They were lying in bed together enjoying some slow unhurried kissing. He finally had her, the girl he had always secretly longed for. She was different from the girl he had first longed for but she was still Moka. He had never really thought this would happen. He was always certain that she could never truly care for him, not in the way he wanted. But she did, the girl that he loved loved him. Was there anything sweeter in life? If he could just stay with her like this forever …
Kissing her he noticed the clock, it was almost eleven.
"I have to get ready," he said with real regret. He gave her one more long kiss and then slid out of her bed.
"That's right," Moka said. "You're spending the day with Mizore and her mom."
"Yeah, heh, I'm going to be her 'boyfriend,'" he tried to make it a joke but the words didn't sound right.
She sat up in the bed and looked at him nervously. "Her pretend boyfriend, right Tsukune?"
"Of course!" He said immediately. "It's just for as long as her mom is here. Tomorrow we'll let everyone know we're a couple."
Though he needed a shower he strode back to her side and reassured her with another kiss. "Promise."
"Tsukune-kun," she grabbed onto his arm and put her head on his shoulder.
He hadn't quite reached the spot where they were meeting before she had seized him. He was really surprised; she had never been this affectionate in public before. Holding hands was as far as she would ever go. I suppose she's making up for lost time, and I was the one who wanted to keep our relationship secret. He damn well knew he was being unfair to her. He didn't mean to be, but the heart wanted what the heart wanted. This would be the first and last time she would ever get to openly call him her boyfriend. He decided that just for today whatever she wanted he would try to give her.
He suppressed his discomfort and tried to give her a warm smile. "Hey Mizore."
"I've been waiting for this day all week," she told him looking up with such adoration. It was hard to believe she was only pretending to be his. "I want to visit all the stalls and play all the games, and I want you to win me a prize! Something cute and furry!"
He nodded. "I'm all yours."
"Good," she said and began to drag him along. "First things first though, let's go meet my mom."
Mizore led him to the Academy's main entrance. There a serene and graceful woman in a lavender yukata was waiting. Unlike Mizore her hair was silver but she had the same bottomless clear blue eyes. As soon as they were near Mizore wasted no time introducing him.
"Mother, this is my boyfriend Tsukune! Tsukune, this is my mother, Tsurara."
Tsukune offered her a very deep and polite bow. "It's a very great honor to meet you Tsurara-san."
Tsurara had a birdlike grin as she saw the way her daughter was bouncing up and down as she held his arm, refusing to let go of him for even a second. Mizore had always been a quiet child so seeing her so excited was a treat. Her usual reserve had been forgotten as she put her feelings clearly on display. Obviously she hadn't been exaggerating her feelings for this boy in her letters.
Tsukune's reaction was much more restrained. He seemed nervous, and a bit uncomfortable. She didn't miss the way his eyes darted to Mizore and her hold on his arm. From the way she had described him Tsurara had expected him to be a bit more open and social. Perhaps meeting her was making him nervous. That wouldn't be unusual.
"Please Tsukune; there is no need to be so formal. Refer to me simply as Tsurara."
"Tsurara," he said politely. "I really hope that you enjoy your visit here. Your daughter is a wonderful girl and she is very precious to me."
"You're very precious to me too Tsukune-kun," without warning Mizore got up on her toes and planted a kiss on his cheek.
Startled Tsukune blushed while Tsurara laughed into her hand. "Oh my daughter, you're kissing him right in front of my eyes? How very bold. You must feel quite daring."
"No," she said as she closed her eyes and put her head on his shoulder. "I just wanted to kiss him, that's all."
"You're a very lucky young man Tsukune," Tsurara said approvingly. "I can see how strong and true my daughter's feelings for you are."
Tsurara had expected those words to please him; instead they made him look even more uneasy. Was she really making him that nervous?
"Uh, why don't we get something to drink and sit down for a bit?' Tsukune suggested.
They agreed that it was a good idea and Tsurara followed along as Mizore led the way dragging Tsukune behind her.
As they headed into the crowd Tsurara kept a careful eye on the young couple, silently observing them. She soon realized that there was something off about their behavior. She knew how strongly her daughter cared for him. Her last dozen letters had been about nothing but him. Yet even so, the way she was behaving was too out of character. Some of her letters had specifically mentioned how she had gushed at having him hold her hand in public. She also knew that they were lovers, but how they behaved in private was another matter. It was as if her daughter was desperate to show him her affection. While Tsurara did not disapprove of that it was something better suited for when they were alone. That was when a woman really needed to show a man what he meant to her.
She also noticed that Tsukune was not responding to her daughter the way a boyfriend should. Even if he found it a bit embarrassing he should have still enjoyed her attention. Instead he seemed to be trying his best to… to endure it. Tsurara frowned, something was going on here.
They found an open table where they could sit and relax for a bit.
"You two wait here," Tsurara announced. "I will get us some drinks." She was gone into the crowd before either of them could object.
Tsukune waited until he was sure she was gone before pulling his arm free and giving Mizore an unhappy look. "Don't you think you're pushing things a bit?" He did his best not to snap at her.
"What do you mean?" She asked with a pout. "Didn't you say you'd be my boyfriend today?"
"I said I would pretend to be your boyfriend," he said patiently. "That doesn't mean you have to be so clingy. You were never like this when we were really together."
"I was shy then, and you made me make that promise. Now I don't care what anyone thinks." She pulled out her lollipop and got up on her toes again. This time though when she kissed him it was on the lips. She expertly opened his mouth and slid in her tongue.
Panicked he grabbed her shoulders and pushed her away roughly, almost knocking her down. He looked about afraid Moka or Yukari of Shinobu might have seen it. "Don't do that again!"
She stared at him, her eyes consumed with hurt. He was keeping her at arm's length, as though he didn't want to risk being touched by her again. "Don't do that again?" She muttered to herself, not trying to hide the hurt.
"Was it really just a week ago you were in my room kissing me as if you couldn't get enough? Was it not just a week when you were pulling off my clothes and pushing me down on my bed?" The tranquil voice became breathless, as if the moments they'd shared were just seconds ago rather than days.
"Have you already forgotten how you touched me with your mouth and hands? Have you forgotten all the things I did to you with my mouth and hands? Didn't I do all the things you wanted, over and over again, Tsukune-kun? How many times did we make love? How many times did I beg you to stop, only to have you keep thrusting inside me, punishing me, overwhelming me, filling me with your iron and then filling me with your seed?"
Mizore's whole body quivered with the memories of her climaxes, her cheeks flushed a lusty rose on her pale skin.
"Do you know how many times I hoped, I prayed, I wept that I would become pregnant? Do you know what it is like for a woman to be filled like that, to give a man everything, and then have him look away from her? To have the one person who means the entire world to her say she is no longer good enough?"
She walked up to him, her fingers reaching out to touch him, but stopping when he took a step back. She let them drop to her sides, a helplessness and defeated gesture. She knew she couldn't fight, she loved but knew did not love her.
"We were connected, Tsukune. I know you felt it too, I felt your love as you held me, I saw it there in your eyes. Did it all really mean so little to you? How can everything we did be just an annoyance? Didn't…" she felt the hot tears begin to flow down her cheek. Felt her hands and body trembling. "Didn't I matter to you at all?"
He saw her shaking, saw her tears, and knew it was because of what he'd done. He kept trying not to hurt her but now he'd done it again! He put his arms around her and pulled her close. He stopped worrying about appearances and tried to think about her. "I'm sorry Mizore, I'm so sorry. Of course you mattered to me! You still do. I want you to be happy."
"Then come back to me," she moaned and pressed herself into his warm chest. A part of her wished she didn't need this as much as she did. But whether he was holding her just to quiet her or just out of pity it felt so good for him to hold her again!
"You know I can't," he said.
"Then at least kiss me!" She looked up at him and wiped her eyes. "This is our last day together; give me just a few more happy memories."
He thought of Moka. "I can't," he said sadly.
Even now she couldn't make herself hate him. Even after bearing her soul to him he still rejected her… and she still loved him more than the world.
"Then can you hold me like this for awhile? Can I feel you arms protecting me for a while longer?"
He slowly nodded and held her a little tighter. "Yeah, I can do that."
From around a corner Tsurara had watched the scene play out. She'd been too far away to overhear her daughter's words but it was obvious something was wrong. Why had he pushed her away like that? What had he done or said to bring Mizore to tears?
Whatever it was she would find out before she left. She went to get those drinks.
"So where is Tsukune?" Yukari asked.
"Oh, he's with Mizore and her mom right now," Moka answered.
"Really?" The little witch said excitedly. "Are they on a date?"
"No they're not!" Moka said angrily.
Seeing the reaction Yukari grinned. "Ooooh I bet they get all lovey dovey, maybe she'll invite him back to her room and…"
Moka planted her hands over her hears. "I'm not listening!"
Seeing how seriously Moka was taking her words Yukari kept on teasing her.
Tsurara had originally intended to ask Tsukune his thoughts on marriage, but given what she'd seen she had decided to steer clear of that subject. They'd had a little bit of light conversation and then she had asked Mizore to give her a short tour of the academy. Her daughter had actually refused; she didn't want to be apart from Tsukune for even a minute. Tsurara had given her daughter a certain look which brought her back to her senses. Before leaving they made plans to meet with Tsukune for dinner.
As they walked along together Tsurara turned to her daughter. "Let us go to your room and have a private talk."
Mizore looked at her nervously. "Why do we have to go to my room?"
Tsurara gave her a cold no nonsense stare. "Because I mean to find out exactly what is going on here. And do not lie and say nothing, I saw you kiss him and the way he reacted."
Mizore lowered her head. "You saw that?" She asked miserably.
"I did, would you care to explain? Or shall I ask Tsukune instead?"
Mizore shook her head violently. "I'll… I'll explain in my room."
Tsurara nodded satisfied.
Twenty minutes later a broken and weeping Mizore was curled up on her bed with her head resting in her mother's lap.
Tsurara was slowly running her hand through her daughter's hair in an effort to comfort her. The last time she'd seen Mizore like this had been when her poor father passed away. "There, there, my dear, it's all right."
"I just… I just want to be with him!" She choked out between sobs.
"I know," Tsurara said patiently and then asked. "Do you love him? Do you want him to be your husband? Do you want him to be the father of your children?"
"YES! More than anything!" Mizore answered.
Tsurara placed a comforting hand on her daughter's cheek. "Then that is all that matters. Remember we are Yukki-onna child. If he is the one you truly want then so be it." She sounded very much like a judge passing sentence.
"But... but Moka has a contract with him! He's her familiar and she'll never let him go. What about her?"
Tsurara nodded. "If she is in the way then something will have to be done."
Mizore stopped crying and looked up at her mother. She began to slowly smile.
Tsukune met Mizore and her mom at the cafeteria where they had dinner. He then accompanied them as they hit all the stalls and games. Mizore was much better behaved, she settled for walking hand in hand with him and did not try to do anything beyond hugging him when he wonder a stuffed rabbit at a game of ring toss.
Mizore did insist that they stay until the festival actually closed. Tsukune was hoping to slip away sooner and see Moka, but since this was the last night he didn't complain. He had the rest of his life to spend with Moka; he could give Mizore and her mom a few more hours.
When the festival did come to its end the students quickly closed the stands down and the crowds hurried off the to the last buses of the night.
"Tsukune, would you help me walk my mom to her car?"
"Sure Mizore," he turned to Tsurara. "I hope you had a good time."
"I had a fine time Tsukune," she assured him. "And I was very happy to get to meet you. I want you to know I like you, and approve of you being with my daughter."
He looked down feeling embarrassed. Her high opinion would likely change the next time she heard from her daughter. "Thank you, that's very kind of you."
"Come on Tsukune, let's go," Mizore implored holding his hand.
Through the thinning crowds they headed to the nearly empty parking lot.
Moka returned to her room feeling tired and a little depressed. She had really missed not being with Tsukune today. She really hoped that this was the last time they ever had to be apart like this.
"Hello Moka," Mizore called as the lights came on. She was casually standing there leaning against her table.
"Mizore? What are you doing here? Where's Tsu… kmmph!" Without warning another Mizore grabbed her from behind and planted a hand over her mouth. Her hand was ice cold.
Moka's eyes widened in fear as the Mizore in front of her transformed her right arm into a scythe.
"The only sure way to kill a vampire is to cut its head off right?" She sounded completely at ease as she raised her arm up.
With her free hand she grabbed at her rosario and tugged with all her might, but it was useless. Help me Tsukune! But even as she thought it she knew through their link that he was too far away to save her.
His face was the last thing she thought of.
They were just about to Tsurara's car and he was just about to say a last goodbye when he felt panic fill him. The fear was not his own, it came from Moka. Something had her terrified and he could sense it through their link.
"Is something wrong Tsukune?" Mizore asked him.
He was about to tell her he had to go when a mind splitting pain tore through him. It felt exactly like his heart had just been ripped from his chest. "Moka!!" He screamed and then fell.
As darkness swallowed him the last thing he heard was Mizore's voice.
"It's all right Tsukune, everything is all right now."
When he woke up he was in a large bed in an unfamiliar room. Looking out a window he was startled to see the sky an amazing curtain of pink and orange and red and indigo. As he stared out he felt tears, his connection with Moka was gone. He knew what that meant.
"Moka," he whispered.
"Don't be sad Tsukune," Mizore spoke. He looked over to see she was staining in a chair by his bed. "This is for the best."
He noticed that she was not wearing her usual outfit. She had on a yukata similar to the one her mom had worn. "Mizore? Where am I? What happened?"
"You are in my room, in my home, in the snow village of the Yuki-onna."
"Yuki-onna? Snow women?"
Mizore nodded and as he watched she momentarily transformed into her true self. Her hands and arms became massive ice claws while her hair also turned to ice. "That's what I am, I'm sorry I never told you. I wasn't keeping it a secret or anything, it just never came up."
"Why am I here though?" He slowly sat up in bed. "Why didn't you bring me to the infirmary?"
"I brought you here so that we could be together Tsukune," she ended her transformation and reverted back to her human appearance.
"What? I don't understand."
She smiled at him lovingly. "I brought you here so you could be my husband and father my children."
He openly stared at her. "Wha… what was that?"
"Don't you know the stories of the Yuki-onna?" She asked. "We take men away so that they can be out husbands. That's why you're here Tsukune. The population of my race has been in decline because the number of years when a snow woman is fertile and able to bear children is very brief. So we are all required to marry by the time we are 17 and begin having children immediately." She looked blissfully happy. "I'm so lucky I found you Tsukune! The girls who can't find their own husbands have them provided for them by the village. A lot of them are stuck in loveless marriages and have to endure it for the sake of raising children. But I'm so blessed! I found my one true love and now we'll be together for always!"
Listening to her something terrible slowly dawned on him. "Moka," he gasped in stunned horror. "You, you…"
"I told you a long time ago that I would rescue you from her," she said. "And now I have."
"Mizore," he said warily. "There's no way I'm going to marry you or stay here and have a family with you."
"You don't really have a choice Tsukune," she said pleasantly. "Just like the academy we have our own laws. Men who are brought here can never leave. No one will hurt you and you will be treated very well, but neither will you be allowed to leave. You don't need to worry though, this isn't a prison. You'll be well taken care of, and you won't ever need to work again. From now on your only responsibilities will to be a loving husband and father!"
She seemed completely serious. The fact that Moka was gone and he was here made him believe she really was serious. "Mizore you wouldn't want me for a husband I'm, ah well, I'm human. I only made it into the academy by mistake."
"You're human?" She said in surprise.
"Yeah, I am."
"Oh, well that doesn't matter to me. There are plenty of human males here already, you don't need to worry, you can father my children. And I don't care what you are; I love you no matter what."
"But I don't love you!" He cried out. "I cared about you, I really did, but I never really loved you! I needed someone and you were there, and maybe it was selfish of me but I was only with you because I was hurting and I needed someone to make the pain go away."
His words did not seem to sting. "I know that Tsukune, when you met me I was in the exact same situation, only worse. You were my lifeline; you kept me from drowning in despair. At first maybe I was using you too, but it became love." She sighed happily. "I love you Tsukune, and I know you love me too."
"I don't," he said in a harsh voice. "You killed Moka, the one I really loved. I hate you Mizore! Even if it means you kill me I'll never love you. I don't think I could even stand to touch you."
Mizore shook her head. "I would never kill you Tsukune, I would never hurt you. If you need to hate me you can," she told him. "I know that you love me, you're just confused because of what Moka did to you. I can wait as long as it takes for you to realize that I'm the one you really love. As for touching me I'm afraid you'll have to whether you want to or not. Like I said I only have so many years to have my… have our children. I'd much prefer you had me because you wanted to, but if I need to there are flowers that can put you in the right mood."
She approached his side and reached for him. He skidded back across the bed as though she were poisonous.
She calmly folded her hands and looked at him. "It's all right Tsukune-kun; you can take as long as you want. I'll wait as long as you need me too. I love you and I know you love me, and that is all that matters."
He stared at her, horrified that he really was trapped here with the person who had killed his one and only love.
Seeing he didn't have anything to say she turned around and headed to the door. "I'm going to help mother with lunch, come down when you're hungry." She exited and closed the door behind her.
With that he was left all alone.