Title: By Her Side

Summary: "Hmph." She turned her head and proceeded to ignore him for the rest of the day. Ryoko didn't mind, because he knew that sooner or later, his perfect princess would tell him what's wrong.

"I'm home." Natsuki called out, one hand holding onto her boot as she took it off, then the other followed. She stopped moving for a second and listened; there was only silence. It wasn't like she expected much, just that she hoped her grandparents would be there, at least one of them.

The house was just too big for a little girl, even if she was no fourteen. Walking through the halls, she had to stop herself from breaking into a run just because it wasn't proper. That dance master's words from way before had stuck into her and she learned to take control when in her house and when out in the fields.

"Princess," she didn't even need to turn to know who it was. No she didn't have any special powers, it was just expected. Ryoko would never let her be alone, especially if she was at home.

"Not now Ryoko." After such a day at school, and a very quiet reception at home, Natsuki was definitely in no mood to be with Ryoko and his teases.

"B-But Princess!" Natsuki let out a huff and started walking down the hall, completely ignoring the broccoli-looking dragon who remained seated on the shoe rack she'd just abandoned her boots by. Ryoko watched as she left then sighed, so much for being nice to his princess.

Sei and Dai were actually lucky; their princess were nice and friendly, giving them what they found to their comfort, spending time with them as friends should have. Natsuki wasn't like that at all. She preferred to be alone, and hated it when she was disturbed.

But Ryoko understood why she was like that. The house was big, and she lived there with her grandparents- no one else. It would be expected that she was used to silence, and only understandable that she hated being disturbed because no one was there to ever disturb her in the first place.

Natsuki was always alone.

Though now she had Ringo as well as Leila, it wasn't the same. The two were often away in their own houses, and the only time they spent together was when they were Lilpri or when they were at school. And despite the fact that Natsuki was now older, with a taller figure and longer hair, it wasn't like she changed who she was.

She was still the Natsuki who hated lies, but lied mostly to herself just to show people that she was all right.

Ryoko put up with the harsh treatment that he got all to himself. Why did Natsuki single him out? Why did only he receive such looks and mean words from her? It was because he was the only who dared pass the barriers and call her out as a liar.

The others were always at arm's length, and Ringo nor Leila had the heart to see their friend as lonely, because that would mean they weren't being good friends to her.

But Ryoko stayed put and took in every mean word she said and every shoji door she slammed close to him, because he knew that at night, when he was busy reading his manga, his princess would come to him.

Like now for instance, as he turned a page over, Natsuki was once again staring out her window, the moon a beautiful ornament in the ink-black sky.

"Ryoko," he flipped his manga closed. "Let's go to bed."

At days like this, Natsuki slipped into her bed and threw the covers over head, wishing nothing but to disappear. Then what was expected followed.

Ryoko didn't even climb into his cushion, instead, he waited for the first sob. When he heard it, he saw the blanket ruffle before it was pushed down and he saw his princess's beautiful viridian eyes.

With no words, he scrambled into her futon and slipped beside her, and her hands wrapped around him, and she pushed him close to her chest.

Ryoko understood his princess, because he was her Ma-pet. And he would be, for as long as she needed him.

AN: It's epicaly short, which I apologize for, but I just HAD to write something about Ryoko and Natsuki! XD If anyone's out there reading this, expect more fics of them from me. I tried to imply that Natsuki was indeed older but I have no idea how old she should be during the anime.

Much thanks to: PurpleDancer123 for introducing me to Lilpri. I love you Alexa!