Meant to Be
It was discovered that Syaoran could read the language of the country of Japan and for the past four days he had been pouring over the recent communications from around the empire. From what Tomoyo had heard, he didn't seem to have found anything out; though she would admit it to no-one, she was glad that the feather hadn't been found quickly.
Princess Sakura was wonderful. She lit up Tomoyo's court as no other visitor had, charming everyone she met effortlessly and completely, yet she was so innocent that she did not even realise she was doing it. She was like no-one Tomoyo had ever met and she delighted her.
Today they were visiting a garden in the castle, a place Tomoyo came when things were getting to be too much.
"This is purported to be one of the finest gardens in the whole of the Empire," Tomoyo told Sakura as they walked its scented paths in the twilight, their journey lit by candles in lanterns. "It used to be open so that whoever wished to enjoy its beauty could come here. I'm sad to say that my country has fallen on rather hard times so that the castle has had to be closed to the public."
"That's a shame," Sakura said, taking a blossom gently in her hand to appreciate its elegance. She smiled gently before her eyes flicked to Tomoyo and when she saw that the Japanese princess was gazing at her she looked away, blushing. "People should be able to see something as beautiful as this - especially when times are difficult. Beauty can make all the bad things seem to disapear."
"That's very true," agreed Tomoyo, smiling. Sakura's precense had certainly made Tomoyo feel better. Looking away, her smile turned a little sad. It was foolish of her to feel this way about somone who was just passing through her kingdom; who was going not just to another country but to another world. More so, Sakura was in love with Syaoran; they might be stumbling gracelessly around the concept, but their love was obvious and inevitable. Tomoyo was not blind; she knew that they were soulmates, but she could not help the way she felt. Stifling a sigh, she told Sakura of the history of the gardens as they walked on and determined not to let her know of her feelings for her.
"Would you like more help?"
Syaoran looked up from his reading, startled by Princess Tomoyo's question.
"No; you've already got two scholars to help me. I can't ask anything more."
"Don't be silly. If there's anything else that can help you, just say."
"No, Princess. But thank you."
Tomoyo couldn't help smiling. He really was quite sweet, and his determination was admirable. She had never seen anything like it - once he had set his mind to something, he was focused completely and utterly on it, never for a moment swaying from the path he had chosen to follow. Even when he was supposed to be relaxing, he was thinking about Sakura's feather; Tomoyo would not have been surprised if he searched for it even in his dreams.
"Have you told Princess Sakura that you love her?" Tomoyo asked suddenly, needing to know the answer.
Syaoran stared over at her, speechless for a moment as a deep blush spread over his cheeks. Unable to voice his answer, he shook his head.
"You should tell her." Tomoyo might have wanted to be able to have Sakura all to herself, but she could see that the other Princess returned Syaoran's feelings. If that was what would make her happy, then Tomoyo would do whatever she could to make them both see it. Sakura's happiness was her happiness.
Still blushing, Syaoran looked a little lost. "I'm not worthy of her," he said softly, and the outrageousness of the confession made Tomoyo laugh out loud. Her laughter abated when the boy gave her a hurt look but she continued to smile.
"That is possibly the silliest thing I've ever heard. You have travelled through many worlds in order to return her memories to her, putting yourself at risk many times to ensure this. You are more than worthy of her."
"If she will have me," Syaoran answered, looking unsure.
"You won't know unless you tell her. She deserves to know, Syaoran-san." He was still frowning down at the scroll in front of him, not paying attention to it. Tomoyo smiled. If she could not be with Sakura herself, she would at least make sure that she was with the person she loved. It looked like a little matchmaking was in order. "I'm organising a feast tomorrow night. There will be food, and music... It would be a good time to tell her."
He looked seriously over at Tomoyo. "Do you think I should? My price to travel between worlds was to have Sakura forget our past together..."
"I know. Fai-san told me. But, just because she can't remember your shared past does not mean you cannot have a future together." She laid a hand on his shoulder. "Tell her. Give her the chance to make up her own mind; she deserves that much, at least."
"You're right," he nodded decisively, still frowning. "I should tell her. And I still need to find her feather."
"Yes," Tomoyo agreed, smiling as he threw himself back into his reading. "Good luck, Syaoran," she said as she turned to leave. In the corridor outside, she found Kurogane lurking.
"Souma said you'd wandered off," he grunted. "She's worried."
"I'm old enough to look after myself, Kurogane," she chided softly, but smiled. "It just so happens that I was about to come and look for you. Come with me."
Leading the way, she took him to her tea chambers and let the maids prepare tea for both of them before dismissing them and looking at her ninja seriously.
He was looking moodily down at the cup, his mind obviously elsewhere. Tomoyo had never seen him like this, in all her years of knowing him, and she could guess who his thoughts were focused on.
"Are you thinking about Fai-san?" She asked, her lips curving at his startled reaction.
"Why would I be doing that?" He practically spat, his features settling into their familiar scowl.
"Why would you, indeed?" Tomoyo asked, subtly prompting him to tell her about their relationship. There was silence. It seemed that in his absence, she had forgotten that subtlty was lost on him. "What is he to you?"
This time he kept his features carefully arranged in their scowling expression. "He shouldn't be anything."
Kurogane looked at her. "Because my duty is to protect you. No-one and nothing else should be important to me."
Tomoyo sipped her tea and then cocked her head as she appraised him. "I don't remember ever saying that."
"It's the truth."
"I disagree." There was a long pause. "Kurogane, do you know why I sent you away?" The was another pause as Tomoyo waited for an answer she did not get. "I sent you away because I wanted you to know that there was more to life than fighting, more important things than physical strength. I know you care about me because I am the object of your protection, but I wanted to to care for other people as well. It's nothing to be ashamed of that you do." He still gave her nothing to work with and she sighed. "You care about Syaoran-san and Princess Sakura in the same way you care about me; you want to protect them. But Fai-san-"
"He means nothing!" Kurogane hissed and Tomoyo was taken aback by his desperate vehmence. "He should mean nothing. It's a weakness and it will lead to nothing but pain."
"You can't believe that," Tomoyo said softly.
"It's true." Kurogane drained his cup and stood. "I'll tell Souma that you're here."
Tomoyo watched him go silently. She had hoped that he would learn that love was true strength and though it seemed he had fallen in love, he still equated it with weakness. Shaking her head sadly, she hoped that he would change his mind.
Dinner that night was decidedly uncomfortable. Kurogane was sitting in a corner, refusing to look at anyone, stabbing viciously at his food. Fai, who had struggled with his chopsticks, had excused himself after only a few moments, no doubt made uncomfortable by the dark, angry glares Kurogane was aiming at his back. Syaoran hadn't appeared at all as he was still engrossed in his reading and Tomoyo had some food sent up to him.
That left only Sakura and Souma as possible conversation partners, and Souma was frowing over at Kurogane.
"Is it very different from Japan in Clow country?" Tomoyo asked, deciding to try conversing with the Princess.
"Mmm," agreed Sakura. "Clow country is in the desert. We only have a little land that we can grow food on, but we care for it well. My brother is a good king and our people are happy." She smiled. "I'll be glad when I finally get to see him again."
"You miss him?"
"Oh, yes. And the High Priest, too - Yukito. He's my brother's best friend and he looked after me a lot when I was growing up. All of the people in Clow are so nice. I can't wait to get all my memories back and go home."
Tomoyo looked away. She knew she was being silly but she felt almost jealous.
"I wish there was a way we could keep in touch, though, Tomoyo-chan."
Staring over at Sakura, Tomoyo saw nothing but honest friendliness in her eyes and smiled at her.
"Perhaps we can think of a way."
They finished their meal and Tomoyo suggested a walk to help their dinner settle. Not unexpectedly, Kurogane declined and stalked off, but Sakura agreed and they set off to wander the castle grounds, Souma following them silently.
It was a lovely night and the sky was clear overhead. The stars shone like a thousand pale petals on blue velvet and the moon was high and full. The scent of the flowers of late spring hung in the air; it was a very romantic night.
The two princesses talked for a long time, about things ranging from their childhoods to their favourite foods and their families.
"You know," Sakura said, smiling shyly over at Tomoyo. "I feel as though I've known you all my life. Isn't that strange?"
"I feel the same way," Tomoyo beamed at her. "It is strange - but it's nice."
Sakura nodded, gazing up at the stars. "I'd like to be your friend." She glanced shyly over at the Princess of Japan. "I mean, I already think of you as a friend, but after I leave here I'd like to still think of you like that." She paused, looking troubled. "I'm not making any sense..."
"No, I understand," Tomoyo said, catching Sakura's hand, the gentle touch sending shudders through her. "You want to be friends, no matter what. I'd like that, too."
Sakura gave another of her stunning smiles, though it was interrupted by a yawn. "Oh! I'm sorry."
"Not at all. It's getting late. You should to to bed." Tomoyo herself did not feel tired yet and the sight of a slender blond leaning on the fence out near the lake gave her the next target for her matchmaking. "Would you take Princess Sakura back to her rooms, Souma?"
The ninja frowned, looking unwilling to leave her princess alone but when Tomoyo gestured to Fai, she nodded her understanding and led Sakura away. It looked as though Souma too had seen the strained relationship between her fellow ninja and this mage from another world.
"Good evening, Fai-san," Tomoyo said as she approached. The smile on Fai's face greeted her but it was far from happy.
"Good evening, Princess Tomoyo."
"Weren't you hungry?" She asked, referring to his earlier defection at the dinner table.
"Not especially. I find it hard to use chopsticks. Kuro-sama used to help me-" He stopped himself and quickly hid his pain with another smile. Tomoyo decided it was a little early in the conversation to comment on this.
"You should eat more; you're far too thin."
He shrugged. "I always have been. I burn energy quickly."
"Magicians tend to do that, even ones who don't use their powers," Tomoyo said, making sure her voice was easy, but even so she noticed Fai tense a little. It seemed as though magic was another of the topics to avoid around him. Wondering what else should be avoided around this mysterious man, she chose to be silent and let him choose the next topic.
"It is very beautiful here," he said quietly. "Even though your country suffers from attacks by magical creatures and you yourself are the target of numerous assassination attempts, the castle is so peaceful. Even in peacetime, the castle back home was never as lovely as this."
"Thank you," Tomoyo said, deciding it was time to try and talk to him about her ninja. "You are welcome to stay, if you wish, when Sakura's feather is found and they move on."
Fai's smile became a little more painful. "You may welcome me, but I don't think others feel the same way."
"You're talking about Kurogane." Fai said nothing so Tomoyo tried to gently prod him, feeling it was safer to try and get him to talk than Kurogane. "Don't you think he'd be happy for you to stay?"
"I don't know what he thinks. He hasn't spoken to me since we got here." It was faint, but Tomoyo could sense the hurt and resentment in his words.
"What is he to you, Fai-san?"
"Too much," he admitted, closing his eyes, still smiling painfully.
Tomoyo smiled, touching his arm gently. "All four of you are fools," she told him. "Princess Sakura and Syaoran-san haven't told each other how they feel and you and Kurogane avoid each other rather than try and sort out what you will do when the time comes to leave or stay."
"And what of you, Princess?" Fai said, glancing sideways at her. "We may be foolish, but you have to include yourself with us. You won't tell Sakura how you feel." Tomoyo stared at him, absolutely astonished. "Sakura-chan won't notice; she hasn't noticed Syaoran fawning over her for eighteen months."
"I'm not sure about that," Tomoyo said, trying to regain her composure. Fai smiled more sincerly.
"Don't worry; I won't interfere. Syaoran-kun and Sakura-chan are meant to be togehter - I think you've noticed that as well." He paused. "It must hurt."
"Yes," Tomoyo said simply. "But seeing the people I care about happy makes me happy. That includes Sakura - and Kurogane. He's like a brother to me and I think you could make him happy."
"I think he disagrees."
"Tell me, Fai-san, because he won't. What is the relationship between you?"
Fai looked silently out at the water for a long time, only the faintest smile on his lips. "I love him," he said eventually. "He told me he feels the same. But-"
"But he's hurting you," Tomoyo said, frowning. "He has never been comfortable with his feelings."
"Maybe he's just realised that his feelings aren't what he thought," Fai whispered, bitterness in every word.
"No," Tomoyo said simply. "I don't believe that. I sent him away to find the strength to be found in love, and he met you. There must be a reason for that."
Fai didn't say anything, just looked out at the water without even the trace of a smile.
"Whatever he feels, he doesn't have the right to hurt you like this," Tomoyo said. "I'll speak with him."
"You don't have to-"
Tomoyo held up a hand. "I do. I cannot allow him to continue hurting you. He was lucky enough to find you and I can't let him throw what he has with you away - which he might be stupid enough to do. Love is the most precious thing in any world and you cannot let silly things like pride and the danger of being hurt get in the way."
"Thank you, Tomoyo-chan," Fai said softly. "And maybe you should listen to yourself. Sakura-chan may not return your feelings, but it's worth the risk."
Feeling humbled, Tomoyo bowed slightly to him. "You're right, Fai-san. Thank you. Good night."
"Good night, Princess."
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