Ainako : Thought I'd forgotten about this, didn'tcha?

Edited; I re-wrote this as I first wrote it in, what, 2006? I was uncertain at some point and jumbled up together some nonsense about Yukino's past. This version lacks that part now, and the only original material I included is the part about Yukino's father. Of course, my grammar is no better than I was in 2006, unfortunately. My English teacher would cry blood of disappoint.

And I don't own Yukino or GK. That one's unchanged.


Loneliness.

She opened her eyes, and saw a white, long-bodied creature pressing its nose to her cheeks. Yes. She remembers again. Those bits and pieces of her past seem to haunt her every time she tried to sleep, even just merely closing her eyes. She had not been able to sleep at all ever since that day, that time. The truth is, she didn't want to sleep at all. So long he came home again. She sighed heavily - hopelessly – to the thoughts. She had known he won't be back. Yet she still waited, because she had promised to wait, until he came back.

She glanced to her reflection on the icy wall and saw herself sitting in front of it. So it changed its shape again, she thought to herself. She could swear she was sitting at the center of the vast cavern just a moment ago, yet the place seems to have a mind of its own, or rather, it is actually a maze of eternal spirals. After all the times she had been here, she couldn't tell which way to where. Sometimes she would find herself wandering in circles, never to sway from the previous place even though she had walked away from it. A maze with no way of escape, and she was destined to be lost here. She sighed heavily. How she would come to agree that even forever was not long enough.

Slowly, she touched the ice wall – not cold as it seems - and traced her own reflections. It was the same face even after all this times. She had never seems to grow up like she hoped to. To be woman he wished to be married with. But then, they say those who possessed the rings of light are cursed to their very existence, perhaps which is why she stayed in the same age no matter how time passed her. The white creature she had named Hisame didn't seem to change too. It must have been affected by her curse. She strokes its soft body as it made a sound as if to comfort her. It was not in her heart to tell him that it made no difference. Her sadness can't be erased. Never. She to suffer the sadness till the very end of time. Her own sin.

Was it my fault?

Am I the one to be blame?

Gently, she began to rise and tilted her head to the icy roof as a wave of nerve tickled her every senses. She had been very afraid of the sudden awareness before. How does she know? How can she ever be sure that something was about to happen? Yet somehow she had learned to embrace it. The fear that once had made her shivered till she soiled herself. Fear of death, now meaningless to her as of now. There beyond the ceiling, she saw just the same icy surfaces under her feet, yet she sensed them. Not far above.

"They are here again" she said, meant only to herself.

They. The misshapen demons that once terrorized the land. No one know where they come from, only it thirst of blood. They wrecked havoc and commit violence. She thought they were long gone during her solitude in the cavern but some time ago, the same awareness woke her up. She was afraid to look but in the end, she gathered all her scraps of bravery and flew above the ceiling. The demons, they were mercilessly taking down a huge bird until it fell to the ground with its wings broken and torn. It was carrying people in its belly but they died along with the bird. She was too late to save them. She couldn't help them. She couldn't do anything. Yet now she would not be too late again.

Never!

Despite her determinations, she hesitated. If she went out there, then the Iwatsumesou flowers would die. Her curse was to call upon the snow. She could never constrain the power even if she wanted to. It would be the worst if she hesitated. She would turn the whole valley to be blanketed in snow, killing the flowers.

No more. Not anymore… I will protect them!

She flew. Yes, she flew. The desire to take off to the sky so she could run away from the painful reality was always her childish dreams. 'Flying' was the only thing she could do almost with no flaws. She didn't posses wings yet she flew. The feelings of flying overcome her senses. She knew no word to express it. Her body seems to be getting lighter by the heartbeat. Slowly, the coldness wraps her up till she can feel no more warmth from her skin, as if she was dying right there and then. She pictures the valley of Daisetsu in her mind. Her visions blurred to pure white…

…and she was standing on top of a small hill of hard ground. The warmth in the air tells her it was already summer. In the icy cave, she couldn't tell how time goes by. It had been years, which is all she could tell. It had been years since he went and left her alone. How many years, she lost count a long time ago. She was never good with counting beyond her fingers. Not that she was any interested with numbers and letters anyway.

Chasing the thoughts away she peered across her view. There were children –a pair of them- and they were running from the demons, though slightly different from the ones she faced before, it still emits the same evil force that made her stomach curls.

I'm afraid…

The boy was leading them into a run for their life. Then suddenly, they paused and turned to face them. He brought his hand up, while she nocks two arrows on her bow. From afar, she gasped.

No! They can't fight them!

They were just children, and the demons had no mercy to even children. The flowers were trampled down...

The Iwatsumesou flowers…

Coldness sent shocks down to her spine was the sole sign of her curse are let loose. She couldn't control it not even by a hair. She would have burst with the overwhelming surge of iciness, yet she ignored the pain that seem to wring her heart as if it will pop out from her chest. She could feel no blood in her flesh; she could feel nothing but the pain. Her eyes ached to cry but no tears produced. She was torn; she wanted to protect the children, but to do so she would have to call upon the snow.

The flowers would die… the butterflies too… but how can I decide?

The coldness made her hateful - reminding her of her lost. She would sacrifice anything just to meet him again, but she owned nothing now. Nothing but the promises she made with him; to wait for his return. Oh how she would do anything to keep the promise. And she would wait, forever if needed be, until he returns. Until that, she would protect the memory of them together. She would protect. She would fight!

She opened herself to the bittersweet flow of power from the void of her heart, letting it take over her sanity. Bliss. Euphoria. She wouldn't care if she'll die from the urge to draw the power more than she could handle. She wouldn't care, so long the demons won't be harming those children. She will protect them!

She blinked, and there she stands in between the children and those demons, with her facing them. She held out a hand, a little yellow butterfly was at the brink of death, cringed wings as the result of her curse; the wretched cold.

Poor you, little butterfly.

It must have been expecting the best of its brief life for the arrived summer.

And I killed it. I killed them.

A gentle gust blew, taking the poor butterfly along. Only then she noticed that it wasn't summer anymore. The lush green grass and the flowers had been overtaken by the cursed white snow. Her curse.

Just like before…

A vicious gnarl brought her back to reality. The demons are in front of her, true, but what would she do? She was afraid. She had summoned all her courage to fight, but yet she was afraid; terrified to the very inch of herself. The last time she opened herself to the power, she brought treacherous snowstorm that seemed never to subside, and finally when it does, she found herself in the ice cave where she hides so long she remembers. The demons screeched and began to advance towards her. She was afraid, but she would fight!

Like what she did once before a long time ago, she brought up her palms to her front and suddenly the rings of light appeared. It was painful the first time she did it, but now, she couldn't feel anything. Her whole body had become numb by the surge of energy. She was one with the light, and she will protect them even if it does cost her life…