Konnichiwa, minna-san! Argh, I've been internet-less for a while, and it's killing me. Also, life got in the way, but I'm working on updating Kagome's Decision, for those of you waiting on that. Anyway, I've become a Yu Watase fan, and here is my first little fan-contribution thingy.

This takes place sometime after Tamahome returns from Kutoh, and Hotohori kicks his butt in the sword fight. Yay! (Volume 6 in the manga)

Disclaimer: I despise this obligatory confession. Of course I don't own Fushigi Yuugi or any of the characters.

Miaka heaved a tired sigh and tossed the book on top of the haphazard pile of clothing.

"It's no use," she told herself as she rolled onto her back across the lush bed. "I can't concentrate with all these problems on my head." She flopped over on her stomach and buried her face in the impossibly soft pillow. "Oh, there's no way I'm getting into Jonan at this rate!"

A soft knock on her door had her scrambling for her robe. "Who is it?" she called breathlessly as she attempted to sort through the mess on the floor. Oh, where did I put that stupid robe?

"Miaka, it is I, Hotohori," came the gentle reply. "Are you all right?"

"Hotohori!" The door suddenly flew open.

The emperor jumped slightly, startled by the excited face that had seemingly popped out of nowhere.

"Sorry, didn't mean to jump you," Miaka giggled, stepping back inside her room.

"What are you doing here this late?"

Hotohori bowed deeply. "I apologize for the intrusion," he stated softly. "I suppose it was rather unconcientous of me to—"

"Don't be silly, Hotohori," Miaka interrupted, waving a hand as she popped a candy bar into her mouth and devoured it in record time. "I was only studying, but I had given up just when you came around."

"Still, I realize the inappropriateness of the hour," the emperor continued, wondering how food had suddenly appeared in her hand. "But I felt a sudden urge to check on you. Were you in any sort of distress?"

Miaka shrugged. "Not really. I was just studying, and that's tough in itself, but nothing new." She scratched her head and grinned. "I am sorta hungry, though."

Hotohori smiled, and her heart skipped a beat. He's so handsome when he smiles, she thought with a blush.

"Say no more, my dear," Hotohori chuckled. "I shall have the servants bring you something straightaway."

"No, it's okay!" she protested. "I think it might actually be too late to eat."

She jumped when the emperor suddenly frowned, a look of concern flashing across his elegant features.

"What?" she asked, a little nervous at the way he was staring at her.

"Are you quite certain you are feeling well?" he asked carefully. When she nodded, he chuckled. "It is simply so strange to hear you deny food, regardless of the hour," he added when she only stared back at him.

A sweatdrop formed on her forehead as she grinned sheepishly at him. "I know, but I decided I need to stop eating so late. I've gained three pounds since I've been here, Hotohori. Your people make the best food I've ever tasted!"

Practically drooling, the priestess plopped down on the floor, obviously entranced by visions Hotohori couldn't see.

The emperor chuckled and leaned down to ruffle her hair. "You never change, my dear," he murmured as he pulled her up gently. Her cheeks stained deep red as he pulled her smoothly against him in a warm embrace. "I truly hope you shall always remain thus, Miaka. You are perfect as you are, additional pounds or not."

She shivered as his lips brushed across her forehead. "I love you just the way you are."

"Hotohori," she breathed, unable to push him away. "I…"

"I am sorry," he said as he gently pulled away. Miaka was surprised at the stab of disappointment that shot through her.

"It was not my intention to force myself on you like this," the emperor stated apologetically. "I have broken my promise."

He turned swiftly and was almost to the door before the priestess could react.

"Hotohori, wait!" she cried, stepping after him. She caught his sleeve just as he neared the door. "Please don't be upset," she pleaded, her eyes watering. "You have nothing to apologize to me for, please don't do it anymore."

He looked down at her with such a sad expression in his golden eyes that Miaka felt her own eyes fill with tears.

"Do not cry, Miaka," Hotohori murmured, reaching up to frame her face with one hand and wiping the offensive tears away with the other. "I hate to see you cry, especially because of me. I can not forgive myself for making you cry."

"Stop, Hotohori," she said through a watery smile. "Stop being sorry for things you have no control over."

He laughed then, a strange laugh that pulled at her heart. It sounded like he was laughing at himself.

"Miaka," he breathed, "I had come for a different reason than the one I offered you earlier, but when I saw you in such high spirits my courage wavered.

However," he added, running his thumbs over her jaw line, "My conscience has been haunting me, and nothing will abate it but a sincere apology to you. For making you cry, and for attempting to hurt you."

She looked at him with puzzled eyes. "Hurt me? Hotohori, you've never—"

"Do not say that, Miaka!" he interrupted so forcefully that the girl cowered from him. His eyes softened, and regret filled his eyes.

"The other night, I attempted to kill him," Hotohori stated softly.

Miaka felt her heart constrict.

"When Tamahome came to kill you, I felt I had no choice but to stop him by force," the emperor continued, looking away. "However, when I began to fight him, I felt something overtake me."

He turned and caught her gaze, and the light she saw in normally gentle golden depths made her catch her breath.

"Miaka, during that fight, there was an instant in which I…I was glad I had a reason to kill him!" His usually confident voice broke, and he looked away once more.

"Hotohori…"

"I wanted to kill him in that instant, not because he was a threat to you, but because he was a threat to me!" The emperor shook as his hands fisted at his sides. "I hurt you by hurting Tamahome, and I almost hurt you in the worst possible manner that I could have ever imagined, Miaka," he said, his voice thick with emotion. "Never mind that he is a fellow seishi of Suzaku, and a brother to me by that bond. However dishonorable that may be in itself, it is nothing…nothing compared to the pain I could have caused you!"

He turned to her again, his eyes full of pain. "That is why I came, Miaka. To apologize with all my heart to you for my dishonor, and to assure you that I will stay out of your path in regard to Tamahome. I shall respect and support you both, and wish you all the happiness in the world. In atonement, I shall renounce my proposal to you and cease my attempts to make you love me." His eyelids lowered in shame.

"I have no right to love you, Miaka, or to expect anything from you except that great burden which I have already asked you to bear for the sake of my country. The only reason I do not release you of it is because it is not for myself, but for my people."

Miaka's eyes were hidden underneath her bangs, but tears were coursing down her cheeks. "Hotohori…"

The emperor's eyes widened when her hand swung out and landed with a resounding slap on his face. A face which had remained untouched by any save himself for over ten years.

"I…I deserved that," he mumbled, bringing his fingers up to the stinging red handprint on his cheek.

"Stop it!" the priestess suddenly cried, her shoulders heaving with sobs.

The emperor froze.

"Hotohori," she snapped, "you are the emperor of this land. You are expected to be the most honorable person in this country, and to set an example for your people."

Hotohori hung his head in shame.

"And for the brief time that I've known you, you have been just that," Miaka stated.

Suddenly, she ran to him wrapped her arms around his waist. "But Hotohori, you're only human! Stop apologizing for it!"

Miaka buried her face in his chest and cried.

Hotohori was stunned into silence as the girl sobbed into his fine silk robes, but slowly, a warmth began to pervade his heart. With a small smile, he brought his own arms around Miaka and rested his chin on the top of her head.

"I should have known you would react this way, Miaka," he murmured, feeling overwhelmed with relief. "This is why I love you. You can see me for who I am, and you still don't hate me for being a simple man in the midst of the charade that royalty is."

Gently, he lifted her face with his index finger and placed a chaste kiss on her forehead.

"Hotohori," Miaka hiccupped, and for a moment he thought she was going to start crying again. But then, she did something which surprised them both to no end.

Standing on tiptoe, Miaka kissed him fully and deeply on the lips.

She pulled away shakily, a dark blush high on her cheeks. His surprise was evident in the kind honey brown eyes as she looked at the floor and shyly dusted imaginary debris from her robe.

"It is late," the emperor stated finally. "We shall leave you to your rest, my dear. We shall be arising early to see you and the others off tomorrow morning."

She didn't answer as he opened the door and stepped out into the hallway.

"Miaka," he said as if on second thought, turning back to look at her.

She looked up, the blush still deep on her face. "Yes?"

"Thank you," he said sincerely, his eyes shining. With that, he slid the door shut and walked away.

Miaka looked at the door for a moment, wrapping her arms around herself in an attempt to calm her fluttering stomach. What was that all about, Miaka?

In the hallway, the emperor reached up to touch his lips. They were still warm from Miaka's kiss.

"Your Majesty?"

The emperor slowed briefly to acknowledge the seishi with a small nod.

"Tamahome."

"What are you doing out here this late? Couldn't sleep?"

A small smile graced the emperor's handsome face. "Something was bothering us, but now we have relieved ourselves of the problem."

Tamahome grinned in understanding. "I see, but isn't this kinda far to go in the middle of the night just to relieve yourself?"

Hotohori almost tripped over himself. "Ahem," he muttered, clearing his throat. "That is not what we were referring to. It is not important. We will be going to bed now, and we suggest you do the same, Tamahome. There is a long day ahead of you tomorrow."

Tamahome shrugged and grinned. "Yeah, I was heading to bed, but I thought I'd check up on Miaka first."

Hotohori smiled again and continued walking. "As you wish, although we have checked on her a few moments ago, and we left her quite well."

Tamahome watched as the emperor walked gracefully into the darkness of the halls, then shook his head. Couldn't be.

And Hotohori felt the same swift pain, but this time it was not so bad. And he decided, as he neared his chambers and the warmth on his lips receded, that it would not be so bad ever again.