To the Sky Beyond the Flying Birds

An Eriol x Tomoyo songfic

Featuring the lyrics of Melodies of Life from Final Fantasy IX

* * * * *

Disclaimer: Eriol, Tomoyo and the rest of the Card Captor Sakura cast (and storyline) belong to CLAMP, and all are used without permission.  The Eriol x Tomoyo pairing is not my invention either.  Who came up with it I have no idea, but credit goes to the person as well, without whom there would be no fic.  Duh.  Suing me is pointless since all I have to pay with are Asuka issues and homework.  You're welcome to both… especially the latter.

* * * * *

Author's notes: The story follows the manga storyline.  Why?  Because I like the manga better, it being the original and I missed too many episodes of the anime.  Admittedly, I played fast and loose with the timeline of the whole story.  I know Eriol left after the Clow Reed issue had been resolved.  And I know that Eriol x Tomoyo is purely a fan conception, but I can dream can't I?  It's the only not shounen ai pairing I read. ^_^

This is the first time writing a songfic for me, and the first time writing something with romance (and sap) in it.  Most of it was written around in the middle of the night (literally) so coherency might be rather… let's just say that it probably does not make much sense.  Reviews and comments are always welcome, so drop me a line if you have anything to say!

* * * * *

Autumn, the leaves a myriad shades of red, orange and gold swirling about in the chill wind, and the song of a lone bird perched high up in the barren boughs.  A desolate season, yet beautiful in spite of it… or perhaps because of it.

For some reason, she had always felt an affinity for autumn.  Perhaps because she could see her life reflected in the season, with each and every leaf that fell to the ground, and mirrored in the emptiness and deadness. Appreciation of its beauty had come later.  Nevertheless spring and the sakura remained her favourite.

Still, autumn held special memories…

… and old sorrow.

* * * * *

Two children amidst the drifting leaves, walking side by side along a path in the park, seeking solace from the world and their own sorrows.

The wind teases the long dark strands of the boy's hair, and the girl pushes a thick lock of her own dark hair out of her eyes.  No words are exchanged between them and they walk in silence along the path.

An old tree stump…

At length they stop and sit at the base of an old tree stump by the path, bathed in the dying rays of the sun.

The boy turns to say something to the girl, but she only shakes her head, her eyes filling with sorrow. He moves closer, lifting his hand gently… once again the girl pushes him away, moving so that they are no longer side by side.

"Tomoyo-san…"

The girl attempts to smile, yet her expression only mirrors her pain.

"The autumn is beautiful, isn't it, Hiiragizawa-kun?"

The boy looks at her strangely then turns his head away.  He gazes at the leaves dancing in the breeze, an unreadable expression in his sad eyes.

"Life is like each falling leaf, Tomoyo-san…"

The only answer is a single tear.

* * * * *

The rain falls in torrents, mingling with the tears streaming down the young girl's face and drowning out the sound of her weeping.

Alone, sitting huddled against the stump in the park.  Their usual spot.

"Tomoyo-san…"

A boy appears along the path, umbrella in hand, concern and worry warring with the ever-present sorrow in his expression behind his glasses.

Slowly the girl raises her head, her face pale and eyes red from crying.  She whispers brokenly,

"Sakura-chan… she… Li-kun…"

The boy pats her shoulder comfortingly as he murmurs, the umbrella shielding them both from the rain.  He watches the rain drops slide off the smooth surface of the umbrella and shakes his head in a gesture of unhappiness.

Gradually her sobs subside and the girl gazes up at him tearfully.

Standing up, the boy offers her his hand.  A simple gesture, yet holding a depth of meaning.

For the first time, she reaches out slowly and takes the proffered hand, allowing him to pull her gently to her feet.

"Tomoyo-san, I'll always be here…"

They walk away together.

The rain stops.

* * * * *

"Shiawase…?"

"As long as the one I love is happy… I am happy."

"Even through tears and sadness…"

"Even if the one I love never loves me back…"

"As long as Sakura-chan is happy."

* * * * *

"Alone for a while I've been searching through the dark,
for traces of the love you left inside my lonely heart."

The same old tree stump, weathered more as the years had passed and the seasons slipped by.

It reminded her painfully of Hiiragizawa-kun every time she set eyes on it, the spot of their childhood rendezvous and many hours spent sitting beneath it talking… and consoling each other.  It had always been her to need consoling, but only because Hiiragizawa-kun hid his pain better under layer upon layer of masks and facades.

The stump symbolised her childhood, the carefree elementary school days with Hiiragizawa-kun.

Hiiragizawa-kun…

She thought with a pang.  She still missed him.  They had been good friends, drawn together by their pain and understanding of each other.

He had left, as she had known he would, returned to England, with his Guardians Ruby Moon and Spinel Sun or more fondly, Nakuru and Suppi-chan.  It had been the end of elementary school, when he had pulled her apart during their graduation ceremony to inform her that he was leaving the next day.  He had looked so heartbreakingly forlorn, and she felt her world shatter slightly at the thought of losing the one person and friend who understood her.

"We'll keep in touch, Tomoyo-san… we'll meet again."

Kaho was waiting for him in England.  He never told her so directly, but she knew.  Just as she knew that he did not truly love Kaho, fond of her, most certainly, but love… was hard to say.  It was selfish of her to begrudge him a chance at the happiness she lacked and so desired.  She could have stopped him, she knew, told him to stay and he would have stayed.  But she had not, and once more it had slipped through her fingers.  Chance.

She sighed.

She was in high school already, how the time had flown.  And Hiiragizawa-kun…?  They had lost touch as the years passed, and her hope diminished.  Eventually the letters had ceased, and she could only guess.

"As long as the one I love is happy, I am happy."

And Sakura-chan?  They had drifted apart as the years passed too, especially after Li-kun had returned from Hong Kong.  True, Sakura-chan still regarded her as her one and only best friend, but it was not the same.  Gone was the closeness of their childhood days.  Anxious not to be a third wheel in Sakura-chan and Li-kun's relationship, she had distanced herself from the couple.

The distance lessened the pain.  Slightly.

"If I hadn't told Sakura-chan back in elementary school… and Li-kun had just left like that…"

Sometimes she wondered if she had made the right choice, in sacrificing her own happiness to bring about the happiness of the one she loved, Sakura-chan.  But every time she saw the smiles Sakura-chan reserved only for Li-kun, she knew the answer.

"Yes…"

Only she wished that the one Sakura-chan smiled at would be her.  Not him.  It was never meant to be, of course.  Sakura-chan had eyes only for her Li-kun.

Selfish.  That was what she was, to wish that the one Sakura-chan loved would be her.

But she could dream, could not she?

"To weave by picking up the pieces that remain,
melodies of life ----- love's lost refrain."

She could never forget that tree stump.  It had been her solace after Hiiragizawa-kun had left, and in those days she had visited it daily, sitting at its base and soaking in the comfort it exuded.  She had gone less frequently as the years flew by.  But somehow, whenever she was upset or just needing to think, she always gravitated towards the park and the stump.

She could pretend, sitting alone against the stump, that everything was all right and nothing was wrong.

She could pretend… that Hiiragizawa-kun was sitting next to her.

When they were still exchanging letters, she had read and replied his letters there, leaning against the solid comfort of the stump.

She still kept those letters, locked up in a little box in her room.  Out of sight, but never completely out of mind.

"You miss him, don't you?  Eriol-kun, that is."

Sakura-chan had once said.  And then she had continued,

"Eriol-kun will come back.  Tomoe-da is his home."

Tomoyo had merely nodded, refraining from commenting.  True, she missed Hiiragizawa-kun… but not in the way Sakura-chan thought.  Hiiragizawa-kun was her friend, there had never been anything more.  She loved Sakura-chan… right?

Only, she sometimes wondered, what if I had met Hiiragizawa-kun first?  If Hiiragizawa-kun had been Sakura-chan?

"We wouldn't be just friends then… and I'd be happy."

But she was happy.  She was happy because Sakura-chan was happy.  Happy with… Li-kun.

It would never be her.

But life had to continue, and continue it did.  As she entered high school, Tomoyo had thrown herself more actively into school.  She was president of the school's choir and sang regularly at competitions.  Her fashion design had not died away with the end of the Clow Reed affair, but she no longer designed solely for Sakura-chan.  Sakura-chan was still her imspiration, though, and every dress she drew was thought up with Sakura-chan in mind.  It was a pity Sakura-chan wore hardly any of them.

She had given up video-taping in junior high.  What was the use when the only thing she wanted to capture on video was Sakura-chan?

Another sigh.

Hiiragizawa-kun…

* * * * *

"Our paths they did cross, though I cannot say why.
we met, we laughed, we held on fast, and then we said goodbye."

She still remembered…

The days spent in school working together as partners in various activities and school projects.  Hiiragizawa-kun excelled in them all.  Especially music, playing the piano in particular.

It was natural then, that they should be called on to perform together.  Him on the piano, and she with her voice.  However good they were apart, it was of the general opinion that together they surpassed all individual efforts.  She could not disagree.  And neither could he.

And so the teachers had arranged for them to perform for the graduation ceremony.

"What shall we perform, Tomoyo-san?"

It had been so hard, to find the perfect song.  Any of the suggestions helpfully given by Sakura-chan and the other girls in class would have worked perfectly, but she had wanted something… more.  All the suggestions had lacked something.  And Hiiragizawa-kun had agreed as well.

And then she had found it… and he had to agree after gingerly picking out the melody.

He had been sceptical at first.

"Are you sure, Tomoyo-san?  Maybe we could find something a little more… suitable?"

It had been a success.

And then…

"Tomoyo-san, I have something to tell you."

His expression had been so sad, his eyes burning into hers.  She could not look away.

"Hiiragizawa-kun…?"

"I'm sorry, but I have to return to England.  I'll be leaving tomorrow."

Silence.  She could only stare at him with shocked eyes.  Surely if she listened hard enough, she could hear the splintering of glass as her world shattered ever so slightly more.

"I just thought I'd tell you."

It had seemed to her as though his eyes were pleading with her, telling her to beg him to stay.  But she could only nod mutely.

"I'll miss you, Tomoyo-san.  We'll keep in touch… we'll meet again."

She finally found her tongue.  Attempting to smile, knowing all the while that Hiiragizawa-kun could see through to the pain beneath.

"It's not really goodbye… is it."

She had whispered.  Only it was more of a question.

They looked at each other for moments longer, and then suddenly she found herself wrapped in Hiiragizawa-kun's embrace.

He pulled away a moment later, a strange look on his face.  Slowly he turned and walked away, trailed by Nakuru and Suppi-chan who turned to regard with undecipherable stares before they too disappeared from view.

She loved Sakura-chan.

Then why did her heart hurt so, as though it were breaking, when Hiiragizawa-kun left?  And why were her cheeks suddenly moist and her vision blur?

* * * * *

"And who'll hear the echoes of stories never told?
Let them ring out loud till they unfold."

Nobody knew how much Hiiragizawa-kun's departure affected her.  Not even Sakura-chan.

They were all sorry to see him go, but none of them felt the same as her.  None of them had known him the way she had.  Even Sakura-chan.

* * * * *

"In my dearest memories, I see you reaching out to me.
Though you're gone, I still believe that you can call out my name."

Her memories were filled with Hiiragizawa-kun smiling.  At her.

But her most precious memory of him… of them together, was born not of joy but of pain.

She could remember it vividly still.

"If it's okay with you Tomoyo-chan, I'll go with Li-kun.  Don't worry about me."

The words were like a slap in the face.  Only many times worse.

It was the first time Sakura-chan had not wanted her around.  But she knew Sakura-chan was right.  She would only be an unwelcome tagalong with a V8 if she had followed them.

Forcing a smile, she nodded and bid them go along and have fun.  Inside however, she felt as though her heart were breaking.  Strange, she had known this to be an inevitable end.  Had supported it and nurtured it in fact.  Then why did it hurt so much?

She had known all along that this would happen.  It was what she had wanted for Sakura-chan.  Li-kun made Sakura-chan happy, so she had encouraged him to confess his feelings and watched the blossoming romance.  But now her job was done, and notihng could have prepared her for the heartbreak of watching Sakura-chan go off with Li-kun, as if they had forgotten her.

"I am happy."

She must not be selfish.

"As long as Sakura-chan is happy."

She watched the couple walk off together, laughing and happy, and the tears came, unable to be held back any longer.

Hiiragizawa-kun found her at their tree stump hours later.

It was raining and she was soaked through.

"Tomoyo-san…"

His eyes were full of concern… for her, and the ever-present sorrow that never left his eyes.  He had come looking for her.

All she could do was mumble incoherently, choked by her tears, but he seemed to understand.

Gradually her tears dried up, exhausted by her weeping.  Looking up at Hiiragizawa-kun standing there patiently with his umbrella to shield her from the rain, she felt a pang of remorse for making him worry and stand there while she cried her heart out.  Despite the umbrella, he was wet, his hair plastered to his forehead in a most attractive way.

An offered hand.  To help her up, but nonetheless it meant much more.  To the both of them.

"But I love Sakura-chan…"

Nevertheless she reached out and took his hand.

* * * * *

"A voice from the past, joining yours and mine.
Adding up the layers of harmony.
And so it goes, on and on.
Melodies of life,
to the sky beyond the flying birds ----- forever and beyond."

* * * * *

"So far and away, see the bird as it flies by.
Gliding through the shadows of the clouds up in the sky."

"Just two lonely people…"

Mutual loneliness had led to friendship and understanding.

But years had passed since they had last met and she was a fool to think that things remained constant.  Change was the only constant.

* * * * *

Tomoyo was barely paying attention to the teacher that morning.  She could barely keep her eyes open as it was.  It had been a restless night of endless dreams.  Dreams of Hiiragizawa-kun.

"… And I am pleased to welcome a new student from England."

The class broke into excited whispers.

"Is it a boy?  I hope it is.  A cute boy."

"There're too many guys.  Another girl would be better.  A pretty one."

Tomoyo heard none of these.

"I've laid my memories and dreams upon those wings.
Leave them now and see what tomorrow brings."

The class fell silent as the classroom door was pushed open quietly and a tall, fair-skinned boy stepped through.

Tomoyo gasped in surprise.  That's… he's…

"… Hiiragizawa.  Hiiragizawa Eriol," the bespectacled boy introduced himself politely.

There were collective gasps of admiration from the female population of the class, but Tomoyo heard none of these.  Her eyes were focussed on the boy at the front of the class.  In return, he graced her with a smile, the sorrow slipping from his eyes for that moment.

"Hiiragizawa-san, there is an empty seat next to Daidouji-san…"

Still smiling slightly, he took his seat beside her.  Tomoyo could only stare.

"I never break my promises, Tomoyo-san."

She wanted to ask him why, why he was here, what had happened to him during those years, what had happened to Kaho, too many questions, but the teacher was already carrying on with the lesson, and she had to pay attention.  Still, she observed him from the corner of her eye.

He looked the same, perhaps a bit taller and a bit older… and more sad.  But in those deep violet eyes that held so much pain there still lurked the faint glimmer of hope and boyish vulnerability.  In the depths there still dwelt the boy he had never had the chance to be, forced into being Clow Reed with all his magic.

He was… good-looking.  Very much so, it suddenly struck her.  The thought had never really entered her mind before, but now she saw what the rest of the female population in class was surely seeing.

But… he was not Sakura-chan.  And could never be.

It was inevitable that Hiiragizawa-kun would feel her eyes on him.  And he did, turning his head slightly to smile and raise an eyebrow in questioning.

She hastily averted her gaze.  Strange, but she could feel her face heating up.

Sakura-chan, sitting on the other side of Tomoyo had not missed the action, and a knowing look crossed her face.  She nudged Li-kun on the other side of her.

* * * * *

"Eriol-kun!!!"

Sakura-chan exclaimed and hugged him.  Li-kun fumed in the corner.

It was recess and the classroom was empty except the four of them.  Only Tomoyo, Sakura-chan and Li-kun in the class had known Hiiragizawa-kun back in the Tomoeda Elementary days.

"It's so good to see you again!  We really missed you!  Let's go for tea after school at The Piffle Princess!"

Hiiragizawa-kun smiled fondly at her and nodded.  She had not changed much, his daughter of his next life.  Still the same spontaneous exuberance.

"You'll come too, ne, Tomoyo-chan?" Sakura-chan turned to face her.

Tomoyo wanted to decline, to come up with an excuse.  But in the end she had nodded.  It would be just like the old times, what would it hurt?

"Hai."

Sakura-chan and Li-kun left them then, Sakura-chan satisfied that Tomoyo would go with them for tea.  Tomoyo could only stare at Hiiragizawa-kun mutely, feeling more and more awkward as the seconds passed.  What was she supposed to say to him after all these years?

Without Sakura-chan around acting as a buffer, an uncomfortable silence descended.

"Tomoyo-san… it's good to see you again," he was the first to break the silence.  An unreadable glimmer in his eyes that was gone as soon as it came.  Then, "I've missed you in England, Tomoyo-san."

"I too, Hiiragizawa-kun."

And she really meant it, though there was no change in her voice or expression.  It was just… strange, seeing him after these years.  She had thought of him as part of her childhood, her prince even, but gone with the years like mist in the morning.

· * * * *

"In your dearest memories, do you remember loving me?
Was it fate that brought us close and now leaves me behind?"

Sakura-chan practically bounced into The Piffle Princess, a rather reluctant and grouchy Li-kun just behind her.  Tomoyo guessed he had never really forgiven Hiiragizawa-kun for constantly running circles around him with his various ploys those years ago.  How long they seemed.  Hiiragizawa-kun followed, with a bemused and tolerant grin on his face.  Tomoyo brought up the rear, feeling rather out of place.

The Piffle Princess was full of other couples, some from school.

Sakura-chan chose tables at the rear of the establishment.  And sat at one opposite Li-kun.  Which left the second for her… and Hiiragizawa-kun.

Tomoyo glanced at Sakura-chan and was given an encouraging smile in return.  The realisation hit her that Sakura-chan had planned it all along.

She remembered what Sakura-chan had said to her long ago…

"I want you to be happy too, Tomoyo-chan."

But she had never told Sakura-chan, and Sakura-chan would not know.  I love only you, Sakura-chan.  I'm happy when you are.

Her silent reverie was broken as Hiiragizawa-kun sat opposite her and picked up the menu.  "What would you like, Tomoyo-san?"

It was an innocent question really, but it provoked a lot of thought on Tomoyo's part.  She no longer knew what she wanted, and felt for that matter.  She still loved Sakura-chan, loved her no less and perhaps would never stop loving her, but Hiiragizawa-kun…

We were just two children seeking comfort in each other from our pain.

Yet she knew that she meant a lot more to Hiiragizawa-kun than that.  She meant a lot more to him than he did to her.  He did not say it, and did not need to, but he had returned because of her.  Which was why she hesitated so.  She could never love Hiiragizawa-kun the way he must love her.

"Tomoyo-chan… ?" Sakura-chan's concerned expression.

"Hai?  I think I'll have a chocolate éclair."

They were all looking at her with concern, even Li-kun, his normally grouchy expression replaced with something akin to concern.  She pushed her thoughts away and smiled.  She would enjoy this day, so reminiscent it was of days past.

"… Just lost in thought."

They accepted that, and conversation resumed.

* * * * *

She had enjoyed herself, which came as a surprise to her somewhat.  Tea had been a cheerful affair, and it had seemed as though Hiiragizawa-kun had never left.  Sakura-chan certainly never asked him about his time in England, especially about a certain teacher.  She had only gone as far as to say that it was a pity Nakuru and Suppi-chan were not present and that she hoped to see them soon, to which Hiiragizawa-kun had nodded and replied that he must certainly invite them all over to his, or rather Clow's, house.

* * * * *

"A voice from the past, joining yours and mine.
Adding up the layers of harmony.
And so it goes, on and on.
Melodies of life,
to the sky beyond the flying birds ----- forever and beyond."

The tree stump, it always returned to that tree stump.

They were leaning against it, just like they had done in the past.  Her and Hiiragizawa-kun.  Hiiragizawa-kun and her.

School had ended early, and he had invited her to the park for ice cream, perhaps remembering the first time they had eaten ice cream in the park together.  And it had been his first time eating ice cream too.  It seemed only natural, therefore, that they gravitate to 'their' tree stump after.

Now they sat in companionable silence.

"What…" she hesitated.  "What happened to Kaho?"

Maybe she ought not ask such questions.

Hiiragizawa-kun sighed, as old pain flashed through his eyes, before being buried within their depths.

"I'm sorry… maybe I shouldn't have asked."

But he shook his head.  "She left me.  One day out of the blue.  She told me we weren't meant for each other and that we each loved other people.  After that… I came back here."

"I'm sorry…" she repeated, not knowing what else to say.  This time their positions were reversed.  Hiiragizawa-kun was the one who needed consoling.

"If I should leave this lonely world behind,
your voice will still remember our melody.
Now I know we'll carry on.
Melodies of life,
come circle round and grow deep in our hearts, as long as we remember."

"… She was right."

Tomoyo blinked at Hiiragizawa-kun's words.

Hiiragizawa-kun turned to face her.  Then, leaning forward slowly, he kissed her gently.

This isn't right… her mind rebelled.  What about Sakura-chan?

Yes, what about Sakura-chan?

Sakura-chan was happy with Li-kun.  No matter how she wished, Sakura-chan would never love her the way she loved Sakura-chan.

Hiiragizawa-kun pulled away, looking apologetic.  "Gomen…"

But Hiiragizawa-kun was here, and he loved her.  Perhaps she loved him too, but it was not the same.

Still, she could give it a try.  She had let chance slip through her fingers so many times.  Now was the time to grab it.

And she did like Hiiragizawa-kun.

"I don't mind…"

She kissed him back.

"But I still love Sakura-chan."

He nodded sadly.  He had expected nothing less.

* * * * *

But maybe it would work, two lonely people could seek an end to their sorrow and loneliness in each other.  Even though one loved someone else and the other knew not what love was.

* * * * *

"Sakura-chan would be happy…"

"… So I'm happy too."

"With Hiiragizawa-kun."

Owari.

* * * * *

More author's notes: Phew.  Finally finished this.  My first songfic.  Hooray.  What can I say?  It took a long time to write because I took a long hiatus from writing it.  Otherwise, it would only have taken a few hours.  Certainly not the months it took. ^_^

I guess you can say I'm quite happy with it.  Not much sap… actually no sap, because I just don't feel comfortable writing sap.  And I couldn't really fit it in.  On the whole, I think it's quite a sad fic.  But then, I think unrequited love is sad, so… oh well.  And the song is perhaps not the most suitable song around, but I really like it all the same.

By the way, I referred to the other characters by what Tomoyo would call them, since this is sort of in Tomoyo's point of view.  I know it's written in the third person, but it's still meant to be her point of view.  I just think writing in first person is strange.

And I know Tsurugi-chan used the same song in one of the chapters of Yesterday's Ashes.  It was a coincidence.  But I have to say that the song is more suitable in Yesterday's Ashes.

Still reading?  I'll spare you now.  Off to sleep.  Ja!