Heart's Treasures: Chapter 15
By: Starlight Rose
Email: Clamp, Kodansha and other companies own CCS. The Brothers Grimm are credited with Thousand Furs. I own this story.
A.N. So it's been exactly a year since my last update. I can't promise that this chapter would have been worth the wait. A lot of scenes played out differently in my head than on paper and taking such long breaks between each chapter makes it harder to keep track of what is going on. Quite honestly I'm not even sure my writing style is the same. I've been in a mood to write lately (probably because I've been bored out of my mind). I decided to go back and read reviews left for this story and I started realizing just how many people enjoyed it. It made me want to try to finish it up no matter how agonizingly long it might take. I really appreciate all the support everyone who has followed this story has given me. Reading a lot of the reviews game me warm fuzzies that I transfered into inspiration for writing. You guys should also thank my boyfriend for telling me that I should at least try to release another chapter at the one year mark. I realized that I may write for my own enjoyment, but I post it for others and its just plain rude to get people involved in a story and then leave them hanging and so I will try not to do that to everyone especially all the people that have given me so much support and attention. I will freely admit I'm an attention whore. So on with the story. Warning not much happens here, just some introspective stuff mostly.
A few weeks had passed since Sakura's incident with the inebriated lord and for the most part things were back to normal. True the king tended to occasionally poke his head into the kitchen searching for a snack and maybe a certain scullery maid much more often than may have been normal, but he was a growing active young man who needed his nutrition. Most of the kitchen staff got accustomed to working under his intense amber gaze once they learned that he was not there to monitor them and he was not going to dismiss them. Several them even found it amusing when Chiharu would occasionally threaten to chop off his hand if he stole another slice of this or that dessert. Most of the servants were just relieved to see their formerly aloof king seem...well human and approachable even if his reasons for being there seemed obscure to most. Chiharu knew his true reason for visiting the kitchens everyday as well as the scandal it could cause so she kept her mouth shut and just watched. She watched the king's normally cold exterior melt and soften whenever he looked at Thousand Furs. She knew nothing good could come of the relationship and in the end feelings would just be hurt, but she could no more stop it as she could stop the seasons from changing. She could make sure no one else knew though and give the two more time with each other.
Syaoran meanwhile knew he was being paranoid and overprotective constantly popping down to the kitchens whenever he was not in a meeting with his councilors or diplomats but he could not stand to see the terror in Sakura's eyes again. He knew it would have broken his heart and he in turn would have ripped out the heart of any dastard that dared touch a hair on her sweet head. He still had his daily meetings in the garden with Sakura where it was just the two of them and sometimes Keroberus though now he made sure to get there early and check to make sure no one who could interrupt or endanger Sakura's happiness was around. He was happy when he was around Sakura. She had the ability to make him feel special just because he was himself, Syaoran Li, and not because he was the king of Fauna.
Yelan had noticed the remarkable change in her son over the past few months. No longer was he sullen about going to the endless meetings and councils that required his attendance but he went to them with the proper sense of duty. He seemed to have finally realized that taking care of the people of the kingdom was his responsibility and he managed to be attentive and patient through all but the most trying ones. The only time he really got surly was when state visitors came for visits and lavish banquets were held in their honor or whenever he missed lunch. Syaoran had never liked state dinners and their formality so the first was understandable, but Yelan had yet to figure out why he got so grumpy over missing lunch. It was not like he could not just order lunch to be brought to him afterwards which he generally did.
She had heard from the palace servants that recently her son had taken a liking to going to the gardens during for his lunch and that he dismissed all the gardeners when he went there. Her afternoon was free so she decided to go to the gardens and seek out her son. Maybe she could find out why he had changed so drastically in the past few months.
She searched in the normal garden paths that were now lined with beautiful rose bushes in full bloom. He was not there. She decided instead to search among the shaded area where the fruit trees were found. Her son had always had an affinity for sitting in trees that Yelan never quite understood. Her slippered feet made no sounds as it they walked through the soft summer grass. Everything was peaceful underneath the shade of the trees. Yelan could see why her son would enjoy it there with the serenity that pervaded the place. The sun shone through a few gaps in the leaves leaving dapples of sunlight to spot the ground, but the shade prevailed and allowed that area to be cooler than the rest of the gardens.
She thought she heard Syaoran's voice coming from up ahead and she continued on her path. When she got there she stopped short. Her son was sitting under one of the trees with a book spread out on his lap. The girl had soft reddish-brown hair and she sat upon an odd fur coat that looked to be patched from the fur of multiple animals. Her face was covered in soot and the rough material of her clothes showed her to be a servant, most likely from the kitchens. The king should not be having such friendly relations with a mere scullery maid. Yelan frowned but softly walked closer. She wanted to know what was going on with her son and this seemed to be the answer.
Yelan could not make out what was being said between the two of them, but she could see their faces better from where she now stood. The girl lifted her face from the book and Yelan saw herself looking at the most startlingly bright emerald-green eyes she had ever seen. The shape of the face and the eyes tugged at her memory. They were vaguely familiar as if she had seen them long ago but in a different setting. Who was this girl? She could not be from Fauna. Those eyes were just too unique for Yelan to have not noticed someone with them before and it was not a color found among Faunians. She could see how eyes like those could captivate her son especially since they were also his favorite color.
Then she saw Syaoran smile, the most tender, affectionate smile she had ever seen grace her son's usually scowling face. The regal queen froze where she stood. It had been so long since she had seen her son smile at all. Syaoran used to smile when he was a child. It was infrequent for he was always a serious child, but they stopped altogether when he was eight. That was the year his father died and Syaoran had become king of a country that he was too young to take care of. His childhood had been taken from him and those precious smiles that were so few before never appeared again. This girl was precious to her son for him to smile at her.
Looking back at the girl, Yelan knew that her face would haunt her for days as she tried to figure out why it looked so familiar. She wanted to go out there and pull the two children apart telling them that it could not work. They could not develop feelings for one another but another glance at her son's face told her it was useless. Her son was raised to know his duties. No matter what he might have felt for the girl, Yelan knew nothing would come of it so telling him would serve no purpose except to make him more bitter at her.
Life had taught the woman that patience is often rewarded and the queen decided that this might be one of those times. She slipped quietly away, leaving as unnoticed as she had come. She would wait to see what became of this relationship because she was just as much a mother as she was a queen and she could not bear to be the one to break her son's heart. There was something odd about the girl and until Yelan knew more about her, she would wait.
However, Yelan was not the
type to wait idly. She would take precautions. Syaoran's birthday was
in a week. She would prepare a ball to celebrate his seventeenth
birthday. Princesses and ladies from all around would be invited of
course. Her son would get to look through them and choose a potential
bride. The ball and the birthday would serve as a reminder to Syaoran
about their agreement. He had one year to find a "suitable"
bride. A girl that was of noble birth and would lend credence to her
husband through her family connections. A girl raised to be queen. If
he could not find one by his eighteenth birthday then Yelan would
select one for him. She hoped it would not come to that for Yelan did
not want to be the cause of Syaoran's misery for the rest of his
life, but love was hard to find amongst the nobility that married for
money and connections. If one was lucky love would come
later, but those few lucky ones were hard to find.
Word of the ball spread quickly and the entire castle was in an uproar as they tried to prepare for the ball. The entire castle had to be cleaned then decorated with festoons of flowers and green and gold ribbons. The servants were up early every day dusting, sweeping, scrubbing, and waxing until every surface shone. The gardeners were picking the most beautiful blooms to put into flower arrangements and to be woven into the festoons. For the entire week the servants worked from sun up to sun down with the queen and the king's sisters supervising.
In the kitchens things were no less hectic. Food had to be prepared for the actual banquet day. Whatever could be done in advance was. Cakes were baked, meat was prepared and seasoned, soups were set to simmer, vegetables were cleaned. Everything that would not spoil was done several days prior to the ball. It was through this that Sakura had learned of Syaoran's birthday and Sakura was furious.
Sakura had been so busy with the preparations for the ball that she had not been able to get to their meeting spot in several days. She made sure to to ask Chiharu for an hour that afternoon and finished her tasks early to ensure she could go. Chiharu did not have the heart to stop the girl, and considered letting Thousand Furs go as her gift to the king.
When Sakura walked down the familiar path to their meeting place as she enjoyed the shade of the trees that no longer bore beautiful flowers but instead lush green leaves. She saw Syaoran standing there waiting for her and her heart leaped for a second before she remembered that she was mad at him.
Hearing footsteps approaching Syaoran turned around with a smile ready for her. He had missed her. He had started hating these large balls and banquets more since he had started getting to know Sakura and spending time with her. Time with Sakura was precious to him and he resented anything that prevented his daily meetings with her. They had finished teaching each other about their respective subjects weeks ago and now just spent time together talking or reading whatever subject Syaoran had been studying earlier that day, be it politics, philosophy, poetry, or just a novel. It was the one thing he looked forward to each day and the one thing that could brighten a bad day.
As Syaoran saw Sakura's face his smile faltered. Having four sisters had taught Syaoran to look for the warning signs that a female was mad at him and Sakura looked furious. Her eyes were narrowed as she glared at him and her cheeks were puffed out like she was breathing slowly to contain her temper. She looked rather cute like that, Syaoran noted from the part of his brain that was not panicking over what he could have done to make Sakura upset with him.
"Before you get mad at me and start screaming and yelling please tell me what I did so I can try to explain myself!" Syaoran yelped out quickly holding his hands up defensively.
"Syaoran! Tomorrow's your birthday!" Sakura yelled pouting at the king.
"I'm sorry Sakura. I know this ball is a lot of extra work for everyone and if I could have stopped it I would have, but this was my mothers idea." Syaoran rushed to apologize.
"I'm not mad about the ball you dummy!"
"Then what are you mad about?" Syaoran asked confused but a corner of his mouth twitched in amusement. Other than his family only his Sakura would call the king a dummy even if she did not realize it.
"I'm mad because I found out tomorrow was your birthday because of the ball." Sakura said looking at him like he was simple-minded. "YOU didn't tell me it was your birthday."
"It's just a birthday Sakura. It's nothing special. I didn't know that you would care." Syaoran replied carelessly.
"Of course I care Syaoran. It's your birthday it's a very important and special day because you were born on it." Sakura protested.
Syaoran looked at her confused again. "Um...Sakura, that's the definition of a birthday...it doesn't explain why it's special." He really was feeling like the dummy she called him earlier because he really could not understand where her logic was leading.
"Syaoran, the day you were born is important because it means you exist. If you were never born you would never have existed and then I would have never met you and become friends with you. Although I wouldn't have known what I was missing if I hadn't met you, I am glad I met you. I think somewhere deep down I would have known something was missing from my life even if I didn't know what it was." Sakura said but her words were beginning to be choked by sobs because Syaoran did not realize how important he was as a person and just the thought of not having met Syaoran even if it took a tragedy to allow her the chance made Sakura's heart ache in a strange way.
Syaoran stared at the girl in shock as her shoulders shook and tears leaked from her eyes. His heart aching at seeing her tears, he reach out and pulled her close to him. His arms automatically wrapped around her slender frame and he brushed his cheek against her hair murmuring, "I'm sorry. I am a dummy for not realizing it. I'm very glad I met you too Sakura. You're the best thing that has ever happened to be. Being born coming close after that so that I had the chance to meet you. Please don't cry Sakura. I'll hate myself if you're crying because I was a dummy."
"I'm sorry Syaoran. I'm just being silly crying like this over nothing." Sakura told him in between sobs, but she was feeling better just being in his arms. She clung to him wetting the front of his shirt with her tears until her sobs finally subsided.
Reluctantly letting her go Syaoran asked gently, "Are you feeling better now?"
"Much! Now I need to figure out what to give you for your birthday. Any ideas?"
"Your friendship is the best thing I've ever received. It's better than all the gold and jewels in the world. I know it sounds trite and cliche, but you like me as myself and not as my title."
"Not good enough. It's your birthday so I want to get you something even if it's not big. Please tell me what do you really want." Sakura pleaded turning her big green eyes to him.
"What do I really want?" Syaoran asked himself. "I want to be someone else. Someone normal and not the king. I want to be able to leave the castle without a retinue of guards and I want...I want to spend time with you."
"Maybe we can do that or for part of the day." Sakura said cheerfully as an idea came to her. She and Tomoyo used to sneak out of the palace all the time by dressing themselves as maids and pretending to be going shopping. It was always nice to be outside the castle among her people without everyone bowing to her and without all the unwanted attention that came with being royalty. She would just need to get Takashi's cooperation and Chiharu's permission. "Can you meet me out here a bit before sunrise tomorrow?"
Today was just not his day Syaoran decided. Sakura had been confusing him left and right since he saw her and he had inadvertently made her cry by being an idiot. He was now back to having no clue what the girl was talking about. "I suppose I could. I can probably get out of doing paperwork and sitting in councils because it's my birthday."
"Good. I'll see you then. I promise tomorrow will be a good day and I'll make your birthday wish come true Syaoran!" Sakura's eyes sparkled with excitement as she began making plans for tomorrow. She quickly gave Syaoran a hug and ran off to start initiating said plans.
Syaoran just sighed and walked back to the castle. He hadn't gotten to spend but thirty minutes with Sakura and the entire time she had either been angry at him or crying. Today, hell this week, had just really not been a good one.
A.N. How was it? Good, bad, awful? Should I bash my head against a wall and keep going hopefully getting at least one chapter a year or just give up because no one really cares anymore and I would not disappoint anyone. Or have I already disappointed everyone because my style has changed so much that it's not the same anymore. Please give feedback. Oh yeah, next chapter if it comes out will be about Syaoran's birthday. Still trying to decide if I want it to be one or two chapters. I'll decide on that once I actually start writing it.