Author Notes: The final chapter, in which I hope everything is wrapped up satisfactorily!

So I have another story completed – yay! Sorry I couldn't keep the 'T' rating but that was how the story wanted to go. I still have other ongoing fics that are demanding my attention so I can't even celebrate this achievement for too long -grins- but thank you so much for following No Matter What and for gifting me with your lovely reviews. I hope you've enjoyed reading each chapter as much as I have had in writing it.

-- Chapter Start --

It was late afternoon the following day when Aido, Akina, Kain and Ruka made their way from the Moon Dorms to the main building in Cross Academy.

Chairman Cross, Zero, Yuuki and Yori were having tea in the dining room. The older man jumped up to answer the doorbell then went into his kitchen to make more tea. The Headmaster in him wasn't too sure if he wanted to actually witness the romance between a member of his Night Class students and a member of his Day Class one.

"So… is everyone OK now?" he asked as he brought in a fresh pot of tea and slices of butter cake about five minutes later. He was addressing the four vampire nobles but his kindly brown eyes were resting on Aido's face. The young noble nodded, Yori's hand resting in his under the table. "Yes, I am" he said readily. A hearty meal, a hot shower and a good night's - or morning's - sleep on his comfortable bed had restored his spirits and he looked more like himself than the dirty, depressed and starving vampire he'd been last night.

The fact that Yori was sitting beside him now helped a lot too.

Cross smiled wryly. "That's good, because Kaname Kuran and Takuma Ichijo are on their way back now. They should be here in about…" he checked his watch "… fifteen minutes"

Aido's blue eyes went wide for a moment and his teacup clinked rather loudly against its saucer but Yori's warm smile made him square his shoulders. "That's good" Aido said, meaning it. He really needed someone influential on his side…

- o -

"We'll see you later, OK, Yori-chan? Yuuki said cheerfully as she hugged the petite blond. Kaname and Takuma had arrived and were having a short discussion with Chairman Cross in his study. Kain and Ruka had disappeared somewhere and Yuuki and Zero were prepared to do the same, even though Yuuki wanted to stay behind, for her friend's sake. That left Yori, Aido and Akina sitting in the living room.

Zero nodded at them then turned and went out the front door, following Yuuki who was already on the cemented path that cut across the grassy lawn.


Zero turned at the sound of that hesitant-sounding voice. Aido stepped out as well, looking rather diffident with his hands in his trouser pockets. He gave a rather awkward shrug. "Thank you, for… last night."

Solemn amethyst eyes regarded him. "You're welcome, Aido" Zero said quietly, again with that warm look of respect in his eyes. That look seemed to reach inside the noble, soothing away that brief moment of awkwardness, that he'd put himself deep into the ex-human's debt. But Aido also wanted Kiriyu to know that he didn't take this debt lightly. The ex-human had volunteered his own blood without being asked and Aido wanted him to know that his gesture meant a lot.

Zero smiled, reading the emotions reflected quite transparently in the blue eyes. Then he shrugged in turn. "I guess that makes us even" he said.

Aido's eyebrows knitted in a small frown. Even?

"I took from Yori last time, during the previous holidays, remember?" Zero said lightly. He didn't want to bring that topic up again because they had already agreed that both were already even since Aido had also bitten Yuuki once. But Zero also didn't want Aido to feel indebted to him, because that would make them mere acquaintances, and not friends. After all, friends would never be indebted to one another, right?

Oh… The slight frown between Aido's eyebrows eased. He was silent a moment. He knew Zero had not taken as much from Yori as he had from him yesterday. He also knew that he had been far less gentle than Zero had been with Yori. But the fact was that Zero apparently didn't want him in his debt, and that felt good to Aido. Surprisingly good, in fact. Because it hinted at the very real possibility of them being friends some day.

Aido's shoulders relaxed and he offered Zero a sincere, charming smile. "We're truly even then" he agreed softly. Zero held his gaze for a moment, then nodded and turned around to follow Yuuki once more.

When Aido stepped back in and closed the front door, Takuma was waiting for him. "Could the three of you join us, please?" he asked, the warmth in his green eyes telling Aido he'd heard his exchange with the silver haired prefect.

- o -

The six of them gathered in Chairman Cross' study. The Headmaster was sitting in his chair, Kaname was in one of the chairs next to the table with Takuma standing behind him while Akina occupied the other chair. That left the two young lovebirds standing hand in hand in front of their audience.

Chairman Cross smiled expansively at Aido from behind his desk. "Well, young man, what have you got to say for yourself?" he asked genially.

Aido's gaze flickered to Kaname's. The dark eyes were watching him silently but the pureblood didn't say anything. Aido noted Takuma's encouraging smile and took a deep breath, steadying himself. "I'm sorry for causing all this trouble" he began, including his sister with a glance.

Akina nodded. She and Aido had already had a talk in the Moon Dorms late last night, in which she had apologised to him for accidentally disclosing his romance with Yori to their parents as well as assuring him that she was on their side now. During the trip here, both Kain and Ruka had informed her that Yori, far from being a ditzy gold digger, was actually a straight As student and a level headed one at that but Akina had already seen for herself – that this wasn't a meaningless fling for Aido. This was something very, very real to him. And now that she knew Yori was pregnant too - well, how could she not give her support to both of them?

When Aido had finished his explanation, Kaname sighed softly. "Aido"

The young noble gulped, expecting another punishment. After all, the pureblood leader had warned him before this, but it had been already too late that night, hadn't it?

"What are your plans regarding yourself and Sayori?" Kaname asked quietly, his chocolate eyes darting between the young noble and the human girl standing by her side. There was something about Sayori's aura… his watchful eyes narrowed imperceptibly.

Aido turned to his left, his fingers tightening around Yori's before he brought their entwined hands up to his lips. "I will never leave Yori" he vowed as he looked into her eyes. "This much I do know" He returned Kaname's gaze steadily.

One dark eyebrow lifted. "Even if your parents disapprove?" the pureblood asked quietly.

A tremble of fear rippled through Aido. Having been pampered all his life, he did fear being cast out from his family, stripped of both money and privileges but still, Yori came first. No matter what. "Yes" he answered readily, even though his voice came out sounding a little hoarse.

The pureblood leaned back in his chair, a slight, enigmatic smile on his face. "Then I will help as much as I can, in this matter" he offered quietly. Behind him, Takuma beamed at the young couple; so did Cross, and Akina smiled.

Aido closed his eyes for a moment - he felt close to tears and his knees went a little weak with relief. Looking at the pureblood he revered, he bowed deeply with his right hand over his heart. "Thank you, Kaname-sama" he said gratefully, his voice a little shaky. Yori couldn't help casting him a sidelong glance – the tone of Hanabusa's voice made her wonder for a moment if a curtsey was actually in order here…!

Takuma gave Aido a considering look - it seemed the young noble still hadn't realised what Kaname meant by his offer of assistance. "Are you aware of what Kaname can do to help, Aido?" he asked quietly. He glanced meaningfully at Yori at the same time. "He is a pureblood…"

Both Aido's and Yori's eyes widened in comprehension at the same time and another shiver rippled up the young noble's spine, this time of shock. For Yori to be a vampire… to have the chance to love her for a lot longer than what a human lifespan dictated… for her to know him in every sense of the word…

Aido swung to face Yori again, his face lighting up with excitement. But one look at the shock in her green eyes and all his anticipation came crashing down again bringing with it belated realisation. Yori knew he was a vampire - yes. She loved him – yes. That didn't mean she wanted the same thing for herself, right?

But if she didn't, it would still mean centuries of pain and loneliness for him once Yori's time on this earth was up. Still… Aido squared his shoulders as his other hand reached for her free one so that he held both her hands in his. "That decision rests entirely with you, Yori" he told her softly, his eyes looking steadily into hers. "No matter what it is, I will support it."

Yori's smile was shaky but beautiful. Most people would probably take it as a daunting prospect, but that fear didn't hit Yori. At least, not at this very moment. All she could think of was that she'd have a longer time to be with Aido, to learn about him and to love him and their children, and be loved in return.

She opened her mouth to speak but Aido shook his head quickly, his eyes widening in something almost resembling fear. He'd told her he would support her decision whatever it was, and he meant it but it didn't mean he had to hear it now… "You don't have to decide right now, sweetheart" he implored softly.

A trembling smile quivered on Yori's lips. "I wasn't going to" she murmured back, her eyes glimmering with unshed tears. "I just wanted to tell you that even if I want to change, it would still have to wait at least eight months"

Aido's brows knitted together in a perplexed frown, which deepened as Yori smiled again, this time mysteriously. The unexpected sounds of the Chairman's chuckle and Akina's laughter had the young noble swinging back to them in confusion. Takuma looked surprised too but Kaname didn't.

Aido swung back to Yori. "I don't understand" he stated rather plaintively, clearly not liking a situation where people knew something he didn't.

Yori smiled ruefully. "I'm glad you're not giving me up, Hanabusa" she said softly. Gently, she disentangled one hand from his and placed it protectively over her slightly rounded stomach. "Because that would mean giving both of us up…"

Aido blinked at her twice, but realisation hit a long moment later and he exhaled sharply on a gasp of surprise. Yori was pregnant? With his child?

"Yori? You're pregnant?" Aido asked faintly. He – he was ecstatic! So that would explain her increased appetite recently, the reason why her slender frame seemed more rounded in his arms.

"Sweetheart, you're pregnant!" Aido repeated incredulously. He – he was delirious with happiness! He didn't care at all that he was sounding significantly less than intelligent at this moment. But wait – Chairman Cross knew and his sister Akina knew too.

"Hey, does everyone know about this except me?" Aido demanded now, his happiness fading a little as he swung around to face the others again. OK, it looked like Takuma hadn't known either but still…

Akina smiled. "We only got to know last night, Hanabusa" she said gently. And it was only right for Yori to let you know herself…


Aido swung back to Yori at the sound of her soft voice. She smiled at him, a tear sliding down her cheek. "Does that mean you like it?" she asked tentatively. "Because it is sort of my fault I'm pregnant" she added softly. The two times they had made love, Aido had wanted to use protection but she was the one who'd told him that he needn't…

To his credit, Aido looked highly indignant. "Are you kidding?" he asked. "I'm over the moon!" he assured her, kissing her soundly right in front of the others to prove his point. It was true, he was ecstatic and he knew he'd made the right decision to stand by Yori but it was – well, unexpected to say the least. To be a teenage parent and to make Yori one as well… Aido's legs went a little weak again.

Chairman Cross cleared his throat. "Aido… do you have plans?" he asked kindly.

The young noble placed an arm around Yori's shoulders and nodded. "I called my parents last night. Akina and I will return home this evening" Aido tried his best to keep his voice from trembling. He wasn't looking forward to the inevitable confrontation with his family, or his separation from Yori, however brief, but it had to be faced sooner or later.

"I'm going with you" Yori's voice was quiet but steady. Aido gave her a startled glance. "Are you sure, Yori?" His parents could be a daunting pair to confront, even for a vampire. But Akina nodded as well. "I think it's time they met Yori" she agreed quietly.

Kaname agreed. "Call me, Aido, if you need my help" he said quietly. "And mine" offered Chairman Cross. Takuma smiled, silently offering his support as well. Aido thanked them all, humbled and grateful.

- o -

Yori finished packing her things. Since they would only be leaving in half an hour's time with Kain and Ruka, she went back to the kitchen to make herself some hot chocolate, hoping that a warm drink would help to calm the butterflies in her stomach. Life was unexpected – Yori couldn't quite remember what dreams she'd had in the past, about meeting her prospective husband's family one day but she never thought she would do it after getting pregnant. She shook her head and sighed as she sat down at the kitchen table, staring into the depths of her mug as she propped her chin on her other hand.

"What's wrong, sweetheart?" asked Aido as he reached for a chair and dropped down beside her.

Yori smiled wanly and shrugged. "Nothing much" She sipped a spoonful of the steaming liquid and grimaced – too hot! Automatically, Aido stretched out his hand to cool her drink before taking the spoon from her fingers and dropping it back inside her mug. Then he held her hand in his.

"Yori…" Aido said and waited until she looked at him. "Why didn't you tell me you were pregnant?" he asked softly, a faint look of hurt in his eyes. "You knew, didn't you, when we met by the seaside? You knew even then, but you didn't tell me" Aido couldn't hide the note of confused hurt in his voice. "Did you think I wouldn't want to know about this?"

Another smile trembled on Yori's lips. "I didn't know for sure then because I hadn't tested for it yet. But I was… too scared to let you know, actually"

A frown creased Aido's eyebrows. "Too scared? Of what?" he asked, sounding completely perplexed.

Yori dropped her gaze, her slender fingers tightening on his. "Of how you would react" she answered quietly. Glancing up, she saw that Aido was still confused. "Why? How did you think I would react?" he asked.

Oh, this was awkward… Yori hesitated then she continued. "That first time we made love. You remembered about protection, but I said it was OK. So this is… my fault" Oh, she knew technically that it took two persons to make a baby but she was the one who'd brushed the possibility aside, and she'd been so sure about the time… Yori glanced up hesitantly, her eyes rounding as she took in the sudden angry look in Aido's blue eyes and noted how his lips had thinned into a straight line.

"You thought that I would not care?" he asked quietly. "That – that I would just – abandon you, or – or ask you to get rid of it?" he continued, a mix of hurt and anger in each word he uttered.

Yori shook her head quickly but Aido continued, angry tears now shining in his eyes. "Is that what you think of me, Yori? That I was someone so heartless, so shallow that I couldn't be trusted with something this precious, this important?" The temperature in the kitchen dropped all of a sudden and Yori shivered as she shook her head again, miserable tears slipping down her own cheeks. "I'm sorry" she mumbled.

The sight and scent of her tears made Aido inhale sharply and the kitchen warmed up again as gentle, trembling thumbs brushed away the moisture from her cheeks. "No, I'm the one who should be sorry! You've been worrying by yourself all this while and I just made you cry again" Aido muttered, sounding guilty. Yori smiled. "No, you didn't, I'm fine now" she reassured him.

Aido moved the mug of chocolate between them to the far end of the table, then clasped both of Yori's hands in his. He looked at her steadily. "Yes, you said we didn't need protection but that doesn't make it your fault, Yori. This is my fault as well, because I allowed it to happen." Yori drank up his sincere look and words without a sound. The fact that he'd used 'we' made more tears well up.

Aido held her gaze. "Yori, I love you. And this is my child you're carrying. How could you think, even for one second, that I would not want you both?" His voice was disbelieving but his eyes shone with sincerity. Aido's words struck at Yori's heart and suddenly, her shoulders shook with sobs. All the fears and uncertainties that she'd kept to herself - with the recent exception of letting Yuuki know - rushed to the surface all at once, overwhelming her completely. This was what she'd craved. This was what she'd secretly longed for – to have Aido learn about her condition and to have him wholeheartedly and unconditionally accepting her. Both her and their unborn child.

Aido scooted his chair nearer to hers and wrapped his arms around her. "Yori, never hold back from me like this again" he whispered into her ear, his voice shaking. "I want you to always tell me everything, anything about you. Share everything with me, sweetheart, please" he whispered again and again, dropping kisses on her hair.

More tears fell from Yori's eyes but his words filled her aching heart with warmth, wiping away all her loneliness and fear. She let him hold her until the tears stopped and after a while, she remembered to ask him something. Yori rubbed her face against his shirt then pulled back a little. "You said for me to tell you everything but you didn't let me know about that argument you had with your parents, Hanabusa…"

Yori's look was quiet and not accusing but Aido flushed all the same. He reached for her hands again. "That's because I didn't know what to tell you, Yori. They thought – they know you're human, and – " Aido broke off awkwardly, not wanting to repeat the insults about Yori that his father had flung at him. But a wry smile curved Yori's lips all the same.

"But I am human, Hanabusa. I am only human" she agreed gently.

Aido shook his head decisively, his eyes fierce. "No. You are not only human, Yori. Never only" he vowed before bending forward to kiss her. "Never only, sweetheart" he whispered against her lips. Yori returned the kiss but she didn't let it go. "So what else did they say?" she persisted.

Aido gave a hollow laugh. "Something you'd laugh at – that you were enamoured of my looks and after my wealth" he mumbled as he looked down, aware once again of how ridiculous it sounded when referring to Yori. Her soft laughter had his head snapping up again. Yori's eyelashes were still spiky with tears but they sparkled with merriment as well. "Well, my father is quite well-to-do so I didn't chase you for your money, but I will admit to being quite enamoured of your looks!" she quipped.

Aido grinned with relief that she didn't seem insulted. "Aw, you didn't chase me, Yori. I chased you, remember?"

Yori laughed. "If you say so… 'Idol-sempai'!" she teased. Aido groaned in embarrassment. "Please, no more of that 'Idol' nonsense, OK?" he begged. That made Yori smile wider. Her Aido had really matured, and she was glad. "All right" she said softly.

There was a soft moment of silence then Aido bent forward to bury his face at her neck, inhaling her scent deeply. "I didn't know you were pregnant, Yori, otherwise I would never have drunk your blood last night" he mumbled. "I'm sorry."

Yori heard the guilt in his voice again and pulled back a little. "You didn't take all that much, Hanabusa, so stop feeling guilty" she told him sternly. Then she relented to smile a little. "Was it good?" she asked in a whisper.

The guilty look in Aido's eyes fled and he looked at her solemnly, if adoringly. "Very good" he said softly. "Sweeter than I thought it would be, sweeter than anything I have tasted" he assured her. "Sweeter than even Yuuki's" he added solemnly, his heart skipping a beat as her smile widened. Then he asked hesitantly "Did – did it hurt?"

Yori shook her head at once. Aido sighed in relief and kissed her again. "I won't take anymore until the baby's born, OK? You don't have to worry"

Yori laughed softly. "You still can, Hanabusa, I want you to. Just take a little each time"

Aido laughed a little shakily at that. "That's good because you'd be tempting me everyday, sweetheart" he told her adoringly before he kissed her again. Then the blue eyes turned unbelievably tender. "No matter what, Yori. I don't care how, but I promise you we'll be together, no matter what."

Yori inhaled shakily, mesmerised by the promise in his eyes. "No matter what" she agreed in a whisper.

Another kiss, another declaration of love… then it was time to leave.

- o -

The three of them reached the Aido mansion late at night. Kain and Ruka didn't go in but left once the servants had taken down the bags from the car. Soon, Aido and Yori were standing in front of Aido's parents in his father's study once more, with Akina insisting on following them.

"She's pregnant?" Two pairs of cool vampire eyes looked Yori up and down as if trying to determine whether what their son had told them was true, as if trying to sensing the new life pulsing in the womb of the petite human girl in front of them. A life that came from her as well as from their son.

Aido's gaze was steady. "Yes, Father. It was my doing and Yori is carrying my child."

Akashi Aido looked at his son intently. "So you will not break up with her? Not even if I throw you out without a cent to your name, Hanabusa?" he asked, his voice soft but dangerous.

Aido swallowed, his eyes travelling from his father, to his mother and older sister, then back to his father. He nodded decisively. "Not even then, Father." His cold fingers tightened on Yori's small hand.

Akashi was staring at him unblinkingly and Aido spoke again, at least wanting his understanding, if not his agreement. "You spoke to me about responsibilities, Father, and about taking them seriously." The young noble released Yori's hand to place his arm around her shoulders instead. "Well, this is one responsibility I am willing to take up. No matter what you say. No matter what anyone says. I cannot, I will not abandon Yori." Aido's voice shook in spite of his resolve to keep it steady.

"I know that I am a noble class vampire and that Yori is human. I know what our children will be. But I don't care. Father, Mother, you brought me up to face the consequences of my decisions, to take responsibility for all my actions. This is what I am doing." Please understand - she is something I cannot give up, if I am to live with myself. Please, please don't hate me for this for trying to do good, for once in my life.

Aido swallowed again, blinking hard. Yori was the most important person in the world to him now but that didn't mean he didn't love his family, that he didn't want their love, their approval and support – he still did, and very much now. More than he had ever realised, or even appreciated. "Please, Father, don't ask me to shirk this – to do something that you yourself would not do…"

Akashi's countenance had not changed but something flickered in those cold blue eyes now, something seemed to crumble and die deep in their depths. After a moment, he gave a long, drawn out sigh, his shoulders seeming to sag a little. "But I have, Hanabusa. I have, and regretted it ever since."

Hanako laid a hand on his shoulder. "Dear, that happened a long time ago, please don't bring it up anymore"

Aido exchanged puzzled looks with Akina. Bring what up? What was it that their father regretted? He glanced at Yori – she looked even more lost.

Akashi gave another heavy sigh, the look in his eyes distant, far away as if he were lost in his memories. "Hanabusa, your mother is not the first woman I fell in love. She is the second."

It turned out that Akashi's first love had been a human girl too. He did not mention how they met but at the command of his father (Aido's grandfather), he'd broken off his relationship with her, persuaded himself that she had only been after his money, since she came from a broken family. But still unable to forget her, Akashi continued to watch her from afar and suffered every single day since. Never daring to show his face to her, never daring to let her know, but always watching, always helping. He'd assisted her anonymously whenever he could for the man she eventually married was poor. The noble had pulled strings for her, assisted her and her children with but she never knew it. And she had always hated him until the end of her short life, forever thinking him callous and shallow in rejecting her love.

"I can't say that I truly regretted what I did, Hanabusa" Akashi said quietly, his sombre eyes on the rounded, shocked ones of his son. "Because after that, I met a wonderful woman who brought me more happiness than I deserved, and raised a wonderful family with me as well." His arm went around Hanako and he smiled lovingly at his wife. "But I never wanted that girl to hate me… and to spend her whole life hating me."

There was a minute of silence as Akina and Aido stared at their parents. They'd assumed there was no one else for either of them. Hanako sighed then smiled ruefully at her children. "Of course, please don't tell your younger sisters this, Akina, Hanabusa. This is something that happened in the past and that's where it should remain" Her voice was firm and she glanced up at her husband as she said it.

Akashi nodded then he released his wife's shoulder and looked at Yori. He took a deep breath before speaking formally. "My apologies, Wakaba-san. It seems we – I – have mistaken my son's deep love for you for mere infatuation. We have been very remiss with our manners and I do hope you will forgive us one day"

Hanako smiled as she stepped forward. "If my son loves you all that much, Sayori, then you must be worth it. We may be a family of vampires but we are just as capable of love as you humans are. Welcome to our family, Sayori." She held out her arms.

Yori's eyes welled up with tears of joy and relief, as she choked out her thanks before stumbling forward to embrace Aido's mother. Akina's eyes filled with tears as well but at that moment, no one cried harder than Aido.

- o -

Four months later…

A heavily pregnant girl with shoulder length, wavy blond hair sat in a garden swing, rocking herself slowly. The early morning sunlight cast soft golden rays over the beautifully landscaped gardens and she paused in her knitting to lift her face to the sunlight.

Yori's pregnancy was progressing well, if a little too rapidly for her liking, and the spring green smocked cotton top she wore over white leggings suited her. It was one of the many maternity clothes she had bought while out shopping with Akina.

Yori and Aido were in the process of purchasing a house nearby. It was lonely however with Aido continuing to support Kaname's and Chairman Cross' dream by attending Cross Academy. Yori obviously didn't want to continue her classes there with the condition she was in. It hadn't been easy breaking the news to her father and brothers. In fact, they still didn't know what Yori's in-laws were. She only planned on telling them that later, much later after the baby was born. There was such a thing as landing a person with too much news all at once. Thank goodness the quiet wedding with only immediate family invited had gone well. And if it wasn't quite the elaborate, high profile wedding Aido's parents had dreamed off for their one and only son, they made no mention about it in front of Yori.

So after her marriage, Yori elected to stay with Aido's family, at least until the baby was born. She could see her husband was clearly the apple of his parents' eyes and hadn't had cause to regret her decision ever since. Yori was warming up to her in-laws and it was admittedly very nice to be pampered and have your every whim and fancy pandered to even if she had to resort to waking up much earlier than she wanted to, in order to have some time alone with her thoughts. At least she was sure of not being disturbed at this morning hour.

Yori was knitting her fourth pair of baby booties with a book on knitting patterns propped on her lap. It was a completely unnecessary endeavour, assured Aido, who insisted that they had enough money to buy out a whole warehouse of booties if she so wished. A small smile tilted Yori's lips as she let her mind wander back to the conversation that had taken place last weekend inside the house.

Yori glared at Aido after learning of his next intended purchase for their child. "It's obvious I'll have to keep an eye on you, Hanabusa" she mock threatened him. "Otherwise, you'll spoil our son rotten, and he's not even out yet!"

"Hey, I only want the best for him, sweetheart" Aido protested, his eyes swinging to Akina who sat on the sofa in the living room, leafing through the pregnancy magazine delivered to their house earlier. "Right, nee-san?" he tried to enlist Akina's support, even though he knew better.

Akina barely spared him a glance. "Yori's right, Hanabusa" she said mildly. "You're going to a make a heck of a father like this"

Aido glared at his sister. "Since when have you started siding with Yori?" he asked, trying not to sound too happy. In actual fact, he loved how Akina and Yori were getting along. Akina truly was a wonderful older sister to have, and he knew how Yori had always wanted a sister.

"Since I found out what a gem she is, and how lucky my younger brother is to have found her" returned Akina blithely, as she turned the page, not at all affected by Aido's freezing look. The female noble could not praise Yori enough, saying that it was about time she had a responsible, level headed and matured younger sibling other than the three she'd had to endure all these years.

It was Akina whom Yori turned to whenever she wanted to find out more about vampires that Hanabusa was not willing to tell her, and for all the secret female talks she couldn't have with him, despite how knowledgeable her husband was about loving them in general, and her in particular. It also made for softly spoken sessions that usually ended in gales of laughter in which Aido tried his best not to hear nor interrupt, feeling that they could only be conversing about him.

Yori's knitting needles started clicking again. It was Friday and Hanabusa would be here by midnight. But he wouldn't be alone this time – Yuuki and Zero would be coming over to stay the long weekend too. Yori smiled softly. She knew her friends wanted to reassure themselves that she was being treated well by her in-laws, despite her assurances. But she also knew that they wanted to offset any loneliness she might have felt in being here, with only Aido's family and the servants for company.

But Yori was far from lonely. Aside from continuing her studies and her knitting, she'd also put the well-stocked library in the Aido mansion to good use and the more she learned about the vampire world, their history and their current affairs, the more fascinating she thought them. Aido found himself in the rather new situation of not having a ready answer at his fingertips more than once and had to frequent the Moon Dorm library more often than he had to in the past. Yori smiled again, recalling the almost speculative look in her husband's eyes one evening as he wondered aloud at her sudden deep interest in vampires.

With a sandaled foot, Yori set the swing in motion again. Her baby gave a kick and she rubbed her swollen stomach comfortingly, her maternal instincts already an intrinsic part of her.

No, she had not decided yet if she wants to be a vampire in future. But she knows now that she cannot be parted from Aido.

No matter what.

-- THE END --