Disclaimer: I do not own Pretear.

The Touch of a Warm Hand

"Mawata, what is it what you want? Really?"

"The touch of a warm hand."

It had been six months since Mawata was the Puppet of Darkness for the Princess of Disaster. Himeno had saved the city and the world from the Great Tree of Fenril. Everything was back to normal. No one could remember what happened, but Mawata could still remember it like it was yesterday. She remembered how Mikage had always been the perfect servant. Not only did she do her duties, but she listened to Mawata when she needed someone. Mikage, however, wasn't the kind maid as she had thought.

Sasame, a man she had fallen in love with, wasn't all she had expected either. Mawata could remember listening to his voice every day. She never missed a show. She taped them and kept, listening to them for any spare moment she had. After listening to him for some time, she plucked up the courage to write to him under the alias of Miss Silk. He had given her good advice in telling her to embrace what she had. But she didn't know how. She waited too long to do that.

When she thought that he was going to reciprocate his feelings, she discovered he was actually in love with the Princess of Disaster, formally known as a girl named Takako. Takako had been a Pretear, just as Himeno. A great misunderstanding led Takako to become the princess of disaster and the near destruction of the world. Right before her eyes, Mawata witnessed him kiss Fenril. She could still remember how painful her heart felt when it broke.

As much as she hated them, she pitied them. Now she understood. Something had happened between them and the Leafe Knights. Takako had been in love with Hayate, but he didn't love her back. Sasame loved Takako, but never told her. He focused on his duty as a Leafe knight and sealed her away, like locking up a prisoner. Mawata could only imagine what that was like for him, for Takako. Mawata may have had similar experience, being the puppet of darkness, but when she was locked in the tree of Fenril, she didn't want to be released. She felt safe there. She was alone, unable to hurt anyone and unable to be hurt by others. In this dream state, she believed her father was still alive.

But it wasn't real. While she was off in la-la land, the real world was being destroyed. That wasn't really what she wanted. She would still worry about her mother, Mayune and her new father. Mawata had herself to blame. They had tried to reach out to her. She spent a whole day with Himeno one day, but when she saw Himeno in the arms of Hayate, she couldn't take it. Himeno would rather be with Hayate than her stepsister, a mere stranger, she knew this.

Kaoru was not her father. He was a strange but funny man. He tried to spend time with her. He offered to sculpt with her, like they did previously. Why had she locked the door? Why didn't she let him in? Was it because she believed that he was just trying to impress her mother, his new wife? That's probably what Mawata believed, but now she saw that Kaoru was trying to reach out to her. He knew that she had been without a father for nearly ten years. She needed a father figure in her life. Why did she have to shut everyone out?

She thought of Takako. Mawata did not know about the previous Pretear's past except that it was lonely. She hardly spoke about it, at least she didn't' speak about it with Mawata. She must have already been broken, long before the ordeal with Hayate. When Mawata had been freed by the tree of Fenril, Takako was upset. Now she realized that Takako really didn't want an energy source for the tree of Fenril, she just wanted some company. A friend. Someone that experienced the same thing as she did. Wallow in the same pool of misery. Wasn't that what Mawata wanted? Just some company?

Mawata eventually forgave Sasame and Takako. She understood their pain, but she still longed to have a special someone. Someone that would be her one and only. She had grown closer to her new family and to the Leafe knights, particularly the younger ones. She enjoyed teaching them how to do crafts or helping them with their homework. The Leafe knights believed that as long as they were going to stay on Earth, they should be alert to any more danger. They used their jobs to keep an eye out for any demon larvae mishaps, or a shortage of Leafe. The younger Leafe knights wanted jobs too but they were too young to work. Kei suggested that they go to school and observe the other kids' behavior. Sometimes Mawata would wait for them after school and take them to fun places around the city. This allowed Goh, the usual "mentor" of Mannen, Hajime and Shin, to have a break. On several occasions, they took care of the younger knights together and they became close. Hajime often teased them that they were going to become a couple.

One day the five of them were at Goh's workplace. Mawata had just taken the three boys to the arcade and they decided (mostly Hajime) to get a bite to eat at the restaurant Goh worked at.

"What's the deal with you two anyway?" Mannen demanded, once Goh brought them their desserts.

"Deal? What deal?" Goh said.

Mannen frowned. "You know what I mean. You and Mawata." He looked from Goh to Mawata. "I know you two like each other. So you're going to take her out or what?"

"Mannen!" Goh exclaimed as Mawata stared.

"Mannen's right," Hajime said. "You're always with her."

"Actually, she's here when I'm babysitting you three!" Goh said.

"We're not babies," said Mannen.

"Mawata, you like, Goh, right?" asked Shin softly.

"Yes, I like all of you," answered Mawata.

"Will you go on a date with him?" Hajime asked.

"Yes…if he asked me," Mawata admitted. She did like Goh but she wasn't sure what to do about it. She was just content with helping him with the younger knights. They never really had anytime alone. .

The three knights looked at Goh expectedly. Goh was stunned.

"Well, ask her already," Mannen said.

Goh cleared his throat. "Er, Mawata—you want to go out sometime?"

"Yes, I'd like that," answered Mawata.

"Well, it's settled then," said Goh, straightening his vest. "I've got more customers to attend to. I'll see you tonight, okay, Mawata?"
Mawata nodded and Goh went back inside the restaurant.

"Make sure you take her somewhere nice, Goh!" Mannen shouted after him.

Goh decided to take Mawata to a movie. They agreed on a comedy. Goh believed that that an action flick was not Mawata's taste (especially since the fights with the demon larvae) and a romantic movie was out of the question. As far as Goh was concerned, Mawata was still sensitive about the situation with Sasame. Goh loved comedies. He liked to laugh and he liked hearing others laugh. For as long as Goh knew Mawata, he had never heard her laugh. She smiled politely every now and then. Goh thought that that a really funny movie would give her the giggles.

The movie they saw was hilarious. He laughed all the way through. At one point, Mawata gave a small giggle. But she was not laughing at the movie. The jokes and slapstick was funny and cute, but what she found funny was Goh. She loved how a knight, sworn to protect the world, could just sit back and have fun.

After the movie, Mawata and Goh walked along the beach to talk about their favorite parts of the movie.

"Wasn't it hilarious," said Goh, "how that one guy tripped and landed in the pool?"
"Mmm-hmm," murmured Mawata.

"What was your favorite?" Goh asked.

"My favorite part?" Mawata inquired.


Mawata blushed. "Well, the movie was really funny, but what I enjoyed the most was watching you laugh."

"Me?" Goh said.

"Yes, you're just so funny," she laughed.

Goh was reminded of the time he was training Himeno when she first became a Pretear. He had said something that had made her laugh. Was he really that funny, even when hewasn't meaning to be?
"Well, I'm glad I could get you to laugh," said Goh and he took her hand.

Mawata stopped walking and looked at Goh's hand. "Oh."
Thinking that he had crossed a line, Goh released Mawata's hand. "Oh, I'm sorry…"

"No, It's all right," said Mawata. "Your hand…it just feels so…warm." She took his hand back and smiled at him. "That's all."

Goh grinned. "Well, I'm not called the Knight of Fire for nothing."
Mawata chuckled. "Yes…I suppose not."

Goh gave Mawata's hand a little squeeze. "Well, let me get you back home. I think you have a test in school tomorrow, or something?"

"Yes," Mawata sighed. She was enjoing their evening. "Can we do this again? Soon?"

"Sure," Goh said and his casual clothes changed to his Leafe Knight attire. He put his arm around her and sped out into the air. Mawata gazed down at the city, unafraid. She liked flying. Thje last time she flew was in her father's helicopter when her father was still living. That had been a real treat, but flying in the arms of a handsome Leafe Knight was a treasure. Mawata smiled and nestled closer to him.

He may have called himself the Knight of Fire, but in her mind, he would always be the Knight of Warmth.

The End