A long time ago in a galaxy... well, the story isn't in a
different galaxy, but it _was_ in ancient China which is pretty damn
far away and it did take place a long time ago. Since this,
technically, isn't the correct beginning in any sense of the word,
let's start over, shall we?

Good. Now, once upon a time, there was a an empire noted
for its prosperity, its peaceful and educated population and its
unusually high number of attractive men with odd but alluring hair.
In this happy land, there was a small but prosperous cottage where
a merchant and his young daughter Miaka lived. The merchant
loved Miaka dearly for she had a good and generous heart, and he
spoiled her with pretty dresses and a great deal more food than one
would think someone of Miaka's size and weight could consume
comfortably, yet which she seemed to have no problems digesting.
They were very happy together. By and by, the merchant took for
wife an attractive but unusually young girl named Yui. One might
speculate on the moral fiber of this merchant, but we will move on.
Two days after their wedding, the merchant got into a horrible
'accident' where he somehow managed to stab himself in the back,
and died. Miaka was left distraught and Yui was left with the deed
to the house and the surrounding land.

Yui was also stuck with Miaka as a dependent, and she was
none too happy about being responsible for a daughter her own age
who seemed to need a lot of attention. She stuck Miaka off as a
scullery maid, and studied in the library while the girl took care of
the house. Miaka wasn't thrilled with her new role, but her father
had told her to respect and like her stepmother, so she worked in
her usual cheerful and charming way in honor of his wishes. She
had the support of her next door neighbors on both sides, Nuriko
and Chichiri, and that helped.

And now, since we have the back story out of the way: Let
this thing rip!


It was a bright, sunshiny day, the kind of day Miaka looked
forward to, and she sang as she got water from the well. She was
careful to be quiet, as Yui tended to yell and throw the nearest hard
object at Miaka when she woke her up. It didn't seem fair to
Miaka, since she would never dream of doing the same to Yui and
she had to wake up much earlier than her new mother in the first
place, but when Miaka had complained, Yui merely compared their
intellects and claimed she needed the time to rest her far superior
brain. So, Miaka was stuck hauling water, along with sweeping up,
starting the fire and cooking breakfast long before Yui rose.

"Sounding good today, Miaka-chan, no da!" said, you
guessed it, Soi.

No, I kid, it was Chichiri, leaning across the fence that
separated their houses, his fishing pole in his hand.

"I'm feeling good today!" Miaka tried to wipe the grime off
her face with her equally dirty hand with no effect on either. She
smiled and continued pumping and singing. "Tokimeki!
no doukesen!"

"How's Yui-san treating you, no da?" Chichiri asked,
knowing and disliking the answer.

She scowled for a brief minute, but smoothed it over with a
laugh. "Oh, Kasan and I are fine! It's nice to have someone my own
age nearby after living with only Papa for so long."

"Maah!" said a purple figure as it stepped outside to feed
the chickens. "That girl's a shrew. She works you to the bone,

"She's not so bad, Nuriko," Miaka defended.

Nuriko humphed again. "Whatever you say. I still wish
you'll take me up on the offer to mess her up a little bit."

"She would end up in a full body cast for a month if you
did, no da," Chichiri pointed out.

"Exactly." Nuriko rubbed his hands in glee. "And don't use

"Oops, no da."

Miaka looked between them, perplexed. "Well, I'd better go
get breakfast started. Bye!"
She ran inside the house.

Chichiri and Nuriko both waved after her. "She's a strong
one, do no da."

"She's got something special about her alright," Nuriko
almost sighed, playing with the end of his long hair.

Chichiri peered at him suspiciously. "You're not in love
with her, no da? Are you?"

Nuriko almost dropped the chicken feed. "Of course not!
This parody takes place way before that story arc. See?" He held up
his braid as proof.

Chichiri nodded. "Ah, no da."

With that mask on, Nuriko had trouble seeing whether the
monk believed him or not. He tried to explain. "I only feel like I
have to protect her, be her companion and advisor. You've got
strangely colored and styled hair, you must feel the same way too."

"What does that have to do with anything, no da?"

"Well, don't you?"

Chichiri turned chibi and disappeared into his kasa,
effectively ending the conversation. Nuriko shrugged and continued
caring for the barnyard animals.


Miaka stirred the water, sweating slightly from close
proximity to the hot, iron pot. She was willing and eager to cook
real meals, but after the first day of eating her cooking Yui
instructed that Miaka would only make instant oatmeal. Odd, that.
Still, the chili peppers she added today would make it taste yummy.

Yui plodded down the stairs, dressed in a long, button down
dress shirt, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. It had been a long
night studying, and she had fallen asleep face first in her book,
dreaming of unlimited power and men with turquoise hair before
she woke up with a crick in her neck and feeling very frustrated.

"Good morning, Kasan!" Miaka trilled.

"Don't call me that," Yui said automatically, pouring a cup
of coffee. "Is breakfast ready yet?"

"Almost, Yui-chan." Miaka scooped out two bowls of
oatmeal and set it on the table. "Let's eat!"

Yui sighed, stirring patterns in her strangely colored and
smelling oatmeal. She briefly wondered if she should kick Miaka
out and invite her friends Suboshi and Nakago to come keep her
company but decided against it. Suboshi always acted funny around
her, Nakago could be creepy at times and neither of them would be
willing to clean. She would just have to put up with Miaka, as
trying as the girl might be and usually was.

She pushed the bowl away, getting up. "I'll skip breakfast
today. Do all your regular chores and polish the suit of armor in the
hall again. It's getting rusty. I'll be in the library. The emperor's
coming home today, and I have to write him a note. Don't come in
unless you're on fire, and only then if it looks light the rest of the
house might catch too."

"Okay, Yui-chan," said Miaka. Yui hadn't eaten today
either. The lengths that girl went to keep her figure. Miaka
shrugged, scooping Yui's oatmeal into her bowl. All the more for

Chapter 2: In which we learn that dividing a small fanfic into
sections is unnecessary.

The illustrious Emperor Hotohori was coming home from
his annual trip around the empire today, and the palace was in a
tizzy. People were cleaning. People were cooking. People were
shining all the mirrors. People were making those little crepe paper
flowers. It was madness.

Indeed not a person in the palace sat still, discounting the
Emperor's heir who was holed up in the treasury, counting and
cataloging the nations wealth. One could not accuse him of not
having priorities.

Presently, Emperor Hotohori arrived in front of the palace
on his rippling, mahogany stallion, (personally selected to match his
hair) to the cheers and catcalls of his people. He greeted them with
the traditional emperor-coming-home speech in his rich, moving
voice, and not an eye in crowd was dry. Roses and the occasional
pair of panties with hastily scribbled phone numbers on the seams
were showered over him as he entered his castle for the first time in
six months.

The first thing the Hotohori did was check with his closest
advisors and ministers, trying to ascertain the condition of his
beloved empire. The second thing he did was to check with his
closest and most trusted hair stylists to see if he had any split ends
from his long, dusty and blow dryer-lacking journey around his
kingdom. The third thing he did was to lock himself in The Big
Room of Mirrors That Do Not Make The Emperor Look Puffy,
and not emerge for a good three days. Finally satisfied that all
affairs were taken care of, he found his most competent and
shortest (not that the two were necessarily related) advisor to ask a
very important question.

"Chiriko, where is Tamahome?"

The boy dipped his tiny head. "Your heir has been in the
treasury for the past... week, I believe, Hotohori-sama. Servants
have been bringing him meals every six hours, so I don't think he

Hotohori nodded and went to go find the boy. Two years
ago, the emperor had made a royal announcement that he did not
plan to marry, as no woman in the kingdom matched his beauty. It
was a wise decision; most of the eligible women in court were
already killing each other for the chance at his hand. Literally. They
were dropping like flies. Because of the mess his availability was
causing, Hotohori announced that his cousin Tamahome and
Tamahome's future children would carry on the family line. As
Tamahome was no slouch in the looks department himself this was
no real improvement, but now at least Hotohori didn't feel
personally responsible.

(There were some rumors that Hotohori and his heir were
more than friends which is why Hotohori made him the heir. They
had no merit, however, and would have resulted in a good punch in
the mouth for the person spreading them if ever Tamahome or
Hotohori heard.)

Tamahome's head jerked up when he heard the solid door
to the treasury open, and he greeted his friend and patron with a
smile and a handshake. "Hotohori-sama!"

"You'll never get tired of this, I take it?" Hotohori said with
a broad sweep of his hand.

Tamahome shrugged. "Money makes the world go round,

"Indeed, my friend, indeed. Still, since you and your family
have been more than comfortably wealthy your entire lives and
never lacked for anything you desire, I wonder at why you think of
money as a symbol of security, safety and love."

Tamahome sweatdropped. "Err..."

"Besides, there are many things easier to equate with love
than money," Hotohori looked at him significantly. "Women, for

Tamahome's sweatdrop quadrupled. "I know you want an
heir, well, another heir, Hotohori-sama, but I want to marry a girl I

Hotohori nodded sagely. "I understand, my friend. True
love is the greatest force in the universe. It can move mountains,
create oceans. It is never to be taken for granted or treated lightly.
All women are goddesses, and the woman you love should be the
queen of the heavens!"

Flowers started blooming in the air behind him and the
Emperor's hair sparkled as it blew in the wind. Fangirls appeared
out of thin air, shouting "Hotohori-sama!" and swooning. Some

"Um... I'm going to take a walk. Bye." Tamahome bolted
before the situation got weirder or the fangirls noticed him.


Miaka never felt good about breaking the rules, so she had
grown very good at bending them. Yui had never stated explicitly
she couldn't go swimming in the forest pool she had found two
weeks ago. True, Yui had told Miaka to finish her chores, but
Miaka would just do them quickly once she got home, and know
one would be the wiser. Miaka didn't like to disobey, but she had
needed a break and had needed a bath. (being a generally cleanly
person when left to her own devices and not bossed around by an
evilish stepmother) This pool supplied both.

She ducked her head fully under then shot up like a dolphin,
feeling the warmth of the sun on her wet skin. She floated on her
back, arms stretched out. This was the life.


When things got difficult or strange Tamahome liked to
walk in the woods near the palace. Tamahome had nothing against
living the life of a wealthy lord (now, prince, he supposed) but it
often grew chaotic. The green and calm of the trees and ferns
soothed something inside him, and he could spend hours just
wandering around, thinking.

This time though, he had an exact destination in mind. He
had seen a family of deer congregate by a small pool, and he would
like to go back and see if he could watch them if they came.
Tamahome shoved his hands in his pockets and searched for it


Everyone knows where this is going, right? Good. Let's just
skip to the good part.

Was this it? Tamahome could hear something like splashing,
and he made his way between a few bushes. He froze and turned an
unusual shade of puce.

Miaka heard rustling and whirled around. She eeped, and
unsuccessfully tried to cover... certain things.

Miaka stared.

Tamahome stared.

Miaka stared.

Tamahome stared harder, his eyes bigger than his head.

Miaka started to glow red.

Tamahome's head made a 'splud' noise when hit by a table.

"PERVERT!!!!" Miaka screamed. She tried to get out of
the water, but realized that wouldn't make her any better off. She
crouched down and bended over.

Tamahome tried to apologize but discovered he couldn't
say vowels anymore. He said. "Grk."

"PERVERT!!!!!!" Miaka repeated, assuming he had
something perverted. She raised the table again.

Tamahome managed to speak by dint of fear. "No! I'm not
a pervert! You don't even have anything a pervert would be
interested in, anyway!"

Miaka's eyes narrowed. "Come again?"

He realized his mistake too late. "No, I meant uh..."

Miaka hit him again. "JERK!!!!"

"No! Look, please," Tamahome wheezed. "I'm sorry I, er...
barged in on you, but I didn't mean to. I didn't know you were
here, honest."

Miaka said, "Hmm..."

Slowly and carefully, Tamahome picked up Miaka's dress
and held it out to her like a peace offering, turning his head away.
Miaka looked at it before she took it, holding the dress over her
chest while she backed onto dry land. She changed quickly and
walked around to Tamahome and tapped him on the shoulder. He
turned around and modified his crouch to a bow.

"I, Tamahome, sincerely and officially apologize for my
careless. If I have caused you any anxiety, I deeply regret it."

"Your apology is accepted," Miaka said, trying to sound
formal. "And I apologize for causing you pain. I was caught... off

And then he stared up into her eyes and she stared down
into his. For a long, painfully beautiful moment, both forgot to

Tamahome stood and kissed her hand, a long, soft kiss.
"What is your name, my lady?"

"Miaka," Miaka said, almost shaking. "My name is Miaka."


They spent hours talking. Just talking, about that and this
and that thing that happened last Tuesday involving the Orange
Feathers. Neither could remember ever being so happy doing
something so mundane. Neither could remember being so happy
doing something that gave them great joy.

"Miaka," Tamahome said presently, oddly nervous.

"Yes, Tamahome?"

"Would you... Would..." he faltered and tried again. "Would
you come back with-"

"Miaka!" called an alto, feminine voice. "Miaka, where are

Her eyes widened. "That sounds like my stepmother! I'm in

"Damn! Your stepmother must be really young."

"She is," Miaka agreed distractedly, standing up. "I have to

Tamahome grabbed her wrist. "Will I see you again?"

"Oh, you will," Miaka said with the confidence of one
young, in love and a bit dim. "I know it. Goodbye!"

She ran off. Tamahome could only stare after her.

Miaka ran aimlessly for a while before a firm hand clamped
onto her back. She squealed and whirled around, ready to take her
punishment for abandoning her chores and leaving so long.

"There you are!" said Nuriko in relief. "I was calling and
calling and you weren't coming!"

Miaka's shoulders drooped. "What is it, Nuriko?"

Nuriko's eyes got big and sparkly and he clapped his hands
together as they walked back to their respective houses. "Hotohori-
sama is in the palace again!"

"I know that," said Miaka, uncharacteristically sour.

Nuriko picked up on it and gave her a funny look. "Are you

"Fine," Miaka said. "I'm just worried about what Yui will
do to me for being gone for so long."

Nuriko made a sympathetic noise. "Cheer up, Hotohori-
sama came back! He's so handsome!"

"You know he swore off women altogether," Miaka said
with a touch of irritation. "And he was never interested in men."

Nuriko was downcast for a minute, then shrugged. "Well,
there's always his heir. They say Tamahome-sama's pretty cute

Miaka stopped dead in her tracks. "Tamahome?"


"Tamahome? TAMAHOME!"

Tamahome snapped out of a daydream involving Miaka,
strawberries and a good bottle of champagne. "Eh?"

Hotohori almost looked impatient. If it was possible for
Hotohori to look anything but suave, that is. "Were you listening to
a word I said?"

Tamahome propped his chin on his hands. "Not really, no."

"Honestly, what has gotten into you lately?"

"It should be the other way around," Tamahome muttered.

"Come again?"

Tamahome sighed, lethargic in his misery. To have just
found his dream girl only to lose her again. He didn't know where
she lived. Hell, he didn't even know her last name. Just her first.
Miaka. It sounded like bells. He could almost sing about it...

But he didn't, and everyone in the castle felt strangely
relieved for no reason they could understand.

Tamahome sighed again and shook his head. "I'm sorry,
Hotohori-sama. What were you saying?"

"I was saying that I am throwing a ball tomorrow,"
Hotohori repeated for the seventh time. "Maybe you'll meet a nice
girl there."

A ball? Tamahome perked up. "Will this be one of those
balls where every eligible woman in the Empire is invited?"

"No," said Hotohori, a wee bit confused. "That would be
very expensive. I was planning on inviting the court women only-"

Tamahome grabbed his collar, a strange red symbol glowing
on his forehead. "I Said Will Every Eligible Woman In The Land Be

"Uh... yes?" Hotohori guessed.

"Great," Tamahome practically grinned his way out of the
courtroom, a lilt in his step.

"What was that about?" Hotohori asked the empty room,
managing to regain his dignity faster than virtually anybody else


Miaka managed to return home and finish her tasks before
Yui came downstairs. She didn't do them particularly well, as she
was 99.9897% absorbed with something much more important. She
didn't even hear to doorbell until the fourth ring and then, in her
haste, tripped over her own feet and lay moaning on the floor.

Yui gracefully skipped down the stairs and snorted at her
daughter's predicament. "Clutz."

Miaka tried to protest, but it came out more as a moan.

Yui opened the door and blinked, seeing nothing. A small
voice cleared its throat, and she looked down at a very small boy
wearing a palace uniform. "Yes?"

Chiriko cleared his throat again and extended a crisp, white
envelope. "By order of his highness, Hotohori-sama, I am to invite
every eligible and preferably attractive maiden to the ball he is
giving tonight at six o'clock. That is all." He scurried away.

Yui called a thank you to his back and shut the door,
carefully opening the envelope. "A ball. How exciting." Then she
read the invitation itself and blushed a cherry red.

Miaka had gotten herself up and peered over her shoulder.
"What is it, Yui-chan?"

It was a 8x10 color glossy of Tamahome lounging in the
palace garden without his shirt. A slip of paper next to it

Single and Available!
Looking for a Mate!
Can Cook, Clean
Filthy Rich!
Will be at the Ball Tonight!

Miaka had only two thoughts. 1) Boy, does he look hot!
And 2) It _is_ that Tamahome!
She promptly fell on the floor, hit her head on the stone and passed

Yui shrugged. It wasn't her problem.

Miaka woke up a little later, head fuzzy. Still, she was able
to walk to Yui's room, knock on the door and peep her head in
without waiting for a response.

Yui was going through her closet. "What do you want? I'm
trying to pick out something to wear for the ball tonight, so make it

"Um... can I go too?" Miaka asked.

Yui responded flatly, "No."

"Why not?" Miaka whined.

"You don't have a decent dress to wear," Yui said the first
thing that came in her head.

"Can I borrow one of yours?"


"Oh," Miaka thought of another tactic. "If I can find a dress
to wear, can I go?"

Yui stopped rummaging and gave Miaka an evil, calculating
look. "Sure. If you can find a dress, of course you can come."

Miaka brightened like a lamp. "Thank you so much, Yui-
chan! You're the best stepmother I ever had!" Before Yui could
point out what was off about that statement, Miaka had vanished
down the stairs.

Yui debated whether or not she should cackle evilly,
decided it would waste too much time and went back to finding the
perfect dress to impress Tamahome-sama.


"Of course you can borrow one of my dre... my sister's
dresses," Nuriko said, clapping his hands together with delight.

Miaka's eyes sparkled. Literally. "Really, Nuriko!?"

"Of course!" Nuriko said, already dragging Miaka to his
closet. "They'll probably be a bit big on you, but if we do your hair
and makeup just right no one will notice. You'll be the belle of the
ball, Miaka!"

"Thank you," Miaka managed to get out before she was in
the brutal process of a makeover.


Yui was resplendent in yellow and green silk. She glided
smoothly to the carriage she had rented for the night when she
heard a shrill cry behind her. "Yui! Yui-chan! Wait for meeee!"

Miaka was tripping over the hem of her purple dress as she
ran, but she was surprisingly lovely with a string of faux pearls and
her hair in a twisted off her neck. She caught up to Yui, breathless
but pleased and proud. "I found one, Yui-chan!"

Yui raised an eyebrow. "So you did."

Miaka nodded and bounced on her heels. "Let's go!"

"I'm going," Yui corrected. "You are a scullery maid. You
are staying home." And before Miaka could respond, Yui grabbed
her sleeve and ripped it off.

Miaka could only stand, openmouthed and hurt, while Yui
ripped off the other shoulder and tore the bodice down the front
and yanked the clip out of Miaka's hair. It blew free in the wind as
Yui's carriage rode off without another word. Miaka stared after it
for a full five minutes before she ran, sobbing, to her room.

She flung herself on the bed and cried with every ounce of
emotion she had hidden or forgotten since her father's death and
planned to cry until she choked on her tears.

"Oi, Oi. Isn't that just *^*(#%# typical."
Startled out of her tears, she was left only hiccuping
slightly. Miaka wiped her nose on her sleeve and rolled over on the
bed. She blinked.

Standing at the foot was a young man with bright orange
hair, fangs and a very irritated expression. The last was probably
because he was wearing a white and pink sparkly hoop dress with a
pirate wench bodice, complete with matching wand and tiara. He
kept tugging on his skirt and tapping his foot impatiently.

"What...?" Miaka could only said.

"I _said_," the man said. "Isn't that just ^#^*&^%( typical.
Every time I meet up with one of you @%^ damsels in distress,
you're always ballin yer eyes out about some lost love or someone
said boo to you or some *&%*&^%. Women. You make me
(^()_% sick."

Miaka blinked slowly and deliberately, and said the only
thing she could think of to say. "I like your earrings."

That stopped him in mid-tirade. "Yeah. Anyway, I'm
Tasuki, yer fairy godmother."

"But you're a man," Miaka pointed out.

"That's what I $#@^ said!" Tasuki yelled. "But do they
care? (*^&% unions."

While she was puzzling that out, they heard the door open


"Miaka-chan, are you alright, no da?"

"We heard you crying and..." The door flew open and
Chichiri and Nuriko barged in. Both snarled and made to attack
when they saw Tasuki.

"No, No! It's okay! Yui ripped up my dress so I was crying,
but he's my fairy godmother and everything will be okay now!"
Miaka explained.

They both stood aback. "Really, no da?"

"I don't know. He could just be some pervert pretending to
be your fairy godmother," Nuriko said dubiously.

Tasuki snorted. "Yeah, you would know all about that, gay

Of course, he was immediately punched to the far wall
where he sank into a pink and white and orange glittery poof. "Hey,
you &$^#! That hurt!"

"Don't call me a &$^#!, you *%&%"

"He's telling the truth, no da," Chichiri interrupted. "His chi
says he a magical helper being, no da."

"As I was gonna say before we were so ^%& rudely
interrupted," Tasuki said with hurt dignity, smoothing out his skirt.
"I'm gonna make it so the little lady here can go to the ball."

Miaka sat up, hopeful but afraid to be hopeful. "Really?
You will?"

Tasuki crossed his arms. "If I'm stuck being a $#*( fairy
godmother, I'm gonna do my job right. Follow me outside, please."
He flounced down the stairs, muttering obscenities.

Assembled in front of the house, he adjusted his tiara so it
wouldn't pinch and addressed the three of them. "First thing she's
gonna need is a nice dress," he sighed. "&%^, I'm actually getting
into this gig. *&%"

"Um... a dress?" Miaka prompted.

"Yeah, yeah." Tasuki waved his wand back and forth, and
Miaka was in a dress the color of blood and fire made of layer and
layer of the finest silk and gauze. A diamond glittered at her throat
and her hair was styled like a crown. On her feet were delicate glass
slippers. Miaka whirled around. Nuriko oohed appreciatively.

"_I_ could have done that, no da," Chichiri muttered.

"Hey, who's the eccentric neighbor and who's the fairy
godmother here?" Tasuki demanded. "Next, we gotta make the
&$(& carriage. Anyone got a pumpkin?"

The three of them looked at each other and shook their
heads. Tasuki slapped his hand against his forehead. "Again. (^*%(
typical. Whattya make a carriage with without a pumpkin an
a'course they don't have one. &&)$ mortals," He looked around
and settled on Chichiri. "Hey, monk. Give me that hat."

Chichiri clutched his kasa. "No, na no da! This is a magic
hat itself! I won't let you make it a carriage, no da!"

Miaka tugged at his sleeve. "Chichiri, please just this once
could you do it? For me?"

Chichiri looked at her and her big trembling eyes and
relented. "Oh, fine, no da. Just be careful with it, no da,"
Downright sulky, he handed his kasa over.

"Bingo," Tasuki said, and tapped it lightly with his wand.
Nothing happened. "What the &^$^#??"

Chichiri was smug. "I told you, no da. It's a magic hat. It's
protected by wards, no da."

Nuriko looked at him doe eyed. "Chichiri..."

"Da! Alright. I'll lift them, no da. You both owe me, no da."
And the kasa was now a golden and red carriage, complete with
white horses.

"Wow," breathed Miaka.

Even Tasuki looked faintly pleased with his work. "Okay,
one final step. One of you guy's the driver, the other the
liverwhatchamacallit. You know, that guy. Fight it out between the
two of ya. I don't really care." He waved his arms and Chichiri and
Nuriko were dressed in scarlet uniform with gold trim. "Okay,
everything's set and I'll be on my way."

Impulsively, Miaka reached up and gave him a hug. "Thank
you. For everything."

Tasuki blushed faintly. "Well, there's one more thing. Ya
gotta get home before midnight. That's when the spell stops."

"Well, that's stupid!" Nuriko put his hands on his
immaculately clothed hips. "None of the fun stuff happens before
midnight, you dumb fairy."

Tasuki snickered. "If that ain't a case of the pot calling the
kettle black..."

"No, it's fine," Miaka said before anyone could kill anyone
else. "Thank you again, Tasuki. Now, off to Tamahome! And the
ball too, I guess."

She started walking to the carriage and promptly fell on her
face. "Eugghh... it's hard to walk in glass shoes."

"You probably should have given her sneakers, no da."

"What did I say about anachronisms?"

Tasuki shook his head. "You're all a bunch of *&%*$
weirdos," he said before he disappeared.


Tamahome tugged self-consciously at his jacket, scanning
the ballroom impatiently, failing to see what he needed to see. His
head was pounding with worry. Was she coming? If she wasn't,
why not? Had she found a more attractive love interest? He looked
down at himself. Naah, unless she had somehow managed to hook
up with Hotohori in the past four hours. Something red on the
staircase caught his attention from the corner of his eye, and he
could do nothing but stare.
She was a vision, and the crowd cleared like a wave for her
as she walked by. Tamahome could see she was a little unsteady, a
little self-conscious. He knew everyone else in the room would just
see her as demure. It didn't matter, she was an angel, and as he
stepped up to take her hand, Tamahome realized he never wanted
to be apart from her again.


"Move your head! I can't see!"

"I won't be able to see if I move my head, no da!"

"You've been looking for a long time anyway!" Nuriko and
Chichiri were wrestling for a spot in front of the window, trying to
catch glimpses of Miaka as she whirled around with the prince.

"Both of you won't be able ta see if ya keep acting like
&^*% morons," Tasuki was leaning against the carriage, skirt
blocking it from view.

"Tasuki-san!" Nuriko said, surprised. "What are you doing
back here?"

Tasuki shrugged, looking uncomfortable. "Well, I got no
other jobs, and I got bored so... how much time they got left?"

"Two hours, no da."

Tasuki poked his head in the window too. "So that's the
guy, huh? Looks like a ^&#^ to me."

Nuriko swatted him playfully, causing a bruise that would
last for several weeks. Tasuki bared a fang at him.

"Tasuki-san," Nuriko purred. "Do you want to go for a
walk around the courtyard with me?"

Tasuki shrugged an okay, and Nuriko dragged him off.


If this was a dream, it was the best dream Miaka ever had.
Even better than the one where her father was alive and every
single good thing to eat was being fed to her by cute... uh, never

Anyway, it was wonderful. Nuriko was right, she was the
belle of this ball. Everyone gave her admiring and envious glances,
she got to eat as much as she wanted and Tamahome... Oh,

They were walking outside now, holding hands in complete,
comfortable silence. Miaka thought she had never been happier.

"Miaka," he whispered.


"Miaka..." he hesitated. "Please, I want to know, will you.
Will you...?"


"Will you... tell me where you live?"

Well, that killed the mood.

"Yeah," said Miaka, gruff and sulkily. "Come back with me
to the carriage. I'm sure there's a piece of paper and a pen I can use
in there."

She stalked off, leaving Tamahome with the impression that
he had done something wrong but with no idea what. Alas, a
symptom common of the Clueless Male. (tm)

At the carriage, they found Chichiri alone and dozing off.
The latter was hard to notice at first, with the mask and all. Miaka
shook his shoulder lightly. "Hey, Chichiri, where's Nuriko?"

Chichiri yawned. "He's making out with Tasuki, no da. You
crazy kids having fun?"

"Um, yeah," Miaka said, finding a pad and a pen and
scribbling down her address. "Do you know what time it is?"

Chichiri was about to answer when the bells chiming the
hour interrupted him nicely. Miaka's eyes got very, very wide and
she thrust the paper at Tamahome and scuttled into the carriage.

Nuriko came bolting out of the underbrush, tucking his shirt
into his pants. "Did you hear-"

"Of course, no da! We have to go back right now, no da!"

"Miaka..." said a rather dazed Tamahome.

"Tamahome," she said, touching his hand gently through the
window while Chichiri tried to get the horses attention. "I'm sorry
about this. I lo-"

They were off like a flash by the third bell, and again
Tamahome was left staring after her. Something glittered on the
road and he bent down. One of Miaka's glass slippers had fallen in
their mad dash to get away. He picked it up gently, holding it in one
hand, the piece of paper in the other and staring between the two.


The carriage had regressed into a kasa, along with the
disappearance of all their nice clothes by the end of the twelfth
chime. They slogged the rest of the way home on foot, in silence.
Miaka had enough time to get home, clean up and catch a few
hours of sleep before she started her morning chores. She supposed
she could consider herself lucky.

Yui woke up late with bags under her eyes. She had had a
lovely time at the ball and danced with a lot of handsome men. Not
Tamahome-sama like she planned, a foreign, princess in a red dress
had snagged him up, but she was still glad she went. The doorbell
rang, then rang again. Miaka must have been downstairs cooking
breakfast in the kitchen, so Yui got it herself, yawning hugely.

Tamahome stood in full formal gear with a bouquet of red
roses on her doorstep, looking at a little piece of paper in his hand.
Yui's jaw dropped to the floor and was soon followed by her
tongue and eyes.

"Good morning, miss," he said pleasantly, formally. "Is
Miaka in?"

You could have knocked Yui over with a light breeze. In
fact, a light breeze wafted through the open door and Yui toppled
like a Jenga game.

"Are you alright, miss?" he asked, concerned.

"Grk," said Yui.

At that point, Miaka walked up the stairs with a basket of
laundry in her hand. Seeing Tamahome, she dropped it with a thud
and ran over to him, crying his name.

"Miaka!" he cried back, stepping over Yui to embrace her.
Yui looked up in a daze and saw a little flash coming from his
pocket. Light reflecting off a little glass slipper like the ones that
princess was wearing that Yui admired last night. That princess,
with the same hair and eye colors as Miaka...

Oh no.

Yui stood up and stomped over to where the lovers were...
embracing, grabbed Miaka's arm and pulled her away. If she
couldn't get Tamahome, no one could get Tamahome. Any of this
sounding familiar?

"Miaka is _my_ ward," she snarled. "And you don't have
the right to take her from my house without my permission."

"Yui-chan!" Miaka said in surprise.

"She's your _ward_?" Tamahome asked. "But aren't you
two the same age?"

"So?" Yui shot back. "She's still my ward, it's perfectly
legal, and there's nothing you can do about it!"


Tamahome began to look worried.


Tasuki had stopped by Nuriko's house when the purple
haired sei... um helpful neighbor had gotten home. The two of them
were currently playing footsy.. (Of course they were doing more
than that, you fool! We just need to keep the kid friendly rating.
Although the chances of that went staggering down the lane when
they were introduced as a couple in the first place. Um... anyway)

Nuriko suddenly sat upright, causing Tasuki much
discomfort. "Oh no! Miaka's in trouble!"

"You'll be in trouble if you don't get the $(*&^% back

Nuriko blinked at him with wide, hopeful eyes. "You're her
fairy godmother. Can't you help?"

"If I help her, will you come back and let me finish?"

Emphatic nodding.

Tasuki sighed. "What the (*^(^ do you want me to do?"

"Um... send Yui to Alaska?"

"Okay, done."

"Goody! Let's get started again!"

"Start?! &$&^"

We'll leave them alone.


It was odd. One minute they had all been arguing and Miaka
looked ready to cry, when Yui mysteriously vanished. Tamahome
blinked at the spot where she once stood. "That was odd."

"Yes," said Miaka. "Tamahome?"


"Why did you come after me?"

"Isn't it obvious?" Tamahome touched a strand of her hair.
"I love you."

Miaka twisted her hands in her apron. "It doesn't bother
you that I have no money?"

Tamahome gagged. "You... you don't have... any..."

"No, wait," she said. "Since Yui's gone, I'm the only holder
of my father's estate. I've got plenty of money!"

"Great!" Tamahome said, considerably relieved. He held her
and they kissed. And kissed. And... we'll leave them alone too.

Anyway, Tamahome and Miaka married in a large ceremony
several months later which was very expensive (Hotohori insisted)
and had a lot of cake. (Miaka insisted) The bride was ravishing in a
red wedding gown, and though it was thought peculiar that she was
given away by two men only a few years older than she, the new
princess would have it no other way.

Nuriko and Chichiri were invited to live at the castle and
moved in shortly after. Tasuki was invited to, but declined, claiming
job difficulties. He did often visit though, Nuriko's private
chamber's especially.

Yui set up and ran a successful gold mining business in
Alaska. Hey, the girl's got a knack.

Miaka and Tamahome remained madly in love for the rest of
their lives, and together they ruled the kingdom wisely and well. So,
naturally, they all lived Happily Ever After.