Authoresses Note: After just recently learning of Magic Knight Rayearth, and falling in love with the characters, I decided to take a short break from Gundam Wing and write this. So, please review, and tell me what you think. OH, and yeah, I've only read the manga. I've heard that there was a video series, and that there was an extra character to go along with that, but, unfortunately, I can't include that character, because I have no idea what they were like. Sorry. It takes place the very next day in the manga, when they've made a new country and all that. I hope my lack of knowledge about the video series does not, in any way, take away from anything else.





What was it?

A hidden something, a drift in the breeze, a sweet scent turned foul.

What was it?

Clef, slowly, lifted his head, in the direction of the heavens. The sudden wind that caressed his face drew back his hood partially, and ruffled his hair. The sweetness was there – some flower's aroma caught on the breeze, nothing more.

What was it?

He loved it here, here in the meadow that was so peaceful, so perfectly peaceful. Here he could catch these certain somethings, these wonderings.

What was it?

"Clef?"

A hand on his shoulder then, softly pressing, only a brush of fingers over the cloth of his cloak. He turned to face this new person, his eyes almost sadly losing sight of the blue sky all around.

"Presea."

She nodded, taking a step back. Presea. Presea, who always smiled, Presea, who was so sweet and good. One of his best students, if he could characterize any of them so – he did not have favorites. He loved them all.

Even Alcione, who was so blind to the world around her, so foolishly arrogant of her powers, even Alcione had had that goodness in her, that wondrous goodness. She wouldn't have had the abilities she did have, if she had not had that goodness at some point – but not strong enough, not strong enough, because it had been the very abilities that had corrupted her, the very offspring of her goodness lead to her desperate wrongs in the end.

He moved forward to Presea, his staff moving through the ankle-high grass as he did so, his cloak and robes moving with him. "Good afternoon, Presea."

She nodded again, that wonderful smile of hers still lighting up her face. "Good afternoon to you, as well, Clef. The picnic yesterday was great. I enjoyed it very much."

He smiled, but let out a long, tired sigh. "The princesses from Chizeta were especially entertaining, with their dancing. I'm just glad they weren't influencing us negatively."

He must have seemed very tired indeed, beyond the sigh, for her smile faltered, and worry came into her eyes. "Are you alright?"

"Do I seem otherwise?"

"Yes."

"I have nothing against the princesses, if that was what it seemed like."

He wanted the smile to come back. Damn his own selfish sullenness. He did not want to worry her so – he wanted her to live long, to laugh forever, and to be happy. He wanted it for all his students, but especially her.

So he laughed, loud, and long, laughed despite that hidden something that he had felt on the breeze, laughed despite the familiar feeling he had now connected with the hidden thing. He laughed so that she would think it was nothing, even though it was everything indeed.

She smiled. "Oh, I know. You aren't thinking of their particular capacity to harm – you're thinking of anyone's capacity. That evil can happen in the first place."

Pause.

"You're depressed because now anything could happen, aren't you? Anything at all."

Pause.

He moved forward again, until he was right beside her. But instead of looking at her, he instead chose to watch the horizon, blue with the sky, white with the clouds, and gold with the sun. His chosen position surprised her, but she said nothing, the slight widening of her eyes the only indicator of her discomfort.

No, not discomfort. What?

The question was almost as elusive as the hidden something, its secret betrayed only by the breeze.

"Presea." His hand lightly touched her shoulder, but instead of merely brushing it and then moving off, it stayed. "I have lived for a long time. I have seen several pillars come and go – never before have the chosen Magic Knights been schoolgirls, nor have they ever been this…kind. Never before,"

He turned to face her directly, to face her eye to eye.

Eyes so pure, eyes as pure as her heart. Pure and good.

He nodded slowly, "Never before has one of them become Pillar.

"Before, I could always…by magic, or by intuition…I could always predict somehow what would happen. But I never saw Emeraude's downfall, I never foresaw Hikaru's rise. It is…humbling."

She smiled, and took her hand in her own. "I don't really understand what you're talking about."

"Oh?"

"No. But, I hope you will forget it, because I don't like seeing you so worried."

"A simple philosophy."

"A true one."

"Presea…"

Their banter stopped, as his naming of her struck a serious chord, for his tone was one of gentle disquiet.

"Yes?"

He nodded, slowly, sullenly so. But he could not stop the small smile that crept ever so slowly onto his face, the bright glint in his eyes as he eyed his amazing student.

"You are going back to your shop. You won't say goodbye to the Knights?"

A nod, to describe his correctness in that soft accusation. "I have to. I am expecting some customers. And someone might enter the study and disrupt it."

At her own words, she broke into a nervous little chuckle. He drew back his hand, realizing that the lingering feel of her touch had delighted him in some small way. Small, but important.

He was confused. "But, I, personally, designed the lock for your place. It is impossible for anyone to enter it besides me or yourself."

"Oh, I know. I'm just being silly. Take care, Clef."

They parted ways, each making their way through the green grass, disturbing it as the wind disturbed their hair. Clef's odd mental wandering of earlier was all but forgotten as he busied himself in something, he felt, in the presence of the suddenness of it, was even more odd.

He loved all his students. He would die for them, for any of them.

Why, then? Why, when he had touched her briefly, why had he felt that something more?

Yes, he would die for any of his students.

But for Presea, he would endure torture far beyond death.

He made his way back to his little room, his study where he could see the entire scope of Cephiro through the windows. It was there that he reproached himself for so easily forgetting the questionable presence in the breeze earlier. He had known it was she; he had let his guard down with his false hope.

Someone was sitting in his chair, their back to him while they faced the window.

At first he dared to hope it was Ferio, or Lafarga, or some other disciple of his that he could recognize by some will of familiarity. But it wasn't, and he knew it by the fear that made itself known in the pit of his stomach; knew it before she got up and turned to face him, and the battle was on.





He could still remember that night painfully well. Painfully, because, even though it had been one of the happiest occasions of his life, it had to end at some point – and that hurt. It hurt, because he did not know when it would happen again – did not know if it would ever happen again.

'It's dark…' She had observed quietly, her words issued in a sigh.

Ferio had looked down at her with the slightest air of surprise, stopping where he was on the concrete pathway. Garden was on either side of them, roses a darker red because of the twilight reflecting on them.

'You do not like it?'

She took her arm in his and leaned against his shoulder, blushing deeply. 'No…when I was a little girl, though, I was so convinced of monsters under my bed.' She giggled nervously.

It occurred to him that she was uncomfortable. Wanting to put her at ease, he unwrapped her arm from his and slowly lifted that hand to his lips. Then, he massaged it, massaged the fingers with his own until he came to the one with the ring on it – seeing that, he kissed the golden loop. When that was done, he returned her hand to her side.

She smiled, and reddened all the more. He did not know how he thought that would put her at ease. No matter, he had wanted to do it, and had done it, and now the content that lingered in his chest was a wonderful reward to the instinct he had acted upon.

'Do you love me?'

Such a silly question.

'More than anything else in the world,' And, so saying, he leaned down to kiss her, and she stood on tiptoe in acceptance.

It was brief. A couple more followed. He had never really kissed before, like this, at any rate, on the lips, besides when in training under Clef, and Presea had done it under the dare of Alcione. But then it had been quick, and neither of them had enjoyed it.

This was different. So much so! He must have been doing it right, because she leaned into him, and, after a short time, wrapped her arms around him. It was wonderful, and he loved it, but began to get a sense of forbidden things, and stopped.

'I will protect your honor.'

They went to a bench nearby, and simply talked for a long time, talked of everything under the sun, or, rather, everything under the moon.

'There were really monsters under your bed?'

He tentatively placed an arm around her and drew her in for a hug. To his surprise, she laid her head on his lap, and yawned, obviously very tired. To her, the interaction was nothing more than finding a comfortable way to lie down – to him, it was wondrous, because it meant she was okay with being this close to him.

'No. But when its dark, you think such things.'

'Sometimes, my sister…'

A little shiver, passing quickly through her body. To qualm it, he placed his hand on her back, almost as if trying to still the haunting memories.

'Never mind.' He said.

A silence existed between them for a moment. Eventually, however, it passed, like the wind through the trees.

Fuu's voice had the same beauty of chimes laughing after being disrupted by a fair autumn breeze, he realized, as she spoke.

'But, now I've realized that even the ugliest of beings can be decent. Ascot has taught me that.'

'I have to say that if Umi hadn't helped Ascot with his problem, I would still have thought of them as dangerous.' He said.

She closed her eyes. He loved how peaceful she looked, how serenely happy.

'Ascot really cares for Umi, doesn't he?' She asked.

'I wouldn't know.'

'I think he does. But, Umi couldn't be more – unknowing – of it.'

So happy, so caring, so lovely, with such a strong heart. He wanted to ask Mokona how it could be that she, of all people, wouldn't be strong enough to enter the path for Pillar. He was happy she couldn't, of course, because then he would never have her for himself, but, all the same, she was one of the strongest people he knew.

'You would care about such things.'

Soft laughter. 'Is it a fault?'

'No.' He paused, turning his face to the black of the sky. 'Never.'

He did not want that night to end, but, eventually, it had to.

He could not stop it, of course, and so he found himself in the portal room. So, at last, the wind and the glow and all the aspects of that treacherous magic – treacherous because it brought him her and then took her away – and then it was done, and they were gone. All the visitors dispersed from the portal room, the princesses from the other countries and Zazu, Geo and basically all the foreigners included, but still he did not feel like leaving yet, so he sat himself in a chair and gazed sullenly at the floor.

He closed his eyes after a time, and, sighing, leaned back in the chair. He could feel his earring clatter against the chair as his head lay back. If his eyes had been open, they would have taken in the ceiling, but, because he would rather dwell in his own darkness, he saw nothing but vision blinded.

Footsteps. Familiar. Surprised, he opened his eyes, and, after searching the area of the room, at last settled on the one person he had forgotten about, the one person who had never left.

"Lantis."

Lantis nodded, taking a seat in another chair nearby. They knew each other, of course – the circumstances concerning their sibling's relationships could not have possibly been direr.

Since Ferio said nothing, Lantis spoke instead. "My heart was not strong enough, but it all went right in the end."

Ferio grinned, a slight one displaying the irony of Lantis' words. "I was not even a candidate. So much for any heritage I may have had."

"They will be back soon."

"The Knights, you mean?"

A nod. A silent yes.

Ferio continued speaking, enjoying the outlet for his own personal feelings. "Still, they will have to choose, sometime, some day. They can not live in two separate worlds."

"You mean 'she', don't you?"

It was hard finding anything more to say after that. Lantis had described it, had gotten right to the chase, and now, well, now, just forget it. After a time, Ferio said a polite goodbye, and gave himself leave to wander about the castle.

Their bittersweet goodbye played back in his mind, a silent tribute to his sorrow – when would he see her again? Soon, he hoped, he so desperately hoped, soon.

My sister, is this what it feels like to not be with the one you love?

Everyone had been at the ceremonial goodbye, everyone spare Eagle, of course, for the man could not leave bed. Presea hadn't been there either, but she had some pressing weapons she had to make for a couple visitors to her shop. Clef hadn't been there either, but the wise magician had his own agenda. Ascot…he was probably off tending to his animals at the time, though it made Ferio wonder. Why hadn't he said goodbye to Umi?

There had been much hugging and laughing and crying and well wishing, but none of it had compared to the kiss he and Fuu had shared – an amazed silence had descended upon everyone as they had kissed long on the lips, almost without any modesty or humbleness. Oh well, he did not care. Gardina and Lafarga had each other, here. The same with Lantis and Eagle…eventually Eagle would heal and wake, and then they would have each other to themselves.

No, he only had the small stretches of time to be with her.

He wasn't aware that he had wandered to Ascot's room until he was there. He must have, he realized, as he stood by the door, somehow secretly wished to talk to Ascot and explain how important it was that he explain his love to Umi while he could, before this elusive time ran out.

Nodding to himself, he knocked once, twice, on the door. Ascot may not be here, he knew, he was probably out with his animals. But he might as well try.

No answer. The door wasn't locked, either. Raising an eyebrow, Ferio quietly opened the door and peered in – instantly withdrawing in horror.

The place was wrecked.

Papers strewn all about, a chair overturned – complete disaster. The bed had been blown into bits, no more now than a few pieces of wood and the torn sheds of a blanket.

And, as Ferio swung the door open wider to get a better view of the disruption, it fell loosely to the floor with a loud clatter. The hinges were off, he realized, blown apart by some energy blast.

Damn.

Was it happening again? They had worked so hard to find peace. And the idea of a traitor in the castle! He didn't want to suspect, but with all these foreigners…

He didn't stop to investigate any further, knowing that any more waste of time could be disastrous. Setting off at a run, he went to the one person who was always able to prove wise counsel under circumstances of crisis: Clef.

He was running so fast, and so blindly, panic filling his heart, that he never even noticed the tall form in front of him. He bounced off the person and to the floor.

Lafarga let out a small laugh through his constantly stern façade, and provided a hand for the disgruntled Ferio that sat on the floor. "You should take better care," He said, smiling, as Ferio took his hand and got to his feet.

Ferio shook his head quickly; a couple of rapid bobs back and forth in urgency.

"Lafarga, Ascots gone."

There must have been something especially pressing in his eyes, or in some wonder of his expression, because Lafarga's smile fell into a frown. "He might be out back with the animals."

"No…we should have looked for him…his not being there with Umi…stupid!"

Lafarga blinked, lost. "Umi? She left for the other world…the 'Earth' place."

The man was of very pure strength, and with a very good heart. But really, he was so blind to almost everything else around him.

"That's the point! He would have come to say goodbye…"

"You are not making sense, Prince, if you pardon my bluntness."

Ferio grabbed Lafarga's shoulders and brought him down so that they could see eye to eye. "Lafarga, Ascot's room is ransacked. Total destruction. There was a struggle there."

Yes. Finally. A glint of understanding, a widening of the eyes. Lafarga drew back, and said, almost predictably, "Have you told Guru?"

"I was on my way there now. I – "

They both stopped talking, each gripping the other's shoulder, as footsteps sounded somewhere down the corridor. Each was in shock, of course – how could an attack happen in a place of absolute peace and order? – but their eyes widened all the more to see that it was Lantis coming towards them, Lantis just as upset as they were.

"Lantis, what are you – ?"

"Lantis, Ascot is gone!"

"Clef has disappeared!"

All three had spoken at once, and, thusly, all three was silenced at once, simultaneously. For a moment they just looked at each other, the words spoken just recently before haunting their mental processes of the moment.

"Ascot is what?" Asked Lantis in the utmost disbelief, stopping where he was.

"What did you do to Clef, you bastard?!"

Letting go of Ferio, Lafarga took a step forward to Ferio, cruel anger and hatred vibrant in his face, his hands clenched.

"I didn't do anything to him…I just discovered his study destroyed now…"

"Yeah, right! Why should I believe you? You're a traitor, Lantis, always were, leaving Cephiro for Autozam without a second thought."

Ferio shook his head, knowing this wouldn't help anything. They couldn't resort to fighting, now – was Clef really gone?

Presea would be so sad.

Two attacks within the last 24 hours. Ferio did not want to believe it was any of the foreigners, but all the same…no one in Cephiro would every do any such thing, would they?

Clef, gone? Ferio had to fight down the instant instinct to run and ask Clef for counsel on Clef's disappearance. Clef had always been there, a teacher and mentor, the problem solver of the place.

And Ascot had a good heart as well, not to forget that.

"You always jump to conclusions, don't you, Lafarga. I told Clef you wouldn't be a good replacement as Captain of the Private Guard, but he was convinced there could be no other. Maybe his only mistake."

"I dare you to say that again, and the next time anyone sees you it will be in your grave."

"Both of you stop it!"

Shocked out of their escalating furies, escalating to a height only matched by the other, the two warriors turned to look at the speaker.

Prince Ferio sighed, and shook his head, his own hands clenching at his side.

"It's near impossible for Lantis to have done anything. I've seen him almost the entire time the Magic Knights were here."

A lie. A white one. Accusations and fighting would not help at a time like this. And Lantis would not attack Clef – Lantis loved Clef in the same way that Ferio did, as a teacher, as a father figure.

"Look, two attacks have now taken place. As Prince, I command no further arguing – we have to sort this out. Lafarga, search the premises for any sign of any other attack, or even if we can find Clef or Ascot. Lantis, I want you to go to Presea's shop."

"Presea…?"

"We'll need her. Hurry!"

The two were dismissed, and sent on their own way, which they did without any further disagreement. This left Ferio alone in the corridor, alone to ponder the course of action that was forming in his mind, becoming more and more radical and nonsensical as time passed.

He would not allow anything to stop the peace.

This I promise you, my darling sister. So that your legacy is never forgotten, this I promise you. Be happy! With Zagato, forevermore.