"In some families, please is described as the magic word. In our house, however, it was sorry."
-- Margaret Laurence
It had been some six years hence since the unfortunate tragedy, and Haruka was still silently blaming himself for everything that had transpired. He had long resigned himself to half-hearted sleeps every daytime, to be awoken with Juuri's very light movements beside him. Sometimes, sleep would escape him entirely, and it was during those times that Haruka would gently leave Juuri's side, get into his slippers and go to the adjacent room that had once belonged to their son.
During the first year he had entered that silent room to find his sleeping boy curled up on his side, half-hidden in his comforters. It had been such a comfortable sleep. Haruka had stayed there well until noon and left only when Juuri stirred and opened the door herself. She had never seen him crying, as he liked to keep his emotions to himself, but that day, Haruka knew that he turned to his wife with tears silently streaming down his eyes.
Those words have lost their luster and meaning for Haruka as the days lengthened into weeks, the weeks into months and the months into years.
During the second year, Haruka visited his son's room again, only to find the boy awake and staring at him in the dark, his crimson eyes bright. Haruka could remember hesitating by the door, but in the end he mustered up his courage and went inside, to sit on the bed edge. The boy had not said anything, yet his gaze was consistent, inquiring silently.
"My apologies," Haruka ventured. "Did I disturb your sleep…?" The question trailed to awkward silence. What would he address this person with? Did I disturb your sleep, your Majesty? Most Illustrious Father? Father? Great Blood Father? "…Kaname?"
"No. I cannot sleep." The boy had lain down again and was hugging a pillow, yet that crimson gaze never left Haruka.
"Should I call you father, Haruka Kuran?"
Haruka stared back at the person who bore his son's semblance. His hands curled into fists without him knowing it, and yet his knuckles relaxed as he shook his head, managing a smile in the darkness of the room.
"I would like that very much, Kaname."
He and Juuri could not pick up all the pieces of their son's memory, but he decided that they would make do with that they could save.
"Very well. Father."
Haruka knew without saying that Juuri had never really gotten over it. He could not say that she wasn't doing her best to move on, because how could any parent fully recover from such a tragedy that they had encountered? Only Juuri dealt with it differently – she had put an invisible barrier between herself and their 'son'. He scrambled frantically to make up for it in any way he could; he silently vowed to himself that this boy was their son, no one else, and Haruka would raise him with as much love he could give, make up for what Juuri refused to hand out. He took 'Kaname' to fishing trips, taught him to play chess (but of course in the first game 'Kaname' proved that he needed no teaching), brought him to places around the world, bought him books and introduced him to eligible noble girls if he would suffer it. Juuri watched his efforts in silent disdain but she never bothered to stop him.
"Why are you spoiling him so? You know he cannot appreciate these things." Juuri had asked him one balmy evening just after they had made love. "Do you not see the look on his face when you try to teach him how to drive a motor-car? He cannot understand, and he prefers not to understand."
"Because he is my son." He had answered to her, the look on his face so set that she had dropped the topic completely, but turned away from him to face the wall to sleep.
His efforts did not stop there. During one fall season when Juuri had refused to cooperate, Haruka had packed off some luggage and went to Paris with his son in tow. The reconstruction of the Eiffel Tower had just been completed, and they were among the very first few elite allowed to ascend the structure. On the view deck Haruka had pointed out the great structures of Paris and named them and explained their history in great detail.
"Would you like to have pizza for dinner, Kaname?" Haruka asked at around ten in the morning, as they strolled lazily in the Tuileries. "There is a great pizzeria somewhere around here, I am sure…"
"I am not hungry, thank you." Kaname had replied. The child had found a bench and sat down unceremoniously to watch the circling pigeons overhead. The birds would not land with him there, and for a moment Haruka watched the birds too, before sitting down beside his boy.
The silence was something that lengthened as the years passed, as the changes became harder to ignore. There were many things too, like Kaname's habit of going out alone in unusual hours of the morning, especially when the sun was at its hottest. He would return late in the evenings, his clothes sandy, sometimes his hair still damp from the melted frost outside. He would not volunteer information as to where he had been, and Haruka and Juuri never really asked. They would not understand.
Sometimes Haruka would find Kaname in the library, reading the books written in a language that nobody could now understand. Sometimes Kaname would sit upon the roof and watch the stars and sometimes wait for the sunrise. Soon the silence was something he and Juuri started to get used to.
"Pigeons never liked me," Kaname spoke.
"Avians have never liked vampires," said Haruka.
"They never liked me," Kaname repeated, and Haruka trailed off to silence.
"Would you like ice cream, Kaname?" Haruka decided to try again after some moments.
"Did you know that the very first vampires cared not for the state of their clothing, or fine stones or gold?" Kaname said. "The Hunt was what mattered."
"I like sleeping on the floor. Please do not move me to the bed if you find me sleeping on the floor."
"But you would get a crick on your neck, and you will get cold."
"I like sleeping on the floor."
"At least let me put a blanket on you, Kaname?"
"If I need a blanket, I would get it myself, Haruka Kuran."
The boy was staring him down, a gaze that no young pureblood would have managed. Haruka felt something in him quail, and he ducked his head in obedience. "As you wish…"
"Then we understand each other." Kaname said, turning away.
Juuri looked so completely happy when she announced that she was pregnant again. It was a smile of hers that Haruka had not seen for a long while, and the sight of his wife smiling like that again clawed against his heart, mixed emotions raging within him in a tempestuous swirl. The announcement had taken place during one quiet breakfast between the three of them. He had smiled softly and kissed Juuri's hand tenderly, their fingers twined. Kaname remained eating as if nobody said a thing.
"Kaname, you are going to have a sister or a brother soon." He had said, turning to their son.
Kaname put his knife and fork down as he looked at him, and then to Juuri. He dipped his head, the tiniest of bows. "You have my congratulations."
"You could at least be excited," Juuri said. Her own crimson eyes had hardened now. Haruka squeezed her hand in warning.
"I hardly find the news of a youngling coming cause for any excitement." Kaname replied, matching Juuri's gaze. "Excuse me." He rose and left the dining hall in silence. He had dropped Juuri's hand as he buried his face in his hand.
"When will you stop this, Juuri?" He had cried in anguish at his wife. "It is not his fault! It is not his goddamn fault that he had been rudely snatched from his slumber, and you know this! I am trying to keep this family together, Juuri! Can you not see that? Everything was never his fault from the start, you--!"
"He is not my SON!" She shouted back at him. "He is not my son, he is not my Kaname!"
He had raised his hand then to hit her, but stalled himself. His raised arm wavered and he let it drop to his side. Juuri had not wavered in her seat, and remained looking at him coldly. She was a woman who never took to physical pain without giving back as much as she had felt. It was his turn to rise from his seat and leave her to herself. Halfway up the stairs he found Kaname sitting down on the topmost steps, looking at him.
"I am sorry for all the trouble I have given you and your wife." Was all he said before going back to his room.
As was tradition, Haruka held the newborn Yuuki close and gave her her first taste of blood. Juuri lay weakened in the bed, but she smiled at him and their daughter with such love shining in her crimson eyes. As Haruka carried their daughter, he sat beside his wife and kissed her cheek, whispering a soft 'I love you', to which Juuri replied, 'Forever'. There was no mistaking it that little Yuuki, their gentle princess, would grow to look a lot more like her mother. It had been the same with Kaname. Haruka remembered when his son was born; one glance was enough to tell him that he would be a male Juuri, and as Kaname grew, he was proven to have spoken the truth.
Two hours into the birth, with Juuri cleaned up and recovering, a soft knock came on the door. Haruka had opened it and was surprised to see Kaname standing there timidly, and asked if he could see the youngling. Juuri wordlessly nodded, and their 'son' went toward the small cradle and peeked in.
"She is a bit small, but very healthy." Kaname had commented, blinking at the two of them.
"She's your sister," it was Juuri who spoke. Haruka turned to his wife, too late to conceal the mild surprise on his ageless face.
Kaname and Juuri looked at each other for a long while. Then Kaname placed a hand on the small warm bundle that was Yuuki. "Yes. She is my sister."
They could not have what was lost, but they tried their best to pick up the pieces. It was the thought that Haruka had when he felt the hunter's sword pierce his heart. As Yuuki grew, their family was given a chance to nurse the injuries and slowly heal, over time. There were scars, scars that would never be lost, a reminder of what would have been and what would be.
But this was a chance now to be with their lost son, something Haruka knew that Juuri had wanted ever since. And he was happy for it. He knew he would never understand Kaname, that nobody ever will. But at least they had tried, and given him a chance of happiness in his long, unending existence. It was the least they could do for him.
Kaname, my pride as a parent would be shattered if I allowed my boy to shield me.
No matter what, you've always been our darling child.