(A/N) Well, here's the new story I promised. Without Labyrinth to focus on, I needed something new to turn my energy towards. I should tell you now that this story is mostly based on the Disney movie. (I can hear the groans already, but hey, let's all calm down and give poor Anath a chance. After all, has she not proven her ability to make a story her own with Labyrinth?) This is owing to the fact that the movie undeniably has more plot to work with than the original fairy tale. And, for anyone who's interested, La Belle Au Bois Dormant is the original French title of the story. It means 'The Sleeping Beauty In The Wood'. I should also tell you that Fai is the Fai we know and love, and Yuui is the twin. I've just switched them around. I've also turned Yuui into a girl.
Warnings: If you've gotten this far, I assume you realize that this story contains shounen-ai. I should hope that everyone knows the drill by this point. I've rated the story M just to be safe. I don't like to limit myself. Besides, we all know real fairy tales aren't meant for children, tee-hee. Being as that this is an AU, I don't think there will be spoilers, but I've read up to the end and things might slip. If you haven't read that far, consider yourself warned. Pairings here include some SyaoSaku and TouYukito in the beginning. And of course we have the main pairing, KUROFAI! But we'll also be seeing some light DouWata, some implied YuukoClow, and some TomoyoX? Little bit of everything, really.
Disclaimer: FANFICTION! Enjoy.
La Belle Au Bois Dormant
Chapter 1: Once Upon Another Dream
Once upon a time, in the far away kingdom of Valeria, there lived a king and queen. The king, Syaoran, was a noble and just ruler, and his queen, Sakura, was wise and beautiful. They were kind and gentle rulers and under them, Valeria prospered as never before. However, as warm and caring as the young royal couple was, there was a dark cloud hanging over their reign. For many years, they had longed for children, but Sakura had been unable to conceive. Year after year, the young queen tried, but still her womb remained empty. But, finally, after so many months of failure and heartache, Sakura suddenly found herself two months gone with child.
"So, Yukito-san? Can you tell me what's wrong?" the nervous queen asked her high priest. Yukito, the acting high priest of Valeria, had also been trained as the palace physician. Normally there wasn't a great need for his services as a doctor, but for the past two weeks Sakura had been violently sick most mornings. Every evening she would seem to be getting better, but by morning the sickness would always return. Both Syaoran and Touya had been getting worried and insisted that Yukito have a look at the young queen. At this point, he was fairly certain of what was "wrong" with her.
"Yes, Highness, I believe I know what the…eh…problem is. I hope you don't mind my asking, but I need to know…when was your last blood?"
Sakura tilted her head sideways, confused by the question, but thinking it over, nonetheless. "I…I'm not sure…I think…maybe…" A warm smile spread across the priest's face as comprehension dawned in the queen's sparkling green eyes.
"I…I'm…" The words refused to leave her mouth as her hands slowly traveled up to rest protectively against her womb.
"Yes, nearly two months would be my guess," he said, placing a hand atop hers. "In early spring, you will bear twins."
"Twins?" Sakura whispered, practically faint with joy and shock.
"You heard that, I take it?" Yukito suddenly called over his shoulder. At that, Touya's head appeared in the doorway to the king and queen's bedchamber.
"Only because I was eavesdropping," he said matter-of-factly as he swept into the room, dragging a bemused King Syaoran behind him. Touya was the only one other than Sakura who dared to manhandle Syaoran so. This was probably because he had been king before Syaoran. He had reigned in peace for many years, but once it became apparent to him that he would never be able to provide the kingdom with an heir because of his love for his childhood friend, Yukito, he had abdicated in favor of his little sister and her husband. Now he and the high priest were happily married and Syaoran and Sakura shared the throne and would soon produce the longed-for heir. Touya had no great love for his brother-in-law, but he apparently trusted him enough to leave his sister and the kingdom in his care. Syaoran still came to him for advice, though.
"Syaoran?" Sakura started, gazing at the young king with tears of joy in her eyes. Syaoran ran to his wife and seized her in a tight hug.
"Twins, Sakura. Twins! At last," he whispered to her as he lifted her from their bed and spun her around.
"Hey! Be careful with her!" Touya shouted. "You can't be so rough. She's going to be a mother."
The king blushed and quickly set his bride back down. "I'm sorry, Sakura! I didn't mean…I didn't hurt you, did I? Or the babies?"
"It's fine, Syaoran," the young woman said with a giggle. "I'm just so happy."
Syaoran was about to respond when he suddenly felt an arm around his neck.
"Now comes the part where I kill you for getting my baby sister pregnant, bozu."
"Now, Touya," Yukito began to scold. "If you wanted to do that, then you probably shouldn't have named him king in your place. He can have you beheaded, you know."
Touya released Syaoran with a grunt. "You're no fun. Besides, if you'll remember, I didn't name him king. I named Sakura queen in my place. He just happens to be her husband."
Syaoran and Sakura had long ago stopped listening to the banter of the priest and former ruler. Syaoran had settled himself next to Sakura on the bed and was holding her close once more.
"Sakura…it's so wonderful."
"I know. Children of our own…after all this time."
"There is one other thing, Majesties," Yukito said, hesitantly interrupting their tender embrace.
"Yes?" Sakura asked. Suddenly fearful, she placed a hand back upon the almost imperceptible bump in her stomach.
"Surely, Queen Sakura, you know by now that you are beloved of the faerie folk. After so many months of bareness, these babies are surely a gift from the faerie king. You must be certain to thank the fey properly when the time comes."
Sakura breathed a sigh of relief as she collapsed back into her husband's arms. She'd been afraid that something was amiss.
"We'll thank them a thousand times over," Syaoran whispered in her ear as they cuddled. "We'll invite the whole court to the naming if we must."
"A very kind sentiment, King Syaoran, but unnecessary," the faerie king, Clow Reed, commented as he surveyed the happy scene.
"Well, if you don't plan on sending the entire court to the naming ceremony, whom will you send? Do you…plan on going yourself?" his right hand faerie, Kimihiro Watanuki, asked, sounding more than a little surprised.
"Since you asked, Kimihiro-kun, I believe I will send the three of you."
"Yay! A party!" Himawari Kunogi cheered from her place beside Watanuki. She quickly stood and began to dance in circles around the reflecting pool where they were all gathered. "Flowers, music, wine, cake, little baby humans! Won't it be so much fun, Watanuki-kun!" she sang as she swept Watanuki and their remaining companion, Shizuka Doumeki, into a big group hug. Watanuki had been grumbling about the prospect of having to attend a human celebration. He did not much care for humans. But the instant Himawari started dancing for joy, he gave her a reluctant smile. She was, after all, his adopted sister, and there was very little he could deny her. Doumeki, on the other hand, remained as stoic as ever.
"You sense something," he noted, phrasing it as a statement of fact rather than a question.
"I do," the king said sadly as he gazed down on the beautiful queen and her husband in the throes of their joy. "Queen Sakura is a wonderful woman, a friend to our people and a pure spirit. I imagine that's why Yuuko chose to hate her so much."
"What's Yuuko got to do with these babies?" Doumeki asked. Yuuko was a very powerful, very insane faerie who had been banished from Faerie many centuries ago for treason. Once, she had been Clow's wife, but now she was the queen of the Dark Court, the group of faeries who had followed her into exile.
"I believe Yuuko was jealous of the fact that I chose to bestow my favor upon the queen. So she cursed her womb with infertility. But Sakura is a good person. I couldn't stand to see her suffer any longer, so I intervened in Yuuko's curse and allowed King Syaoran's seed to take root, just this once. These children will always have a touch of fey magic in them."
"So…what is it that you fear from Yuuko, Your Highness?" Doumeki continued to question.
"I'm afraid she might try something at the ceremony, when they've survived the first five months and are officially anointed royal children. Knowing her, she won't try to harm them until after they're born. Neither will she harm them directly. Curses are her way. When the time comes, I want the three of you to go to Valeria and do what you can to protect the babies."
"As you wish, Majesty," Watanuki said solemnly.
Just as the High Priest foretold, early in the spring, the queen brought forth twin babies, a girl and boy, named Yuui and Fai: The elegant beginning. A great holiday was proclaimed for all of Valeria on the day of their naming ceremony so that all of high or low estate might pay homage to the longed for infants. Among them were the king and queen of the nearby kingdom of Nihon, Ashura and Amaterasu. The two ruling families had been friends and allies for many generations and had fondly dreamed of the day when their two kingdoms could be united as one. And so, on this day, they would announce that Kurogane, Ashura's son and heir, to the eldest twin, Yuui, would be betrothed.
The babies lying in the cradle were both very pink…and very chubby, neither of which was an attribute the three-year-old Prince Kurogane cared for. He really didn't understand why all the grownups were making such a big fuss over them. You couldn't play with them. They didn't talk or do anything interesting. They just…lay there. Occasionally, one would kick out a pudgy, useless limb or make an inane baby noise that the adults found oh so cute, but that the young prince just thought were annoying. Why were they paying attention to the twins? They should be paying attention to him! He could actually do things that were interesting. He could climb tall trees. He could lick his own elbow. He could jump out his bedroom window and land in the branches of the sakura tree just beyond it. When it struck his fancy, he could cover every inch of skin and clothing with mud. One point that was of particular pride to the boy was that he could yell loud enough to make the castle windows shake. He could even use his toy sword to do some of those tricks his father's guards had taught him. He was the height of interesting! But the grownups would still rather coo and fuss over the twins. Seriously? What was wrong with them?
"Don't be shy, Kurogane," his father said, having noticed him staring into the bassinet. "Give little Yuui-chan your gift."
The little boy just rolled his eyes. He wasn't standing here staring at these boring lumps of…boring because he was shy. He was still standing here because he couldn't for the life of him figure out which one was Yuui, and he wasn't about to ask for help. But, luckily for him, Queen Sakura seemed to realize what the problem was, so she knelt down beside him and whispered conspiratorially in his ear, "Yuui's the one on the right, the one farthest away from you."
Kurogane nodded his understanding and stretched his clenched fist toward the baby. He opened it and allowed the gift to dangle from his fingers over the little girl's head. It was a small pendant hanging from a silver chain. The pendant was in the shape of a crescent moon and it was set with deep blue sapphires. His mother had given it to him to give to Yuui. She'd told him it was his father's gift to her on their wedding night. He had always worn the pendant's twin: a golden sun pendant set with blazing red rubies. Kurogane had seen them place the two pendants together before. When joined the crescent moon fit perfectly into the embrace of the sun's rays. His father had told him he would give him the pendant "when the time was right"…whatever that meant. His mother had said the necklaces would be good luck for him and Yuui. Good luck for what? Were they going to be playing on the same ball team someday?
The only problem with his parents' brilliant gift-giving plan was that the baby girl didn't seem particularly interested in his gift. She gave the silver and blue thing a passing glance, but immediately turned her attention back to her own feet, seeing if she could grasp them and put them in her mouth.
"Hey," he started, dangling it closer to her face. "Don'tcha want it?"
She clearly didn't…but someone else did. The other baby, whom Kurogane had completely forgotten about in his attempt to be rid of his present and get away from the crib, reached out and snatched the shining, dangling object…and promptly began to suck on it.
"Hey!" he said angrily, snatching the necklace back. "Tha's not yours, you brat!"
Afraid of the harsh voice and distraught over the loss of his new toy, baby Fai's lower lip began to tremble and his big baby blue eyes began to fill with tears. He opened his mouth wide to scream…
"No! Don't! Shh!" Kurogane hissed urgently. Afraid the adults would spank him for making the baby cry, he quickly jammed the pendant back into his open mouth. Fai looked surprised for a moment, but, lacking the mental capacity to question his sudden good fortune, he seized the silver chain in his pudgy, sticky fingers and went back to contentedly sucking on the crescent moon.
"Fine!" Kurogane said, angrily turning to stomp away from the cradle. The boy was more than a little irked that he'd been outmatched by a baby. "Keep it, brat! I don't care!"
"Don't worry," Sakura whispered soothingly to him as he passed her. She had seen the whole thing. "I'll see that it gets to the right person."
Kurogane blushed slightly, feeling like a stupid little kid for losing his temper in front of the queen. He liked her. She was nice. The boy continued on toward his parents with a little less petulance in his step.
Sakura smiled warmly after the young prince. He was a good boy. He would make Yuui a fine husband. The queen was still basking in the glow of her joy when she began to notice an actual shimmering glow in the middle of the throne room. The people gathered in the room all began to chatter indistinctly as the light grew brighter. Before long, three figures could be seen in the ray of light. Two male and one female, they moved so lightly across the floor they almost seemed to float.
"Fey," Sakura whispered to her husband as he leaned curiously forward in his throne.
"Your Majesties," the three faeries said as one as they bowed before the royal couple. The shorter of the two males, who seemed to be the leader, quickly stepped forward. He was dressed all in red and garlands of new spring flowers were draped across his body. The scent of spring followed him wherever he went.
"Unfortunately, King Reed could not answer your invitation directly. He sends us in his stead to offer his gifts and blessings to your children. I am Kimihiro Watanuki. To my right is Himawari Kunogi. Allow her to present the first gifts."
The Fey woman stepped forward, her movements even swifter and lighter than her two companions'. Her delicate frame was wrapped in green fabric and rabbit pelts. Her curly black hair hung unbound to her waist. The scent that wafted in the air around her was not quite so easily distinguished as Watanuki's was. The only thing that was certain was that it was the scent of something wild. In her arms, she held two…things. They were unlike anything the king and queen had ever seen. One was black and the other was white. They had long ears and feet like rabbits but that was where the similarities to any known animal ended. They had little round bodies like…cream puffs, really, and stubby paws.
"These are the Mokona Modoki," Himawari introduced cheerfully. "Faerie animals from King Reed. They will be companions and guardians to the prince and princess."
Syaoran nodded his agreement and Himawari quickly went to place the fey animals in the cradle. Yuui giggled happily and grabbed at the shimmering blue jewel in the black Mokona's forehead. Fai reached out curiously and grabbed the white Mokona's long ears. Then he pulled hard, just to see what would happen. The little white thing moaned in pain.
"Ears! Ears!" it squeaked in a voice so small that only Himawari and the babies could hear. Himawari smiled and gently removed Mokona's ears from the baby's strong grasp. Fai squealed with delight at the smile the Faerie woman was giving him. He reached his tiny hands up toward her, asking to be picked up. Himawari shook her head and smiled once more as she backed up.
"And now each of us the children may bless with our own gifts," Watanuki explained before making his own way toward the crib. As he gazed down at the babies, the faerie suddenly felt a change sweep through him. Before this moment, the proceedings had been just business as usual. But now, these children, looking at them…he felt a warmth he hadn't felt for a very long time. His own mother had been dead for many centuries. The only people he had that he considered family were Himawari, her father, and…okay, fine, that idiot, Doumeki, too. But these twins, seeing their innocent, helpless, smiling faces, he felt an immediate kinship with them.
"You sly trickster," he said of Reed as he reached down both hands to run gentle fingers over their chubby cheeks. The king had known this would happen. He knew his advisor too well to think he wouldn't develop a soft spot for the little ones, human or not. He would certainly have no trouble honoring his vow to protect them.
Yuui suddenly seized one of his fingers with both her tiny hands and placed it in her mouth. Smiling her sweet baby smile, the little princess began to suck contentedly on the digit. Watanuki gave the baby girl a warm smile before reluctantly taking back his hand.
"Little babies, receive unto thee the gift of beauty," he whispered to the two of them. "Grace and gentleness, and skill with all things born from the Earth." Then he placed a gentle kiss on each of their foreheads before stepping back and allowing Himawari forward to give her own gifts.
"Sweet children," she said softly as she reached into the bassinet and picked up little Yuui "I grant thee wisdom and the voice of the forest. Song, the voice to speak with all things wild." As Himawari gave the child in her arms a gentle nuzzle, the girl reached out with her pudgy fingers and seized a tendril of her glossy black hair. The faerie laughingly extricated her hair from Yuui's grip before laying her back down upon her bed of blue silk.
Last to approach the cradle was Doumeki. Syaoran and Sakura watched this faerie with more than a little apprehension. He had not spoken once since the trio's arrival and he was by far the most physically imposing of the three. He was dressed in shades of blue and gray and wind played about his crown of jet-black hair. A bow and quiver of arrows were slung over his shoulders. Lightning flashed in his amber eyes. The scent that accompanied his movements was unmistakable. It was the scent of ozone, of lightning, married together with the fresh breath of spring rain. He was as peaceful and volatile as the spring sky.
Doumeki said nothing as he gazed down at the twins. He could feel tension somewhere in this place…like the calm before the violence of the storm. It was building, getting louder, centering on these innocent children.
"Have a care," he whispered to them as he reached down into the cradle and lifted Fai from his resting place. He held the little boy close as he turned to face the center of the throne room, as if to protect him from what was to come.
Watanuki and Himawari both caught his gaze and allowed their own eyes to follow it. It was coming…what the king had feared. For a while, everything had seemed peaceful and Watanuki had hoped they wouldn't be needed, but he now saw he'd been foolish to hope Yuuko wouldn't make a move.
Syaoran, Sakura, Touya, Yukito, Ashura, and Amaterasu were all shocked to see an actual storm spring up from the place the three faeries watched. A scorching wind tore through the great hall, shredding banners and snuffing out torches. The gale crescendoed and came to its peak as a sickly yellow-green light appeared at its center. Out of the pale globe a figure appeared.
Yuuko was tall and achingly slender. Her skin was a sickly shade of white that came from living without sunlight for many years. Her vindictive eyes were like blood and her hair was the color of darkness. She wore a voluminous black gown that left little to the imagination. Twin ravens were perched on her shoulders and in her hands, she held a long golden staff that was topped by a glowing emerald orb.
"Yuuko," Sakura whispered, her mouth going dry. Doumeki instinctively clutched the infant he held tighter.
"Well," Yuuko began derisively as she glanced around the great hall. "Quite an excellent gathering, King Syaoran. Royalty, nobility, the gentry, th-" She paused briefly when her eyes fell on the three faeries. Then she laughed condescendingly. "How quaint. Even Reed's lackeys." Watanuki glared at the insult. Himawari, fearing that he meant to act on his anger, placed a calming hand on his shoulder.
"I must say, I felt quite distressed at not receiving an invitation to the ceremony," she continued conversationally. "Am I so much less a ruler than Clow?"
"You wonder why? You weren't wanted!" Watanuki said angrily, his fear for the children clouding his better judgment.
"Not wan-" Yuuko's voice broke off. She played the part of astonishment to the hilt. The mortals didn't know what to make of her, but she and the other faeries were well aware of what was really going on here. "Oh, my. What an awkward situation. I was hoping it was merely due to an oversight. Well, in any case, I'd best be on my way," she said, turning as if she truly meant to leave.
"And…you're not offended, Yuuko-sama?" Sakura asked nervously, slowly moving to stand in front of the crib where her daughter still lay. Doumeki moved to stand beside her.
"Why no, Sakura-sama. Of course not," she said in a sickeningly sweet voice, turning back toward the royal dais. "And to show I bear you no ill will…I, too, shall bestow a gift on the children."
Watanuki and Himawari took up defensive positions in front of the crib, though they were well aware their own power didn't hold a candle to Yuuko's. Doumeki turned slightly to hide Fai from Yuuko's sight, as if that would actually help. The faerie felt his heart twist painfully when he felt the infant's tiny hands grab at the blue fabric of his tunic, seeking comfort, for he had none to give.
"Listen well, all of you," Yuuko said with a grand sweep of her arms.
Sakura threw herself across the cradle. "Please, Yuuko-sama! Not my babies! My children!" she begged.
"Fine gifts the king's servants have granted these children. The twins shall indeed grow in grace and wisdom…beloved by all who know them," Yuuko narrated. "However…before the stroke of midnight on their eighteenth birthday, Princess Yuui shall prick her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel…and die!"
"NO!" Sakura screamed, seizing her baby daughter in her arms and holding her tightly against her chest.
"And of course, Prince Fai will perish from grief soon afterward. It shall all be as I have said!" the wicked faerie queen declared with a bout of cruel laughter.
"Seize her!" Syaoran commanded angrily.
"Stand back, you fools!" Yuuko snarled as green flames erupted from her very skin, terrifying the guards who had surrounded her.
"Take it back, witch!" a lone voice suddenly sounded above the tumult. The terrified guards parted ranks to clear a path between Yuuko and the owner of the voice…King Ashura.
"And just what are you going to do about it, little king?" Yuuko asked condescendingly, the green fire glowing brighter and hotter.
"I will make you take it back!" he declared boldly as he moved toward her. Watanuki, Himawari, and Doumeki all looked on in shock. It was true that Nihon's king was not unschooled in magic but…to see a human standing up to Yuuko like this…they had never seen its like…and considering what would likely come of it, they were not likely to see its like ever again.
The king raised his hands and fired a bolt of magic at the dark faerie. Yuuko's eyes widened briefly as she watched the attack move toward her. Then she easily raised her staff and absorbed the bolt. The next instant, before anyone even realized what had happened, Yuuko sent the bolt of magic flying back at the king. There was nothing anyone could have done. Ashura didn't even see the attack, let alone have time to dodge it. It struck him head on, sending him crashing to the floor.
"ASHURA!" Amaterasu screamed as she raced toward her fallen husband. Kurogane was hot on her heels, brandishing his toy sword at the evil woman.
Yuuko laughed then. She laughed at the dying Nihon king and his grieving wife and bewildered child, at Queen Sakura, sobbing over daughter's tiny body as if she were already dead, at the twins, howling at the pain her curse had caused, at King Syaoran, standing with his fists hanging at his sides in a helpless rage, at the rage and sadness on the faces of Watanuki and Himawari, at the impassive face of Doumeki, who still held the wailing Fai tightly in his arms. It was all so terribly delicious.
Finally, the green flames consumed the faerie entirely and she and her birds were gone as if they had never been, but her laughter echoed in the hall long after she was gone.
"Oh, Yuui! Fai! My babies! My babies!" Sakura cried helplessly. Syaoran moved to her and placed his hands on her shoulders, trying to sooth her. Touya and Yukito rushed over to the fallen Ashura.
"Ashura!" Amaterasu cried softly as she cradled her husband's head in her lap. "Don't leave me."
"I'm sorry, Tera," he whispered, his voice barely audible. "It's my fault. I knew I couldn't defeat her. But…I had to try…"
"It's all right," Touya said gently as he knelt beside Amaterasu. "Rest easy, my friend. I know Sakura appreciates what you tried to do…and the twins will know of your sacrifice."
Ashura laid his head back and closed his eyes, smiling gratefully. "Kurogane?" he called softly to his son. The boy quickly sidled up to his father. He didn't really understand what was happening. Why was his father lying down?
"Kurogane…I'm- sorry…sorry, I have to go."
"Go? Go where?"
Ashura didn't speak. Instead he reached shaking hands behind his neck and undid the clasp of his sun pendant. Then he clasped it around his son's neck.
"Remember- it's a symbol of great strength. But…strength without direction…is nothing. It is protection and love, too. Use your strength…to protect the ones you love." Then Ashura pulled his wife and son very close.
"I will always be with you." Then he spoke no more. His final breath passed his lips and his head fell back onto Amaterasu's lap. The bereft queen laid her head down on her husband's still chest and wept silently in an attempt to spare her son her grief.
"Tou-san?" Kurogane called out, shaking his father's shoulder to try and wake him. "Tou-san?"
Touya and Yukito both turned away from the horrible sight, wanting to give the little family even the tiniest bit of privacy. The priest and former king moved back toward their own family, just in time to hear Watanuki attempt to console the young royal couple.
"You mustn't despair, Your Majesties. Doumeki still has his gift to give."
"Then…he can undo this terrible curse?" Syaoran asked, turning desperate eyes toward the stoic faerie.
"No, Sire," Doumeki answered, a small sigh escaping his mouth as he laid Fai back down in the cradle.
"Yuuko's powers are far too great," Watanuki said regretfully.
"But he can help," Himawari said, turning hopeful eyes toward her companion.
"Bring Yuui here," Doumeki said, patting the place next to Fai. There was a heaviness in his voice that his companions were painfully unused to hearing from the taller faerie.
Doumeki did not do regret. Regret only made things harder for beings who lived for many thousands of years. So he couldn't for the nigh eternal life of him understand why he felt so guilty for being unable to protect these two small lives. By the time their bones were dust, he would look the exact same as he did on the day of their birth, but…if he could not save them…he knew it was something he would regret until the end of his days.
The Mokona glanced worriedly up at Doumeki as he placed his hands on the twins' foreheads. He closed his eyes…and he prayed with all his might, calling down power as he spoke the words of his gift.
"Innocent children, these words of the spindle must come to pass, but all hope is not lost. You will not die, heirs of Valeria. You'll only fall asleep…a dark sleep, to appease the whispers of death. Only the sign of a lover's heart's pure yearning can end such a sleep. Only true love's first kiss can break this curse."
Doumeki opened his eyes and gazed down at the twins again. Yuui had fallen asleep under the warm glow of his magic, but Fai remained awake, gazing curiously up at him. The baby boy had placed his own small hands upon his larger one. It was probably just his addled conscience, but there was something…almost sad in the infant's stare. As if he had already failed them…
"I'm sorry," he whispered as he lifted the baby into his arms once more. "It's the best hope I can give you."
But King Syaoran, still fearful of his children's lives, did then and there decree that every spinning wheel in the kingdom should on that very day be burned.
And so, it was done.
"Ridiculous nonsense," Watanuki muttered to himself as he gazed down at the blazing pile of spinning wheels from his place at the window. He and his two companions were the only ones remaining in the great hall. The Nihon royals had been planning on staying about a week, but now they had to return much sooner. Amaterasu and her son had to escort King Ashura's body home for burial. It had taken the queen several hours to pry the little boy away from his body. Syaoran had gone off to oversee the burning of the spinning wheels and Sakura had disappeared with the twins.
Watanuki's thoughtful glare remained on his face as he paced back toward his two friends, sitting on the steps of the royal dais. Himawari was daintily chowing down on a handful of tiny cakes and Doumeki was drinking directly from a bottle of red wine.
"A bonfire won't stop Yuuko, you know," the storm sprite said to him, offering him the bottle as he sat down beside him. Watanuki raised an eyebrow at this, but eventually accepted his friend's offer and took a swig from the bottle.
"Of course not," he agreed as he handed the bottle back to Doumeki. "But what will?"
"Well…perhaps if we were to reason with her-" Himawari started.
"Reason? With Yuuko?" Doumeki asked, raising an eyebrow.
"She can't be all bad," the younger faerie insisted.
"Oh, yes, she can!" Watanuki shot back vehemently. Himawari had not yet been born when Yuuko was banished. She didn't remember, didn't know, what the insane faerie was capable of.
"But the king asked us to protect the babies. Yuuko could come and force her curse on them at any time. What can we do?" Himawari wondered hopelessly.
"I don't know," Watanuki replied with a sigh of exasperation. "Yuuko will be expecting us to do something crazy like turn them into trees or some such just to keep them from her."
"What won't she expect?" Doumeki wondered, more to himself than the other two. "She knows everything."
"Oh, but she doesn't, Doumeki-kun," Himawari said with a small smile. "Yuuko doesn't know anything about love, or kindness, or the joy of helping others. You know, sometimes I don't see how she can be very happy."
Watanuki snatched the wine bottle from Doumeki and took another swig as he mulled over Himawari's words. Love…kindness…helping others? Maybe…they could…
"Of course!" the nature sprite shouted as he leapt up from the steps and turned to face the other two. "You're brilliant, Himawari-chan! It's the only thing she can't understand and won't expect! Now, let's see. We have to plan it carefully," Watanuki said to himself as he began to pace the hall. Himawari drifted to her feet and followed after him, confused as to what he was talking about.
"The woodcutter's cottage, yes…the abandoned one…of course, the king and queen will object. But when we explain it's the only way-"
"Explain what?" Doumeki asked, remaining in his spot.
"About the three peasants raising two foundling children deep in the forest," Watanuki said, looking rather pleased with himself.
"That's…very nice of them," Himawari began slowly, still confused. "Who are they?"
Watanuki snapped his fingers and was instantly dressed in peasant garb. Himawari and Doumeki glanced down at their own clothing and found that they, too, were suddenly dressed as peasants.
"Oh! It's us!" Himawari squealed in delighted realization as she spun in circles, her skirt twirling around her.
"We us?" Doumeki asked, sounding more than a little surprised as he stood up to inspect his own clothing.
"Take care of the babies?" Himawari asked gleefully.
"Are you sure you're up to it, idiot? We'll have to feed them-"
"And wash them and dress them and rock them to sleep," Himawari sang. "Oh, I'd love it!"
"You realize we'll have to do this without magic, don't you? If we want to keep them hidden, we can't be drawing attention to ourselves. If we can help it, we probably shouldn't even let Yuui and Fai know we're fey. Can you live without magic for eighteen years?" Doumeki asked the shorter faerie, tilting his head curiously to one side.
Watanuki sighed resignedly and squared his shoulders. He wasn't going to delude himself into thinking this would be easy, but he had sworn to protect these children…sworn to his king…and sworn to himself. He would do what was necessary.
"If humans can do it, so can we. And my name's not 'idiot'. It's Watanuki-sama to you! I am the king's chief advisor after all."
"Doesn't make you any less of an idiot," Doumeki mumbled to himself as he shoved his fingers into his ears to spare himself Watanuki's further ranting…though he couldn't quite manage to keep a faint smirk from tugging at the corner of his mouth.
"Hey! Are you listening to me?" Watanuki shouted as he pulled Doumeki's fingers out of his ears. "Do you want to get left behind? If you do, that's fine with me, but Himawari-chan and I are going to see the king and queen." Having said so, Watanuki spun on his heels and stalked out of the throne room with Himawari close behind. Doumeki allowed another slight smirk to grace his normally unreadable face as he rose to join them. This wouldn't be so bad. Goddess knew he could use an eighteen-year vacation from the court, raising two human children who would know him for him and not for his reputation. Selfish as he felt for taking these babies away from their parents, he relished the thought of being a guardian to them.
And so, King Syaoran and Queen Sakura watched with heavy hearts as their most precious possessions, their own children, disappeared into the night.
The Forest of Celes lay between the kingdoms of Valeria and Nihon. Neither kingdom had ever claimed the large piece of territory…neither dared to. It was a place where the lines between light and darkness blurred beyond recognition. One was either very brave or very foolish to enter its boundaries. Things both beautiful and harrowing lived within its depths. It was the bridge between the human realms…and the land of Faerie.
It was this place that Watanuki, Doumeki, and Himawari sought. They had all been somewhat relieved to be out from under the saddened eyes of the king and queen as they stole away from the palace under cover of darkness. It hadn't been easy to convince them, but in the end they had all agreed it would be best for the twins if the three faeries fostered them within the relative safety of Celes Forest, where Yuuko could not get to them. They had been moving silently through the forest for what felt like hours now. The two Mokona were perched lightly on Watanuki's shoulders. Himawari held a sleeping Yuui, wrapped tightly in a pink blanket. Doumeki carried Fai, swaddled in a blue blanket. He, too, was sleeping, but not quite as peacefully as his sister. Doumeki just hoped he would at least stay asleep until they reached the safety of the cottage.
Almost as if he'd heard Doumeki's thoughts, Watanuki stopped in his tracks and pointed up ahead.
"There. Just beyond that grove."
At first, the other two didn't see anything. But as they moved closer, something manmade began to take shape in the darkness. The small, two-story cottage had been almost completely swallowed up by the forest. It had originally been built by a woodcutter who thought he could make a decent business by selling off the supposedly magic wood of the trees. However, it hadn't taken long for the forest to let him know that his lucrative ideas weren't welcome there. His cottage had been empty for years.
"Looks like we've got a lot of work ahead of us," Watanuki said as he wrenched the door open. From what they could see in the darkness, the house was just as thickly covered with foliage on the inside as it was on the outside.
"Well, we've got eighteen years to clean up," Himawari said cheerfully. "But we've been walking for a while and I think we're all tired. Let's leave it 'til morning."
The other two silently agreed and they all spread out through the cottage, searching for suitable pieces of foliage to make a rough bed for the twins. Once they had gathered a decent pile of leaves, Doumeki and Himawari laid their new foster children down on the makeshift pallet. Then the three faeries all lay down in a protective circle around them. The Mokona quickly moved in and snuggled up with the babies. However, even in this warm, safe atmosphere, one must not forget the fact that Fai and Yuui were both newborns. Fai was the first to wake up crying for his mother. At the sound of her twin's tears, Yuui was soon awake and yowling as well. Their new guardians quickly sat up but Himawari motioned for her two friends to lie back down as she gathered both babies in her arms.
"Shh, little ones. It's all right. I'm here. Everything's all right," she soothed, holding both of them close and gently rocking them. Then, ever so softly, she began to sing to them.
Come, stop your crying.
It'll be all right.
Just take my hands
Hold them tight.
I will protect you
From all around you.
I will be here.
Don't you cry.
Himawari didn't even need magic. The sound of her voice alone was enough to sooth the crying children. Slowly, they began to drift back to sleep. Even Watanuki and Doumeki found themselves being swept away by her sweet lullaby.
For ones so small
You seem so strong.
My arms will hold you,
Keep you safe and warm.
This bond between us
Can't be broken.
I will be here.
Don't you cry.
Himawari laid Yuui and Fai back down inside the circle they'd made for them and the Mokona cuddled back up with them. As she lay back down herself, she rested a hand in between the twins. Yuui took her thumb and began sucking on it. Fai contented himself with simply holding onto her pinky finger. The young faerie smiled warmly, filled with a maternal peace she had never known before. As her own eyes drifted shut, she sang the last words of the song
'Coz you'll be in my heart.
Yes, you'll be in my heart.
From this day on,
Now and forever more.
You'll be in my heart,
No matter what they say.
You'll be here in my heart
"Always," the three whispered together, too tired to even be aware of each other's voices.
(A/N) Well, there's you that. Hope it's a good start. And yes, I am very much aware of how strange it is to have Ashura be married to Kendappa and to have them be the parents of Kurogane, but I wanted to use characters with names and Kurogane's real parents aren't named as far as I know. But hey, Ashura's dead now and we don't have to deal with it anymore, now do we? And, of course, we all know that Yuuko's not really evil but I just couldn't see anyone else in Maleficent's role. None of the actual villains work. And in regards to the twins' names, apparently Yuui is Japanese for 'elegant cloth' and Fai is Chinese for 'beginning'. Thought that was interesting. If anyone's interested, I can try to have a new chapter up ASAP.