Love and Duty Come in Chains
Those two words turned everything that had been hazily dreaded into something true.
There. It's done. Setsuna closed her eyes. Even so, she couldn't watch.
She couldn't watch Konoka kiss that man. It was her one moment of weakness. She won't have another.
She couldn't, not for Konoka's sake.
"If anyone present can show just cause as to why this couple may not be legally joined together, you should now declare it, or hereafter hold your peace."
Setsuna kept her eyes open when Konoka looked at her. She stared straight back into Konoka's searching, deep eyes in that pause. Stared, then looked away, silent.
Konoka didn't look at Setsuna again.
"Kyo Wallward and Konoka Konoe, I pronounce you husband and wife, uniting the House of Wallward and Konoe in holy matrimony."
"Together, may you find the strength to destroy the evils that plague our world and your Houses."
How wonderful, Setsuna thought as she watched the married couple walk down the aisle surrounded by the Wallward guards towards the church door, that Konoka could manage to fulfill her duty to her family and yet still find a man who she genuinely cared about.
"Setsuna, if you accept, I have another job for you."
"I will, Headmaster."
"I haven't told you what it is yet."
"What job I do doesn't matter to me. I live to serve."
Konoemon grunted, his white brows furrowing until they met above his nose as he peered at Setsuna, a painfully understanding quality in his stare. "As head of the Konoe family, I'm assigning you to guard our family heir. You are removed from the employ of Mahora Academy. Now, you are an employee of the Konoe."
The old man watched her, then slid an officially sealed envelope across his desk. "This is my letter to the Wallward House, telling them that you are my employee and not theirs."
"So they cannot ever dismiss you from Konoka's service."
Setsuna paused, her red eyes flashing over with a brief emotion before returning to their cool glassiness. "Yes, sir."
"You will be her personal guardian. Even against her own desires or inclinations, you must protect Konoka at all costs. Let the Wallwards mumble about the Konoe dishonouring them, I don't care. Your only duty is Konoka." Konoemon stopped speaking and watched her. "Do you have any objections to your duty?"
Setsuna rose and put her fists together, Yuunagi held out horizontally before her as she bowed deeply.
"Se—Setsuna-san, I will be going out this afternoon to inspect the wards again."
"Yes, ojou-sama." Setsuna bowed, her black hair falling forward in a dark wave, blending into the black of her suit. She still dyed it, even though she had forgone the contact lenses ever since…ever since. "I will arrange for your security detail."
"Alright," Konoka said quietly.
She had stopped asking Setsuna to call her Kono-chan. It surprised Setsuna how much it hurt, each time she said the title, and not hear Konoka protest. Ridiculous, she knew, since she was the one who always insisted on it in the past. Her constant refusals never hurt until Konoka stopped asking. But it still sent a jolt through her heart, and she wished that she could blurt it out. It wouldn't be that hard. Kono-chan. Kono-chan.
In the end, she couldn't. Now…she wasn't sure anymore why she couldn't. Because it wasn't the proper thing to do. It wasn't the right thing to do.
Setsuna no longer cared why.
Because it was too late.
"Why are you doing this? Do you have some masochistic warrior thing, or are you just too much of a coward to fight for her?" Asuna slapped her, hard. Setsuna let her, not that she was admitting to the masochistic comment but because she deserved it. And Asuna had every right to be angry. She was the one who heard Konoka crying every night, after all.
"How can you just let her go?"
"Because he does make her happy."
"She loves you!"
Setsuna laughed hollowly.
By the time Setsuna realized that she could have fought, that she could have tried for both their happiness, it was too late.
To the side, a servant bowed. "Lady Wallward, shall I fetch—"
"There's no need. Setsuna-san will take care of me—of my security. All decisions will be in her hands."
"But…very well, my lady."
Konoka found and captured Setsuna's gaze easily, her brown eyes still entirely trusting but missing that innocent, happy aura. "I trust her with my everything."
"Secchan? Can…can you please stay with me? Stay with me, forever."
"B…Because I don't think that I'm strong enough to do it on my own. I want my friend to be there with me, because…you make me stronger, Secchan."
"I promise that I'll always protect you."
Despite anything Mana or Asuna said to her later, Setsuna didn't lie then. Because she promised to protect Konoka's body, her life and those of anyone else Konoka cared about. She never promised to protect Konoka's heart. Because Setsuna knew.
She knew that she would be the one breaking it.
Konoka's voice cut through Setsuna's thoughts to capture her attention immediately. "Is something wrong, S—Setsuna-san?" One of her hands dropped, as if she had raised it towards Setsuna's shoulder then let it fall short, empty.
Setsuna bowed her head, letting her loose hair fall to shield her face.
Author's Note: If you like, you can take this as an angsty one-shot and be done with it =).
Or if you care about the circumstances around Konoka's marriage, around Setsuna's choice to remain Konoka's protector even though it's clearly breaking her heart…then wait for the real story to start! =D
This story follows mostly the manga canon, although parts of the Magical World arc may be ignored. Otherwise, I'll do my best to stay in canon!