Card Captor Sakura Fan Fiction ❯ A Pact Of Love ❯ Chapter 1 ( Chapter 1 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
CHAPTER 1: THE PROPOSAL
“Sakura-hime! Sakura-hime! Where are you? Kinomoto-sama is looking for you!”
The serene atmosphere that hung over the majestic castle of the Kinomoto Kingdom was shattered as the frantic cry of a young maiden slit through the air.
A twenty-one year old fille was seen running frenziedly through the gardens, panting but never stopping. Her long waist-length wavy purplish black hair was let loose and whipped around her as she tore through the rose bushes. The ends of her pale lavender kimono got snagged in the thorns but she dismissed the damage. She was bare-footed and her soft feet padded the lawns. The tenders in the garden waved at her but she paid them no heed as she entered the large greenhouse.
“Oh dear! Where did she run off to now? Kinomoto-sama must have something important to tell her. She's always disappearing like this.” Her elegant eyebrows scrunched up in worry. Her beautiful amethyst eyes scanned the glass room and clouded over in despair when they did not find their target.
“Tomoyo-chan? What are you doing over here?”
The aforementioned maiden, Tomoyo, whipped around to meet the warm brown eyes of an equally young lady who was watering the begonias. She wore a pale green apron over her gardening dress. Her pretty little face portrayed confusion.
“Sayuri-chan! I am looking for the Princess. Please, do you know where she is? Kinomoto-sama is looking for her, no doubt to say something important and I came to call her, but now I can't find her anywhere. I searched all over the castle and the gardens too but to no avail. What do I do? Do you know what happened to her? Oh god, what if she got kidnapped?! The king will have my head! Oh what do I do!?”
Sayuri smiled and shook her head, her wavy brown hair swinging in rhythm. “Tomoyo-chan, calm down. You are just blabbering nonsense because of your worry. How can she be kidnapped when the castle is so tightly protected? Seriously, your imagination runs wild sometimes. I am sure she's around here somewhere. Have you checked the cherry blossom grove? She usually spends her time there ne?”
Tomoyo's eyes widened. “Of course! How could I have over-looked that place! My head is saved after all. Thank you Sayuri-chan.”
Sayuri chuckled as she watched her friend take off, her long kimono sleeves flapping behind her.
Tomoyo ran through the gardens once again into the grove. She knew there was someplace she had missed in her frantic search. As she neared the place where the cherry blossom trees grew, she heard a soft melodious voice singing softly.
In the small clearing at the middle of the grove, sat a young woman with her back against a cherry blossom trunk. The Sakura petals flew around her as she sat in all blissful serenity. The wind picked at her long waist-length reddish-auburn hair, blowing the bangs that fell onto her face hither and thither. Her porcelain face was turned upwards, her eyes closed. The soft pink buds of the small cavern on her face were parted as a mellisonant song issued from them. Her delicate fingers were clasped together on her lap and her legs were tucked beneath her. The cherry blossom printed white kimono that she wore spread like a halo around her. Her whole appearance defined the beauty of a goddess. `The cherry blossom princess', she was called. Her very face portrayed gentleness and peace. Wherever she went, she left a trail of happiness with her sweet nature. An innocent flower, whose fragrance brought others to a new light.
The singing abruptly stopped as the princess turned to look at her beckoner. Her brilliant emerald-jade eyes sparkled as she saw her second cousin/lady-in-waiting running towards her.
“Tomoyo-chan! Were you looking for me?”
Tomoyo stopped to catch her breath. “Hai.” She panted. “I've been looking all over for you princess.”
Sakura frowned. “Tomoyo, I told you not to call me princess. At least don't do so when we are alone. Onegai.”
“Hai. Gomen, I forgot. But Sakura-chan, your father has been looking for you! And I couldn't find you anywhere. I totally forgot about looking here. It was Sayuri-chan who suggested that you might be here. Why do you keep running off like this whenever you get a chance? Do you know how much you worried me? I thought you got kidnapped or something!” Tomoyo scolded lightly.
Sakura laughed melodiously. “Oh Tomoyo-chan, you have the wildest imagination. Gomen, I didn't know you were worried. I like coming here. I feel so bored inside the palace sometimes. Besides, it's so nice out here. I feel so calm and refreshed when I come here.”
Tomoyo's eyes softened. “I understand Sakura-chan. But next time, tell me when you run off okay? Now then, let's head back. Kinomoto-sama has something important to tell you and we should not keep him waiting.” She helped Sakura to her feet and dusted her kimono.
Sakura groaned. “Tomoyo, I can do it on my own. Why do you always do that? You make me seem so small.” She pouted.
Kinomoto Fujitaka paced inside the library, his brown eyes far off in deep thought.
The Duke's party was to be held that evening at around five and his son still had not returned from his trip. Fujitaka sighed. It was already two in the afternoon. They had only three more hours left. Sakura would have to be by his side till the young prince returned.
He paused in his gait as he reached the large glass-painted windows and looked out towards the garden. Spring had smiled upon his kingdom and the garden looked like a multicoloured blanket spread wide. Rows and rows of flowers of all sorts—lily of the valley, amaranths, chrysanthemums, larkspurs, roses, peonies, petunias and loads more—stood in full bloom, their bright colours and fragrances attracting bees and butterflies alike. In the middle of the garden stood a majestic circular fountain, shaped like a mermaid on top of a rock with a pitcher in her hand, from which crystalline water poured back into the pool. Four smaller fountains arose around her.
To the left of the fountain, a few feet away from the main garden, an entire acre of Nadeshiko flowers stood in their grandeur, despite the hour of the day. And to the right was another acre dedicated to the cherry blossom grove. Fujitaka smiled as he looked at the flowers, the Nadeshikos and Sakuras being his favourites. His wife had always loved those flowers.
He sighed again as he ran a hand through his slightly grayish auburn hair. He retraced his steps to the mahogany table and settling himself on the comfy armchair, picked up his discarded book, engrossing himself in its pages. Almost immediately he was beckoned from his stupor by a soft voice.
“Kinomoto-sama, she's here.”
Fujitaka looked up to see his favourite cousin and his lovely daughter standing at the doorway. He smiled.
“Ah! I see you found her at last Tomoyo. I was thinking we may have had to send a search party outside to assist you.” He said, his eyes twinkling with suppressed mirth.
Tomoyo blushed bright as Sakura giggled. “Gomen nasai oosama. I overlooked the grove. Sorry for keeping you waiting.” She bowed.
Fujitaka chuckled pleasantly. “Don't worry your pretty little head about it Tomoyo-chan. I merely wanted to tell Sakura to get ready for the party soon.” He turned towards his daughter. “We will be leaving together early since your brother is running a little late.”
Sakura looked worried. “Do you think he's alright Otou-san? I hope he did not have any trouble on his way back.”
Fujitaka smiled warmly. “Don't worry Hime. He will be fine. You should get ready now. I heard that Tanaka-kun would be there too.”
This time it was Sakura's turn to blush as Tomoyo exclaimed. “Kenichi-kun will be there? Kami-sama! We don't have much time Sakura-chan! We must hurry if we want to impress him!” she dragged a blushing Sakura out of the library. “I'll have her ready in a jiffy Kinomoto-sama.” She yelled over her shoulder.
“Itai! Tomoyo-chan you poked me!”
“Well if you had stopped squirming when I told you to it wouldn't have happened now, would it?”
The maids in Sakura's bedroom stifled theirs giggles as they heard their young mistress being `tortured' by her best friend. Tomoyo had already made it clear that no one was to enter the dressing chamber until she called for them. Being Sakura's lady-in-waiting, she took the courtesy of making her dresses and other accessories. Tomoyo was the palace's dress designer and Sakura, her model.
“All done! Gather around everyone! I want your opinion on this one.”
Tomoyo came out first, wearing a long purple gown that complimented her eyes.
The gown was off-shoulder and had short transparent sleeves.
A sash of deeper purple adorned her waist and ended on her right hip with a large bow. The front of the gown was plain except for some pink and lilac flowers sewn over her left bosom. The back dipped slightly towards her lower hip. The dress clung slightly to her waist but flowed freely from her hip to her feet, which sported purple Cinderella shoes. White stones were placed over the flowers and scattered randomly on the lower part of her dress.
She wore a simple necklace with amethyst stones and amethyst teardrop earrings.
Her long hair was braided into two and folded up to form a bun at the base of her neck. She put them in place with a small clip with a peach blossom carved in the middle. A little blush, lilac eye shadow and lip gloss accentuated her facial features.
“Oh! Daidouji-san! You look simply marvelous!”
The maids rushed over to her side.
Tomoyo smiled warmly at them. “Thank you. But I am not the star of tonight's show. Everyone, make way for the princess.” She opened the door wider to reveal a blushing Sakura in a stunning white gown.
The gown was milky white and made of the finest silk. Spaghetti straps held it to place on her dainty shoulders. Fabric Sakura flowers, with leaves, were sewn onto the base of the straps.
The gown was entirely plain. A wider emerald green sash went over the waist area, but instead of at the hip, it formed a large bow at the back, its remaining ends flowing down.
Sakura's dress too flowed down to her feet, with more cherry blossom designs sewn at the hem. The back was not too deep but enough.
Her hair was put up in a bun on top of her head, small ringlets and her bangs framing her face.
She wore a necklace with a single large emerald pendant. Her earlobes spotted emerald gems. Her feet adorned shoes like Tomoyo's but white. She wore no blush since it was naturally on her, but had on some lip gloss and light green eye shadow with mascara that brought out the green in her eyes.
“Sakura-hime! You look absolutely stunning! Daidouji-san has done a great job on this one.” A blonde maid quipped.
“You will make all the men in the ballroom trip over their own feet.” A brunette giggled.
Sakura blushed and smiled. “Thank you Manami, Kimiko. But I must thank Tomoyo-chan. She was the one who did all this.”
Tomoyo waved her hand dismissively. “Think nothing of it Princess. After all, I'll get my satisfaction when I see Tanaka-san's jaw dropping when he looks at you.” She laughed along with the other maids as Sakura's face when tomato red.
The two maidens rushed downstairs to the waiting King.
Fujitaka was wearing a royal navy blue suit with the Kinomoto Kingdom emblem sewn onto the coat pocket. He smiled at his daughter and niece as the butler handed him his coat. Soon they were settled inside their horse-driven carriage and making their way to the Duke's castle.
“I don't understand one thing.” Sakura said, drawing attention to her. “Why do we have to go to the ball in gowns? I thought it was a traditional ball. Doesn't that mean we can go in our traditional kimonos?”
“Well, the Duke is from England on visiting and what he meant by `traditional' was that everyone was to wear gowns and tuxedos. You know that's what people normally wear to formal balls in England. Besides, rulers from all over the world will be attending this annual ball. So when they wear uniform dresses it shows unity, even if it's of a different tradition.” Tomoyo explained.
“I see.” Sakura said. “But I still prefer kimonos.”
Fujitaka observed the exchange with a smile on his face.
Soon they were riding up the driveway of the Duke's castle. The Duke Earnshaw also acted as the British ambassador for Japan so he had a castle in Tokyo. It was for this reason that he held the annual ball in Japan occasionally.
As they got down from the carriage, they were greeted heartily by the Duke and his wife at the entrance.
“King Fujitaka, wonderful to see you again.” The Duke boomed as his wife smiled at them. “And Princess Sakura and Lady Tomoyo too. You both look gorgeous. Please let my wife assist you to the lady's section. I will see to the King.”
“Go ahead.” Fujitaka said. The two girls smiled at him before following the Duchess.
“I am guessing that Prince Touya is running late?” Earnshaw said.
“Yes. A little.” Fujitaka replied. “He will arrive in no time though, Yukito is with him.”
“That's good. Let's head in then, shall we?”
Sakura was having a wonderful time when she heard someone call her name.
“Sakura-hime, may I have this dance?”
She turned around to meet warm blue eyes. A handsome young knight stood in front of her, his hand extended. His thick blonde hair was neatly parted to one side. He wore a black tuxedo with the symbol of a knight sewn onto its pocket. Sakura blushed as he smiled warmly at her, a dimple forming on his left cheek.
“Kenichi-kun! You came.”
Kenichi's smile widened. “Of course I did. I wouldn't waste this chance to see you Princess.”
Sakura, if possible, blushed even harder.
Tomoyo chuckled and gently gave her a push. “Go ahead Princess. I will be in the lady's section with Keiko-san if you need me.” She went of with a brunette, both giggling, leaving the young lovers to themselves.
Sakura extended her hand and Kenichi lead her to the dance floor.
The music was soft and melodious and she couldn't help but get lost in it. Kenichi held her at the waist gently as she rested her head on his chest. She heaved a contented sigh. This was what it felt to be with the one she loved. She knew that Kenichi was the right man for her and that he felt the same way about her. She smiled contently as the song came to a climax. Kenichi lifted her chin to look at her emerald eyes.
“Would you like to come with me to the gardens Sakura-chan? It's a bit crowded in here. Besides, the flowers look lovely in the moonlight”? He asked.
Sakura nodded and the two left the ball room into the gardens.
Kenichi was right. The moonlight brought an enthralling beauty in the jardin.
Sakura smiled in awe as they walked among the sleeping flowers. Even at night the garden looked lovely, perhaps lovelier than it looked during the day.
Kenichi led her to a small podium in the middle of the garden. It was circular, surrounded by four pillars and a roof on top. Flowering creepers were twined around the pillars.
Sakura looked up at the moon; it's gently rays gracing her flawless face. Kenichi brushed her bangs aside and she looked at him.
“You look beautiful Sakura.” He whispered.
Sakura blushed as she looked into his eyes. They were swirling with emotions and she was lost in them. He placed his hand on her cheek and she leaned into her touch.
“I am glad you came today Sakura. I've missed seeing you so much.” He said. “Kaname-sama always had me lead the army for war and I never had time for you. I feel guilty for not spending time with you.”
“It's alright Kenichi-kun. I understand.” She whispered back.
He took her hand and kissed it. “I am in no position to be tied down right now. But when the time comes, I will come to you. I want to be with you forever, my love.”
Sakura sighed in pure bliss. “I would love that.”
He cupped her cheek. “I love you, my cherry blossom.”
King Fujitaka was standing next to the dance floor, sipping his wine and looking at the swaying couples, lost in thought. He snapped out of it when he heard a soft yet strong voice call out.
Fujitaka whirled around to look at his signaler.
A tall woman wearing a blood red gown met his eyes. Her sleek shiny black hair was put up in a bun with a few wisps hanging out. Her countenance had very little make-up on. Her ruby red lips were set up in a polite smile.
She stood with her back straight, proud yet elegant. Her onyx eyes shone as she held out her hand for him. He smiled.
“Queen Yelan Li. How very nice to meet you.” He took her extended hand a placed a small kiss on it. “Would you like me to find us a seat?”
Yelan shook her head. “That won't be necessary. I have already booked one near the food table. If you will.” She led him to their table and sat down. He followed suit.
They reached their destination and Fujitaka pulled her chair for her. Yelan smiled in thanks and sat down. He followed suit.
Fujitaka took a sip out of his wine and put in down. “To what do I owe this pleasant meeting Li-san?”
Yelan looked at him but didn't say anything.
Finally, she spoke. “Kinomoto-san, you know about the threat that our countries are facing right now, don't you?”
When Fujitaka nodded she continued. “The Hyuuga kingdom and Hayato kingdom have joined forces. We both know how Hyuuga Kaname is when it comes to power. He will stop at nothing to gain it. He has already conquered the northern province of China. Under their joined forces, my army cannot sustain much longer. I know that after China, they will be after Japan. They already have their eyes on Osaka. Although I am the ruler of China, I feel this is my responsibility. Besides, Hokkaido is my province. I cannot let them have that as well.”
Fujitaka listened to what she said.
He knew that China was being invaded by Hyuuga's army. Now that he is allied with Hayato Gorou, his army strength has increased.
It would only be a matter of time before he comes after Tokyo. Originated in east Japan, the Hyuuga kingdom had always been at war with the Kinomoto and Li kingdoms.
“So what do you propose? That we join forces as well?” he asked.
Yelan sipped her wine. “That is what I plan. It would keep us well prepared, in case they launch an attack.” She looked him in the eye. “And this will also help us overcome our own differences.”
Fujitaka pondered over it.
Kinomoto kingdom and Li kingdom have not exactly been the best of friends. After the capture of Hokkaido by the Li Empire, both the countries were at a cold war.
He wanted it to end. He had always wanted to install friendship with them. The Lis were a powerful clan. Having them as enemies was not his cup of tea.
But if they were to join forces now, it would raise suspicions. He couldn't help but think that something was amiss.
“Let's say that I agree to your proposal Li-san. On what basis will we build this relation? We cannot shake hands just like that. I am sure you know. I am also sure that you have something in mind.” He said.
Fujitaka could not get much sleep the previous night.
He had lain on his bed, pondering over Yelan's proposal. He had agreed to it on the spot and now he was worried about breaking it to his children, especially to Sakura.
He knew that she would understand but he would be lying if he said that she would not be hurt.
Still, it was for the sake of the country. Who knows, maybe everything will work out in the end.
He sat down in the throne room, his hand on his chin. Touya had come to the ball late yesterday with Yukito. They had left early too as they were tired. He was waiting for them, Sakura and Tomoyo to finish breakfast. He wanted to break the news in front of every one so that no one would be left out.
“You look pale Fujitaka-sama. Are you worried about the news?” a soft voice caught his attention.
A tall woman dressed in plum red regal kimono looked at him, her amethyst eyes showing worry.
Daidouji Sonomi, Tomoyo's mother, was Nadeshiko's first cousin. She was also her lady in waiting while Nadeshiko was alive. Now she was the Royal Adviser.
Fujitaka smiled at her. “Yes Sonomi-san. I am a bit worried about the outcome. You know how Sakura feels about Tanaka-kun. This agreement could affect her badly. Still, this is necessary for our country. I am sure she will understand. But...” he trailed off.
“She will understand. I am sure. Maybe she will be sad at first, but she always cares for others. This agreement is inevitable. This is her duty. So she will understand. Please don't worry about it Fujitaka-sama.” A tall silver haired man addressed him.
Tsukishiro Sasuke, Yukito's father, was the General of the Kinomoto army. He and Fujitaka were childhood friends, just like Touya and Yukito were now.
Fujitaka nodded. “You are right Sasuke-san. I just hope Touya will take the news well too.”
“Take what well?” a voice rang into the throne room.
A young man of twenty-nine entered the chamber.
His dark black hair was messy and his chocolate brown eyes portrayed strength and vigilance.
Kinomoto Touya looked like his father, except for his dark hair, which ne got from his mother.
Next to him stood a beautiful young woman, her red hair falling down in waves onto her shoulders, her kind blue eyes twinkling. Her hands were placed protectively onto the negligible bulge in her stomach.
Kinomoto Mizuki Kaho, wife of Touya, was three months pregnant with their first child. She was the best daughter-in-law Fujitaka could ever have.
Behind the couple stood a young man of Touya's age, with grayish-black hair and silver blue eyes. Tsukishiro Yukito, captain of the Kinomoto kingdom and Touya's long time best friend. Next to him stood Sakura and Tomoyo.
“Ah good. All of you are here. Well let's get started then, shall we? Please take your seat everyone.” Fujitaka said.
After everyone had settled down, Fujitaka took a deep breath and said “I had a meeting with Queen Yelan of the Li kingdom. She made a proposal about us becoming allied with them. She said that it would help us against our enemy forces and also help us overcome our differences. I completely agree with her decision to join forces. It will help us against the Hyuuga kingdom's destructions.”
“But why are they willing to help us?” Touya interjected. “I know that Hyuuga is stronger now that he has joined with Hayato but, we can expand our army on our own. Why should we trust the Lis? They took Hokkaido from us. What if this is a trap?”
“I understand your worry Touya.” Fujitaka sighed. “The Li kingdom is also facing dangers from Hyuuga. He has already conquered their northern provinces. The Lis are powerful. But under the combined forces of Hyuuga and Hayato, they are weakening. If we both join forces, we can stop the enemies from infiltrating our land. It will also bring an end to our cold war. It has been going on for far too long.”
“But won't other countries get suspicious over our sudden unity?” Yukito asked.
“Yes. That was why Yelan came up with this deal. She wishes to make an alliance with us. Of course I agreed. But for this to truly work out, I need your agreement as well Sakura.” Fujitaka said.
Sakura was confused. “Why do you need my agreement father?”
“Because this deal concerns you. I know this will hurt you but for the sake of the country it has to be done. I only hope you will understand.”
She was worried now. Her father looked really serious and a worried as well. She smiled at him reassuringly. “I will understand father. I am willing to do anything for our country.”
Fujitaka sighed. “It is not going to be easy my child. I know how you feel about Kenichi-kun. I do not want you to hurt but there is no other way. This is the only way we can establish a relation with the Li Empire without any suspicions. I can only hope that it will work out in the end.”
Every one in the throne looked genuinely worried now. Their king looked oddly pale. What could this deal be? And it concerns their princess as well.
“Please tell us what the deal is father.” Kaho said.
Fujitaka looked at Sonomi and Sasuke. Both of them gave him a nod and a confident smile. He took a deep breath and looked at the small gathering.