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Last Train Home

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Clef swiftly arrived at the scene, "Are you okay, Princess? It would seem that Mokona has given full control and responsibility of maintaining the portal to you."

"Is that why I feel so bad?" Fuu asked, somewhat rhetorically. She didn't even have the energy to register what Clef had just called her; otherwise, she might have been more excited.

"Fuu-chan! Are you okay? Mokona didn't hurt you, did he?" Hikaru asked, quickly walking over with the creature in question in her arms. Umi, accompanying her, questioned Hikaru bringing the one responsible over, but said nothing.

The girls had talked at length about the craziness of Mokona being the creator of all the worlds - perhaps then also the creator of their world - but they had never expected to see him again. And yet here he was, no different to the day they had met him at Presea's armoury. If one excused his dramatic entrance, that is.

"I'm sure it will turn out to be a good thing," Fuu said, adjusting to the strength of will she had to maintain, and managing to stand on her own, "It would seem that Clef-san was correct, and that our wedding was indeed the best way to help fix the portal. We summoned Mokona to help fix it for us, and this is the way he thinks is the best."

"You can't really expect Fuu to maintain the portal on her own, can you, Mokona?" Umi demanded from the rabbit-like creature, "We've always done everything together, or not at all! I don't care if you're some kind of god, you're still super annoying!"

"Then won't your will combine with Fuu's?" Ferio pointed out, slightly worried by the way Umi spoke to Mokona, never mind how innocuous he looked.

"Puu," Mokona added, though nobody was really sure what he was referring to or saying; even Hikaru.

"Are you staying for the party, Mokona?" Hikaru asked, trying to alleviate the tension on the balcony.

"Puu!" Mokona agreed, and he bounced off back towards the castle doors, no doubt remembering the route to the great dining hall where everyone would soon congregate.

Quite incredulous that nobody was thinking or worrying further about Fuu's condition, Umi asked, "Are we just dropping this, then? I know it's a wedding, but is nobody else worried about how Fuu feels? Ferio?"

"I feel quite okay at the moment, Umi-san," Fuu interjected before Ferio could start responding to her friend, "Should we follow Mokona-san into the dining hall?" she noticed her friend's face, and it wasn't convinced, "Umi-san, I promise you that I'll take it easy. Ferio will look after me and I've no doubt that you and Hikaru-san will too."

"I'm still pissed that he took so much attention away from your wedding," Umi commented quietly to Fuu as they all walked in from the balcony, "It was meant to be the event of Cephiro's history! The first marriage, between the Prince of Cephiro and a Legendary Magic Knight! But no, Mokona came along and took all the attention. That's not cool at all."

Fuu laughed, while Ferio made no comment, "On the contrary, Umi-san, don't you think it will make our wedding even more memorable? The very first wedding in Cephiro, like you said, with two such important people, if I may say so, and then the creator comes down to bless us."

"I'm just glad to see Mokona again!" Hikaru laughed, flapping the long sleeves of her forest green kimono in celebration "And congratulations, Fuu-chan and Ferio!"

"That's Princess Fuu-chan to you, Hikaru," Ferio reminded her, grinning.

Hikaru clapped enthusiastically and took Umi's hand, "Come on, Umi-chan, let's leave the newlyweds alone and check out the food and music."

The two left ahead of them, while Fuu had a little think on her walk there. She was managing to maintain her link to the portal above Tokyo without feeling too drained at the moment. It wasn't ideal given her bad night's sleep - she'd have to remember to take better care of herself from now on - but it was working. Was it possible that everyone else around her was helping her out? What would happen when she went home on her own? Fuu suspected that Kuu might have started to develop a little of a link to the system of will in Cephiro and might help to support her at home, but was that going to be enough?

"What was all that about?" Kuu asked, "Could someone explain what just happened? I was dealing with everything just fine up until the bright light in the sky, and that's very much where I stopped understanding anything that was going on around me."

Fuu turned to look at her sister and smiled, unsure of where to start. Fortunately, she saw Presea and Caldina coming up behind them too, so she motioned to them, and they were happy to take Kuu aside and give her a quick history lesson. Explaining didn't necessarily mean she'd manage to grasp the gravity of what was going on, but it was better than Fuu moving her concentration from the portal. Besides, Caldina wanted to introduce her to a certain Lieutenant Commander from Autozam.

"I'm sorry, Kuu-oneesama! I'll try to explain better when we get home as well," Fuu said apologetically, waving Kuu off with the others. To her surprise, Ferio pulled her to one side to speak to her more privately.

"You are okay, aren't you, Fuu? I mean, you're taking it a bit too well. I agree with Umi, as much as it pains me to say so," Ferio flashed Fuu a half-hearted grin, "We can go and take a little break, if you like. They won't be offended, considering what's happened."

Fuu waved her arm again and said, "No, thank you Ferio. I know you're all worried, but really, I'm going to be okay."

"And everyone thinks Umi is the stubborn Magic Knight," Ferio sighed, taking a better hold on Fuu's hand as they approached the hall where almost every other guest was located.

Caldina greeted them with a flourish and announced, "Congratulations, newlyweds! Welcome to your 'wed-ding re-cep-tion', where the dancing goes on all night and the alcohol supply is endless!"

"Alcohol?" Fuu asked, slightly disappointed, "Why is that appropriate?"

"It's a party, princess! You don't have to partake if you don't want to," Caldina winked, "Now, hurry up, the master mage wants to make his speech and we'd all prefer if he did it before he gets too cranky."

Ferio groaned, "I was afraid of this. Well, Fuu, let's go and get it over with."

Before them was the usual long table that the palace normally presented for communal meals, along with a few smaller tables dotted around for socialising later on in the evening. Fuu was pleased to see that Aska had been seated near to her, as she'd not been able to convince Clef to let just one ally be part of the wedding ceremony; at least she was given space near her on the dining table to catch up.

She noted that Kuu and Umi had been seated to one side of her, while Ferio had Clef and Hikaru on his side. Ascot was seated conspicuously away from Umi, separated by Caldina and Lafarga. She was glad; she wanted the mandatory meetings to be as comfortable as they could for her friend while her heart was troubled by the choices she had to make.

As Fuu and her prince took their seats at the table, Clef stood and cleared his throat. Fuu did a double-take, as did everyone else at the table; particularly Umi. Clef now stood at least Ferio's height, and had adjusted his physical age appropriately. There was a stunned silence, and Clef took this as a sign that he could commence his speech.

"Some of you will be aware that I have known Prince Ferio since his birth. While he was in my care as a child, he was impeccably behaved, just like his sister. I'm sure that this was her influence, as he became quite the stubborn character when released from our company under her wishes," Clef looked sideways, and read the expression on the couples' faces, "But we won't dwell on the reasoning for that, aside from being thankful that it brought the lovely Fuu to Cephiro, along with her friends Hikaru and Umi. One could really say that it was because of the late Princess Emeraude's actions that these two came to be together. And I could not be more happy for them, even if just because Princess Fuu will keep Crown Prince Ferio in check for me."

There was some appreciative laughter, and Clef held up his hand to silence everyone again.

"Now, in all seriousness, I am immensely happy for the two of you and I give you my blessing, on behalf of everyone in New Cephiro, from our allied countries of Autozam, Chizeta and Fahren, and from places beyond. I can therefore announce this wedding reception open! Please help yourself to any food and beverages you please, ask our servers if there is anything you require, and please, enjoy the evening."

While Fuu feared there might be some equivalent to cheesy party music in this world, the music was thankfully a mix of traditional and modern music from Cephiro and the three surrounding countries. The Magic Knights were amused to find that the music from Autozam was indeed quite similar to a lot of music that was popular on Earth, although they weren't able to understand any of the few lyrics.

Fuu found that she did in fact end up drinking some of that alcohol, as did everyone else at the party, with few exceptions. She had grown suspicious that some of the serving staff were being encouraged to push it on everyone, although gradually became less and less annoyed about this fact, and better at staying upright on her okobo.

She and Ferio were having a grand time demonstrating what they clearly believed to be the world's best ballroom dance moves. As Ferio swung her around, she tried to take in what was going on around her; Hikaru pulling both Lantis and Eagle onto the dancefloor, her sister Kuu shyly asking Geo for a dance, and Umi sat in the corner between Clef and Ascot, talking to Clef while maintaining a halfhearted hold on Ascot's hand.

"Umi-chan!" Hikaru called, swinging Lantis and Eagle with more force than either of them were expecting, "You should come up and dance!"

"Not now, Hikaru," Umi responded, lifting her hand from Ascot's to wave her off.

Ascot stood very suddenly and with purpose, almost knocking his chair over. However, he didn't become flustered and try to right it as he usually would, "Are you here at this party with me, Umi, or are you here as Guru Clef's companion?"

The music did not grind to a halt in the cliche manner everyone expected, but everyone stopped and stood silently to watch the situation unfold. Umi was horrified that she'd somehow managed to cause a scene at her best friend's royal wedding, but she said, quietly and apologetically, "I don't understand what you mean, Ascot."

"Let's not do this here, Ascot, please," Clef said gently.

A sudden rush of reality came to Ascot as he realised the situation he was in and exactly what he was doing in it. He put on his best poker face and slowly walked away with Lafarga trailing behind - the swordsman hadn't had to deal with his unofficial adoptive son acting like this before, though he'd had his fears earlier in the day.

"Don't go after him," Clef advised, as Umi stood up instinctively.

"But Clef, it looks like I've broken up with him."

There was a long pause between them, during which time the music slowly started up again, and the bystanders went back to enjoying the party, too full of good food and alcohol to focus their attention for too long.

"Is that so far from what you want, Umi?" Clef asked.

"At this point, I don't know what I want, but I certainly won't be talking about it now and ruining this beautiful wedding" Umi said, and she marched across the dancefloor to snatch Hikaru from her two gentlemen.

Fuu watched her two friends over Ferio's shoulder for a few minutes until she was sure that Umi was feeling okay. She wasn't annoyed about the disruption like she thought she should be, but she was slightly disappointed that Umi hadn't managed to resolve the issue with all the time she'd had before the wedding.

"She'll be fine," Ferio said quietly in her ear. Fuu could tell from the sound of his words that he was contentedly smiling.

Fuu giggled, "And to think she was mad at Mokona for taking the attention at our wedding. Are you sure something won't happen?"

"This is Ascot we're talking about," Ferio reminded her, "He wouldn't start a real confrontation with Clef. How lucky Umi is to have two men interested in her, though."

"I don't think she considers it lucky, in particular," Fuu chuckled somewhat sadly, then reconsidered Ferio's words, "Wait, are you saying Clef actually has feelings for her?"

Ferio laughed and pulled back from her to look at her face - no, she wasn't joking, it turned out. "Fuu, it's the worst-kept secret in New Cephiro Castle. Clef is just oblivious that we've all realised."

"I'm glad, but it just makes me worry for Ascot."

"Let's stop worrying about other people and enjoy the rest of our day, okay, Fuu?"

The two of them danced for a little while longer, before retiring again to a table at the side of the room, where they ate and drank with their friends. Ascot and Lafarga were nowhere to be seen, but they thought nothing of it until later.

The evening went on with little in the way of notable occurences, Mokona sitting happily in Hikaru's lap as she, Umi and Fuu discussed and explained the ways of Tokyo with their foreign friends once again. Clef was ever intrigued by the educational system, and Fuu was explaining it with great vigor and enthusiasm in her inebriated state - her plans for the university she wished to attend, what she was going to study, and how high her grades needed to be in order to get there.

While Hikaru and Umi were questioning her on whether they could get into that particular institution too, and pointing out that she should be spending her married life learning things more important to Cephiro than real-world mathematics, computer science and politics, Clef excused himself from the table to search out some non-alcoholic beverages and begin the alcohol recovery process - something that hadn't yet been cured by the simple power of will, herbal infusions, or healing magic.

As he was halfway across the room, there was some shouting, some rapid and heavy footsteps, and suddenly he was on the floor nursing his face.

At the same moment, Fuu realised that her sister had a much lower alcohol tolerance than her - given that she herself had been drinking in Cephiro for some time - because Kuu, having had a front row seat for the whole ordeal, stood up, pointed accusingly towards the offender, and shouted, "You can't punch a child!"

There was a strange strangled noise from the floor, and Lantis was the first to take action and check that Clef was okay, but it turned out that the master mage was giggling at Kuu's comment.

"Oh dear," Clef said, pinching his nose in case it was bleeding, "I do suppose I ought to look like a real adult if I were to make the best of this situation and pursue a romance, don't you think, Lantis?"

"I think you're drunk, Guru," was all Lantis could offer, not sure whether to be amused or worried. He looked up, to see the wildly distressed face of Ascot, still holding his hand in a fist in the same position.

Lafarga caught up to them, Caldina approaching from another angle in a kind of pincer movement. The dancer took Ascot's hand and lowered it, patting the sore knuckles, and with a gentle push in the small of his back, led him away from the party without another word. Lafarga turned to Lantis, and they exchanged a glance that evidently meant something to them, and then the captain of the guard was gone.

"Ascot won't be joining us for the rest of the evening," Lantis advised, and he eyed Umi carefully as he helped Clef to his feet. Presea was quick to drag a chair over to prop him up on, and joined Lantis in his silent interrogation of Umi.

Umi stared very hard at the table, as if it were suddenly going to develop the ability to spell out an answer to her, "I don't... I'm sorry... this must be all my fault," she turned to Fuu suddenly, tears welling up in her eyes, "Fuu, I'm so sorry, and Ferio, this is your wedding, and I-"

Ferio laughed and patted Umi's hand, "Umi, really, it's not a wedding without a fight, is it?"

"You've never had a wedding before," Hikaru pointed out, sliding over to join Lantis and check if Clef was okay.

"Exactly!" Ferio said, "and now a good punch-up is the tradition at the wedding party."

"Are you okay, Clef-san?" Fuu asked quietly, leaning to get a better view of the Master Mage, whose face was very red, and was still pinching his nose despite the futility of the act; there was no blood, but he was likely to sport a very large bruise the next day.

Clef raised his arm so he could look at her, and he gave her the most genuine smile he could muster, despite the pain starting to set in, "It's no problem at all, Princess. You and Prince Ferio should retire for the evening to relax - I think this party is over."

***

With Fuu's help, the orbs in Ferio's room had been configured to glow gently as the sun rose outside New Cephiro Castle. The Magic Knight in question was just starting to regret this, as she rolled out of bed with the worst kind of feeling in her stomach.

The morning had become very uncomfortable for her, as she couldn't shake the projection of Tokyo from atop the towering landmark, whether she was asleep or awake. She hadn't tried sleeping with her eyes open, but she wasn't sure that would help either - she was just going to have to get used to it and hopefully stop feeling dizzy, especially when she was immensely hung over. More than she'd expected to be by any real measure, too.

"I still love you, Fuu!" Ferio called helpfully from the bedroom, as Fuu commenced her first full day as Princess of New Cephiro by emptying her stomach into what passed as a toilet in their world.

"That's very reassuring, thank you, Ferio," Fuu replied abruptly, although she was glad that he'd made a sort of joke instead of drawing attention to how embarrassed she was. She took a long drink from a tumbler in the bathroom, washed her face with cold water, and then climbed back into bed. "I do hope the others aren't suffering as much. And - oh, gosh, what about Clef-san? And Ascot-san? And Umi-san?"

Ferio shuffled over and put his arm around her, only for Fuu to freeze up, as she realised she was naked from the waist up, and so was he.

"Wh- wh- wh-- Ferio, where is my nightshirt?" Fuu squinted, as was the quirk she'd acquired when trying to adjust her vision through will, and to her horror she saw some little square foil packets on the floor where her kimono had been discarded the night before. "What are those doing here? Did we--"

"No," Ferio said firmly, and he pulled the sheet up around Fuu's shoulders in the hope that it would calm her down. "Whatever those are. Are they edible?"

For the first time that morning, Fuu cracked a smile, and she sniggered, "No, those definitely aren't edible."