.::. Maiden .::.

Disclaimer: I do not own Kingdom Hearts or Square Enix, nor any of the characters rightfully owned and portrayed by Disney and/or Square Enix.

Setting: Post-Kingdom Hearts II. Sequel to Waiting No Longer.

Genres: Drama, Action, Romance

Rating: Rated Mature for Violence, Mild Language, and [Lemons]


Chapter Four

"Gawrsh, Sora...what d'ya think that thing could be?"

"I don't know...but whatever it was, I don't like it..." The apartment no longer felt, nor looked, like home. The kitchen was covered in dust and had a pile of dining room splinters. The entryway door was half off of its hinges, the wood cracked and scratched. The recliner was overturned, and a scar ran along the beach-washed walls; a mark made with imitation Roxas's keyblade.

"So what does Master Yen Sid want to talk to us about?"

"I don't know. But the King said that we needed to come here a.s.a.p. as soon as he got Master Yen Sid's message. Looks like whatever it is, it isn't good." Donald added thoughtfully. All three sighed, resuming various frustrated, curious postures and expressions. The tawny wall sconces lit the apartment, night thick and humid outside. Clouds were beginning to roll in, likely a tropical storm. They were frequent at that time of year.

"Hey, can one of you guys help me?" Kairi's red head popped out of the bedroom doorway, now fully dressed.

"Sure, Kairi. What d'ya need?" Goofy offered kindly. He strode over to the bedroom as Donald and Sora continued talking, contemplating what Master Yen Sid had in mind, or what the imitation Roxas actually was. Kairi smiled at Goofy as he looked around at Sora and her bedroom.

"Nice place ya got here...ya know, must've looked nice before all this." Goofy added, noticing the master bathroom door was shattered on the floor, and the ceramic tub seemed to have been tainted a deep black. Kairi nodded thankfully for the compliment.

"Thanks. Goofy, could you reach in the closet and grab the box at the top?" Kairi motioned to the brown, wooden chest on the top shelf of her full closet.

"This one?" Goofy asked, as he reached up and grabbed it. As he picked it up, he bent backwards too far, and began to lose his footing.

"W-whoa!" He stumbled, but Kairi pushed against his back, giving him the precious extra seconds to regain his balance while hugging the wooden box to his chest.

"H'yuck, thanks, Kairi." Kairi giggled.

"No problem, Goofy." Goofy handed the wooden chest to Kairi, and she sat at the edge of the bed, staring at it for a few moments. Goofy stood next to Kairi, quirking his head at her hesitance.

"Hey, uh, what's in the box?"

"Some things that might be important." Kairi unlatched the top of the chest, and opened it. Goofy sat next to Kairi on the bed, and peered inside.

"Hey, isn't that us?" There was a stack of white paper, and on the top was a sketch of Sora, Donald, and Goofy, each holding hands, standing on an expanse of green with only a blue sky above them.

"Yeah. These are Namine's sketches...I've kept them because, well, they're a part of me, I guess. I feel kind of attached to them."

"Why d'ya think they're important tah bring?"

"I...honestly, I'm not sure. But I think they might help us figure out what that thing really was."

"Sounds good tah me! I betcha Master Yen Sid could help ya figure out if any 'a these pictures tell us somethin'. 'N they're pretty good pictures, too! I guess that makes you an artist, huh?" Kairi giggled.

"I guess you could say that. Thanks, Goofy."

"When'll ya be ready for take-off? We need to go see Master Yen Sid as soon as everyone's ready."

"Just a second." Kairi quickly grabbed a rucksack, and stuffed it with essentials; a hair brush, an extra pair of underclothes, a toothbrush, deodorant, and for luck, the mythrill charm Sora had made her. She tied the rucksack, and swung it on her back. She tucked loose strands of crimson hair behind her ears, and pulled down the white tank with a pink, bold empire waistband over her black capris. Pink sneakers with black lace covered her feet. The bandages were no longer on her hand, nor her temple; Cure had rid of all her injuries the previous night.

Goofy and Kairi emerged from the bedroom, Donald tapping his flat foot impatiently, and Sora leaning against the wall, arms crossed behind his head.

"Ready!" Kairi held the wooden chest beneath her arm. Donald sighed, glad to finally be able to continue moving. Sora smiled, but then gawked at the chest.

"What're you bringing?"

"Something that might be important!"

"Kairi, there really isn't much room for storage on the Gummi Ship." Kairi scowled at Sora, and walked up to him briskly.

"This isn't some makeup chest or something; you know me better than that. It's coming, and that's it. Now let's go!" Kairi left the apartment, leaving Sora dumbfounded, and Donald giggling.

"She showed you." Donald laughed, following Kairi out of the apartment.

"W-what? I..." Sora was speechless, not having meant to offend Kairi, and was frankly unable to come back from her sudden, passionate defense of bringing that wooden chest. Goofy placed a gloved hand on Sora's shoulder.

"C'mon, Sora. Let's get going." Goofy followed Donald, and finally Sora merely grinned widely at Kairi's pluck, and jogged after his friends. He shut off the light to the apartment, and somehow knew they would not be returning to it. Not this one, anyways. It had once been home, but now, thrashed with battle scars and furniture casualties, it was more like a shelter. The only things that held any meaning to him were the photographs, and Worldly memorabilia.

Once outside the apartment, the four of them walked down to the Docks. Once there, they would have the Gummi Ship summon them onboard from the teleport mechanism. The clouds overhead were thick, and obscured any starlight or moonlight that could help them navigate their way. Only the street lamps provided any lumination as they continued in relative silence, all anxious to arrive at Master Yen Sid's tower. Kairi, especially, was enthralled by this, because she looked so forward to meeting people that only seemed fictitious to her at the moment. The plausibility of receiving some answers was also a positive note on leaving.

"Ready?" Donald rasped, and Sora and Goofy nodded. Kairi looked at them queerly, and Sora turned his head.

"Stand straight and hold still. The Gummi Ship can sense that we wish to board if we hold our ready position when Donald contacts it with his magic." Kairi nodded, and assumed a similar militant stance. Donald raised his Wizard's Staff, rigged, zagged, and topped with a pointy hat of its own. The Staff whirred with magic, that familiar sensation when magic was present shifting through the air. Donald then assumed a military stance. Each was then consumed in light. The beam dissipated like melting flakes of snow, leaving nothing but ghostly imprints on the sand that were soon washed away by the tropical rain that began to fall.

Kairi blinked.

"Woa!" She smiled, and looked around at the cockpit. Many gauges buzzed, switches blinked, and meters glowed. She turned around, and further felt wonder fill her. Below them was Destiny Islands; her home, a flush of brilliant blue sea, spotted with lush green lands and islands. She could see the lights of the Main Land cities through the tropical storm clouds that covered half of her home. The Gummi Ship hung suspended in her Home World's orbit, a tiny object surveying the vastness of Destiny Islands. And yet, as Kairi looked to another pane, how her world seemed tiny now. Billions of sparkling white stars glinted tantalizingly, just beckoning to be explored.

"Welcome to the Gummi Ship, Kairi!" Donald welcomed warmly. Walking over to his controls, he pressed one of the many buttons. With a pneumatic hiss, a hatch opened on the floor. With a pop and sigh, a fourth seat lunged from the floor. It relaxed, and the floor hatch closed. Kairi beamed, and finally felt like she fit in with Sora and his dynamic team.

"So whaddya think, Kairi? Pretty cool, huh?"

"It's amazing! I just can't believe Donald lets you drive this thing."

"I'm a great pilot!" Sora defended, Kairi giggling a bit. She continued to observe the cockpit, a bit crunched for space, but relatively roomy; she wasn't elbow-to-elbow with anyone. Goofy had already relaxed at his seat, revving up defensive and shield controls with practiced ease. Donald, too, had plopped into his respective seat, adjusting various levels and preparing for take-off to thrust out of Destiny Islands' gravitational orbit.

"Hehehe." Donald laughed, causing Sora's pout to deepen.

"I've maneuvered this ship out of some thick Heartless and Nobody raids!"

"And crashed it into a Jungle, Mr. Pilot." Donald laughed, Kairi laughing as well. She put her wooden chest and rucksack under her passenger seat, and fastened her seatbelt. Sora, determined to reconcile his pride as Gummi pilot, took his seat gruffly, turning on the fuel gauge and getting the ship out of hibernation mode.

"If shitting on Sora time is over, shall we go to Master Yen Sid's tower?" Kairi simply nodded, and watched the three work together harmoniously, their movements and reactions like clockwork.

"Here we go! H'yuck!" Goofy exclaimed excitedly as Sora smirked, and jammed the throttle forward. Kairi was shoved back in her seat as her stomach did a triple flip and pirouette. The stars moved so quickly, they were just beams of light flittering by. Kairi had to force herself to breath, unable to catch up with the speed the Ship was pulling. Finally, the Ship slowed into a cruising speed, and all the stars resumed their usual individual twinkle. Sora swivelled in his chair to face Kairi, a goofy grin on his face and hands cradling his head in his usual lackadaisical fashion.

"What were you saying before about my piloting?" Kairi smiled, letting her heart rate and adrenaline subside somewhat before answering.

"Fine, you're good." Kairi looked to Donald, who was covering the cruise controls at the moment. Goofy had swivelled in his chair to face her as well.

"So, when do we get to see Master Yen Sid?" Kairi asked excitedly.

"Pretty soon, I think. We should get there in a half hour or so." Goofy stated.

"Will we run into any...ya know, Heartless? Or Nobodies?"

"There hasn't been many in the corridors to the Worlds lately." Donald added as he monitored their progress, tilting the Ship only slightly to avoid occasional space debris.

"Well, that's a relief." Kairi spoke. She relaxed into the chair, letting the sight of the stars fill her with a sense of calm. The view was so beautiful; pockets of color would float there, some ethereal vapor, among small meteoroids, or simply in the endless black of the universe. To imagine, nearly each light she saw had another whole World on it, filled with its own people, its own conflict, its own love...it was almost incomprehensible.

"Ground Control to Gummi One! Ground Control to Gummi One! How do you read?" Kairi looked around, hearing a high pitched, pleasant squeal echoing around the cockpit. Sora spun around, and put the image of Chip and Dale on screen.

"We read you loud and clear!" Sora exclaimed.

"Sora!" The two chipmunks squealed equally in pleasant surprise.

"Boy, Sora, are we glad to see you! How ya been?" Dale added in his cracked, excited voice. Sora smiled.

"I've been good!"

"Hey, Sora, who's that?" Chip asked, peering close into the screen. Kairi smiled, waving at the screen at the two Gummi engineers.

"That's Kairi. She'll be coming with us from now on."

"Nice to meet you!" Kairi added. Chip and Dale saluted at Kairi.

"Nice to meet you, too, Princess!" The two spoke respectfully, while Dale added casually, "And it's always nice to finally meet Sora's girlfriend!" Sora blushed lightly, and Kairi giggled, nodding.

"Enough blabbering, do we have clearance with Master Yen Sid?"

"Jeez, hold your feathers. Just a minute." Dale spoke, Donald becoming frustrated at their incessant high pitched jabbering and shmoozing. They clicked various keyboards and instruments before reconfirming the ability to land the Gummi Ship on Yen Sid's greenery outside his tower. Donald then shut them out, sighing in frustration. Goofy just shook his head, while Kairi smiled at Donald's limited tolerance.

Sora took the controls again as more meteors and asteroids cluttered empty space, leaving the cockpit in relative silence. Kairi entertained herself simply by looking outside into the expanse of black and stars. Finally, Donald exclaimed, "There it is!" Kairi looked over Sora's shoulder, and she could see the lone stretch of land from which Yen Sid's immense, crooked tower reached up into the sky. It was an intimidating sight. She gulped, now feeling nervous at meeting Master Yen Sid. After all, he was the King's teacher!

Sora and Goofy brought the Gummi Ship to a gentle landing on the greens outside the tower. The Ship hissed as it shut off, opening the cockpit for its passengers. Goofy leapt out first, stumbling but remaining upright nevertheless. Sora followed after, with Donald hauling himself out of the ship next. Kairi grabbed her wooden chest, and leapt out, gruffly landing on the ground. Sora stood there ready to catch her, but she straightened out, and smiled.

"Ready?" Sora asked, and she nodded. The four opened the impressive doors to Yen Sid's tower, and ascended the many portals and staircases enchanted within, all hung about with celestial stars and moons. The very enchantments of the castle were heavy and thick, and Kairi could almost smell the powerful magic that emanated off of the edifice. It smelt...light, airy, and yet thick like jasmine or a summer rainstorm. Kairi wondered if all magic had a scent, or if Master Yen Sid's enchantments were so powerful, they were nearly their own beings entirely.

Finally, a door hinged brightest and at the end of the expanse of wandering staircases, was Yen Sid's study. Goofy and Donald exchanged reassuring looks with Sora and Kairi. With a nod of composure, Sora opened the door.

The four walked in, the door closing behind them automatically. Sora, Donald, and Goofy all bowed before a desk and the back of a tall chair. Flustered, Kairi quickly followed suit.

"Master Yen Sid." Donald addressed. The chair turned, and Kairi gulped. Master Yen Sid waved for them to relax, his other hand stroking his long, grey beard in thought. Aged yet strong, his posture was attentive and youthful. His eyes were large and peering, as though able to decipher your very soul before them. His blue robes evoked a sense of regality, but what was most striking was his Sorcerer's Hat - a cone of power propped atop his skull, embedded with images of the stars.

"Sora, Donald, Goofy, thank you for coming." His voice was commanding, low, but blanketed with hospitality and an odd softness. His gaze turned to Kairi. "And thank you for coming, Princess." Kairi felt extremely awkward with the unwarranted title.

"Please, call me Kairi." Yen Sid nodded slowly in acknowledgment.

"Please, sit, the four of you. I held council with the King a day ago, and we have discussed much that you must be informed of."

"But first, Master Yen Sid, I think we need to tell you something." Sora added, and looked to the great sorcerer. Yen Sid looked at Sora attentively.

"Something...something attacked Kairi at our home. I don't know what it was, but it wasn't a Heartless or a Nobody..." Yen Sid's gaze immediately went to Goofy and Donald. Donald put his head down, shaking it.

"We didn't get there in time to help."

"As long as they are unharmed, there is no need to dwell in the past, Donald. I was afraid, Sora, that this would happen in time. All your journeys, all your quests, have been in the hopes of bettering the Worlds. You use the Keyblade to create pathways for Light to return to the Worlds, and illuminate them. But as you journeyed, Sora, you also grew more knowledgeable of how the Worlds work, and how the very existence of people work and come to be."

"Yeah, Kingdom Hearts." Yen Sid nodded to Sora.

"And you understand now that besides the Seven Princesses of Heart, there is one other way to unlock Kingdom Hearts. The Nine Keys to Kingdom Hearts." Sora felt his heart skip a beat. Kairi began to lose focus and understanding of Yen Sid's words. The Nine Keys? What're those?

"But as you uncovered new information, Sora, new problems could be uncovered with the state of the Worlds. What attacked Kairi at your home...it is, perhaps, the last piece of Kingdom Hearts we had yet foreseen. Perhaps, because you cannot see it at all." The four looked on curiously, and occasionally glanced to the side for some reassurance on what was being said. All four dreaded what words Master Yen Sid would speak next. Hadn't they done enough four years ago? Risked enough?

"But...we could see it."

"And what was it you saw, Sora?" Sora looked away, the image of Roxas, laughing, eyes hollow and blank, still freshly stinging in his mind.

"It was...no, it looked...like Roxas." Kairi looked at Sora, and laid her hand in his. He squeezed her palm for strength. Yen Sid nodded thoughtfully, stroking his beard once in contemplation.

"What you saw, Sora, was not what it was. Obviously, as it is an impossibility that Roxas would exist outside of you, and attack Kairi, as well." Yen Sid waved his hand. Drapes closed, darkening the study. Upon his desk, small lights formed into images like Kairi and Sora had seen; steel-grey phantoms, with peering eyes of white.

Goofy and Donald looked at the images, repulsed by their unnerving gaze and indistinct bodies.

"These are Unthought. They are the third beings in the Trinity of Creation. Heartless, of the Heart; Nobodies, of the Body; and Unthought, of the Mind. You see, Sora, this is the third component in any living thing. When a person dies and does not rest, or loses a strong heart to darkness, their life decomposes into these three distinct components, reverting back to their original state. If these components return to Kingdom Hearts, a new life may be created once again. If not..."

"They wreak havoc and bring darkness to the Worlds." Sora finished for the great sorcerer. Yen Sid nodded. "But, if they don't have a form, why did the Unthought look and fight like Roxas?"

"You see, the Unthought are not animalistic like the Heartless, or observant like the Nobodies; the Unthought are intellectual, and assume the deepest and strongest fear in the surrounding area. In this case, my guess is your strongest fear was hurting Kairi. And so the Unthought took the form of Roxas - a form of you...but what I fear is why the Unthought directly targeted Kairi."

"Uh, Master Yen Sid, wouldn't it be because that's what Sora 's afraid of?" Goofy inquired.

"Generally, yes. But the Unthought...they do not simply attach themselves to any particular suppressed thought. They seek out individuals. They are intelligent creatures, and if they are attacking Kairi..." Sora's eyes widened.

"Then they know about the Keys to Kingdom Hearts?"


"What are you talking about? Sora?" Kairi looked at him, but he could not look at her. He had kept this a secret from her, and now, it was going to blow up in his face. He had never done it with bad intentions...but now, now he felt his heart aching. Yen Sid observed this.

"I-I'm sorry, Kairi..." Kairi tried to make him look at her. She felt angry and sad, fused together in a single powerful emotion lodged in the pit of her stomach.

"What haven't you told me, Sora?" Donald and Goofy looked at each other, and felt extremely awkward. They wanted to give the two some space, but didn't know how.

"Sora, what haven't you told me!" Kairi felt tears build up in her eyes. Sora looked down at his lap, feeling smaller and smaller; why hadn't he told her the truth?

"Sora, Donald, Goofy...can you leave us for a moment?" Donald and Goofy nodded, and left to the side chamber. Sora got up slowly, looking softly at Kairi, who only looked away heatedly. Sora, you fucking idiot...you shouldn't have kept that secret from her! Damn it! Sora cursed himself internally, and once inside the side chamber, simply hid his face in his hands.

"Kairi..." Yen Sid began softly. She looked up, inhaling quickly, tears edging along her deep cerulean eyes. Her gaze was fierce, and she bit her lip to control the quaking anger within.

"What hasn't Sora told me, Master Yen Sid? What else don't I know about myself?" Her voice cracked, revealing the true surge of emotion inside Kairi. She balled up the end of her white tee in her hands, gripping it tightly.

"Kairi, you are one of the Princesses of Heart. You know that. You also know Sora loves you, and you have many friends who care about you. You know who you are, but your destiny...your destiny is something you know little of. As all of us do not truly know our destiny."

"So what is it, then? Am I going to be sacrificed to save the Worlds? Am I actually some long lost Witch from an ancient World?"

"You are one of the Nine Keys to Kingdom Hearts." Kairi gulped down her emotions, trying to overload her passion with reason and her wish to understand.

"But I'm already a Princess...are all the Princesses of Heart a Key?" Yen Sid shook his head, and laid his hands on his large, stately desk, the model of an Unthought now evaporated.

"No. You are the only Princess of Heart that is a Key...at least, as far as we now know."

"I...I don't understand." Yen Sid looked at Kairi seriously.

"You must. You must understand, and learn to. I, myself, with all my years and books, do not know everything. However, what I do know is this: the Nine Keys to Kingdom Hearts were created as a fail-safe; as a way to ensure Kingdom Hearts would never be ruled by one hand. The Keys are not physical keys at all, but are objects, hidden and protected, blessed with the power of Kingdom Hearts. Two and a half years ago or so, Sora, Riku, and their friends sought out and found the Nine Keys, and placed them in the chamber of the Cornerstone at Disney Castle. Three Keys of Light, Three Keys of Darkness, and Three Keys of Twilight. You were the third Key of Light, and were protected by your friends. Your Key is your heart."

Kairi attempted to absorb all of this information as Yen Sid spoke. She listened intently, her anger ebbing away slowly.

"You see, the heart of a true lover is protected more fiercely than any fortress; that is why Kingdom Hearts chose your heart as one of that of light. However, I'm afraid that our plan to keep the Keys safe has backfired. We did not take into account that the light of the Cornerstone would affect the Keys of Darkness and Twilight...you see, its light afflicted those Keys, and now...well...all the Keys that were in the room of the Cornerstone became nothing more than the objects they once were. The power of Kingdom Hearts had to change the Keys, all except for yours, which remained untainted by the Cornerstone's purity. The Keys of Light had to change as well, for they were with its brethren Keys of Darkness and Twilight."

"But...why are you telling me all of this, and not Sora, or Donald, or Goofy?"

"Because, Kairi, as a Key of Kingdom Hearts, you alone can sense the new Keys. We had once found the Keys, thanks to Ansem's Reports and research, but now, we have no lead as to the new Keys. It is you who can find these new Keys."

"And the Unthought...?"

"The King and I fear that these creatures can sense the Keys...and are attempting to take them. For what purpose, we scarcely know. We are certain, however, that it is not an Unthought of Xehanort. We believe Xehanort's Unthought fell into the darkness of Kingdom Hearts...Now, I assume you and the others are hungry and tired from the action and journey of today. Are you not?"

Kairi felt just how exhausted she was now. From recuperating, to running to safety, to traveling in the Gummi Ship across the universe, her body and mind were exhausted. But she had so many more questions; many more.

"But...what about the Keys? The Unthought? What can we do-" Yen Sid raised his hand and silenced her. Kairi looked down, her hair falling to hide her face. For a brief moment, it was Namine that looked away, pained, but soon Kairi resumed her dominance. Yen Sid barely noticed the change, it was so fluid; yet he could sense a difference in Kairi.

"You need rest, as well as your friends. I cannot speak on Sora's behalf, but he likely did not tell you this to protect you from having to worry anymore than you already did." Kairi nodded, but barely swallowed the words. She did not feel like seeing or speaking with Sora at that moment. Yen Sid stood, stately and strong, his walk slow, steady, and powerful. Kairi stood as well, looking up into the sorcerer's great, wise eyes.

He waved his arm, and the door opened to the chamber the other three had gone in. Donald and Goofy gasped as they were awkwardly ushered in by a gentle breeze with Sora. All three stood there, looking to Yen Sid. He nodded courteously to them.

"Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather have kindly prepared dinner for you in the Dining Hall."

"Won't you join us, Master Yen Sid?" Donald quacked his inquiry. Yen Sid shook his head.

"I have other matters that I must attend to. But, please, you are guests in my Tower; any friends of the King are friends of mine." Yen Sid raised his arms dramatically, and the folds of his blue robe raised like some blue fire. The hat upon his head glowed vibrantly, and his robe encased him as giant wings. The four shielded their eyes as his body glowed brightly, and as they opened them again, tiny strips of starlight slowly drifted into nothingness where Yen Sid had once stood.

"Uh, where did Master Yen Sid g-" In a glimmer of light, the four blinked, and they were no longer in Yen Sid's study. Instead, they were in a great Dining Hall, the ceiling like an astrological observatory; a long, mahogany table was set for four. The walls were lined with dripping candelabra, and lanterns that shimmered with charmed fire. The whole Dining Hall was warm and majestic, the walls painted the color of the night sky.

"Let's eat!" Donald exclaimed, his stomach rumbling. He and Goofy took seats across from one another, followed by Kairi, who did not share a single glance with Sora. Now that he was next to her, all the reason she had in her mind previously seemed to vanish as Yen Sid had. She felt the anger and emotion bubble back. She took a seat beside Goofy, and Sora took his respective seat beside Donald, who was scoffing down a buttered slice of bread.

"Hey, uh, Donald, shouldn't you slow down?" Goofy advised, but the duck continued to eat various appetizers quickly, whether it be bread, or a plate of vegetables, or a fruit from the colorful cornucopia. However, soon Donald coughed. His neck thinned, his feathers ruffled, and his eyes swam in suffocation. Kairi and Sora stood up quickly, but Goofy lunged across the dining table. He put his arms around Donald's waste, and heaved.

"QUACK!" The core of an apple landed in Kairi's plate. Donald puffed, and Goofy wiped his brow, along with Sora. With his tongue lolling out of his light orange bill, Donald slumped in his chair.

"I told ya, Donald, ya shouldn't eat yer food fast."

"Oh, whaddya you know...ya big...palooka..." Donald rasped, his stomach now beginning to ache.

"You should be nicer to Goofy, Donald; he just saved your life." Sora advised as Goofy took his seat. Kairi picked up the apple core with the tips of her fingers like tongs, and flicked it to the unoccupied end of the dining table. Relief settled in the Hall once more, and some of Kairi's anger ebbed away, her energy drained by Donald's choking escapade.

"You should have some more manners."

"Yes; and dinner hasn't even started yet!" Lights gathered on the empty platters of the Dining Hall, and soon scrumptious stuffed Roast Beast, Sweet Marshmallow Yams, Roasted Lemon-Garlic Chicken, and a festive Spring Salad filled the Hall with a delicious aroma. Two orbs of light descended, and as the red and blue orbs floated above the floor, they expanded into the kind fairies Flora and Merryweather.

"This looks great!" Sora exclaimed, taking a huge leg off of the Roast Beast. Donald simply sighed, and nearly passed out in his chair looking at all the new food. Kairi politely looked at the two fairies.

"Thank you so much for doing this." Her voice fell flatter than usual. She couldn't hide her inner emotions well; happiness was not something she could feign before others.

"Of course, dear; we can't keep growing young men and women hungry, now can we?" Flora added, smiling gently.

"Except for this one. I think we might be serving stuffed duck next time." Merryweather poked Donald's side with her wand. Donald flailed his wings wildly, quacking madly. She withdrew her wand, pouting as Donald glared at her. "Hmph!" She looked away indignantly.

"Sorry! Sorry! Dinner's ready!" The kitchen door swung open, attracting the attention of everyone in the Hall. Fauna looked to everyone, and tiredly dropped a platter of towering grey slop on the table. Kairi exchanged a befuddled look with Goofy. Fauna simply seemed perplexed by everyone's reaction. But then, she noticed a piece of chicken sticking out of Sora's stuffed cheeks, and the platters of entrees.

"Ah! Sisters! I thought we were cooking dinner for our guests! We weren't going to use magic!"

"I'd rather give magic'ed food than poison." Merryweather jested. Fauna frowned. She tapped her slender silver wand, and the mystery entree vanished.

Dinner proceeded in relative silence. The three fairies left the four guests alone after everything was settled. Kairi ate little, thinking over and over about the words of Yen Sid. Sora ate more than usual, focusing on chewing and swallowing to avoid looking at Kairi. The sight of her sent ripples of regret and shame down his spine. Donald, after recovering, enjoyed conversation with Goofy over dinner.

"Sora..." Silence. Sora looked to Kairi, but avoided her eyes.

"Why didn't you tell me?" Kairi needed to know. She could not eat another bite; couldn't feel anything, until she asked him personally why he kept a secret about who she was from her.

"I...Kairi, I...you've been through so much...and...I thought it would only make you worry more. You don't need to do anything else. You didn't need to know...you could just live that way." Sora's voice cracked slightly.

"I guess I need to know now, huh?" Kairi's anger returned. She was beginning to be frustrated with Sora, who hid behind his brown spikes of hair from her.

"You should've told me! It's a part of who I am; a part of my destiny! I had a right to know, Sora! Who are you to decide what to censor or not? What happened to being completely honest?"

"Kairi, I'm sorry! I didn't mean for this..."

"To be this way, but it is, Sora. It is this way. And now I find out I'm some part of a new plot with the Worlds? That you and Riku were protecting me like some caged-up jewel?"

"No! Never caged-up! You weren't an object!" Sora protested. He finally looked into her eyes, and felt himself fall inside. Tears gripped the edges of her eyes, and her face was more intense than any blow he had received in battle. Kairi didn't want to hear it anymore. She needed to be alone. She looked away, pinching her eyes shut as though it could erase her tears. She stood abruptly, the screech of her chair against the stone floor echoing in the walls of the Hall. She stalked into the dark kitchen, where she fell against a counter. She hugged her knees to her chest.

Why didn't he tell me? All this time, he knew I was a Key...he knew, he and Riku protected me...and they never said a word. Kairi bit her lip hard, and buried her head onto her knees. She felt light stream in through her eyelids.

"Go away, Sora." Kairi sobbed forcefully. She did not want to face him at the moment.

"Poor dear. Are you alright?" Kairi gulped, and looked up. Fauna fluttered in front of her face, a tiny, gentle fairy. Behind her, Merryweather and Flora looked on with equal concern.

"I'm fine." Kairi lied pathetically. Strands of her scarlet hair clung to her moist, round cheeks, her eyes glossed with tears of frustration.

"Tears don't lie, child." Flora spoke, and she expanded into her human form. She slowly knelt beside Kairi, and lay a gentle hand on the girl's shoulder. Her gesture was like the comfort of a grandmother. Kairi looked up to Flora, then back down to Merryweather and Fauna. She quickly bit her lip, and let her head fall back into the secure nest of her knees.

The three fairies looked to each other, unsure of how to cheer Kairi up. Merryweather suddenly spun around, blue light whisking her into her plump, audacious human form.

"I know! Maybe Master Yen Sid's gift can cheer you up and get your mind off of all these dreadful ideas!" Fauna joined her sisters in their human form. Kairi looked up curiously, wiping her tears on the end of her white tee. She scrambled to her feet weakly, the three fairies quietly, but viciously, discussing something in a tight circle.

"W-what gift?" The three fairies poked their heads out of their huddle. Each cleared their throats apologetically for shunning Kairi out of their discussion, and they each lined up beside the other, withdrawing their respective, shimmering silver wands.

"A gift fit for a Princess!" Flora exclaimed, and magic outpoured from their wands.

Author's Note: Chapter Four is completed. A lot to take in here; momentum has been put in place, dialogue has been flourished and polished by myself, and more plot twists remain. Questions have been answered, but how many more have been created? Reviews are greatly appreciated, and help motivate me to continue writing this fanfiction, as well as help my writing skills and adjust the angles of the story. All my reviewers have my full appreciation.