A/n: Yeah, the epilogue at last. Please enjoy! And thank you for the review, Sakura-fai. :)
Disc: From the start of this fiction, I've exploited the kindness of Clamp by tying their magnificent characters like string dolls and move them according to my tiny scenario. After this epilogue, I'll return the string to the owner and promise to keep my hands out of them.
A week had passed since the last battle. The King and The Queen were still in coma even after the ice coffin being melted. The young king, no, the Prince had awakened yesterday but his condition was too weak either to speak or to move. He was soon falling asleep again after a brief time of consciousness. Syaoran was recuperating from his broken shoulder and Sakura was back to her full health. Sakura had never stop thinking about Tomoyo but she could cope with it better with all of her family and friends around her. Fye had been taking care on the Kingdom's matter when she was convalescing and provide necessary announcement related to the return of the Clow Royal Family. Magical beast attack was increasing but citizen had already prepared to protect themselves. Special force had been formed and dispatched all over the kingdom to help.
Everythingis complete if only… Sakura's mind trailed off again for the thousand times in this week. It was always the same statement, it was always the same pang of guilt – guilt of being powerless to help her important friend, guilt of feeling a bit of joy over her family when she should have lamented for Tomoyo. She wandered to her brother's room, visiting her improving brother.
Opening the door, she saw the familiar milky white spirit she had not seen so long. The maid excused her self out of the room, unheard and unnoticed over the princess's squeal of 'Yukito'.
"You're noisy, big monster." Touya said behind his peeking eyes.
Sakura was caught off guard. Instead of rebuffing the statement as usual, she stared at him incredulously. "You are strong enough to talk now!"
"Of course I do, you baka monster. What do you take me as?" Touya sounded rather annoyed and amused. Hearing no response from her not-so-little sister, he opened his eyes to look at her. She was looking down with tears at her eyes. Touya smiled reassuringly.
"It's been awhile, Sakura." Sakura rushed to her sleeping brother side and hugged him tight, crying uncontrollably. Touya caressed her head lovingly and soothed her. Then he asked her what had happened and Sakura told him the whole story.
Sakura was sniffing at the end of the story. "I can't help her at all. I am so useless even though I've promised to take good care of her. I should have brought her back no matter how…" She shed the tears of frustration. Touya and Yukito looked at each other.
"But she never told me that she has magic power as well… I don't understand… Did she distrust me?" Sakura whispered again, one of many repeated questions for the whole week which had no answer until now.
"Not because she distrusts you." A soft voice answered her. Sakura snapped his head to Yukito. "It is because she is a bonded wind spirit." He paused to let it sank into Sakura's mind.
"Bonded… wind spirit?"
"I found a dying child on travelers' wreckage in one of my trip; she was barely breathing when I found her. Their group must've been attacked by bandits. I couldn't do much to save her when suddenly a young wind spirit approached me and proposed it." Touya paused, inhaling a deep breath. Apparently he was not really strong for long conversation yet.
Yukito picked up from Touya. "The spirit was sympathizing with the child and she was willing to fuse her soul to the girl. Once they were fused, they are one, inseparated except by death or the human herself released the spirit. The spirit will provide the girl with her soul power and the girl will capable of continuing her life."
"So having wind power is the side effect of fusing with wind spirit?" Sakura clarified.
Yukito nodded. "Using small amount power is tolerable but to use a strong power, the fragile soul of the girl won't stand the pressure. Besides, strong power can only be obtained by releasing the spirit fully from herself. That means…" Yukito didn't finish his word.
"Means Tomoyo had prepared to sacrifice her life to get you out of the dimension. Even if you can take her back, she would be a lifeless corpse - since a fragile human soul can't fuse twice and tearing a soul which had supported her for years is the same as breathing in vacuum air..." Touya finished his wind spirit words.
The room was silent for some time. Nobody speak. Touya and Yukito gave time for Sakura - whose bangs covered her eyes - to sort her mind and feeling. She stood up slowly and walked out of the room.
"I've told Eriol-san, he will arrive tomorrow." It was her last word before she closed the door behind her and ran to her room, crying.
Another week passed and Sakura's parents awoken. It was her happiest moment to see her parents moving and smiling at her and her brother. They looked as if they never aged. Their warm smile was exactly the same with what Sakura had vividly remembered. She suppressed her urge to hug them violently tight and instead, gave them a soft hug which she hoped wouldn't burden their frail body. Their condition improved with time and another half week, they had already able to stood and walk though not for long.
It was another silent night at the castle. Sakura took this chance to walk out of her bedroom, the only place she had shut herself entirely except when spending a little time with her family and Syaoran's gang. Cero wasn't allowed to enter, so he spent most of his time bothering either Fye or Syaoran's gang. Yue was hanging out somewhere solitary as usual though occasionally he would accompany Sakura in silence.
Whenever she was alone, her mind always wandered to Tomoyo. She strolled aimlessly and sat in garden bench, taking her time sucking the damp chilly night air and soothing her eyes with garden's dim light. Cold breeze swished pass her, peeking through her night cloak and she shuddered.
Sakura didn't need to turn to know whose voice was that. She had grown so familiar with the voice until she believed that she could distinguish it even in the noisy crowd. She nodded in response.
"Care if I sit beside?" He could feel Sakura's smile in her gesture to let him sit.
It had been a while since they had a silent time together. Sakura had been busy for these whole 2 and half week. "How are your parents?"
"Great. I'll let you meet them tomorrow. They must be happy to be able to meet you."
Syaoran nodded in silent, optimistic that he should have received a better response than her brother. The time when Sakura introduced him and his party to Kinomoto Touya, he could feel an annoyance directed at him – strangely only at him. He didn't mention this to anyone though he surely it wasn't his imagination.
"Don't rush it. They need more time to rest."
Sakura shook her head. "Nah, they are already healthy to their bone." She smiled. "How's your shoulder?"
Syaoran moved his shoulder arbitrarily in response. "Never better." He said. Then both of them fell silent.
"…" He seemed to consider something seriously.
"What?" She cocked her head in curiosity.
"… No, nothing." He paused. "I think we should go back before catching a cold." He said teasingly.
Sakura rolled her eyes. "You started to sound like nii-san." She scoffed, earning a mild laugh from the boy.
"Fine. See you tomorrow then." She said, returning to her room with a lighter mood. It had been awhile since she had a talk with Syaoran. His company was really easing her. She smiled unconsciously. How could such a short talk affect her? She didn't care. Looks like she would have a rare good dream.
Syaoran returned to his room and Meilin was inside, talking with Kurogane. Both of them stopped talking when he had entered the dark room.
"Sleep already?" Meilin asked. Syaoran nodded in response. Meilin seemed to hesitate – biting her lower lip nervously - but she chose to spoke at last. "Syaoran, you do know the time is nearly up, don't you?"
Syaoran froze in his movement. He nodded stiffly.
"We need to leave as soon as possible so we won't be late." She said again persistently. "Else your family will…" Her words were cut off by Syaoran.
"I know. We will return in time. Don't worry." He said tiredly. "I want to sleep now, Meilin. Anything you want to say, just continue it tomorrow." He said, lying in his bed, backing her - avoiding her.
Kurogane stayed silent during the ordeal and he still sat motionless in his bed even after Meilin left the room, staring off to the dark wall in front of him long after the door clicking in closure.
Syaoran and Kurogane wore a thick dark blue fabric, protecting them from the chilly autumn air. Meilin used her favorite red suit, not even slightly bothered by the air. They walked to the dinner room – the room where their first banquet was held – which was already occupied by Sakura's family. The King sat at the furthest end while his wife and his son sat at his left and right. Sakura sat beside her mother. The King and The Prince were using the same set of inky blue cloak while The Queen and The Princess were using similar pink furry dress.
Syaoran took his seat beside Sakura, Meilin and Kurogane were opposite him. Following them, Fye, Yue and Cero entered the room. Fye seated himself beside Kurogane, earning himself a short side-glance from the black-lover. Yue seated himself beside Syaoran and Cero took a comfortable spot on the table in his mini form.
The breakfast was soon served.
"I heard all of you have helped my daughter a lot. I don't know how to express my gratitude." The King said with his firmly warm voice.
"Not at all, Your Majesty. Sakura is, I mean, Sakura-hime is…" Syaoran stammered, unsure on how to address Sakura.
"You are her friend now; you don't need to add that suffix anymore." Nadeshiko smiled gently to stuttering Syaoran.
"Thank you." He nodded to her. "Sakura is strong by herself. Our help was merely nothing." He said in modesty.
Fye nodded energetically. "Sakura-hime sure is strong! I only helped in opening the dimension gate."
"How can it be?" Sakura said. "All of you had helped a lot! I won't be able to do a thing if not because of all of your help." She said to them.
"It's a pity we couldn't save Tomoyo…" Meilin said then startled. Her tongue was slipped. The air turned a bit gloom.
"Our freedom was granted in a great cost. Let's toast for the noble soul who had sacrifice herself to let us gather this morning. She will never die for she will live in our memory forever." The King put his wine glass high in the air. Of course, half of it was only eloquent words. The one really have the most memories of her was only Sakura, however they put all of their glass high to the air.
"For Tomoyo." They said together then drank.
In the middle of small chitchat during breakfast, Sakura brought up Syaoran's necklace subject. "The stone was very similar with my bracelet! I was surprised to see it at first!" She said. Her family exchanged glances then The King turned to Syaoran.
"May I see it?" He asked. Syaoran pull off the necklace from his neck. The King held out the necklace for his whole family to see before nodded slowly. Touya and Nadeshiko looked at it familiarly.
"May I know where did you get this?"
"It was a present from Meilin to me." Hearing her name, Meilin who had been engaging small conversation with Fye, Kurogane and Cero, snapped her head to their conversation.
"What is it?"
"Young lady, may I know where did you get this?" The King seemed to know something which none of them knew.
"It was with me since my step-father took me in." She answered honestly.
The King took some moment before speaking. "The bracelet and the necklace is a pair." All of the audience stared at him, waiting for more explanation.
"It was an heirloom of Clow's Royal Family. The necklace was for the male and the bracelet was for the female. This blue aquamarine stone has magical power to protect the wearer." He paused.
"The reason why it ended up with Meilin-san is," he flicked his gaze to Meilin. "Because I gave it to her." King's statement brought up shocked in some faces.
"But…How..?" Meilin stammered.
"I never tell this but the last trip I had been taking - before I was taken into the confinement – was a trip beyond barrier to visit the outer world." Sakura blinked at her father explanation. "When I was about to return, I met a small baby girl which was abandoned at the forest. I intended to take her home, but suddenly a sorcerer appeared and strange distortion happened." The King closed his eyes in tiredness. "I felt the situation was dangerous and I hoped to be able to help the newborn which I had just found. So, with my blessing, I put this necklace on her, wishing that it would protect her and transported her."
"But… my father said that he found me at the forest near Li Empire?" Meilin was utterly confused.
"I suppose my magic was affected by the distortion then." The King answered with the most logical explanation that he could find out. "Because it was impossible to transport even a pebble to overseas country. The distance is too wide."
"Your Majesty ever went there?" Syaoran felt his breath caught in his lungs.
To his relief, The King shook his head. "No, I was just wandering to the country a little beyond the forest, but I have seen a world map and learned much from the citizen."
"Then the necklace…" Syaoran hesitated. He should return it to the owner but it wasn't him, it was Meilin's, no, it wasn't even Meilin's to begin with…
The King gave the necklace back to Syaoran. "I don't think the necklace ended up in your hand is a merely coincidence. Everything had been destined." He quoted a favorite phrase of a certain witch he knew. "You may keep it. It is not mine anymore." He smiled reassuringly.
"You may stay here as long as you like. You are our noble friends; your presence will be most welcome in here." Nadeshiko said to Syaoran's gang, Sakura smiled sweetly. Their smiles were so similar, beautiful and warm.
Meilin and Kurogane stared at Syaoran who could feel a cold sweat tricked in his forehead. He vacillated before speaking. "We are very thankful for your kindness, Your Majesty." He paused again. "However, it is necessary for us to return to Li Empire." His words had successfully paled Sakura, she looked at him unbelievingly.
"Is it? How soon you decided to go?" The King asked.
"The end of this week." He answered after gulping an invisible stone in his throat. His didn't dare to flick his gaze to Sakura, afraid that he would again delay his much needed return journey, afraid to see her expression whether it would be an accuse of not telling a word to her previously or pain because he was going to leave her. The King nodded again.
"I see. It's a shame you can't stay longer. We will prepare the horse and some accompanies to guard you crossing the forest. Please just ask if you needed something in assistance." The King said.
"We will be very grateful." Syaoran said. Well, we do need assistance in crossing the magical forest.
Sakura held his gaze on her plate and for the rest of the breakfast, disconnect herself from the conversation, responding and nodding curtly if being asked. Two days again before I can't see him anymore... Sakura thought ruefully.
She spent the rest of her day accompanying her parents but her mind was visibly distracted. A hand patted her soft hair. "I don't think your mind is here, honey." Her mother smiled sweetly to her. "No, I'm just a bit distracted." Sakura answered. Her mother shook her head gently. "You can't lie to me, Sakura." Sakura gazed into her mother eyes; light brown eye reflected her image. "Go to where you want to go now." Her mother said again.
"I… I don't want to go anywhere." Sakura said indecisively. Her mother patted her again. "Go, Okaa-san need to rest." Her mother dismissed her a bit forcefully. Sakura left unwillingly.
Walking down the corridor, she thought again. Why didn't he tell me that he want to leave? Why does he leave so fast? The question kept popping in her brain but she knew these were not what she wanted to know. She wandered into the garden, halted beside the pond and stared off to the distance. The question which disturbed her was 'why do she care so much when she think that couldn't see him again?'. Why did my heart sink? It's not like I won't meet him again… She sighed. But imagining she couldn't see his smile, couldn't see his familiar figure relaxedly walked down the corridor, couldn't smell him because he wouldn't be there to sit beside her, couldn't hear his soothing voice talking to her and couldn't have a chance to be in his hug… Sakura's face blushed pink.
My goodness! How the hell I can think of being hugged??!! Her mind was frantic. She waved her hand to her face, cooling off the heat in her cheek.
"Did you feel hot in this cold weather?" A puzzled tone emerged behind her. Sakura shriek and nearly fell into the pond if there wasn't a pair of arm holding her. A second later, she was wrapped in familiar warmth.
She blushed furiously in his chest, taking care not look Syaoran at the face when he released her.
"It does bring back memories, huh?" Syaoran said, trying to elate the awkward mood but his hands still on Sakura's upper arms.
Sakura laughed shyly. The first time they talked in this pond, they ended up soaked from head to toes and they nearly repeated the history.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you." Syaoran apologized, releasing his hand though he was willing to give up everything to hug her again this moment.
Sakura shook her head. "It's not your fault. I was not paying attention." Her big innocent eyes stared at him. Syaoran could feel his cheek was warming. Both of them were silent, and then both of them talked again together. They blinked and laughed together.
"It sure brings back memories." Syaoran said, referring to their first meeting in Fyr.
Sakura's laugh slowly subsided. After these 2 days, there won't be anything left between us aside from memories. She thought sadly.
Syaoran suddenly turned serious. "I want to talk about my departure." He said, the subject which Sakura very much hate at this moment. Sakura was pinning her gaze on the grass at her feet as if she was capable to analyze how many drops of water it had drunk since the morning. Honestly admitting, she would be happier analyzing water droplets than to hear anything about Syaoran's departure.
"I am hoping that you can go together with me." He said after a long pause. A bucket of ice thrown unto Sakura's head wouldn't have a greater effect than what she was feeling now. She stared surprised to Syaoran, forgetting the grass-and-water analysis under her feet.
Extending his hand, he held Sakura's hand softly in his. "I promise that I will take care of you with my life. If you didn't like my country, then I will escort you back later. You can take this chance as some kind of leisure trip... or… or a lesson about the outer world." His eyes were filled with the emotion which Sakura didn't understand. She was still immobile, exposed to nothing except of the tingling warmth in her hand.
"But of course it will be up for you to decide. I know it'll be hard to leave your family who had finally gathered after difficult times." His shoulder sagged a little, understanding on how complicated he had put Sakura position into. His next words then dropped into a whisper.
"I still don't know what I feel towards you. But I surely know that I don't want to lose you at all in this moment." He released her hand. Sakura was still in her trance.
I don't want to lose you also… Sakura's head responded but it had made no way to her lips.
"I'll wait for you answer." Syaoran smiled doubtfully and left her standing beside the pond in the garden. With heart beating wildly and cheek blushed furiously, he returned to his room.
Sakura shut herself in her room for the whole day. At night, she visited her brother in his work room. His brother had finished the pile of document which not so long ago was Sakura's responsibility.
"What is it in this late?" He asked without averting his gaze. Sakura took a seat at the cushion beside him.
"A person told me about a story." Sakura said.
"Which is about?" Touya inquired impatiently.
"A man who she had known not so long ago but had grown attached to. He is a traveler and the girl is a just a villager." She paused. "The man had helped the girl and her family, and because of him, the girl's family was once again gathered home." The story was achingly familiar for Touya, gloom was evident in his face except for Sakura who was not looking at him.
"Now the traveler is asking the girl to travel with him but the girl was confused to choose between her family and him." She looked up to her brother, the first eye contact they had made after she came into his room. Touya put down his documents. "What do you think the girl should do?"
"Isn't this a story? Then shouldn't it have an ending already?" Touya raised his eyebrow. Sakura waved her head. "But I want to know nii-san's opinion about what the girl should do." Touya sighed then closed his eyes.
"If it's me, I will choose what my heart wants me to do." He fixed his gaze on his little sister – no, she was not little anymore but she would always be his little sister.
"What the heart wants…?"
Touya nodded, feeling the urge to punch the 'traveler' who had asked his sister to go with him. "In other word, it is what the girl wants. It's not the matter which was more important for her because both her family as well as the traveler," he added unnecessary pressure, "are equally important for her." Sakura paid him full attention.
"If she wants to go with the traveler, she needs to know that she won't lose her family. All of them will wait for her to return safely. If she chose to stay then the traveler has no right to persist on her. Either what she chose, nobody will hate her. She will just need to follow her feeling, deciding on what is the thing she most wanted to do at this moment." Sakura nodded hearing his brother's point of view.
"I see… Thank you, nii-san!" Sakura got up and gave his brother a cheek kiss. She stormed out of the room without a glance.
"The story will soon have an ending now." He murmured silently to himself.
Sakura had been confused on what she should do. She wanted to go with Syaoran but her families' condition still concerned her. Her brother's opinion had supported her mind. She had made a decision. Tomorrow morning, she would tell him her answer and hoping once again that she wouldn't regret her decision aftermath.
A knock heard behind the white door. Syaoran opened the door and it revealed grinning Sakura in light dress. Today was not as cold as usual.
"It's rare to see you this morning." He said, walking out of his room.
"I want to talk to you." Was her answer. They wandered to the garden; Syaoran blinked his eyes to adjust to the fierce sunlight before able to drain the beautiful scenery in front of him.
"I've made my decision." Sakura said seriously. Syaoran suddenly felt his stomach churned. What will be her choice? Leave him? Go with him? Probably not, her family must be more important… A sweat trickled down his nerve.
"I'll go with you." Sakura whispered. Didn't believe his ear, he did a double take.
"You… you are willing?" He confirmed with shaky voice. Sakura nodded shyly. Syaoran grinned in relief and took both of her hands in his. He kissed it, making Sakura blushes furiously.
"I swear with my life that I will protect you." He gazed deep into Sakura's eyes who smiled softly and happily. "Have you told you family about this?"
Sakura shook her head.
"Let's go together then." He released her and moved to give her way. They walked to a room then Sakura knocked before went inside. The King, The Queen, and The Prince were sitting around a small round table at the center of the room. Sakura and Syaoran greeted them.
"What is it in this morning?" The Queen asked.
"I want to ask your permission and blessing." Sakura said to them. "I decided to go with Syaoran tomorrow, seeing the world with my own eyes." She paused. A slight surprised was on her parents' face.
"I know this is too soon. All of us just gathered. Okaa-san and Otou-san still recuperating. And I should help nii-san with the kingdom matter and…" Her word was cut by her father.
"You don't need to worry about those things." He smiled reassuringly. "If you wish to go, then you may go." Nadeshiko looked about to protest but Fujitaka silenced her. "She has grown up. She should decide for herself." Nadesiko looked at her husband a moment longer before sighed, Sakura stared at her worriedly.
"I guess whatever we say will not hold you. Don't be afraid. You have our permission and blessing." Nadeshiko said at last.
"I don't need you to help me rule the Kingdom anyway. Big monster can only messing thing." His brother added in mocking tone. Sakura threw him a murderous intent. She changed her tact and spoke proudly.
"Oh yeah? I wonder who was steering the Kingdom when you are not present."
"That's why everything is so messy. I…" His word was cut by the King.
"Enough both of you."
Syaoran took this chance to speak. "You Majesty, I, Li Syaoran, a legal heirloom from Li Empire, swear will protect Sakura with all my body and soul." He bowed slightly, hand on his chest.
His word brought another wave of surprise. "You… are the Prince of Li Empire?" The King asked for confirmation.
"Yes." Syaoran stood straight with an elegance of a well mannered people and stared straight into King's eyes. "Right now, I have nothing to prove my status aside from my friend's testimony. But I spoke the truth."
All of them can see that he was not lying. "We're so sorry for our ill treatment and not even knowing your real status." The King said.
"It's fine, Your Majesty. I traveled under disguise to avoid anyone knowing my real status. Your treatment was far than ill and I'll make sure that Sakura will also receive the same hospitality in our behalf." He said confidently.
"I see. Sakura, we'll arrange your things so you will be ready to depart tomorrow." The King finally said, impressed by Syaoran's polite and confident speech. "If there is nothing to be say anymore, we want to have a rest." Nadeshiko said. Sakura and Syaoran excused themselves. Outside the corridor, Sakura turned abruptly to Syaoran.
"You never said you are a prince!" She said accusingly.
"Well, I didn't mean to lie to you. I just didn't find any point in telling. Will you believe me if I said it in our first meeting?" He asked her teasingly.
Sakura stammered. "Well.. Yeah… No… but at least you can tell me earlier!" She was still trying to blame him. Syaoran put up his hand in defeat.
"Fine, fine. Next time I'll tell you. From this point on, I'll tell you everything you want to know." He smiled. Sakura couldn't angry at him, especially when he was smiling, adding more handsome line into his feature.
The next morning, all were packed and ready to go. Syaoran, Sakura, and Meilin were given brown horse. Kurogane mounted a black sturdy horse, a vein popped visibly at his forehead.
"I understand if that white guy and the yellow stuff doll will come with us." He nodded once (Please imagine a close up of Kurogane face). "They are her guardian, but…" He nodded again (please enlarge the view so you can see smiling and sparkling Fye at his side, sat on another black horse).
Kurogane spun his neck to his side and shout in irritation. "HOW THE HELL YOU ARE ALSO HERE?"
"I am assigned to assist my princess during her whole journey." The blonde in milky white answered, he was evidently amused, waving his hand up high in the air.
"It's not we don't believe in you, it's just feel much better if we have someone to accompany her." The King said to Syaoran.
"It's not a problem, Your Majesty." He answered reassuringly.
Nadeshiko handed Sakura a mirror as big as her palm. "This mirror is linked to our room's mirror." She said. Sakura grabbed the mirror carefully. "Though we cannot hear your voice, but we still can see each other once in a while." She said, patting her daughter's head. Sakura held back her sobs.
"Thank you Okaa-san." She whispered to her mother ear in her tight hug. She hugged his father and kissed his cheek.
"Where's nii-san?" She asked. The one who was the noisiest was nowhere to be heard.
"He was waiting outside the castle." The King smiled. "He would be one of your escorts until you cross the forest."
Sakura smiled. Her brother was indeed annoying, but she would miss his annoyance later. She didn't mind his presence for longer time. They galloped through the city, rested for nights and picked up pace at early morning. They had reached forest border just after 2 days.
Before Touya released her sister, he took a chance to speak to Syaoran. Shaking his hand, he bid him a farewell along with a threat. "If I find my sister crying because of you, you'll be a dead meat." Syaoran was very good. He managed to keep his expression straight though he was surprised over the threat. "Don't worry, Prince Touya."
Touya looked from the hill over his sister's departure. Slowly her silhouette which was still waving her hand disappeared behind the shadow and he was left without anything else he could stare at. Slowly and heavily, he turned his horse and returned with his servants to his home, where he and his family would always been waiting for her sister to come home.
A/N: This is the end of the story. I hope you enjoy it. I want to send a big hug to Sakura-fai who had stubbornly reviewed every chapter and gave me the spirit to write. I also want to thank all of you who had read through the end and I'll really appreciate it if you leave your thought. I hope we will meet again in another story. ;D