A/N: Another one-shot. Magic Knight Rayearth and its characters were created by CLAMP, not me. The only character that belongs to me is Leah. This one-shot takes place during the "Showdown! The Magic Knights Versus Zagato!" episode. Rated T for violence and mild language. Flames are not welcome.

Leah was on the verge of an emotional meltdown. She was still depressed about the loss of Inouva, Zagato's second in command. She had considered him her beloved, and he had felt the same about her, although he hadn't always known how to show it. She had known him since shortly after he was given to Zagato as a gift. Like him, she was a magical creature, a magical leopard, to be exact. Unlike him, she was able to transform into her true form at will. Since his demise, it was like a part of her was missing. She recalled the last moment she saw him-when Zagato had transformed him into his true form. If only Zagato had allowed her to accompany Inouva in battle. Perhaps he would still be alive at this moment. Even if those bothersome Magic Knights had succeeded, at least Inouva would not have died alone.

'Oh Inouva,' she thought, holding the cloak he wore as a humanoid close. 'I cannot go on without you.'Suddenly, her depression turned into fury and resentment...resentment towards the Magic Knights for causing her to feel this pain. She was a bit displeased with Princess Emeraude, too, for summoning the three brats in the first place. But she respected that Emeraude was important to Zagato, so she knew not to speak ill of her. She knew that the Magic Knights were gearing up to defeat Zagato, and there was no way she would allow that. They would have to do it over her dead body.

Leah decided to see if Zagato would allow her to aid him in his battle against the Magic Knights. Chances were that he would object, but she refused to take no for an answer this time. She went to look for him. She roamed through the darkness in the hallway.

'This castle is very quiet...too quiet if you ask me,' thought Leah. She continued making her way to the water dungeon. Along the way, she spotted a figure dressed in black heading her way. Even though it was pitch black, she knew that it was Zagato, for Alcyone had been executed after her third failure. Sure enough, it was him. She approached Zagato, and curtsied.

"I beseech thee, Lord Zagato... allow me to fight alongside you in the battle with the Magic Knights," she requested.

Zagato looked the voluptuous henchman in the eye. He did not care to be hampered by anyone who was weaker than he, which was why he preferred to work alone.

"Absolutely not. I work alone," was his reply. "You have failed me once. I do not wish to be accompanied by a failure like you."

That did it. Leah finally exploded. "Why do you have to be so friggin stubborn? Suppose you get yourself killed? You were lucky you returned from the last battle with only a shoulder wound. You're too concerned with yourself to realize this, but I'm only looking out for your well being!"

Expressions of shock and indignation were etched on Zagato's face. Where did she get the gall to use that tone with him? Sure, there were times when she sassed him, but she never went that far.

Leah herself was shocked. She had never yelled at Zagato before. Actually, no one had, because they knew that he could kill in an instant. But considering her obnoxious mood, her emotional outburst was bound to happen sooner or later.

"Leah," said Zagato in his sternest voice, "mind your manners."

Leah knew that she had forgotten her place when she heard that tone. She was utterly ashamed of herself. "Please forgive me, Lord Zagato," she said. "All I ask of you is to give me a chance to prove my loyalty to you."

Zagato was speechless about this. He wondered why she would do that, especially when he only tolerated her at best. Was he blind towards her true intentions all this time? He decided to give in. "Very well."

"I thank you, Lord Zagato," Leah said politely. She chuckled to herself. 'Those miserable brats may have defeated me in this form, but they won't stand a chance this time.'

Using the strength of his heart, Zagato created a robot-like machine that resembled a Rune-God. Leah morphed into her true form-a leopard with some of the strongest magical powers.

Hikaru, Umi and Fuu soared above the clouds in their Rune-Gods toward Princess Emeraude's castle. They were as prepared as they could hope to be. They knew that this would be one of the most challenging battles, but they were determined to defeat Zagato, no matter how devastating his attacks were. Unbeknownst to the Magic Knights, Zagato was the least of their worries. And they certainly didn't know that he had company.

"That must be the castle where Princess Emeraude is imprisoned," said Hikaru, pointing to the small castle nearby.

Umi spotted a robot and a leopard standing on top of a formation of cylinder shaped crystals.

"Hey guys, look! It looks like a Rune-God," observed Hikaru. When she saw the leopard, she was confused. Who or what was the leopard next to Zagato? And what was it doing here? Was it another pet of Zagato's? But wait! All of Zagato's minions were supposed to be defeated, right? Or was there a henchman of his that he never sent out to battle?

A voice was heard from inside the robot. "So you've made it this far, Legendary Magic Knights."

Hikaru recognized the voice. "That voice...it's Zagato."

"Unfortunately, your lucky streak is about to end," added a feminine voice.

Umi wasn't expecting that. "What the hell? Did that leopard just speak?"

"Hmmm," said Hikaru. "That voice sounds familiar, but I'm not sure why."

Fuu recognized the leopard's voice. "That must be Miss Leah," she stated.

The feline chuckled. "Very perceptive, little girl," she said.

Something boggled Umi's mind, and it wasn't necessarily Leah. She thought that there were only 3 Rune-Gods, so what was Zagato doing with one? Fuu noticed this, too. She had a theory of her own about this. "It seems that it is necessary for us to don Rune-Gods because the enemy possesses a Rune-God as well," she said.

"I used every ounce of power and all the strength of my heart to create this, in order to defeat you, Magic Knights," Zagato told the 3 girls.

"That's right," Leah agreed. "I'm afraid that you're no match for either of us. I'd give up now if I were you."

Umi rolled her eyes. "Huh. It'll take more than a pussy cat to hurt a Rune-God," she retorted. Seriously, she found Leah almost as annoying as Alcyone was.

"Careful, Miss Umi," warned Fuu.

""Okay, guys. Let's do it!" Hikaru was ready to get this over with. She lunged toward Zagato and attacked with her sword. Zagato blocked the attack with ease. Umi and Fuu went to help her, but were attacked by dark energy. They screamed in pain.

"Fuu! Umi!" Hikaru was worried...she really wanted to help them, but she had her hands full dealing with Zagato and his powerful attacks. So far, this battle wasn't going well at all. It would have been difficult enough dealing with only Zagato, but considering that he had company, they would be lucky if they made it out alive.

Leah laughed at them. "Does it sting? Well, it is time that you girls feel the same pain that I've been feeling."

Umi and Fuu had no idea what she was talking about, but there was little time for questioning. They couldn't help but wonder what they had ever done to her, why she was so full of bitterness. They slowly got to their feet.

"We...we've got to help Miss Hikaru. Zagato is too strong for her," Fuu said hoarsely.

Umi nodded. "Right."

Fuu certainly wasn't lying. Hikaru couldn't even scratch Zagato. And the fact that he wasn't alone certainly didn't help. Sure, he and Leah were outnumbered, but it didn't seem to matter at this point. Both of them were amazingly powerful foes. All of this was too much for Princess Emeraude.

"Stop...please stop...please stop...I beg you," she whimpered. "If you keep this up...if you keep this up..."

Umi was extremely irate at this point. To her, it seemed wrong for Zagato to possess this much power.

"Water Dragon!"

"Barrier Circle!" countered Zagato. A black spherical barrier appeared and surrounded him, thus shielding him from the attack.

"Winds of Protection!"

"Flame Arrow! Ya!"

' Oh no you don't,'thought Leah. She extended her tail and redirected the attack at Hikaru. She screeched as the attack hit her.

Princess Emeraude could bear it no longer. "I can't go on like this."

Zagato had to admit, Leah fared better than he thought. But he wasn't about to let her steal his was his fight. "Legend of the Magic Knights...the legend will never become a reality. I will crush them with my bare hands!" vowed Zagato. "Lightningball Come Forth!"

A flash of yellowish lightning rained from the dreary skies and electrocuted the girls. Though wracked with pain, they were determined to keep going. Leah thought this was quite foolish of them.

"How sad. You girls are delaying the inevitable...you must be gluttons for punishment," said Leah, "well, so be it."

The Magic Knights ignored her. Zagato and Leah might have the upper hand at the moment, but their powers paled in comparison to their determination. Fuu proposed combining their powers and fighting as one. Hikaru was puzzled about something. Why was Zagato so obsessed with destroying the legend of the Magic Knights? What exactly was this legend? She decided to give him one more chance.

"Why did you imprison Princess Emeraude?" Hikaru demanded to know. "Isn't the princess the pillar that supports this world? Isn't it true that this world will be destroyed if Princess Emeraude isn't able to pray for peace?"

"You are correct," answered Zagato.

"Then why are you doing this?" Hikaru asked.

Not that Zagato felt that it was any of her concern, but he decided to answer the question if it would end her curiosity. His response wasn't what she was prepared to hear.

"Why is it necessary for Emeraude to pray for peace in Cephiro?"

"Huh?" asked Hikaru. Whatever did he mean by that? Before she could ask Zagato what he meant, he attacked again.

"Why should Emeraude alone have to pray continuously for the wellbeing of Cephiro?"

Hikaru couldn't believe her ears. It appears that she and the other Magic Knights were wrong all this time. Zagato's objective was not to rule Cephiro like she had originally thought. If only she and the other Magic Knights could make sense out of what he was saying and spare his life. But then the world would still be in jeopardy, and Zagato didn't seem like he wanted to change.

"The pillar of this land is destined to pray for the stability in this land and can have no freedom of her own," Zagato continued. "Why should Emeraude alone be forced to be the PILLAR OF CEPHIRO? And spend the rest of her life locked up in a cage? Lightningbolt Assault!"

The Magic Knights were appalled. Zagato was practically yelling. Even Leah was a tad surprised. Zagato had never shown this much emotion before. Usually his tone of voice was very calm, stern and stoic. What was causing his facade to crack?

Zagato launched a huge ball of bright crimson lightning at the 3 girls from another world, still determined to finish them off. The attack brought Hikaru and her friends to their knees once again.

Battered and bruised, the 3 girls regenerated their energies for a counterattack. Zagato had left them with no choice but to slay him. They proceeded to combine their forces for one ferocious onslaught.

"There's no way we're going to lose this battle!"

"We're going to return to Tokyo together!"

"No matter what happens, I will never lose my best friends!"

Leah realized what was happening, and was horrified. It looked like these children were about to succeed! But she would not allow that to happen, even if it meant giving up her own life.

'I won't let Lord Zagato get hurt.I have to protect him,' she thought.

"Spiral Flash!"

"Lord Zagato, look out!" cried Leah. She scurried in front of Zagato, in the trajectory of the attack, much to the amazement of him and the Magic Knights. She took the full brunt of the blow that was intended for Zagato.

"I cannot believe she did that," said a very astonished Hikaru.

"Who would've thought she would go to such lengths to protect him..." said Fuu.

Umi was extremely pissed. "Dagnabbit! The bastard survived!" she hissed.

The Magic Knights waited as the smoke cleared. When it ensued, it was revealed that Leah was still there, but in her humanoid form this time. She was also on the verge of death. Still in shock, Zagato walked over to her.

"Leah...tell me, what motivated you to do this?" he asked. "It was unnecessary."

Leah gave a sad smile, despite the agony that wracked her body. It was becoming difficult to breathe and keep her eyes open. "No...it was something I wanted to do. I've fulfilled my purpose, and I am glad that I was finally able to be of use to you," she said weakly.

"Leah," Zagato began. But Leah gave him a look that said to just listen.

"I think it is better this way...at least I will be reunited with my dear sweet Inouva..." her voice trailed off. With that, she closed her eyes, the clip that held her long indigo tresses in place melted, and her body went limp.

"Leah," Zagato whispered. He was not sure to make of Leah's loyalty. And right now, he was unsure of the method to use for defeating the Magic Knights, or even if he should keep trying. Maybe he should just stop if it would make Princess Emeraude happy, as he really had enough of her tears.

Princess Emeraude was glad that she had not lost Zagato. But she was still scared of losing him, so she hoped that he would heed her warning and end this farce.