He dresses the little fairy in pink today, a soft cherry-blossom color that sets off the bloody red of her lips and eyes. Her hair he catches up in little buns on each side of her head. She looks in the mirror and giggles a little, pleased at her own reflection. "Quite nice, my dear," he says, and she half-climbs, half-flutters to his shoulder.

The panther in the middle of the carpet only twitches his tail, but he does it in a way that speaks volumes. He also wears a cherry-blossom collar, and is not happy about it, although it looks nice against the black satin of his fur.

"Shall we have tea?" he says.

(there are a lot of things he never wants to remember.)

His world is this: three rooms, the panther and the fairy. He makes clothes for the fairy and collars for the panther and sometimes he remembers food and sometimes he doesn't. Sometimes the panther will put one paw on his knee and look at him with a sad expression that makes him get up very quickly and do something else. He talks quickly about cleaning and dusting and sewing. Even the fairy looks sad sometimes. He doesn't understand it.

There used to be windows in his rooms but they were blocked off and he painted pictures over them a long time ago. Not pictures of anything in particular, although sometimes he wakes up and there are pictures of people he doesn't know instead of the butterflies and flowers and distant hills he thought he painted. He has to paint over the new pictures -- a girl with her hair cut short in the front and hanging nearly to her waist in the back, a small kitten with wings and a funny tail, a long staff with a solar motif at the end -- and repaint his landscapes. The panther thinks his painting is boring and always tries to distract him.

The thing he likes the best in his rooms was a lamp that is shaped like a glass bubble with a white and black feather captured in the center. He stands under it and watches the steady pulsing glow it gives out. Even the fairy and the panther like it.

Sometimes there is a knock at the door and a voice calls to him, saying, let me in, let me in!

But he remembers the story of the wolf and the goat kids and he stays silent. Child, says the voice in sweet tones, dear child, let me in. I saved you. Let me in.

He stays silent and the voice goes away.

There was a woman who told him to do that. He doesn't remember how she came but she looked at him through a haze of sweet smoke and said, You have a wish.

"Yes," he said.

I will grant you your wish, for a price.

Little sleepy panther cub and little half-winged sleepy fairy, suddenly in his arms. He didn't realize what he wished for until he found them.

Your price, said the woman.

"Take what you want," he said.

It is only a little thing, she said.

(this is the nightmare: he is crouched in an empty house and there is a girl there with her face as white as paper, staring at him with horror and loathing. there is a boy lying too quietly on the floor, his body half-covering another girl. the girl on the floor is not moving. she's not moving.

no, he thinks. no no no --)

One day he wakes up and he realizes he is in a tower. It puzzles him for a second. Then he realizes that he is like the princess who was locked up for nine years in a tower with her maid, while her country fell into ruins around her. The thought amuses him briefly, for what country does he have? He has three rooms and a panther and a little fairy dressed in pink.

He doesn't know why he knows he's in a tower now. He watches the panther pace restlessly, sniffing at the floor and growling deeply. The fairy clings close to him. He listens closely. There are sounds below him, like something horrible coming from the floor.

He sits on the floor with his arms around the panther, listening as the sounds change and retreat and advance. Someone is coming.

(you meant to help her, says the girl. i know it.

i -- he begins and she looks at him for a long minute.

she forgives you, she says. her face is quite composed. she always forgives everyone.

no, he thinks, no no no)

The monsters are coming to get him and the only things that are real in his tower now, his stately chalk tower, are the panther and the fairy and the beautiful feather lamp. He listens as footsteps make their way up. It's not that he's frightened. It's just that the tower is crumbling around him as those light footsteps trip their way up to his rooms. The paintings are crumbling and he sees, underneath the lying pictures of his false world, the other pictures of the girl and the kitten with the corkscrew tail. They look happy now, not as if they were glad his world was crumbling but as if they were only waiting for him to realize they were there. They are waiting for him after the tower falls.

The panther pushes his head against his chin, a hard silky weight. The little fairy clings closer. The footsteps come closer. The tower crumbles around him.

He remembers. He remembers the girl that he meant to help. He had loved her as his own daughter. And he had killed her, as surely as if he had cast a spell and caught her in the heart. He remembers the girl with the white face. He remembers breaking his staff. He remembers.

He waits.

A door opens slowly and a girl stumbles in. Her face is red and blotchy with tears and he sees that her arms and legs are cut and scratched. Her golden red hair is tangled and dirty. He wishes for a second he could put her in a safe place, like the one he had before she brought it to ruin.

"Hello, dear Sakura," he says, with the fairy clinging to his neck, and his arms around his panther. "I've been waiting for you."


THIS IS ALL EVE'S FAULT

Originally there was some nonsense about Eriol being Kamui and Kotori's son but I thought it would be more effective if it were a Kyrielle-type universe. (Kyrielle is a reeeeally old CCS fic I did that involved Sakura failing the Judgement with Yue and losing her memories. No, for serious. LOOK I WAS NINETEEN, CUT ME A LITTLE SLACK.) So Eve, who is clearly insane, will do the crazy X/TRC/CCS version.

i think what actually happened was that that particular Sakura attempted the trials and died a horrible sudden death because she wasn't able to handle the magic, and Syaoran died a horrible sudden death trying to protect her. I don't think Tomoyo killed herself.