Despite his sovereign's wishes, Hanabusa gave his blood to Yori and sat back, waiting for her possible recovery. He noticed that the blood had stopped all together and within a week her wounds had nearly healed. It was a good sign, however she never stirred, or made a sound, she was a living corpse in a deep slumber. Everyday Hanabusa implored her to wake up and everyday she refused, remaining in her deep slumber. The battle continued and Hanabusa completed each mission with an emotionless expression, devoid of the original sympathy and reluctance to destroy others. He no longer hesitated to take out the soldier who cringed upon his glare. The others acknowledged the noticeable difference in his fighting style and chose not to say anything, not even his cousin, Akatsuki, would raise his voice at the complete lack of consciousness of Hanabusa's actions. They all knew what had caused this sudden turn and found little they could do short of reviving Yori for their estranged friend.

Months passed and no one could really explain Yori's state of ambiguity and the unchanged of her state. Her hair did not grow, she did not whither away, she remained as she had for several years. She breathed shallowly and with less force, but she remained pale and with an expression that was neither at peace nor in pain. She was simply empty of life. Despite this, it seemed as though Hanabusa still saw life in her and treated her as such, speaking to her quietly, telling her of the battles and the latest decisions and tactics. She never stirred.

The fights grew sparser by the day and less fierce. Kaname felt the nearing of the end, realizing that all that remained now was to ambush the opposing forces, dispose of the other pureblood and then reclaim peace. Gazing upon his friend he acknowledged that it would not be found so easily for some. Everyone waited eagerly for the end to come. Their morale was high, but they had all grown weary with war. It had been close to two years since the fighting had started and these men and women had family and loved ones they wished to be with. Kaname felt the impatience to end the fight quickly.

Hanabusa refused to have Yori sent away, claiming that she would wake soon and that he would be there to greet her, but yet she remained still.

Victory came with a downpour of rain and thunder as the opposing pureblood stood off against Kaname. With the beleaguered forces standing opposite of Kaname's which had grown fiercer and a force to be reckoned against. The other did not plead for his life or that of his troops. He stood soaked as he smirked cruelly at the other.

"That a pureblood would have shared his blood to win a war. It is a rule that was never to broken," he said hoarsely. "Already a darkness is forming around you and everything you hold dear for this decision." Kaname did not show any sign of anger or disturbance by these words, having dealt already with the possible consequences.

"They will find you and your family. Those who seek power no longer have the past to keep them from acting as they please. You know not what you have done."

"I know exactly what I have done," said Kaname coldly as he released the raging power from within. The other disintegrated into a cloud of ash, only to be swept away by the powerful winds and raging torrents of rain. After a long moment, Kaname turned to his forces.

"It is finished. Let's go home." A roar of applause and cheers rose up from his men and women, covered with blood and dirt from the long day's battle. Regardless of the exuberance, there still remained a horrible foreboding looming above the pureblood's head. Yes, a force was gathering against him once again.

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The Aidou household had learned long before that Yori had disappeared to attend the frontlines and they waited anxiously for the young master's return, surely bringing with him the slumbering woman who had cared for the master's son. Lilith waited with the servants out front as the carriage approached, carrying the inhabitants. The moment Hanabusa stepped out he was embraced lovingly by first his mother and then a strong show of emotions by his father with a hearty handshake before everyone present. He was not completely aware of everyone there as he turned and retrieved Yori's body from inside of the vehicle. The crowd grew still as he approached the threshold of the mansion, Aria leaping and bounding from behind several groups of servants joyously expecting her father's embrace, but stood stunned as he carried with him the woman she had praised so adamantly. She glared angrily, seeing that his arms were full with another. He swept past her with Lilith trailing behind. Gently her mother placed a hand on her shoulder before passing her as well.

"Go and prepare a room for Ms. Wakabe," she ordered quickly. The servants leapt to action, a sudden flurry of activity followed. Turning, Lilith addressed Aria.

"Darling, go and prepare for dinner. You will have a chance then to speak with your father," she said gently. The little girl who had grown incredibly since her father's departure did not react and simply glowered at his retreating back as he ascended the stairwell. She remained standing as everyone continued to rush in every direction.

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After gently placing Yori in a comfortable position in a large bed, Hanabusa checked her anxiously for any disturbances that he had missed and was relieved to see that she was whole and unharmed during their travels. Very carefully he brushed aside some hair that had gone astray before settling on the mattress beside her. A servant knocked and inquired whether he requested anything and he merely dismissed her with a wave of the hand, still staring at Yori's pale face. Nothing had changed. He had hoped that perhaps upon returning she would be revived, but it was still no such luck. He did not know how long he sat there, watching her before Lilith appeared in the doorway.

"Hanabusa, please come and eat. The servants will make sure that she is well tended for." He did not even so much as react. "Hanabusa, Aria still is waiting to greet you." This brought his attention to her and he saw that her face was pained, but very much restrained and he felt grateful. "Please go see your daughter and I will make sure that Yori is comfortable." He knew that as long as he remained on the estate no one would dare to harm the woman he had loved and had a child with and this was some comfort to him.

Slowly he relinquished his place by the bed and went to the door, only looking back at the still form before departing. Lilith remained in the doorway staring as well.

"How could you do this to him? You better wake up soon so you can reclaim what you have lost," she said quietly, on the verge of tears.

-------------

Hanabusa found his daughter in the playroom and noticed that many of her toys had been replaced by books that had been stacked in an ordered chaos on shelves. He felt a fatherly pride rise up when he looked as she was completely engrossed in one of her books, noticing that it contained few pictures. He certainly had missed much of her growing up in this past year and he regretted that they grew so quickly, especially for vampires. Once she came of age she would then slow such spurts, but until then he would have to cherish every moment with her.

Aria did not notice her father in the doorway, she was so enthralled with the story of the beautiful princess sleeping in the coffin, awaiting her beloved vampire knight to save her from the evil temptress. It wasn't until her father cleared his throat did she look up and a bright gleam spread across her face. Standing up quickly she ran headlong across the room to embrace him. Her head came up to his chest and Hanabusa felt yet another pang of regret not having been there as she grew.

"Papa!" she said gleefully as her arms encircled his waist. His hand reached up and caressed the top of her head, taking in her golden hair. It was not his, it was Yori's head of hair; another pain lanced his chest. Pulling her away by the shoulders he took a good look at her face. Yes, Yori was represented strongly in ways only those who knew her could see. He was sure that Yuki would have noticed by now.

"Hello, darling. I am sorry that I did not have a chance to see you earlier." The little face scrunched up.

"Yes you did," she said honestly. "I was there with everyone else, but you were carrying that lady." Hanabusa scowled, but still held his daughter gently by the shoulders. Turning, he led her to a nearby chair and lifted her easily into his lap and after settling he turned to look her in the eyes.

"That lady is very important to all of us," he said gently admonishing her sharp tone towards her mother, the one she did not know. "She cares for you very deeply." Aria seemed reprimanded and regretful of her earlier irritation. Hanabusa smiled and hugged her tightly to his chest. "But I missed you very much all the time," he admitted. She looked at him with wide eyes.

"Really? I thought about you all the time too Papa! Are you going away again?" she said, a little frightened by the possible answer. Hanabusa looked sad for a moment before smiling at her brightly.

"Nope, you are stuck with your old man from now on." Aria giggled and wrapped her arms around her father's neck placing a wet kiss on his cheek.

"I am not stuck with you Papa. You are stuck with me!" Hanabusa burst out with a laugh, something he had not done in so long.

"It looks as though we are stuck with each other." Hanabusa remembered suddenly and reached into his pocket and pulled out a shining medallion and placed it gently in the little girl's eager hands. A leather thong was threaded through the small coin-like object. Her eyes were rounded.

"What is this?" she said happily at receiving something from her father. Smiling proudly.

"That, my dear, is the medallion worn by the great pureblood that your father and Kaname-sama defeated. It is a keepsake given to me by Kaname-sama and I am giving it to you." Aria shrieked and quickly tried to untie the knot, but found that her fingers were too small still to get the job done. Smiling, Hanabusa reached down and helped her accomplish what she sought. Finally, after having it secured around her neck, she jumped to the ground and ran for the nearest mirror to examine the treasure. Her grin was infectious as she spun back around to lob another wet kiss on her father's lips.

"Thank you Papa!" she said. Their happy reunion was interrupted by a knocking at the door, Lilith entering. Aria leapt from her father's arms and ran to her mother to show the new treasure, showing it off with great flourish.

"Really, Hanabusa, you think you could have found something more appropriate for a growing girl?" she admonished gently, with little force. Hanabusa only shrugged carelessly as he stood to take his daughter's hand. "It is time to eat. Aria be sure to clean up. Everyone has gathered, including the Kurans." Lilith smiled.

"Is Zero and his papa here as well?" she said instantly. Hanabusa reacted instantly and swept the girl now growing too big to do so, into his arms.

"How dare you think of others ahead of your precious papa," he said half-jokingly. Aria looked regretful and said with a seriousness almost disturbing for someone her age, "Papa, you are always more precious to me." It was final and Hanabusa was satisfied with the answer.

Finally they all descended to the dining room and he found Yuki and Zero had arrived with their long missed father and husband. Aria skipped closer to Zero and plopped into a chair next to him, obviously showing it as a habit. Hanabusa cleared his throat and looked effectively hurt and without a second thought Aria abandoned Zero's side to take a place right next to her father. Zero threw a menacing look that was returned in kind by Hanabusa. This could be interesting. Hanabusa took his place across from the little pureblood who did not break his glare. Instead he made a point of smiling and laughing with Aria, glancing occasionally at the other to see if it drove home the message. She was his and his alone. Zero pouted rather openly and swung his legs under the table. Chatter filled the room as the family descended as well as several close family guests.

Leaning over, Hanabusa whispered loudly to his daughter, "Who do you love the most, darling?"

"You Papa! I love you the most!" Aria said, eager to give the answer that was the most pleasing and truthful. Hanabusa was half smiling before he felt a sharp pain in his shin. Looking up wide-eyed at the other across the table, he realized the little twit had kicked him! Zero glared back and stuck his tongue out slightly. Hanabusa flexed his hands under the table.

Seeing that this was not heading in a good direction, Lilith tried to form some kind of conversation with her husband, but found that there was little they could speak of besides the war and it was a topic that was still raw. Aria picked at her food, not very hungry for rare meat or the blood that was served to her in a goblet. Instead she asked for water. Hanabusa noticed this and felt sympathetic. Lilith had before gone against this, but things had changed since he had left for war. Lilith did not say anything as other foods were brought for the girl.

Finally, after everyone had their fill Kaname stood and cleared his throat. The room grew quiet.

"I have an announcement." Yuki looked down at her clasped hands, refusing to look at everyone else. "Due to the latest demands for my attention, we will be travelling to attend to the requests." Silence fell as everyone absorbed this.

"When will you be back?" said Aria a little shakily. Hanabusa glanced at her nervously as Kaname answered.

"It is not determined." It was quite clear that they were to leave for a long period of time and Aria picked up on this instantly. It took only a moment for her to react. Jumping from her chair she ran around the table to Zero and grabbed the young boy, almost as tall as her now, to her chest. Her face was one of harsh defiance. She was rarely moved to tears, but they were beginning to form around the corners of her eyes.

"You will leave Zero here with me though right?" she said hopefully. Kaname and Yuki exchanged looks and once again the girl knew what this meant. Zero lifted his hands to clasp her forearm as well, looking hopefully at his parents. Yuki looked at him lovingly before shaking her head slowly.

"No! You can't take him away!" implored Aria. "You can't!" she said wildly.

"Aria!" retorted Lilith. The little girl cried out and looked at her father imploringly, but he only looked at her sadly. Seeing no one was going to aid her, she grabbed hold of Zero's hand and took off running. Everyone stood up in alarm watching the two exit. Kaname held up his hand to keep anyone from retrieving the children.

"Let them be." Slowly everyone sat back down and a slow murmur recovered. Hanabusa leaned forward and whispered confidentially to his lord.

"You intend to go into hiding, don't you?" he said. Kaname stared at him for a long moment and nodded. "You need someone to go with you," Hanabusa started, but Kaname shook his head.

"We will disappear for a time…" Yuki spoke up then.

"But Kaname, I cannot leave Yori. Not in the state she is in!" she hissed almost loudly. Kaname placed a hand gently on her shoulder.

"I will make sure that we know of her status as we move, but it is too dangerous for our son here." The mentioning of Zero sobered Yuki. Yori would understand right? She would understand better than anyone else.

The mentioning of Yori brought her back to the forefront of his mind an Hanabusa excused himself. Lilith looked on glumly as her husband left the room in the same direction as the children. She knew his destination and was resigned to her fate as forever staring from the sidelines.

---------------

"Yori, it looks as though the Kurans will be going into hiding. It is as Kaname feared. I will be left here alone. I can't raise Aria on my own. Please come back to me…"

---------------

The children had finally been retrieved and Zero stared on glumly as Aria was held back, sobbing as he and his parents were huddled up into the carriage, preparing to depart. Hanabusa came out only briefly to bid farewell, requesting that the Kurans keep in touch and let him know of their health and safety. Kaname simply nodded and it was all that was needed. Yuki leaned forward and hugged Hanabusa.

"Please take care of Yori until I get back," she said tearfully as she pulled away.

"Was there any question?" Hanabusa said slightly insulted. Yuki smiled, seeing she had still managed to annoy the vampire noble. Aria ran up and Hanabusa grabbed her as she attempted to run past him into the carriage. She finally gave up, turning to sob into her father's waistcoat. Nodding his head in the direction of the gate signaling they should go while they still had a chance. Zero climbed up to the side of the window and looked out as they pulled away. Finally realizing that he was not going to be seeing Aria again. She grew smaller, but he squinted his eyes to realize that she had suddenly taken off running after the carriage calling out his name.

"Aria, I'll be back! Just you wait!" Zero finally yelled out. His parents were astonished. He never raised his voice, much less to yell so everyone could hear him. The little girl's sobs faded away as they turned out of the gates. Hanabusa walked up from behind, wrapping his little girl in his arms. Knowing that the immediate threat of Zero Kuran was removed still did not alleviate the pain of seeing his precious daughter in such disarray. To try to comfort her, he picked her up and suggested that they go for a walk around the gardens. She shook her head sadly, finally the sobs subsiding. He insisted and led her by the hand in the direction of the gardens.

The moonlight spilled down upon the father and daughter as they tread slowly around the pond. Aria clung to her father's hand, but only concentrated on the ground in front of her. Finally coming upon a bench Hanabusa settled himself upon the cold surface and lifted his daughter to his lap, her favorite place.

"Do you want to hear a story?" he said suddenly, trying to distract her from her deep and morbid thoughts. She shrugged. "It's a love story." This caught her attention and she looked up instantly, but still tried to hang onto her mood.

"What's it about?" Hanabusa 'hmm'ed and then looked at her.

"It's about a great warrior who thought he was king of the world. All of the men and women flocked to him and stood in awe of his glory, but there was one woman who stood apart from the others." Aria looked at him with some curiosity.

"Why?"

"Because she was not a pawn like the others. You see the great warrior felt that he had everything he could ever want, but then one day he fell in love…"

THE END

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