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Title - Unintended: A Tale of Clumsy Matchmaking and the Value of Custom Boots
Rating - T/PG-13
Summary - When the Royal Council of Advisors plots to pair Prince Syaoran with a local girl (which girl, they care not), they have no idea their scheme will lead to the prince's bodyguard finding his perfect match as well. An AU Kuro/Fai Cinderella inspired story with Clamp crossovers right and left.


Prologue


Only recently, in a land our brave dimensional travelers have not yet had the pleasure of visiting, there has been a growing hubbub in regard to a certain series of events sponsored by a certain royal family. Said hubbub has manifested itself, in general, as a giddy but competitive demeanor amongst the kingdom’s young female populous, which, on occasion, has descended into fits of name-calling and other general rudenesses as well as outright uncivilized behavior.

Just one day prior, a small group of schoolgirls had purposely wrecked a classroom so that the one assigned to that day’s cleanup duties would not be able to make it to the fabric merchant’s shop before closing – and this, on the scheduled day for new arrivals from a neighboring kingdom renowned for its beautiful cottons and linens. She was pretty enough already, they said. She didn’t need the first pick of materials.

Instructors in the schools have noticed a decline in grades, even among the most dedicated of students. One such student by the name of Sakura, has maintained her cheerful and kindly disposition – having remained apart from the petty feuds of others. The decline in her marks has been a result of her daydreaming more than anything else.

Having met the prince briefly on more than one occasion in the past, she finds herself looking forward to the upcoming festival more than she has anything in her remembering. Some of the girls in her classes have been whispering of marriage and heirs and what it would be like to be a princess. Sakura only thinks of how it might be nice to see that boy, the young prince, once again.

The festival is only the first in a long series of events designed to allow the prince to socialize with girls his age, the idea being to avoid the disaster they encountered with his brother, the new king. For as well educated as he is and for as genuinely concerned with the kingdom’s well being as he is, he has already announced to the Royal Council of [already overly paranoid] Advisors, that he has absolutely no intention of taking a wife and would not, under any circumstances, be producing an heir.

Rumor around town was that he had fallen in love with another man and as nice as that was, for every person who would commend him for staying true to his heart by refusing both wife and concubine, another would say that he is shirking his responsibility. “A country needs to be certain there will be someone to inherit the rule should the unthinkable happen,” they would say as though the King didn’t have a perfectly capable brother, young though he may be.

The Council blamed themselves for this turn of events, thinking that if he had only met a nice girl early on, he wouldn’t have “resorted” to someone of the same sex. Let it be known here and now: the Council is not known for their brilliance, but for their zeal, which they hold in great quantities and are overly generous in spreading to others.

It took little time for their ploy to pair off the young prince to become known to the public and even those who realized the ridiculousness of the reasoning were not opposed to the idea as a whole. An event would be held once a month for as long as it took for the Council to be sated with the fact that the prince would be falling in love with a woman. There was no need to rush the boy to pick someone right away; he is only 15 after all. They only wanted to be secure in the feeling that someday (hopefully soon (the sooner the better)) Prince Syaoran will be able to pick himself a wife.

Seeing as nearly everyone enjoys festival, picnics, concerts, dances, and other such entertainments, the plan’s popularity spread like floodwaters after the annual spring thaw. There is however, one man among all the population that does not enjoy such frivolities and his name, though you might have guessed, is Kurogane, one of the more senior guards devoted to the protection of the prince.

In Kurogane’s viewing, the whole scheme is rife with the opportunity for someone to get hurt. He can picture it clearly in his mind: hundreds of village girls descending in hordes on his charge. The kid was liable to be trampled to death, suffocated in the commotion, or at minimum, lose his hearing from the doubtless high pitched squealing those girls were sure to suffer upon the entirety of the kingdom.

It is with this pessimistic attitude that he prepares himself – and the prince – for the upcoming event as though it were battle.

The young Miss Sakura, briefly mentioned earlier and mentioned now because it is time to introduce the final character in this story, is a member of the formerly great house of Kinomoto. Both the master and mistress met with an untimely death at the hands of a freak card accident and ever since, it has been the responsibility of their lone child to uphold the estate and the name. Thankfully for her, she is not entirely alone. Just prior to their ends, the master and mistress took into their employ a traveling man who seemed unusually adept at keeping their child out of harm’s way.

Said traveler had intended only to earn enough money to move on to the next kingdom, a few short months at the most and he would be gone, for he was after all, a traveler by trade, but when the poor girl’s parents had died, a surge of maternal instinct had welled up inside him. He decided then that he would stay and watch over the sweet child until she was capable of caring for herself.

Though Sakura was the head of the house and as such, responsible for the making of all decisions, she often sought the wisdom and council of Fai, our intrepid but gentle natured journey-man.

On this night, the night preceding the first festival, Sakura seeks such advice. “Fai-san, all the girls of the kingdom will be there. Some have already planned the wedding but I just want to say hello to the prince. He probably doesn’t remember me. Umm…” She trailed off uncertain of what she was trying to articulate.

Luckily enough for Sakura, her self-appointed caretaker understood what she was fearing. “Sakura-chan. Don’t trouble yourself over those other girls. Believe in yourself and everything will be okay.”

And so it was that the very next night, Fai escorted his pseudo-daughter to the festival. This is where our story truly begins.

Chapter 1 – Festival


Striped festival tents were set up in the square just outside the main castle gates and smaller vendor tables sprawled into the side streets as far away as the Wholly Sweet Bakery on one side and the Green Leaf Apothecary on the other. Musicians stood practicing their trade in small groups every few blocks but the murmur of hundreds of excited citizens made it difficult to hear the songs unless you stood close by. Acrobats walked amongst the festivalgoers and there were game tables with their officials calling out to the crowd to come and give their particular game a try – “win a prize for your lady.”

The air was filled with a great blend of scents from all the foods available. Individual smells were impossible to differentiate, but the mix was enticing enough. It was the only good thing about this ridiculous festival in Kurogane’s mind. A plate of steamed pork dumpling wouldn’t go amiss. In fact, he probably deserved them in light of all the work he was going to be putting in on this night.

The prince was to be protected, of course. That was a given. But he wasn’t to be crowded either. The fewest bodyguards possible were to accompany him this evening so as not to scare off any potential suitors or interrupt the prince’s conversations with any of the girls he may choose to speak with. In the end, it turned out that Kurogane was to be the prince’s only accompaniment. There was no telling why the King was allowing this foolishness to continue, but that was a whole other matter.

They left the castle through a side port – the both of them wearing non-descript commoner style clothing – and walked around to the festival to avoid attracting more attention than necessary. Not everyone would know the prince on sight and the fewer people there were calling out to him, the better.

Prince Syaoran led the way as per their orders. The problem was that he wasn’t particularly… enthusiastic about his role either. He was supposed to be on some sort of girl scoping expedition but the nature of that was contradictory to his personality. He wasn’t the kind of person to judge others purely on appearance and he tended to be a bit shy anyway.

Instead of talking with girls, he walked about with a slight blush on his cheeks for nearly 15 minutes before deciding he was going to give his hand at one of the games. It was then that he was first recognized.

The girl rushed up to him, practically knocking him over in the process. Then she bent over in an attempt to retrieve her hat which she had lost in the near miss only to lose her balance and finish the job by sending them both sprawling on the ground. “I-I’m so sorry!”

Yeah right. Kurogane wasn’t buying that innocent act for one second. No one was that much of a klutz. Then again, she had to be pretty stupid if she thought that kind of behavior was going to earn herself the kid’s heart.

“Are you alright Miss?” Then again, the prince was notoriously naïve.

This girl wasn’t someone Kurogane recognized. She had long, light brown hair tied into twin braids on opposite sides of her head and a fair amount of shoulder length hair left free about her face. Kurogane never had understood why women took so much care with their hair. It had to be an inconvenience having to style it like that every day. Just taking into consideration the time it would take to wash that much hair meant it couldn’t be worth it.

If Kurogane had thought that Syaoran was blushing before this mess, then there must be a whole different word to describe the boy’s face now. The girl’s face was red as well as she removed her body from the prince’s.

“I really am so sorry. It’s just that there is something I have to do and I’m… wait. Aren’t you…”

Oh no, here it comes.

“Aren’t you able to stand up?”

Okay, maybe this girl really was oblivious.

“Ah, yes. Sorry.” The prince proved his words by picking himself off the ground and dusting his clothes off with his hands. “But more importantly, are you alright?”

“Me? Yes! I’m fine. Thank you.”

“What was that you were saying? There’s something you have to do?”

“That’s right! There is a game I have to win. They have a prize that I can use to get somewhere I need to go.”

“This game here?”

Maybe it would be best if the kid just stuck with this girl after all. At the very least, she wasn’t drawing attention to his charge’s social standing. They were going to have to suffer through these events until Syaoran developed feelings for someone in particular and while from his mannerisms, this girl so far was not the one, the key word in this whole thing was “develop.” The Royal Council seemed to think that the kid would just set eyes on a girl and instantly fall madly in love with her. That just isn’t the way things work. Feelings that actually mean something take time to grow. It wasn’t just going to happen in a few hours spent at a stupid festival.

The two conversed a short while longer – apparently, the thing she was after was some stupid bottle – and in the end, Syaoran decided he was going to help this girl win the game. She had to do it all by herself though, she said, and so as she picked up the palm sized wooden rings she needed for the game, Syaoran could only help by offering encouragement and advice.

The player was meant to toss the rings into a field of milk bottles. Certain bottles were color coated to win a specific level of prize. In the very middle of the play table however, was a different kind of bottle than the rest. It had a stopper with some sort of bird decorating it. That was the bottle she just had to win and all she had to do was get her ring around the neck of the bottle.

The girl was hopeless though. Rings would clatter to the ground or in the space between bottles, having been flung too far one way or the other.

Kurogane surveyed the area for potential threats while the girl continued in her attempts. There was a man he recognized as an ex-guardsman at the next booth over. He had just won the game and the little kid who was with him, an ambiguously dressed…boy?...with long hair, was picking out the prize. The kid chose a jeweled hair ornament and he immediately worked it into the leather thong that held his hair high on the back of his head. The “jewel” was probably just a piece of colored glass, but little kids never seemed to care about things like that.

When the shrieked words, “never ends!” pierced though the din of the crowd, Kurogane turned his head toward the booth selling those chocolate covered skewers of fruit and marshmallow where a normal looking girl was waiting in a overly long line of ladies clad in far too little. Kurogane shifted a bit to the left so he could read the sign – ‘Zum Sticks,’ that was it. The chocolate usually wasn’t too sweet, but they would be a lot better if they left out the stupid marshmallows entirely. Kurogane had never been fond of marshmallows.

More importantly though, Kurogane hoped those ridiculous looking women realized they were all a bit too mature to be considered as a match for the prince. It seemed obvious with the kid’s age, but there was definitely something odd about them. Who knew what they were thinking showing off their bodies in public like that.

The prince’s voice drew him back from his observations. “Kobato-san, next time, try extending your arm more before you let go.”

In the end, as much as Syaoran tried, he wasn’t able to help in any meaningful fashion. The girl spent all her money and was still unable to win her prize.

“What are you going to do now?”

“I’ll have to earn more money! Then I can try again!”

This girl’s optimism was really something else.

“Excuse me Miss, did you say you were looking for work tonight?”

Everyone turned to see the speaker, a tall, thin, blond man with an annoyingly huge smile plastered across his face. He stood with one hand down at his side and the other at the back of his hip. The action pushed his pelvis forward just slightly and the man balanced the pose by arching his back subtlety in the opposite direction. His clothes were that of the upper middle class – boots to just below his knees, fitted pants, and a plain shirt with the tall collar left up. He even wore one of those frilly neckties that were so damn popular these days to fill the space over his collarbone. A businessman or a lowborn noble maybe.

Syaoran was blushing again for some unknown reason. Kurogane took a second look at the man and realized with a start that he had completely missed the young girl at his side. The girl was probably Syaoran’s age and she too was blushing.

“We were just over at a food stand next to the Wishing Well. Their cook seemed quite frazzled. Maybe he could use extra help?”

The Wishing Well. Kurogane hated that place. It was kept up by a witch named Yuuko who loved to torment everyone she met with her cryptic manner of speech and her insistence that the item you were offering to the well was not sufficient to cover the cost of your wish. It was stupid anyway, you should work to make your desires come true, not just offer up payment and have your wish automatically granted.

If this newcomer was working a scheme to set his daughter up with the prince, he’d soon learn to regret his decision.

“Really? That’s great! How do I get there?”

“Oh, you’re not from around here? Well, we’ll just have to show you the way, right Sakura-chan?”

“Ah! Right!” The new girl gave a curt nod of her head with the agreement.

If it had been Kurogane’s decision, they were have left the klutz with the guy with the fake smile and been on their way. But it wasn’t up to Kurogane. Syaoran was the one in charge of where they went and with whom.

As it turned out, Kurogane didn’t have too much room to complain; the boy cooking beside the well was making pork dumplings and the witch was nowhere within view. Kurogane spoke to the stoic boy who was taking the orders while the rest of the group spoke with the cook.

As the blond had said, the kid really was spastic. He leaped around from one side of the cooking tent to the other, moving in ways Kurogane hadn’t even realized were possible, though he supposed it wasn’t entirely the boy’s fault.

There was this bizarre, black…thing that was bouncing around getting into trouble. The cook tried to stop it, with little success.

Finally, the boy – Watanuki, apparently, was his name – captured the creature and held it tight while accepting Kobato’s offer of help. He was willing to pay the girl out of his own pocket if she would just keep hold of the creature so that he could finish his work without further incident.

“Umm, Watanuki-san?” Sakura spoke up. “Can I ask, where did this creature come from?”

The boy glared at his co-worker, who in turn seemed to ignore him. “Some idiot won him and pawned him off on me.”

“Oh? Which game was that? If they have more, I’ll have to try.”

“You want one of these? Why? They’re such a pain!”

“I think that’s only because you’re so busy. It wants to play with you, but you don’t have time. I think such an energetic creature would make a good companion in my home.” She looked to her father, “Don’t you agree?”

“Of course, Sakura-chan.” Man, this guy was a real push over. If Kurogane had children, he would never agree to let them have such an obnoxious pet.

Soon after exchanging a few coins for his dinner, Kurogane found himself at one of the larger game tents. It was a long booth, but shallow and covered with an awning that extended a few feet past the waist high table lined with small bows. Five paces back from the table was a series of circular targets mounted on a makeshift wall. Kurogane refocused his attention as the game proprietor finished his explanation of the prizes.

“Only one left, young lady. It’s a little different from the other one. White with a red jewel on its forehead, see? Its name is Soel. Very special. Very rare.”

Kurogane looked at the creature, then down at his plate of dumplings. The similarities were uncanny. “How can that thing have a name? It’s just a stupid pork bun.”

Then the thing talked. “Mokona Modoki is not a pork bun. Call me Mokona!”

Kurogane recovered quickly. “I thought your name was Soel.”

“Only Mokona’s special one calls Mokona by name. Are you Mokona’s special one?”

“Hell no!”

To his side, the girl’s father chuckled to himself. There wasn’t much reason to laugh. He was the one that was going to have to deal with the thing if someone won the beast. That gave him a thought.

“Hey, kid,” he addressed his charge, “why don’t you help? You’re archery is coming along well enough.”

“Yes, Kurogane-san.” Blushing again, Syaoran paid enough for three attempts and was handed three narrow shafted arrows in return. After testing the tension on the string of the bow he had chosen based solely on the fact that it was the closest to where he was standing, the prince’s first arrow landed in the outer ring of the target near the bottom. The second was closer to the center, but having overcorrected, the arrow was this time in the top half of the target.

“Remember to clear your mind. Keep your weight even. Use your bones where you can instead of muscle. Slow your breathing. See the line between your arrow and your target.”

The boy was good at following directions. After two false starts, his final arrow landed in the very center ring. A target only large enough to hold the arrow. A difficult shot, worthy of the top prize.

“Kurogane helps win Mokona!” The creature bounded off the game proprietor and attached itself to Kurogane’s face.

“I didn’t win you, you stupid pork bun! The kid did!” He reached up a hand to pull the thing off, but it stretched more than anything else. When he was finally able to rid his face of the horrible creature, he tossed the thing to the prince.

Syaoran looked at the thing, then shyly took a few steps over to Sakura and offered the thing to her. “Here, for you.”

“Ah, I couldn’t. You were the one that won it. It was your work. You keep it.”

“No, it’s ok. I want you to have it. I don’t think my family would let me keep it anyway.”

“Oh.” She considered for a moment. “In that case, thank you!” The girl beamed. She had a large smile like her father, but unlike him, hers felt more genuine and Kurogane actual found himself thinking well of her.

While the kids talked with each other and played with the newly acquired pet, the girl’s dad came over to his side.

“Mokona may technically be Sakura’s now, but I have a feeling this isn’t the last you’ve seen of it. It seems to have taken quite a liking to you.”

It was a bit disturbing from this fake-smiles-guy, but his grin seemed to say, ‘I can see why.’

“You sounded like a real archery expert back there. Are you a military man?”

“In a way, but archery isn’t my strength.” This was a topic Kurogane was more comfortable with.

“Oh and what is?”

“Swordsmanship.”

“Is that right? Sounds impressive.”

“I’m the best in the kingdom.”

“Oh. Not modest at all, I see. You must be pretty confident in your skills. You’ll have to show me sometime.”

This guy’s tone… They were both talking about warfare here, right? “I wouldn’t count on that.”

The guy only laughed. It was a sound that sent a shiver down Kurogane’s spine.


Check the Cameo Master List?
Proceed to Chapter 2.
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