Waiting for You
The summer sun shone against the bright blue of the sky. A pretty dark-haired girl stared up at the clouds from the comfort of her balcony. An easel sat in front of her while she held a paintbrush and palette. The breeze caressed her face and whispered tales from faraway lands. Her sensual pink lips curved into a smile as she thought about the correct angle for her painting.
Her attention was caught by the sound of rushing footsteps. The door opened to let in her breathless nursemaid, Maria. She put down the palette and turned gracefully to face her. Her expression was open and expectant.
"Your mother wishes to see you in her sitting room, Tomoyo-hime." Maria said after a curtsy.
Daidouji Tomoyo, Princess of Japan, got up gracefully from her chair. She nodded as thanks. Without wasting any time, she laid aside her painting tools and removed her painter's smock to reveal an elegant blue gown. She glanced at her full-length mirror to check her hairstyle before leaving the room.
Her mother was a queen who loved perfection. Naturally her daughter inherited that trait. As a princess, she was required to present a good image for their constituents and country. That's why she never left her rooms without dressing up to perfection in order to please her mother and fellowmen.
The princess ran a hand through her long dark gray hair. Her gaze was caught by a simple silver ring on her left hand. The ring glinted in the summer sunshine. Her eyes softened as she stared at it. Crossing the hall towards her mother's rooms took less time than expected.
Her sweet smile made the guards nod towards her in acknowledgement. She was touched that they respected her as much as her mother.
Tomoyo was the princess that everyone loved. She was beautiful, smart, obedient and regal. Her wits were sharp and she was schooled like a boy. Her beauty subjugated many hearts while her exquisite voice conquered many enemies. She possessed a good eye, a thrifty nature and a modest heart. She was a princess through and through.
Knocking on the door, she announced her presence. The queen answered her call cheerfully. Shaking her head, she entered the royal bedroom.
Queen Daidouji Sonomi was seated in front of a gilded dresser, brushing her longish brown hair. As usual, she was dressed in fine fabrics and full court regalia. The golden crown of Japan glinted in her hair. A simple set of earrings and necklace highlighted her rank and bearing.
She got up to hug her only child. Tomoyo smiled up at her mother. She inhaled the scent that would always characterize her mother. It was wonderful to be in the bosom where she drew her first breath.
They moved away to sit on the couch. Sonomi was still holding her hands.
"Tomoyo-chan, you look well this morning!" The Queen dropped the polite and formal speech whenever she was around her beloved daughter. "I have wonderful news. You have two suitors who are asking for your hand in marriage."
The Princess carefully kept her expression neutral.
"I've got King Chaos who is incredibly talented at swordsmanship and magic. My spies confided that he's got loyal countrymen and wealth beyond our dreams. The other suitor is Prince Zachary who won't give up, even after you refused." Sonomi looked deep into her daughter's eyes. "You're eighteen, my darling. It's time for you to choose your bridegroom."
"What if I don't want to marry yet?" the Princess spoke up.
The Queen smiled indulgently. "Is that your wish? Do you want to spend more time alone after your debut?"
Tomoyo fidgeted. She played with her silver ring. Her mother noticed but did not comment. "I want to learn more about governance…"
It was a transparent ploy to remain unwed. Her mother saw right through it but did not say anything. She had completed her education. Her tutors had nothing left to teach her. Though her mother ruled alone, she knew that a future queen's duty was to serve her kind, keep the kingdom's peace and maintain the balance in the world she lived in. She wasn't supposed to worry much about politics and government unless she had to. She was supposed to have a husband to do that for her.
There was another knock on the door.
Queen Sonomi looked at the pretty wall clock. She sighed a little. "We'll talk about it later, my dear. I've got a council meeting right now. Will it be all right if I left you now?"
"Please go on, Mother." The Princess said with a gentle smile. "I'll see myself to my rooms."
The Queen smiled tenderly. She was blessed to have such a wonderful and caring daughter. With a kiss on her daughter's forehead, she left the royal bedroom. It pained her heart that her daughter was grown up and ready to be married off to a worthy prince but it was for the best. The long years of comfort, love and security was about to end.
Princess Tomoyo sighed as she stopped in front of the many windows in the corridor. Her mother was serious in marrying her off. It was no secret that she was a dizzying dowry price to other kingdoms. She knew it was bound to happen. She was supposed to be prepared.
Her feet led her to the gardens instead. The gardeners loved her appreciation of their work a lot. They had created a grove full of cherry blossom trees in the middle of the gardens for her. She reached her swing under her favorite tree.
Sitting down on it, she stared at the ground thoughtfully. Propelling herself forward, she looked up into the heavens with gentle eyes. She laughed lightly as she let the childish thrill course through her.
She noticed the silver ring gleaming in the sunlight. It reminded her of a promise she made long ago….
A young boy and girl sat together on a bench to watch the sunset. They had a grand view from one of the palace balconies. Comfortable silence lay between them. They wished on every star that accompanied the falling dusk.
After a while, the boy spoke up. "What will you do if someone fell in love with you?"
She turned to him, curious. His mysterious blue eyes held her in thrall. "I'll think about it. Mama says I cannot marry anyone but a prince."
"What if you fell in love?" he asked tenderly.
"I'll know what to do when it happens," she replied sweetly "A princess cannot fall in love with just anyone. She has to choose a man who is loyal, courageous and true… A title is only a bonus."
"You're too practical," her companion said affectionately "You should marry for love."
The little girl-woman thought about this. Her hopeful smile touched his heart. "I guess so. But you have to hurry if you don't want a prince to take me away."
Her violet-blue eyes widened as he knelt down in front of her. He was holding a small black box. His smile reminded her of a cat who got into the cream. She trembled when he opened it to reveal a silver ring nestled inside.
"My princess, please take this as a token of my affections," he said tenderly "Wear it until I return from my journey and wait for me. As a prince who was sworn to protect and love you, I vow to come back."
The little princess didn't say anything. She nodded. He slipped the ring smoothly into her left ring finger. It gleamed in the moonlight. The beauty took her breath away.
"What will you do if you fell in love?" he asked gently.
"I'll wait until he comes back," she replied, tears in her violet blue eyes.
The very next day, he left.
Tomoyo cried as she had not cried for many years. Her heart felt like it would break. Her mother told her that he will not return for many years. When it became true, she stopped and gave up. She lived on, with or without heartbreak.
That didn't mean she loved him less. She resolved to love herself first before she consented to love anyone else.
Her mother was pressing her already. It was time to choose. She cannot hold off the other royals any longer. Although she'd given her word, there were no witnesses. She was the only person in the world who knew that she was spoken for.
She hugged her left arm, sobbing. It still hurt.
"Why did you go?" she whispered sadly "I can't wait for you anymore."
The Princess of Japan wasn't surprised at all when her mother announced that the palace was holding a ball next week. It was their last attempt to attract more princes in order to increase chances on finding the best match.
"I'd design my dress," Tomoyo said when Maria asked if she wanted to call the royal seamstress. "However I need some help in making it."
The older woman smiled gently. She really loved her mistress. "I'll be happy to."
Tomoyo slipped out of her formal clothes and changed into her nightdress. She sat down in front of her dresser to stare at her reflection. Maria started to brush her hair. It was an evening ritual that never failed to soothe her.
Being a princess was hard work sometimes.
"Will it be a costume ball?" she asked in a soft voice.
The maidservant nodded enthusiastically. "Yes, Tomoyo-hime! You can dress up as anyone."
"Everybody will still know it's me," Tomoyo teased.
"That's because everyone loves you," Maria said lightly. The princess gestured for her to stop brushing. The older woman smiled gently. She curtsied and left the room.
Tomoyo sighed softly. She stared at her reflection closely. Her nightdress emphasized her soft curves and long legs. Her dark gray hair reached down to the small of her back in waves. Blue eyes fringed with sooty black lashes revealed her gentle heart. How would he know it was her if they met again?
She smiled. Her reflection smiled back. They'd know each other. She clenched her hand in order to feel the silver ring cutting into her finger. They promised each other.
The princess smiled to herself. She had an idea. Taking out her personal monogrammed stationery and pen, she started to write a short letter. Her kingdom boasted of the best couriers. They would surely find him before the ball.
The night of the ball arrived.
It was a beautiful evening with a full moon that was like a large and luminous pendant in the velvet sky. The palace was decked out in rich decorations and the jewels that the honored guests wore added to the sparkle. The Queen had invited all of the nobility as well as royalty from other kingdoms.
Tomoyo breathed deeply to compose herself. She was dressed in a silver sheath dress made of raw silk that had a slit up to her thigh. Little glass beads interwoven in the silken dark mass of her hair glittered as stars. A pure silver crescent-shaped coronet was pinned to her brow to signify her role as moon goddess. Once in a while, she reached up to adjust her beaded mask that hid half of her face.
When her presence was announced, she descended the marble staircase. All of the men and women let out a sigh of awe. Everyone gaped at her loveliness and grace. She walked as careful as she was graceful because of her high heels.
She joined the Queen of Japan in the raised platform that carried the throne. Because she was still a princess, she sat on a lower dais that was at level with her mother's foot. Her eyes scanned the room eagerly.
But there was no sign of her long-awaited visitor. The conductor gestured to start the orchestra. Beautiful music filled the air. The guests started to dance.
Tomoyo smiled and declined all offers to dance that came her way. She turned them down so gently that when they left, they felt like she did them a favor. Her mother turned disapproving eyes but did not comment.
She wanted to save her first dance tonight for him. Her heart was set to win his alone.
An elegant carriage stopped right outside the palace. The footman jumped down to open the carriage door. With a bow, the footman announced the presence of the unexpected visitor.
A tall, elegantly dressed man stepped out. He had dark hair, pale skin and sapphire blue eyes. He was wearing a mask that was shaped like a raven's face with a beak and real feathers. His regal and dignified bearing tipped off the guards to recognize him as someone of noble blood or more.
"What is your purpose?" the guards asked, curious.
The man dressed in black and hints of midnight blue held up a hand. It contained the crest of the Kingdom of Clow. They started but recovered swiftly with a bow.
"I'm here in official business," he said coolly. They opened the doors for him. He entered the palace as if he knew it so well. None of them missed the cream-colored envelope with the Princess's crest on his right hand.
He headed towards the grand ballroom.
Music filled him as he entered. He shook his head when a servant offered to announce his presence. His deep blue eyes watched the dancing lords and ladies, as if he was looking for someone.
It was time to make his move. He couldn't bear to make her wait any longer.
Tomoyo pinched the inside of her wrist to stay awake. She was getting very bored of the ball. Her mother had noticed and smiled to her coolly.
"You should dance to entertain yourself," Sonomi suggested. "You've been fending off your admirers all evening. It certainly defeats the purpose of the ball."
She smiled in spite of herself. "I don't want to offend the princes by stepping on their toes."
"Practice makes perfect, darling." The Queen laughed lightly. She was glad her daughter was very witty. "You've got plenty of princely toes to step on. Surely, one of them would be honored if you chose to stomp on his toes for the rest of his life?"
"They'll only think we're bent on war," she replied "and not on marriage."
"Can I have this dance?" a soft voice interrupted. The royals turned to look at the tall green-haired man wearing a golden mask. He was smiling at them as if it was his greatest pleasure to be surrounded by women. He swept an elegant bow.
Queen Sonomi nodded encouragingly. Tomoyo got up and held out her hand. She let him lead her towards the dance floor.
The crowd parted to let them through. They wanted to watch their beloved princess lead the dance. It was rumored that she was a divinity on the dance floor. The conductor was waiting for this all night and he struck up a beautiful waltz.
They made a great couple. Both of them were wonderful dancers. When they were finished, everyone applauded.
"You're exquisite," he whispered as they started yet again. "You're a goddess, Tomoyo-hime."
"Such pretty words, Chaos-sama," she replied with a teasing wink. "Do go on."
Tomoyo wanted to hide the fact that although she was dancing with him, she was thinking about someone else. Her mother was personally fond of King Chaos. She wasn't.
"I'd like to take a breath of fresh air," she murmured as the dance finished. He nodded obligingly and helped her towards the double doors that led to the palace gardens. They sighed as a cool breeze passed.
"Would you like to take a walk?" he offered solicitously.
Tomoyo nodded; she wanted to get away from the party for a while. It wouldn't hurt to make friends with Chaos. He seemed like a good man. She was aware that he was a good king, a powerful mage and a skillful swordsman. Many princesses from other countries were dying to have the chance to meet him. Fortunately, she wasn't one of them.
When they were a safe distance from the palace and inside the intricate maze, Chaos turned to Tomoyo. He wanted her so badly. She wasn't reacting to his teases or biting any of his baits. It frustrated him. She was the only woman in the world that he wanted.
"Do you like me?" he asked in a barely controlled voice.
Tomoyo was surprised by his question. She noticed the burning look in his eyes. His posture changed as well as his actions. Fear started to creep up her body. It was a bad, bad idea to come with him.
When he pulled her flush against his body, she screamed. But they were far from the palace and guards. Nobody could help her unless they heard. She doubted it. What with the music and laughter and noise, she doubted that anyone would hear her.
Chaos stared down at her beautiful face and smiled. Her eyes widened as she realized what he wanted to do. She struggled against him but he was too strong. Her arms were trapped behind her and she could barely move when he pushed her flat against her back on the wall of the maze.
She wanted to cry. If Chaos succeeded in kissing her, she was doomed. (It was a custom of the country of Japan that the princess's first kiss was saved for her future husband. If she granted it to any man, she was honor-bound to marry him.)
"You'll be mine now," Chaos whispered in her ear "You don't have to like me. I want you to be mine, Tomoyo-hime…"
"No," Tomoyo cried out. "No, I don't want to be your bride!"
"Get away from her," a low voice said.
They looked up to see a man silhouetted against the full moon.
He was dressed in black and wearing a raven mask. His eyes recognized the slender figure with dark hair trapped unwillingly in the King's arms. Anger surged through his being. He couldn't believe that someone had dared to take advantage of the princess.
Tomoyo took advantage of the distraction. She kicked Chaos in the shin and stumbled away from him. He caught her arm and pushed her to the ground. The moon glowed as Chaos crawled towards her.
She couldn't move. Silently, she damned her dress for restricting her legs. Hairs on the back of her neck stood up when Chaos's hand brushed against her ankle. She screamed again. This time, the man jumped in front of her and stepped on the offending hand.
He took out his sword and pointed it to the fallen King's throat. Blue eyes hardened like gemstones. "You dared to take advantage of a princess. I can't forgive you. You won't lay a finger on her."
Tomoyo froze when she heard his voice. She looked up and stifled a gasp. It was him! Her savior was her prince! She was stunned when she realized that he'd come for her. Then she was glad for his right timing.
"Oh but she wanted it," Chaos choked out. He couldn't retaliate without getting his throat cut. But he was not a good fighter if he gave up so easily. He kicked the mysterious savior's legs and he jumped out of the way. Chaos got up and jumped back a few feet away. Drawing out his sword, he pointed it. "You'd regret coming between us."
Tomoyo got up and pressed her back on the wall. She smiled with relief. Her prince, Hiiragizawa Eriol, was there to protect her. Love and happiness threatened to overflow from her heart.
The sounds of clashing swords filled the air. Eriol and Chaos were good swordsmen. They were evenly matched. Tomoyo watched Eriol admiringly. He was light on his feet and quick with his arm. She could see that he was thinking hard on how to gain an advantage over her attacker.
Their swords met again and they jumped back, panting.
"You're good," Eriol said softly "but I'm better."
"Eriol-sama, be careful!" Tomoyo yelled to catch Chaos' attention.
He looked at her for a fraction of second. Sensing his distraction, Eriol lunged and pointed his sword on Chaos's throat for the second time. The King glared and opened a portal behind him. They watched as he escaped to another dimension.
Eriol returned his sword to its sheath. He turned to Tomoyo, smiling. She was so worried that she immediately inspected his cuts. He was bleeding in some places but she decided that they weren't life-threatening. Smiling smugly, she knew that Chaos suffered worse.
"Are you all right?" she asked gently.
He smiled. "I'm fine, Tomoyo-hime."
"You're not hurt?" she asked again.
He shook his head. Tentatively, he reached out to push away her bangs to get a good look of her face. "I'm glad that nothing happened to you."
"You saved me," she said wonderingly. "You really came."
Eriol took her hand and tucked it into his arm. The dark-haired man led her to sit on one of the benches that were scattered around the garden. They were holding hands. "I received your letter just in time."
"The Queen wants to marry me off already," Tomoyo said slowly. "I didn't know what to do. I was hoping you'd come and fulfill your promise."
"I was going to," Eriol grinned "My traveling days were over and I wanted to come home to the waiting arms of my princess."
"You're an idiot," she murmured as tears filled her eyes "You never even wrote back. If you didn't come tonight, I would have been forced to marry that awful King Chaos. I don't know why Mother likes him… I knew he was up to no good!"
The dark-haired prince tipped up her chin to have a better look. He leaned forward and kissed her deeply. Her heartbeats accelerated and she couldn't help herself as she wrapped her arms around his neck. They broke off, smiling.
"Will you marry me?" Eriol asked tenderly.
"Yes, I will!" Tomoyo replied when he got down on one knee.
She felt the same wave of awe and love rush through her like in that night so long ago. He removed the silver ring and kissed her hand. She gasped as he produced a diamond solitaire ring and slipped it on her finger. It glittered in the moonlight.
"Shall we tell your mother the news?" Eriol offered his arm again. Smiling gaily, she took it. They entered the palace and basked in the warm applause.
Tomoyo glanced at her new ring and smiled gently. Some things were worth the wait.
A/N: I tweaked this really old story here and there. After watching Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, I decided to change some elements. It's still really cute though.