Author Notes: Hello everyone and Happy New Year! I hope it will be a fabulous one for all of you. Here's a tiny offering of my favourite Vampire Knight trio, a two parter. Enjoy :)
Summary: There were three unhappy people here this evening, but by the end of tonight, Kaname knew there would be only one. Himself. KxY, ZxY.
Disclaimer: Vampire Knight belongs to Matsuri Hino.
25 Feb 2015: Thanks to the talented Sheankelor's review, I've decided to add Yuuki's POV to this chapter. I only realised after I'd written it that it belongs here anyway. I will work on the next chapter as soon as real life allows me to. It's been a very busy 2 months despite the recent holidays. In the meantime, enjoy the extra little snippet and I thank you all for your kind patience :)
- Story Start -
The forecast snow had started falling.
Right on time, Zero thought, looking up at the dancing, floating flakes in the darkening sky. If only he could predict the outcome of tonight's party as accurately. He flipped up the collar of his worn black leather jacket and frowned, the vague thought that he really, really should replace it crossing his mind, the same as it did every year.
He never did. It never got put into action simply because it wasn't important enough a thought to retain in his head. Nothing was. Not anymore.
There was a time when someone would remind him without fail, nag him even... well, that time was over.
Zero shook his head hard to dispel the maudlin thoughts hovering at the periphery of his mind. He was only here because the Vampire Council had requested for a senior hunter to attend the Kurans' New Year soiree. He was not here to take a trip down memory lane; that was a painful place that didn't bear visiting.
Forcing himself to move, Zero crossed the deserted road and walked up to the imposing iron wrought gates. It was strangely quiet for a house that was supposed to be hosting a party. Narrowed amethyst eyes looked from the long white gravel path that curved all the way from the gates to the front doors of the mansion, cutting across a growing carpet of white.
Perhaps the guests were all assembled in the basement?
It wouldn't be the first time Zero had been to such a party, hidden from prying eyes and from sunlight. Again, he pushed aside a past memory, this time of low voices and soft music, the muted clink of glasses and the unmistakable aura of bloodsuckers. Then, as if a switch had been flicked or a veil had been lifted, his hunter senses started tingling. There were two purebloods inside the house, their auras burning bright and familiar in his senses.
His adopted sister and the ex-Leader of the Moon Dorms of Cross Academy.
The love of his life and the rival for her affections.
Siblings... betrothed couple... lov- no. Stop.
It was none of his business what they were to each other. It never had been.
Using more force than the simple task warranted, Zero unlatched the gate - it was not padlocked - causing a loud 'clang' to disturb the cold, still air. It didn't matter. They knew he was here or they wouldn't have revealed their own presences. He strode up the path, hating how his heart was already beating faster, his emotions getting the better of him. Longing at the thought of seeing one of them, intense irritation at the thought of seeing the other.
Going up the three marble steps that led to the double doors, Zero lifted a hand to knock, but the doors were pulled open from the inside... and there she was.
The girl who had been a part of his life ever since he was twelve... the girl he had fallen in love with even though he had tried so hard not to... the girl he had lost.
She no longer resembled the slightly ditzy and clumsy Yuuki Cross. Her shiny auburn hair was now waist long and dead straight, her evening dress - probably costing the earth - pale cream and soft, clinging to her slight curves. A simple silver ribbon nestled at the base of her white neck, her only adornment.
Zero pulled his gaze away from that tempting sight, a delicious taste he would never forget making his fangs tingle. He looked at her again, frowning. She had never been fat or even remotely plump in the past, no matter how much she ate, but she seemed far thinner now than he remembered.
Even her eyes were different. Still large and hypnotic, but with rosewood tints that no longer lay buried under a spell. They pulled him in, inviting him to put aside his animosity and drown in their luminous depths, in foolish dreams of young and innocent love.
Despite his curt voice, she smiled at him, a smile that was sweet and just a bit nervous.
"Zero. I've missed you."
Four words that stabbed straight into his heart. He stood there staring at her, incapable of a reply or indeed, anything at all... until he appeared at her shoulder.
"Kiryuu. Thank you for coming."
Wrenching his gaze away from Yuuki's beautiful eyes, Zero encountered Kaname Kuran, impeccably turned out in a white tuxedo.
The male pureblood smiled, but his eyes didn't.
"Yuuki seems to have forgotten her manners. Please, come in."
- o -
An elegant foyer led to a large and beautifully appointed living room, the paintings on the walls as exquisite as the furniture. It didn't hide the fact that there was no one here except the three of them, not even Seiren.
"So - where's the party?" Zero asked. He stood with his feet apart, facing his host and hostess.
Yuuki had gone to sit in an armchair by the fireplace, slender legs crossed at the knee and fingers loosely linked. She turned to glance up at her brother who stood beside her before turning back to Zero.
"There is no party here tonight, Zero," she admitted. "I'm sorry to have misled you."
Zero stared at her, more surprised by her admission than by her words. The Yuuki he had known wouldn't have confessed to any misdeed so easily, with hardly a blush on her cheeks. She would have hemmed and hawed, denied and accused, looked flushed and flustered and done everything in her power to avoid owning up.
"It was my idea," Kuran added.
Zero's jaw clenched. So the two of them had managed to hoodwink both the Vampire Council and the HA. Why wasn't he surprised?
"So there isn't any reason for me to remain here any longer," he replied, keeping his eyes on Yuuki. "Is there?"
It hurt to see her again. It hurt even more to see her like this. The Kuran Princess, ensconced in the lap of luxury she was born to, betrothed to the one she was destined for... but he still didn't want to leave. Not yet.
"There is a reason," Yuuki replied. "Please stay. Have dinner with us before you go."
Zero exhaled, lips turning up in a mirthless smile. It looked like Fate had no compunction in granting him this one tiny wish since she would never give him what he wanted most of all.
Yuuki's smile turned tremulous once more, her fingers tightening around each other.
"It's the start of a new year. A time to let bygones be bygones, a time to mend bridges."
When Zero just raised an eyebrow, she took a deep breath.
"And I've missed you, Zero."
Surprised yet again at her candour, Zero's gaze flicked to her brother whose eyes were still on him. Kuran nodded without hesitation, making Zero wonder if this had already been planned.
"Yuuki's wish is my command. Do stay for dinner, Kiryuu."
And even though Zero knew he shouldn't, that he would regret it once tonight ended, he found himself nodding anyway.
Yuuki's wish... was his command too.
- o -
Dinner was ready and waiting to be served in the stately dining room.
Large silver chafing dishes stood on the sideboard, containing bacon and spinach stuffed portobello mushrooms, grilled lamb chops with spicy mint sauce, roast chicken with rosemary gravy, mashed potatoes, crispy fries and buttered vegetables. A large pot of cream of asparagus stood next to a hot food cabinet displaying a selection of pastries. A chilled bowl of mango and prawn salad rested in a tureen of ice.
Zero's stomach growled as he stared at the food and smelled the appetising aromas. He hadn't eaten lunch, too preoccupied with this evening's soiree.
"I know it isn't much," Yuuki began, but Zero shook his head and she fell silent.
"Where are the cooks? I'm pretty sure neither one of you prepared all this."
Kuran's small smile was wry as if he had already expected Zero's disparaging tone.
"Our chef cooked dinner and we gave him and the rest of the staff the night off. They left just a few minutes ago."
"We wanted a private dinner, Zero," Yuuki explained and gestured to the first chair on the left of the head of table. "Please, have a seat."
Zero's gaze slid from the chair to the dishes and then to Yuuki.
"I would like to serve you," she said with a deprecating smile.
In the blink of an eye, Zero was transported back a couple of years to when home was Cross Academy, and the shabby, comfortable kitchen there was where he had learned to cook, a skill borne of both interest and necessity. He had served meals to Cross and Yuuki numerous times without blinking an eye, and only realised now that Yuuki had never returned the favour. Not even once.
Perhaps it was just for show or perhaps she meant what she said, that she wanted to mend the bridge between them. It wasn't possible of course; she had already made her choice by going off with Kuran. But since she had offered...
With a curt nod, Zero went to sit at the place she directed. He watched as she took a plate from the stack on the sideboard and began filling it with a selection of food, the clink of cutlery against fine porcelain the only sounds breaking the silence. He didn't say anything even when she dropped a spoonful of cold salad on top of the lamb, the plate's growing quantity making him wonder if she intended all three of them to eat from the same plate.
Glancing at Kuran who was watching Yuuki, Zero saw the familiar look in those eyes. Wholehearted adoration, the expression Kuran always wore whenever he looked at Yuuki, the expression Zero always tried to ignore.
"There you go."
The laden plate was placed in front of Zero. He looked back to see Yuuki smiling down at him.
"You're welcome." Yuuki's smile widened and she looked almost like her old self before she turned back to the sideboard.
"Allow me, dear one. Why don't you go sit down?"
Kaname smiled at Yuuki as he took the empty plate from her hand and suddenly, Zero wasn't hungry anymore.
- o -
Yuuki knew she was staring instead of eating, but she couldn't help it. She wanted to feast her eyes on Zero while she could. In fact, now that he was here, she never wanted him to leave.
She thought she had learned all about decorum and poise and being the perfect Kuran princess, thanks to Hanabusa Aido's constant lecturing and nagging over the past two years. It was true, she could converse well with anyone now (well, almost anyone), she held herself with a grace she never could have managed two years ago and she hadn't fallen down the dratted staircase in a whole year.
Yet the moment she had felt Zero's aura outside, she had sped to the door like a child and flung it open before she could stop herself. It had been too long since she had last seen him. His hair was longer now, but he was still wearing that rag of a coat. He should have thrown it out years ago. She would have made sure he had... if she had been there.
He was also as grumpy as ever and while she knew it had always been an act, she wasn't so sure now. When he had first caught sight of her, his amethyst eyes had the same look a starving man might give a plate of food. It made her wish again - right there and then - what she had wished every single day since... that she could go back to that fateful day.
Only there was nothing she could have changed then that wouldn't leave her with regrets. If she had chosen to stay with Zero, she would have broken her onii-san's heart, the person she had thought was always out of her reach, but turned out to be the one she was meant for. Kaname worshipped her, she knew that. She adored him too, and she had loved these past two years with him, but she had also missed Zero so much!
Tearing her eyes away from the silver haired hunter who was eating in stoic silence - she winced at how she had plated his food - and ignoring her, she glanced at Kaname instead, seeing his calm gaze on Zero. He had to know how much she had missed Zero and what it meant. To his credit, he had never pressed her too hard for answers, but allowed his halfhearted questions to be parried.
Yuuki felt her eyes sting and bit her lip, dropping her gaze to her untouched plate. She was with Kaname now, she shouldn't be thinking of anyone else. Her carefree life as Yuuki Cross, adopted daughter of the late Chairman Cross and almost sister to Zero Kiryuu was over.
It was too late to wish for something else, something that could never be.
- o -
Kiryuu looked as uptight as ever, that familiar scowl sitting on his face. He was a respected figure now in the HA, but he looked thinner and older somehow as if the added responsibilities and living on his own had taken their toll on him.
Appearances aside though, Kaname knew some things would never change. Such as Kiryuu's love for Yuuki, and hers for him in return. The former was something Kaname had known for years. The latter, only recently. What he had thought was sisterly affection was anything but.
In the past two years they had lived together, Kaname had seen the differences in his beloved princess, subtle at first and then more and more obvious as the weeks turned into months. He would catch her reading a book without turning a page for hours, or staring out a window without seeing what lay outside, or even ignoring Aido as he bemoaned her lack of concentration. At mealtimes, she would look down at her plate, filled with the tastiest delicacies their chef could come up with, and take only a few bites. She changed the subject whenever Kaname brought it up and he, coward that he was, allowed her to do so.
He was fearful of having his fears confirmed, of having his fragile bubble of happiness shatter.
Even in the past six months when his careful, tender wooing finally culminated in them being lovers, he knew she still wasn't as contented as he was. Oh, she was happy enough with him and he knew she loved him, but her smile had lost the brilliance it once had and along with it, a part of her life and a part of her heart.
They were with him. Zero Kiryuu. And Kaname knew he could no longer allow it to go on, he who loved her more than life itself.
Looking at Kiryuu who was now eating the mess on his plate without tasting it and then at Yuuki who was doing anything but eating, Kaname loosened his grip on his unused fork and put it down. He reached for his goblet and took a sip of water, his mind made up.
There were three unhappy people here this evening, but by the end of tonight, Kaname knew there would be only one. Himself.
To be continued...