Disclaimer: I don't own Hotohori, YET! Unfortunately, Fushigi Yuugi belongs to Yuu Watase. Yuu? I wonder if they were named after Yuu Maatsura or the
other way around? LOL!
As the red light filled the room, Hotohori's first reaction was to wrap his arms around Miaka in protection.
A half-asleep Miaka mumbled, "Uhhhmmmm…Hotohori, what's going on? Where are we?"
Hotohori tightened his hold on her, so they wouldn't be separated.
He could only shout through the red light, "Miaka, I'll protect you!"
More awake, Miaka tightened her hold on him, bawling, "Hotohori, don't leave me!"
When the light disappeared, Miaka and Hotohori found themselves in each other's arms. They looked at each other, amazed at the fact that they were still
Miaka breathed, "Hotohori…"
Fainting in his arms from exhaustion, Hotohori looked Miaka over to make sure she had no new injuries. He felt her forehead and was surprised to find she was feverish. He tried his best not to compromise her honour for Tamahome. He couldn't rip her clothes off and make love to her, no matter how desperately he wanted to. He was an emperor. He had to show some self-control for Miaka. But no one was around to look. No, he couldn't do that to her, especially when he wanted her in his arms responding passionately to his touches. Balling his hands into fists, he looked up and realized that they were just outside a village near Konan. They were back in Konan! He picked Miaka up in his arms, and headed inside the village. The village people watched him bring the injured girl into the area. They gasped in shock when they saw Miaka.
Unable to recognize the emperor of Konan with his otherworldly clothes, they cried, "What have you done to our Empress?"
Hotohori wondered aloud, "Empress?"
The villager explained, fearfully, "That is the Empress and Suzaku No Miko, Miaka, correct? Our real Emperor disappeared many months ago in the middle of her wedding to Tamahome. With no emperor, she stepped up as the Suzako No Miko and took the throne, making Tamahome our new emperor. But, don't get in her path. She has executions daily to punish those who defy her."
Hotohori looked at the unconscious girl in his arms. Her mirror had done so much damage so quickly? Immediately, he called for help and was taken to one of the village Elder's house. While he sat next to Miaka with a cold compress to cool her fever down, he watched the Elder walk up to him and take his seat across from him. A wall of silence separated the two. Hotohori saw that the Elder had gone blind at his age. But his other senses had sharpened. He knew where the seat was. He could tell how far Hotohori was from him, just by the sound of his voice. He even could tell whether other people were in the room.
The Elder was the one to break the silence barrier, "Did you kidnap our Empress?"
Hotohori sighed, "No. I am the Emperor Hotohori."
He gasped, "Emperor Hotohori? It can't be!"
A pair of wrinkled hands traced the noble, chiseled features of a young emperor's face.
"Your majesty! It IS you! How has this come to be? I never thought that I would face such a crisis at such an old age. The prophet was right!"
Hotohori allowed his confusion to show, "Prophet?"
The Elderly man sighed, "A prophet came by this village a long time ago, when my son, was born. He said that my son would live to see the day that our Emperor would disappear and the Miko would take over. A dark and deadly age would come to pass, if she stepped up to the throne. My son tried to stop her coronation, but she killed him for defying her. The prophet left me with this to give you if you came by the village to take back your kingdom."
The elder held out a small vial of fluid. It looked as if it had never been opened and aged. He was surprised that the liquid hadn't evaporated.
"When the time comes, you must use this on the Miko. It's the only way to save the kingdom, Your Majesty."
But Hotohori's concern was elsewhere.
"Forgive me for disengaging this conversation, but I really must seek assistance in saving Miaka. I accept your terms and that vial, but please help Miaka!"
The Elder giggled, "I see. So that is where your attention has been. Very well. You have no need to worry. I did not sense death in the air when you brought her in."
Hotohori's relief didn't hide well on his face.
"Are you sure…she will live?"
At that moment, Miaka's heart stopped beating. Every effort was made to revive her. The Elder sat by and listened to the panic. No one wanted to let the empress die and die at the hands of Tamahome. But they didn't know that there were now two Miaka's in Konan. One was cold and heartless as a mirror image was supposed to be. The other was full of love and humanity just as a human being was supposed to be. Only one person could tell them apart.
Afterwards, when Miaka woke up, she saw a concerned Hotohori's face looming over her. Hotohori's smile of relief made her smile, too.
"Hotohori…I dreamed that Konan was in trouble. I saw that I was the one causing all that trouble. What's wrong, Hotohori? Why do you look like that?"
Hotohori wrapped his arms around her, hiding his moist eyes, as he whispered, "Miaka, your heart had stopped beating. When I thought I was going to lose you, I was scared."
Miaka sat, stunned at his words.
She tried to ease her racing heart by joking, "The great emperor Hotohori actually was scared?"
He brought his face mere inches from hers. She saw the sea of emotion in his eyes. It was as if he was using every ounce of strength in his body to hold her close to him and push her away at the same time.
"What's wrong? You don't look like yourself."
All of a sudden Hotohori threw on a serious look, "Miaka, when you received those injuries, the other Miaka was reported as having the same injuries. When you fainted, the other you also fainted at the castle."
Miaka gave him a blank look.
Hotohori explained, "The mirror of you has become Empress of Konan. What physical pains you go through affects her as well."
"Is that so, Hotohori? That is not at all strange. Last time she came it was the same way."
The village elder cleared his throat, "I'm glad to see you well, Empress."
Miaka blushed, while thinking aloud, "I'm not the Empress. I'm not married…to Hotohori…but, my mirror is…wait…I am the Empress. Thank you for taking care of me."
Hotohori and the Village Elder looked at her with surprise. Grabbing Hotohori, she ran out of the Elder's home and out of the village.
Hotohori panted, "What is wrong, Miaka? What were you trying to accomplish back there?"
Miaka looked at him and flashed a mischievous smile.
"You're the only one who can tell that I'm the real Miaka, Hotohori."
"What does this mean?"
"This means I have a plan!"