Scarlet By L. Hiiragizawa

*See previous chapters for disclaimer **For Kyte-chan, Yori-chan and Meemee-chan.

Raindrops

"Per-vert!"

With every syllable stressed, she shouted at the top of her lungs, writhing away desperately from the firm hold on her waist. The golden streaks of the morning sun, peering from the slightly parted royal blue curtains that adorned the huge windows, were unnoticed as her concentration focused on the possessively draped arm, finding solutions that would free her from his gentle grip.

She tried. She was trying, still. And she was silently praying, asking help from any deity that would come to her aid. Yet her resistance provoked him to pull her closer, breathe in the scent of her hair, and just remain that way: no worries, no loneliness but contentment alone. A grim smile came across his face as one of his cerulean eyes flapped open in amusement. There she was, a stranger he barely knew. A stranger whom he wishes to use as an instrument of vengeance and a patch to cover the past. But as impossible as it may seem for the hard-heartened person he was, something in his heart tugged, feeling prematurely the pain he might cause. A stranger who may fill up the irreplaceable void she left, though the thought somehow changed the curvature of his lips.

No one could replace her but...

"Let go you.you beastly pervert!"

How about her?

Visibly flaming in anger, she slapped him hard on the face, which made him involuntarily draw his free hand to touch the inflicted part.

His face was unreadable, she noticed, standing up, getting ready to run away before he would do her harm.

"What was that for?" He demanded, shoving aside the satin sheets above him.

Smoothing her skirt from the crumples, she faced him with confidence, raising an eyebrow and smiling innocently at the same time.

"Oh. The almighty king doesn't know why. What a shame for an intelligent person like you." She replied scornfully.

He, sensing another battle of words and wits, gave an insulting, sweet smile as he stood up and combed his hair with his hands.

"Say that again? I never knew that you even consider me smart."

He fixed his robe, tying the strap into a knot properly, as her face wore a blank expression at the glimpse of his upper masculinity. She blushed a shade of pink and shied her gaze away from his eyes, hoping that he didn't notice the nervousness sketched on her face. Unfortunately, the cunning he, noted her uneasiness and chuckled.

"Really, you can adore my charms in front of me, dear Tomoyo. You need not to secretly admire me from afar."

That was it. Her face went red once again and he earned a life-threatening glare. Her flaming cuteness was an unexpected reward and he enjoyed her annoyance. She was disdainfully feeling the heat rise up till the ends of her hair. He sure knew how to catch the bait without even fishing for it.

Egotistic jerk, she thought, hearing him laugh cutely as her fists balled up.

Cutely? She gulped unnoticeably.

Hah!

"My, my. You must face the mirror right now, my lady. You look.. like an awful."

How she loved to slap him once again for wounding her pride. Slaughter him, even. If only she didn't find him (cough) too adorable (cough) to hurt.

".Tomato."

His voice dropped an octave low, which was followed by laughter. Her face on the other hand, looked like it was ready to explode anytime because of humiliation. Two of her fists were now balled up, restraining the urge to punch him on the face. She still had a bit of patience left amidst the piercing, killer stare she gave him.

A bit.

One more, Eriol, she silently mumbled, quiet enough for nobody, besides her, to hear.

One more, you descendant of all the mythological monsters combined.

One more.

"So, how are you feeling now after last night?" He wiggled his eyebrows and he was sure that it was confusion that dawned upon her features.

"Last night?"

Her questioning tone was streaked with confusion, indeed, he noticed. Eriol decided to continue his pursuit to strike her hard where her ego lay. Smiling mysteriously, like he always did, she felt like an innocent child awaiting punishment. His smiles brought turmoil to her soul, torturing her madly. The way his lips twitched prepared her for the tempestuous truth that may unfold ahead. And whatever is up his sleeve this time, she shall meticulously uncover, like the strong-willed woman she is.

He grinned further, sending her danger signals.

You think you could outsmart me?

I think not.

She gulped again.

.I hope.

He sighed, frowning at the same time in an attempt to tease.

"I thought you had fun."

She noted the sad, mocking tone of his voice. Too bad, she is smart enough to notice its unrealistic aura. Tapping her foot impatiently, she waited for further elaborations. Sometimes, she thought, he was hard to decode. What was going on in his seemingly complex mind boggled her to the point that she wanted to know discreetly, without him knowing that she was trying to study his plans, his dreams, his life and if given the chance, she would explore his heart's depths. Not that she found him interesting, it was just that.

There he went again with a smile that would rival a Cheshire cat's.

"I saw intelligence in your character when I met you. Simple logic, you still can't get?"

She was slowly inclining to intuition, though she still preserved her optimism.

Strange.she didn't remember.

She gaped in shock.

No way.

Nothing happened right?

"You.you." Tomoyo seemed to choke out her words.

Finally, he thought, he won.

"You."

Calmness waned and withered.

"Nothing happened, you malicious, lecherous, lustful monster." She shouted, pointing a finger at his face in rage.

"Nothing?" came his almost believable reply accompanied by that smile. THAT smile she loves to hate. The smile that always drew spiteful conversations, which he seemed to enjoy. Well, at times, Tomoyo thought paradoxically, she felt drawn to his charming teases and antics.

But that didn't change her irritation.

"Let me repeat, your highness," She said, trying to make her point, a finger pointed rudely at his face.

"I don't know how come, why and what the hell brought me to your room. And I'm positively sure that no passionate encounter happened last night."

"Hmm." Was all he said while moving towards the window, casting a faraway gaze into the horizon.

"Funny isn't it?" Eriol absentmindedly added while his finger moved against the window's dewed glass, tracing patterns of different sorts.

"That after tragedy, thinking your life had no use and you are nothing but shattered pieces of crystals, you resort to violence, wounding the people around you and you, yourself even more, in the process."

Her face softened upon his narration. Funny though, how abrupt his temperament changes from a laughing matter to something serious. What he was trying to say, she cannot fathom because of the concealed truth behind his puzzling words. But one thing was for sure: whatever past the man in front of her had, it was surely painful and she.

I understand?

"Maybe, I thought, if I would hide, if I would flee from the memories by changing who I was, if I allowed hatred to overpower me, it would do me good. But then," He paused, concentrating on the next words he would use and studying her eyes. For a second, he surely noticed traces of understanding deep within those soulful seas.

Do you-In spite of the unfairness I will let you taste?-Do you understand me? Even though I hide the ruthless me?

"You came and everything changed. I came out from the place that covered me from the light. I returned to my child-like self without you trying hard to draw me out." Shutting the curtains close, with only a few light illuminating from the windowpanes, he faced her with honesty.

"And I thank you, Tomoyo, though I feel that you hate me for constantly bugging you. I know that I had a sudden change in character since you came and surprisingly, I myself don't know what power you wield to set me free."

He walked towards her and took her hands to his lips, kissing the back of her velvety hand, making her blush impulsively.

"I'm not so sure but I feel like I've known you for a lifetime."

Tomoyo turned her back towards him to avoid his piercing eyes. Must he know that she was starting to like him? Like him more than liking? Even though she only spent a few weeks in an unknown time, an unknown place?

Must he know that she admires him for his wittiness? Must he know the fact that as if she had known him somewhere.someplace?

"I."

He turned her around to face him and silenced her with his forefinger.

"Don't speak. All I needed to say was thank you. I may not know where you came from, who you really are and why you suddenly appeared. All I know is you are heaven sent and you made me smile after years of ceasing to do so."

She felt his lips touch her hands once again and sparks of electricity ran up and down her spine, making her jump slightly.

"But." he started, wearing one of the untrusting smiles that seemed to convey, "I know something you don't". And his jester-like smile made her brows meet once more. Figuring out Eriol was a futile attempt. He camouflaged better than a chameleon, troubling her from knowing when he was sincere or not. And the curve on his face at the moment created annoyance, allowing her instincts to push him slightly as if his hands burned hers.

"I still remember how good you were last night, darling. You still smell like maraschino. Sweet yet dangerous."

Gathering all the strength she had, she took a step towards him, locking her angry violets with his serene yet jeering sapphires and gave him a big, hard slap on the face. "I repeat, nothing happened, your highness."

As she began walking halfway through the door, she smiled a bit. He was unreadable: an innocent child behind the cruelty of fate. At the same time, she mused, an insouciant, far-from-bantering freakazoid covered up in layers of angelic projections. What laughable irony.

"And before I forget, the next time you play a prank by letting me drink maraschino, carrying me off to your room afterwards and making me believe we did it the next morning," She shot back in a tone surpassing warning, almost frighteningly commanding.

"Make sure you are dealing with a concubine, mister blue blood."

Instead of feeling tremendous hatred and contempt, he gingerly touched his cheek with his palm, the pain still lingering from her hand's impact, his view focused on the direction she vanished into. She was hard to resist. And for some odd reason, he hated to dislike her.

He smiled. Not a mocking smile. No insincerity at all.

"I think."

He paused, rubbed his cheeks to soothe the pain and his eyes twinkled.

".I like her"

----------------------

The way to the secret forest remained hidden from the prying eyes of those who knew of its tales. Hundreds of narrations scattered 'round, reaching even the farthest of tongues. Other than being known as a haven of the most beautiful yet harmless creatures and the wildest of flowers, no one knew of the past scenes that were tucked in each corners of the realm.

She was foreign and she never heard of its secrecy. Her ears never heard of its tales, either. But the keen she, discovered the key that unlocked its three years of concealment. It was pure coincidence however, that she uncovered a secret passage behind the huge portrait of her bedroom wall.

Curiosity led her eyes into seeing the forbidden. Her feet took her to various places of beauty and her hands touched a vast heaven of flowers scattered near a shallow lake. Completely admired, she frequented the place to simply play like a little child and escape the formalities in the castle.

And avoid the annoying blue blood, she thought while raising her skirt to her mid thighs, dipping both feet into the clear waters. In spite of the warmness of the afternoon, the lake remained as cold as she first touched it. Tomoyo shivered a little, adjusting to the ice-cold temperature below her. Finally, she allowed herself to wade in its shallowness, her bare feet against the smooth stones below. Not caring, she solitarily played with nature, unaware of the glinting eyes that had been watching her every shift.

"I never knew that you are in truth, childlike, amidst your mature stature."

She froze at the sudden familiarization. Her feet remained stationary from where she stopped and an eerie silence took over, not the usual silence she savored when she was alone in the forest.

He was there.

The arrogant he.

And he had been taking everything she was doing in the past few hours of childish actions into detail.

"I never invited you yet you followed." She said, her back facing him, still unmoving from her spot.

"You really find amusement in watching me every single day, eh? Should I demand for a talent fee next time?"

He chuckled.

"Well, if you wish to be paid for your enticing services, I wouldn't object." Came his mocking reply along with a wink that made her shiver unnoticeably.

"After all, I need entertainment once in a while. And to tell you frankly, you are quite a good catch. Enchantingly entertaining."

You wish.

She quickly lifted her skirt and made her way to land, trying her best not to glance at him. Strange and irritating at the same time, she felt uneasy. Uneasiness usually comes once in a blue moon for somebody as transparent as her. But uneasy? Now? Around that brat who calls himself a king? Heavens have mercy!

"Here, let me help you."

Time seemed to stop when she found a hand outstretched before her. Just a while ago, she cursed herself for being fidgety but seeing his hand in front of her face? Tomoyo gulped a bit and raised her eyebrows to hide the weakening of her knees and the clamminess of her hands.

"Being polite, aren't we? Guess what? I am not impressed!"

She lifted her feet and helped herself up. Her hands came in contact with the muddy soil while half of her body remained soaked in water. Once again, she looked up to him with the same I-find-your-face-disgusting-smile.

"Get that mister? I am and shall never be impressed by your----aaah."

With her feet away from the ground and her arms clinging tight to a fabric, which exudes the scent of damask roses, her body remained stiff against something while her eyes dictated itself to shut.

'Something..it's just something.it's just.'

"Now, since I caught you in another disgraceful fall, tell me if I'm not THAT impressive."

.and she heard a chuckle too familiar that it rang like a train's whistle in her ear.

"Put me down, you bighead."

She shouted in protest to his arm's strong hold but didn't move nor flap her eyes open.

"But you seem to enjoy me embracing you, lady fair."

Tomoyo quickly opened her eyes and gave a succession of punches against his chest.

"WHAT? Enjoy? Me? Enjoy.YOU? Dream on." She said proudly, trying her best to reach the ground with her feet.

"Now, if you would KINDLY put me down that I may leave in PEACE."

"How about umm.no?" He replied with teasing in his voice.

"And what would you do when I slap you again?" She challenged.

"Slap? Well, there are two things," Eriol offered while tightening his grip beneath her knees.

"One, I'd smile since you seem to like my face going all red with all the slappings you've been giving since the day we met. Mind you.those hurt." He stopped for a moment to observe her and wiggled his brows, waiting for a snappy comeback that would escape her lips. Sensing nothing on her stern, irritated face, he continued.

"And second, I would."

A hand immediately covered his mouth.

"Don't ever do what I think you'll do, mister blue blood, or you are dead meat with no other use but to be a convenient slap board." She immediately said, feeling his mouth lift in a curve from behind her hand. Tomoyo quickly drew it away.

"You know what I was thinking? What then?" For some reason, his voice suddenly dropped.

"Shut up and put me down." She commanded, trying to avoid his question.

"No."

"I'll count one to three and you're REALLY dead."

"Go ahead."

Tomoyo closed her eyes and got her fists ready. Even if she never tried to knock the daylights away from anyone, and no one ever did that to somebody as arrogant as him, then she'll give it a shot. Or else, she'll bear with the irregular cycle of her heart's beat. Again, she's oblivious with the reason why. Probably a caffeine overdose, she thought.

"One."

Steady breaths.

"Two."

A lock of hair grazed her forehead.

"You'll be sorry for this mister." She warned.

"Oh yes, I will."

An uncomfortable twitch in the chest with a soft feel of a nose on hers.

"Three."

Finally, a softness of something locked with her lips.

Tomoyo opened her eyes and felt the raindrops fall from above. She shut them again and allowed herself to drink in the sudden pour.

She dreaded this to happen and never shall she forget that afternoon.

He kissed her.

AN:

Well, I'm absolutely sorry for leaving this hanging for months. I am a STUDENT, fyi, and I have been VERY busy. Some of you just don't know how HARD it is to be somebody who has a name in school. Well, this is kinda rushed so please bear with the lousiness. I would want to finish this soon. Anyway, feel free to comment and send mails. Please subscribe to the mailing list below:

~Les l_Hiiragizawa@hotmail.com