AN: That's right people, a Negima fic! They are few and far between. Now, this is Setsuna/Konoka completely and unrestricted, which means girl/girl love. If this offends anyone, feel free to walk away. Don't say I didn't warn you and do something dumb like flame me for it. Not that i expect many reviews, since I doubt manypeople are reading Negima fanfiction, and that ones that are have probably already read this on the Mahora forum...

Disclaimer: Ah if I only owned Negima. The things I would have Setsuna and Konoka do...So sad that I don't.

"You'll get used to it in time" Headmaster Konoe said as he shuffled some papers, refusing to meet his granddaughter's eyes. "He's a good man, strong in both body and magic, and a fine specimen indeed to carry on the Konoe family." He paused, as if waiting for a response. When none came, he opened up a drawer and proceeded to fiddle with the contents, "And it's not like we're forcing you right away child, you will still have a good four or six years…" A quivering gasp cut him off and he looked up just in time to see his granddaughter run out through his office door. The Headmaster sighed and shut the drawer, laying his chin on his steepled fingers. "I am truly sorry Konoka, but it must be done." He muttered to the empty air.

Setsuna leaned against the wall besides the door to the headmaster's office and idly surveyed her surroundings, automatically checking for signs of trouble even as she wondered what was taking so long. When Konoka had mentioned that she had a meeting with her grandfather, Setsuna had of course accompanied her, rather than play cards with Asuna, Negi and the others. Konoka had protested, saying Setsuna should stay and have fun, but Setsuna insisted, and as always Konoka welcomed the young swordswomen's presence with a cheery grin. Setsuna couldn't help but form a tiny smile of her own when thinking about Konoka's world-brightening grin. It was still so odd, talking to Konoka, having fun with her, and just being with her instead of watching from the shadows. The fact that Konoka accepted her, accepted everything about her, and even wanted to be in her company both gave a twill of pleasure in Setsuna's heart and a painful jolt to her stomach. She would have been happy protecting Konoka from the shadows, but being in her light gave Setsuna more joy than she thought she would ever deserve.

So Setsuna waited patiently, and watched the sun through the window as it was just beginning to set, basking in the tranquility of the scene. The slam of the door opening broke the spell and Setsuna was instantly alert, one hand reached up to grip the hilt of the sword strapped to her back as she spun to face the office door, expecting anything from ninja to demon. She jerked back as Konoka raced past without even seeing her, like a whirlwind of skirts, long brown hair, and…tears? The flash of watery glint on Konoka's cheeks stunned Setsuna like nothing else could, and she stood for a moment in shock, torn between wanting to rush to her side and comfort her, and the urge to seek out whomever had hurt her and evict upon them a slow and torturous death. The urge to comfort was stronger however, and Setsuna shook herself out of her paralysis to race after her reason for living.

It wasn't long until Setsuna found Konoka, sitting on the fountain rail in the courtyard, her face buried in her hands. While the desire to take away Konoka's pain was stronger than Setsuna's desire to breathe, the young samurai stopped short, unsure of what to do. Setsuna took a hesitant step forward; her arm reached out as if to touch her, but not quite daring too.

"Ojousama?" she called tentatively. Konoka jerked her face out of her hands and stared at Setsuna with red-rimmed eyes. Then with a sob she hurled herself off the stone railing. It took Setsuna a moment to realize that Konoka was hurling herself at her and braced herself just as they collided. Konoka flung her arms around Setsuna's neck and wept as if her heart had broken. Setsuna's cheeks burned as Konoka buried her face into Setsuna's shoulder, but she still wrapped her arms around Konoka's waist. The young samurai was furious at the Headmaster, for he had to be the cause of this, and at the world for letting someone as pure as the girl Setsuna held to bear such pain, but the hand that stroked Konoka's hair was gentle, and Setsuna softly rocked Konoka from side to side, waiting for the tears to slow. Soon the storm of tears slowed to a trickle, then stopped all together and Setsuna released her hold on Konoka and stepped back, her cheeks still glowing. Konoka didn't seem to notice Setsuna's hasty retreat and wiped her eyes on her arm and sniffled. Setsuna hastily dug into the pocket of her school uniform and pulled out a handkerchief.

"Here Ojousama" she offered, holding it out to the healer.

"Thanks" Konoka sighed and took the handkerchief, wiping her eyes and nose. Setsuna watched with a worried frown as Konoka rubbed at her red-rimmed eyes.

"I'm sorry" Konoka mumbled around the handkerchief, "I got you're uniform all wet." Setsuna shook her head,

"It's just water. There are more important things" Setsuna watched the other girl for a moment,

"Come on, let's sit at the fountain." Konoka nodded, stuffing the handkerchief into her pocket while she walked with Setsuna back to the fountain rail, then flopped down on the cold stone. Setsuna unstrapped her sword from her back and leaned it against the fountain, easily within her reach, then sat down besides Konoka.

"Tell me," was all she said. Konoka brought her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around her legs, then pressed her face into her knees.

"I'm getting married."

Setsuna's eyes widened as all the blood drained from her face. Her hands started to tremble, until she clenched them into fists. Konoka continued on, her eyes still tightly shut.

"Not right away of course. Not for another four years at least and Grandpa says maybe not even for another six."

"Have you met the man?" Setsuna's voice was strangled and she found it hard to breathe.

"uh-huh." Konoka's arms tightened around her knees. Setsuna swallowed hard.

"Do you…does he…what's he like?" Setsuna choked out, gripping the stone beneath her so hard her knuckles turned white. Konoka squeezed her legs again, and then she flung them out and jumped off the fountain, twirled around to face her guardian, and cried out,

"Oh Secchan! He's so old! He's gotta be at least thirty, and I know Asuna's into that sort of thing but I'm not! He's really big and really tall and I feel like some sort of dwarf when I stand next to him. We have absolutely nothing in common and he talks to me like he doesn't expect me to understand half of the things he says!" Konoka collapsed back down next to Setsuna and took a deep breathe, letting it out in a sigh.

"I suppose he's nice enough, and handsome in a way. I know I could be a lot worse off but…" Konoka's looked at Setsuna as her eyes once again filled with tears,

"I don't love him, Secchan! And I know I never will!" Konoka's lower lip began to tremble, "I don't know what I want to do with my life, but I do know I want to live it! I want to travel, explore who I am and what I could be! And yes get married too, but to the one I love! Not the one "best suited for the family"! When I marry him…." Konoka closed her eyes as two tears, reflecting the light of the setting sun, slid like fire down her cheeks.

Her words came out as a choked off sob, "When I marry him, I'll be trapped." The hold she had on herself broke and the tears flowed like twin waterfalls.

This time Setsuna didn't hesitate and reached out to pull the weeping girl to her. Konoka leaned into the embrace, turning her head into Setsuna's shoulder as she sobbed softly. The sun dipped below the horizon as if hiding from the pain shared between the two girls, and the stars slowly came out, blinking as if they too held back tears. Held in Setsuna's warm embrace and drained from the onslaught of tears, Konoka fell into a blissfully oblivious sleep. Setsuna shifted the slumbering girl, slowly and gently so as not to wake her, until she was lying across her lap. Then Setsuna unbuttoned her own school vest and draped it across Konoka, who sighed and snuggled against Setsuna's leg. Setsuna blushed, feeling the familiar twist in her stomach that happened whenever she was close to Konoka, along with the rapid beating of her heart, but made no other attempt to move her. Instead Setsuna leaned back and looked up at the stars. She didn't know how long she sat there, staring at the heavens as if an answer could be found written among the stars. It was only when Konoka shifted that Setsuna broke from her meditation. Looking down she saw that Konoka's serene expression of slumber had altered to one of pain. Her eyebrows were pulled down, her mouth twisted to a frown, her eyes flicking rapidly beneath their lids. Her soft hands were clenched around Setsuna's skirt.

"Please, no…" Konoka whimpered in her sleep, "I don't….trapped…."

"Even in sleep it haunts you" Setsuna whispered, and before she could think, Setsuna had reached out to stroke Konoka's face, easing back a strand of hair and trailing a finger down her cheek, soft as silk. Konoka's fist loosened as her face eased back into blissful slumber and Setsuna closed her eyes and made a decision. She had taken a vow when she was six years old, and she intended to keep it. Reaching out, she snatched up her sword and strapped it to her back, then slid one arm underneath Konoka's legs, the other curved behind her neck. Swiftly Setsuna stood, lifting Konoka so that the healer's head slid to the curve of Setsuna's shoulder, as Setsuna shifted her arm around Konoka's back. So quick, that the vest never slid from Konoka's chest, and Konoka's only response was to nuzzle into Setsuna's warmth, still fast asleep. Setsuna looked down at the most important person in her life and smiled softly.

"I will always protect you….. Kono-chan" she whispered. Then she was off, bounding silently through the night.

"I'm starting to get worried Asuna-san. Shouldn't they have gotten back by now?" Negi asked as he stood by the desk in their dorm room and clutched his wand. Asuna propped her chin on her hands and chewed on the tip of her pencil, her eyes closed and her head slightly turned away from Negi.

"I told you before, there's nothing to worry about! Nothing's gonna happen to Konoka, not with Setsuna-san there! Besides, they probably just went out for ice-cream or something. You know how Konoka gets, she probably just lost track of time. And Setsuna-san's not gonna remind her if Konoka is having fun." But it is getting awfully late…Asuna thought and continued to chew on her pencil.

"But it's already ten o'clock! Setsuna-san wouldn't stay out that late! Not with Konoka-san with her!" Negi exclaimed as he looked at the clock. Asuna gripped the table with her hands and stared at her homework, biting down harder on the eraser. Chamo-kun leaped onto the desk and took out a cigarette, smoking thoughtfully,

"That samurai is only one girl after all. They could've been ambushed on the way to the Headmaster's office. If Konoka-no-neesan was kidnapped, there's no telling what Setsuna-no-neesan would do, she may even go….." he paused as Asuna and Negi inched a little closer in anticipation, "kamikaze!"

"WHAT?" Both Negi and Asuna cried.

"Okay! That's it! I'm going after them!" Negi shouted, and ran for the door.

"Hold on!" Asuna growled, reaching out and grabbing the collar of his sleep shirt.

"Asuna-san! Let me go!" Negi yelled, as he tried to wiggle out of Asuna's grip.

"You're not going anywhere with just that vermin ermine, not at this time of night. I doubt anything like that has happened anyway. I'm telling you they just lost track of time!" Asuna set her pencil down and stood up, biting her lip uneasily, "But I'll go with you just in case."

"Asuna-san!" Negi cried happily as Asuna let go of him and snatched the cigarette from Chamo-kun.

"What did I tell you about these?" she grumbled as she snuffed it out. Chamo-kun leaped onto Negi's shoulder and pumped his furry fist.

"Alright team! Operation Save Konoka-no-neesan-" a light tap on the door interrupted the trio's "Mission Start" posing. Asuna walked over and swung open the door, letting out a sigh of relief when she saw Setsuna, then gasping in surprise when she saw whom the samurai carried.

"Setsuna-san! What happened! Was it-"

"Shh!" Setsuna cut her off and whispered, "It's alright, she's just asleep. May I come in?"

"Oh! Yeah, of course." Asuna stepped out of the way and watched as Setsuna nodded to Negi and Chamo, who were staring at her with an equal amount of surprise, then walk over to the beds, and gently lay Konoka on the bottom bunk. Setsuna lifted Konoka's head slightly and placed a pillow under it, then pulled the blankets over the girl.

Dang, Konoka sleeps like a rock. Asuna thought, bemused. After Setsuna had finished tucking Konoka in, she reached out to retrieve her vest that Konoka had clung to in her sleep. When Setsuna tugged on it however, Konoka tightened her grip and mumbled something, pulling it close to her face and snuggling into it like it was a teddy bear. Setsuna felt her cheeks get red again and quickly let go of the vest and turned away. She met the eyes of Chamo, Negi, and lastly Asuna, and then motioned with her head toward the door. They stepped out into the hallway, with Setsuna following, gently closing the door behind her, her eyes shut in thought.

"Is it okay to talk out here?" Asuna asked uneasily, glancing suspiciously at the other dorm doors.

"Yes, everyone is asleep. I have Shikigami in each room, remember." Setsuna answered, as she hooked her sword, secure in its case, around her shoulder.

"Setsuna-san, what is going on? Konoka-san isn't the type of person who just falls asleep while they're out!" Negi clutched his wand with both hands and looked up at Setsuna, his eyes full of worry.

"Not only that, but Konoka's face was so pale, and there were tear-streaks on her cheeks." Asuna added frowning, with her hands on her hips. Setsuna shook her head and opened her eyes. She was unsurprised that they had both noticed something was amiss. For all of being ten-years-old, Negi was a wizard, one who acted incredibly adult-like, and a teacher at that. And with Asuna and Konoka living together for such a long time, it was only natural that they'd be aware of each other. Setsuna was very thankful for this, for the more they were aware of Konoka, the less Setsuna would have to worry.

"I'm sorry, but it's not for me to tell you. Ojousama must be the one to talk to you when she wakes up." She replied.

Asuna snorted, "Well it can't be mortal danger then, and if that's the case, I'm going back in. I've got a ton of homework to finish since certain people wouldn't let me work." She glared at Negi and Chamo, both of whom had similar sheepish looks. She reached for the door, grumbling,

"Kamikaze my a-"

"Wait! Asuna-san" Setsuna exclaimed, and then looked away as Asuna turned around. Setsuna could feel that accursed blush creep up her cheeks, and for a moment she wondered why she could control every fiber of her body except for that damn blush.

"Well? What's up?" Asuna asked, a trifle impatient. Setsuna closed her eyes and took a deep breath. When she opened them, her eyes were clear. She pinned both Negi and Asuna with her gaze and Negi was reminded of how her eyes looked when she had jumped in front of Konoka to take the arrow meant for her.

"I have a favor to ask of you," she looked between Asuna and Negi, "both of you." Setsuna took a step forward, always looking straight into either Asuna's or Negi's eyes.

"There is something that I have to do, and I don't know how long it will take. But I…won't be able to watch over Konoka-ojousama. Please" Setsuna kneeled down on one knee and looked up at both Negi and Asuna. "Could you protect her, guard her, in my stead? For as long as I am unable?"

A drop of sweat dripped down the side of Negi's head as he stared down at Setsuna in bewilderment, he had never been knelt to before in his life, and the feeling was more than a little unnerving.

"For Pete's sake Setsuna-san! Get up!" Asuna shouted, yanking at Setsuna's arm.

"No! Not until you promise me!" Setsuna reached down with her other hand to sink her fingers into the hallway rug in a death grip.

"Setsuna-san." Asuna and Setsuna stopped their vicious tug-a-war as Negi knelt down in front of Setsuna and put a hand on her shoulder.

"I promise, I won't let Konoka-san out of my sight until you come back." Negi stated solemnly. Asuna snorted again and crossed her arms across her chest,

"Honestly, of course we'll keep an eye on her. Nothing's gonna happen to Konoka while I'm around." Setsuna stood up, helping Negi to his feet as well, and then bowed to them both.

"I thank you, from the bottom of my heart."

"Setsuna-san, what are you going to be doing?" Negi asked, as Setsuna turned to go. She looked at him, with a sad little half smile, and shook her head.

"Wonderful, more secrets." Asuna muttered as Setsuna left, heading back to her own room. Chamo-kun, who had been watching silently until now, spoke up,

"It's gotta be something huge going on if Setsuna-no-neesan is willing to leave Konoka-no-neesan to the two of you. I bet you it has something to do with the reason they were out so late."

Negi shook his head, "We won't know until the morning, when Konoka-san wakes up." He sighed and placed a hand over his heart. "I feel so honored, I had no idea Setsuna-san trusted us so much." Asuna frowned at him,

"What do you mean?" Negi looked up at her with a grin.

"Setsuna-san is trusting us with the thing she treasures most!" He thumped his staff lightly on the floor and pumped his fist, "I'm going to do everything I can to make sure she doesn't regret it."

"Okay now, come on." Asuna opened the door and ushered Negi inside, "we won't be able to do anything if we don't get some sleep." Asuna glanced back over her shoulder where Setsuna had disappeared around the corner, a feeling of unease creeping into her heart. Chamo had a point. The situation would have to be pretty dire to pry Setsuna away from Konoka, and something about that look in Setsuna's eyes….Asuna shook her head and shut the door firmly behind her. Setsuna was more than capable in taking care of herself, and nothing could keep her away from Konoka for very long. The best thing to do was to not worry about it and instead get some of that homework done. They would all find out what was going on tomorrow.

Setsuna continued on down the hallway, past her dorm room, and onward toward the exit. She had decided, and it was better to start now, while everyone was asleep, instead of having to dodge questions tomorrow. Even though it was late, Setsuna decided to check the Headmaster's office before heading to his living quarters. It would be better to check it now, just in case. Setsuna was glad she did, for as she reached his office, she saw that light was coming from the crack at the bottom of the door. Setsuna stopped in front of the double doors and took a deep breathe, letting it out slowly. Then she reached out her hand and knocked lightly on the door.

"Come in Setsuna-kun" Headmaster Konoe called from inside, and Setsuna walked in, unsurprised that the Headmaster had known it was her. She stood in front of his desk, her hands held tightly behind her, between her back and her sword, standing straight and rigid. He looked up as she came in; putting some papers he had been holding down on top of his desk. He leaned back in his chair,

"I wondered when you would get here." He sighed, and sat forward, his eyes glinting under his bushy eyebrows. "I suppose you want to know why she's being forced to do this." Setsuna nodded. The Headmaster sighed again and stood up, turning his back to Setsuna as he stared out the glass wall into the night sky.

"As you know, Konoka is the strongest magic user that has ever come from the Konoe family. You also know that both the Kansai and Kanto Magic Associations feel that Konoka should be part of their own organization and theirs alone." He paused and looked over his shoulder at Setsuna, "Wars have been started over less, child, as I'm sure you well know." Setsuna nodded again, her face remaining expressionless. The Headmaster sighed and turned back to the window,

"I have always felt that this feud between the Kanto and Kansai was not only stupid, but also detrimental to Japan. Both I and Konoka's father have been trying to find a way to unite the two Associations, but alas" The Headmaster shook his head, "while we may be the leaders of our Associations, that hold is tentative at best. There are plenty of powerful people who could rally up enough support to overthrow us, and have threatened to do just that many times. However," Now the Headmaster turned and looked Setsuna directly in the eyes,

"Konoka is the key. She comes from both Associations, while taking sides with neither. She is a powerful wizard, or will be when she is properly trained. Not only that, but Konoka has the strength to bring people together, to give both comfort and hope. Under her rule, the two Associations will finally be united!" A fierce gleam had come into the Headmaster's eyes, and his while his voice was soft, the ferocity of it conveyed just how strongly he felt about this.

"But to do this" The Headmaster paused and walked back to his desk, placing a hand on it but not sitting down, "to do this she will need a strong partner, a strong man at her side. Someone powerful in both magic and in physical strength. Someone who both the people from Kanto and Kansai will accept. Someone who will be able to support Konoka in uniting the two sides. After much searching and many conferences with both the people of the Kansai Magic Association and the Kanto Magic Association that man has been chosen." he tapped a paper on his desk with his finger.

"But sir," Setsuna clenched her hands tightly behind her back but her voice held steady, "While I understand the reason you are doing this, you must surly see that it isn't fair to Konoka-ojousama for you and others to choose her life." The headmaster sighed and sat down behind his desk.

"The world isn't always fair, child." He replied, placing his elbows on his desk and lacing his fingers together.

"Sir, you must have seen how devastated Konoka-ojousama was-"

"She will understand, given time." The headmaster interrupted, "She is a smart girl, and always does what is right for the greater good." Setsuna lowered her head and swallowed hard, fighting down her anger. The Headmaster obviously wasn't going to listen to anything she said, and was willing to sacrifice Konoka's freedom for his "greater good." But still, Setsuna tried one more time,

"Sir, don't you think that, given time, Konoka-ojousama would be able to find her own partner? I'm sure that someone would meet all of your qualifications, and at least-" The headmaster shook his head, cutting Setsuna off.

"I realize that you are only trying to look out for my granddaughter, and I appreciate that. It is, after all, what you were brought here to do. However, I cannot allow the chance that Konoka will choose someone that would be….inadequate. Trust me child, I have thought on this matter long and hard, her father too, and this is the only way possible." The headmaster picked up a pencil and proceeded to write, an obvious dismissal, one that he expected Setsuna to obey.

"I made a promise to myself." Setsuna stated furiously and the Headmaster lifted up his head, startled, "ever since Konoka-ojousama almost drowned, that I would dedicate my life to protect her, put a stop to anything that hurt her, threatened her. You said it yourself Sir, it was the reason why you brought me here." Setsuna paused and took a breath, her eyes shadowed over by the bangs that fell over them due to her lowered head.

"That vow isn't limited to just Ojousama's body, but her heart and soul as well. Headmaster," Setsuna lifted her head and stared right into the Headmaster's eyes, so intense that the Headmaster caught his breath in surprise.

"I, Sakurazaki Setsuna of the Shinmeiryuu, hereby Challenge both the Kansai Magic Association and the Kanto Magic Association, in accordance to the ancient laws of Trial that were created by Merlin, the Father of Magic. If I win, Konoe Konoka will be able to lead her own life and choose her own mate and partner, without any influence from either of the organizations or their leaders. Should I lose I will put myself at the mercy of the Magic Associations, to do with myself as they see fit." The Headmaster sat, stunned at this turn of events, then leaped out of his chair so fast he almost knocked it over.

"Setsuna-kun you can't do this! Do you understand what you are saying?" Setsuna nodded, her eyes steadily holding his.

"I won't let you do this to Kono-chan. I will protect her with my life."

"Setsuna you don't know what you are doing! The Associations won't be able to leave this challenge unanswered! They can pick anyone to be their champion! Do you understand who they will pick?"

"I do. And that makes no difference." Setsuna closed her eyes and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. When she opened them again, her gaze snapped back to the Headmaster's.

"I understand fully what I am doing Headmaster, and that includes all the implications and I will not withdrawal the challenge," Setsuna's eyes hardened, "I will not back down."

"My God." The Headmaster whispered in horrified realization. "It's exactly what we tried to prevent. Why we brought you to guard her instead of a man. You've fallen in love with her haven't you?"

Setsuna bit the inside of her cheek as she felt the blush spread, but she didn't look away, and neither did she deny it.

The Headmaster slowly sank back down into his chair, holding his head in his hands.

"Very well. The challenge will be answered in three days. You know where it will be." He said grimly.

"Yes sir. I'll be there." Setsuna waited a moment, but when the Headmaster continued to stare at his desk with his head in his hands, not saying a word, Setsuna turned to go.

"Setsuna-kun". Setsuna stopped and turned her head toward the Headmaster, her hand outstretched to pull open the door.

"Does Konoka know? Did she….did she ask you to do this?" he asked softly, not looking up. Setsuna gave a small sad smile,

"Konoka-ojousama would never ask for such a thing. Nor does she know about…any of it." With that, Setsuna pulled open the door and left the Headmaster, staring at his desk in despair.

If you read this, please leave a review. It would make me so very happy.