Chapter Three: Of Bugles and Ink

"Sakura-hime."

A groan.

"Sakura-hime" Chiharu, Sakura's faithful maid and friend called again in a loud whisper.

"Five more minutes," Sakura replied groggily.

"But what about your plan for Syaoran-san?" Chiharu asked.

Sakura shot up from the bed, startling Chiharu, all grogginess forgotten. It was dark inside her room; even though the curtains were pulled back revealing her window. It was about 5 am and the only light came from the moon.

"Right!" She said determinedly. "Did Takeshi-kun say I could borrow it?"

"Yeah he said it was fine," Chiharu replied, "you're lucky you can borrow it on such short notice. After all you came in the middle of the night. But I don't see why you want to do this to Syaoran-san. He's really kind and polite; at least he is to the other maids and me."

After saying this, Chiharu presented Sakura with a fairly heavy black box. Sakura opened the lid, and smiled at what was inside; she gave no indication of hearing Chiharu's comment about Syaoran.

"Syaoran-kun's gonna love this," Sakura said, smirking.

Sakura peeked out the door of her room cautiously. When the coast was clear, she scurried across the short distance between her door and Syaoran's with the small box tucked under her arm. She ducked into Syaoran's room as quickly and quietly as possible, doing her best not to wake him up. Fortunately for Sakura, Syaoran was not a light sleeper.

It was fairly dark in Syaoran's room. Like Sakura's room, the only light came from the window. Sakura crept up to the side of Syaoran's bed to see if he was really asleep. Syaoran was sleeping dangerously close to the edge of his bed and his expression was neutral. Sakura watched him for a moment to make sure he was really asleep. She decided that he was definitely asleep when he muttered something incoherent and turned on his side away from her.

Sakura walked back to Syaoran's door so she could make a quick getaway when her prank was finished. She opened the box she received from Chiharu and carefully pulled out a finely crafted and carefully polished bugle.

She took a deep breath, put the bugle to her lips, and blew as hard as she could into the mouthpiece. The result was the desired extremely loud, off-key sound that hurt the ears. Syaoran, startled out of his peaceful slumber, jumped about a foot in the air before landing with a thud on the floor, an avalanche of blankets and pillows following him.

Syaoran groaned and started to sit up; that's when Sakura, through her giggling managed to realize that it would be in her best interest to leave before Syaoran had a chance to catch her in the act of her prank. She slipped out the door right as Syaoran's head poked out of the blankets. Syaoran had had a pretty good idea about who was behind this prank and his suspicions were confirmed when he saw the end of Sakura's pink night gown disappearing out his door. He made a mental note to get back at her later.

Deciding that it would be pointless to try and get more sleep, Syaoran thought he might as well get ready for the day. As he headed for his bathroom, he noticed a note taped to the door. It read:

Dear kid Syaoran,

My sister has her lessons with Yukito today after lunch and I know from experience that she will try anything to get out of them. Your job is to make sure she goes to her lessons in the library and stays there. Good luck. You'll need it.

Sincerely,

King Touya of Clow

Syaoran sighed after reading the note. Needless to say he was not looking forward to this. But then something occurred to him. What better way to get back at Sakura was there than making her do something she obviously hates?

Breakfast and lunch went by without event, much to Touya's dismay. However, after lunch was a very different story.

"No!" Sakura said while attempting and failing to get away from Syaoran.

"Sakura-hime," Syaoran sighed exasperatedly, "whether you like it or not, you're going to your lesson, even if I have to carry you there myself."

"Well good luck with that," Sakura declared defiantly, "because there's no way I'm coming quietly." Normally, Sakura wouldn't have put up so much of a fight about her lessons—unless it was her brother trying to get her to go (it's fun to annoy him)—but something about Syaoran frustrated her so much she felt as though she couldn't not put up a fight.

"Suit yourself," Syaoran replied indifferently, and with that, he swiftly scooped Sakura up and threw her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

Sakura flushed from anger and embarrassment as Syaoran carried off. She pounded on his back with her fists and kicked her legs in a feeble attempt to escape from him. Unfortunately for Sakura, however, Syaoran was stronger than he looked.

When they finally arrived at the library, Syaoran dumped Sakura unceremoniously onto her chair. He then retreated to a chair that had been set out for him farther away from lesson area and sat down. Sakura shot Syaoran a last glare before turning back to Yukito and focusing on her lessons.

Sometime during the middle of the lesson, Syaoran nodded off. When her lessons were over, Sakura gathered up her quill and ink. She was about to leave when she noticed her 'bodyguard' asleep in his chair. She looked down at the quill and ink in her hands, an idea forming in her mind.

She tiptoed up to Syaoran, once again trying not to wake him. She carefully took his right hand and placed it palm up on his lap. Then she opened her jar of ink and poured some of the ink into Syaoran's hand. She took her quill and brushed the feathery part across Syaoran's nose in hopes of getting him to rub ink all over his face. Much to her frustration however, Syaoran used his other hand to swat at the feather, so she tried again only to get the same result. Determined to get Syaoran to wipe the ink on his face, Sakura and leaned in closer to his face and brushed the feather on his right cheek. To her delight, Syaoran started to raise his ink-covered hand towards his face, but at the last second, instead of smearing ink all over his face, his hand shot out and planted an inky hand print on Sakura's cheek.

Sakura just stood there gaping while Syaoran smiled at her cheekily. When Sakura finally regained her voice, all that she manage to get out was "H-How did you? What?"

"It's nice to see those lessons are paying off," Syaoran replied, to which Sakura responded with a glare. "But I guess I'll humor you. You see, I woke up when you were pouring the ink into my hand, and from there I played it by ear."

"You are the most infuriating person I have ever met." Sakura said, her voice echoing her frustration.

"Really?" Syaoran replied with mock innocence as he stood up from his chair, "I always thought I was quite likeable."

"Ok that does it! I've had enough of you and your rudeness and snappy comments!" Sakura yelled angrily. If this were an old cartoon, you would see steam coming out of Sakura's ears. She advanced towards Syaoran with a murderous glint in her eyes. Syaoran took this as his cue to leave, and with that, he took off running out of the library with Sakura hot on his trail. He ran down a long hallway and past a few maids who gave him strange looks. Syaoran's escape hallway made a turn to the left, and as he was turning the corner he chanced a glance back to see where Sakura was. To his relief, she was still quite a few feet behind him. Before he had a chance to look forward again, however, he collided with someone. Syaoran bounced back off the person and fell on the floor while the other person stood unwavering. Syaoran groaned softly and looked up, an apology on the tip of his tongue. The apology died however, when he saw who he ran into.

"Your majesty?" Syaoran uttered in shock. The king stood before him, scowling, and replied, "Hey kid, watch where you're going will you, and there's no running in the hall. Why are you running anyway?"

"Well I—"

BAM!

Syaoran's explanation was cut short as Sakura came around the corner running at full speed and plowed into him. They both laid sprawled across the floor in a tangle of arms and legs, each of them struggling to get free. Touya, in the meantime, was trying and failing to contain his laughter. He saw the handprint on Sakura's face and the ink on Syaoran's hand and laughed even harder.

"What were you two doing?" he managed to ask between laughs. He watched Syaoran and Sakura attempt to untangle themselves, then said "You know what, never mind but hurry up and get off the ground, because I have some news for you two."

When they finally got untangled, Sakura and Syaoran followed Touya to the throne room. As they were walking, Sakura gave Syaoran a look that said 'Don't think you got off the hook, I'll deal with you later.' Syaoran just smiled at her and Sakura huffed and looked away.

When they arrived in the throne room, Touya turned them and said, "Now that we have a little more privacy, I'll tell you the news." He cleared his throat then began, "As you two should know, the time for the annual spring festival here in Clow is right around the corner, and people from all over the world come to take part in the festivities. Well, I have just received word that some of our cousins are coming to visit us and see the festival. They will be arriving tomorrow."

Sakura looked slightly afraid, but she quickly composed herself and asked, "Which cousins are coming Touya?"

"Let's see," Touya said as he thought for a moment, "From mom's side Tomoyo, Fai, and Riku are coming, and from dad's side Nezumi, Kurogane, Chi, Kikiyo, and Kari are coming."

"Oh! Tomoyo-chan is coming!" Sakura exclaimed happily, "I can't wait to see her! But do those other little monsters have to come too?"

"Sakura," Touya said sternly, "they are our family, and just because you may be a monster doesn't mean everyone else is."

"But onii-chan, they always cause trouble and then I get blamed for it." Sakura replied, ignoring the insult.

"Sure Sakura, that's what you say all the time." Touya said indifferently.

"But… but… oh never mind. Is that all Touya?" Sakura asked sadly.

"Yes, that's it, you guys can go now," Touya replied.

Sakura and Syaoran exited the throne room, with the former mumbling about rotten luck and monstrous family members.

"What's so bad about your cousins?" Syaoran asked.

"Well all of them except for Tomoyo-chan, Chi-chan, Fai-kun, and Kurogane-kun are immature brats that cause trouble and the blame and punishments always fall on me." Sakura replied.

"And speaking of punishments, you never got yours for this!" Sakura exclaimed angrily as she pointed at the black handprint on her face. She took a swing at Syaoran but he dodged and escaped down another hallway. Sakura took off after him and then chase began once again.

"Syaoran-kun! Grr, when I get my hands on you I'm gonna…" Sakura began angrily.

"You're gonna what?" Syaoran interrupted mockingly.

"I'm gonna, I'm gonna, uhm," Sakura said uncertainly, she hadn't really thought about what she was going to do. "I'm going to sit on you?" Sakura finished lamely.

"Sit on me?" Syaoran replied as he laughed.

By this time Syaoran had run into the enormous and beautiful palace gardens with Sakura on his tail. Because it was spring time, almost all the flowers were blooming and it was a beautiful sight.

"Yeah! And I'm going to, going to…" Sakura glanced around quickly, looking for inspiration. She noticed the flowers all around her feet and got an idea. "I'm going to sit on you and tie flowers in your hair!" Sakura declared proudly.

Syaoran stopped suddenly causing Sakura to nearly bump into him. Syaoran turned back to look at her and laughed. "That's it! I don't even know if it's worth running away." He turned away from her and was about to start running again until Sakura stopped him.

"Oh no you don't!" Sakura yelled as she tackled Syaoran to the ground. "You're not going anywhere until your hair is full of flowers." And with that said she began to weave flowers through Syaoran's chocolate locks.

Syaoran could have easily escaped Sakura's flower-based 'punishment', but he decided to humor her and stay put.

"Perfect!" Sakura exclaimed when she was finished. Syaoran's hair was now a bouquet of many multicolored flowers, courtesy of Sakura.

"Well now that you're done, it would probably be in your best interest to get off of me," Syaoran stated.

"And why is that?" Sakura asked.

"Because of this!" Syaoran exclaimed as quickly pushed himself up off the ground, causing Sakura to topple off him. Before Sakura could escape, Syaoran knelt over her and began tickling her mercilessly.

"Syao…ran…kun…stop!" Sakura managed to say between laughs.

"Hmm, I don't think I will, until you agree to truce for now," Syaoran declared, mentally patting himself on the back for thinking of a way of getting a temporary ceasefire.

"Never!" Sakura declared defiantly as she laughed.

Syaoran continued to tickle Sakura and soon tears of laughter were running down her face.

"OK! Fine…truce…until tomorrow…now stop!" Sakura managed to gasp out, not being able to take much more of the tickle-torture.

"See that wasn't so hard," Syaoran said as he stopped tickling her and lay down on his back beside her. They enjoyed the beautiful day for awhile, until Syaoran, tired of the silence asked, "So now what?"

"Hmm," Sakura started as she sat up, "I know! Let me show you something." Sakura got up from her resting place and started to walk deeper in to the palace gardens, gesturing for Syaoran to follow her. Syaoran followed her and soon they were working their way through some dense foliage. After a few minutes of avoiding various branches and other plants, the pair emerged in a clearing with a medium sized, crystal-clear pond in the middle.

As they stepped into the oasis, Syaoran was in awe of its beauty. The grass was soft underfoot and the surrounding trees offered plentiful shade, giving the oasis a pleasant temperature.

"My dad built this place for Mom," Sakura said smiling gently. "When I was little, Dad used to take Touya and me to this place a lot. Now onii-chan and I are the only ones who know about this place."

"It's amazing," Syaoran stated, still completely blown away by the scenery.

"Yeah, it is," Sakura replied. Then, as if coming out of a trance, Sakura shook her head and said in a more cheerful tone, "Come on, let's go put our feet in the water!" Before Syaoran had a chance to reply, Sakura took him by the hand and pulled him off toward the far bank of the pond. Syaoran blushed lightly at the contact but allowed Sakura to pull him along.

When the duo arrived at their destination, Sakura let go of Syaoran's hand and sat down on the soft grass. She began taking off her shoes and socks and rolling up her pants and Syaoran did the same. Once their shoes and socks had been removed, Syaoran and Sakura stuck their feet into the cool, refreshing water.

"What happened to your toe?" Sakura asked, noticing Syaoran's bruised digit.

"Oh that," Syaoran replied sheepishly, "well I dropped a box of books on it, and you stepped on it."

"I stepped on it?" Sakura asked, tilting her head to the side cutely.

Syaoran, much to his horror, found himself blushing lightly. He looked away from Sakura and answered her, "Yeah, when we crashed into each other, you stepped on it on accident."

"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know. It looks painful." Sakura said sympathetically.

"It doesn't hurt that much anymore," Syaoran replied indifferently, then, unable to resist, Syaoran added playfully, "you big feet didn't squish my toe as much as I thought they would."

Sakura responded with a mock glare and splash of water that successfully soaked Syaoran's pants up his mid thighs. Before Syaoran had a chance to splash back however, Sakura got up ran away towards the area where they entered the clearing, laughing the whole way.

Syaoran got up to follow her and after he took a few steps, Sakura seemingly tripped and fell. Chuckling, Syaoran ran up to her and said jokingly, "You know Sakura-hime, it makes it easier for me to catch you if fall down like that." His teasing look turned into a look of concern, however, when he saw that Sakura was not glaring or laughing, but clutching her foot with a pained expression. He knelt down next to her and asked gently, "Are you alright Sakura-hime?"

"I think so," she replied in a pained voice, "but my foot really hurts."

"Let me take a look," Syaoran said, taking her foot gently. Sakura winced but said nothing as Syaoran carefully examined the bottom of her foot. He was surprised to find a large but thin cut running from the ball of her foot to the beginning of her heel. He also noticed that her ankle was red and swollen, so he assumed that she had twisted it when she fell. "Well you have quite cut on your foot Sakura-hime, and it looks like you twisted your ankle," Syaoran said, "but it's nothing a little bandage and some rest won't fix".

"That's good to hear," Sakura replied.

"Stay here," Syaoran said suddenly. Before Sakura could reply, Syaoran had stood up started to sprint back over to where they had been putting their feet in the water.

"It's not like I can get anywhere like this," Sakura grumbled to herself.

Syaoran came back a minute later with his shoes on and Sakura's shoes in his pockets. (He has big pockets, she has small shoes.)

"Alright we need to get you to the infirmary," Syaoran said when he got back to Sakura.

"Thanks for stating the obvious," Sakura responded sarcastically.

Syaoran ignored her sarcasm and asked, "Can you walk?"

"I'll try," Sakura answered, standing up and using Syaoran's arm for support. As soon as she put weight on her bad foot, however, she flinched from the pain and leaned more heavily on Syaoran. "Walking might be a problem," Sakura said sheepishly.

"Well in that case, we'll just have to do this," Syaoran said as he scooped Sakura up bridal style. Sakura stiffened at first, but then relaxed when she was sure Syaoran wasn't going to drop her. Syaoran walked to the edge of the clearing, then turned around so his back was the jungle of plants they had to get through to get into the clearing. He then pulled Sakura closer to him, causing both of them to blush, and proceeded to walk backwards through the foliage.

Sakura could help but think that it was kind of nice being in Syaoran's arms like she was now, not that she would admit to him though. Unknown to her, Syaoran was also thinking along the same lines.

After tripping twice and almost falling once, the pair finally made it out of the miniature forest. Syaoran then exited the palace gardens and carried Sakura to the infirmary. Once in the infirmary, Syaoran set Sakura down on one of the beds.

"Where's the infirmary keeper?" Syaoran asked, looking for someone to assist them.

"I don't know," Sakura replied, also looking around, "Terada-san and Rika-chan are normally here most of the time, but they must be taking a break or something."

"Well I guess I'll have to patch you up myself," Syaoran stated. He walked over to the various started looking through them, trying to find the bandages and antiseptics. Sakura giggled quietly as Syaoran put his entire head into one of the lower cabinets that was on the complete opposite side of where the bandages and antiseptics were. Sakura decided to be nice and tell Syaoran where the things he needed were.

"Syaoran-kun," Sakura called out.

THUMP!

Syaoran, startled by Sakura's call, had hit his head on the top of the cabinet. He pulled his head out of the cabinet and rubbed the back of it where it had been hit. "Yes Sakura-hime?" he answered politely.

"The stuff you're looking for is over in that cabinet," Sakura said, pointing to a cabinet on the opposite side of the room as she tried to suppress her giggles.

"Oh," was all Syaoran could say as he flushed bright red and quickly went over to the cabinet Sakura had pointed out. He easily found what he had been looking and brought the items over to Sakura, still red in the face.

"This might sting a little bit," Syaoran said as he poured some of the antiseptic on to a cotton ball. He dabbed at Sakura's cut gently, and she winced a little bit but kept her foot still. After he finished cleaning her cut, he wrapped it in a bandage with the same tenderness. Sakura marveled at how gently Syaoran treated her. She had no idea he could be this kind.

"Do you mind if I check your ankle?" Syaoran asked, "It looks like you twisted it but I want to make sure it isn't more serious."

"I don't mind, that sounds like a good idea," Sakura answered.

After gaining her consent, Syaoran began rotating and bending her ankle skillfully, asking her where it hurt. "Well," Syaoran started after he had finished examining Sakura's ankle, "luckily for you, you only twisted it. Your ankle should be fine in two days as long as you don't walk on it.

"How do you know all of this?" Sakura asked.

"Well people would get hurt all the time during our digs, so my father made sure I knew my first aid." Syaoran replied.

"Well it's a good thing he taught you all that," Sakura said, smiling.

Syaoran blushed at the compliment and in order to distract Sakura from his red face Syaoran asked, "Does your ankle hurt at all?"

"No, its fine," Sakura lied, not wanting Syaoran to worry about her. However, Syaoran saw right through her.

"Sakura-hime," he said sternly.

"Ok, it hurts a little bit," she said.

Syaoran gave her a look.

"Ok, ok, you got me, it hurts a lot," Sakura said truthfully.

"Let me see if I can do something about that," Syaoran stated as he began massaging her ankle gently.

Sakura sighed in relief and pleasure as the pain in her ankle started to disappear. "Wow Syaoran-kun, your hands must be magic because my ankle feels so much better."

Syaoran's blush darkened but he continued to rub her ankle.

When he had finally worked his way all the way around her ankle, Syaoran stopped rubbing and bandaged up her ankle.

"Uhm, Syaoran-kun, how can I get around if you said I shouldn't walk on my ankle?" Sakura asked.

"Well, uhm, I guess I can just carry you around since we're always supposed to be together and stuff." Syaoran answered while rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly.

"Uhm, ok, that works," Sakura said, her face coloring to match Syaoran's.

Though, neither of them had realized it, they had spent in the clearing and infirmary, so the dinner bell interrupted their awkward moment.

"Well, shall we go?" Syaoran asked Sakura.

"Yes! Take me away!" Sakura answered dramatically as she opened her arms.

Syaoran once again picked her up bridal style and carried her off to dinner.

Needless to say, Touya and Yukito were very surprised when Sakura showed up to dinner in a flowery-headed Syaoran's arms.