Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing or any of the characters.

Summary: In the city, a young female Neko is living her life day by day. In the castle, a young male Neko has given up on finding his precious mate. Will they find each other and get their happily ever after?

Pairings: 01x04, 02x05, 03xOC

Warnings: Attempted rape, yaoi, violence. Nothing graphic.

A/N: Hey everybody, as I said at the top of the fic this is / was a birthday present for Elfofhope which is why it's not that long and there are a few places it could be added to, (I'm sure all you people with dirty minds out there will know what I mean!) so I might, empahsise on might, add too this later but it's not something I'll be doing anytime soon. It's also my first attempt at writing something with an oc as a major character. Alright, that's not exactly true - but let's forget my very early and never to be repeated Mary-sue days which I didn't like much even at the time. Shock horror I know! I used to be one of those people with crap grammer and no paragraphs! I like to think I've improved since then though so I'd really appreciate any feedback on this.

Now with that out of the way...

Thanks to Kit for beta-ing and hope you all like this!

Finding My Uke

Birthday Ficlet for Elf Of Hope

~ Part the First ~

~ The Kingdom of Animalia ~

Once upon a time in the far away Kingdom of Animalia, the land was at peace. The war with the Nightmare Shadows of the North was over, there had been a good harvest and the land was prospering. It was a beautiful place and visitors from the neighbouring countries would often come simply to walk among the mountains of ice or the deep forests.

The secret of Animalia's success?

The Kingdom of Animalia was home to a number of strange and wonderful creatures. Dryads and nymphs roamed the forests, teasing male visitors and swapping gossip with the females. Water sprites played in the rivers and lakes and hundreds of other creatures moved in and out of these places, living at peace with the humans nearby under the benevolent rule of the Great Two-headed Dragon Clan.

Of course, there was some trouble in the Kingdom. No place is perfect save for the High heavens where the Lord dwells and Animalia, for all its beauty, was no different. For in Animalia, in addition to the nymphs and the dryads and the water sprites were another class of being. As part animal they could never be counted among the humans of the Kingdom, and with no innate magic of their own they could not be considered true beings of magic either. They were the creatures and save for those lucky enough to be born into those who were more enlightened than their fellows, were condemned to always be looked down upon by their peers.

It is a particular type of creature known as Nekos which our tale concerns…

~ Part the Second ~

~ Mid Summer ~

~ In the City ~

It was late and tempers were growing thin. It was already dusk and soon it would be nightfall and everyone knew that though the war was over and the streets were mostly safe, wandering in the dark was an invitation to be captured by a nightmare and spirited off to the north and the cold, dark kingdom there. It was in this environment that a young Neko named Hikria scurried through the crowds, the bags of food clutched in her hands. She had just finished the weekly shop and was in a hurry to return home to her family.

"Watch it!"

Hikria winced as she dodged a man struggling with a large cart horse and slipped into the narrow path that led to the small house which she had her family shared.

"Sorry!"

The man grumbled, already forgetting the young Neko. She was beneath his notice, just another creature and no concern of his. What concern did he have for a magical hybrid? Magical beings took care of their own.

"Mum?"

Hikria slipped into the room quietly, her feet padding softly along the floor as she pulled off the hat that covered her ears. Her mother appeared from a back room, Hikria's youngest cousin cradled gently in her arms.

"Hikria? You're back?"

"Yes Mum. How's Dad?"

Her mum sighed. "Not well. Today wasn't a good day. Why don't you take his supper up? It's next to the cooker. I was going to but…"

Hikria nodded and grabbed the plate, her tail lifting up to brush against her cousin's forehead as she passed. The baby cooed at her and her mother smiled. Hikria was happy, her mother didn't smile nearly enough, she worked so hard…

Reaching the door to her parent's room, she knocked gently and slipped in. "Dad?"

"Ahh… Hikria. How's my baby girl today?"

"I'm fine," She went to continue, but noticed how pale her father looked. Her mother had been right, today had not been a good day. "You know you shouldn't be worrying about me? You should be focusing on getting better."

Her dad shook his head weakly. "Always worrying over others Hiki?" He snorted softly, before reaching for the tray. "You're a good girl…"

Hikria waited quietly as she watched her dad struggle with the food. Occasionally, she would hand him the thin clay cup of grape juice or adjust the pillows. Her father was quieter than usual, and Hikria was glad for that. She could never lie to him and he would ask her about school. She didn't like talking to him about school. It always made him unhappy.

"Hiki?"

She blinked, feeling a moment of guilt for forgetting to pay attention to her dad. What if he had needed something?

"Yes?"

"Hiki… you're a good girl. You know that right? You know I love you…"

Hiki's ears drooped, and she shook her head quickly. "Nothing's going to happen, Dad. It's just been a bad day that's all. You'll get better again."

Her dad smiled at her, and opened his mouth to protest but his eyes were already drooping shut. Hikria reached out to gently stroke his large caramel coloured ears and he fell asleep quickly. As soon as she was sure he was fast asleep, she slipped out the room. She would see if her mother needed help and if she didn't she would begin that day's homework. The Professor would not be happy if it wasn't all perfect. Never mind the fact that her only light source was a tallow candle that stunk out her room and whatever inks or charcoal she could scrounge together that day. She was a Neko. Naturally her work had to be at a higher standard than anyone else in the class…

She couldn't help but feel a little bitter about that.

~ Part the Third ~

~ Same Day ~

~ In the Castle ~

On the other side of the castle, another Neko was feeling a little bitter. His friends, Prince Wufei, heir of the Dragon Clan, and Lord Heero, a War Mage and the son of the ambassador of the Kingdom of Flames to the South, had already found their mates – or in the human's case bonded. Quatre and Duo were both beautiful and this late at night could normally be found curled up next to their mates, occasionally talking quietly with each other, but most often just relaxing in their mate's presence. Trowa envied that closeness. He had yet to find his mate and lately the ache in his heart was growing stronger.

"Trowa? Are you ok?"

The tawny furred Neko looked up to see the rest of the room watching him. Duo and Quatre both had concern plain on their faces and even Wufei and Heero seemed slightly worried.

"I'm fine."

Quatre frowned, his hand reaching up to rub his chest. Heero reacted quickly reaching up and entwining his fingers with the young Healer's. "You're not. It's getting worse, isn't it?"

Trowa looked away, not willing to match the other's stares. He didn't want their pity.

"It's nothing."

"Um, Tro… if it's bad enough that Quat's actually commenting on it then it must be pretty bad."

Trowa frowned slightly, a flicker of annoyance growing. What did they know of anything anyway? They already had their mates. They were already happily paired. They didn't have to put up with the stares and whispers of the common folk whenever they went out anywhere.

"I'm fine."

Wufei met his gaze, frowning slightly, a question in his gaze. Trowa blinked, hand reaching down to clench his dagger and the reminder he kept of his past and his less than noble origins.

"I am feeling slightly tired though. I'll see you tomorrow?"

Wufei nodded reluctantly. Trowa was his friend and trusted advisor. He didn't need to wait for a dismissal but tonight he felt like reminding the others exactly who and what he was. He wasn't a lord who could snub the prince and expect no consequences. He was a commoner born and bred.

"Good night Trowa."

"Yeah good night, Tro."

Trowa nodded briefly to the pair, feeling Wufei and Heero's gaze boring into his back as he left. He couldn't bring himself to care.

After the tall, tawny coloured Neko had gone. Quatre and Duo turned a pleading look to their mates. Wufei sighed.

"There is nothing we can do you know. We've already introduced him in various fashions to all the Nekos of high birth. If he has a mate then they're a commoner. They might not even live in the city."

Quatre pouted. "But it's hurting him!"

Heero sighed and pulled the healer into his lap. "And we can't help him while he refuses to admit it."

Wufei nodded reluctantly. He hated seeing his friend in pain, but there really was nothing more that they could do. As prince he had some leeway but there were limits to his power until he succeeded his father as King.

"There might be something we could do…"

The other three glanced at each other before turning to look at the water sprite. Duo grinned at them, white teeth flashing white in the darkened room. "It's your birthday soon isn't it?"

"How about you have a huge ball…"

"I hate balls."

"I know but with this one you could invite a load of the city folk too – you know as a way to let your future subjects know you a bit and all."

Quatre beamed. "And if every Neko family with a young un-mated female just happens to be invited… well Trowa can hardly blame us. That's a brilliant idea Duo!"

Heero frowned slightly. "Security will be difficult to arrange…" he rolled his eyes at the sudden pleading look his little healer was sending him. "Difficult but not impossible. It is a good plan."

Wufei smiled. "I'll talk to father tomorrow. That means that the earliest we'll be able to have the party is in five weeks. Any less and the servants will rebel. Do you think Trowa can wait that long?"

The question had been meant as a joke but Quatre hesitated, causing the others to grow serious.

"It can't be that bad already. We'd have noticed…"

Quatre looked down. "I did. I knew it was bad but I was hoping he'd say something…"

Heero hugged his healer to him tightly. "It's not your fault Trowa is so stubborn."

"But if I…"

"No Quat." He glanced at the others. "We'll find her, whoever she is."

Quatre swallowed. "I hope so. It's just at most… Trowa's got maybe three months left."

~ Part the Fourth ~

~ Five Weeks Later ~

~ At the City College ~

"Thanks so much Hikria!"

Hikria smiled at her friend. "Don't worry about it Reila."

Her human friend smiled at her before hurrying off. She was being courted by the leather worker's son and had been promised a weekend in the country. Her parents had been given permission on the condition that she finished her coursework before hand, which was what Hikria had just finished working through with her.

Packing up her bag carefully, she made sure that the bread rolls she'd picked up at lunch were still in one piece before sliding her text book down the back of the bag. All things considered she knew she was very lucky. She had a family that loved her, a place in a good college on a course that she enjoyed and she had a decent sized home. That was a lot better than some of the Nekos she knew – or even some of the humans.

"Hey Hiki!"

Hikria winced. "Go away, Grav."

Grav chuckled. "Still playing hard to get Hiki? There's no point. We both know that we belong together… I'm your mate."

Hikria's tail twitched and she felt her claws extending slightly. "First of all – you're not my mate! Second – I don't know what sort of deal your parents made, but you hurt my friend! If you think I'll have anything to do with you after that you've got another thing –"

"Come on Hiki…" He stepped forwards, arms going to either side and trapping her against the desk. "We belong together."

Hikria felt panic wrap around her. It was getting late – the librarian was gone and the building was empty. She was alone. "Get off me Grav."

He smirked. "Not until you admit that you're mine…"

He bent forwards, head bending over hers and Hikria felt the air move against her neck as he inhaled her scent. Something snapped in her chest. Lashing out with her claws she swiped her hand across his face. Ducking out from under his arms, she grabbed her bag as she ran out of the classroom, all the while trying to figure out how he'd known she would be there. The only other person who had known was…

Reila

She'd been set up.

~ Part the Fifth ~

~ Same Day ~

~ In the Castle ~

Trowa curled up in his bed, secure in the knowledge that his friends were all occupied today and that the servants knew better than to enter his room while he was there. The pain in his chest had grown with each day that passed. Trowa hated it, hated the pain, hated the constant reminder of how he still hadn't found her yet…

"Trowa?"

He clenched his fists and sat up, smoothing the covers as the door opened. He might not be able to hide his pain from Quatre, but he would not show weakness. He was stronger than that.

"Oh, Trowa…"

"I'm fine, Quatre."

The blonde healer scowled at him. "No you're not! You're hurting! I can feel it from the other side of the castle."

Trowa stood up, heading towards his wardrobe.

"Where are you going?"

"Out."

"But where? The ball's tomorrow. We need to get fitted for our clothes and…"

Trowa sent him a sharp look before slipping out the door. Quatre hurried to the door to go after him, but the Neko was gone. Closing his eyes he reached out with his senses, and found the familiar ache that had recently become heading swiftly towards the forest.

"Oh Trowa…"

"Quatre?" Quatre spun around, relaxing when he saw Wufei there. "What is it?"

Quatre blinked back tears as he pushed his walls back up. "He's hurting so much Wufei… I know dominate creatures feel pain if they don't find they're mate in time, but why do they have to feel so much?"

Wufei glanced up as Heero appeared at the other end of the corridor and started walking swiftly towards them, no doubt sensing his little one's distress.

"I don't know Quatre. Creatures always seem to draw the short straw… but that's life."

"But… but why does it have to be Trowa? Why can't he just find his mate and be happy?"

Heero, who had managed to reach the pair without Quatre noticing wrapped his arms around the smaller male and pulled him into a hug. "We're looking little one. We'll find them. That's what this party is all about."

Quatre nodded, swiping a hand quickly across his face before cuddling in tighter to Heero. "I hope we find her soon."

Heero tilted his head. "Her? How do we know Trowa's mate's a her?"

Quatre frowned at Heero. "Because Trowa's male – and Neko males can't carry children. So his mate has to be female – and a sub too because only the dominants feel the pain of not being with their mate once they're both of age."

Heero nodded, expression thoughtful. "The subs don't feel anything at all?"

"No, the subs don't feel anything until they actually mate. After that…" Quatre smiled wickedly, his eyes lighting up as he looked at his bonded. "Well it's the same for them as for any other mated pair."

Heero grinned back, a glint appearing in his eye. "I see. Well, if you'll excuse us Wufei…"

Wufei raised an eyebrow as the little healer was practically dragged off, his face bright red – hopefully from what he was picking up off his bonded. Shaking his head, he paused at the sound of splashing water from downstairs. It was quickly followed by cruses and familiar laughter. Wufei smiled faintly and headed back the way he'd come. He had a mate to check up on – one that would probably need punishing for upsetting the servants again. It was a good thing they had an hour before dinner…

~ Part the Sixth ~

~ Same Day ~

~ In the Forest on the City Borders ~

Trowa jumped into the tree as soon as he reached the first trees and jumped from branch to branch for a bit. After a while he came to his private area, a large tree with sturdy branches he'd found soon after he and the others had returned from the wars. It was his safe place, his secret place that he was relatively sure his friends didn't know about. Of course they knew he frequently escaped to the forest, but they never commented on it, and they never followed him out. He was glad of that. As much as he loved them, the constant reminders of how happy they were wore on him. He wanted that happiness too.

Closing his eyes, he leant back against the tree trunk, letting his eyes slip shut. His dreams were full of a young female, with soft dark-red fur on her ears that blended nicely into fiery red hair. Her tail wrapped around his wrist, tentative and unsure as she snuggled deeper into his arms. He could never get a good look at her face, but he could smell her scent. It teased his nose, reminding him of ink, dust and a unique scent that he knew was hers and hers alone. In his dreams, he held her tightly and she relaxed into his arms, trusting him to look after her. He didn't want to ever let her go…

When he awoke, the ache in his chest felt worse and he closed his eyes against the tears that threatened to come. He longed to look for her, to seek her out… but he had no idea where to look. The sense that had guided him to this kingdom, this city had faded. She was somewhere nearby, somewhere close…

But he couldn't find her.

With a sigh, he stood up on the branch and began the journey back to the castle. He'd missed dinner and his friends were probably worrying about him, but he couldn't bring himself to care. It didn't matter anymore. Not really.

Not while he didn't have his mate.

~ Part the Seventh ~

~ The Next Day ~

~ In the City ~

"Hikria! There you are!" Hikria turned at the sound of one of her older cousins, a black furred Neko with dark brown hair. "So how is my favourite little cousin today?"

Hikria scrunched up her nose. "Me?"

"Yes, you. I want to know how you are."

Taking her school bag, he walked back with her slowly, glaring at the occasional cart man that didn't think anything of colliding with a young pair of Nekos.

"Me, I'm ok."

"Right."

He shot her a look and she wrinkled her nose at him, before noticing the scratch on his arm.

"You're hurt! What happened?"

Her cousin shrugged. "Nothing, got into a small argument is all. It's healing up fine. But don't get off the subject. I've got a question for you."

Hikria frowned. "Question?"

"Yeah, the ball tonight. Who are you going with?"

Hikria paused. She'd heard about the ball obviously. There wasn't anyone in the city who hadn't. A lot of people had been invited, including her.

"I'm not."

"You're not?"

"No. Dad's not doing so well, and you know how busy Mum is. I can't leave them."

Her cousin sighed. "Hikria…"

"Don't. It's not as if I'll find anything there. I'll just spend the whole night fending off Grav's advances. It's not like anyone will intervene. They all believe him when he claims to be my mate."

"He's still saying that?"

"Yeah. He keeps saying I'm just playing hard to get. I'm not. I genuinely hate him. You can't hate your mate, can you?"

He shrugged. "I wouldn't know. I found my mate fairly easily and she certainly didn't hate me."

"True." She grinned, "So when are the pair of you taking the final step?"

"No idea, when we have a date, I'll let you know."

"You better."

He laughed and slung an arm around her shoulders. "Just don't forget to look after yourself too, Hiki."

She rolled her eyes. "I do, I do."

~ Part the Eighth ~

~ The Night of the Ball ~

~ In the Castle ~

Duo shared an annoyed look with Quatre. Trowa had done the obligatory rounds and promptly disappeared somewhere. He was still in the room, the pair where sure of that. Wufei and Heero had warned the guards that Trowa was not to be allowed out without one of them and to be informed if he tried. So far they hadn't heard anything so he was probably still in the room. Although… with Trowa you could never really be sure.

"Did everyone turn up?"

Duo frowned slightly. "I think so…"

"Then how come Trowa hasn't found his mate yet? I made sure every female of about the right age was invited!"

"Could you have got the age wrong?"

Quatre shook his head. "No, I made sure to invite people about five years older than she should be and five years younger. Heero wasn't happy, but he agreed it would be worth it."

"Except…"

"Yeah…"

The pair shared a helpless look.

"So what do we do now?" Duo asked quietly. "We really need to find her."

Trowa kept his face carefully blank as he did his best blending into the wall impression. He had picked a spot out of sight of the main room and close enough to the buffet table that he could get quickly grab a drink if any of the young females approached. None of them were the female that he wanted to find. He could tell that after a single circuit of the room. Not that he needed to do a full circuit, he would have known the minute he entered the same room as his mate and he hadn't.

"You couldn't persuade her to come with you then Grav?"

A male Neko in the corner shook his head. "No. It doesn't matter, though. She'll be mine eventually."

His friend shook his head. "If you say so, although I thought your mate was supposed to like you at least."

"She likes me. She's just playing hard to get."

Trowa rolled his eyes. At least that man knew who his mate was. He didn't even have that assurance… Watching the group from the corner of his eye, he watched them walk past towards one of the exits.

It wasn't until they'd past through the door that he picked up on the faint scent that was clinging to the male named Grav. It was the scent of his mate.

His mate's scent was on the male Neko.

His mate's scent was on a male Neko that wasn't him.

He crossed his arms and felt the tips of his claws pricking at the inside of his arms. He wouldn't react. He wouldn't lash out. It could all be perfectly innocent…

"No. It doesn't matter, though. She'll be mine eventually."

"If you say so, although I thought your mate was supposed to like you at least."

But somehow he doubted it. If this 'Grav' had been harassing his mate… well he'd survived a war with the Nightmares. He could handle another Neko. And if he was wrong? Well the male had been in contact with HIS mate. It was the first lead he'd had in a long time. It made sense to check it out properly.

~ Part the Ninth ~

~ The Morning After ~

~ In the City ~

"You're sure about this Trowa?"

The hooded figure of Duo asked as the small group slipped into the town. Wufei's father would have a fit if they knew they'd entered the city without any guards, but none of the five really cared. They were soldiers. They'd all fought in, and survived, a war. They didn't need guards for one little trip into the city.

"Yes."

Quatre stepped closer to his bonded as a rough looking man cast a considering look their way. Heero glared right back. The man looked away.

"I hope you're right, is all."

Hikria sighed as she signed her name at the top of the essay. She was done. Every piece of work for the next four weeks was complete. She'd finished her final projects and all she needed now was to find time with her tutors to go through everything to get a second opinion. Once they'd signed off on everything… well there wasn't really anything else for her to do. She was free.

"Hiki!"

Her tail flicked at the familiar voice and she hurriedly shoved her finished project into her bag.

"Hiki, you weren't at the ball last night. I was waiting for you."

"Get lost Grav, I've told you before. I want nothing to do with you."

Grav scowled and stepped forward, blocking her path. "Look Hiki, I've been nice, I've been patient, but I won't be patient for much longer. You got me?"

Hikria glared, but after a second dropped her eyes. "Yes."

Grav smiled calmly and stepped back. "Glad we understand each other. I'll see you at the Black Rose tonight. We can talk and stuff."

Heero paused at an alleyway, before glancing back at the others. "I've found him."

Trowa was by his side instantly, the others not far behind. "Where?"

"That direction. I've got a fix on him now. We won't lose him."

Wufei glanced between the two his dark eyes considering. "We'll follow him from a distance for now. Trowa? You're sure you'll be able to recognise your mate if we see her?"

Trowa nodded sharply. "Yes."

Wufei examined him carefully before giving a quick nod. "Very well."

"Brilliant! Come on then guys, let's go!"

Quatre shook his head as Duo bounded forward before stopping to glance back at Heero. "Um, which way was it again?"

~ Part the Tenth ~

~ The Evening After ~

~ In the City ~

Grav smiled to himself as he waited in the alleyway opposite Hikria's house. He wasn't stupid. No matter what she'd said when he'd cornered her earlier, she wouldn't give in so easily. She probably planned to spend the night holed up safely inside her family's house. It wouldn't work. Her dad was too sick to stop him from trying something this time and even if he wasn't, he'd heard his Hiki's mother complaining about how her husband was so sleepy from his medication these days. Her mother was at one of the other family homes helping out with some of his mate's cousins and that older cousin of hers was off with his mate to some special retreat.

Little Miss Hiki was all alone.

He smirked and stepped forward. It had been so easy to find out her address. Her friends were all so eager to help their friend's future mate keep track of his rebellious little sub so that they could be together and be happy… all he had to do was mope and act all hard done by and they did everything they could to help – even stealing her key and copying it for him. Fools… And tonight he was through with playing around. Tonight he was going to show the little tease who had the power in their relationship. He was going to make her his…

Trowa was tense. The others were little better. They'd followed Grav for most of the day. They knew he'd been in contact with Trowa's mate recently – recently enough that when Trowa had slipped past the boy in the street, he was able to pick up extra things about her from her scent. There was the smell of ink, and wood, and a faint smell of a herb used to help with sleep. That last scent had been one that had – luckily – taken Trowa a while to recognise and so the others had been able to stop him going after the man and demanding answers.

Now, now they were waiting in a street that smelt so strongly of his mate that Trowa was finding it difficult to keep control. His mate was so close he could practically feel it. He wanted nothing more than to find her and hold her and keep her safe. But he couldn't…

Sometimes subs got confused.

Sometimes they thought they'd found their mate and fell in love with the wrong person.

He didn't think it was the case here, but he had to be sure. If he was wrong and his mate had feelings for this person then harming them might drive them away. He couldn't afford to spend time winning them back. He needed to have his mate with him. He needed to hold her in his arms and breathe her scent. More than that could wait so long as she was with him and safe… but to have to stay back from her. To have to hold himself back out of fear of scaring her off just because he'd hurt someone she cared about and didn't trust him?

That would kill him.

"Guys!" Trowa jerked around to see Duo slip down the ladder behind the house they were hiding behind. "Something's going on! I have a really bad feeling about this!"

Trowa frowned, moving toward the edge of the building so they could get to the house that Grav had been watching more easily. The house he suspected belonged to his mate. What was she like? Was she fun? Confident? Cheerful? He wouldn't mind if she turned out to be like Duo but he wasn't sure how he'd be able to keep up…

"Trowa!"

He spun around to see Quatre had suddenly crumbled to the ground, Heero wrapping his arms tightly around the smaller male, a dark frown on his face.

"You need to get in there… She's…"

Trowa didn't hear the rest of Quatre's warning. He was already sprinting for the house, Wufei and Duo hard on his heels. He should have acted earlier. He should have gone with his first impression that Grav was a scumbag. If he'd hurt his mate…

Hikria had been preparing for bed. She'd just finished checking on her dad and had closed the door to his room quietly. He'd had his normal dose of herbs and was now sleeping comfortably. The Healer had been very clear that he was to take them every night. He wasn't sleeping well and it was important for him to get as much sleep as possible. Hikria smiled at her dad before pulling the door shut. Speaking of sleep… it was getting late. She should go to bed herself.

"Well well well… what do we have here?"

Hikria stiffened at the sound of a very familiar voice. Praying she was mistaken, she turned around slowly. Grav was standing at the top of the stairs smirking at her.

"Get out of my home. Now."

He shook his head, coming towards her steadily. "No Hikria. Not this time. This time you're going to be mine."

Hikria looked around for something she could use to stop him. For a second her gaze stopped on the door to where he dad was sleeping and she straightened up. There was no way she was going to let Grav hurt her father or her.

"For the last time Grav. Get Out."

He smirked. "Make me."

She took a step forward, and shoved him – hoping to knock him down the stairs and away from the bedrooms. He didn't budge – just grabbed her shoulders and pushed her against the wall. She scowled and went to knee him, but he was obviously expecting it and simply used his leg to push her knee to the side.

For the first time, Hikria felt real fear. Her hands were trapped above her head. He had her legs spread apart and she was pinned against the wall. She opened her mouth to scream but he leaned forward and crushed his mouth against hers, biting her lip hard. Her scream turned into a whimper and she felt him smirk against her skin.

"You are mine Hikria. No one's coming to save you…"

It was just that second that a snarling angry Neko launched itself at him. A second later, Hikria found herself being pulled to the side and sheltered by a worried looking man with a long braid of hair while another young man dressed in dark clothes ran towards where the two Neko males were fighting. Or rather where the new Neko was attacking Grav and Grav was whimpering in pain as razor sharp claws ripped through him.

Eyes wide, she watched as Grav launched a last desperate attack on the newcomer, resulting in a snarl as he managed to slash her saviour across the eyes. She flinched at her saviours snarl of pain and the man cradling her in his arms picked her up gently and carried her outside. She curled into his shoulder, before flinching again as she heard Grav let out a gurgling scream that trailed off into a horrible coughing sound. The man, no sprite, carrying her sighed and lowered her to the ground just outside the door. Two humans immediately ran up to them.

"Quat. Good. Do you think you can give her a look over? She's hurt and I think she's going into shock."

Hikria blinked as a pair of pale blue eyes suddenly appeared in front of her and shuffled back awkwardly.

"Easy, it's ok. I won't hurt you. I'm a healer."

She took a deep shuddering breath before giving a small nod. This time when the healer reached for her, she didn't flinch away. She tensed though, and the healer paused for a second but didn't stop his careful tracing of her lip. It healed with a faint tingling sensation.

Duo stepped back from Trowa's mate and stood next to Heero who had his jaw tensed. "Trowa's inside. Wufei's with him though so…"

Heero nodded. "What happened?"

"He was trying to rape her. Trowa snapped."

Heero sighed. "Understandable. If someone tried to hurt Quatre like that…"

Duo gave him a small smile, before it fell. "Do you think Grav tried anything else? If he did…"

Heero let out a faint sigh. "We'll deal with it. She's safe now… and somehow I don't see Trowa letting her out of his sight."

"No, I don't plan to."

Trowa's furious gaze turned to where Quatre was just moving back from his mate – his mate - and his eyes softened. Padding over, he crouched down next to her.

"Are you alright?"

The girl blinked at him, her eyes widening slightly as she noticed the emblem of the royal house under his cloak.

"You're…"

"Your mate."

She swallowed. "I… I can't be… You're…"

"You are. You're my mate."

He reached out and brushed a strand of hair off her face, tucking it behind a twitching ear. She shifted at his touch, subconsciously leaning into his hand. Trowa smiled, something in him relaxing. He'd been terrified when he saw Grav trapping her against the wall. All he could think about was that she was being hurt. That she didn't want this and that if she was…

He didn't even want to think the word.

"I…"

He smiled at her innocent pleading look and quickly lifted her up. She was so small and cute…

"Come on. Let's get you out of here."

She blinked at him, her eyes widening in surprise before relaxing into his grip. But as Trowa took his first step in the direction of the castle, she seemed to remember something and twisted around.

"Wait! My dad… I can't leave him."

Four of the five scowled, while Quatre looked slightly puzzled.

"You're father was here and he didn't intervene?"

Hikria stiffened. "My dad is a good man! Just because he's sick…"

Trowa pulled her closer, breathing in her scent. For a moment the pain in his chest didn't seem so bad. Hikria just blinked wide surprised eyes up at him.

"How about we send Quatre and Heero to get him then? He can come with us."

Duo frowned but at a look from Wufei didn't say anything. Quatre gave a comforting smile and slipped back into the house, Heero behind him. Trowa watched them go for a second before focusing back on his mate.

His mate. She was really here, in his arms. He felt a small smile spread across his face. He'd been waiting so long for this moment.

"We've got him."

Trowa glanced over to where Heero and Quatre had appeared. Heero was carrying an older male with caramel coloured ears. He was snoring away quite happily, ignorant of where he was. Trowa sent Heero a questioning look.

"Sleeping herbs," Heero mouthed back at him. "He was very sick."

"Quatre?" he mouthed back, his eyes flicking to the smaller blonde.

Heero gave a sharp nod, and Trowa relaxed slightly. At least he didn't have to worry that his mate's father had knowingly aided in her attack. If he'd been awake and aware of what was going on… Well Trowa wouldn't have been held responsible for his actions and from the looks earlier neither would the others.

"Let's get back home." Wufei announced suddenly. "It's late. No doubt you are tired…"

He paused, glancing at the girl still curled into Trowa's chest. She glanced at him, before seemingly trying to hide under Trowa's cloak. Her muttered answer wasn't audible to the rest of the group.

"Hikria. Her name is Hikria."

Wufei smiled. "It is good to meet you Hikria."

She nodded, barely managing to suppress a yawn. "You to…"

Trowa laughed quietly. "Let's go."

~ Part the Eleventh ~

~ The Next Morning ~

~ In the Castle ~

Hikria winced as she uncurled from her position on her bed. She's spent the night curled up in a ball, and she had no idea why. Going to push herself upright, she was surprised to find a strong arm pull her backwards. Tensing, she bit her lip. How had she ended up here?

Taking a look around the room, she noticed grey stone walls. There was only one building in the city that had walls like that and that was the castle. But what was she doing in the castle? Only royalty and their most trusted friends lived here.

Oh.

Memories of the night before flooded into her mind. Grav sneaking into her home… An angry Neko knocking him off her… Grav's last gurgling breath… She frowned slightly. She supposed she should be sad or happy or something about his death. She didn't feel anything though. She felt… numb? No. Content? Maybe.

"You're awake."

She rolled over to find the Neko from the night before watching her with soft green eyes. She smiled shyly at him. She felt comfortable with him, safe even. It was a nice feeling. She reached out to touch the ears poking through his messy hair and his hand caught hers – their fingers entwining with each other.

"I… I never got your name…"

She bit her lip when he didn't answer straight away and he pulled her towards him slightly. "My name's Trowa. Trowa Barton. You're Hikria?"

Hikria blushed. The way he said her name with a slight catch after the 'k' and letting the 'ia' stretch made her feel warm inside. "Yes. Did you… did you mean it?"

He frowned slightly, tilting his head to the side. "Mean what?"

"That I'm your mate?"

She hoped he said yes.

"Yes. You're my mate. And now I've found you, I'm never letting you go." He brushed the hair out of her eyes again, green eyes focused on her and only her. After a second, he placed a hand on her shoulder and pushed her gently back down. "It's early yet. Get some more sleep."

She nodded, ready to trust the man that had fought Grav for her. Snuggling into him, she relaxed when she felt his arm wrap around tightly around her, his larger body curling itself around hers protectively. Smiling to herself she let herself drift back to sleep.

~ Part the Twelfth ~

~ A Year Later ~

~ In the Castle Courtyard ~

Hikria twirled around in the light silk dress that had been a gift from the Queen, smiling up at her dancing partner and now her official mate, Trowa Barton. To one side she could see her mother and father also dancing while her cousin and his mate were talking quietly together on the far side of the room. Spotting Duo and Wufei twirling past, she smiled happily at one of her two best friends. Together the three of them constantly managed to keep their mates (or in Quatre's case bonded) on their toes.

"Enjoying the party, my love?"

She smiled up at Trowa. Her mate… and god she loved saying that… was smiling down at her, his eyes crinkled upwards slightly at the sides. It was a sign that only appeared when he was truly relaxed.

"Yes." And she was, she really was. "But can we go soon?"

He blinked at her, before taking in the red blush that was staining her cheeks. Smirking, he glanced over at Wufei who nodded and tilted his head to the side. The King also caught the look and nodded his approval. Trowa nodded to them and pulled Hikria towards a side door. Slipping through, they hurried upstairs to their set of rooms. Closing the door behind them, he pulled her towards him and their lips met.

Clinging to him, Hikria gazed up into darkened green eyes. "I love you Trowa."

He smirked, pulling her into another kiss, his hand dropping down to cup her lower back.

"I love you too, Hiki."