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Keeper of the Key

Chapter Text

Five Years Later...

"I planted some new flowers in the garden" Zashiki-warashi said as she walked into the kitchen where Tomoyo was making dinner.  "They're tulips.  Do you think your mother will like them?"

"I'm sure my mother will love them" Tomoyo reassured her.  "She's always saying we need something more cheerful to brighten it up.  Her and I haven't done any gardening since before I was in elementary school.  She was always so busy with work that we went out instead when she got time away from her company."

"T-that's good.  I wouldn't want to burden you or your staff with something you deemed unnecessary" Zashiki-warashi explained.

Tomoyo smiled and hugged the sprite tightly.

"Nothing you do is ever a burden Zashiki" she said.  "I personally think my mother enjoys our trips to the mountains as much as we do.  That and it's nice to have time to ourselves away from Tomoeda sometimes.  I know Sakura and Li like having time to themselves without everyone visiting them constantly.  And I know I wouldn't be able to help myself if I didn't see her at least once in a while."

"She's your cousin" Zashiki-warashi insisted.  "You care a great deal about her.  I feel the same about Ame-warashi.  We've always treated each other as family."

"Would you like to see her again soon?" Tomoyo asked eyeing the sprite thoughtfully.

"I'd like to visit her mountain at New Years if that's okay with you?" Zashiki-warashi asked.

"Then we'll take a holiday in the mountains, just the two of us, so we can visit her" Tomoyo agreed and set about finishing their dinner.


 

Ame-warashi watched sadly as the wind shifted, a sure sign of the turning tides.  None of those stupid humans could feel it the way she could.  The dimensional witch was giving herself over to hands of time once more and the rain sprite was all the more bitter for it.  She sat there in her favorite tree atop Mt. Fuji with a sullen expression her face.  Her left fist clenched and shaking, while her right was clasped around the handle of her frilly red umbrella.

Just then she heard a fluttering noise coming from one of the trees to her left.  Ame-warashi shifted slightly and turned toward it just in time to see an enormous flock of butterflies burst out from between the tree branches.  They were all different shades and included some species of butterfly that Ame-warashi had never seen before and, she suspected, weren't actually native to Japan.

At that moment Ame-warashi felt herself let go of all it all and felt the tears flow freely down her cheeks.  Yuko had been one of the few who'd truly understood her mission as a rain sprite and why she cared so much more about nature than those silly humans.

She thought it was a blessing that at least Zashiki-warashi wasn't here to see her like this.  The girl deserved to enjoy her own happiness, even if it was with some silly frivolous human.  Though Ame-warashi was willing to admit that the girl, Tomoyo, had her friend's best interests at heart.  The Daidouji household was one of the most well warded, well cleansed, places in all of Japan simply because they wanted Zashiki-warashi able to live freely without tasting the bitter poison of the evil intent from the outside world.

Eventually the sun went away and the sky began to darken with impending rainclouds.  Ame-warashi stayed where she was as the droplets began to fall.  Much as she would deny it later on and kick anyone who even thought to suggest it, in that moment Ame-warashi thought it felt as though the sky was crying along with her.


 

"Just one more season" Ioryogi prayed as he watched the scene taking place between a desperate Fujimoto and a sorrowful Kobato.  There was no longer any more time to collect konpeitos in order to make her wish come true and she would now be forced to live with the consequences.

Touya was awake the night Kobato disappeared from a playground on the other side of town.  He saw flashes of her teary good bye to Fujimoto and how a final konpeito from him had saved her existence, while still causing her to disappear as a result of her wish finally being granted.  Touya sighed and reached for the one card in his deck that could help them, the Faith.  It represented hope, love, and understanding, the only things that would keep Fujimoto going once the magic set in place to erase by an unknown force completed its task and erased Kobato from everyone's memories.  Touya could already feel a tinge of it starting to effect him and activated the Shield card to protect himself, Yukito, Yue, Sakura, Kero, and Spinel who was sleeping over again, from their memories of erased.  It was lucky that they were all staying at the Kinomoto residence tonight.

"You can stay with us" Yukito insisted the next day when he and Touya found a distraught Ioriyogi sitting atop the jungle gym of that very same playground.

"Why the hell would you want to do that?" Ioriyogi demanded.

"Because you have a long wait ahead of you" the Cardmaster answered, holding up the Faith card.  "That girl won't be back here for another few years.  I did what I could to make that happen, we'll just have to see if it works."

"Fine" Ioriyogi said with a grateful nod.  "The Dobato didn't know what she was getting herself into.  At least the idiot is still around somewhere."

"You'll have to watch out for Kero though" Yukito said with a mischievous gleam in his eye.  "He doesn't like anyone stealing his cake."

Touya snorted and rolled his eyes.

"Not that the plushie ever makes any of it for himself."

Four years later, when Fujimoto was again reunited with Kobato in her human form during one of his cases, he'd finished law school in the meantime,  it was discovered that Touya's magic had indeed had the desired effect.  Kobato returned to Tomoeda to live with Fujimoto and Ioriyogi was again able to see that she was safe and protected.


Five Years After That...

23 year old Sakura hummed to herself as she moved about the kitchen of her father's house, putting the finishing touches on Sonomi's birthday dinner.  Her father and girlfriend were due in at any moment along with her husband Syaoran, Tomoyo, and Zashiki-warashi. 

Sakura deemed herself satisfied and walked over to straighten up the teddy bear that was slumped silently on a shelf in the corner.  Syaoran had given it to her several years when he'd confessed his feelings for her right before he left for Hong Kong.  It had taken Sakura herself another six months to tell him that she returned his feelings.  Seeing Tomoyo and Zashiki-warashi at the festival had reminded of the happiness that she and Syaoran could have if they tried.  It was in that moment she had decided to tell Syaoran about her own feelings for him.  Syaoran had returned for the Nadeshiko festival with his cousin Meilin, who'd expressed a desire to visit Tomoeda and been likewise invited by Tomoyo to attend the festival.  Meilin however, had seen how Tomoyo and Zashiki-warashi acted around one another and given them some space once the festival was in full swing.  She'd gone off with one of the boy's from Sakura's class to check out the cafe Touya and Yukito's college was putting on.

Later that night all of them had gone to the center of town to see a play being put on by Sakura's class with Chiharu Mihara and Takashi Yamazaki in the lead roles as the prince and princess.  Although Chiharu had had to restrain herself from strangling Yamazaki when he adlibbed a few lines during the ball scene.

Sakura had originally been asked to play the princess in the play, but had to refuse the role as she was taking summer classes in order to catch up on few things she'd missed while in the hospital.  Not to mention her father still had her attending tutoring sessions as well that amounted to extra time in cram school.  Fujitaka was determined to ensure that Sakura was ready to attend middle school the next year.  He was much more lenient than other parents in his position would be, but being a college professor he had been aware of how damaging time away from school could be to Sakura being accepted into the high school of her choice down the line.  Looking back Sakura could understand where her father was coming from and as a result of what those session, she had been able to keep her grades up and test into a good high school.

"Ahhumm...need...more food" Kero mumbled in his sleep.

Sakura giggled as she peeked into the living room where Kero and Spinel were curled up on her father's couch.

"Some things never change" she said.

"Hey monster are you done yet?" Touya called from upstairs, rousing the small yellow cat guardian lying on the couch.

"Shut up! Stupid big brother!  Make it yourself next time!" came Sakura's reply.

"Hey!  What's the big idea about waking us up?!" Kero shouted back in the same instance.

"I'm sure that's not what he intended" Spinel remarked lightly.

"He didn't even come down to see for himself" Kero grumbled.  "So there's no reason for the master to be so loud."

"It was much quieter at your house" Spinel agreed.

"That's because Yukito's so undeniably cheerful all the time" Kero answered.  "He'll just laugh at Touya's impatience and tease him more.  That's why he doesn't do it at home."

Spinel shook his head and put his head back down in an attempt to fall back asleep.

"Just ignore him" he said.

Kero muttered something under his breath about bothersome sorcerers and complied with Spinel's request.  A few minutes later the two of them were once again fast asleep curled in each other's paws.

The same sight greeted Touya and Yukito moments later as they peeked downstairs.

"I don't think it's ready yet" Yukito suggested quietly.  "Why don't we wait a bit."

Touya raised an eyebrow at him.

"I can think of a few things we could do while we're waiting" Yukito said coyly.

The hungry look in Touya's eyes was all the response he needed as the two made their way back to Touya's old bedroom.


 

Kohane Tsuyuri shuffled lightly around her shop.  It had been several years since she'd inherited the wish shop from Yuko.  Watanuki had remained living at the shop for his last two years of high school before going to live at the temple upon Doumeki's invitation.  Kohane herself had finished her schooling within the last few years and kept up a correspondence with her mother and "Oba-chan", a seer who'd been a close friend of Yuko's.

She smiled as she turned a corner to see the black and white mokona's playing in the back yard with Maru and Moro.  In another fifty years, Kohane knew that nothing would have changed within the shop, including she herself.  The magic that Yuko and some unknown sorcerer had left for her were more than enough to sustain her for a good long while, before she took on an apprentice of her own.  The shop had provided her with what she'd desired, friends, privacy, and a quiet place with no tv reporters who wanted to her to use her abilities for their own personal publicity.

In another few decades, she knew, someone else would be joining her in the shop.  A very important person who would be with her for a very long time.  Kohane couldn't help but be curious about this person, one of the guardians created by the wizard Eriol Hiiragizawa, would be sent to live at the shop after her master died as part of a bargain Yuko had made before her own passing.  There was already a room in the back of the shop set up for when the guardian finally came to live with them.  Something that made Kohane a bit anxious, since she knew nothing of the guardian's taste outside of her preference for being referred to as female despite being created as gender neutral.  She really hoped this person liked red, at least Kohane had this unexplained feeling that she should decorate using that particular color with just a hint of black, so that she wouldn't have to apologize after the fact and take her new roommate shopping for new things all over again.  Then again, taking her shopping might not be a bad thing anyway.  Kohane liked being able to search through stores for just the right thing to add to her shop, even if it did mean she had to pick up a few customers as well along the way.

Her current guests were enough to keep her busy for now.  They had returned particularly invigorated from their latest trip to Clow Country.  Now that their quest was over and the Syaoran and Sakura of their world were settled comfortably into a life of well deserved peace and quiet, or what served for it in the royal family, their two companions had set about reaching the home that was waiting for them in yet another world.  One that greatly resembled an alternate version of feudal Japan.

"Kuro-rin, I found that box of sweets you wanted" said a sing-song voice coming from one of the other rooms.

"You know I don't like those things!  Why would you even bother unless you wanted to annoy me" another voice shot back.

"But Kuro-prickly, it's such a nice day for it" the first voice protested teasingly.  "Don't be such stick-in-the-mud."

"We're here for a reason you idiot!"

"That doesn't mean we can't have a little fun while we're waiting to go to Kuro-sawa's home world" the first voice answered suggestively.

Crash and bang noises were heard in the aftermath and what sounded like hard steel hitting the wall.

"That's going to come out of your work price, Fai and Kurgane" Kohane called to them sweetly.  "I can't have the shop looking unkempt for when my guest arrives in a few decades."

"We'll fix it" Fai offered cheerily.

"You mean you'll make me do it" Kurogane put in.  "And is it just me or does she sound more like Yuko than she did before?"

"She's learning" Fai whispered back.


 

"So what do you want for your birthday, Shizuka?" Watanuki asked casually as he stood in front of the counter at The Cake Dish, the bakery he'd opened after graduating from college with a degree in marketing and business management.  Himawari had agreed to be part owner of it since she was no longer in danger of burning it down with her horribly bad luck.  Kohane had, fortunately, been able to rid Himiwari of her bad luck tattooing symbols for good luck, blessed by Ame-warashi, Zashiki-warashi, and several other sprites.  The tattoo's counteracted her aura of bad luck, something Himawari's husband Kenji, was grateful for.  Kenji Tsubayaki was himself from a long line of temple priests like Doumeki, and his presence had the ability to neutralized Himiwari's bad luck, but that was only while they were currently in the same location.  If they were apart then he would constantly worry about his wife and those around her.

"I'd like the red cupcakes" Doumeki insisted

"The ones with the yellow sprinkles?"

Doumeki nodded.

"Yes those."

"Articulate this morning, aren't  you?" Watanuki commented lightly as he turned to find one of his recipe books.

"Last night helped" Doumeki answered with a straight face.

Watanuki blushed and made as if to hit his husband with a rolling pin.  Doumeki dodged easily and kept his face carefully blank.

"Can I have cake too?" he asked.

"Yeah, sure, fine" Watanuki mumbled as he continued to shuffle through his library of cookbooks.

"And moshi?"

"Anything else?"

"Inagi?"

Watanuki sighed and shook his head.  He really should have known better.  Doumeki would eat whatever he cooked and if he kept asking the man was only going to answer with the name of every dish Watanuki had ever cooked for him.  Chances were he wouldn't run out of names anytime soon, so Watanuki gave up asking and set about planning to make the things Doumeki had already mentioned.

"That's it" Doumeki informed him.

"Are you sure?" Watanuki asked automatically and then mentally slapped himself for it.

"No" Doumeki assured him.

"That's what I thought."


 

"Eriol, there's a letter for you" Kaho said entering the sitting room. "It has familiar looking crest embedded in it."

"That's odd, I wasn't expecting anything" Eriol said getting up from his arm chair. "I wonder what it could be."

Eriol had physically grown up a great deal since his initial departure from Japan after Touya had sealed the final Clow Card. While he, Kaho, and Ruby Moon had gone back to visit a few times, Spinel even more, they never made it a point to be away from England for too long. Eriol preferred England to Japan, though he'd made sure to keep up the manor house in Tomoeda for their occasional use. The magic used to ensure it was still in proper condition wouldn't take much of a toll on his magic, something that had persuaded him of its usefulness in the long run. He still considered Sakura, Syaoran, Tomoyo, Fujitaka, Touya, Yukito, Yue, and Kero to be his family, though not as closely as Kaho and his own guardians. Eriol had also finally been able to quietly marry Kaho to ensure that she inherited the estate if he should die before her. There was simply no reason to allow everything to pass on to some unknown distant cousins of Clow Reed and the Li Clan, who certainly weren't in need of it. He wanted Kaho taken care of first and foremost should the unthinkable happen.

There on the innocent looking white envelop in Kaho's hand was a crest containing butterfly and a crescent moon.

Eriol's eyes widened when he glimpsed it.

"I didn't think she would find me quite yet" he said grasping the envelop and carefully tore it open. "It appears that Yuko's successor wishes to thank us for our efforts."

"This is about Touya's plan" Kaho said knowingly.

"Yes and it appears that some interesting guests have taken up residence in her shop" Eriol answered with an almost smile. "She's writing to inform me that the Tsubasa Chronicle has finally been recorded in its entirety and Clow Reed's work is at its end."

"That's thoughtful of her "Kaho mused. "I wonder what she's like in person, and if she and Ruby Moon will get along as we've hoped."

"She seems pleasant enough in her letter" Eriol ventured. "Touya and I have spoken about Ms. Tsuyuri many times and we agreed that her shop is the best place for Ruby Moon."

"Not for many years yet, Eriol" Kaho reminded him.

Eriol nodded in return.

"Now that time once again moves as it should. We will have many more years to come."