He'd locked and bolted the windows, but at this point, what did it matter any more? The curtains were closing on this world, and that was that.

The pork bun hadn't even given them enough time to sell the house or rent it out to someone, so Kurogane had assigned himself the task of securing entrance points in case of future use. He thought he'd seen the magician give him a strange look, like he was on the verge of saying something but then decided not to at the last moment. Kurogane frowned. What, that his locking the windows was useless? That, if everything went well, they'd never see this place again?

Hell, it wasn't as though he had a driving urge to come back. Seeing Tomoyo-hime fawning over Sakura all the time was just weird and made his stomach a little queasy. Yeah, he'd miss the dragonflies; he had made himself scarce when the time came for Syaoran to talk to the guy from the parts shop about selling their models and had sulked on the roof, watching riders glide lazily through clouds while the transaction was completed. He didn't like not having a back-up plan, something for them to fall back on when everything went to hell.

The manjuu didn't even seem to be its normal annoying self. Granted, the kid had fed it all the clothes they'd bought from this world, which was a lot more than usual, as they'd been here a while and some of the proceeds from their dragonflies had gone toward purchasing a few more outfits to sell at the next world. They could always have Sakura gamble for them, but it was good to have a second option.

Just in case.

He latched the roof door behind him and scaled the outer walls of the house back down to the ground. What was wrong with him? His instincts didn't usually give him this much crap when everything seemed so solved: the saboteurs were caught, the feather was back--why the hell was he still feeling like something was waiting in the wings, something dark and sinister looming ahead in the not-so-distant future?

Kurogane tried to shake it off as he walked back to rejoin the others, but the feeling still nagged at him. Somewhere, a small voice told him, something is happening and it's not good.


Author's Note:

Well, here it is: really and truly the end. The above is a preview of the first chapter/ lead-in to At the Court of Blackened Ivory, which should be premiering soon (seriously). In other news of ends and beginnings, I finally read the end of Tsubasa today. I can't say that I liked it, but I'm one of those weirdos who prefers the series from before the attack of the you-know-whats. I do have a few ideas bubbling around that I'm playing with, but I don't expect that the sequel to this will be completely true to canon.

For those that were wondering, here are the themes that went along with each chapter. Themes are from fanfic100's claim table (except the afterword), so if you liked a particular chapter, check out the theme that went along with it!

I. Sweet Dreams? Maybe Not. :: Food

II. Never Enough :: Not Enough

III. What You Leave Unsaid :: Dark

IV. Broken Chances and Backward Glances :: Why?

V. Heartless :: Work

VI. Wash Out :: Brown

VII. Midnights and Musings :: Shapes

VIII. A Likeness of Spirit :: Spirit

IX. Shatter :: Friends

X. His Paper Heart I: Summer Nights :: Summer

XI. The Long Goodbye :: White

XII. His Paper Heart II: An Autumn Haunted :: Shade

XIII. To Wish on Paper Wings :: Lovers

XIV. From the Ashes of a Fairy Tale :: Fire

XV. What Goes Around :: Circle

XVI. His Paper Heart III: Glistening Winter :: Diamond

XVII. Tempest Rising :: Storm

XVIII. A Second's Hesitation :: Yellow

XIX. To Take the Fall :: Fall

XX. His Paper Heart IV: Spring Blossoms :: Spring

XXI. Last Tears to a Paper Heart :: New

XXII. Afterword and Aftermath :: Curtains Close

A few final words:

Larania Drake :: I have some plans for that. ;D

FullMetalFantasy :: Hopefully my work will continue to live up to expectations. Thanks much for your reviews and for drawing super-cute KuroTomo! I'll keep writing in my free time, so we'll see about a KxT update.

Cuenta :: Thank you! That chapter was the one I was agonizing over the most, so I'm glad people liked it!

Thanks as always to everyone who reviews--I've loved reading over everything and your comments have on more than one occasion made my day. You guys truly rock. And that's that! See you at the court.

--cy.