Meant to Be
Kurogane was waiting outside of her rooms when Tomoyo returned to them shortly after talking to Fai. He was glaring at the ground as though it had mortally offended him. He spared his princess a glance as she approached.
"Souma told me you were wandering around on your own. We've told you before not to do that."
"Fai-san accompanied me to the building but I insisted I would be alright walking from the front door," Tomoyo smiled, but she frowned as Kurogane's expression told her that he hardly thought the mage adequate protection. "Come, Kurogane. I think we should talk."
"I'm not talking about him," he said flatly, folding his arms.
"That's alright. You have plenty of other things to tell me about, I'm sure." She led him into her private study and gestured for him to sit as she glanced through the day’s messages. There didn't seem to be anything of extreme importance so she sat and turned to her ninja. She was about to start asking him about his journey when he interrupted her.
"Why did you send me away? What did you think it would accomplish?" There was anger in his voice, as well as bitterness and pain, but Tomoyo did not regret her decision.
"I sent you away because you had many things to learn that Japan couldn't teach you."
Kurogane snorted his derision. "Like what?"
"Kurogane, you are a better man now, by a long way, than when you left. You still have too much anger, but you have more specific reasons for it rather than just being angry at the world in general. I suppose that's progress," she smiled but he didn't seem to share her amusement.
"It's been a long time," he said quietly.
"Were you lonely?" He didn't answer but Tomoyo could see the answer in his eyes and reached out to lay her hand on his, the huge difference in the size of their hands amusing her gently. "Even though you were with Syaoran-san and Princess Sakura - and Fai-san?" Again, there was only silence from her ninja but he was terrible at hiding his emotions from someone who knew him so well. He had missed his home world, even with the company of two adorable youths and his lover.
Tomoyo had known that being forced away from home - by his princess no less - would hurt him and make him worry about his usefulness to her but she had been left with no choice. Kurogane could not have grown as a person in Japan; the only thing he had was protecting her and killing anyone who tried to hurt her. He rarely left the castle grounds and associated closely only with herself and Souma. Sending him away was the best thing - the only thing - she could have done and she was glad she had. The change in him was wonderful, but there was still the stubbornness, the inability to show his feelings and to trust. She had hoped he would be able to be rid of all of these and become the best person he could be.
"Fai-san-" She started, but Kurogane interrupted without looking at her.
"I said I don't want to talk about him."
"Then what would you like to talk of?"
Tomoyo tutted and patted the hand she still held. "Ah, Kurogane, you've seen all of these wonderful worlds and you won't tell me of them?" He stayed silent and she smiled, standing. "Since you're guarding me, you can come with me and we'll go and get Fai-san - I'm sure he'll tell me-"
"Don't you dare," her ninja yelled and Tomoyo smiled tenderly at her short-tempered bodyguard. "Besides, you know about at least some of them," he said, frowning at her suspiciously.
"So I do," Tomoyo agreed, still smiling warmly. She guessed he realised she knew of the Dimensional Witch's world, and he knew she had been in contact with the other Tomoyo he had met.
"You don't need me to tell you about them then."
"I'd like to know, though," Tomoyo said, pushing him slightly. "Or if you won't tell me of the worlds, tell me of your companions - not Fai-san, if you don't wish to," she said quickly when he looked as though he was about to get angry once more. "Tell me about Princess Sakura," she said softly, her heart twisting slightly as she thought of her.
Kurogane rolled his eyes, annoyed. He knew her well enough to see that she liked Sakura, a lot. He might be uncomfortable with his own emotions but he was rather good at noticing the other people were feeling. "What about her?"
"I want to know everything," she said before she could stop herself and blushed.
"Go talk to her, then," he grumbled, but Tomoyo noticed the well-hidden concern in his eyes. "You do know she's in love with the kid, right?"
"I would have to be blind not to notice," Tomoyo smiled painfully.
"You're just like him," Kurogane muttered and Tomoyo raised her brows. It was obvious that he was referring to his blond travelling companion who seemed to be the master of the heart-breakingly painful smile. Could it be he would finally talk to her about Fai? He didn't say anything more and Tomoyo rested her hand on his broad shoulder.
"If you keep hurting him like this he'll leave and you will never see him again." The vivid pain was visible in the ninja's eyes for only a moment before he shut them. "Please, Kurogane. Please allow yourself to be happy. Even if you decide you don't want him to stay, stop being so cruel. Even if you don't love him, he loves you very much."
"I do-" Kurogane started before stopping, looking horrified that he had spoken aloud.
"I know," Tomoyo agreed. "But he's beginning to doubt it. You're hurting him and he seems to have had enough pain in his life already, don't you think?" Once again, he was silent and Tomoyo closed her eyes for a moment, feeling frustrated with him. "It's up to you, Kurogane," she said, sighing. "Nobody else can make this decision for you."
She stood and walked to the door before looking back at him. He was frowning but this time he looked deep in thought rather than angry.
"I'm going to go to bed. I'm holding a banquet tomorrow for our guests so I have a lot to organise. Think about things, Kurogane; you may not have long to make up your mind. Goodnight."
The next day at lunch, Syaoran finally emerged from the study, flushed with excitement. Sitting down with a scroll in his hand, he showed it to them. Sakura and Fai looked at it politely, not understanding the writing, but Tomoyo read over it, her eyes widening. There had been reports of a strong
"You think this could be because of the feather?" Tomoyo asked, looking up at Syaoran, who smiled widely and nodded.
"Yes. We've seen things like this happen before; a magical creature somehow gets hold of one of the feathers and it becomes powerful. It's our first lead, and the first report comes from just around when you said you sent Kurogane-san away."
"Then we'll sort out a guard for you to go to Hokkaido tomorrow. Between the castle mages and me, I'm sure we'll manage to get you up there." Syaoran looked so happy that he had finally found something that might help them find Sakura's feather that Tomoyo felt happy for him. The look of adoration he got from the other princess gave Tomoyo a twinge of jealousy but she soothed it. She had decided that, despite Fai's advice, she would not let Sakura know how she felt.
She was so wonderful. Soft brown hair with the sweet long locks at the front; large, expressive green eyes and temptingly lithe figure. Even more beautiful was her personality; never in her life had Tomoyo met someone so pure, so lovely or so sweet. Tomoyo had to focus on the remnants of her lunch. She was falling in love with her. After only days of knowing her, she felt more strongly for her than anyone else she had ever known. It hurt that she loved Syaoran, but Tomoyo knew that a relationship between herself and the other princess would never work; Sakura wanted to return to her own world and see her family and her people, and of course, she had Syaoran. He was her one true love, whether or not they realised it, and Tomoyo would make sure that they discovered and cherished their love.
That was what the feast tonight was for, of course. The situation would be perfect for quiet declarations of love; there would be romantic music, delicious food, wine and balconies to provide some privacy. Most of the people in the castle would be there, for everyone needed a boost of spirit, but mostly this party was for the sake of the travellers to sort out their relationships. Tomoyo hoped that they would make the best of it.
Standing, shadowed by Souma, Tomoyo bowed lightly to the travellers. "I have things to do to make sure everything goes as planned tonight, but please, make the most of the day - especially you, Syaoran. You've spent all of your time in the library so please take some time to relax. I'll have some people come and find you all when it's time to get ready but for now, enjoy yourselves."
Turning, Tomoyo saw Kurogane looking at Fai, not with anger this time - instead he looked confused. It seemed he didn't know what to do. His princess hoped he would make up his mind in time.
Making their way to the hall that would be used for the banquet, Souma spoke.
"Has Kurogane decided to stop being a fool?"
Tomoyo chuckled. "I'm not sure. At least he seems a little less angry at poor Fai-san."
"It's so obvious that they're in love and yet they both are being so childish about it. Kurogane shouldn't put his loyalty to you above his feelings for Fai-san. They're not mutually exclusive."
"Really, Souma?" Tomoyo smiled at her ninja. "And what of your feelings for Kendappa-ou?"
"Princess! That's different."
"To be with Kendappa is to be away from you."
Tomoyo shook her head. "You're creating obstacles where there aren't any. Now that Kurogane has returned you'll have more free time in which you can go and see Kendappa-ou. You can have a proper relationship."
"Princess..." Souma sounded so torn right then that Tomoyo stopped and turned to her. "I have two things that I wish for more than anything else in the world; to serve you and to be with Kendappa."
"And you can do both. When Kendappa-ou comes next week, speak to her. See what she thinks. Souma, you love her and she loves you. Like you said, you cannot put loyalty to me above your feelings for Kendappa-ou." Souma frowned at having her words thrown back in her face. Tomoyo reached out to squeeze her arm gently. "Love is such a strange thing, isn't it? It's so pure and yet it can make things so difficult."
Souma nodded her agreement as they entered the hall. The feast tonight, at least, seemed as though it would go well. Last minute touches were being put into place but the decorations were almost all finished. Pretty vines wound their way around pillars; blossoms decorated the table which was being set up for a delicious eight course meal. The musicians would arrive shortly for rehearsal and fresh candles were being brought in for the evening.
"Perfect," Tomoyo smiled, turning to Souma. "Everything seems to be in place; let us hope that our guests use the opportunity well."
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