The fourth emperor of Kounan reflects on the happiness he has found after Miaka. A Hotohori x Houki fic.
by varon, age 17
Â© varon, 2001
varon_22 [AT] yahoo [dot] com
ALLOWING HIS heart to open to another woman had been the problem he didn't want to find a solution to. But then, you could hardly blame him.
After all, //who would have thought that a man who had given so much of himself, of his love -- only to be rejected by the one to whom he wholeheartedly offered himself -- could give some more? Could find the courage to risk loving again? Could find the will to open his heart to someone else? Could find the strength to regain his being and give it to someone who deserved him?
Even //he didn't think it possible. To him, it was virtually unattainable. After Miaka Yuuki, no other woman could ever capture his heart; he had voluntarily surrendered it to the girl who rejected him, with no intention of reclaiming it.
Or so he thought.
Hotohori closed the door behind him and stepped out into the cool night air, inhaling the familiar scent of faint dew combined with the fragrance of wild roses. He walked a few feet from away, to the balcony overlooking the emperor's private garden, and leaned forward on his elbows. He stared out into the night, contemplating on the events that happened to him over the past few months.
Too fast, he thought. Maybe even too soon? But it's all for the best... it will work out for the best.
WHO WOULD //have guessed that a simple, innocent admiration -- or, as his advisers would say, a "strong physical attraction" -- could escalate into a higher, purer emotion? That it could elevate into a state of bliss that he had always hoped for? That the happiness it provided him with could lift him up in the heavens and surround him with the warmth of sunlight and the comfort of the clouds?
Even //he didn't anticipate this progress. To him, nothing -- no one -- could ever replace Miaka Yuuki; at least, not in this lifetime. She was the one girl he could ever love... the one woman worthy of his affection.
Or so he thought.
Hotohori ran a hand over his long gray hair, pulled back only by a loose ponytail barely grasping the ends of his mane, as a wry grin made its way to his features.
True, Miaka had meant everything to him. She was supposed to be the one to give him the love he never experienced, the happiness he never knew existed. She was supposed to be his bride, his key to an infinite freedom. The moment she stepped into his world, his country and his life, he thought his childhood prayers were answered; that this was the woman who would accept him as he was.
Getting to know Miaka Yuuki, Hotohori just fell harder. She walked straight out of another dimension and right into his heart, claiming a portion of him that would probably never be replaced.
But try as he might to get her to love him back, Hotohori's efforts were futile. As much as he willfully surrendered his whole being to her, she would not take it. "I love Tamahome" -- her words, so truthfully said, were worse than his entire army thrusting each of their swords into his body.
But if there was one thing Hotohori was, he was a gentleman. He just couldn't force himself into her life; he actually didn't want that. What was left for him to do was to gracefully fade out of Miaka's life, and search for a new life, a new source of happiness, all on his own.
Did his hope die? Perhaps, but his faith in Suzaku never wavered. When he accepted the fact that Miaka was not meant for him, Hotohori just felt... tired. Defeated. And opted to wallow in the premise that there would ever be another woman to ever fill his life with undeniable bliss, as Miaka had.
WHO WOULD //have known that a man who resigned himself to the fact that love wasn't meant for him -- that he was doomed to forever mourn the loss of his one true, albeit unrequited, love -- could allow himself to fall once more? That another woman's attention could pierce the solid wall he built around himself, around his emotions? That her gentle, caring ways could let him open a part of himself solely to her? That her mere presence, her companionship, could serve as the magnet that enabled him to gather the scattered pieces of his heart?
Even //he didn't brace himself for this. He who had known love only through Miaka Yuuki made an informal, unwritten vow to himself that he would never love again. To him, finding someone else to love was as impossible as declaring that there was a man in his empire more beautiful than he was.
Yet here he was, contradicting all previous reasons he obstinately whispered to himself, stubbornly believing them -- reasons why he swore never to love again. Reasons why he disabled his capability to love again. Reasons why he permitted himself to sink deeper into loneliness...
Those same reasons seemed useless, distant, now.
It was in the midst of his melancholy that his purple-haired savior was sent running to him, clasping her chest, telling him about Nuriko's ordeal at the moment the latter was fighting his last battle. The resemblance to his friend and fellow seishi was remarkable; the court lady who boldly approached him looked almost exactly like Nuriko, but without the mole. He helped her to her feet, calmed her down, and shared her grief at the loss of a good and faithful friend.
Maybe Nuriko was the reason... Perhaps it was out of remembrance to the latter that he took notice of the court lady from then on.
And the rest -- a hazy, peaceful memory came of them -- was history.
WHO WOULD //have thought that the day would come when he would learn to let go of the ties that bind him to Miaka Yuuki? That there would arrive the day when he would be given a full dosage of the he came to recognize only by the little sips he took? That the day would come when he would be wrapped in the sanctity of someone else's love?
Even //he didn't entertain such thoughts.
But here he was now... slowly coming to terms with the life he had and would be having, with a woman who made accepting her newfound feelings -- and his. Bit by bit wallowing deeper into the core of the new sphere of love surrounding both of them.
"Heika-sama?" a woman's voice -- so soft, so gentle, so like her -- shyly called out to him. It made him smile.
She went on without waiting for him to turn around. "Are you --" she hesitated. "Are you going to bed?"
Hotohori turned slightly to his side and found his new wife blushing. His smile grew wider, amusement dancing in his golden eyes. /She's so beautiful/, he thought. /And endearing. One look at her and it's impossible not to fall in love with her. /"I'll be there, Houki," he replied calmly, enjoying the feel of her name on his lips.
She bowed her head and almost hastily entered the bedroom. He stared after her, before returning to his original position on the balcony, chuckling at her anxiousness to cover her embarassment.
YES, HE //realized now, Houki had been his healer, his redeemer, his lightbearer. She put him out of his misery when he was feeling most alone. She cured him of the heartaches he never knew he had, and filled the hollow hole he unconcsciously dug up. She brought him up out of the darkness, saving him from journeying deeper into isolation and depression. She was his light, his anchor, his joy.
Simply put, she was his love.
And he almost never thought he would find her.
Breathing one last satisfied sigh and casting a quick look at the star-studded night, Hotohori pulled his hand away from the cool railing, and headed over to walk the few steps' distance back to his -- their -- bedroom.
Miaka Yuuki would always possess a part of him, but right now...
He was more than content to see that everything he had ever wanted was right before his very eyes.
:: owari ::
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