Hey everyone, I just wanted to give you guys the epilogue before my examinations start. It's been a great pleasure writing for y'all, and your reviews have always carried on. Of course, a big thank you to those that reviewed for multiple chapters.
Chapter X: An Exultant Epilogue
20 years later:
Sakura paced nervously across the oriental rug of their home. Her baby, Li Ling, was all grown up and had taken a job in the Central division of the Imperial Mandarins. Mandarins were officials of a town or village, and only the best and brightest students of the top schools were ordained to be one by the Emperor. She was so proud when Ling was the top of his class of the most difficult school in the area.
The reason why she was pacing, though, was because he wished to marry a girl whom he had met in town.
The girl was a teacher who taught at the local school, and took care of the orphanage in town. Sakura thought that she seemed very nice from Ling's letters, but this was someone who was taking her baby away!
She turned and paced in another direction when she felt strong arms lifting her off her feet. Turning her head, she met the bemused eyes of her husband, Li Syaoran.
"You're going to wear a hole in the rug if you keep on walking," he murmured quietly in her ear. Sakura sighed and rested her head against his chest. How was it that after twenty years of marriage his voice could still make her have butterflies in her stomach?
"I'm just nervous," she replied to him. "Would Ling be happy with his future wife?"
Li nodded. "He seemed enthusiastic in his letters," he tried to reason with her.
"What if she doesn't like me?" Sakura asked him with wild eyes. She had heard horror stories of wives and mother-in-laws battling it out over the treatment of their respective husband/son. She would hate to see that happen to her and Ling.
"You know, she's probably more terrified of you, than you are of her," he instructed his wife with common sense.
"I just hope she likes me," Sakura whimpered into his chest. Syaoran rolled his eyes. The woman that could lead an army against a blood-thirsty rebel leader was afraid of meeting her son's future bride! He carefully captured her lips with his which promptly made her forget what she was thinking. He slipped his tongue against her when…
"Aww…Mama! Baba! How come every time I see you, you guys are either kissing or doing something a son shouldn't be seeing?" an exasperated voice met both their ears.
Sakura laughed and pulled away from her husband's arms and affectionately hugged her son.
Li Ling smiled broadly and obediently kissed his mother on the cheek, and walked over to give his father a handshake.
Ling saw his parents still in love with each other after all this time. He had hoped that he would have the same happiness with his future bride. Well, if his parents approved of her, of course. Clearing his throat, he gestured her in and introduced her as "Rin Nadeshiko."
Gasping Sakura looked at Syaoran. "Nadeshiko?" she mouthed at him. He could only shrug at her. What met both their eyes was a dark haired beauty with bright emerald eyes. Sakura eyes immediately flew to the necklace which she wore: a familiar jade pendant.
Nadeshiko was completely terrified of meeting Ling's parents. She had hoped that they would accept her despite her being an orphan and not knowing what her background was. As she walked through the door of an awesome and stately mansion, she could not help but feel very insignificant. Her fears were banished though as her eyes recognized the man and woman in the room.
"Mama! Baba!" she screamed excitedly. She swiftly was caught up in a hug by a very tearful Sakura and Syaoran gave her a hug too.
Ling could only stare in wonder. "Uhh… I didn't want you to be that friendly, Nadeshiko," he confessed weakly.
Laughing Sakura admonished her son. "Nadeshiko was the child that your father found when he was in the war."
Ling froze. "She's not my sister or anything is she?" he asked in horror.
"No!" Sakura said rolling her eyes at his lack of common sense. By the gods… he could be the most intelligent boy at analyzing a complex battle situation but put him at home…
Ling breathed a sigh of relief.
A soft voice interrupted their dialogue.
"His father? You found me too, Mama," Nadeshiko said perplexedly.
Both Syaoran and Sakura paused. Ling could only stare at Nadeshiko in confusion.
"What are you talking about honey? Why would my mother be in the war?"
Nadeshiko looked at Sakura. "You mean you never told him?"
Sakura smiled weakly, "We were looking for the right time. I guess now is as good as any."
They all sat down in the familiar red pavilion, drinking tea, and both Sakura and Syaoran narrated the whole tale to their son: how she replaced Touya, how they both met, and finally how they defeated the rebel leader. Ling listened with great attentiveness and leaned back as they finished their story.
"…and then you brought Nadeshiko back into our lives, son," Syaoran finished.
Ling smiled lightly. "Her eyes first reminded me of Mother's," he admitted.
"And they're just like my Mother's," Sakura added. "Oh and you are most gladly welcomed into our family, Nadeshiko." Nadeshiko could only blush in reply because she was struck dumb with happiness.
Ling sat up suddenly. "That why Uncle Touya never wanted to spar with me after I beat him my first time!" he had realized. Syaoran snorted with amusement earning him a punch from his wife on the shoulder. Ling grinned suddenly.
"So Mother, you have been keeping this secret from me, for the past twenty years. Don't you think you owe me a favor?" he cajoled.
Glaring at her son, Sakura carefully admitted a yes to his statement.
Standing up he demanded, "I want to see you and Father spar with swords right now."
Amused Sakura looked at her husband. Communicating without words (a feat which Ling had always thought to be telepathy) they both agreed to a match. As they both went to retrieve their swords, Sakura slapped her son behind the head.
"Ouch! What was that for, Mother?" he exclaimed.
"That's for making deals against your Mother," she threatened him.
Laughing Nadeshiko kissed the back of his head gently. "It's okay," she whispered to him. "I want to see them spar too," she confessed. Grinning they both picked a front row seat of the action and watched the Li Master and Mistress battle.
The fight was similar to their first one many years ago: a series of imperceptible slashes, parries, and attacks nearly imperceptible to the untrained eye. Sakura was a little encumbered by her dress, but managed to meet Syaoran's stroke every time. They struck at vulnerable spots: abdomen, rib, shoulder… and blocked fatal attacks. The fight of course ended in a draw this time with Syaoran's blade aimed at Sakura's ribcage, and her sword point directed above the back of his neck.
Grinning they both stared at each other and dropped their swords to meet in a passionate kiss. Groaning, Ling pulled Nadeshiko away to another secluded part of the garden, and kissed her too. Sighing he pulled away and hugged her to him. "Would you be my wife?" he whispered to her.
"Yes," she whispered back and wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her face against it. Never in her life would she have dreamed of joining with the love of her life and discovering both of her saviors all in the same day.
As always please review. Keep an eye out for my next story, based on the Vietnamese version of Thumbelina, called "Little Sakura."