Author's Notes: I'm sorry for not putting up these chapters. It's just that somebody died in my family and I just didn't have the strength to write. I'm so thankful for all the reviews you guys are sending me! Thank you! I wanted to make this into a manga but I think there was no manga section when I started this story so I put it on fantasy. There's no difference though... right? Tanaka's a girl's name? Are you sure? Darn. I thought it was a guy's!
Everybody returned back to the castle to sleep away their death defying day of saving the kingdom. It was a long couple of days for the people to fix the damage to the castle and for the village to be open to the idea of living with people who do magic among the town. Acceptance for the new race will be hard on everyone but the king has promised on bringing his people, all his people, back together. So even though the dark menacing figure of the maiden lies her in her final resting place, it still serves a reminder to everyone how magic can destroy the owner and the people around them. It's a lesson learned and one people are not willing to forget.
Even as the rest of the world goes back to their usual routines, a girl stood anxiously on her balcony, thinking deep thoughts. The moon smiled back at her to light her garden but her gaze is focused on the horizon. Her short hair and white night gown blew through the wind as sleep evaded her body. She survived but other thoughts consumed her mind.
"My adventure is really over, huh?" she said to herself as she goes back to why her thoughts are a mess in the first place.
"We finally got rid of this wretched thing!" smiled Kimi as she brushed her hands off from the work of destroying the cursed dagger with her many explosive spells.
"Wonderful! How about we all go back to the castle and get some needed sleep! All this fighting had worn me out!" groaned the king.
Everyone stared at their mighty ruler with annoyance, "But you didn't do any fighting!"
"Well, yes but...," the king gave out a fake cough to change the subject, "Uh. I'm sure with all the fighting my future son-in-law and daughter did, they would be happy to get some food in their stomachs and some rest!"
Kimi frowned with a confused expression, "Future son-in-law? I'm sorry, your majesty. But Tanaka is engaged to me."
She hugged the man tightly as he winced from the pain.
"WHAT?!" everyone exclaimed.
"Is this true?" Kumiko said nervously but found him passed out from Kimi's tight grip.
The doctor grinned and assured that it's the herbs' effects that's put Tanaka to sleep. They exchanged goodbyes since they would be missed back at their village. Kumiko took one last look at the person who stole her heart and caged her feelings inside. She vowed never see him again.
Kumiko glared with anger and jumped out of her balcony down the garden to sort out her feelings. It's been a week since she's last seen him. She wondered if he's healed or if he's getting along with his fiancée. Kimi or the doctor hasn't been by the kingdom to see her at all but as a princess, she was too busy helping her people to even get a chance to talk to them. Actually, in truth, she avoided them. She wanted to forget them because in doing so, she might forget him.
As a princess, she thought men would be the ones who would be lost without her but she found herself lost in thought and stumbling through her day because of him. Tanaka and his lousy smirk. Tanaka and his gray eyes. Tanaka and his insults. She thought with time, these feelings would leave but they seem intent and stronger with each passing day. They've gotten to a point where escaping with Sakura, her horse, to march directly to his village and get him back is more reasonable than burdening herself with the ridiculous arguments in her mind. It's driving her crazy!
She stopped picking the petals off a flower and stomped it under her heel, "Who needs him?! He has a fiancée anyway and I can easily find someone else much better than that... that thief!"
'Can I? Will I really find someone else when I've practically met every lord and prince of every neighboring kingdom?' she thought frantically.
"What is wrong with me? Why won't he just get out of my head?" moaned the princess.
"Maybe you should just stop thinking about it," a voice offered an advice.
The princess looked around on guard but after seeing nobody was there, she quirked her weary head, "I must be going crazy. Maybe I do need to go to bed."
"You forgot to look up!" a figure hopped down from a tree and landed right in front of her, wearing his usual grin.
Kumiko stared in shock of his arrival, unsure if he was the real thing, "Why are you here?"
The young man surveyed the garden with interest until his eyes saw her outfit. "Well, well, well. What a lovely gown you have on today, princess."
She took one look at her sheer white nighty and blushes bright red. With great speed, she ran behind the tree and hugged herself away from his prying eyes.
"Don't change the subject! Why are you here?" she demanded from the safety of the tree.
He walked towards the shivering girl hidden from the shade of the branches. The expression she had remained to be seen but he knew she was dreadfully embarrassed. Tanaka sat down right next to her and started talking.
"I was getting bored and tired of being harassed by Kimi and the villagers. Ever since I helped vanquish the maiden, everyone has accepted me back again. It's nice but suffocating, especially with Kimi trying to feed me her cooking," he said with a laugh.
She stiffened from the mention of his fiancée as she quieted her babbling thoughts.
"By the way, most of my friends were back in the village. They managed to get away from those ugly men after all," he reported.
The princess nodded at the good news and slightly felt more comfortable to relax in his presence.
"I'll get to the point. Here! Happy Birthday!" he presented her with a dandelion, "I'm not one of those princes who can afford jewelry and I know you can find it almost anywhere but..."
"But?" she questioned, finally looking up at him.
He insisted with ease, "But I thought I should get it because it reminded me of you. It's strong and grows back even if you step on it, just like you."
"Are you saying I'm just somebody to step on?" she pouted in irritation.
"No! I mean you're a strong person who'll rise up to a challenge! Like you did with that fight, remember?" he prodded as she nods in understanding.
She plucked the dandelion from him and tried to read into his intention. He came all the way down here to give her a birthday present. It seems highly unlikely but it reasonable. With a simple puff of air, the tiny fluffs scatter away fading into darkness.
"Did you make a wish?" he asked gently.
"Yes, to get a laptop," she said with a devilish grin.
He shook his head with a heed to her words, "Princess, technology is forbidden in this land. It's what corrupted the humans outside the wall."
Kumiko stared star-eyed at the sky wishing otherwise, "Yes. I know but one day when I become queen, I'll change that."
"I'm sure you would."
They watched the moon fight against the clouds until several fluffy clouds muffled its light. With the moment passed, Tanaka brushed the dirt from his pants and prepared to take off.
"It's been a pleasure, princess, but I'm sure you need beauty sleep like any other girl. Until next time!" he announced, getting ready to leap out the fortress.
"Wait!" she tugged unexpectedly on his shirt to bring him back down with a jolt. She looked down with a slight apology as she fiddles with what to say. Tanaka waited, pushing her statement until she gave in. She unlatched her necklace and passed it to him.
"What's this for?" he asked confused.
"For the wedding you're going to have with Kimi. A wedding present," the princess answered with a straight face so as not to reveal any emotion.
"Wedding? Did you say... wedding?" he said utterly stunned.
She looked ready to kill him as she repeats what she said, "Yes! Wedding! Did you hear me the first time?!"
A wide grin spread out on his face until he couldn't contain it anymore. He bursted out laughing with tears rolling out of his eyes. She huffed with an arrogant attitude as his laughter eventually slow down.
"And what may I ask is so funny?" she said, frowning at his childish antics.
"Ah, hahaha!" he coughed out in between words, "I'm not getting married!"
"WHAT?!" she yelled.
"Kimi says that all the time even if I told her that I will never marry her and why not? I'm a good catch. I just set her in a frenzy with my charms but she's not my type," he bragged egotistically as he waves a hand over his rough hair.
Kumiko gaped her mouth at him, stunned at the news. 'They aren't getting married. He doesn't love her!'
"Hey. You alright?" he snapped her back to reality.
The princess jumped with a start, brightening immediately at the prospect of Tanaka being single.
"Yes! I'm fine!" she giggled, unable to contain her joy, "So... what is your type?"
He threw her a subdued expression, rubbing his nose with particular disdain, "I thought you would have figured it out by now."
"No. I didn't," she said, leaning in to listen carefully to what he has to say.
The young man groaned up at the sky in aggravation until his eyes locked back on her. She continued to look back at him curiously, completely forgetting how the sheer gown under the moon lit sky completely enhanced her ravishing figure.
"My type is a princess with a smart mouth," he smirked while taking a step forward as she takes a step back, "Particularly one who likes to make me chase her around the kingdom even if it was a huge pain to do." He leaned into her which left her no choice but to look back with equal concentration, "I'd save her royal behind only to get smacked on the head for it. She's a stubborn girl. She even did her best to avoid me the whole week with her huge guards always following her and not once did she come and ask about the poor guy that risked his life to save hers. Yeah. She's a real catch, that princess. A girl like that is pretty hard to come by."
The princess twitched her lips wanting to voice out a comment, but her mind was reeling too much information. He slanted his head towards her and she now noticed how close his face almost touched hers.
"What... I don't understand," she stuttered.
"You. My type is a hard-to-get princess-who-won't-admit-she-has-the-hots-for-me!" he swooped her down, slid a loose stand of her hair under her ear, and stole a kiss. Kumiko, being the tough woman she was raised to be, unconsciously reacted to her training. She slammed her foot hard on his and elbowed his ribs hard.
"Augh! What the..." he cursed as a sharp dose of pain came back tenfold.
She widens her eyes in shock as she crouched down in a panic, "I'm sorry! It's part of my training! You caught me off guard."
She saw the blossom of blood appear on his shirt and remembered the mark of the dagger still hasn't healed. By ripping the skirts of her nightgown into strips, she ripped through his shirt and replaced the stained bandages with the new cloth. The princess can't believe the force of her strength in wounding the man she loved all because he kissed her. Through her apologies, Tanaka watched her guilt and embarrassment with a smile on his face knowing it was because of him that she's flustered like this.
"It's fine. I should've expected it coming from you. Looks like I'm gonna have to buy a new shirt," he responded.
The princess again ended up in a uncomfortable situation as she offered to pay for his shirt. After fully wrapping him back up, she offered her arm to help him get back on his feet so they can head inside the castle for some better medical attention. As they were walking, she sneaked looks back at him, contemplating deeply.
"You know. You could have asked if you could kiss me. If you did, then I wouldn't have hit you in the first place," she whispered.
He gave the girl a weird expression, "Ask? Aren't you old-fashioned! Come on! Usually a kiss comes naturally. You don't have to ask the person for permission!"
"Well! I was raised that when you want something from somebody, you have to ask first," she argued with reason.
He staggered back, halting their walk, "So I have to ask your permission if I want to have sex with you?"
She blushed bright red and nudged him lightly without hurting his wound, "Really?! You're such an idiot!"
"Who are you calling an idiot when you're just an old lady in child's clothing," he argued back, sticking his tongue out.
"Child's clothing? This is from a famous designer and you were the one hanging your tongue out the minute you saw me this outfit!" she smirked with confidence of her curves.
"And can you blame me?" he hinted showing some teeth, "You're practically almost naked behind that outfit."
"That doesn't give you the right to stare!"
"If you didn't want me or anyone else to look, then why wear it?"
"Because it's comfortable!"
The princess pouted stubbornly, tugging at the ragged edge of her dress as a reminder that the rest of it is on the thief's chest. Unexpectedly, she inhaled in shock as he took her in front of him to drape the reminiscent cloak around her body.
"Wear this. It's comfortable too," he ordered. She was about to complain when he placed a finger to her lips, "I don't want anyone to see you in that."
Her heart skipped a beat, gazing at his intense eyes. The young man was about to head inside when she grabbed his arm. He turned around and caught the princess with a cute blushing expression.
"Yes, princess?" he engaged her to talk, trying to read her thoughts.
"Tanaka. Can I? I mean, may I kiss you?" she whispered, looking shocked that even she said those words.
He dipped his head down low with a big smile on his face, "Why princess! Such manners. You needn't ask me for I rather like impulsive kisses better. Okay?"
Thinking the moment passed, he leaves only to have his head brought back to hers for a deep longing kiss. She held him still and he responded by wrapping his arms around her waist and tilting his head to peck one slow kiss after another. When they break apart, the expressions on her face made his day.
"Now that's what I'm talking about," he smiled.
The couple lay in their own moment together, basking in the happiness of young love. As the adventure comes to a close, a strange string of music echoed in the air leading into the forest. A lady with long flowing hair sits on a branch over looking the kingdom and the world. She's playing her harp and the forest quieted to listen to her words. Once she stopped, she whispers a farewell.
"Thank you for setting me free..."