Author's Notes:

Again a one-shot... Whoever read my profile might have seen that my computer crashed and I have not access to Ivory Tales or Noah of Destiny. But I found this one-shot on my thumb drive. I decided to finish it, but as I'm at my father's PC right now I didn't have time to edit the whole story. Things might seem inconsistent, but I hope it's okay. X3

It's girl!Allen again (most of my stories are. Hihi), but this time I wanted to give Kanda the role of the one who has to try to get some emotion from the other. I hope you can enjoy it!

Edit: Because I got hit by a "I'm so bored" spell, I decided to look over this story again. I was shocked to see so many typos and stupid mistakes. I corrected those I saw. XD How embarrassing!

Disclaimer: D.Gray-Man belongs to Katsura Hoshino.


Roses

It was one of these days Kanda Yu didn't like very much. He made his way from the quiet of his room, where his father had asked him to brush up on his Greek, through the crowded, small corridor to the stairs. He had to watch his step as not to trip on the many things lying around – but he was used to the mess his father so dearly loved – and reached the ground-floor. He could hear noises coming from the kitchen, sighed in defeat and pushed the door open. The small room was smelling of food boiling on the stove and two people were sitting at the wooden table.

"Yu!", a man with a mop of curly, grey hair and thick glasses looked up and beckoned him to enter, "there you are!". The man was his father – adoptive father to be correct – and next to him sat a man he recognized as well; Cross Marian.

It was one of these days that the strange red-haired man decided to drop by and create some minor chaos, Kanda didn't even know if he wanted to hear what this visit was all about.

"Hm. Grew up quite some bit since I last saw him", Cross remarked with a snort and downed a glass of wine. "How old did you say he was?". This was directed at Kanda's father and the young man turned to the stove to take the soup from the fire.

"18. He's such a good boy, you know? He makes no trouble for me at all, he's a real darling", Tiedoll said and Kanda rolled his eyes. It's been 10 years and he still talked like this! Cross just let out a snort, refilling his glass with wine.

"What brings you here, Marian?", Tiedoll asked and thanked Kanda as he put plates with soup on the table.

"I heard that you had some trouble with money and thought that I'd come to help you out", Cross said and Tiedoll arched up an eyebrow. Cross never did anything out of charity…

"Well, thank you, but how?", he wanted to know and Cross pointed to Kanda.

"Here's the deal; you know the Bermont family, right?" Both of them nodded; the Bermonts were known for their fortune and their nobility, certainly the best family in London, "their only daughter is up for grabs. I, having quite good connections to them, suggested that your boy – uh, what's your name?"

"Yu", Tiedoll said and Kanda frowned at the red-head.

"Right. I suggested that Yu met with the little lady". Kanda widened his eyes.

"What…?", he asked and Tiedoll wasn't convinced either.

"Are you talking about the prospect of an arranged marriage?", he asked and Cross laughed.

"Well… I know you're not noble or rich or anything, but I owned you one. The boy just has to go there, nod nicely and he'll be fine. It's already decided".

"Already decided?", Kanda repeated with a scandalized frown on his handsome face. He turned to look at Tiedoll, but the man just sighed and smiled at him.

"Well, it is worth looking into. You're still a bit young, but maybe she's charming", he said with a smile and continued even though Cross snort was hard to ignore, "and you will find yourself drawn to her… There is no one else on your mind, right?"

"No, but, father – I have no intention to marry a random girl", Kanda protested, but Tiedoll just patted his shoulder affectionately.

"You have to think about your future, Yu. We're not rich and I'm getting older… Please consider this…", he said and Kanda looked into his gentle face. He couldn't say no to him, could he…?

"Fine…"

-o-o-o-

Cross met up with Kanda two days later. Kanda had never been in this particular part of the town and he was glad that Tiedoll had forced him to wear his best clothes and comb his hair properly. Cross didn't say anything and just led him to one of the splendid houses, knocking loudly. The door opened and a maid led them inside after Cross had explained who his companion was.

"Please go inside", the maid said and pointed to an open door at the back of the entrance hall. Cross didn't move and Kanda raised an eyebrow at him.

"You're the future fiancé. Hurry up, the Bermonts don't like to wait", he said and Kanda decided that it would have been better to stay at home. He wordlessly went to the door and entered after knocking softly. The room was very bright, with huge windows and a glass door leading outside. There were two sofas and various armchairs, all looking very expensive, situated around a narrow table. The whole room was heavily decorated with pictures in golden frames, expensive looking china dolls and vases.

"You must be the young man Cross was talking about", the low voice of a man said and Kanda turned towards the centre of the room. A man, tall and thin, with brown hair and a thick moustache, dressed in a brown smoking, sat on an armchair, wiping his glasses. On the sofa next to the armchair, sat a stern-looking, but beautiful woman, her brown hair was tied up and she wore a dark purple dress. She watched Kanda with sharp eyes, a tea cup in her hands. "Please sit down". Kanda nodded.

"Thank you for your hospitality", he mumbled and sat on the sofa opposite the lady. He turned to look to his left and saw the last person, a young girl, sitting in the armchair. She was wearing a blue dress, which reached just a bit over her knees, white stockings and black shoes. She had long, brown hair with ribbons in it, and pale grey eyes. An opened book was resting on her lap and she watched him wordlessly. Kanda frowned slightly.

"I'm Horace Bermont, this is my wife Charlene and the young lady is our darling Ellen", the nobleman said pleasantly, a totally different person than his wife seemed to be. "May we know your name?"

"I'm Yu Kanda, Sir", the youth replied and Charlene didn't even try to hide a little snort. Horace put his glasses back on his nose and studied the young man.

"We have been told that you are Father Tiedoll's son", Kanda nodded, "I assume that he had you educated at home?"

"He did. I've also been to university for a short time. But our current financial situation needed me to withdraw and help my father", Kanda explained.

"And, pray tell, what occupation have you envisaged?", Charlene asked and Kanda turned to look at her.

"I want to work as a translator, I have been doing so whenever possible", he answered. Charlene raised an eyebrow sceptically.

"In which languages are you proficient, young man?", she wanted to know and her husband reached out to put a hand on her shoulder, "Horace, this is of importance".

"You must excuse, young man, my wife is very fond of knowledge…", Horace said and withdrew his hand. Kanda just nodded uncertainly, but decided to answer her question. He might not be a genius, but he was hard working and not ashamed of what he has achieved so far.

"Apart from English and my mother-tongue Japanese, I was taught Latin, Greek, French and German…".

"Hm", the woman said and turned her attention back to her tea. Horace laughed and turned to look at Kanda.

"Well, you're a studious lad, aren't you!", he said and then looked towards his daughter, who just quickly looked back down at her book. "You wouldn't mind to take on the Bermont name?". Kanda frowned, but then he shook his head.

"I would never deny my Japanese heritage, but I would feel honoured to carry your name, Lord Bermont".

"Well, you must know that we have not much choice", Charlene said with a huff, "Ellen is our only child and the continuation of our family line depends on her. A lot of greedy men would have liked the title and she's such a silly little wench. Many men would love to have a young thing such as her who has no idea of pride and responsibility". Ellen looked up at her, but didn't say anything, but Horace spoke up for her.

"Charlene, not in front of our guest…", he said, but Charlene just huffed.

"But not many people would take her, seeing as she's crippled and sometimes I get the impression that, being the uncaring thing she is, she's not quite right in the head either". Kanda turned to look at Ellen, who just stared at the pages in front of her.

"What do you mean by that?", he dared to ask and Charlene let out a troubled groan.

"There were complications while Ellen was still unborn… She managed to get away with her life, but her arm was marred", Horace explained, "many people think she's possessed by the devil and even shy away from the prospect of all the fortune she has… She's still very young, but we want her to be safe with a husband…"

"We have thought about giving her to the Noah Family", Charlene said, "they are very wealthy and the oldest son is very charming. He also took a liking to her, but Cross suggested you. He must have his reasons and we trust him"

"And you changed your mind?", Kanda asked with a raised eyebrow, "just because Cross asked you to?"

"I must admit, that I was not in favour of giving my little girl to the Noah family. They have the fortune and the reputation, but they are not honest people. I had the feeling that Ellen would not have been in good hands… But with you… She is", Horace said and got up from his armchair to put his hand on Kanda's shoulder. "Mister Kanda, I would be most glad if you accept our offer. Marry our daughter, we will provide everything you need". Kanda looked up at Horace then he turned his head to look at Ellen, who seemed to be absorbed in her book, feet dangling from the armchair. This little girl? This skinny, silly, crippled thing? She should become his wife? How could he possibly care for her if she really was not right in her head? But he had to be reasonable, for Tiedoll's sake.

"Of course, Lord Bermont. I accept"

-o-o-o-

Tiedoll was crying heartily when Kanda came back to announce that he'd be marrying Ellen Bermont.

"Oh my dear. I wouldn't even have dared to dream of this! I'm so happy! My little Yu will get married!", he wailed and Kanda turned away from him. His friend, Rabi, was also paying a visit.
"Wow, Yu. Well done! The best lady in town! How does she look like?"

"Like a little girl…", he said and pulled out a picture frame from his bag. Rabi took it and smiled at him.

"You even carry a picture of your sweet-heart around?", he asked and took a look at the girl, "she's cute, but she looks rather… cold?". Tiedoll snatched the picture and started to mutter how beautiful she was and how cute their children would be.

"I have no clue. She didn't talk to me. Her mother didn't let her, maybe she feared that I'll blow the arrangement off. She claims that she's not right in the head. And she's been born with a disfigured arm…"

"Well… That explains why they would give their daughter to you, who doesn't have money or a noble title… Do you have any obligations?", Rabi wanted to know and Kanda nodded.

"I'm going to marry into the family… And we need to have male offspring"

"You don't sound very opposed to this, but neither do you sound thrilled", Rabi commented and Kanda sighed, sitting down next to him.

"I don't care about her. Producing children is not difficult, but she's a mere child. I can't marry someone I haven't spoken to even once!". Rabi looked at his distressed friend and slung an arm around his shoulder.

"Well, stop worrying about it. Just visit her, maybe you can exchange some words". Kanda thought that this was probably the best thing to do.

-o-o-o-

The maid looked at him sceptically when Kanda appeared at the doorstep of the Bermonts several days later.

"Lord and Lady Bermont are not here", she said, but Kanda just shook his head.

"I haven't come to meet them. Is my fiancée here?", he asked and the maid widened her eyes, "Ellen Bermont. Is she here?".

"Well… Yes… But I don't know if it's a good idea to…", Kanda didn't get the rest, but the maid eventually opened the door and let him inside. "She's out in the garden", the maid said and showed Kanda the way. The young man went through the glass door and down into the backyard. The gardens weren't that big, but looked very nice, with a high, ivy-covered, stone wall, high trees and flowers. The girl was sitting on a swing in the shadow of a tree.

"Ellen?", he called and walked up the her. She raised her eyes from the book she had on her lap, even though she was swinging gently. "We haven't had the opportunity to talk. I hope you don't mind that I came here?"

"I don't mind", she said and turned her eyes back to the page. Kanda frowned, but he had known that he needed a lot of patience for his future wife. He sat down on the grass next to the swing, enjoying the silence and the warm weather. "Aren't you repulsed?"

"Repulsed of what?", Kanda asked and looked up at her. She lifted her arm and he saw the reddish skin. He frowned but shook his head "Not of this? Not to marry someone who isn't right in the head?"

"You seem perfectly normal to me", he confessed and she looked down at him with a calm face.

"Is that so… I think you must be a little bit strange to have agreed on this marriage". Kanda raised his eyebrows.

"You think so?", he asked, "maybe you're right. I don't know yet", he told her and she sighed, but didn't say anything. They stayed like this for over an hour, Ellen on her swing and Kanda lying in the grass, arms crossed behind his head, looking up at the sky.

"Mister Kanda?". Kanda looked up and found Horace Bermont standing at the glass door, "it is you! What a welcome surprise! Come in and have a cup of tea!". He nodded and got up.

"Do you want to come?", he asked the girl, but she just remained silent, absorbed in her book. Kanda frowned, but turned around and went inside to have tea with his future in-laws.

-o-o-o-

Kanda decided that, even though he did not feel attracted to Ellen or the prospect of marrying her, he should continue meeting her. He had listened to his father's reasoning that maybe, just maybe, he could derive some pleasure out of her company.

Her parents, mainly her father Horace, approved of his determination to "win her heart" ("however little it may be, I wouldn't be surprised if the could thing didn't have any" to cite Charlene). Even though Kanda didn't care whether his fiancée was feeling anything for him or not, he started to develop some kind of eagerness to prove that Ellen couldn't be as bad as her mother perceived her. Each day he visited the Bermonts' house and spent about two hours in Ellen's company. They were mostly silent: She read in her book and he translated or studied. All information about his future wife Kanda gained from the conversation with her parents. He knew that she was 15, turning 16 shortly, had been educated at home and read a lot. But Kanda was starting to be a bit frustrated that there seemed to be nothing else her parents could tell him.

"Do you think they do not want to tell you? Just in case you'd decide to ditch her?", Rabi wondered as they met up at a pub. Kanda frowned but shook his head.
"They know that I won't. I rather think that they don't even know their own daughter", he replied with a grave face and Rabi sighed.

"But I can't imagine you to be asking many questions. You never ask questions, or rarely at least", he remarked and Kanda shot him a half-hearted glare. "I'm right aren't I?". The dark haired youth nodded and Rabi grinned at him. "You say she always reads this particular book. Have you asked her what it is?"

"Her parents told me that it is her favourite book, something she had received as a present", Kanda replied, but Rabi shook his head.

"I mean have you asked her?", Kanda frowned but shook his head, "Try to! If she responds you have something to talk about and maybe you will learn what she likes". Kanda was silent for a moment but then he nodded.

"I will, thank you for your advice"

-o-o-o-

When Kanda visited the Bermonts the next time it was a sunny Saturday after-noon. Ellen was in the study, reading.

"It's a warm day. Should we go to the park?", Kanda suggested and Ellen raised her head. "If you don't mind?".

"I think this is a great idea!", Horace exclaimed, "Come Ellen, get ready. It's been months since you've been out!". The girl closed the book and followed them out into the entrance hall, where a maid helped her into her jacket. Meanwhile Kanda turned to the father:

"Months you say? Why hasn't she been out?", he asked, to which the father heaved a deep sigh.

"Dear Charlene had sent her to the hospital so she could recover from her emotional imbalance. She had been in the institution for several months until she was sent back to us. The doctor claimed that she was perfectly healthy. Charlene didn't believe him, especially as Ellen became even more withdrawn. Charlene didn't want people to see her in this pitiful state, so she kept her inside. I thought it might be for her best to get some rest…". Kanda listened silently and nodded, but he couldn't imagine how confinement could merit a young girl. No wonder she was so quiet!

Ellen came to him and they left the house. The girl had her book in her arms and didn't speak while Kanda led her to the park. They sat down on a bench in front of a pond, still not saying anything to each other.

"Don't you like to go outside?", Kanda asked and Ellen looked up at him.

"I do. This park is very nice… Nicer than our garden, but it doesn't have a swing here", she replied and Kanda couldn't help being humored at that.

"You like sitting on the swing and reading?", the girl nodded and looked down at her book, "Do you like this book?" She nodded again, "what is it about?" Ellen looked up at him with a surprised face, which surprised Kanda in turn; he hadn't seen any graspable emotion in her until now.

"About…?", she repeated and Kanda nodded, "I've never been asked to explain… I don't know if I can summarize it in a satisfactory way…", she confessed and skipped through the pages. "There is a girl and she is in a foreign kingdom. There are many roads and each lead to different other kingdoms. She is very interested in the adventures she might experience, but in the end she has to find her own road, which leads her back to her home. And she needs to walk restlessly and never give up. In the end she is very happy…"

"Sounds like a good story", Kanda said and Ellen nodded.

"I like it… But I like the book even more because it has been given to me by a dear person who is now far away…". The young man observed how she pressed the book against her bosom; she looked unhappy, with a melancholic expression in her deep grey eyes.

"Where is this person now? Maybe we could meet them", Kanda suggested and the girl looked up at him.

"I don't know where he is now… He left the hospital to help in a missionary station somewhere in Africa…", she answered, "I don't know whether he's still alive…". Kanda looked at his future wife, took in her calm, but sad face.

"Do you want to go back?"

"Yes please…"

-o-o-o-

Kanda sat in the Bermont's tea room, Horace was with him, but Charlene had gone to town with her sister.

"You seem troubled, Mister Kanda", he said, sipping at his tea. Kanda nodded and looked up at him.

"Ellen told me about a man…", he said and Horace looked up at once with a troubled look.

"A man?", he asked and Kanda nodded again.

"I don't know his name, but she seems to like him. He is in Africa now. Do you know who that might be?", he wondered and saw how Horace relaxed.

"This man! You had me worrying for a second!", he exclaimed, "Yes, I do know him. Mana Walker. He was Ellen's doctor and it was him who said that she was perfectly fine".

"I see, her doctor… Mana Walker you said?", he asked and Horace nodded, „thank you for this information". Kanda got up from his armchair, "I need to go now".

"Don't worry so much about Ellen", Horace told him, when he was already at the door, "It won't do you any good. Your wedding is in two weeks, you should savour the rest of your youth", he told him and Kanda frowned.

"I will… Thank you Lord Bermont", with these words he withdrew from the house.

-o-o-o-

"Savour the rest of your youth… Sounds pretty pessimistic", Rabi said, sipping on his glass of Sherry. Kanda sighed, massaging his forehead, "Well, you'll have a mad wife. You'd better lock her up in the attic",

"Stop joking…", Kanda hissed with a glare in Rabi's direction. "She's not mad. She's just… withdrawn…". Rabi laughed and nodded.

"I know, I know… I've got the feeling that you start liking her?"

"I do… Maybe not how a man should love his wife… More like how a brother loves his sister..."

"Well, good enough for a marriage, right? At least she's not as strict as Lady Bermont!", Rabi said and Kanda chuckled.

"I guess you're right…", he said and the red-haired youth grinned.

"So, what about savouring your youth?", he asked and raised his glass. Kanda nodded and did the same. "On our youth!"

"On our youth"

-o-o-o-

The next two days Kanda spent with Rabi (after getting over his huge hangover) in various libraries and office buildings.

"Mana Walker is a doctor and employed at the London Baptist Missionary Station", Rabi said and held up a paper. Kanda raised his head and breathed a sigh of relief. "What would you do without me, mate?"

"Probably hanging myself. Thank you", he said and took the paper Rabi was holding out to him, „he worked in the Stork Hospital. I also got you the address. It seems that it's an institution for people with… well… mad people. Not quite an asylum, but not really a normal hospital either… I pity your wife, Kanda…"

"That won't help her… But these information do. Thank you, Rabi", Kanda said and rose out of his chair.

"Where are you going?", the red-head wanted to know, following Kanda out of the room.

"To the Baptist Mission, there has to be some correspondence", he replied and they walked down the stairs.

"But what are you trying to achieve? Do you want to contact him? For what?", Rabi wanted to know, stopping Kanda at the door, "don't forget what the old Bermont told you. You'll benefit nothing from this trouble, Ellen won't get over her problems just with this". Kanda looked at him, then he sighed.

"Well, I'll try anyway, it's not as if it will make my life more difficult. And if I succeed then I could maybe get Ellen's sad face out of my head", he confessed and Rabi sighed as well, putting his hand on Kanda's shoulder.

"You really are a protective brother, aren't you?"

"She's my fiancée after all"

-o-o-o-

"Doctor Walker is a good man", the owner of the Stork hospital said, guiding Kanda through the white corridor. The doors on each side were equally white, with locks and a small, barred window. "Maybe too good for his profession. He always sympathized with his patients. Especially with young Ellen Walker", the man twirled the ends of his moustache between his fingers, then he turned his head to the side to look at Kanda. "What did you say was your relation to her?"

„We are engaged", he replied and the man laughed, the thundering sound echoing in the empty corridor.

"I see! Next to all her deficits the young girl is from a prestigious family! Lady Bermont paid us huge sums just to keep her locked up, but in the end Doctor Walker convinced Lord Bermont that she was healthy!! Quite a loss, I must say, but it wouldn't have made sense to keep her locked up any longer"

"And was she healthy?", Kanda asked and they arrived at a door at the very end of the corridor. The director produced a key and opened the door. The room behind was tidy and clean; a white floor, white ceiling, white walls, a bed made of dark metal with white bed sheets. The only speck of coulour was the window which overlooked the garden.

"Healthy! She was physically perfectly fine, like a girl of her age is supposed to be! Just her arm looked out of the ordinary. But that's something she was born with and will carry into her grave. Her arm doesn't hinder her, she can move normally, she's not in pain, but it just looks ugly. But that's not her fault"

"And how were her spirits?"

"Well… She was very quiet and grave like an old woman… But Doctor Walker made her warm up a bit. She's not mad and she seems to be an intelligent little thing… But she's interested in nothing, moved by nothing, never reacting. Plainly spoken; she did not care that there was a world around her. She's very absorbed into her own little world… And I didn't know how to change that. She'll probably stay that way. It's quite a shame Mister Kanda". Kanda sighed and nodded.

„What was her relationship to Mana Walker? Were they close?", he wondered and walked to the window. He opened it and looked outside. The garden was very wild, bushes and flowers growing everywhere and ivy climbing up the wall. There were a lot of roses, but they were in a rather poor condition.

"Close… Well. She often sat at the window and watched him take care of the garden", the director said and walked up to Kanda, looking over his shoulder, "what you see down there was his rose garden. He took very good care of them, but now that he's gone they're dying. Our gardener couldn't make them look as splendid as they did before, so we just gave up and let nature do as she pleases". Kanda remained silent and the director looked at him, then he put his hand on Kanda's shoulder.

"Maybe you should do the same… Maybe God makes mistakes, but nature does not", he said and patted his shoulder before he withdrew from the room. Kanda looked after him, then he turned to observe the garden, rose petals covering the floor.

-o-o-o-

When he next appeared at the door of the Bermonts it was Charlene who wanted to talk to him over tea.

"Your marriage is next week", she said with a firm voice, swirling her spoon through her tea.

"Yes, Lady Bermont", he nodded, feeling as if he was being interrogated. But he was used to it by now.

"Horace already ordered your clothes. Do you want to invite someone?", she asked and Kanda looked at her in wonder.

"I may?"

"Good Lord, this is your wedding, not mine! Of course you may!", she replied fiercly and Kanda nodded.

"Just my father and my friend Rabi with his grand-father… I have no relatives", he said.

"Fine. It will be arranged", she said and drank her tea, "As soon as you are a member of the Bermont family you will be expected to behave like a nobleman" Kanda nodded "You and Ellen will spent your first month of marriage in our mansion on the country. You know your duty. Except from this little bit you don't have to tie yourself to the silly thing. Do as you please as long as it won't harm the family name"

"I care about your daughter, I won't do anything stupid", the young man promised and Charlene raised an eyebrow at him, but then she dismissed him. Kanda excused himself and hurried to the garden, where Ellen was sitting on the swing, reading.

"Hello Ellen", he greeted and she nodded, without lifting her head. He sat down on the grass next to him. "How many times have you read that book?"

"I haven't counted…" Kanda looked up at her and she closed the book, "I tried reading it in different ways… Even backwards… I don't know if I understand it"

"What are you trying to learn from it?", he wondered and she looked down at him, but didn't give an answer. He hadn't expected her to, so he just looked at her.

"Doctor Walker gave you that book, didn't he?", he asked and saw how the girl widened her eyes. "Your father told me. What happened? You seem so sad"

„He was very nice to me… I used to watch him work in the rose garden, tending to his flowers. They seemed very precious to him. The sisters always put his roses into the vase in my room… I liked them very much… But Mana had to leave. I think he went to Africa" Kanda noticed how she seemed to be forcing herself to tell him, "I hoped that he would give me a flower. As a good-bye present. Because he never gave one of his roses to me. Not in person. He gave me this book instead. I want to know why"

„I see… I guess I understand", Kanda said and Ellen stared at the grass.

"Good. Because I don't"

-o-o-o-

Kanda decided that the best way to cheer Ellen was to contact Mana Walker, ask him to explain what his motives were. But contacting him proved to be quite difficult; he got an address to which he could send his letter to, but if it ever made its way from the station across the bush could not be guaranteed by anybody. Kanda just had to hope for it.

"My, my… The girl had a thing for the old doctor", Rabi remarked after Kanda had told him everything, "aren't you jealous?"

"Don't be ridiculous. Even if she loved him, it didn't matter"

"Because he's in the bush somewhere in Africa and you're going to marry her in a couple of days", Rabi said, "you surely have the better cards, mate".

"You make it sound silly", Kanda hissed and Rabi couldn't contain his laughter.

"Because it is! You're such a poor guy Kanda. You do so much for a person who doesn't care about anything". Kanda glared at him and it needed Tiedoll calming words to prevent him from jumping at Rabi's throat.

"You're degrading her! Of course she cares! If she didn't, she wouldn't look so sad!", Kanda shouted and Rabi backed off slightly, not used to seeing his friend so worked up over something – especially a woman.

"Boys… Boys, calm down…", Tiedoll intervened and put his hands on Kanda's shoulders. "Listen, son. You told us that she liked flowers… How about you started tending to some flowers yourself which you can then give her?". Kanda looked up at him and frowned. Rabi couldn't contain his laughter now, even though he tried to.

"Kanda in a field of flowers? I'd like to see that!", he exclaimed and the black haired youth glared at him.

"Another word from you and you will! Because I'll bury your dead body where no one will go looking for it!", he threatened and the young man hid himself behind the priest.

"Yu… Calm down, Rabi is only joking", Tiedoll said, but Kanda went on fuming. But while he did, he turned the thought around in his head. A flower garden, full with roses to give to his future wife… It didn't sound bad to him.

-o-o-o-

Kanda went back to the Stork hospital the day before he was to be married. He picked up a few rosebuds and clipped off the most beautiful rose he could find. Both things neatly tucked away, he returned to his home, reading up on gardening until Rabi came to pick him up for his "last day of freedom".

Kanda hadn't been able to really make sense of the word "marriage", but now he started to be able to grasp its meaning. He was standing at the altar of a huge church, all the rows packed with people that couldn't possibly be related to his future wife. All their pompous dresses, their haughty faces, their expecting glares – nobility. Tiedoll crying loudly, Rabi smiling at him and the old "Bookman" with his steady, calming gaze – the family and friends he chose to leave. And white and small under the many folds of her splendid dress, white flowers in her hair, distant grey eyes – the china doll he would marry. He doubted himself, but then he thought about all the things he had done until now. Was it in vain, was he just catapulting his own energy into a gaping hole? He looked at her, standing next to him; just a white figure with brown hair. She reminded him of a bare tree covered in snow. He wanted to make this change.

"I do". It was emotion to him, much more than he would have thought. The moment the words left his lips he felt as if he might break down and cry.

"I do", she said it loudly, but it seemed rehearsed, as if she had practised with Lady Bermont, telling the same two words over and over again until her throat was hoarse. It was a burden. She was a burden. Kanda turned around, so he could kiss her, utterly afraid of all the things which were to come, but then he saw her face. She made a small, uncertain grimace at him and in her hair, among the white flowers, was the single rose he had picked. He hadn't seen it before, how could he have not seen it? Kanda snapped up as he heard the priest coughing and bent down to put his lips against the girl's.

And they were man and wife.

-o-o-o-

Yu planted the rose buds in the backyard of his in-law's house right on the day before they left for their honeymoon at the Bermonts' estate. The young man took long walks in the morning, across the wide, empty landscape, fog rising out of the damp air, the moor at the distance a shady grey-brown mass. When he came back Ellen would sit at the far end of the huge living room, nearly disappearing against the rich tapestry, showing enchanted forests, dragon slayers and lions. Yu would try to get her talking and after some time she would warm up to him. They talked endless hours on everything that crossed Kanda's mind. Mainly books they had read, but he avoided asking anything about Ellen. Then they would go their own ways again; Ellen withdrew into the orchard, where there was a lonely swing on the thick branch of an old apple tree, and Yu went for another walk, going as far as the farm, also belonging to the Bermont estate. He always found food ready and Ellen sitting in an armchair when he got back just when the sun set. They ate, they withdrew to the upper floor where Ellen would play the piano for him and he picked up the violin. When night fell they went to their bed, slept together and then Yu would always retreat to another bedroom. The very first night had been awful, for both of them, and their love life was progressing badly. Ellen was not responding much and Yu could not enjoy it as much as he wished he could.

It was frustrating.

-o-o-o-

When they returned to their home they got separate rooms on the upper-most floor, which they had all to themselves. He didn't see Ellen much, expect at night, because he had so much to do. Lady Charlene prohibited her daughter from going out, because it was getting cold now and it would not do a young woman good to be out in the snow. Yu spent much time outside, just standing next to the empty flower bed, hoping that things would grow when spring came.

-o-o-o-

They had their first child when spring started to breathe life into nature. It was a lovely little girl with straight black hair and wide blue eyes. Lady Bermont was not pleased with a daughter, reminding Ellen that she was required to give birth to male offspring. The exhausted, pale girl merely nodded.

"Mister Bermont?", Yu turned to the doctor, his daughter still in his arms, "I know what Lady Bermont just said, but heed my warning… Your wife is still very young, she barely got away with her life and her health is still in a questionable state. Let her rest a bit…". Yu nodded, looking at Ellen, who just stared out of the window.

"Of course. Thank you doctor for preserving both of their lives".

"You're a good man, Mister Bermont. A good man…", the old man said, patting Yu's shoulder, "you'll do fine". Yu accompanied him to the door then he left his wife alone, his daughter in his arms. He looked down at her and she pushed her tiny hands against his ribs.

"We'll do fine…"

-o-o-o-

The roses were growing, slowly, just like their daughter. Yu spent a lot of his free time in the garden, the young girl lying in a basket, babbling incoherent sounds. Yu took the rose petal, the girl had caught, out of her mouth.

"You can't eat that, Emily", he told her, but she just smiled up at him. "You're a good girl, my dear". He looked up at the window, where Ellen's room was. She hadn't left her bed since the girl's birth, Lady Bermont made sure of that.

"Why are you sitting in the mud?", came the Lady's voice and Yu turned to her, "a nobleman does not need to tend to flowers, we can hire a gardener"

"No, you don't need to. I enjoy the open air and it brings a rosy colour to Emily's cheeks", Yu replied and sat back on his heels, rubbing his dirty hands against the legs of his trousers. Charlene wrinkled her nose, then she looked at Emily.

"Why do you refuse to give her to a wet nurse? It does not become a father to care for this small thing!", the noblewoman said and sat down on the armchair under the alcove, in the shadows.

"Emily is my daughter. Ellen should-"

"Ellen is weak! She has to stay inside to get enough rest", she interrupted him and Yu turned away grimly, brushing his hand over Emily's head. "Remember that she has to give birth to a male heir. The girl can't possibly bear the responsibility of the family name! We don't want to lose our honour to lower classes!"

"Forgive me, Lady Bermont, but I do not think that it is noble to see your poor daughter, who just gave birth a month ago, as a mere tool to get to a male heir… Ellen is a very bright girl, if you let her unfold a bit she could surely do the family name honour", he told her and Charlene just stared at him.

"What insolence!", she said and stared at the young girl lying in the basket, "you don't know yet how nobility works! You will see the hardships we are constantly facing! In time, hear my words, you will know what I am talking about!", with this she rose for her chair and went back inside. Yu stared after her, then he sighed and looked down at Emily.

"I am sorry that you were born into this family. Maybe we should just run away, would you like that, dear Emily?". The girl laughed and clapped her hands, reaching up at her father. "Maybe we should. Let's wait for summer. Let's wait for the roses".

-o-o-o-

When the first rose opened its flower, a letter arrived at Yu.

"Son, you have a letter from Africa!", Horace told him from the glass doors and Yu looked up wide eyed. He picked Emily up from the grass and went inside. He took the letter from Horace and opened it.

"Dear Mister Kanda

Thank you for your letter telling me of Ellen's condition. I would never have dreamt that she would be able to marry such a caring man, such as you seem to be.

I have included a letter for your wife, please give it to her.

Continue believing in her; she's perfectly fine the way she is. She is a good girl and she just has to find the right path to walk. Maybe you can help her pave it.

With the best wishes,

Mana Walker"

Yu took out the second letter and asked a maid to give it to Ellen, because he did want to give her the privacy of reading the letter by herself. The maid went up and Kanda decided to go pack out to see if more roses had opened their buds.

-o-o-o-

Ellen was sitting in her bed when she received Mana's letter. She could not conceal her surprise and took the letter wordlessly and only opened it when the maid had left.

"My dearest Ellen

Your husband sent me a letter, asking what has happened that you seem so sad. Are you sad, my dear child?

Your husband told me that you don't understand the meaning of the book I've given you and that you would have preferred a flower. The reason to that is very simple:

I wanted to give you something that didn't wilt that fast. Something that lasted. But maybe it was too difficult to understand, you're still young, dear Ellen.

Roses are very beautiful to look at, but if I cut you a flower, it would have been gone all too soon, and a dried up flower would have remained. I don't want you to become entangled in such fleeting things. I want you to find your own road to walk on. Make up your own decisions, find pleasure in this world. You don't just have to look at the world as if you weren't a part of it; get up on your feet and walk! Get up and walk to the window and look what you see out there".

Ellen hesitated but she wanted to follow Mana's words. She threw back her heavy blanket and got up on trembling feet. She walked to her window and pushed it open. She looked over the town and then down into the gardens. She could see Yu and a whole field of flowers around him. Their daughter played in the dirt and Yu's laugher reached her ears.

"Ellen. This is the world. Be a part of it!"

The young girl pressed her lips together and rested her head against the window frame, closing her eyes.

"Mana… That's so difficult…"

-o-o-o-

"The roses are growing nicely", Horace said two weeks later, "I'm sure you can pick a few today!". He had his grand-daughter on his lap, playing with her, feeding her chocolate brownies.

"Horace! Stop this at once! She will become chubby!", Charlene complained and fiercely stirred her tea.

"Why can't we pamper her a bit? Yu spends many hours with her in the garden! She will become a very healthy child! I assure you of this!", Horace replied and his wife snorted disapprovingly. Horace was very pleased to have a young grand-daughter and he told Yu that he felt as if he might catch up on all the missed occasions of having a little daughter.

After an hour Yu went back out with Emily and let her sleep in the shadow of the big tree, while he picked the most beautiful roses he could find. They really turned out to be beautiful and Tiedoll claimed that if you really put your heart into gardening, the flowers will thank you. If this was true it made sense that the gardener at the Stork hospital hadn't been able to make the flowers grow as beautiful as Doctor Walker did.

He hoped that Ellen would like the roses, but he didn't know what to do after he presented them to her. How would she react? And what should he say to her? He had as many roses as he could carry in his arms when he heard Lady Bermont shout. He turned to the house and could see Ellen standing in the glass doors. She was white, pure ivory, her face framed with pale brown hair that fell down to her hips. She wore a long white dress made of silk and with bare feet she walked down the steps from the glass door to the garden. Inside he could see Horace calming Charlene and convincing her to stay inside. Ellen walked to him and stopped in front of him. Her eyes were wandering from the swing, under which her daughter was sleeping, to the roses that grew everywhere and Yu, arms loaded with the reddest of them, delicate petals glistering with dew. Yu didn't know what to say to her and he felt embarrassed.

"Yu…", Ellen started, her voice steady and loud enough to be heard over the noises of summer.

"Ellen…", Yu interrupted and held the rose bouquet out to her, "these are for you. I got the buds from Doctor Walker's garden. I tried to grow them as beautifully as he did, but I don't know if it worked", he told her and she took the roses wordlessly. They looked like red spots of blood against her whiteness and made her look even paler. Ghostly even. "The moment we married I knew that this would be a great burden to me. And it was. But then I had these flowers to grow and I realized now that Emily is born and I was finally able to pick the roses that it was worth it". Ellen looked up at him and he continued: "I lacked the words to tell you that I care about you. I hoped to tell you with these flowers", he put his hand out and touched her cheek, "I just want you to be happy. Forever". Both of them were silent afterwards, Yu waiting and Ellen carefully thinking of an answer.

"Mana told me that he gave me the book so I would have something that lasted. Roses wilt very fast. It's not enough to look at them, I have to be a part of the world as well. Being only a spectator of the world will put me in position where nothing is real… A kingdom of roads, all leading to places I don't really have to visit. Roads that lead me nowhere but to dead ends". Ellen took a rose out of the bouquet and extended her arm and touched Yu's cheek with the wet petals of the flower.

"In order to get well again I need to be a part of the world", she lowered the rose and looked at Yu, "But I don't know if I will recover from the life I've lived until know… By marrying you I was forced to walk the road my parents built for me. We both were and it was painful for both of us, especially you. But what you did now gives me the ability to choose another road..." Ellen widened her arms, all the roses dropping to the floor. Yu watched them fall and he didn't know what to think of it. Was she rejecting him? "You built a path with flowers…", Ellen spoke up again and she walked through the flowers and raised her arms to embrace Yu.

"Thank you". Yu, as if in reflex, slung her arms around her, pressing her body against his, burying his head into her soft hair. He finally cried then.

-o-o-o-

Marian Cross returned to the house of his noble friends four years after he first suggested Yu Kanda as future husband for the young Bermont. He thought that he had drunken too much wine, because the family he found in the house was not the one he had left four years ago.

"Honourable Cross, good to see you", Lady Bermont greeted, still with a stern face, but the lines on her face seemed softer than before. Horace was smiling happily, grinning around the pipe he had in his mouth.

"We have to thank you, my friend! I've this particular wine from France I've kept for very special occasions, how about we open it?". Cross nodded with a frown and sat down at the table under the alcove. He observed the other people in the garden; a young woman sat on a swing, her brown hair flowing in the wind while swinging. Cross had never really seen her swing, just sitting there and reading with her grave face. Now the beautiful woman was laughing, while a man in casual wear and shoulder length black hair was standing next to her, laughing as well. Ellen had a young girl on her lap, enjoying the swing with her and a young boy was playing in a sand pit.

"Such a beautiful scene, isn't it? I wouldn't have thought that Ellen could be that happy. It was a long way for the young family… But she finally opened up to Yu and their children".

"Well… I can see that. Pity, I should have married her instead, she's a true beauty", the red-haired man said and Horace laughed loudly.

"Pity or not, with Robert we now have the heir that will assure the survival of the noble Bermont family", Charlene said and Horace still was laughing.

"I don't think we have to worry about little Rob right now! Ellen and Yu are on the best path to be very important people themselves!", Horace said and turned to look at Cross, "we can be proud of both of them".

"Hmmmm…", Cross could see that Lady Bermont was really pleased.

"Really… A miracle I see", Cross muttered and drank his wine, eyes still on the happy family, "who would have thought…". He smiled and laughed. "Oh well".

Happy End

Notes:

Okay, that's it! :3 Now I have one thing less to worry about! X3

This does need more editing, maybe I'll get around to do it once I've got my own computer back hopes

Kanda and Ellen are both OOC apparently, but this was my aim, I hope that I didn't annoy you! Hihi

I would not mind hearing your opinion, even if you just want to indicate where I made mistakes! X3

P.S. I made some minor changes (mostly correcting stupid typos). But there's another thing I'd like to mention. I don't know if you realized it or just thought that I was being strange (lol), but I changed Kanda's name from "Kanda" to "Yu" intentionally... When he married he's no longer called Yu Kanda, but Yu Bermont. I think that it is highly unlikely that a man adopted the family name of his wife (at least in Victorian times) but maybe I'm wrong and it's okay the way I did it! XD