Yep, another CCS LJ challenge, hope I'll actually get it up on the website in time… proceeds to glare at lack of Internet

Mythology, no need to be canon, 2500-500 words

Disclaimer: CCS belongs to CLAMP and Kodansha

Rating: PG-13

Notes: No pairing, character deaths

Okay, so I took one of Grimm's Fairy Tales to try this… based on 'The Almond Tree'.

Title: The Water Lily

Once upon a time lived a magician named Clow Reed. Now Clow had a wife named Madoushi, a water fortuneteller, and they were very happy. But there was one secret sorrow between them. They could not have a child. So one day, Madoushi was walking along the banks of a pond, covered with hundreds of little water lilies, beautifully resplendent with pink-and-white petals, she sighed and told the water, "Ah, if only I had a child with skin as beautiful as the water lilies!" And as she spoke, the spirit of the water heard her plea, and so Madoushi picked a water lily and ate it.

Exactly nine months later, Madoushi gave birth to a beautiful boy with skin as pale as the water lilies. Clow was very happy and named him Yukito. However, the magical birth so tired out his wife that she died soon after.

Now a few years passed, and Clow Reed was lonely, so he got it into his head to marry again, and he married a woman named Li Yelan, who brought with her, her young son Syaoran.

Yelan despised her stepson, and often forced him to do undesirable tasks, such as chopping wood and carrying water – Clow hadn't created the Move card yet – but her own son, Syaoran, loved Yukito as a real brother.

One day, Yelan's hatred became too much to bear, so when Yukito came in to ask her for a chocolate, she told him to take one out from the large barrel in the backyard – Clow kept a supply for his pet lion, Cerberus – and when he leaned in to take one, she pushed him in and then slammed the lid shut until he suffocated.

After his struggles had ceased, she opened the lid and found him dead, and became horribly frightened, so she took his body to the pond and weighted it down with stones, and sank it to the bottom, twenty-five feet deep, and told no one what had happened.

However, she failed to notice the open second-story window and the frightened brown eyes….

At dinner that night, Clow Reed asked where his son had gone.

"Ah, he's gone to study Eastern magic with my family." Yelan explained with a clever lie.

"What? Without telling me?" Clow asked in surprise. "I'll miss him." And so he shed a few tears…

And Syaoran stared into his soup and wept and would not be comforted.

"Come, come, Syaoran, it's only temporary." Clow smiled, and urged him to eat more so he wouldn't get sick, but Syaoran left the table and ran out to the pond. Cerberus scarfed down his portion instead as Clow shook his head.

What was wrong?

Outside, Syaoran lit a stick of incense for his brother and began to pray. How could mother – why had mother killed Yukito-niichan? It made no sense! Yukito-niichan was always smiling and he was nice and he helped him all the time…

She hadn't even observed the proper funeral rights! Would Yukito-niichan's soul never find peace now?

He finished saying the prayer and then tried to wipe away his tears. Somehow, it just didn't seem to work… the tears streamed down his cheeks and he hastily washed his face in the stream so no one would notice he had been crying.

After he had left, one of the water lilies began to glow, and from the open petals came a beautiful small white bird.

The bird flew to a clothier's, perched on the roof, and began to sing.

"My mother killed me, my father grieved for me, my brother, Syaoran, wept for me by the water lilies. Kwit, kwit, what a beautiful bird am I!"

Hearing the song, the clothier came out. "Will you sing that once again?"

"Nay, I don't sing twice for nothing!" The bird twittered. "Give me that embroidered coat you just finished, and I'll sing it again."

The man came back with a long coat embroidered with the sun, moon, and stars, and the bird sang again. Then, he picked the coat up in his claws and flew away.

Next, the bird flew to a smithy, and perched on an anvil, and sang.

"My mother killed me, my father grieved for me, my brother, Syaoran, wept for me by the water lilies. Kwit, kwit, what a beautiful bird am I!"

The blacksmith was similarly enchanted, and agreed to pay with the long broadsword he had just crafted, if the bird would sing again. So the bird – having grown to a larger size by now, picked up the broadsword in his claws and flew off after singing the song again.

Now, the quite large bird flew to quarry, whereupon he perched upon a slab of granite, and sang once again. "My mother killed me, my father grieved for me, my brother, Syaoran, wept for me by the water lilies. Kwit, kwit, what a beautiful bird am I!"

"Sing that song once again." The stonemasons shouted, glad for some entertainment. The bird shook his head.

"Nay, I don't sing twice for nothing! Give me that slab of limestone you just carved out, and I'll sing it again."

The stonemasons handed over the large slab – it took four of them to carry it, but the bird picked it up easily, and sang the song again.

Now weighted down, the bird flew back to Clow Reed's house.

Clow was reading in his study, trying to concentrate on a particularly difficult spell, when he heard a sweet voice sing.

"My mother killed me, my father grieved for me, my brother, Syaoran, wept for me by the water lilies. Kwit, kwit, what a beautiful bird am I!"

Interested, he went outside to take a look, and saw a large bid outside. Suddenly, the bird threw something down – it was the embroidered coat. Clow put it on with surprise, feeling better, and returned to his study.

"Where did you get that coat?" Yelan asked as she passed him in the hall.

"There's a bird singing outside. It threw me this coat." Clow smiled.

"I see."

Yelan went outside, only to see Syaoran scattering grains of cooked rice into the pond for the carp – so they wouldn't eat his brother's body. As he worked, the bird flew over and began to sing.

"My mother killed me, my father grieved for me, my brother, Syaoran, wept for me by the water lilies. Kwit, kwit, what a beautiful bird am I!"

Yelan shivered, but Syaoran raised his head at the voice, and the bird dropped into his hands the loveliest broadsword, with a fancy hilt that could put the Li Clan's swords to shame. He smiled at the bird and then resumed his work.

Clow came out to see, still being unable to concentrate on his book, and patted Syaoran on the head, admiring the new sword. "Yelan, why don't you ask it for something as well?"

The woman was frightened, but she hid it beneath her mask of arrogance and nodded. "Very well!" She faced the bird coldly.

The bird threw down the huge slab of marble – straight into the pond, and with a splash of water and frightened carp and weedy plants, up on a wave came Yukito's body!

Clow realized what had happened in almost an instant, and before Yelan could react Cerberus had her pinned and Yelan was wailing about an accident and Syaoran hid.

"You-you-!" It was not often that the great magician Clow Reed was at a loss for words, but if there ever was an incident, this was one!

Syaoran closed his eyes and waited… but then there was silence, so he cracked an eye open, and saw his mother disappear into a gaping hole in the earth while Clow stared.

Suddenly, the bird landed, and the feathers peeled away, revealing a boy with long silvery hair and white wings, dressed in white robes…

"Y-Yukito-niichan?" Syaoran whispered.

"It's Yue now, otouto." The strange boy whispered, and he turned to Clow. "Father…"

"Yukito… I thought… oh I'm so glad you're alive!"

Yue shook his head. "I'm not Yukito any more, but…" But as Clow swept him and Syaoran up into a hug, and his wings vanished, and it was nice being held… maybe it didn't matter.

And they lived happily ever after.

END FIC

Completed 6/15/03

Aight, aight! Done!

Somehow the idea of Yukito and Syaoran as siblings is really, really kawaii in my mind…