A few words:

DKScribe88 - Thank you. I really appreciate you taking the time to commend the fic, and yes, I do care about the quality of my work, especially since it's about a character that has influenced me greatly. I also owe that much to those who take the time to read my stories, as they give me a bit of time from their life that they can never get back.

cocoyang - I appreciate your words and I'm glad that you think that way about their pairing. You're right when you say that their relationship goes way beyond just any of same-sex relationship anyone can have, although that in itself is already difficult. There really are a lot of life lessons to be learned in Negima!, and I'm glad that it has become as influential as it is. Thank you for taking the time to read. :)

***I'll try to be a bit more descriptive in future chapters. It was never my strong point, but I'll do my best. Also, will be transitioning into Setsuna's POV very soon. Witty, pointy sarcasm, here I come!***

CHAPTER THREE: KONOKA

It was a pretty warm afternoon. The tiny Konoe heiress was bouncing away at her red rubber ball, trying to think of a way to spend the rest of the day without getting bored.

"Mou, it's no use. I'm so lonely around here. Daddy is always out at work and the people around here don't want to play with me. Why don't they want to play with me?"

But I know everyone is working hard at.. something. I also know that Daddy is also away a lot because he works hard so he can buy me toys and make me happy. I don't want to be sad in front of Daddy because he might think he isn't doing a good job. Still, though. I miss Mommy. Even though I can't really remember her, Daddy always told me that Mommy loved me and that she always smiled when they talked about me. He also said she was very pretty and that I look just like her. But Daddy said before I was born, she had to go and become an angel because Heaven needed her. I wonder if all angels are as pretty as Mommy. I bet they are. Maybe I'll get to meet one someday.

Clack Clack

The little girl turned towards the noise and found two figures walking through the gate.

"Daddy?"

She dropped her ball and made her way to what she now saw as her father and two other figures. Well, it was more one-and-a-half than two.

"Daddy! Daddy, who are they.. ?"

/

"Sakurazaki Setsuna!"

"Hai, Motoko-sensei!"

"Eishun will be coming here to the dojo in a little while. We'll all be going to visit his home here in Kyoto, and there you will finally be given your first task as a Shinmeiryuu swordsman."

"Hai, Motoko-sensei!"

"Your task will be to protect Eishun's daughter, Konoka. She's just about your age, so you two should get along just fine. Talk to her, play with her, but most of all, make sure that nothing ever happens to her, are we clear, Setsuna? Also, you are to call her Ojou-sama, as you are her protector, and she will be your master. This is also to honor her royal heritage, and is only proper."

"Hai, Motoko-sensei!"

"Konoka is a very important person in both this world and the magic world- she is the heiress of the Kanto Magic Association. She will be taking over Eishun at the head of the association when she is of age. As such, there will be some bad people that might come after her."

At this, the little swordsman looked up from her kneeling position with wide eyes. "Bad people, sensei?"

Bad people want to hurt Konoka Ojou-sama? Why? Eishun-sama told me that Ojou-sama is very kind and very pretty and always smiled. Why would anyone want to hurt someone like that? Bad people tried to harm me when I was younger but that was because.. Because I was a half-demon with white wings. It was because I was a curse and that I should never have happened. I understand why people would come after me, but why her? I can't let them! If Konoka Ojou-sama is really as nice as Eishun-sama says, then I don't want anyone or anything to hurt her. I will protect her also because she is precious to Eishun-sama and because she is my duty. I will protect Ojou-sama at all costs!

"Yes. Are you scared?"

"No, of course not, sensei! For as long as I live, none of these bad people will come close to Konoka Ojou-sama. I will not let anyone touch Ojou-sama because she is my charge and Eishun-sama tells me that Ojou-sama is a very nice girl, and so I think that people have no right to harm her."

Her master's eyes softened.

YOU are a very nice girl, Setsuna. Very innocent, and beautiful. You are loyal, strong and dedicated to your training. There aren't enough good things I could say about you, but bad people- YOUR people, in fact, tried to kill you. And here you are, wondering why Konoka would be in danger.

Knock Knock

"Motoko. Setsuna-kun."

Setsuna stood up and got on her knee once more, bowing low.

"Eishun-sama."

Eishun smiled fondly at his daughter's new guard.

She sure has grown since that fateful day two years ago. Her aura has gotten stronger, her stance has become solid. Her hands, calloused as they are, weave the most graceful patterns when she holds her wooden sword. I have watched her steadily throughout these months, I have seen her run every morning to exhaustion without fail, even before the day began. Her ki, from the weak pulse that it was two years ago, has become a brazen flow of energy surrounding her entire body. I could not ask for a better protector even in those older than her. It's just my luck that she's about Konoka's age. My daughter finally gets a playmate while I could rest a bit easier, knowing that this little powerhouse of a warrior is by her side. Yes, even as young as she is, I see a warrior. I cannot imagine just how much more she will grow throughout the years, and to be honest, I am glad to have her on our side. Setsuna-kun, I am excited to see you move forward with the life that has been given back to you- a life that you have always deserved.

"Before we leave, there are a few preparations we have to take care of. Motoko, shut the door."

The Kanto Magic Association head walked toward the still-kneeling Setsuna and bent down into a squatting position to bring him down to almost her eye level. He brought his hand on her head and patted her gently with a smile, then proceeded to thread his fingers through her hair.

"Setsuna-kun, we need to dye your hair. Not that it isn't pretty, but it draws too much attention. And being Konoka's guard, you have to be able to keep wandering eyes away from either of you. Also, here are a pair of contacts. These will mask your eyes as well. Also, please bring out your wings for a moment."

Setsuna slowly stood and closed her eyes. Her small features was pinched up in concentration, and, in a moment, she could feel soft feathers beginning to protrude from between her shoulder blades. Slowly, they came out, until they were wide and magnificent, emitting a soft, white glow that lit up the dim room. She opened her eyes, and for a moment, Eishun could see shame in them, until she quickly replaced it with a look of steeled focus. She felt a hand gently caress her right wing.

"I just wanted to see them.", Eishun smiled. "You have very pretty wings, Setsuna-kun, but you will also have to keep them hidden from the general crowd. I think people would tend to notice them even more than your white hair and eyes.", he chuckled.

She blushed and let out a small smile. Her master's eyes softened for the second time that day, and were starting to itch from the unfamiliar action.

"It is okay if we put a seal on you, Setsuna-kun? It will only repress your demon side a bit more, so you won't have a problem maintaining your human image in front of others. You will still be able to use your wings in an emergency. This will only ensure that you won't lose control over yourself."

"If this is what it takes to protect Konoka Ojou-sama, and if Eishun-sama wills it, then I will do it." Her voice rang with pure determination, and held no doubt whatsoever.

"Then let us begin."

/

"Um, Eishun-sama?"

The trio had been walking along the cobbled streets of Kyoto for a while now. Of course they could have taken a car, but Eishun had insisted that they walked so that Setsuna could be made more aware of her surroundings, and could observe the general area where she would be performing her task. She had been fidgety since they left the dojo, which Eishun had noticed, but had decided to let be until she brought it up herself, which she did.

"Yes, Setsuna-kun?"

"Do you think Konoka Ojou-sama will like me?"

He blinked once.

"What's not to like?"

Motoko fidgeted ever so slightly- an ant's fidgeting would be easier to spot.

"Eishun-sama, I'm a-" she lowered her voice to a whisper, "half-demon." Anyone looking would not have noticed any change in the little girl's demeanor as she said this. Eishun, however, was not anyone, and immediately saw the swift moment of utter torment she felt as she admitted this fact.

Setsuna-kun. Even after all these years, it haunts you. No, it has never stopped haunting you- you only always managed to push it to the back of your mind and you only focused on your training. You have grown into such a strong, skilled young girl and have shown nothing but strength and dedication every single time I saw you. Yet you're still so insecure, scared and have beaten yourself up over something that is not your fault. It looks like you won't be the only one doing the protecting during your task. Konoka will be a good friend to you, Setsuna-kun. I hope she gets to you.

"Mmhm?"

"Eishun-sama?"

"Hm?"

"Isn't that a problem?"

"What is?"

"My being.. you know."

"Why would it be?"

"What do you mean why, Eishun-sama?"

"Why?"

"Why what?"

"Hm?"

At this, Setsuna puffed her cheeks out in frustration. Of course, she would never complain in front of Eishun-sama and her master, but this was a question that has been bothering her the entire day, and she really needed to kno-

"Konoka will love you."

"But Eishun-sama, how do you kno-"

"No more time for questions, Setsuna." It was her master that spoke this time. "We're here."

Setsuna's eyes widened at the sheer size of the place. Below her feet were thick cobblestones that stretched out all around her, and only came to a stop at the foot of multiple temple-like buildings. Sakura trees were scattered around the area, and the cool breeze brought their sweet scent to the air. Near the entrance were ancient-looking red, Japanese arches which had paper seals attached to them. This was definitely a place fitting the head of the Kanto Magic Association. Only one thought entered the little samurai's head.

Big..

While she was contemplating this complex train of thought, Setsuna eyes focused on a small figure that she hadn't noticed before. It was slowly approaching them, and out of reflex, she gripped the handle of her wooden sword. Her entire body relaxed into a ready state, non-hostile but could easily get into a defensive position once she decides the situation required it. Only when the figure came closer that her grip loosened and her eyes widened.

So pretty..

"Daddy?"

A now blushing Setsuna suddenly bounded behind her master's back, gripping her sleeve tightly with her small hand. From the corner of her eye, she saw her master's mouth twitch a little, and Eishun's stretch into a wide, warm smile.

"Daddy! Daddy, who are they.. ?"