Lenna: Heeeey people! Well, turns out this chapter was written by me alone, and since it's been an eternity since I've last written on this, my style might have changed or… something. Er, sorry there! ^_^;; I hope you like it still, though. I did all I could! _

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Hurt of love, reborn as an Angel

Chapter fourteen

Unlike Tomoyo, Eriol didn't really have much of a romance sense. And with a clueless, goofy grin, which didn't fit his character at all, he leapt up and poked his head between the two of them. So much for giving them a private moment, Tomoyo shook her head in disbelief. She couldn't prevent a tiny smile from creeping to her lips.

"I think the rain has subsided. Why don't we go home, Sakura-chan?"

The violet-eyed beauty spoke up, the only one who was observant enough to realize such a thing as the stopping of the rain. And, unlike them, she had noticed Sakura's still frail and sickly state. And she looked at both Syaoran and Eriol intently, a frown flitting across her face. The two of them knew what she was getting at. She and Sakura were to go home. Only she and Sakura.

"OK, um. So. Do we live here or something?"

Sakura leaned back from Syaoran with a smile, her cheeks flushing a light pink; whether from blushing or from her cold, Tomoyo couldn't place. A cheery glint flickered in her emerald eyes. She took a few tiny, tumbling steps forward, and dizziness made it hard for her to equilibrate on only two legs. A few wobbly thoughts began to piece themselves together in her shaken mind. 'I mean, why don't people have three of these?' She lifted one leg, staring intently at it with narrowed eyes. Her state seemed drunk. She appeared oblivious to the others at this new philosophical thought. 'Let's be rational, it'd be much easier to walk steadily around… but then of course we'd need three arms as well, so that it would look good together. Hey come on, it makes sense. Then we'd have two mouths, too! I mean like, one for eating and the other for uh, kissing or… whoa. I am not feeling well. Help…? …anyone…..'

And so, she collapsed.

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How long had it been since she had last curled up in a ball and pretended to be oblivious to it all? How long had it been since she just felt like hiding, like running away? How long had it been since she had been weak…? How long, just how long ago hadn't she cried…

She hated this. This feeling of vulnerability, this feeling of confusion. She hated it. She was no coward, she was strong, the strongest ever! And she vowed… vowed never to love… But then again, what was love? It couldn't be, it couldn't be love! She couldn't. She just couldn't! No, no! Please let it be just a dream… a terrible, terrible dream… she felt so childish. She would wake up, and find that she didn't, that she had never been kissed. Oh, just what was wrong with her?!

She had been taught about love. She was one of the few who were still schooled about it and the dangers of the one forbidden emotion called love. Love. She had been warned of its symptoms, of its effects, for it was an illness. I would slowly eat her away, it would degenerate her, she would be corrupted and deceived, she would learn to forget, she would end up betraying her own land! No, no, please no… She couldn't. Even if it was breathtaking, even if it was so tempting. Loyalty would drown her strange desires, damn it she would get a hold of herself.

Huh. But still, she would never have thought of herself as a lesbian. Not until today. And even so, she didn't feel attracted to Sakura and Tomoyo, who were so much more gifted and feminine than that – wait… Her eyes shut down, and she groaned in agony. No, don't let this be it. Kiiwa was so much less feminine. She had the short hair, the rough face, such a different way of acting. She was just so different, and Meiling couldn't understand how that came to be.

"Meiling… my sweet Meiling?"

The voice was soft, sickeningly sweet, in a fashion highly uncommon for one who hated falseness. Nadeshiko pushed the door to the raven-haired girl's room open, and light flickered, illuminating her surroundings. The queen entered the room in all her majesty, her face's calm expression twitching with the need to smile. Meiling was sitting in a darker corner of her beautifully furnished room, leaning against the stony wall, her legs drawn up to her chest, her arms hugging herself tightly. Nadeshiko saw the tears that dared to escape her narrowed eyes, and the pained look that quickly flickered to surprise at the queen's sudden entrance.

"Y-Yes – I-"

Meiling rapidly stumbled up, wiping her cheeks furiously, getting a grip of her emotions. Nadeshiko slowly, cautiously approached the young lady, her eyes glinting. She didn't seem herself.

"My sweet Meiling… tell me now… what has been done to you?"

She stepped close to the girl she had adopted as her nephew, and took her chin in her delicate hand. Something about the way Nadeshiko was talking scared the raven-haired girl, and an uncanny feeling of mistrust came over her. The queen's eyes flashed with an emotion unknown to the still distraught Meiling, and her smile widened into one not of happiness, but malice. Meiling stepped away cautiously, unsure of how to react. She frowned…what was wrong with her? Wasn't she trusting the woman who had taken given her shelter and love? But one look into the queen's seemingly possessed gaze, and she suddenly knew that this was not the Nadeshiko she loved as a mother.

"My queen?"

She asked cautiously, and Nadeshiko laughed quietly. An insane shine came to the woman's emerald eyes, and Meiling recoiled slightly, fear crawling into her. What the hell was going on here?

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"Be sure not to get caught by these guards of yours."

"Make it back safely."

"Take good care of Sakura…"

"Careful with yourself, too."

"Take your time…be sure to have her rid of the fever…"

"But be back soon. I- we'll be waiting."

Tomoyo waved absently at the nervous men, a hint of annoyance as she huffed quietly at them. Frowning worriedly at a trembling Sakura, she supported her best friend by her arm. She whispered a few comforting words to the sickly girl, but her own state being one of exhaustion as well, the dark-haired girl was unable to perform any successful healing spell. Their trip, while aided by magic, was horribly demanding and drained especially Sakura's forces. Her paleness had grown worse, her coughing fits more repetitive and intense. Right now, she seemed more fainted than awake.

"Yeah, yeah, no need to worry… come on now, Sakura-chan…"

Tomoyo shuffled ahead from where the four young magicians were currently hidden, helping her wobbly sister. For a short pause, they had rested within the palace's gardens, among the taller trees. Lucky for them the sun was just setting, and night crept close. Until the two of them were provided with clothes again, Eriol and Syaoran should stay there, and hopefully wouldn't be seen. Syaoran looked painfully guilty at Sakura's state, but whenever he made moves to apologize or help, Sakura just smiled, oblivious to what he was talking about, just plainly flattered at his worry.

"Wooh… biiig… we work here…?"

Came a soft, sweet whisper, an amazed Sakura staring at Tiehlek's castle in awe. Tomoyo sweatdropped slightly, hugging her best friend closer to herself, mumbling a few words under her breath and into Sakura's ear. She promptly quieted down, blinking dazedly at the response she got. The two girls left Eriol and Syaoran as fast as they could, and soon they found themselves alone. Syaoran sighed, leaning against a tree.

Worries reflected in his eyes; worry for the princess, for his country. Fear of completing a mission they had dismissed for too long, the mission of retrieving a globe on which he had no information yet. Worry, fear of betraying the girls' trust. Because they trusted him. Sakura trusted him, unconditionally, without him having to prove his loyalty, without him having to kill something for her. She just trusted him as she trusted everyone else, she had faith in people. What made her so different from all others? How could she love everything in such a thoughtless way?

Eriol placed a hand on his comrade's shoulder, and offered a smile. Caught off guard, only now did Syaoran realize that the dark-haired mage was suffering alongside him. He had never really taken the time to understand other people, never really cared. But now he found in Eriol one with the same pain as himself, and just felt that they could share something. Something newly found in common, something long forgotten by their time.

Love…

"Hey. Hold it with the mourning, man. They'll be back."

"Yeah. I know."

The blue eyes twinkled behind the glasses, and Syaoran sighed. He knew they'd be back, as did Eriol. He let his thoughts wander, and his worries had drifted to a different matter, one more urgent and dangerous. What were they to do about Kwaai Wo? He didn't seem affected by the females. He remained loyal to the law, he was just… cold. Wasn't he?

"Something's bothering you. Spill it or I'll just read your thoughts."

Syaoran raised his eyebrow at Eriol's direct inquire, who talked in a way Syaoran was more used to see himself talking. He sighed, looking up at the darkening sky. He narrowed his eyes at the moon, glowing softly among the stars, in all its silver splendor. He closed his eyes, then with a sigh, looked at Eriol.

"Yeah. Kwaai Wo."

He admitted, shrugging. It was just part of the truth anyway. Eriol wasn't his friend (yet), after all, and he wasn't about to go telling him everything. What were they to do about the globe? He had forgotten. He had pretty much pushed aside the very reason they'd come to the women's country. The mission to gain their trust, then to steal the globe, was just partly completed. They had their trust now, but… was he ready to betray it?

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Sooo, like. ¬¬ I know it's not really wonderful or anything, plus it's short, plus it's short, but hey, I bet you thought there wouldn't be any new chapter either way. ^^; Now, now, what could be wrong with Nadeshiko, eh? XD I'm evil. And in a pathetic way, but that's fine. ^^ Well then, in any case, review! I'm pretty sure that without reviews, this chapter wouldn't exist. *cough* It hardly does, but at least it's here. ^^