*Might I suggest getting a beverage before starting this chapter? It's eighteen pages before my ramblings and before converted to HTML. Who knows what it will be when I'm finished talking. Well, I'm going to do all the talking at the end and leave you all to read this final chapter. Wahoo!!!*

Chapter 23: Rubies and Gold

She slipped her hand into his, and he smiled softly. This had been what he was waiting for his entire life. All he had ever wanted was this single moment, and now all he could think about was having a lifetime full of them. This thought warmed his insides and made him grin like a love struck adolescent.

"Watcha thinking about?" Hikaru asked, smiling brightly up at him.

"You," he answered, looking down at her with love in his eyes.

She blushed deeply and looked at the ground; she would never get tired of hearing that.

Rubies and Gold

The sword clattered and fell to the ground, and Lafarga just stared in amazement. He bowed slowly and when he stood back up he just shook his head and nodded, "Water Knight," he said softly, and Umi giggled.

"Yeah, I've been practicing," she smiled sweetly, and he nodded again, still struck down by her obvious skill.

"I guess you have."

Her sword fell back into her ovum gem, and she turned to find Clef leaning against the door to the practice rooms, watching intently. "How long have you been here?" she demanded, blushing that someone had been looking in on her practice.

"A few minutes, long enough to see your increased skill," he answered and watched as Lafarga exited the room and listened as Caldina bombarded him with questions.

"Who won? Umi? Really? I knew she was good, but wow!"

He laughed and walked over to Umi who was looking very vulnerable standing all alone in the middle of that huge room. He took her into his arms and kissed her gently. She smiled and let her head lean against his chest, closing her eyes. He grinned impishly and closed his eyes, snapping behind her back. When she opened her eyes she realized that the waves were crashing loudly against the sand. She gasped and looked back to him. She shook her head and kissed him quickly before she took his hand and urged him to follow her as she ran across the sand. He laughed and followed, never letting go of her hand. Afraid it was another dream and he'd lose her once again, lose her to that black and blue mist.

Star of my moonlight

He kissed her gently, and she smiled and looked into his amber eyes. Everything had a sort of surreal feeling to it still, almost as if it hadn't sunk in yet. She looked at the man she had loved almost all her life and reached up with a shaking hand and touched his face gently. He closed his eyes and leaned into her embrace. She looked at the glittering emerald and diamond band on her hand, and it sank in, and she started crying, tears streamed down her cheeks.

"Sh…Fuu-chan…" he whispered and pulled her close to him. Her dress was silky beneath his fingers. It was form fitting and a light green, elegant but simple. In his mind she could never be more beautiful, well, he mused, maybe when she was walking up the aisle, "Why are you crying?"

"Because I'm with you," she whispered.

He laughed gently and pulled her chin up to look at him, "I didn't think that was something you should cry about."

She laughed through her tears and looked into his sparkling eyes, "I love you more than anything, and I always have."

"I know, I wouldn't stand to lose you Fuu-chan. I could never stand to lose you. From the first time I stumbled upon you in the Forest of Silence, to your return, I've never stopped feeling for you. I've never wanted to spend my life with anyone but you," he kissed her passionately, and she melted in his arms, as he led her to their bed.

Warmer than roses in spring

"God you're gorgeous," he whispered softly as he ran his hand down her arm. She shivered and laughed lightly. He reached down and kissed her shoulders that were exposed by the sundress and looked up to see his effect. Her eyes danced and her lip quivered with the playfulness of his touch.

"Ferio don't be a tease," she scolded gently but didn't mean it.

"I'm sorry, I can't resist," he whispered and kissed her neck. His breath was hot against her skin, and she wanted to end the playful game, but knew he wouldn't let it be ended. Instead, she decided to play his game and sink to his level. She blushed deeply as she reached up and gently kissed his ear, pulling back before he could turn and meet her lips. He just stared, shocked, and she grinned almost mischievously. He reached up and kissed her deeply, pinning her to the bed, and they both pulled away breathless.

"When I thought I was never going to be able to touch you again I almost died," he said quietly, and she looked at him with tears in her eyes. "When I suffered all those years and saw you back again, it was like you came back from the dead. I had been so cold, and when you entered the room it was like a fire exploded in my heart. I had always known I loved you, but I never knew I could love you as much as I did in that moment."

She closed her eyes, and he kissed her eyelids gently, "I cried every night of my absence from your arms. I never wanted anyone else, even though my parents tried, Lord knows they tried."

He smiled, "I'm glad that you never took anyone else."

She smiled back and kissed him gently, "I'm glad that you didn't take a bride that wasn't me."

"I would give up all my kingdom before I left you like that. I just needed an excuse. I wasn't going to show up at the wedding. I would rather be an exile in my own country than live a life without you," he vowed.

"Well fortunately," she laughed, "you'll never have to face either of those."

"Yes, that was rather fortunate," he kissed her passionately, and no more words were spoken that afternoon.

The kingdoms were sold to hold their beauty

"It's so peaceful, now that everything's back in order," Hikaru smiled softly.

"Yes, it is nice to have everything in peace once again," Lantis pondered over the last couple weeks. It had been the most painful of his life, and now that it was over his reward was the happiest moments in his life.

"You think so much," Hikaru whined, and he laughed and looked down at her.

"You make me think about things," he smiled gently. "I would go to the ends of the earth for you."

"And I would go to the ends of Cephiro for you," she answered teasingly, and he had to smile widely at that.

"You are so beautiful Fire Knight," he cupped her small head in his hand, and she leaned into the warmth there. He smiled at her and kissed her gently. She melted into his embrace and when they pulled away she left her eyes closed, savoring the kiss. He watched her and had to laugh gently to himself. "You are so beautiful…"

Well, I'd sell my life anyway

He collapsed in a chair in their room, exhausted. He had been up since before dawn that morning, drilling his new squads. "It's harder maintaining an army than I thought," he muttered as he pulled off his boots and shook his head, leaning into the fine fabric of the chair.

"Aw, poor baby, do you want me to kiss it and make it better?" Natsumi joked as she fell daintily into his lap and wrapped her arms around his neck.

"Yes," he coiled a strand of her long brown hair around his finger and looked into her crystal eyes.

She leaned in and kissed him, then pulled away, looking embarrassed.

"Still the general's daughter," he smiled at her, and she stuck out her tongue and looked disgusted.

"How about the general's wife?" she jested, and he looked at her seriously.

"That can be arranged," he said softly, and she stared for awhile, then nodded.

"It should be," she whispered and pulled him onto their bed. "But for now, I'll settle just to be your lover."

He grinned and pushed her into the feather mattress. She laughed and pulled him down with her.

Just to say I held their heart in my arms

She dove into the ocean, and he just watched as she dove under the waves and popped up just beyond the break zone. "Aren't you coming?" she asked, and he shook his head.

"I'll just watch thanks," he called back dryly.

"Aw! Is the Master Mage afraid to get wet?" she taunted, and he glared and clapped, and his staff vanished.

"You asked for it!" he shouted and waved a hand. He vanished, and she looked around in fright. Where did he go?

Next thing she knew someone was holding her under water, but quickly she was released, and when she broke the surface Clef was treading water next to her, an evil grin on his lips. She stared at him with her mouth open, astounded.

"Cheater!" she yelled and tried to pull him under the waves, but he would simply clap and vanish. "That's not fair!" she whined, and he appeared next to her again. He kissed her quickly, and then clapped once more, and they appeared on the sand. Umi pushed him down and onto the sand, and he smiled as he propped himself up so that he could look at her properly.

"When you were away I used the crystal to look after you," he said softly, and Umi turned her head to the side, waiting to hear what he would say, what would come of this. "I've never seen your true strength before."

"What?" she whispered. She had never considered that strength. She had considered it cowardly and selfish. She needed the other two to even survive- how was that strength?

"You didn't ever shed a tear around them. You tried to comfort them no matter what. You disregarded your own pain to help them first and foremost. You've grown so much stronger since I first met you, though, I must admit, I saw strength in you then that I couldn't deny. It was one of the things that made me fall in love with you," he kissed her neck, and she laughed.

"I've never looked at it that way before," she admitted, and he smiled.

"I guessed you hadn't, it's not in your nature to have thought of it like that. That's why I thought I should probably mention it."

"And what do you know of my nature?" she raised her brows, and he laughed.

"An awful lot my dear Water Angel, an awful lot."

She bit her lip and waited for him to kiss her, which he did, and put an end to her waiting, but only very lightly. She whined when he pulled back, but he shook his head and grinned.

"Come on," he helped her up, but she shook her head and pouted. He laughed and kissed her deeply, pushing her into the fine-grained sand of the Cephiran shore. He tried to pull away, but she wouldn't let him. "Umi," his breath was hot on her face, but she shook her head and put a finger to his lips.


There's strength in my soul

"Lantis, I'm worried about my brothers," Hikaru admitted after awhile of walking in total silence.

"That's what's been on your mind," he nodded, "I thought as much. I understand why you would be, but really Hikaru-chan, I'm sure they're fine."

"But see-I don't want them to think that I did anything…funny. I was so sad before we left again, and if I just turn up missing. I don't want them to wonder…" she shook her head sadly. "I want to stay here in Cephiro, with you, but I don't want them to wonder. I wish there was some way to talk to them…"

"Come with me, if not talk to them we can at least see how they're doing," he took her hand and led her to Clef's study.

"Lantis! Clef will be angry!" Hikaru scolded as she looked around her for any signs of the Master Mage.

"He's too preoccupied at the moment. The Guru will never know," Lantis pushed open the huge wooden doors and stepped inside, pulling Hikaru with him. She didn't want to get them in trouble, but the desire to see her brothers again was too great. She followed Lantis to the back of the room and gasped upon seeing the desiderium visum.

"What is it?" she whispered and touched the crystal that bubbled with her touch. The fog reached out from the crystal and wrapped around her fingers, turning to flames as it did. She gasped again and pulled her hand back, shaking it. He smiled and whispered close to her ear.

"It's a wish seer, tell it what you want to see and it will be seen, with no distortions," he said quietly, and her eyes widened. She turned and looked at him.

"You mean this whole time I could have known that you…" she stopped and shook her head, then it hit her. "Is this how you've been keeping tabs on me?"

He shook his head, "Sadly, I didn't discover it until Umi did, upon her return, but I have a sneaking suspicion that it was how the Guru kept tabs on her."

Hikaru grinned and nodded, "You're probably right. He must have looked in it at all the wrong times then," she laughed. "Because he was clueless to her liking him."

Lantis smiled at his Fire Faerie as she looked into the crystal and took a deep breath.

"I want to see my brothers," she told it, and the fog parted to make room for an image that slowly formed in the crystal. There were three older men pacing a practice room, one, who looked to be the oldest, was holding a phone in his hand. The others were watching him hesitantly in between their pacing. He set the phone down and shook his head, and the other two looked crushed upon that word.

Hikaru reached out and tried to touch them, because she knew they were on the phone about her. A tear streamed down her cheek, and she closed her eyes and listened to Satoru speak, "There isn't any word on her. And Mrs. Ryuuzaki and Mr. Hououji all confirm that the other two are gone as well. They put in missing persons reports for them a day ago, but there hasn't been anything…They've just…vanished."

"No Satoru! Maseru! Kakeru! I'm here! Just look up!" Hikaru screamed into the crystal, and would have tried to jump in, but for a strong hand on her arm, pulling her gently back to Cephiro.

"Hikaru-chan," he turned her around only to find tears in her sparkling red eyes.

"They think I'm dead or something Lantis! They think I've been kidnapped! There's no way to tell them, and they'll never find me! They'll always wonder. It'll destroy them, like losing you destroyed me," she sank to the floor and began to sob. Lantis fell to his knees beside her and pulled her close.

He kissed her hair and tried to soothe her, "Sh…Hikaru…there are ways. Remember when the portal was first closed? We were able to reach you through the small way of magic still open. It takes strong magic though; we'll have to ask Clef at dinner. All is not lost. Please Hikaru-chan, don't cry," he begged and after his words sank in she realized she had been silly to jump to conclusions. She dried her tears and looked up to him with tears still hanging on her lashes.

"I didn't think of that," she whispered, her voice thick with tears. "Do you think we can?"

"I'm sure of it," he smiled and brushed her bangs out of her eyes. "Your Will is the strongest I've known. If Clef can't do it with your help, it can't ever be done."

She smiled and thanked him, "Arigato."

"My pleasure my love," he kissed her softly, and she blushed again. "Come on, it's near time for dinner, there's going to be a small party tonight, and I should let you get ready."

She nodded and kissed him once more before she ran to find the others and tell them about Lantis' idea to get a hold of their families once more.

Rubies and Gold

Fuu woke with Ferio slumbering peacefully next to her. She sighed and stretched, then rolled over to go back to sleep but looked at the setting sun and jumped up. Ferio muttered and turned but didn't wake. Fuu sighed and laughed, then pushed him off the bed as he took half the sheets with him. "Get up!" she shouted at him, and he looked up at her, shocked, the sleep still fading from his eyes.

"What? Why?" he questioned, "Who died?"

Fuu giggled behind a hand and blushed as he ran his eyes up and down her body, "Stop!" she scolded, and he grinned but didn't heed her order. "Remember? Lantis and Hikaru's surprise engagement party! We have to get ready!"

It took a minute for it to sink in before Ferio's eyes widened, and he stood. "Come then, let's get ready," he took her hand and pulled her close, kissing her swiftly. She pulled away and wouldn't let him continue.

"I've got to get ready," she held his hand over her shoulder until they were too far apart and then turned back at him seductively. He stood there, shocked, then realized that he did have a party to get ready for and turned to his own wardrobe.

You are to me

Clef stroked Umi's hair as she lay on his chest and looked out to the waves that crashed near their feet. She smiled blissfully and stretched, looking up at him. He smiled down at her, and she turned back to the ocean. It was so peaceful in this moment, the past two weeks, the past two years, didn't seem to matter. Everything seemed to fade away, everything but this moment. They didn't think they could be any happier.

"Umi," Clef said softly, and she turned and looked at him. He sat up slightly, and she moved off his chest.

You're a jewel upon my chest

"I've been…wanting to give you this for a long time," he said softly and pulled a small velvet box from thin air. She stared at it for a long time, until it registered, and her palms began to sweat. "Presea made it for me," he opened the box, and Umi looked down at the tear shaped sapphire surrounded by tiny diamonds. "It's sealed with my magic, for protection and extra strength, not that you need it," he reached out and stroked her cheek with his free hand. "It's a promise ring."

"A promise ring?" she asked, still admiring the beauty of the piece.

"It seals a promise," he continued, "when worn by the one intended for."

"What promise?" she inquired, her voice was very quiet. It could barely be heard over the roaring of the ocean behind them.

"That I'll be with you forever," he answered, and her eyes widened, then turned up to meet his. They shown with the most love she had ever seen, but hidden there was fear. "If you accept," he whispered, and she nodded, barely able to breathe let alone speak.

"Of course, I want to be with you…forever," she whispered when she had once again caught her breath but not nearly regained her composure.

He smiled and slipped the ring onto her right hand. She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him deeply, pushing him to the sand once more. When she pulled away she looked at the ring on her hand that lie behind his back. It was tangled with purple and white magic, and she gasped softly. He reached up and kissed her again, pulling her back down to him.

She kissed his jaw line when his hands ran up and down her arms, and his breath was heavy on her cheek, "I love you," she whispered, and he kissed her quickly.

"I love you too," he answered, and she smiled. "But…we have an engagement to attend, I do believe," he added softly and put a hand over hers that was slowly creeping toward his cloak.

She moaned and sat up, "You're right," she sighed, and something dawned on her. She had never worn that dress for him, the one she had gotten from Presea's closet. A mysterious grin crossed her face, and he looked at her with raised brows.

"What are you thinking of?" he demanded, and she shook her head and stood.

"You'll see," she whispered as she took his hand, and they headed back to the castle together.

Warming my heart with your kisses

Hikaru ran her hands over the fine fabric of the dress and smiled sheepishly, remembering the day she had spent with Lantis. The picnic yes, but then…being alone with him. Blood coursed through her veins at just the thought. The feeling she got when she was able to just be close to him, holding his hand and setting her head against his strong shoulders. The way he looked at her, the small private thoughts he shared with only her. She smiled and couldn't stop smiling. It was so nice being with him, so…peaceful.

A peaceful way to rest

"What are you grinning about?" Umi teased as she and Fuu walked into the room and saw Hikaru standing in the middle of Presea's closet, dress in hands, staring into space and smiling.

She snapped awake and turned to the two with wide eyes, "N-nothing," she stuttered and blushed heavily when Fuu and Umi burst into a fit of giggles.

"Nothing?" Umi wiped a tear. "Okay, sure then Hikaru."

"What's so funny?" Hikaru demanded.

"This," Umi smiled evilly, "Lantis!"

Hikaru blushed, then realized what Umi had accomplished and tried her best to push the blood out of her face.

Umi and Fuu burst into another fit of giggles, and Hikaru just glared.

"Stop!" she whined, and they got in one more good laugh before Fuu was barely able to mutter through her tears.

"Okay Hikaru-san, we'll stop."

"If only because Fuu doesn't want me to do this, Ferio!" Umi shouted, and Fuu proceeded to blush deeply. This time Hikaru was thrown into a fit of giggles, and Umi watched smugly. Fuu started to open her mouth, but Umi shook her head.

"Won't work, I'm immune," and they guessed she probably was. Umi wouldn't have done it if she weren't immune.

"Is he your…husband now Fuu?" Umi asked, and Fuu blushed and muttered, then, deciding to shock them both, raised her head and answered.

"Yes, he's fulfilled all my hopes and dreams."

Umi and Hikaru just gaped, jaws hanging open. Fuu smiled triumphantly and walked to a row of dresses and began to sort through them.

Fulfilling my life long wishes

Hikaru fidgeted nervously as Presea instructed her to walk in first, "Why? Why not Umi or Fuu?" she questioned, and Presea shook her head and grinned at the other two.

"Because you're the former Pillar!" she sighed, and Hikaru glared at the secret glances passing between Umi and Fuu.

"But Fuu is the Princess!" she complained, and Fuu blushed.

"Princess or no, you're the former Pillar! You're going in first and that's that!" Presea ordered and forced her forward and toward the doors to the ballroom that was packed with people.

"I thought this was supposed to be small anyway," she muttered under her breath.

"Presea-san got a little carried away with the guest list, go Hikaru-san," Fuu urged, wanting to get in as quickly as she could and find Ferio. Even in a few hours she was missing him.

"Fine, fine, fine," Hikaru gave them one last glare before she walked into the hall.

He was struck dead when he saw her. She looked around hesitantly, vulnerably. He wanted to spring up and rush to meet her, but every muscle in his body was frozen. He watched her, his eyes running up and down her tiny frame as her hands intertwined around one another as she smiled nervously at people who called her name or hailed her, "Uh…hi…" he heard her mutter a few times, but her eyes still searched.

"Fire Knight will you dan…" someone started once, but she shook her head.

"Maybe in a little while," she looked around and finally, her eyes met his. She walked straight for him, and he wouldn't let his eyes stray. How could they?

Her dress fell to her ankles and was form fitting, but fell out in a flare at the bottom. It was cherry red with small sequins that wound the whole way down the dress in one thin line. The shoes she wore were the same cherry red and high heeled and made her a few inches taller. She wore long, white gloves, but her engagement ring glittered on the outside of her left glove. He smiled to himself. She wore a gold and ruby choker around her throat. Her hair was loose around her shoulders and tumbled in ringlets around her neck. There were three small ruby sparkles under each eye that brought out her red eyes and accented her lips that shone with gloss. She was absolutely gorgeous.

Hikaru fidgeted when his eyes never left her body. She reached him and looked down sheepishly, "It's a little much but…"

"I think it's amazing," he stopped her, and she looked up and whispered thank-you, before he offered a hand and whisked her onto the dance floor.

And silently you're watching me

"I think we did a good job," Umi turned to Presea and Fuu, who nodded in agreement.

Fuu jumped and spun when she felt strong arms around her waist. She sighed deeply when she met amber eyes and glared, "Ferio, don't do that ever again," she scolded.

"I saw Hikaru come in and couldn't resist a sneak peak," he said gently and kissed her cheek. "Wow…you look…gorgeous," he said softly, and she blushed.

His eyes ran over the deep green dress that fell far past her ankles, making a small train. It was strapless and was supported only by two small see-through spaghetti straps. The top was a lighter green that faded to a deep forest green at the bottom. It fit her curves perfectly, and she did look gorgeous in it. Her short hair was curled so that it bobbed when she walked, and glasses didn't hinder her light green eyes. She had finally shed them for the night and chosen contact lenses instead. She too, wore long white gloves, but her wedding ring shone on her left hand, sparkling in the light provided by chandeliers hanging high overhead. She wore an emerald necklace that had only one stone and fell almost to her dress. In her hair sat a small lightweight tiara. It was silver with small diamonds and rubies intertwined with the silver. It looked like a vine that crept its way across her hair.

Ferio fingered her necklace as he held her close then ran three fingers down her cheek before reaching in and kissing her. She fell into his embrace, and her heart fluttered when they pulled away and he offered his arm to her. She looked to Umi who grinned and then accepted the offered arm, and they walked in together, husband and wife, Prince and Princess. Umi sighed helplessly and watched the two enter to a burst of applause.

Stroking my cheek with your hand

Umi walked in, talking with Presea and didn't even notice the sharp intake of breath as she entered. When she looked up she realized all speaking had stopped, the music was no longer playing. Presea was grinning at her evilly, and when she looked to Hikaru and Fuu she found they were as well. What was going on?

The only one in the room that moved was the Master Mage as he slowly walked to her.

"Not permitted…"

"Magic Knight?"

A few voices rushed to her ears.

"Never would have thought…"

He took her small hands in his as she watched the people remain silent, frantically, "You look…simply exquisite," he said softly, and she turned back to the man she had fallen in love with.

"Why are they so quiet?" she asked under her breath. "Why did everything stop?"

"You've stolen the show Umi my dear," he looked around him.

"I don't think I'm the only one," she smiled as she looked at his new form for the hundredth time, loving the new look on him.

"Maybe not, but you…" he ran his eyes over her. The black dress hung close to her and had a small see through train in the back. There were small blue sequined roses that looked to be made of water over the dress. The splashes of the roses fell toward the bottom, spiraling into the nothingness of the dress. She wore no gloves, but her long nails were painted a light blue, and she wore her promise ring on her right hand; it glittered in the light and reflected on the ceiling. She wore a choker with a black band that was held together by a trail of three silver horses running through waves that splashed onto the black band and lit it up with blue coloring. Her hair was crimped and fell down her back and there were small silver stones in it that glittered as well.

"What are they waiting for?" she asked, and he closed his eyes. When he opened them he turned them, not to her, but to the people gathered around them.

"I love her," he said quietly, and the people gasped once more. "I love her with all my heart, and I give my heart and my title to her freely. If there are objections to this love I would have him come forward and speak now."

No one spoke, no one moved. Umi didn't think it was possible, but the room was even more silent than before.

"Umi-I love you, you know that. I don't care what the ancient laws say, I will always love you, and I'll sacrifice everything for that," he confessed to her, but also to the ears of all. His eyes were trembling, as if holding back tears. She could feel his passion, and she wanted to soothe it, so she reached in and kissed him deeply. The room burst into a roar of applause once more and the dancing was resumed.

Your eyes are deep, yet filled with tears

"We're here tonight to honor the engagement of the Head of the Cephiran Guard, Lantis, and the Magic Knight of Fire, Hikaru," Ferio stood up at the head of the table after desert had been taken away.

Hikaru's jaw dropped, and Lantis sent a death glare toward Clef who smiled and shook his head.

"As you all know, the Magic Knights first came to this world three years ago their time, but a long while ago to us. It was during their second visit that Hikaru met Lantis, the younger brother of Zagato, may he rest in peace," everyone bowed their heads for a second. "And ever since then their love has blossomed, slowly," he looked at Lantis who glared, and he smiled. And I must admit, that during this time, I failed to help Lantis, as a good friend should have, I was preoccupied with love of my own," he smiled lovingly at Fuu who blushed and looked down. "But now that everything is out in the open, I just want to wish them the best of luck," he sat down and everyone began to applaud. Before the two knew it, they were pulled into the arms of people they had never met, wishing them best of luck and giving them their congratulations.

"That was sweet of you," Fuu told Ferio as he reached over and took her hand.

"It was about time it got in the open," Ferio grinned, and Fuu laughed.

"You always scare me with that look," she informed him, and he turned to her.

"Fuu-chan, I don't know what I can say to tell you how much I love you."

"You don't need to say anything Ferio, your actions speak more than enough," she responded, and he grinned again.

"Is that so?" he inquired and pulled her into his arms, kissing her deeply. They broke away, and she shook her head. "Come on," he helped her up. "Let's dance."

Hikaru pulled herself close to Lantis as they listened to the newest group of people to wish them best of luck. Lantis sent a deadly glance at Ferio who was dancing with Fuu, and Ferio gave him a thumbs up. Hikaru pulled herself closer, and he smiled down at her, maybe…maybe he wasn't so angry with Ferio.

When they had pulled away from the crowd, Lantis took Hikaru's left hand into his and kissed it gently before bowing, "May I have this dance?"

She giggled and nodded, "Of course you may. I wouldn't have it any other way."

He took her hand, and they were swept away on the dance floor. Hikaru guessed the last few days were the happiest she had ever been.

"Look at them," Umi was leaning her head on her hand, staring at Hikaru and Lantis, Fuu and Ferio, so glad to finally see them happy. She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned to meet Clef's sapphire eyes.

"May I?" he offered a hand, but Umi shook her head playfully.

"No," she answered simply, and he stared at her, in shock. She grabbed his hand and pulled him out onto the veranda in the grand ballroom. She went immediately to the rail that overlooked the sea and looked into the sky. He came behind her and put his arms around her waist. She leaned her head back into his chest and sighed heavily, "It's gorgeous isn't it?" she asked, looking into the moon.

"Not nearly as gorgeous as you," he answered and pulled back her hair to kiss her shoulder.

She laughed at his words, but mostly because his kisses tickled and turned to gaze into his piercing eyes. The eyes that could pierce the strongest soul, eyes that she was drowning in. Water Knights weren't supposed to drown, "Clef?"

"Hm…?" he asked, and she put her head on his shoulder and wrapped her arms around his neck.

"What was that public confession for?"

He closed his eyes and answered carefully, "It was written…a long time ago…when the Rune Gods were created…that the Master Mage should never fall in love with a Magic Knight. He was strictly forbidden."

"Why?" Umi pulled away and looked back into his clear eyes. They held no worry, but somehow this warning was foreboding to her.

"Because," he pulled away a stray strand of hair from her eyes, "long ago they used to think that the Magic Knights were creatures of evil. They thought that they were there only to destroy what the world knew- what the people were comfortable with. They thought the Master Mage was a pure thing, the essence of Cephiro. It was like the sun and the moon, the dark and the light. They didn't want the Magic Knight, with tainted blood from earth, to stain the Master Mage."

"That's awful," she whispered, "we only did what we were called to do, what Emeraude…" her throat welled up.

"I know," he kissed her softly. "They know that too, that's why when I offered the position, no one objected. Little did you know it fair one, but there are at least twenty-five of the most powerful Mages in the world in there. None came to take my position and call upon Mokona for the transversal of power. No one thinks that we shouldn't be together."

She sighed heavily; she thought she felt an increased magic in the room. "I'm glad…"

"Me too," he answered as he looked down at her, "because as much as I love you, and as quickly as I would shed my staff for you, I don't think it would be quite the same."

She laughed and shook her head, "I'd say not."

I've never seen so much love in a man

When the guests began to leave the other four came onto the veranda to find Umi and Clef, lost in the night, safe, wrapped in each other's arms.

"Excuse me, Guru," Lantis said softly, and they turned and smiled at the others.


"We were wondering," Hikaru spoke up and there was a light of distress in her eyes so that all merriment twinkling in Clef's eyes left. "We were wondering if-if maybe…if it was maybe possible for you to, contact our families."

And Umi was thrown out of her dream world and into the reality where she would never see her parents again. What they thought…where she was? She turned to look at her lover, and Clef felt separated from the five in front of him, even distant from Umi. He was the only one with power enough to do this, all their hopes were lying on his shoulders. He sighed heavily, "Come with me, and I will try."

They walked through the ballroom and set their sights on Clef's study. They managed to get there without too many interruptions, but it was only when they were locked tightly inside that they were able to finally get down to business.

Clef summoned his staff to his hands and closed his eyes. He reached through the darkness of Cephiro, concentrating so hard that a sweat broke out on his face. He searched in the darkness throughout Cephiro until he found one tiny thread of magic. He grabbed it, and the others watched the bizarre scene. He was blindly searching to them, then he seized something that wasn't there and began to pry it open with his fingers. When it was big enough, he put his staff inside it, and they watched, amazed as it hovered in thin air and stayed there. It was as if he had put a stick inside the jaw of an alligator, and it was held open, but only for a short time.

Hikaru's house was in the center of all of the three girls, and she screamed in glee when she saw her three brothers in their dojo, pacing up and down, staring intently at the phone.

The image of their little sister appeared in front of them; she was surrounded by an assortment of other people all wearing odd clothes and three that were unfamiliar to them. They just stared, shocked. This was their Hikaru, but so deeply changed. The light had sprung back into her eyes, and she was wearing a spectacular dress.

"Maseru-san, could you please go and get mine and Umi-san's family?" Fuu asked politely, and he nodded and ran off to go and find the requested people.

"I'll go to Umi's!" Kakeru called after him, and they both ran out different doors.

Umi smiled warmly as Hikaru looked at her brother with love.

"Satoru, I know this is hard to understand," she realized suddenly just how hard this was going to be explain. "But…I-three years ago I came here, to Cephiro. It's full of magic and wonders, I wish I could explain in more detail. I came here that day I went to the Tokyo Tower with school. I'm a Magic Knight, a protectress of Cephiro. Then a year later, after our return home, I returned to Cephiro once more. I returned and fell in love, and we were fine. We all came every Sunday and life was good, but…then one day the portal closed. That was it, it was dried up, all the magic spent. That's when I started to get sad and stop eating. That's what it was Satoru. That's what kept us so down. But somehow the portal reopened, but it won't open again, at least not for a long while. So I can't come home, or I'll be sad again. You understand don't you?"

Satoru nodded numbly, and his eyes strayed to Lantis. Lantis stared calmly back, and Satoru motioned with a hand to Hikaru. His hand went through the image, and he jumped back.

Ferio laughed, and Fuu jabbed him in the ribs.

"This is Lantis, my fiancé," she used the word hesitantly, and his eyes grew wide.

"Oh," he said softly.

"He's the reason I can't leave," Hikaru said quieter still. "I love him very much."

"And I love her with all my heart," Lantis put a hand on Hikaru's shoulder, and Satoru nodded, solemnly.

"Don't expect Maseru and Kakeru to be so easy," he informed her, and she grinned.

"I didn't."

Rubies and Gold

Kakeru was the first to arrive, escorting Umi's parents, and slowly, a boy behind them. Umi's sharp intake of breath came at exactly the same time her parents did. The boy just stared with wide eyes.

Clef's concerned eyes fell onto Umi as she glared at the boy; hate seemed to flare up around her, and he noticed, around Hikaru and Fuu as well.

"Umi, honey, what's going on? Where are you?" Mrs. Ryuuzaki questioned, tears flooding to her eyes.

"Mom," Umi's eyes softened as she looked to the caring faces of her parents. "Dad," she smiled. "I'm in Cephiro, it's another world we came to when we were fifteen. We got shut out about a year and a half ago," her parents put it together, and she forged on, "but we got let back in. So I'm here again, but the portal won't reopen for us. I've chosen to live here, not because of anything you've done," she rushed to make them understand. "Because I've fallen in love…" she smiled at Clef, and the boy stepped forward.

"Umi, you…you've changed…" he said softly, and her eyes filled with hate once more.

"How dare you speak to her?" Hikaru challenged, stepping forward.

Kakeru's eyes filled with surprise as Satoru finished explaining, but he saw the immense change in his sister and stayed silent.

"It…I know why you'd be angry," he looked at Umi, "but really…I did care."

"You did care," Umi scoffed. "You did care, you treated me like all the others."

"Because…because they told me to. They told me you were nothing, they told me not to treat you with respect because you were just a game. I didn't know any better. As soon as I heard you were missing I came and spoke to your parents. I looked everywhere. I understand now why I didn't find you," his eyes were sincere, and Umi guessed that maybe he was. Still, she could never forgive him for what he had done. He had been her first; he had stolen her innocence and sent her deeper into her agony. He had thrown her out shortly after, saying she was terrible in bed and shut her out of his life. Learning he had done it because of peer pressure didn't make the pain it caused any less. She had been vulnerable, wanting only warmth, and he had taken advantage of that.

"I can't ever forgive you, but you look genuine enough, I wish you happiness," she said softly and turned to her parents. "Mom, dad, I love you, more than anything. I hope you understand."

"We do Umi-we…" Mrs. Ryuuzaki began to sob, and her husband consoled her. "I always said that you'd-you'd…f-find someone. I just didn't think-it'd-it'd be so-so soon. I can't believe you're leaving me so soon!"

"Mom," Umi reached out to her, but couldn't touch her. "I love you."

Her father smiled at her and nodded.

Clef took her hand and looked at Mr. Ryuuzaki, "I'll take care of her. As soon as I find a way to get her back to see you I swear to you she'll be there in an instant."

Her father looked at Clef for a moment, considering, and then smiled and nodded, "I trust you, though I don't know why. There's an understanding in your eyes that comes from age, though you only look a few years older than Umi…odd…"

"Maybe it's because he's seven…" Fuu jabbed Hikaru before she finished. "Ow," she muttered and glared at Fuu who smiled sweetly.

"Be safe, my daughter," Mr. Ryuuzaki said softly to Umi, and a tear streamed down her cheek as she nodded.

Star of my moonlight

Maseru and Kuu flew through the door of the dojo, closely followed by Mr. and Mrs. Hououji. Fuu's house was furthest from Hikaru's, and it seemed that they had sprinted to get there because Kuu was out of breath when she arrived.

"Kuu," Fuu's eyes lit up, and she let out an inner sigh.

"Fuu! What…is…going…on?" Fuu's mother screamed as she entered and walked up to the image.

"Fuu," Kuu smiled impishly as she looked at Ferio's arm that wrapped around Fuu's waist.

"Oh my God," Mrs. Hououji whispered as her eyes fell upon Fuu's wedding ring.

"Yeah…about that," Fuu bowed to her parents and then stood again. "You see…three years ago we came to a land called Cephiro to save its Princess, may she rest in peace. Well, I met Ferio and we fell in love. A year and a half ago, my grades failed and I became a daughter you didn't know. A year and a half ago, we were shut out of Cephiro and all of our connections were cut," their eyes held knowing. "Then, suddenly, I felt the magic back, and I ran to the Tokyo Tower. Time passes different here than it does in Cephiro. That was maybe two days ago for you, for us it has been two weeks. Ferio and I married a couple days ago, and I've chosen to stay here. I made this decision without your permission, I know, but my heart…" she didn't know how to explain. She had always relied on her head instead of her heart, this one time her emotions had overpowered, and she wasn't sure her parents would understand.

"Fuu, you don't need to explain yourself," her father said softly, and she looked at him in shock.

"You fell in love, we knew it would happen…eventually," her mother smiled sadly.

"You can…come back?" Kuu looked at her sister with fear in her eyes.

"Some day," Fuu smiled softly, and Kuu nodded and withdrew. She understood her sister better than she understood herself. This statement had not been a guarantee.

"I want you to be happy," Kuu said gently, and Fuu smiled.

"We love you Fuu," her mother told her quietly.

"I love you, my family," Fuu smiled brightly at them all.

Warmer than roses in spring

Maseru looked up at Hikaru and all three of her brothers stared at their much-changed sister.

"Be safe, little sis," Kakeru smiled brightly.

"You better take care of her," Maseru warned Lantis who nodded, a solemn promise.

"We will always love and miss you, but I'm glad that you've finally found the happiness you so much deserve. Always know you'll forever be in our hearts," Satoru's words made her smile, and her heart finally be at rest.

"As you will be in mine," Hikaru chorused and smiled. She put her hands through the string of magic, and the three came and grabbed them gently, before she pulled back through the portal.

Mr. Ryuuzaki had an arm wrapped around Mrs. Ryuuzaki as Umi smiled at them, and they nodded. "We love you," Mrs. Ryuuzaki whispered, and Umi offered a hand to each of the two. Mr. Ryuuzaki squeezed it reassuringly as Mrs. Ryuuzaki put it to her cheek and kissed her fingers before Umi too, pulled back through the portal.

"I love you too, I'm glad that we were able to speak again."

"Fuu, my daughter, gomen nasai, I never knew," her father looked at the ground, and Fuu reached through the portal and took his hand.

"I know Daddy, but it's only because I never told you." She then grabbed her mother's hands before wrapping all of her small fingers around Kuu's. "Kuu, my only wish for you is that you find love as strong and as pure as I have. I know you will, sayonara."

"Sayonara, aishiteiru, Fuu-chan," her family smiled, and Fuu bowed to them, her tiara sparkling in the magic, before Clef's staff clattered to the ground, and the portal was sealed again.

The kingdoms were sold to hold their beauty

The three girls all looked at one another before they ran to the safety of one another's arms. Umi looked over all of them and said softly, "They know, we can finally be at rest."

The other two nodded, and they parted, fleeing back to the arms of their lovers.

"Um…well…I think I'm going to go get some more of that fabulous cake, did you bake that Umi-chan?" Hikaru inquired after a long pause.

"Hai, just for you Hikaru," Umi winked as the two walked from the room.

"Will you escort me to the gardens Princess?" Ferio offered an arm, and Fuu laughed and nodded, taking the arm.

"I think that leaves us then," Clef looked around the room. He clapped, and they appeared by the shore.

Umi grinned and took his hand as they walked down the coast.


When Hikaru and Lantis arrived in the ballroom the decorations were still out but everyone had left. The music, that had been spelled by Clef, was still conveniently playing.

Lantis offered a hand, "A dance?"

Hikaru grinned and took his hand as he swept her onto the dance floor. She spun into his chest, and he stopped moving to look into her eyes, getting lost in them. He pulled a piece of hair from her eyes and kissed her nose. She giggled and reached up to kiss him gently. She still had to stand on her tiptoes, even in the high heels, and it made her laugh. "You're so tall," she commented, and he laughed, his black hair sweeping softly across his face.

"Yeah…I guess…" he pulled her into his arms, and spun her once more, getting back into the private dance.


He jumped onto the veranda and watched the two, unnoticed, just the way he wanted it. He smiled gently and nodded. Her mind was finally at rest, and he liked to think it had something to do with him. "Someday Fire Knight," he said softly, "someday I'll be able to come back here and face you. It's not today, and it might not be for awhile, but I will be able to come back and celebrate in your love. I am glad you finally found happiness though. I'm glad you found it with Lantis."

"Hey Eagle, you coming?" Zazu called from beneath him, and Eagle nodded and jumped down to meet Zazu and Geo who had the ship ready. As they flew past the palace, he sighed and looked toward the open skies. It was just what he needed, freedom. He couldn't have stayed tied up in there, maybe not even for her.


She leaned her head against his shoulder, then took his hand and led him onto the veranda. She looked into the sky, and he held her close to him. "He's up there," she said softly, and Lantis nodded. 'He,' did not need to be explained.

"Watching over you."

"Watching over us," Hikaru touched her ring and smiled.

"Us," Lantis agreed and kissed her softly, her hair was reflected in the moonlight.

Well, I'd sell my life anyway

They stopped at the fountain that gurgled over with water, and Fuu stared into it, thinking.

"What are you so deep in thought for?" Ferio inquired softly, and Fuu turned and looked at him.

"I was thinking how wonderful it is to be home again," she said quietly, "to be home and safe and in your arms."

"I've been thinking about that a lot lately too," he grinned and pulled her close to him. "How I'll never get tired of this feeling."

She put her head on his chest as his protective arms fell around her, "I've never felt this safe with anyone before."

"Nor have I, nor have I," he whispered into her hair and kissed her golden curls before they walked forward, his hand always close around her waist, her head leaning gently on his shoulder.


"I thought I'd never hold you again," Murai said softly into her brown hair while he thought she slept. "I thought that I hated the Magic Knights. Now, I see their true strength, the strength that lies in their compassion. Without them… I'm grateful," he kissed her hand as he brought it to his lips. "Very, grateful. I never would have lived without you Natsumi."

She grinned and pulled him down, kissing him passionately, "I feel the same."

He glared at her and hit her with his pillow, "You weren't supposed to be awake!" he shouted, and she laughed and grabbed his pillow back, smacking him back. She jumped from the bed, squealing, her white night gown flowing behind her as he chased her around the room; the pillow war had begun.

When their pillows had no more feathers and they had no more breath, Murai pulled her back onto the bed, and she made an official surrender. "Good," he sighed heavily and kissed her, "because I was tired of chasing you."

"In that case," she was about to stand, but he pulled her wrist, and she fell easily back down.


They stared into the moon, hands interlocked and then looked at one another, kissing softly before falling back into the silence that had engulfed them. Fuu smiled, she was his wife, and she was a Princess. Life couldn't get sweeter. After all her pain and suffering she was finally safe in his arms, his wife, that was forever. It was finally over; she would never suffer that way again. The same smiled crossed his lips, and they were contented.

Just to say I held their heart in my arms

She pulled him into a cave with a floor of sand near the rocky edge of the shore, where all could be heard was the crashing of the waves on the sand. Umi sat down on the edge of the cave, looking into the night sky, and Clef sat next to her. She moved into his lap and looked into his eyes, then reached up with a hand and pulled him down on top of her.

"Umi…I…" he started, but she put a finger to his lips and kissed her finger.

She moved her finger and met his lips, "Sh…" she said softly and pulled him close to her body, so they were inches from touching. Her hands pulled off his cape and armor and then ran under his shirt. This time, he didn't resist.

She slipped out of her dress and let him look her over for what she was before she pulled off his shirt and kissed his chest.

They lay down beside one another. That night was their ultimate declaration of love, and for the first time in her life, Umi felt warmth, and safety, and understood. She understood what it was to truly be loved, and knew she would feel that safety forever.

There's strength in my soul

"Thank you, for giving her to me," he looked to the small sleeping form in his arms. Her red hair fell across his hands as he ran his fingers through it. "Thank you for handing us our happiness. Eagle, I will forever be your debt…"


Their lips met briefly, no words were needed. All that had needed said had been said the minute they gave each other their lives. In that one moment all the words in the world were said. Now, all they needed was the touch and the safety. They were always safe with each other, they always had been. Now, the whole world knew it too, and neither of them would want it any other way.

"Good night, my Princess," he whispered and kissed her one last time before they drifted off into a deep, dreamless sleep, without fits or waking. Never again would they sleep alone, or lonely. Never again would they wake in fear or agitation. As long as they had each other, all was right with the world.


He pulled the covers up to her shoulders when she shivered slightly and ran a finger down her shoulders, kissing her forehead softly. He sat up for long hours, just staring at her peaceful slumber. He had never wanted anything, in his seven hundred and some odd years, never wanted anything but her, this. Now that it was finally here, he didn't plan to let it ever slip through his fingers again. He would protect her with everything he was. That was his promise to her, to be with her, to stand by her side, forever, and he would honor that with his life.

"My angel," he whispered softly and kissed her cheek. He pulled his hands away, but she reached out in her sleep and pulled them back, and he laughed softly and curled up beside her, finally falling asleep, not to be woken, for the first time in ages, by the sun.

Rubies and Gold

You are…

To me…

~Lyrics by Tori Amos

*Wow…I feel as if there's a lot to say. First off, I know it was kinda repetitive, but the words just kept coming, and I didn't really feel like editing it all out, so I just left it as is, and just checked for grammar. Second, I'M FINISHED! Third, I'm going to real quickly advertise a few authors and their stories. K? Good, um… Sayonara Aishiteiru by Silly*Niecy, Curator Three by Riru, and Devotions by Blue Angel Samui. If you haven't read them, you should, hold you over until I update my other stories or upload my new one ^.^.

Now, thank-you's, this might be long, but this story was long, so I figure you can stomach a little more.

Shazzam- you've been there with my stories since the beginning. Thanks so much for all the support ^.^

Zipp- the same goes for you; I don't know what I'd do without you guys. You were the ones that made me keep going.

Kaiya- Thanks for all the support, good luck with your current projects!

Yume-damo-shirinai- Are you going to update or what? Thanks, and I'll be waiting for another chapter!

E-chan Hidaka- Ahem…an update is in order…ahem…I've been waiting since *gasps* LAST YEAR?! Don't leave me hanging!

Lightbulb/Synthetic- That site, it's going up soon right? I have some original stuff for you if you're interested. Sh…don't let anything slip about our secret just yet…*laughs evilly*

Heaven Eyes- Where have you been? Thank you so much for all the help! Yes, my email service did stop working for two months!

Lilybunny- Thanks for the new light on Natsumi, that really developed the plot into something that was deeper than angst. Don't know what this story would have been without that twist.

Amarachan- Getting supportive reviews are always the light of my day!

Just a reader- Sorry to always keep you waiting with Hikaru being last. ^.^ Hope the ending was satisfactory

BlazingIcEph0eniX- Yes, I know the school year keeps me from updating. This *looks at bottom of screen* 34 page chapter makes up for it right?

Silly*Niecy- I'm glad I could help with HTML, and I loved your story. ^.^ Don't leave me hanging with fanart, and don't forget to keep in touch!

Blue Angel Samui- You are the best beta reader I have ever had. Don't be too upset with me if I use that to my advantage again, and don't be afraid to make me return the favor, don't know if I can be of any help though…heh…


Ascot fans everywhere- STAY TUNED!

Odd couple fans everywhere- STAY TUNED!*