Star Crossed: Memories
Summary: The disgraced heir of the Kinomoto clan, Sakura, stands accused of performing witchcraft. Her crime? Enchanting the heir of the enemy Li clan to fall in love with her...
Full Summary: Thousands of years have passed since the ascension of the great Clow Reed. But both the Li clan and the Kinomoto clan still feud, each claiming direct descent to the magician. A blind and bitter hatred is born, and an era of bloodshed commences. In this world of suspicion and superstition, amity between the two clans is unthinkable, impossible and regarded as acts of treason and witchcraft. Until the unfortunate heirs of the two clans fall in love...
a/n: It sounds an awful lot like Romeo and Juliet, but I promise, the similarity ends with the two heirs of the warring families falling in love. What happens after is completely, completely different.
Star Crossed will be divided into five arcs. This first arc, Memories, is the shortest of them all. This is where all the sappy romantic SxS scenes occur, so treasure each moment! Also, the entirety of the first arc was written nearly three years ago. The arcs following Memories will be stylistically superior, with more attention to plot and characterization.
Anyway, I've yabbered on too much. Read on and enjoy!
the glorious innocence of youth shatters with the whisper of each breath
as transitory as a fragile autumn leaf are the tales of days gone past
Part One. Leaves
It was autumn. The fiery hues of scarlet and gold foliage mingled against the soft blue sky, while the brown of the path was slowly buried beneath a carpet of browning leaves fallen from their branches. The birdsong was fading, the insect life was gone…the air was brisk and chill, as some delighted in the beauty of nature, whereas others grumbled about the loss of warmth. Everything was calm, as the world prepared to fall asleep, to bask in sweet slumber as the sky poured cold ice and snow over all that was green and growing.
Sakura had always loved autumn. She had loved autumn the most: the days of change, of preparation, of youth…
She loved the feeling of the brisk wind against her face; the sound of the rustling of leaves; the sight of the fiery foliage lined up in the distance…
She loved the memories autumn brought: the echoes of long-lost days, memoirs of the past, memoirs of her mother, memoirs of him…
Sighing wistfully, she brushed her fiery hair out of her eyes. It would do no good, dwelling on these memories. It was dangerous to think like this.
She could not stop thinking about him. Though it made her heart ache, and her eyes bright with unshed tears, she thought of the first time she had seen him…
It had been just another autumn day. Sakura glanced nervously, peering through the scarf she had covered her face with. She had snuck out many times before, but all the same, the guards were never to be trusted. She had dressed herself in a middle-class dress, and her hair was let down, like the peasant girls. Her entire face was covered with a patterned scarf that had belonged to her mother, for the same purpose, according to the diary her mother had kept in the attic. She had it placed in the same fashion the peasant girls wore when they traveled around the city.
She looked right and left, before she climbed out of the window, and onto a sturdy branch. She clutched tightly to the firm wood, lest it break, holding her breath carefully.
Good. Nobody had noticed otherwise. Holding her breath, she slowly climbed downward, disturbing nothing more that a sleeping sparrow nested upon a perilous-looking perch. She saw the wall, the high wall that ran around the perimeter of her clan's property. It was built for two purposes: to keep the intruders out, and the inhabitants protectively caged in.
Sakura let out a sigh of relief, as she lightly landed on the summit of the high wall. From here, it was a simple matter of grabbing a convenient rope disguised as a vine, and sliding down the height of the wall. Once landing on the perfectly manicured lawns, she sped away from her home, to a crossroad, where three others stood waiting: Kinomoto no Tomoyo-Daidouji, Chiharu-Mihara, and Yamazaki-Takashi.
"Nobody saw you?" Sakura inquired.
Tomoyo shook her head. She was Sakura's first cousin. Both Chiharu and Yamazaki were Sakura's third cousins, but Chiharu was Sakura's third cousin on her maternal grandfather's side, whereas Yamazaki was Sakura's third cousin on her paternal grandmother's side. It was confirmed that Chiharu and Yamazaki were engaged.
"I think I might have run into Yuki on my way here," Yamazaki grinned, pulling his hood over his face. "But you know him: denser than a cinderblock."
Yukito was one of Sakura's cousins by marriage. Sakura had unabashedly adored him since the age of eight, although she had grown out of it a year earlier.
"Come on," Sakura motioned. "We're wasting time. We've got exactly –" she consulted her wristwatch (also an heirloom of her mother's), "– three hours to make our story plausible. Let's go!"
They didn't need telling twice. Now that Sakura's stepmother Yoshisune had increased supervision on the children, they needed to be extra-cautious before leaving the house. She had caught them once. Just once. And they were treading toes in order to stay one step ahead of their over-suspicious matriarch. Because now, seconds counted. It was a constant race for freedom against time.
They paused on one of the many twisting streets of the marketplace, a boisterous, rugged place filled with all sorts of people: the rich, the poor, the merchants, the children…everyone could be found in the marketplace. Sakura loved it for its liveliness, and the diversity of everything: the sight of people apart from the servants, senseis, and members of the Kinomoto clan.
Sakura watched, growing delight on her features hidden by her mother's scarf. At times like this, she yearned for the freedom that even the poor enjoyed.
"I'd rather be here than any other place in the world," she whispered to Tomoyo, who nodded.
"Look at them," she said. "Even the peasants have less to worry about. Sometimes, I wish I was one of them…away from the Kinomoto clan…"
Sakura smiled. "At least you have a chance to get away from all this. I don't even have that much."
The members of the clan, although called Kinomoto, were not all pure Kinomotos. Those who lived at the Kinomoto castle were those who could claim place on the giant, sprawling tree of descendants of the first Kinomoto. However, those who were pureblooded Kinomotos – Sakura being one of them – were not allowed to marry outside the pureblooded circle of Kinomotos. The rest of the Kinomotos – like Tomoyo – could choose to marry outside the Kinomoto clan if they wished to.
Tomoyo glanced at Sakura. "It's not all over yet, Sakura –"
"I know," Sakura said wistfully. "Being a direct descendant of the first Kinomoto, I'm not allowed to leave the clan. Ever."
"Sakura!" Tomoyo admonished. "Don't say that!"
"It's true!" Sakura insisted. "You, at least have some hope. That at least you might find your way out of the Kinomoto castle. Me, I don't even have that. I can never escape from here! I can never be happy! I can never be free!"
She stared at Tomoyo desperately. "At times like this, I wish I could just die!"
"Don't say that, Sakura," Tomoyo said, patting Sakura's shoulder. "Whatever Reed does, he does for a reason. Don't give up hope yet: even the wisest cannot see all ends. Clow Reed does everything for a reason: you were meant to live this life, for a better reason. Don't forget, they say that suffering draws one closer to Reed."
"Thanks for the lecture," Sakura muttered sarcastically.
"Move it, wenches!"
Sakura felt strong hands shove her roughly to the ground. She fixed her scarf, as the giant of a man gazed down at her in contempt.
"Peasant girl," he sneered, before spitting at her feet contemptuously, and storming off.
Sakura got to her feet shakily.
"Are you alright, Sakura?" Tomoyo inquired.
"I – I'm fine," she said. She broke into a wan smile. "If I'm not invisible, I'm a public offense."
"Let's go look around," Tomoyo suggested. "Let's split up. Sakura and I can go one way, and you and Chiharu can go another."
Yamazaki agreed, though his eyes looked worried. "Alright. Make sure to meet back here in exactly one hour."
"Alright," the two girls said. As they prepared to leave, Yamazaki called out a warning.
"And don't forget, watch out for those Lis," he said.
"We will," Tomoyo called out.
"And also, if you see someone from the palace, split up," Yamazaki said. "It'll be easier for all of us to slip back unnoticed if we go separately."
"We hear you, Yamazaki," Sakura said, before she and Tomoyo ran off, giggling.
Sakura pointed at a small figurine.
"How much?" she asked.
The vendor thought for a minute, before replying, "89 yen."
Sakura's face fell. "But it's so small!" she protested.
The vendor glanced at her, irritated, before proceeding to explain. "You see dress? So detailed, and it handmade by my wife. She blind woman. I give you for 80 yen then."
Sakura shook her head. "That is 40 yen at most."
The vendor then lost all his patience.
"Listen peasant!" he yelled. "80 yen best offer! You give me 80, or you go away!"
The surrounding peoples' attention had been caught.
"Come on, Sakura," Tomoyo murmured. "That's not worth all the time. I could make that for you any day."
Sakura turned on her heel, before she felt someone grab her wrist.
She whipped around. The vendor had grabbed her arm.
"Let go!" she cried.
"You peasant witch," he hissed venomously, unsheathing a rusty dagger. "Do not ever disturb me again."
He waved his rusty dagger threateningly.
"Or you will not have hand," he finished.
With one last effort, Sakura heaved her arm out of the vendor's grasp. His icy stare followed her until she turned down a corner.
"Calm down, Sakura," Tomoyo advised, noting the fiery look in Sakura's eyes.
"I can't help it!" she said. "These peasants are treated like mud!"
"Stop it, Sakura," Tomoyo said. "There's nothing we can do. Come on, let's try find something else."
"How much for flower?" Tomoyo inquired in clipped peasant tongue, mainly to avoid speculation over a well-educated peasant.
The vendor didn't even spare her a glance. "5 yen."
Tomoyo nearly burst in indignation. "For flower?!" she nearly shrieked.
The vendor continued to polish an expensive-looking vase. "They are rare exotic flowers," he said patiently. "Either you buy it or leave."
"Rare exotic flower, my foot," Tomoyo muttered in Sakura's ear. "Those grow in our garden back home."
"How about bracelet?" she continued, pointing at a bracelet made of painted green stones.
Tomoyo took a deep breath to calm herself. "But it not even real!" she cried.
In a flash, the vendor had whipped out a long ash stave.
"I'm warning you," he said, his voice cold. "One more remark like that, and you'll be walking home with your arms and legs matching your pretty blue eyes. Understand?"
"Come on Tomoyo," Sakura muttered, grabbing her arm. "Let's go –"
Her eyes widened.
"Yes, let's go," Tomoyo answered. She received no answer.
"Sakura?" she asked blankly.
"Yoshisune!" she hissed.
Sakura pointed to a fine-featured woman with catlike eyes. "Yoshisune!"
Tomoyo sucked in worriedly. "We should split up."
"Yes," Sakura said, breathing slowly. "A – alright then, you go that way, and I'll go this way. Head straight back to the manor, don't wait for Yamazaki and Chiharu. If you do see them, tell them to go back straight away."
Tomoyo nodded, and scampered off. Sakura turned and walked quickly, her eyes darting alertly around her. Beneath her worn moccasins, pebbles clacked noisily. Sakura watched them nervously; one false move could lead to a sprained ankle, and that would surely be the ticket to her doom.
Before she could even realize what happened, strong hands grabbed her forearms. Sakura struggled, the hard grip turning her arms blue.
"Hold still!" commanded a gruff voice. Sakura halted, her eyes watering from the man's grip.
"I need to ask you some questions, peasant."
Sakura nodded fearfully.
"We have received information that a Kinomoto is present," the man said. "Have you seen her?"
Sakura weighed her chances. If she directed the man to Yoshisune, then maybe she could buy herself, and the others, some time. If they hurt Yoshisune…well, that was only one more reason to direct the man to her.
"The matriarch of the Kinomoto clan was somewhere back there," she said, averting her gaze.
The man looked thoughtful. "The matriarch? You mean Lady Yoshisune?"
Sakura nodded. "It did look like her."
The man sighed. He pressed a small sack into Sakura's hand. "For your obedience."
He ran off.
Sakura stared at the sack. It was a black cloth, nothing extraordinary, tattooed with the Li emblem in green. It was filled with coins.
Slowly, as if taking time to realize this, Sakura realized that she had just handed her stepmother over to the Lis.
"I have sinned, Clow Reed," she whispered, clutching the sack tightly. "I am sorry."
The sky was darkening rapidly, as Sakura made her way through the twisted roads of the marketplace. The entire place was illuminated as a clap of thunder sounded overhead.
Perfect, Sakura thought to herself, as pellets of rain began to fall. Just what we all need. More delays.
She raced through the streets, avoiding stares of the people around her. She checked her watch anxiously. Where were Tomoyo and the rest? Had they made it on time?
Stars danced in front of her eyes as she collided into something hard and fell on the rocky ground. Her hands automatically flicked to her scarf, which was had come undone slightly, but before she could fix it, she felt strong hands pull her upward by the hair. She gasped slightly, from the pain.
She found herself staring at the same giant man who had shoved her over not long ago. He stared at her, a sneer pulling at his features.
"So look what we have here," he sneered, drawing a dagger. "A peasant girl, lost, with no place to go."
He licked the cold steel of his blade. "This is going to be fun."
Sakura's eyes were pleading. Struggling was no use, she knew this.
"Now, let's see how loud you can scr –" the man's words were cut off as his eyes widened.
Sakura's scarf had all but come undone, her face visible to all.
"Reed's staff!" he muttered. "You must be one of the Kinomotos."
Sakura didn't say a word, her mind working furiously. She was in for it now – she had been caught and recognized – now it was only a matter of time before they handed her over to the guards…
"You have to be a halfblood…or more. You have the eyes," the man pointed out. He twirled the dagger expertly, thinking. "You must be a pureblooded Kinomoto. Aren't you?"
Sakura didn't reply. It was over.
The man grabbed her wet hair, and inhaled deeply.
"Yes," he said. "You must be pureblooded. How else would you come across sandalwood and myrrh?"
Ages ago, Sakura would have known better not to wander outside after washing her hair, for sandalwood and myrrh exude a strong aroma until two days after application, which was why Yoshisune had ordered all of them to wash in two-day intervals. Now she had no choice but to take the risk, which was all but worth it.
Now she had been caught.
"…now, what should I do with you?" the man pondered mockingly. "Should I throw you out on the streets? Should I send you back home? Or…"
A wicked smile spread across his face.
"Maybe I should tie you in front of the Li manor," he suggested evilly.
Sakura glared at him, although her stomach had sunk to her knees at the suggestion.
"I'm sure the Lis would have a terrific example to make of you," he sneered. Sakura felt her blood boil.
"No more terrific than we would have made of them," she spat. Blood was blood after all, despite the restrictions it imposed on her.
She staggered slightly as the man struck her across the face.
"Shut up, wench!" he shouted, raising his hand again. "Or I swear that today will be your last!"
"If you did so, my kin would hunt you down toward the ends of the earth!" Sakura retorted. "Would you kill me if you knew it would place a bounty on you?"
He brought his hand upon her face again, with more force.
"Don't you – ever – say that – again," he said forcefully, shoving her to the ground.
He then looked around.
"Hey there!" he shouted. "I have a Kinomoto here! A Kinomoto pureblood! Lis! There is a Kinomoto pureblood here!"
His cries were greeted by angry shouts.
The man turned to Sakura, his heel ground in the hem of her dress. "Maybe today won't be your last, Kinomoto filth," he sneered. "But you'll wish it would be, when these people are through with you."
Sakura's eyes roved around her, panicked. There were nearly twenty Li men coming toward her, pushing through civilians and peasants to reach the man. She still had time.
With what strength she had left, she pushed herself up, the hem of her dress ripping all the way up to her knees. She dashed through the crowded streets, ignoring the man's outraged shouts. Somewhere along the way, one of her shoes fell off; the other flapped uselessly on her other foot. The pebbles underfoot ripped and tore at her exposed foot, as she struggled through the crowd.
With a cry, she tripped and fell over, causing much confusion and dispute to ensue. Trapped amid the shouts of angry civilians, she struggled to rise, blood flowing freely from a slash in her cheek.
"There she is! Don't let her get away!"
Sakura glanced back, afraid. There were even more Lis coming her way. Slipping off her shoe and testing its weight, she drew her arm back and gave a mighty throw that found its mark on one of the Li soldiers.
She turned and ran, fright turning to agility. The market was a crowded place, with many twists and turns. She could lose them somewhere. She knew that if she took a left and then took the right fork in the road, she could scale the tree there and jump into the river and swim to the Kinomoto castle before the Lis even noted what path she had taken –
A hand grabbed her wrist, and twisted it painfully behind her back. The next thing she knew, there was a knife at her throat.
"Don't even think of running away, filth," the Li whispered. "Or we'll chop you up nice and slow."
Sakura shuddered inwardly, her eyes still roving desperately as more and more Lis came.
With a sudden movement, she was released and kicked to the centre of the formation of Lis. She fell to her knees, her feet bleeding, her face pouring blood, her entire form scratched and bruised.
"Well, well…" one sneered, unsheathing a sword. "Look at who we caught in our net. A Kinomoto. And pureblood, by the looks of it."
Sakura tried to rise, but in the blink of an eye, a Li unrolled a whip and cracked it. Sakura halted.
"Very smart," he said contemptuously. "Is the little girl afraid of the whip?"
He cracked it again – louder.
"Now, I'm going to ask you a few questions, and I want you to answer."
Sakura didn't move.
The soldier cracked his whip again. "Or you'll be under this whip."
Sakura's eyes were downcast. Even now, she was still trying to find her way out of this. Please, Reed, she begged silently, let there be a way out of this. Please.
"First of all," the soldier sneered. "How many does your brother command?"
Sakura didn't answer.
She winced as the soldier withdrew his whip.
"Now, answer me! How many does your brother command?"
Sakura stared blankly at him.
She winced as he withdrew the whip again. She could feel the warm fluid seeping down her back, and shuddered again.
"That hurt, didn't it?" the soldier sneered. "Now, I'm asking you one more time. How many men does your brother command?"
Panting slightly, and feeling slightly dizzy, Sakura met the soldier's eyes.
"Go boil yourself," she gasped.
The man's foot kicked out at her, his face livid.
"You Kinomoto scum!" he spat. He turned to his fellow comrades. "Go now," he said. "I want to finish her off by myself."
The rest of the soldiers stepped back, as the man shouldered a huge bow, and fitted a large arrow to it. He stepped back until he was ten feet away from her.
"Get up," he ordered.
Sakura struggled to her feet, her heart pounding heavily. This was it, this was the end. Images of Tomoyo and Chiharu and Yamazaki filled her mind. Yukito and her brother Touya. Her long-gone mother, Nadeshiko.
Happiness filled her mind. At least she would be with her mother.
"This is why you never anger the Lis," the soldier said, taking aim. "Any last words?"
Sakura stared at him with blank eyes. Memories of her mother filled her mind.
The tension on the bowstring increased; the man's hand was shaking with the tension of the arrow.
Sakura closed her eyes, waiting for it to come…
The arrow left the bow…
Suddenly, as if in slow motion, Sakura heard someone coming. A rush of footfalls coming toward her.
They're coming, she thought. The chariot of Reed has come to take me…
The next thing she knew, someone had grabbed her by the shoulders. Her eyes flew open as whoever it was took an almighty leap and, holding her protectively, rolled down the hill. They reached the bottom of the hill, near the banks of an eddying river. Sakura could barely recognize her surroundings, before she felt herself being bodily lifted in her savior's powerful arms. Her rescuer – whoever it was – seemed to know their way well around the place, because no sooner had they gotten up, they raced speedily along the banks, and ducked behind a conveniently-placed, long-abandoned outhouse of some sort.
Sakura couldn't halt the painful pounding of her heart – her body was trembling at her brush with death, and her nerves tingling with the fact that she had emerged alive. Her knees felt weak, her stomach was churning…she felt so sick…
The next thing she heard were oncoming shouts of fury. The image of the Li man who had stood before her, aiming that arrow at her – not for another, but for her – the Li man who could have been so evil and hateful, to hate her enough to aim the arrow at her – that same man could be waiting outside, searching for her angrily.
What happened if he found her again? Would she be killed? Taken captive?
Oh Reed, she prayed silently, don't ever let me step outside the house again…
She felt herself being returned slowly to the ground, her rescuer's hands loosening around her waist. The next thing she knew, her knees had buckled, and her savior, whoever it was, folded their arms around her shoulders protectively, Sakura pressed up against its chest.
It took a while for Sakura to come to her senses. She was trapped between the wall and this stranger's body – it must be a man, by the flatness of the chest, the well-toned muscle discernible against Sakura's cheek. He could not be very old, judging from the smoothness of the arm and neck – he couldn't be a peasant, either – no peasant was this well built.
She shivered, pressing herself closer to this stranger, surprising even herself. Normally, she would have shrank away from anyone short of an acquaintance. This sense of…trust…was not one she readily gave, even to those she had known all her life. Why then, did she feel so secure in this strange man's arms?
Why did she feel as though she would rather be here than anywhere else in the world?
Why did she feel that as long as she remained in this man's arms, she would remain safe from the world?
Sakura could answer nothing, only that the man had tightened his protective hold around her, in what was short of a comforting embrace.
Once the sounds of the pursuing Lis had faded away, only then did Sakura regain her senses. She stepped back slightly, the arm about her shoulders loosening its hold. Sakura gazed into the face of her savior, feeling somewhat winded as she did.
It was a boy – he could not be much older than she – he had to be almost Touya's age, if not, maybe a bit older. He had a strong jaw, hair the color of chestnuts, and the most intense amber eyes she had ever seen. At the moment, those intense amber eyes were fixed on her, a penetrating, sincere gaze that made her insides feel hollow.
It seemed for an eternity that she stood there, pressed between the boy and the wall, just staring blankly, as though her mind had been wiped of all thought, as amber met green.
Say something, her mind urged. A thank-you would be appropriate, considering he just about saved your life…
But Sakura couldn't find words. She could find nothing to describe how she felt…she felt so dizzy…she could hardly breathe.
And just as she opened her mouth, she thought she heard a faint cry in the distance. The boy stiffened, and wrenched his gaze from Sakura's as he hurried out into the distance, Sakura's green eyes following him every step of the way, until the horizon swallowed him up.
Sakura sighed. She owed him her life. And instead, she had caused his exile. Because of her, he had been sentenced to seven lonely years on the cold borders, far away from his home and family. Far away from her.
Sakura shook her head silently. She had not betrayed him, nor had he her. She was no enchantress and had cast no spell, though the world screamed out otherwise. As for Li no Syaoran, he was out there, somewhere, waiting for her. The shore of her world, the cornerstone of her being. He loved her as she loved him. The world believed it impossible and condemned their love as an abomination of the magical arts.
They were separated, led to live their lives in solitude. Their so-called love, put to the test.
And so they lived, patiently waiting for the day when they could be reunited and prove to the world that their love was genuine.
They had never accomodated the malicious intents of others in their dreams, however.
And it was an oversight they never should have been careless enough to make.
Disclaimer: Card Captor Sakura belongs to CLAMP and everything affiliated to it. I own nothing familiar.
a/n: In case this wasn't clear, the whole story takes place years after Sakura and Syaoran first met (and many years after the trial). I know everything seems really, really confusing right now, but it'll all be explained in later chapters.
Again, there isn't much of a plot right now. Bear with me. This was originally a songfic I started writing three years ago. After working on it off and on and watching it grow, I decided to scrap the songfic idea and divide the story into chapters. In the process, I changed the entire plot around. I've tried editing out areas that have nothing to do with the plot as it is, but it's difficult when you wrote it such a long time ago.
The chapters aren't going to be very long either. At least not for this arc.
Next Chapter: We meet Syaoran. Short and simple.
Please find it in your hearts to review. A quick word or two is all you need! (seriously, I've gotten reviews that were one letter long, and it still made me grin!) The more reviews means a faster update. (I'll confess right here at the very beginning: I am a review whore. That's right. Readers of my other fic, Undercover, know that very well about me. -sighs-)
Read and Review, please!