Author Notes: I've only just started reading manga a month ago and Vampire Knight was the first one - talk about starting at the top of heap, absorbing storyline, wonderful characters and gorgeous artwork!

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or the manga but the alternative story here is from my imagination.

A/N (3 June 2013): This story was posted in Dec 2007... when I wasn't sure I could write. I'm the first to admit it has loads of grammatical and punctuation errors. I finished it in Apr 2009 and now have almost 40 stories posted on this site. Being a working mother and beta for a handful of other talented writers here, I have no time to go through Hold Me and my other earlier stories to correct what I now correct for others. So to those who persevered through my earlier stories despite the cringe worthy grammatical and punctuation errors for the love of Zeki and who leave me lovely reviews, I thank you. To those who prefer less errors when they read (trust me, I do understand) I can only offer my later stories. Cheers.

- Chapter Start -

Zero strode along the corridor towards the Chairman's bathroom, being dispatched there to see why Yuuki hadn't returned from her bath.

"Dinner will be ready soon!" the Chairman had said while fixing up a batch of his new 'weird' concoctions that he would inevitably force Yuuki and Zero to eat, feigning crocodile tears and heavy disappointment if they did not.

Zero rapped on the glass pane of the bathroom door.

"Yuuki, are you done yet?"

Honestly, that girl – he wouldn't be surprised if she had nodded off to sleep in the middle of her bath, he thought… There was a slight splashing sound that confirmed his suspicions that she was indeed sleeping. Fully expecting to hear a sheepish 'All right, I'm coming', he jerked around when he heard "Kyaaaaaaaaaaa!" the scream coming from within the bathroom.

Fighting the urge to burst in, he closed long fingers around the bathroom doorknob and demanded, "Yuuki! Are you all right? What's going on?!"

The high-pitched screaming did not stop.

Thoroughly frightened (he hadn't ever heard Yuuki scream in the four years he'd known her), he twisted the doorknob and dived into the bathroom. Warm steamy air hit his face but his eyes focused immediately on the slight naked figure cowering half in half out of the filled bathtub, her slender fingers partially covering her eyes, arms shielding her upper body. Yuuki's wide eyes seemed to be staring in fear at the bathwater although at what, he couldn't tell. It had to be triggered with the records of her past they'd looked at earlier…

"Yuuki!" he went over to her. "Are you all right?"

She looked at him for long seconds then but didn't seem to see him. Then something changed in her eyes. She blinked then shuddered violently.

"Zero…?" she breathed.

She reached out both arms towards him and lost her balance, perched as she was on the rim of the bathtub.

He caught her automatically, warm fingers closing over the cool wet skin of her upper arms. His eyes widened as he caught sight of her naked form, and he swallowed hard. Before his brain could register anymore, he swung her bodily out of the bathtub and onto the floor in front of him, turning her around so that her back faced him. She was starting to sob now, and his heart tightened, wanting nothing more than to gather her closely to him. But he of all persons knew the danger her unclothed skin presented…

He swung towards the wooden bench beside the tub, where her folded towel lay. Reaching out a long arm, he snagged the folded cloth. Her underwear fell out from the terrycloth folds and onto the damp floor; he ignored them. He shook the towel open, flung it around her shoulders, then with his gaze fixed on an invisible spot between her shoulder blades, he toweled her body dry with brisk, efficient movements, starting from the wet dark strands of hair, her slender back now bowed with sobs, her buttocks and thighs, bending down to swipe the towel over shapely calves, then up the front of her legs and thighs. He stopped at her stomach, not trusting himself to move higher, then whipped the towel around to skim her hair again. After moving her arms away from her sides, he wound the large towel firmly around her figure, tucking in the end corner above her breasts.

"Hang on, Yuuki" he muttered as her sobs intensified. He almost took her in his arms then but his gaze caught sight of one exposed creamy pale shoulder and cursed, it was still too dangerous. A quick glance around the bathroom confirmed there was no other suitable article of clothing in sight. Wait – the school shirt he was wearing…..His hands moved to the first button, slipping it free of its buttonhole and moving to the next with smooth precision.

Yuuki wrapped her arms around herself, not understanding why Zero did not hold her as she'd expected. Couldn't he see she needed to be held…?

"Zero!" she cried out.

Zero cursed again, closed his fingers around the front panels of his shirt and yanked hard. Buttons popped and skittered across the damp tiled floor. He whipped his shirt off and draped it around Yuuki's head and shoulders. The fabric was warm from his body heat.

"Sorry, I've worn it all day, it probably smells…" he muttered apologetically. He lifted her towards him as her knees buckled, took a step back and sat on the bench, settling her onto his lap.

Finally, he closed long arms around her, one hand on the back of her head pressing her face into his neck, the other on her back holding her close to him. He let her cry against his neck, knowing she could not speak at this time. When he felt her teardrops trickling down his bare chest, he shifted his shoulder slightly, inserted one sleeve of his shirt in between his shoulder and her face to soak up the tears, then held her close once more.

How many times, he wondered… how many time had Yuuki comforted him in the four years they had known each other? Patting his hair during countless nights to help him sleep in the first year, keeping him company by his side even when he was taciturn and sullen, covering his hand with her soft one when he clutched at the tattoo on his neck to stop the ache, helping him to dry his hair and get dressed when she found him silent and depressed in the bathroom after suffering yet another fit… cheerfully letting him tease her about her infatuation with Kaname and her bad grades especially at Math….and more recently looking out for him and selflessly offering her blood whenever she saw that he needed it…

But him? When had he comforted her…? When had he held her to him to offer back the same comfort that she selflessly gave him? When had he consciously said anything with a view to make her feel better instead of the other way around?

He held her silently, until she had almost stopped crying, just little sobs and hiccoughs now and then.

"Yuuki?" he enquired, looking down at her head covered by his shirt.

She took a deep breath then, her face still buried in the folds of his sleeve and then she blew her nose hard on the sleeve of his shirt, lifted her head a little and said, "Yes, it does".

"What does…?" he asked, wondering what she was talking about.

"Your shirt, it does smell…!"

Zero scowled and blushed. On the one hand, he was glad she was feeling recovered enough to put him down, on the other, he was embarrassed at what she'd said.

"Yeah, well, I've not bathed yet," he growled.

Yuuki giggled.

"I didn't mean that… it smells of you, Zero… it makes me feel happy… safe…"

Well…!

This was different - she actually liked his scent? His face warmed even more.

Yuuki pulled back a bit to look at him. Her large eyes were red rimmed and her nose was pink but she was beautiful nonetheless.

"Zero, you always smell good," she smiled, "before or after your bath!"

Meeting his startled amethyst gaze, she frowned and asked, "Didn't you know that?"

"No," he mumbled.

She was enchanted when all of a sudden, those solemn lips reluctantly tilted up in a small smile. It vanished a moment later as he murmured "Even now…?"

She knew he was referring to his changed state as a vampire, and how the scent of vampires seemed to have an adverse effect on animals and plants…. although White Lily, the bad tempered horse always acted like she hadn't noticed.

Zero shook his head suddenly as if he didn't want to hear her response.

"Well," he added briskly, "dinner should be ready by now so get changed!"

Frowning at his sudden mood swing, Yuuki tossed her head and smiled at him again, wanting to see that rare smile he had flashed just now. Her sudden movement caused Zero's shirt to slip off her head and shoulders, and down her back.

Uh-oh, danger!

Instinctively, Zero jerked forward, hand reaching behind her to grab the shirt before it fell to the floor. Got it! His fingers closed around the material … only to freeze in dismay as he realised that his mouth was now in contact with the soft, smooth skin of one bare shoulder; he had leaned too far forward.

As soon as Zero's brain registered this fact, the familiar symptoms of blood lust began. It had after all been three days since she'd cornered him in an empty store room after breakfast to take away the pallor of his skin and increasingly bad temper by forcing him to drink her sweet blood…

The tightening of his heart began, his pulse quickening. He could smell her sweet natural scent mixed with the soap she used (even without the blood lust clouding his judgment and that scent of hers could drive him over the edge with wanting one minute and calm his senses down with a feeling of familiarity and peace the next). He could hear her blood running through her veins with his heightened vampire sense and the familiar ache started throbbing in his upper jaw where his fangs were growing long and pointed. His breath were coming quickly now in little pants and he turned his head sharply to one side, reluctant to let Yuuki to see the change, not realising then that she already knew.

He had to get out of here!

Zero started to rise to his feet, hands shifting to her waist to steady her on her feet but of course it was already too late.

"Zero?"

Gentle hands cupped the sides of his face and turned it to face her. He allowed her to do so but kept his gaze down, focusing on the slow rise and fall of her chest, noting the shadow visible just above the end of the towel he had tucked in earlier…

"Look at me," she commanded.

"No," he muttered, his breaths coming faster. He released her waist then, one hand clenched to a tight fist at his side, the other splayed across his naked chest, feeling the band grow tighter and tighter around his heart, chipping away at his self-control.

Yuuki placed one hand under his chin, tilting it up and seeing anguished irises tinged with crimson meeting hers, lips quivering with blood lust parted to reveal gleaming pointed fangs, porcelain skin was stretched taut over fine cheekbones… the image of a beast imprinted over the face of a boy.

Still, there was no fear, no recrimination in those gentle brown eyes, just understanding, compassion and pain at his torment.

"Here… it's OK, take it, please," she murmured. She finger combed damp hair to one side and tilted her head to the same side, exposing even further one creamy shoulder and neck.

"Yuuki, no!" Zero groaned.

He was still going to fight it!

Pressing her lips together, Yuuki put two hands on the back of his head then pulled it firmly towards her with a sudden movement, tucking his face against the side of her neck.

"Yes!" she insisted. She tangled her fingers in the silken strands of his hair, holding his head fast against her neck.

He threw his arms around her then, his body trembling, puffs of warm air against her neck as he panted. His ragged breathing was harsh in her ear, his body shuddering with the effort to hold back.

Then...

"Sorry," he muttered, shoulders slumping as his self-control broke and he gave in to the hunger. The moist rasp of his tongue against her neck, twin stings of pain on her skin - and the sounds of hungry feeding. He tangled the fingers of one hand in her wet hair to keep her neck exposed to him, and the other at her back, clenched tightly on the top of her towel. The shudders in his body slowly lessened as he slaked his hunger with her sweet blood.

Yuuki closed her eyes, feeling a tear slip down her cheek unchecked. It wasn't due to the sting of the bite but because she could feel this proud person's pain and self-loathing, and she would have done anything to take it away from him. She could tell that he was fighting the urge to take more than he needed, stopping himself from hurting her anymore than he already was, preventing himself from treating her as just his prey. She moved her hands to his broad shoulders to hold him closer to her towel clad body. A trickle of blood tickled as it escaped his lips and coursed downwards but before it could stain the towel stretched across her chest, his tongue followed it and lapped it up, making her shiver. Then his lips closed once more around the puncture marks to drink.

Long moments later, Zero stopped and lifted his mouth from her neck. She felt his tongue sweeping up all traces of blood on her skin then press gently to the twin wounds to ensure the bleeding stopped. He unclenched his hands from her hair and towel then wrapped both arms around her to hold her close.

"Thank you, Yuuki," he whispered against her ear.

"You're welcome, Zero", she whispered back.

He straightened up to look down at her, his gaze soft and vulnerable. It was a look only she was allowed to see and even rarely, at that.

"Are you OK?" he asked, his amethyst eyes no longer tinged with red but filled with concern for her and lingering guilt at what he had done.

"…. Yeah, don't worry, I'm fine," she smiled. He licked his lips clean but they still looked rosy and moist and she found her gaze locked on his lips.

What would it be like if they…? she wondered then blushed. When she finally tore her eyes away from his lips to his eyes, she found them staring at her lips in return.

Even more flustered, she leaned back, causing his clasped hands at the small of her back loosened.

"Ah… I - I'd better… get dressed…" she stammered, scrambling to get off his lap.

Then… it happened. His fierce grip on the back of the towel when he drank her blood earlier had loosened the folds and caused the tucked in corner above her breasts to slip out. She had placed her hand on his knee to brace herself, not realising it was also pinning the hem of the towel at the same time. As she slid onto the floor, the towel slipped completely off her body onto his lap.

"Yuuki!" Zero exclaimed but seemed frozen to the spot, his shocked gaze riveted on the fully exposed delights he had caught only a glimpse of earlier.

Yuuki glanced down and shrieked. Feet on the floor, she jerked around out of his embrace, turning her back on him, almost losing her balance in the process. She righted herself, snatching up the towel so that she could cover up properly. Whipping the towel around her shoulders - thank heavens it was a proper bath sized one! - and started to wrap it over her front when she heard the harsh scrape of the wooden bench being slammed against the tiled wall, then Zero was behind her, so close she could feel his flat stomach against her back, his chest against the back of her head.

"….Zero…?" she quavered, her arms still frozen by her sides, unable to move, cheeks flaming with embarrassment.

"It's OK… Yuuki," he said, his voice shaking a little.

She saw his hands coming round from behind to either side of her as if to hug her. Only he didn't... Each long fingered hand moved to a breast and closed around the globe of flesh gently, cherishing the weight and shape that fit perfectly in his slightly trembling grasp.

Yuuki inhaled sharply, her nipples hardening instinctively against his palms, cheeks growing even hotter. Still, she did not slap his hands away, her own were still clenched in the folds of the towel. She knew from the strangled sound he made that he realised what had happened, that he was also looking down at her over her shoulder, his height working to his advantage.

Still, she stood still, scarcely daring to breathe, staring down at his hands covering her, knowing that he too, seemed to have stopped breathing. A moment that seemed like an eternity passed… until a shudder racked his body, she felt it ripple through her.

"Sorry", he muttered, releasing her and stepping away.

Glancing up at him then, she saw the sweat on his brow and upper lip, Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed hard.

"Get – get dressed, you'll be late for dinner," he said, striving for his normal tone of voice as his long legs carried him swiftly towards the bathroom door.

At the door he stopped abruptly, fist clenched against the wall, breathing hard. Then he turned his head to glance at her and again his gaze slipped down to her breasts involuntarily.

"Yuuki," he said, his voice raw and aching. "You're beautiful, you know."

When her lips parted to emit a squeak, hands clutching the towel tightly around herself, he reverted back to his usual self. Instead of his usual smirk, a small smile appeared briefly on his handsome face to tease her with its suddenness. The next moment, he was gone, whistling as he walked down the corridor.

Five minutes later, Yuuki was dressed and had given up trying to cool down her heated cheeks. Not wanting Zero to come looking for her again, she hurried down the corridor to the dining room where the he and the Chairman had already started eating.

"Come, my daughter!" beamed the Chairman, waving her to the chair on his left, Zero was sitting on his right. She sneaked a glance at him, but he was eating and studiously avoiding her gaze. He had changed into the lilac sweater she had given him for his last birthday, it brought out the purple in his eyes and made his skin look even paler by comparison.

The Chairman was busying himself, piling food onto her bowl and making sure she tasted every dish and gave her opinion on each of them.

Zero watched Yuuki from beneath his lashes. She'd always been an attractive girl and her slender body held the promise of something more – he knew she would be a real beauty when she reached womanhood. Combined with her caring nature and sunny personality, he had a sudden yearning to be the one she chose to walk by her side for the rest of her life…

Lost in thought, it was a few seconds before he realised she had caught his glance. Something flashed between them – the knowledge that he now knew what lay underneath the dress she wore.

He saw her cheeks flushed again before she looked away and continued eating. He looked away as well, but a small smile lingered on his lips.

- Chapter End -