Author Notes: Welcome to the very last chapter of The Other Half of Myself! –is very happy and hugely relieved- The birthday present scene here was actually written more than a year ago but I was saving it for the right story and the right chapter. Every time I came across a fanfic that had a birthday present or a Christmas present, I would immediately think of my little scene and tell it to be patient for a little while longer but here it is at last -smiles-

By the way, the first chapter of TOHOM was posted on 17 Oct 2008 so it's fitting that the last chapter is posted on 17 Oct 2009! I have enjoyed writing i.e. thinking, plotting, writing, editing, agonising, proofing and tweaking TOHOM and hope you've all enjoyed reading each chapter just as much. Enjoy this one as well :D

The dishes mentioned in this chapter were sourced from finedining (dot) com.

Appreciation: My grateful thanks and appreciation to all my faithful readers and reviewers, in particular Blackened Wing, Sagakure and VaneCaos. Your support, reviews and messages always keep me motivated and happy! Thank you also to Im-the-best for reminding me when I first started this story :D

Summary: Zero already has a birthday gift for Kaname but he is still determined to get the pureblood a more perfect one.

- Chapter Start -

Zero agonised over Kaname's birthday present for the next day and a half. In fact, he stayed awake just to make a quick phone call to Takuma after Kaname fell asleep. Zero wasn't being nosy, he just wanted to get a feel for the sort of presents the pureblood had received in the past but after he knew, he wished he hadn't. They ranged from fully paid vacation trips to expensive electronic gadgets. These were just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, the cheapest presents in that list were Yuuki's – homemade chocolates and other culinary inventions that Kaname graciously received and manfully consumed right in front of her, a laughing Takuma informed Zero.

The young hunter gave a despondent sigh after he hung up. He knew he shouldn't have tried to find that out. Initially, he had decided that his birthday present to Kaname would be to move in with him. He really wanted to do that and he knew Kaname would be very happy about this but... Zero felt that it wasn't really a proper birthday gift. He wanted to give Kaname something more. Something more... tangible. Something that said more clearly than words that he loved and treasured Kaname as his lover and that he wanted them to stay a couple forever. Or at least for as long as he lived. Quickly, Zero skirted his thoughts away from that potentially depressing topic but it took a while for him to fall asleep, even nestled up to Kaname's enticingly sleep soft body.

- o -

The following day was Friday. Zero took the opportunity to walk around the city after Kaname had gone off to his office. The pureblood was on the verge of cancelling all his appointments for that evening but Zero stopped him from doing so, saying that since he would be around for the entire weekend, it was better for Kaname to clear his schedule instead. Kaname had reluctantly agreed but he only left the apartment after a passionate kiss at the front door that almost had them going back to the bedroom. As it was, Zero's lips were tingling by the time Kaname let him go and both of them were wearing rather silly smiles.

It was another half an hour before Zero went down as well. Kaname had earlier mentioned that Takuma would arrange for the birthday dinner and the blond called Zero shortly after he sent some dinner menu selections to the fax in Kaname's apartment. The two of them then spent a few minutes poring over the delicious sounding choices. Both of them were hard pressed to select a menu since each one seemed equally good. Takuma had hired the best vampire owned catering services in the business. Zero was initially shocked at the cost but he also knew enough about Kaname by now to realise that the pureblood would be embarrassed if he served his guests with anything but the best. Besides, everyone who was coming tomorrow held a firm place in Kaname's heart and Zero trusted Takuma's judgment.

After that, Zero quickly took the lift down. He knew he didn't have much time left to shop and the fact that he didn't even know what to get in the first place made his initial wish of wanting to buy Kaname something balloon into somewhat panic inducing need. Zero knew that he would never be able to buy gifts as exotic and pricey as vacations or vehicles but surely... surely there was something out there that was more or less within his budget, more tangible than just moving in with his lover and held a significance that was far, far greater than an impersonal all expense paid holiday or an exotic car that Kaname might not even want to drive.

After walking around the two large shopping malls the city had, Zero finally found what he was unconsciously looking for. It was so simple that he couldn't believe it had taken him such a long time to realise it. Still, the mere significance of that gift had him dawdling and hesitating outside the large, brightly lit premise with its beautiful, gleaming items on display.

What if Kaname didn't like it?

What if Kaname thought him presumptuous and arrogant?

Worse, what if Kaname thought him a sappy, lovesick fool?

Of course Zero knew that Kaname wouldn't think any of those things but... Faced with sudden gut clenching doubts, the hunter was on the verge of turning away when a friendly saleslady approached him and invited him into the shop to take a look. She was good at reading people and had seen the longing and doubt written on Zero's face. This customer wanted something... but was obviously too shy to ask for it outright. She invited Zero to sit down at a small table with a hot cup of tea and gave him her undivided attention. With gentle and unassuming questions, she slowly drew out his requirements and formed a mental picture of the person the gift was for from his hesitant replies.

It then took Zero a good two hours of scrutinising, deliberating, agonising, comparing and deciding. When he finally walked out of the shop after being thanked and wished good luck by the friendly saleslady, his heart was thudding in his chest with a mixture of pure excitement, giddy happiness and nerve wrecking nervousness.

He had finally found the perfect birthday gift for Kaname.

- o -

Saturday evening arrived and Zero awoke first to find Kaname spooning him from behind, the pureblood's slender arms possessively around his waist. Zero smiled and started to turn around slowly, his movements gently coaxing Kaname awake. Once he had turned onto his other side, Zero smiled at Kaname and pressed a soft kiss to those supple, sculpted lips. The hunter no longer suffered any allergic reaction to the blood tablets but it was utterly delicious to know that Kaname's blood was his for the taking instead of having to resort to its fake substitute. Happily, Zero nuzzled his face into the warm, fragrant skin of his lover's neck and started licking it hungrily.

Kaname smiled sleepily, his body already starting to tingle with sweet anticipation of Zero's bite. In the past, the hunter usually needed to be reminded that he could have Kaname's blood as and when he wanted, since it was something that gave both of them pleasure but now, Kaname was thrilled to feel the light brush of familiar fangs against his sensitive skin.

"As much as you want, my darling," he whispered and tipped his head back, exposing his pale, graceful throat. Zero blushed a little at the endearment. He suckled warmly on Kaname's neck in shy appreciation before biting down and the pureblood was beautifully lost.

- o -

A couple of hours later, Kaname pressed a loving kiss onto Zero's flushed lips.

"It's time to get up," he whispered regretfully. Zero only yawned in response, his body blissfully replete with Kaname's loving and intense attentions earlier. They had both taken turns to claim the other with their fangs as well as their bodies but it was now time to wash up and change since the caterers would arrive soon. Still, Kaname couldn't resist taking a moment to trace the slight bump above Zero's thigh with a fingertip. He smiled as the hunter shivered immediately, his body reacting to the feather light touch. Zero groaned as Kaname's hand moved inwards and clasped his swiftly hardening length.

"I thought you said it was time to get up?" he grumbled good naturedly and Kaname grinned deeply.

"Yes but I don't recall specifying what needed to get up," he replied with a straight face, making Zero scowl and blush again.

"You're insatiable. I have to go shower, Kaname!"

Kaname sighed and let his hand fall away. "I know," he murmured, half regretting that the others were due to arrive here in less than an hour. He would have preferred to have Zero all to himself, presents or no presents. After all, Zero's love was the only gift he wanted. Wanted and needed. As if he could sense Kaname's thoughts, Zero quickly sat up and scooted to the side of the bed but the pureblood only grinned lazily at him.

"I could always join you in the shower, you know," he remarked half playfully, half seriously. Zero frowned at him and shook his head.

"No such thing or we'll be greeting Takuma and the others in nothing but a towel," he said dryly. Unsurprisingly, the pureblood only perked up even more at that.

"One towel or two, Zero?" he asked innocently. Zero's mind immediately supplied the mental image of Kaname and himself, both dripping wet and sharing a towel around their hips as they opened the door to a group of shocked nobles. He shook his head again and even chuckled a little.

"Aido would pop a vein."

"Mmm, and Cross and Yuuki would get an eyeful too..."

Zero paled at the thought before blushing furiously. The latter two seeing him and Kaname dressed, or rather undressed like that, was something he never wanted to happen. Kaname smiled at Zero's flushed face, his dark eyes warm with adoration.

"You're being shy again, Zero," he teased softly. "There's no need to hide our relationship from them, you know."

Zero's only reply was to hurl the nearest thing at his irrepressible lover, which just happened to be his Hello Kitty plush toy. She had been living with Kaname ever since he bought the apartment. Initially, Zero had packed her in his overnight bag each time he visited Kaname for the weekend but after one mortifying incident where he had carelessly pulled out his jacket while on the bus only to make Hello Kitty tumble out onto his lap, Zero was more than happy to leave her with Kaname. Now, the pureblood chuckled as he deftly caught the toy and gave it a quick kiss. The sight of a naked pureblood with his long hair delightfully mussed and happily cuddling Hello Kitty to his cheek made Zero hurry into the bathroom before he could be dissuaded from his much needed shower.

It was a good thing he did because the doorbell rang as soon as he got dressed. It was Kaname's turn to shower then so Zero went to answer the door, his hunter senses buzzing a little with the presence of unfamiliar vampires on the other side. When he opened the door, he was politely greeted by four men and women, all neatly clad in snowy white uniforms with red trim and bearing the logo of the catering company Takuma had hired.

A rather surprised Zero stood to one side, letting them wheel in a trolley laden with boxes and coolers. He hung around to watch as they took over the dining room and kitchen and bustled about with quiet efficiency. One of them unloaded some fresh flowers and started putting together a centerpiece for the large dining table while another prepared a tray which she then carried into the living room. On it was a bottle of fine champagne chilling in a silver bucket of crushed ice and a tray of assorted nibbles for guests to munch on while the chefs prepared the food in the kitchen.

Zero watched them closely, especially the staff who were using the kitchen that only he had cooked in so far but they all looked like they knew what they were doing. After a few minutes, he relaxed and went back into the bedroom to wait for Kaname.

- o -

The party was a great success. Chairman Cross, Yuuki, Takuma, Shiki, Rima, Ruka, Aido, Kain and Seiren all arrived in a convoy of cars since they had travelled directly from Cross Academy. There was a noisy moment as they called out their greetings and happily crowded into the large, comfortably appointed living room, together with an assortment of presents. Takuma and the others tactfully held back and allowed the Chairman and Yuuki to present their birthday greetings to Kaname first. Zero was pleased when Yuuki hugged and kissed him next and he even managed a smile for the Chairman who looked suspiciously close to tears.

The living room didn't seem very large after a total of eleven people had occupied the sofa, various armchairs and smaller chairs. Everyone was happy and relaxed as they spent the next half hour or so exchanging casual chat and laughing at the good natured ribbing between Aido and seemingly everyone else including Zero. The hunter was very relieved that he had bought Kaname something especially with the large stack of gaily wrapped presents occupying the empty space next to the plasma television and frequently catching his eye. He was more than relieved that he had hurriedly changed the silk bedsheets in the bedroom after Yuuki insisted on a guided tour of the entire apartment. Kaname graciously led the tour and even gave Zero an outrageous wink when they crowded into the master bedroom and Yuuki commented innocently on the neatly made bed.

- o -

A short while later, the dinner was ready. Everyone gathered in the large dining room and exclaimed over the beautifully decorated table, covered with fine linen and set with exquisite china and crystal. Zero was seated on Kaname's right with Yuuki on the pureblood's left and Chairman Cross on her left side. There was another mini skirmish as both Takuma and Aido tried to get the seat on Zero's right and the tousle haired blond won with a triumphant smile, earning himself a snicker from his cousin and more than a few giggles from the ladies.

The catering company's reputation was well deserved and the food and service were excellent. None of the courses disappointed; every dish was exquisitely prepared and beautifully presented. They dined on chilled soufflé and Cornish crab salad with jellied tomato & tarragon essence for starters, followed by two choices of the main course - roast Gressingham duck with seared foie gras and rich onion sauce or tournedos of beef with nettle risotto and braised spring onions. Dessert was a huge chocolate mousse birthday cake. There was excellent wine to go with each course and the waiting staff were unobtrusive and discreet. They stayed out of the sight in the kitchen after serving each course and only came out when Takuma rang the small bell placed conveniently at his elbow to signal for the next course.

As everyone happily made their way through the food, Zero glanced at the pureblood on his left. There was a quietly happy smile on Kaname's lips as he glanced around at everyone sitting at his table and enjoyed the expressions on their faces as they ate and joked together. When his gaze finally reached the very special person on his right, Kaname's smile widened. He reached for Zero's left hand and gave it a gentle squeeze, uncaring of whoever cared to look.

- o -

The noisy rendition of Happy Birthday to Kaname right at the dining table was more enthusiastic than on key. This was largely due to Yuuki's high treble, despite Zero and the Chairman's vain attempts to steer her wavering pitch. Nevertheless, Kaname smiled appreciatively at everyone before blowing out the rose scented candle in the middle of the cake, thoughtfully lit by Kain with a single look. Kaname made the first cut into the cake with a silver, ribbon-bedecked knife and nodded graciously at the loud burst of applause. Putting down the knife, he stood up and everyone followed him back to the living room while Takuma ducked into the kitchen to ask the catering staff to cut and serve the rest of the cake.

It was gift opening time. Everyone eagerly crowded around the coffee table where Rima and Shiki were arranging the pile of presents. Kaname was the perfect birthday boy as he duly admired each of the gifts he opened and thanked their giver. Yuuki had decided to spare Kaname her cooking creations this year. She joined forces with Cross to get the pureblood a gold tie pin instead, which earned the Chairman a handshake from Kaname and Yuuki a heartfelt kiss and gentle hug.

As Kaname continued unwrapping his expensive gifts and the others exclaimed over each one, Zero found his spirits sinking lower and lower. Perhaps his gift wasn't all that suitable after all. Perhaps he never should have thought of giving Kaname one. Perhaps the pureblood would wear it only out of a sense of obligation, the very last thing Zero wanted...

"No, Shiki! That one's mine. I want it to be the last gift that Kaname-sama opens!"

Aido was jealously guarding his present all this while, insisting that it had to be saved for the last. It was a small box that looked like it might have come from a jeweler. Kain plucked it from his cousin's hand and gave it an experimental shake. They all heard the small rattling sound from inside before Aido snatched it back with a glare, throwing a furtive look at the windows at the same time. Finally, Kaname reached for his present and everyone realised the reason for Aido's look when the pureblood unwrapped the small box to pull out a car key, complete with remote.

Earlier irritation forgotten, Aido beamed from ear to ear at the surprised exclamations the others gave. He jumped up from his seat, strode over excitedly to the windows and invited Kaname to stand beside him. With an indulgent smile, the pureblood obliged. Everyone quickly crowded around as Kaname pressed a button on the remote and in the brightly lit open car park below, the headlights of a streamlined chili red sports car flashed twice.

There was laughter and a lot of comments about Aido's extravagant gift, Ruka openly wondering if Aido had done something wrong and was trying to get on Kaname's good side before he found out, something which the blond noble denied hotly. Yuuki declared next that she wanted a ride in the car as soon as possible. Kaname laughingly agreed at once but Zero was silent as his eyes traced the smooth, sleek lines of the powerful car. He should have known why Aido wanted his gift to be the last one opened... but it wasn't the last because Zero had not given Kaname his own gift yet. The hunter's heart continued to pound with uncertainty and he looked up to see Kaname's eyes on him. The pureblood must have sensed his agitation because he smiled warmly and Zero smiled back. It was only a brief exchange but Kaname's eyes had spoken volumes and Zero felt the rapid beating of his heart ease up a little.

After everyone had admired the sports car to Aido's (more than Kaname's) heart's content, they moved back to the centre of the living room. Chairman Cross and Yuuki were now looking through the stack of movie DVDs in the TV cabinet while Takuma was talking to Kaname. Left alone for now, Zero gravitated automatically towards the nearest wall. He leaned against it quietly, his eyes flicking over the group of vampire nobles who were now gathered closely around Kaname, like moths to a brightly burning flame.

Zero couldn't fault them for that. Not when he himself had been captivated and caught by that very same flame. Caught and even had his wings singed a little by its heat once. But the remorseful fire had shown its gentler inner heat and the little silver moth had learned how to dance next to its light again, trusting the beautiful flame to only warm it and knowing for sure that it would never, ever get burned again.

- o -

A little later...

"Thank you all very, very much for coming and thank you again for your lovely presents," Kaname stated with a smile. It was a very gentle hint to everyone other than Zero that it was time to leave since Kaname had booked them all rooms at one of the hotels in town. It had been fun seeing the others again and catching up with news but it was enough. The caterers had already packed up and left, removing all traces of their earlier work and leaving both the dining room and kitchen even cleaner than before.

Right now, Kaname just wanted some time alone with Zero and he could tell the hunter wanted the same thing. Besides, there was that small, nervous smile playing about Zero's lips... as if he was keeping a secret that Kaname was suddenly dying to find out.

"Wait a minute," called out Aido. He had been bickering with Ruka; Rima adding flame to fire with a few well placed comments here and there but now, Aido shot a teasing look at Zero.

"Where's your present, Zero?" The tousle haired blond gave a meaningful look at the other nobles causing Shiki and Rima to chip in immediately.

"Hey, yeah, we wanna see that!"

Aido grinned at the sudden glare Zero was directing at him now. Although vampire noble and vampire hunter were now on good terms with one another, Aido still delighted in occasionally teasing Zero, if for no other reason than to incur his famous glare and the occasional but biting comeback. Of course, the blond was always careful never to go far enough to incur Kaname's annoyance and he was very sure that Zero actually enjoyed exchanging sarcastic remarks with him. Or at least, he was reasonably sure of that.

Zero was still glaring at Aido when he felt Kaname's eyes on him again and glanced at him. The message in those soft brown eyes was crystal clear.

Zero, just ignore him. You don't have to give me anything.

But Zero did have something he wanted to give Kaname. It was the something he had bought yesterday and it was already safely tucked inside his jeans pocket, just waiting for the perfect moment when the party was over and they were alone again. The initial awe that Zero had felt over Kaname's expensive gifts, including one all expense paid luxury cruise trip for two from Takuma was fading a little and he was starting to feel better about his own gift. Everyone else with the exception of Takuma and Seiren were getting noisier, though. Zero glanced around to see that even the Chairman and Yuuki were adding their voices to the growing chant of 'We wanna see Zero's present'.

Zero turned back to Kaname and caught the very slight hint of frustration on the pureblood's face. No doubt Kaname thought they were all getting out of line. Zero suddenly felt a sense of déjà vu... this had happened before. Or something very similar to it. Yes - it was that Christmas two years ago when he and Kaname had unexpectedly landed under the mistletoe in the Moon Dorms living room. It had later led to their magical first kiss amidst the softly falling snow but only after Zero had run out, panicked at the thought of everyone watching them kiss.

It suddenly hit Zero that he and Kaname had come a long way since then. For one thing, he didn't want to run anywhere anymore and he certainly didn't want Kaname to always have to protect him and look out for him. Well, at least not from this group of nobles who were now his friends as well as Kaname's. After all, they already knew of his relationship with Kaname. The pureblood was right as usual - they had nothing to hide from their guests. Right now, they were amongst friends who were both trustworthy and loyal.

The small voice of reason inside Zero chattered in sudden alarm as an alarming decision unfolded in his mind but he shut it with sudden resolve.

To hell with it...

Zero had spent a good deal of time agonising over the perfect gift for Kaname. He had assumed that he would give it to the pureblood privately after the party had ended but now, Zero was determined to do it in style, if for no other reason than to shut up a certain blond playboy vampire who knew very well that an ex-human hunter would never be able to afford a flashy sports car even if Kaname had wanted it. Taking a deep calming breath that didn't slow down his suddenly wildly pounding heart one bit, Zero shrugged with studied casualness, knowing all eyes were on him.

"All right," he agreed quietly, pushing off from the wall. Everyone fell silent immediately, eyes widening as Zero walked over to Kaname who had a look of mild surprise on his face.

"Zero?" he asked very quietly.

I mean it, you don't have to give me anything.

Kaname knew how intensely private and shy Zero was at demonstrating affection in public, much less in front of this particular bunch of people who had seen them being enemies for a good many years. Zero saw the look in Kaname's eyes and tried for a reassuring smile. He was sure he failed miserably but...

It's OK, Kaname. I want to do this.

"It's time to give you my present, Kaname," Zero murmured before he could back down. Praying that his hands wouldn't shake too much, he continued to hold Kaname's increasingly surprised and even a little confused gaze as his right hand slipped into his front jeans pocket, taking out something very small which he hid in a loose fist.

The adorable look of uncertainty in Kaname's eyes was very rare nowadays and it lent Zero much needed confidence. He raised his fist to his lips for a brief moment before stepping forward. Zero could feel everyone's gazes burning into him and he willed himself fiercely not to flush anymore than he already was. Slowly, he reached for Kaname's left hand with his right one and raised it up. Kaname's eyes widened fractionally at that, looking like he very well expected Zero to actually kiss his hand. Not that he minded in the least, but they weren't alone right now. And... well, this was Zero!

There was an expectant hush from their audience as Zero took a moment to study the pureblood's slender hand and long, tapering fingers. Kaname's hands were incredibly beautiful, as was the rest of him. Zero had always thought so and he admired his lover's elegant and almost femininely shaped hands. There was strength in those slender fingers. Strength and skill in equal amounts. Zero should know – he was very much acquainted with the latter, if not so much the former. With agonising slowness, Zero brought Kaname's hand up to his mouth, separating the gracefully tapering digits with his own fingers at the same time. He looked up to see Kaname's confused and wondering gaze on him but Zero wasn't done yet. Oh no... not even by half. With a shy smile, he slipped Kaname's ring finger into his mouth.

A collection of soft gasps and murmurs echoed in the room. Zero could feel his ears burning fiercely but he kept his gaze locked onto Kaname's completely shocked ones, seeing and thinking of no one else but him and what he wanted to do. A moment later, Kaname swallowed hard. He knew what Zero's present was and he was deeply and utterly touched at the gift as well as Zero's sensual gesture. He just didn't know how his lover, normally so shy with his emotions around others, could work up the courage to do what he was doing now. Surely it would have been so much easier to just give it to him?

Zero's tongue slowly but determinedly completed the task and he removed Kaname's slightly trembling finger from his mouth, his gaze still locked onto the pureblood's. Another collective gasp sounded as multiple pairs of amazed eyes locked as one onto the solid circle of softly gleaming metal that was now snugly nestled at the base of Kaname's ring finger. Twin swirls of platinum and silver gracefully wound around each other in a perfect, never ending circle of cool fire with a square cut diamond nestled snugly amongst the folds.

A softly amazed and wondering smile touched Kaname's sculpted lips as he tilted his hand this way and that to let the diamond catch the light. Both ring and gem seemed to shimmer with an inner glow, making them look almost alive.

"Zero, it's beautiful," Kaname murmured, more than a little stunned. He was truly touched beyond words and his throat was swelling up. Looking up once more, Kaname let his gaze lock with Zero's again, telling him how much he appreciated his gift.

Zero was still flushed but he smiled back with a gentle look of pride. It had taken him ages to find a design that he knew Kaname would like. It had to be something elegant, classy, solid, understated, something that would fit Kaname's beautiful hand as well as it would fit his image, the clothes he wore, how he carried himself and who he was. Nothing cheap nor tawdry, nothing garish nor overstated. And if the design was really a bit too much for Zero's personal taste, well, it was a small price to pay. Not that it was actually - Zero was now in for a substantial year-long installment program to cover the cost. As he broke eye contact with Kaname to glance around and take in the stunned looks of all those present, he still felt it was worth every cent. Hell, it was worth it for Aido's reaction alone – the blond's mouth was hanging wide open at the present itself, at the beautifully erotic way Zero had placed it on Kaname's finger and at what it could only signify.

Zero's still somewhat shy gaze flicked over to Takuma Ichijo who was sitting on one of the armchairs with Senri Shiki perched gracefully on the arm with one of his hands resting on the Moon Dorm Leader's shoulder. They were both smiling at Zero and Takuma nodded approvingly at him as his hand reached up to cover Senri's. The two nobles turned to each other to exchange a deep and loving look and Zero had a hunch they would be sporting matching rings soon.

"Zero?" Kaname's voice was soft and still lightly awed. Zero swung back to him immediately.

"Where's your ring?" Kaname asked, a faint look of concern showing in his eyes that his lover had perhaps only managed to get one. That look disappeared as Zero silently took out a matching ring from his left pocket and held it out with his thumb and index finger, his hand trembling despite his efforts.

"Would you put it on for me?" he asked huskily, ignoring the additional heat surging up into his cheeks as well as the sudden flash of emotion in Kaname's eyes. Zero knew he would have to take his ring off later, since it would never do for anyone else in the vampire world to see a similar ring on his finger but he didn't mind... too much. He could always wear his on a chain around his neck and besides, he would much rather see Kaname wearing his ring. His ring.

"With pleasure, Zero," Kaname smiled warmly. He took the ring from the hunter's trembling fingers and automatically glanced down at it. Something caught his quick eye – there was engraving on the inside of the circle. Zero held his breath as Kaname turned the ring this way and that, reading aloud the minute inscription in beautiful italicised script.

"Forever yours – Kaname..."

The pureblood stopped breathing as his gaze snapped up to Zero and found his lover looking at him steadily. Quickly, Kaname slipped off the ring Zero had put on him earlier and looked at its inscription.

"Forever yours – Zero," he read, his voice shaking very, very slightly.

There was no doubt whatsoever that each and every pair of ears - even Cross and Yuuki's - had heard Kaname's softly spoken words and another reverent, hushed silence settled in every corner of the room. Kaname looked up to meet Zero's shimmering violet eyes, a sight that left him completely enchanted.

"Kaname, it means I'm yours. Forever," Zero murmured in a barely audible tone. At a loss of what to say, Kaname put on his ring again, his eyes smarting fiercely. He swallowed hard and then slipped the other ring between his lips. Without the slightest hesitation, Kaname stepped forward to capture his lover's left hand as he murmured just as softly, "Zero, I'm yours too. Forever."

Zero blinked back a sudden rush of hot tears at the words and heard his own breathing falter when Kaname slid his left ring finger into his mouth in turn. A skillful and familiar tongue nudged the circle of platinum and silver onto his finger, its touch accurate and sure. Kaname then slid Zero's trembling finger from his mouth, adorned with the ring. There was a brief pause when they just stared at each other, inwardly struggling against what they wanted to do but both gave up the fight at the exact same second. Kaname pulled Zero into his arms with a soft groan and the hunter wrapped his arms tightly around him.

The kiss was intense, deep and passionate. It ended only when Kain and Shiki gave piercing wolf-whistles, something that made Zero gasp against Kaname's lips. He flushed even deeper than before, both at the very public display of affection between them as well as the ardent, worshipful look in the pureblood's glowing eyes.

"I love you," Kaname murmured, almost silently.

"Love you too," Zero mouthed back and he wasn't surprised when Kaname took a moment to bury his face in his shoulder to compose himself.

"Hey, can you guys take that up later?" Takuma's gently amused voice was the perfect thing to break the emotional mood in the room.

Kaname and Zero smiled at the good natured laughter that rang out as they each took a step back, the pureblood slanting Takuma a wry look before looking back at Zero with a real promise in his dark eyes.

Zero smiled back happily. He knew what that look meant – they were in for one heck of a night after this party ended and he was looking forward to every minute of it. In fact, he decided there and then that he would only let Kaname know that he was going to move in with him the next day.

After all, just like the unexpected love that had blossomed between the two unlikeliest of people, good news just shouldn't be rushed.

- Story End -

A/N: And that's the end of this long story! If you enjoyed reading it, please take a moment to review and share your thoughts with me. It would be most appreciated. Thank you!