Note: This story is totally AU from MaiHime-Otome. I started this fic whenthe series only got to Ep. 5, so thereareseveral AU elements here that clash with the original series.About the names and all that, I prefer to leave them as they were in Hime (for now).

I've posted this story up to 21 chapters over at shoujoai, so feel free to catch up over there while I still have to post the remaining chapters here.



"The thief! Catch him! Catch him!"

Catastrophe had finally paid Windbloom a visit. This calm night was set on fire. While the castle of Windbloom kingdom was under attack, another chase was taking place on the other side of town.

In the dark, a small, blonde figure kept running along the street, entering a dark alley and making a hiding place behind a huge dumpster. The eleven-year-old girl pressed her back hard against the wall, panting as she waited for the men to run past by. Thanks to her short, wavy hair, the men had mistaken her as a boy. When the shouting gradually became distant, her stiff shoulders flopped in both relaxation and exhaustion. In her trembling hands, a loaf of bread was hid inside a brown paper bag. It would be her first meal in three days. She had taken advantage of the chaos around the city and broke into a bakery store.

"How do you like it?"

The girl's dull, crimson eyes looked up as the words came at her first bite. A large man in dark hair stood before her, soaked in his gray coat and hat. Her first thought was to run. Just run. She couldn't afford to be sent to a juvenile camp again. However high and mighty Windbloom was, they surely knew how to treat those of the lowest class. The thought of the camp alone made her feel sick inside out.

But before she could move, she was grabbed by the collar and pulled back down to her tiny spot, the bread fallen out of her grip. Startled, she dove fast to retrieve her meal and began to gobble it up. She would need this meal before heading off on another trip to the dreadful camp.

The coated man just watched her. Whether it was apathy or sympathy in his clear, green gaze, she wouldn't know.

"Could this be… this… the chosen one…" he muttered, his clenched fists quivering.

Frowning, the girl looked up. This man was probably a lunatic. What did he want with her, staring at her like that?

Without another word, he picked her up from the ground with just one strong hand. She toppled backwards against the wall, horror plastered all over her pale face.

"I'm not going to hurt you," he said, as if he had read her mind. "What is your name?"

The girl stood stiffly in her post, reluctantly brushing the bangs out of her eyes. "Uh… Shizuru… Fujino Shizuru…"

"Good. You wouldn't want to be a petty thief all your life, would you? Fujino-san, is it?"

Shizuru just gulped as he uttered her name. He didn't even have to ask. She couldn't remember the last time she had a shower. From time to time, she would get to sleep inside a church somewhere. But most of the time, in the cold, mean streets of Windbloom. Whoever said that Windbloom was heaven, she never believed it.

"I would assume you'd need a proper shelter. Why don't you come to my mansion? That way you don't have to live in the streets anymore. How would you like that?"

The offer sounded too good to be true. There was no reason a rich man like him would take a thief into his home, but Shizuru had no choice but to accept. This was the only ticket to a better life.

"My name is Kuga. Follow me."