Author's note: About space-time location… don't really bother about that, right? Many, many things will be typically austenian, but others will be typically Japanese (such as, the places and the furniture – futons aren't very 18th century's English). For the places themselves, the action does take place in Japan, but the country is sub-divided in a peculiar way – in short, every grand city has a district, and the name of the town also refers to the name of the region – Tokyo or Osaka or Kyoto aren't only the towns, but their surroundings. Currently we're dealing with the small village of Beika and thereabouts, in Tokyo's district. Heiji's estate is in Osaka district. Is all that clear? Feel free to ask if you've any question about that – or about the bonds existing between the characters. I know it's already surprising that Eri and Kogoro could have had Ran and Kazuha as daughters, and things will get more messed up than ever in further chapters, so… if there's any problem, ask me.

Disclaimer: I own nothing at all. The whole idea for this is the sole property of two masterminds – the cast is Aoyama-sama's, and the plot is Jane Austen's. I'm merely meddling the two, and getting fanfiction. (Careful – some of the lines hereafter will be entirely Austen's, among the most famous in the book, without any – or else very little – interference from me, and that only to fit my case. Those you recognise are hers, those you don't may or may not be mine.)


A question of Pride and…


It was in this agitated state of spirits that an event occurred to confuse them still more. It was around the time of the year – end of November or thereabouts – that arrived annually in the country a troop of comedians and acrobats (between a drama company and a circus) – all of them well-known in the neighbourhood and much waited for. They were quartered in Beika, where they would remain 'till after Christmas – of which they would moreover assume most of the festivities. It was a deeply-rooted custom in the country that they should be expected with winter coming, and as every year brought both a new and a known set of faces, most of the girls around looked very much forward to this month's amusements and the bonds they were likely to create.

Amidst that troop, which comprised enough young men to ravish the hearts of half the ladies in the country, one was a particular favourite in the Mouri family. His father had been a good friend of Nakamori Ginzo before his death, occurred more than nine years before, and from a child, Kuroba Kaito had been so close to Aoko that after her own mother dies and she moved out with the Mouris it was his keenness in seeing her again that led Kuroba Toichi, his father, back then director of the troop, to move it in Beika for the winter.

Fourteen years later, the close bond created by the children had by no means disappeared, Kaito-kun's eleven-months-long absences and the subsequent waiting having in fact contributed to tighten the links already existing. In Aoko's life, what with her father being gone most of the time, Kaito-kun was a landmark she greatly relied upon; and identical must be her influence on him.

From earlier meetings, and attentive observation of each one's behaviour, Kazuha had been able to deduce the natural end to be expected from that quarter; but it wasn't until that year, when she saw Kaito-kun jump from the carriage that had brought him to their house and witnessed his immediate effusions with Aoko, that she realized how her cousin's future happiness was about as much determined, if not more, than her sister's. Kaito spoke to all with his usual sly politeness, which often gave to unarmed acquaintances the impression that he was mocking at them yet without letting them know how – attended to herself and to Ran with all the brotherly affection that years' friendship had created; but only with Aoko was he so unreserved, so openly cheerful, as only a very strong affection, and many hopes for the futures, could permit.

He and some of his oldest companions were invited that very night at the Mouris, along with the Koizumis' and two or three other families – and Kaito-kun spent the chief huddled up in a corner with Aoko, where they brooded over the different events of their respective years, although it was rather a repetition of them, since they had corresponded most of them in their letters to one another. It was only when the idea of dancing was first emitted, and a good soul accepted to sit at the instrument and supply the youth with music, and Aoko was driven away for the second dance, that Kogoro was able to attack Kaito-kun on his own grounds.

"–Had Kaito-kun heard about the Eto house being finally rented?" "–Yes, Aoko had told him about that happy event, but she had not mentioned any names." "–Well, let him hear them now. It had been let to a very respectable young man from Tokyo, one Kudo Shinichi – he must have heard of him before – and his sister, a really charming young lady at the top of fashion – and he had five thousand a year."

Kazuha, who was sitting not far-off and carelessly eavesdropping, fancied she saw Kaito-kun's face close up for a fraction of second at the mention of that name. The slight, almost imperceptible flicker in his features disappeared, however, immediately, and he flashed her father one of those maniacal grins that most times sent people climb up walls; with the happy result that Mouri broke in mid-tirade, looked disconcerted, and turned away.

A pause followed. Kaito-kun was uncommonly silent for a long minute, till, remarking her presence, he approached her, smiling again. Kazuha greeted him with affection; she had often observed a great similarity in their mutual tempers and enjoyed his conversation, which was cheerful and agreeable, if not always to be taken seriously. As they began on a picked-up subject, she could only remark his engaging manners, light, amusing tone of voice, and unreserved grin, and could not help comparing them with those of a certain gentleman she had recently made the acquaintance of, whom she would have been gratified to see talking to him.

"I hear that your sister should be congratulated very soon upon a particular matter," he said after a few minutes of random discussion, thus relieving her from the delicate task of picking up the question herself – his change of composure a moment before had not passed amiss from her curiosity, and she yearned to know whether he was one or another familiar with Kudo Shinichi. "Should I go and tell her I wish her joy?"

Kazuha laughed, and heartily discouraged him to do so. She then waited, knowing that in such cases the best question is often silence. Indeed, after a second, he took up himself, "And how do you find your new neighbours? Are they agreeable enough? Have they brought a large party with them for the winter?"

"Kudo Shinichi is an intelligent man, well-bred, perfectly agreeable. His manners are perfect, his cheerfulness is addictive (1), and Ran is very lucky – only, unlike Aoko and I, she has to stand his horrible sister and contemptous friend. Maybe you have heard of him. His name is Hattori Heiji."

He cast her an amused look, which led her to think that maybe she had been more easily see-through than she had meant to. "I have heard of him – as a matter of fact, I have met them both, several times. We travel a lot, as you know, and they are always called at all fours to solve cases. We have… coincidentally collided a few times."

"And how did you like them?"

A second, more thoughtful, pause. "How does the county like them?" he replied, with a grin.

"Kudo-san, very much. He has become our local celebrity. We all boast of him. However – his sister is a harpy, and you wouldn't find two people ten miles round who could be said to like Hattori Heiji. We are too little, too poor, too eccentric to be worth his notice. It had not been one evening after their arrival that he was already considered by the whole neighbourhood as the haughtiest, more disagreeable man in the world."

"You mean he is proud."

"Yes – but his pride I might have overlooked, had he not mortified mine." She went on telling him about he first ball he had been seen at, and her being qualified as merely tolerable, but she commented it with so much amusement, and was in so good spirits for abusing the author of the injury, that he felt it safe to laugh about it as well.

"So they are down for the winter," he said, when from that first ball she had passed to the history of their further meetings. "Do you think that will remain here all those long, boring months, or will they occasionally return to Tokyo?"

Kazuha considered this. "They are in Tokyo at present, for a few days – but I daresay Kudo-san and Sonoko-san will probably stay – they've rented the house, after all. Hattori-san – I know not – I hope not – whether he will trespass much longer on his friend's hospitality. He may want to be free of his actions. He has an estate in Osaka–"

"–and a sister," Kaito supplied helpfully.

"Does he?" said Kazuha, surprised – she had never imagined Hattori-san to have any siblings – or, indeed, any family at all.

"She is his only sibling," Kaito-kun went on, "I have never met her, but I do know that she is ten years younger than he, and his legal pupil after their mother's death. Have you heard of this?" Kazuha replied that she had not. "She was murdered five years ago. The case was unresolved until her son took it up, looked into it, and uncovered the criminal. It is considered as one of the finest resolutions of murder within the ten last years. It is moreover on that occasion that he made the acquaintance of Kudo Shinichi."

"You seem to know much about the finest resolutions of murder within the ten last years," Kazuha observed suspiciously.

"We do travel a lot, Kazuha-chan."

Aoko joined them again soon afterwards, and the rest of the evening passed off pleasantly; in dancing and talking of past Christmases they had met at, in remarking how much Kaito-kun and Kudo-san were alike, and finally bidding adieu to their friends when they drove back to Beika, without any complaints to be formed on either side. The only unpleasantness consisted in Mouri's raptures n the matrimonial prospects that both Kaito-kun's and Kudo-san's arrival in the country created, and even those were borne with tolerable charity.


Kudo-san soon returned to the Eto house, accompanied by his sister and, much to the displeasure of every body else, by his friend. His presence however wasn't felt with as much sensation as it had in the past; he was soon considered as the rightful property of Mouri Ran, and the interfering arrival of a whole troop of equally handsome and agreeable young men, lessened the importance of his own.

Further meetings proved out to be very benefiting to Ran's affections. That Kudo-san was very much in love with her, was already a commonly accepted fact, and his sister's friendship, despite all of Kazuha's suspicions, turned out stronger and perhaps more sincere, than it had at first seemed to be. Granted, Sonoko was a silly, fashionable woman, whose only interest in life was in dressing and gossiping – and more recently, in hovering over Hattori-san in particular and attractive men in general. But she was also the same age as Ran, and could always appreciate her as a confident; and, all in all, Kazuha had come as far as to hope that she would not come up with too serious objections when some understanding would rise between Kudo-san and Ran.

It was hardly a week after they had all come back from Tokyo, that arrived one morning a note for Ran, from the Eto house. It arrived immediately after breakfast, and its receiver read it aloud to the whole family assembled; it ran as such–

'My dear Ran-chan,

If you'd be so kind as to supply me with your company and conversation today – if your family can spare you for a few hours – we could at least be bored and lonesome together. My brother and Heiji-san are gone back to Tokyo on horseback for the day, and will not return until late this evening, leaving me alone in this grand mansion. I would appreciate very much if you could spare me a few hours of your time – talking and walking with you would at least avoid continual boredom thorough the day.'

The reactions to this were varied. Eri went on writing emotionlessly, and Kogoro had time to exclaim a couple of times, "She is such a nice, elegant sort of girl – and the attention is very kind. But going back to Tokyo at this time of the year! Why, they were there not a week ago!" before he heard his eldest daughter ask him for the coach. 'But the coach could not be spared – it was needed in the farm, and himself would have to visit his attorney in Beika later in the morning. She could go on foot, however. It wasn't five miles, and the day was so perfectly fine."

Half an hour after Ran had left on foot, it was bucketing down.


It went on raining all afternoon and all evening, in a way that could allow no walking out, not even for a stroll. Standing by the window, Kazuha watched outside, hoping to see the Kudos' coach bringing back her sister, but the road was uniformly, blurringly deserted. Behind her, her father kept congratulating himself on having had the good idea to send his daughter off in the rain, so that she should fall ill, and be in no fit position to come back again. He would break off from time to time to rant a little longer about the gentlemen returning to Tokyo while they had gone there not a week ago, –"but then they men of five thousand a year always have their little whims." That was in Kogoro's eyes Kudo Shinichi's good excuse for being young, handsome, intelligent, and in general a better detective than he.

On the following morning arrived a second note from the Eto house, this time originating from Ran. It ran smoothly along the lines of, "My walking in the rain yesterday affects me in a worse way than I assumed it would in the evening. I am in bed with a very strong cold, and our dear friends will not hear of my being removed in the state I am in. The doctor has been sent for. I shall probably be able to return home in a few days."

As alarmed as Mouri was for his daughter's state, he could but congratulate himself on the happy turn the situation had undergone. In his opinion, things had gone so far between Ran and Kudo Shinichi that there was only one little step between sick guest at the Eto house and mistress of it. His raving was only interrupted by Kazuha declaring she would go and see her sister, and although he first asked her not to be foolish, for she could only be a burden to them, he thereupon realized that Kudo-san's civility being what it was, she should very probably be invited to stay by Ran's side; and bestowed her with her blessing.

Before leaving, Kazuha took Aoko apart, and asked her, if really she was invited to remain at the Eto house as long as Ran wasn't any better, to come and visit them herself, in order to relieve her a little of the charge it would represent.

"I know how much you dislike Sonoko-san and Hattori-san," Aoko said. "I can go instead, if you had rather."

"I had much rather," Kazuha said, with a smile. "But you have other business to attend to, and I would have very guilty conscience if I kidnapped you from Kaito-kun's company and threw you to the lions instead. They don't like you any better than they do me."

"They like me even less," Aoko laughed, "I am nothing but a wild child to them, thank god!"

The five miles' walk to the Eto house was covered in almost running strides. Kazuha crossed field after field at a quick pace, jumping over stiles and springing over puddles with impatient activity, and finding herself at last within view of the house, with weary ankles, dirty stockings, and a face glowing with the warmth of the exercise.

Her reception in the house's breakfast parlour was by a third silent, a third surprised that she should have walked five miles in that muddy path, a third polite and relieved. Kudo-san, it seemed, had expected the visit, and said that Ran had wished for it very much. It was mainly to him that Kazuha spoke, asking him after her sister and receiving warmly expressed answers; Sonoko-san was staring at her dirty petticoat and Hattori-san merely wished her good morning before disinteresting himself of the matter.

Ran's state, it seemed, had been bad enough the evening before and had worsened over the night. When Kazuha was shown into her room, however, she found her sister better off than she had feared; she was lying on the numerous pillows of a comfortable-looking double bed, and was fully conscious, albeit sensibly tired. Her main worry was that she dreaded to bother her hosts, but Shinichi-san was more than polite on declaring that they were very happy to keep her longer among them, and Kazuha could but remark, as much as he probably did, the fiery glow Ran's illness brought up to her cheeks, the shiny blue it created to her eyes, which made her, in short, prettier than ever.

She remained by Ran's side most of the entire day, and was slowly more kindly inclined towards Sonoko at the sight of her staying with them almost constantly, and all the sweet worries she bestowed on the sick bed. She was even civil in her attentions to herself, and all in all more sensible and more amiable than Kazuha had ever seen her. As the evening approached, she even offered her their carriage to drive her home, but both Ran and Shinichi were so unwilling to see her go, though in the latter's case it was mainly for the sake of the former, that it was turned into an invitation to remain with them – according to Kogoro's prediction – until Ran was better enough to return home with her. A note was dispatched to the Mouri's household, and Kazuha went back to her sister's side.

Ran's fever rose with the night falling, as it often does, and flickered down only when she fell asleep. Kazuha ate with her – she was too worried about her to be able to leave her even for half an hour, and it was only when her sister's breathing eased down and she stopped murmuring in her sleep, that she felt herself allowed to come down. She found all three of their hosts gathered around the card table in the library, and was immediately invited to join them, but she could be called back up to her sister's bedside any minute and didn't wish to disturb their game – she had much rather reading.

If Sonoko's concerns about Ran's health were cordial enough, and her brother's warm and pleasing, Hattori-san merely looked up at her with a dark look then went on playing indifferently. Exasperated, Kazuha preferred interesting herself to a few books on a small table, which lay there amidst a collection of recent newspapers. She read with great interest a couple of articles about Kaito Kid, who seemed to be running loose not far in the country, then dropped herself in a nearby armchair and began studying a murder case which Shinichi-san and Hattori-san had solved successfully some months earlier.

She had gone as far as the explanation of the suspects' mobiles when Shinichi-san looked up from his deck and, seeing her occupation, said lightly, "I wish you would not read about that case, Kazuha-san – it's one of our worst. I should be sorry to have think ill of us from all the mistakes we have made when solving it."

"I don't see why you should say that," Kazuha replied with a smile. "So far your deductions appear very sensible and reasonable. This is a very interesting and complex murder case – I cannot wonder that they called you to solve it."

Kudo-san looked like he would speak again, but his sister outwitted him. This time she was cold and snob-tempered; no at all like her own cordial self by Ran's side two hours before. Kazuha could only imagine for such a change of countenance, that something had been said against her during the dinner she had not attended – probably about her obtrusive intrusion within their family circle the same morning.

"Are you so interested in murder cases, Kazuha-chan? This was an aspect of your character we were not acquainted with."

She spoke as though she believed she had just made it up, Kazuha thought, slowly laying the paper down on her lap. For a second, she fancied Sonoko-san's eyes had flickered to Hattori-san's blank face – but what for? Had they associated to hold in contempt every word she uttered? "It is not in the murder itself, but in the resolution of it, that lies my interest," she replied calmly. "Well-solved cases are fascinating – in a methodical way."

"Yes, of course; you must meet with many well-solved cases with your father as such a renowned detective."

Shinichi-san started, and even Hattori-san managed to look slightly ashamed at this, although he must have felt the very same way. Kazuha guessed it was best to fall silent and resume her reading.

From this, and from earlier cases she had studied, she was able to make out a line of resolution exerted by Kudo-san and Hattori-san. They both solved their cases in about the same way, though their researches to attain their way widely differed; the former preferred investigating on location over interrogating suspects, while the latter did the exact contrary – in the end, however, their intelligence completed so as to form a pattern hitherto unseen. No wonder they had never failed to solve a mystery when teamed up together. In fact, Kazuha reflected that it must be a clue to their relationship as well – except a strong self-confidence in their own talents, their characters were so widely apart they contrived to bring them closer. That made them both completely different and very much alike – and that was probably a reason why a sensible man such as Kudo Shinichi could bear so haughty and ill-tempered a friend as Hattori Heiji.

She had gone that far in her reflection when she was again interrupted by Shinichi-san, who asked her how she liked this particular case.

"Very much," she answered, smiling at him. "It is as absurdly complex as I had hoped it to be. I am impressed at you, Kudo-san, and Hattori-san," she added reluctantly, for she felt she couldn't very well praise one while excepting the other over a case they had both solved, "for untangling it so easily."

"I wouldn't call easy what we did back then," Hattori-san interrupted in his low, grave voice from the card table which Kudo-san had deserted to come speak to her. He sounded disapproving. Kazuha wondered whether he was angry at her for qualifying of simple a case he had solved; or for taking away his partner at whist. "It took us days o figure it out."

"How difficult it must have been," Sonoko simpered. Hattori-san paid her a cold look and made no reply. Kazuha would have chuckled if she hadn't thought in time it might offend Shinichi-san. She had remarked all the efforts Sonoko-san made to endear herself to the heart of the man, as everybody else had, and was amused to see it all fall off to no avoid. As contemptous and proud as she knew him to be, she must at least give him credit for some intelligence, and he would certainly sink in her esteem lower still than he was now, if he married such a silly wife.


Aoko dutifully kept her promise, and on the next morning accompanied their father as he came to call on them. They saw Ran first of all, only meeting Kudo-san in the staircase – he had run down to welcome them – and found Kazuha by her side, who expressed a great deal of relief at seeing them. They remained a quarter of an hour in the stuffy bedroom. Ran was very ill, but not ill enough to alarm Kogoro greatly, and he went down to the parlour where their hosts were gathered, in better spirits then would naturally have been expected from the father of a sick child. (2)

Aoko merely curtseyed on entering the room, then went and sat down with Kazuha on a low couch, but her uncle was determined to salute each and every one of their hosts, and then to thank Kudo-san at all lengths. It was very kind of him to welcome his daughters in so friendly, familiar a way, to invite them to stay – because of course, Ran was much too ill to be moved, and it would make her worse if her sister was to be taken away – but Kazuha ate very little, and Ran being sick, they would not cost him much.

Kazuha saw the spiteful look on Sonoko-san's features, and felt deeply for her father the shame he appeared to ignore; Shinichi-san himself looked taken aback, and for a moment at a loss for words. He was however everything that was cordial in replying that their guests were no burden, and he'd gladly give away half his fortune for the sake of seeing Ran recovering soon. Kazuha and Aoko smiled at him, grateful for her. Kogoro thanked him profusely, then proceeded to admire the dimensions of the parlour, its walls and furniture, and the view through its windows.

"I hope you will stay longer in the neighbourhood, and will not switch from place to place as you young men often do," he added, without even the appearance of ingenuity. "You would miss much by being away – many things are going on in the country at this time of the year."

"I have no intentions of moving again, I assure you," Shinichi-san said. "The pleasures of the neighbourhood have very much charmed me, and nothing calls me back to Tokyo in the immediate."

Mouri took this as a personal compliment directed to his daughter and went on unchecked, "Yes – I daresay our country as entertaining as Tokyo during Christmas season. There is a troop of comediens nomades quartered in Beika for the winter – some of them our particular friends, for they have been coming in the neighbourhood for many years. And of course, if ever a crime was to be committed in the agitation surrounding New Year, I am certain that our association shall permit to solve the mystery easily."

The incredulous snarl on Sonoko-san's face was ill-disguised and even Hattori-san managed to look fairly disgusted. Shinichi-san gave a stiff little bow and preferred to keep silent. Considering this as a personal triumph, Kogoro pushed the matter no further, and soon afterwards called for his coach to be brought round.

Kazuha walked them outside and on the steps took Aoko apart once again. "I wish Ran could be moved," she deplored. "But Kudo-san's affection will not allow her to be carried home until she is completely recovered now, and that won't be until another week, I am afraid. When you are home, Aoko, try and ease down my father's raptures for a while. Nothing's definite between Ran and Shinichi-san, and he has embarrassed us long enough."

"I shall try," Aoko said, "but I rather doubt it'll work. You know how he is – Ran is the only one he ever listens to. Kazuha, Hattori-san is staring at you."

Kazuha stiffened, as she did every time he was mentioned. She dared not turn round too abruptly, but she could picture him vividly enough – tall and silent, leaning against a marble column, his too serious, almost expressionless face turned to them.

"Is he angry with you for some reason?" Aoko asked in a whisper.

"I have no idea," Kazuha whispered back in full honesty. "I probably held my salad fork ill at dinner, or something of the sort."

And he bid his good-byes to the gentlemen, Kogoro found a way to embarrass his daughter and niece further yet, by reminding Shinichi-san of a promise – made a few days earlier – to hold a ball in this very house. It was quite a tradition that newcomers in the country should hold a ball to honour their neighbours – in fact, it would be quite a shame if he didn't.

"You needn't worry," said Shinichi-san, with genial cordiality. "I was so far from forgetting the scheme that I have already asked for preparations to be made, it fit those rooms for a private assembly. When your daughter is perfectly recovered, she shall name the day of the party, and I shall send round invitations."

"Oh! Yes, 'tis much better waiting till Ran is better; that way, you will be able to enjoy, as you did on two occasions earlier, if my memory is correct, her wonderful ability to dance. And be sure to invite the most worthy representatives of our comedian troop – they are all pleasant, very agreeable young people, as few can boast of knowing as their friends."

Kudo-san assured him that he should not forget them, and Mouri finding himself satisfied on all accounts, he soon afterwards drove away with Aoko. Kazuha would more than gladly have gone away with them. The awkwardness on Shinichi-san's face was perhaps worse than Sonoko-san's sarcasm and Hattori-san's cold disapproval, and she only escaped the embarrassment of hearing their comments by running back up to her sister's side.


Ran's state got sensibly better over the next few days, to the point that Kazuha hoped they might return home before the end of the week. Her strengths were rapidly returning to her, and the third day after Kazuha had begun caring after her she was able to go and sit down with them after supper. She was immediately surrounded by her hosts' attentions, and Hattori-san himself, though he had been writing a letter, interrupted his task and gave her his best wishes for hr health.

After a quarter of an hour things were settled for the evening – Ran and Shinichi were sitting side by side and talking low, and Hattori-san resumed his unfinished work, while Sonoko hovered over him; Kazuha sat with a book and amused herself with watching them. The lady's attempts to drive his attention onto her only met with cold, silent indifference, but she could but admire the determination Sonoko-san showed, in attacking him every now and then, without being rebuffed by his evident annoyance of her interruptions.

"Pray tell your sister that I long to see her. It seems like ages since we haven't met! But no – it was only a few months. But you have seen her this summer. And pray, is she much grown since last winter? Is she nearly as tall as me?"

"She must be taller than you," he said, writing on. "She must be–" casting a rapid glance around the room, "about Kazuha-san's height, or maybe a little shorter."

Kazuha, whom the matter of Hattori-san's sister interested very much, looked up with interest, but for some reason Sonoko didn't appear pleased with his reply, (2) and her demonstrations of affection towards his sister lapsed into silence. After several minutes of turning in a leisurely manner around the table, however, she soon attacked him again with, "I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend it for you. I mend pens remarkably well."

"Thank you. But I always mend my own." The reply was short and the voice cold, but she was by no means discouraged.

"You write uncommonly fast." No answer. "How can you contrive to write so even?"

He was silent.

"But that, I suppose, must be the result of a long practice. Your estate must demand much attention, since you have all the management of it – but when you are not there to take care of it, I daresay your servants are quite helpless without you. I suppose you receive many letters on that account." She received no answer, and steadily went on, "–and, of course, as a detective, you must be forced to write many times."

"No – in that matter I am spared. Kudo–" with a slight nod at his friend, "–shows more delicacy than I in such moments. He writes letters – I ask questions."

"Suspects tremble before you, Hattori," Kudo interrupted, laughing, "and babble away, but that is because you won't give yourself the trouble of showing them a little sympathy. You impress them enough. My friend here," he added at the intention of Ran and Kazuha, but Kazuha mostly since he knew her interest for detective matters, "can solve an average mystery merely by looking at the proofs, but he is too easily irritated. I wouldn't be in his way when he is in such a state, especially after a whole afternoon when he has searched for evidence and found nothing at all."

"But your methods of investigation differ too much," Kazuha observed. "When you are more inclined to sit and think, Hattori-san prefers to act. You cannot be compared."

Shinichi smiled amusedly at her. "True – I had forgotten you studied our cases and analysed our deductions. Your evenings here have all been devoted to this – digging into old files and gong over yellowed newspapers. Tell me, do we rise to your expectations? Which do you prefers, thefts such as Kid's – or murders?"

"Oh! Murder cases, certainly," Kazuha said cheerfully," they are the most interesting and most intricate. Though I must admit Kaito Kid is a very complex and fascinating character, much enough to passionate such a studier as me. But when you confront him I must admit that his intentions are thwarted as often than not," she added generously.

"Thank you," Shinichi-san laughed. "I suppose your relationship with Nakamori-san much prejudice you against the thief."

"Probably," Kazuha acknowledged. "But in my case, partiality is not as grave as in yours – you must constantly guard yourself against prejudice and first impressions. A detective cannot allow himself to form an opinion until he has taken in all the details of a situation, and all the particulars of its actors. It would prove out too dangerous not only for himself, but for everyone else involved, and in the end his very first mistake, however small and insignificant, may mislead him too widely out of the original track."

"I would very much like to see Hattori respond to that one," Kudo-san said, turning to his friend. "It would be very interesting, for I have never seen him once change his mind without being forced to by circumstances, and then only grudgingly, convinced to the last that he may be somehow have been right."

"That is a fault, indeed," Kazuha exclaimed, eagerly turning to him as well, "not only in detective work, but in all the social intercourse you must have with your acquaintances and relations. Your opinion must be very sharp, and your resentment unforgiving. You are very cautious, I suppose, as to its being created."

"I am," he said, firmly – he had laid his pen down and interrupted his writing, and was looking at her with an air of frowning interrogation, as though not exactly certain how he must interpret her question.

"And never allow yourself to be blinded by prejudice?"

"I hope not," he answered. "But my temper I dare not vouch for. It is I believe too little yielding – certainly too little for the convenience of the world. My feelings are not puffed about with every attempt to move them. My temper would perhaps be called resentful. My good opinion once lost is lost for ever." This being said with such an inflexion to his voice, and such cold indifference as he returned to his letter, as to make her understand that his opinion of her, at least, was already formed, and not for the best. Kazuha would nonetheless have continued the discussion, with the firm intention to contradict him, if Sonoko – who found little pleasure in a conversation in which she had no share, had not interrupted her and proposed for music. (4) Ran, already tired, was brought back to her room by her sister, who ran down again a few moments to say she was worse, and could they send for the doctor first thing in the morning, and ran back up immediately.

Later that night, when Ran had finally fallen asleep, Kazuha wondered whether Kudo-san's arrival in the country had truly been a good thing for her sister. She was very much in love with him, and the feelings were evidently equally returned – in fact, she now came to wonder why a proposal had not yet been made; only to conclude he might want to wait for the ball he had promised her father. But she couldn't, without a strong disgust, imagine her so happily married, without falling a victim to his sister's hypocritical affection and his friend's cold disdain – she could not say which of the two she thought worst.

She was dwelling on such reflections when a light noise in the garden brought her to the window. From the stature of the gentleman walking in the grounds, she recognised Hattori-san – he was moving slowly between the trees, a great black dog galloping by his side. She could only see his profile, grave and solemn, very serious. Then, under some kind of impulse, perhaps on feeling himself thus observed, he stopped abruptly to look up at her lit window; Kazuha hurriedly let go of the curtain and blew the candle in precipitation – the bedroom fell in shades of grey in black.


(1) In the book, Bingley is rather a diffident sort of man, easily persuaded by his friends. Shinichi's more confident, because he's a renowned detective, of course – he can't really believe everything and everyone. He's learned not to. But I tried to make him a cheerful, agreeable man, in comparison with Heiji, who's more silent and grave. That's a bit OC, of course… '

(2) In (again) the book, Darcy tells Caroline Bingley about his regard for Elizabeth. You can see his feelings develop and so forth. In here, the story's mainly from Kazuha's point of view, so we won't have any of Heiji's thoughts – only the result on Sonoko's behaviour with Kazuha.

(3) In (always) the book, there are two conversations like that – one morning when Darcy writes his letter, and one evening when Jane comes down after supper. I mixed the two, because otherwise it would be too long, and besides, what they're talking about is completely different as in the book – I sorta sidetracked their conversation on detective matters. And Kaito Kid.

The last short scene between Kazuha at her window and Heiji walking in the garden was written to the entire benefit of Chibi-Nao, who was complaining there wasn't enough about them… (hope you're happy – even if it's, well, short.)

Only one reviewer found out where the Eto house's name came from… you've got to re-read the DC classics, minna-san! Anyway, Mr Collins' substitute appears next chappie… guess who? 'Till then.