I don't own Amane, or Hyoue. If I do, the series will be so much longer.
Since writing mood comes so sporadically to me...
Feel free to berate this poor excuse of an author. I need some good scolds.
-a Her Majesty's Dog Fanfiction-
Almost one year has passed since the internal dispute, my clan are still clutching on the "master" and "servant" status. They say : "Needing the master or not isn't the servant's decision". The contract may make that true… but… I want to keep believing, that it is me whom you choose to be with.
Someone's calling my name.
My real name. Not Kamori Amane-sama.
My consciousness surfaced from a deep slumber. Following the voice.
I opened my eyes to the golden sunlight. Still disoriented by the long sea-trip, I turned to the voice. My sight, unfocused and blurry, caught a dark image. Red eyed koma-oni*) with fierce fangs, crimson flame's fur, glared at me intensely.
It was a frightening view, really.
One that had taken me a long time to overcome - along with many other matters - before making peace with my own heart. And the calling helped. A lot.
So I smiled, the kind of smile reserved for one's beloved, my heart fluttered in my chest. A smile to greet the one who gave me a name, my lover.
I bent my head toward the dark figure, closing my eyes once more.
"Hyoue…" my whisper might sound dreamy, I guessed.
I smiled when he embraced my shoulder, anchoring me steady. And giggled inwardly when I sensed he tensed.
I glanced at his face. Ah, yes he was definitely blushing.
Giving up my pretend lethargy, I opened my eyes fully. He let my shoulder go, his golden eyes avoided my gaze as he stammered.
"I-I just want to…"
"…to tell me that we have arrived." I finished for him, successfully establishing eye-to-eye contact.
His awkwardness still lingered, and I had this oddest feeling... Had he gathered the nerve to steal a kiss in my sleep? And it wasn't just a wishful thinking if his guilty embarrassed look could count as a proof.
My happy mood faltered a little as I took his hand to stand up. A little lonely this time, coming home without Ateko and Mitsumine-senpai. It couldn't be helped because this school holiday is my first chance to straighten the problems left by uncle's coup d'etat. The situation wasn't steady or safe enough, and I didn't want to drag my friends into this chaos anymore.
Hyoue helped me climb out the ship, stepping on my home island. I stared ahead for a minute, calming my breath. He was just about to let go of my hand when I clasped his hand instead. Not giving him time to be shocked, I took the lead and began to walk onward. He followed me, naturally.
And to my relief, he didn't withdraw but softly tightened his grip on my hand.
I glanced at our hands, my bond-ring on his finger – which I thought better than the previous neck leash – glistened under the sunlight. Holding my head high, my frailty was strengthened by courage.
That afternoon I was more than grateful that I managed to overcome my hesitation to love him. And for his part to love me first.
When I look back and count, this is the thirteenth time this season comes since our first meeting, the fifth since the time when I was rebounded to you. Most of people still see us as "master" and "servant", but – to my delight – a few start to see us as more. Well since the beginning it really takes more than just a contract, more than a mere order or command, to make me yours.
Today was my mistress' big day. She was legally twenty one now. I always wondered why human used such a complicated calendar method. I used to age every time the year changed, a practical way to count my age. But during our senior high years, she decided her birthday was to be my age-counting-date instead of the first of January.
I was not one to refuse.
Actually it was kind of personal, you know, the fact that we both aged together each year.
So here I was, in my human form, standing near a big pillar at the back of the ballroom. Not bothering to shift my gaze – practically glued to her figure - I ignored Hayato's death-glare and an equally scornful look from Mitsumine. Ateko, playing the referee, let out a long-suffering sigh.
In fact, this party was also a celebration for her legalization as the head of the clan. Not that I cared about such things.
But yes, she had matured a lot. I gave her a thoughtful look. From the little girl who cried in my arms to a fair maiden – and I might add, a very very beautiful one – with great authority and responsibility on her shoulders.
It made me sad, seeing the pressure on her. Even though I gave my best to make her day, even just a little, all of this was still hard to face.
I meant, I loved her of course.
Despite all the doubts of not being allowed to love her, the fact that I was and would forever be… Well, me. A beast.
The anxiety and uncertainty whether she could ever truly love me back, without my acceptable, princely form.
And the guilt, realizing she was keeping her heartache inside, couldn't bring herself to tear me down in agony of us being separated. Not to mention my own fear, of what would happen in the future. That inevitable day when she would leave me alone - lost in my grief - mourning her death.
I loved her still. So much to overcome every hesitation I ever felt.
And I thought I was rewarded, with our happy years together. These past years had been kind to both of us.
Yet, in my heart I was afraid. Afraid that all this happiness would suddenly disappear.
She matured, yes, but she also aged. And with our limited time, every passing minute arouse a nagging feeling in me.
I sighed. We, who had triumphed through agony, got our happy ending which was destined not to last forever. It was tiring enough to endure all that happened before. Now, I was tired. With this persistent worry, I wanted to stop thinking.
I wanted to stop distrusting myself, worrying if my love was true or not. Whether it would wear off with time, along with fading beauty of her, or stay deep and strong. So enduring to hold in my heart even after she's gone someday.
I wanted to stop questioning whether she ever thought of this too, ever thought of me skeptically, and hurt in askance.
Gaaah! I shook my head violently. I gave up, I would never be sure.
A dimwit should think like a dimwit. I preferred to think in the simplest way.
This was the path I chose to follow, and I had no complaints of where it would take me. It might be rough and sometimes wobbly, but the path I chose had always been the right one, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
I watched her back and uttered a silent prayer. Just please made it so that she would never be hurt because of me, I would gladly receive any pain in substitute.
Apparently she heard me in a way. That or she had finished her round, because she grinned to me and half-ran toward my spot. My reaction was frozen dumbly. Figures. She was really, really pretty tonight. I knew my blush lit her up, the way her eyes sparkled instantly made me light-headed.
And when I took her in my embrace, I knew we had walked into a great trouble. I didn't need to look around to know everybody else in the room gaped at us. I hoped the elders still had healthy heart. It would be complicated if our show gave them a heart attack.
Who knew? Maybe this could last long. A very very long time.
*) koma-oni : evil-spirit
Author note :
Yes, for us all fanfiction readers and authors, stories never truly end. I am more than happy to muse this lovely couple's day forward. Just need to find some free time buried in my daily routine. Hard to find, but it's there… somewhere. Anyway, I'm glad both of them have faith in their love, strong enough to stay together. I just can't bear if it ends with heart-broken angst, or mushy sugar-coated happy end. It simply doesn't fit.