew added to the fragrance of the precious flower, making her think how this person managed to secure this flower.

He must have waken up extra early to get the flower along with the morning dew intact. And to think he goes through all those things just to give this to me…

She brought the rose close to her heart. No, not one thorn pricked her, for the stem had been perfectly trimmed, so as her skin wouldn't be pricked.

All these efforts just for her…somehow it made this person grow more endeared to her heart, even though she regularly receives bouquets of various flowers from other princes from other kingdoms.

Her eyes twinkled when she saw the note that was attached to the flower.

And as always, it carried the same message that it had been carrying ever since.

I promise you a rose garden someday.

She couldn't help but imagine what kind of environment this person was reared into. The line sounded wistful, as if something like a rose garden sounded as a dream. A someday, as he puts it. No, it couldn't be any of the princes that tirelessly woo her. No, her heart refused to believe that.

She didn't know who this rose giver was, but she knew that they would meet someday. After all, he still had to make true to his promise… a rose garden just for her.

Li Syaoran hummed to himself as he continued with his work in the coal mine. In just a few hours, he would be able to get off from work, and he could spend the rest of the day in resting and lying his tired muscles down in relaxation. He was also secretly looking forward to surprise visits that his childhood friend, Sakura, does, hours before the sun sets in the kingdom.

Although he often reacted in annoyance at her visits, he had to admit that this was one of the few good things that brighten up his everyday life. Her cheery smiles could somehow soften the harsh roughness of the earlier events in his day. Her bright-eyedness could chase away the rock-dreariness of his day, marked insignificantly only with the stones and soil he come in contact with most of the day.

But still, his good ole sensibility insists that it would be best if he draws away from her this early. Sure, when they were kids, it was okay for them to play together. But they were years older than that stage, and now, the gap between their social status was glaring more evidently.

She was the princess of the kingdom, someone way above his pedestal. Respected, loved, and adored by all; protected by the reign of her big brother famous for his domineering ways.

And he was nothing but a coal miner. Clothed in tattered and soiled mantle, but mostly caked with mud, he could be proud about nothing. Every inch of his body screamed humility. He was nothing.

And she was everything.

I must be mad, he mused. For inspite of all of these realizations, I continue to be her friend. And I continue to care for her beyond words and belief.

"Syaoran-kun!"

He hid a smile as he self-consciously wiped a bead of sweat that dripped down his face. Although puzzled why her visit came so early, he could not say that he was disappointed.

But of course, letting her know that would be an entirely different thing.

Really.

"No one can ever make Her Highness wait, eh?" Syaoran asked dryly as she looked up in attention. She was waiting outside the coalmine, patiently seated by the grassy field. Which no doubt has taken her friend by surprise, she thought dryly, for it was a common knowledge in the kingdom that her patience was not a remarkable one like, like her brother's.

She pouted. "You know I –hate- being called that." She was referring to his mildly mocking term for her. Until now, she couldn't understand why things had to change. When they were still young children, it didn't matter if she escaped from the palace every afternoon just to play hide-and-seek with him in the forest, or to play pretend family with him, with imaginary kids of their own to boot.

But sensible Li Syaoran dismissed that as part of her naïveté.

Which annoyed her slightly.

But she cared too much for this young lad before her; even his cynical view of life, she managed to accept. Though within her lies a hope that she could help change his outlook in life.

No, she would rather be called naïve than grow wary of life's many offerings of excitement and adventures. Though for someone like her friend here to understand such was like praying for summer rain everyday.

He sat down, careful to maintain the distance between them. She groaned audibly. She couldn't understand why he was doing this—purposefully acting as if they were two very different people—when back then they were so close.

He pretended to not hear her sound of protest. He lifted the veil on the picnic basket, then sighed.

"What?" she asked, wondering what mistake did she do now.

"You know that this snack was made just for you," he said half-accusingly as he stared at the mouthwatering assorted cuts of sandwiches inside the basket. He looked up at her and allowed the cloth to slip out of his grasp. "I can't eat this."

She rolled her eyes. "The same things you see in the market were used in those, so I don't see what's wrong—" She eyed him intently. "Syaoran-kun, let's not fight about this again, ok?"

It had been an endless replay of these small arguments. She couldn't understand him though—his unending prejudice against her position that she did not choose or force. Before, it was never an issue for them. How come he had to bring it up lately?

He nodded briskly, but his eye caught the rose tucked behind her ear. She shyly touched the object of his vision. "O-Oh, this…"
"He sent you another rose again, huh?" he asked, eyes still trained on the flower.

"Y-Yes." She was about to change the subject when he cleared his throat.

"A-And you liked it?" There was a question in his voice.

"Very much," she admitted. And forgetting to check herself, she revealed to him all her musings about how hard the person must have worked just to get her these roses in its epitome freshness.

She also noticed how his stiff and rough demeanor had slowly loosened and relaxed until finally, she could swear a small trace of smile on his usually haggard face.

"I'm sure that the rose giver would feel very pleased knowing that you feel that way about his humble gift," he commented at last.

"But I sure would like to meet him someday," she said, smiling, "That would be lovely, indeed."

"He did promise to give you a rose garden someday," he said softly.

The unexpected tenderness took her by surprise. The princess blushed, then nodded as she steered the conversation into its usual cheery narrations of her day's events as the young man listened faithfully, glad to have a diversion for his day's fatigue.

Syaoran watched her as the coach came to pick her up. Apparently, the missing princess was being summoned not without wrath from her over-protective brother. When he expressed concern about this, the genki Sakura dismissed it with a shrug.

"He's always grouchy," she said, before giving him a quick farewell hug.

He sat down against the tree, deep in thought. Sakura's words came back to him once more, like a wave washing him.

He was prejudiced against their social status.

He groaned. If she only knew how much it was hurting him too…

How painful it was to continuously deny his ever-growing feelings for her because it was wrong beyond comprehension. How it mars him when he had to remind himself perpetually that she was untouchable, that he could never be worthy enough to touch the tip of her soft, candle-shaped fingers?

Ah, he was a fool, to ever let himself think that he, born into the life of endless underground tunnels and dust, would be able to give someone as precious as her a beautiful rose garden that would make the palace gardens pale in comparison.

Yes siree, he was a total jackass.

But heavens forbid, he cared for the princess deeply, so deeply that he knew it in his heart that he loved her already.

Good heavens forbid, but he simply, stupidly have fallen for her.

 Fin