All Vampire Knight affiliations are reserved to Hino Matsuri.


Summary: All her life Yuuki was manipulated by Rido and hated the murderer of her family, Kaname. Kaname/Yuuki.


Queen

I

A formal rapport was priority ever year. Humans would find the communion similar to paying bills or getting their vehicles serviced. A periodic venture of sorts accumulated faces, names, creatures from all highs and lows. The dim lighting of the music hall was plunged with maundering humans mumbling over drinks, food, and ornate dancing. She complied to her aching feet by taking a chair at a table and scanned the multitude of businessmen, famous architects lost in raillery for the evening.

She found no harm in delighting with the phlegmatic turn of atmosphere, although it wasn't useful yawning for half-hour while she sat alone pondering over the figures skating the marble floor. She glanced softly at the approaching maître who stiffened in hesitation under her gaze.

Was it her robust ruby glance, or the distinctiveness derived from birth why he trembled in her proximity?

"Enjoy your drink, Ms. Kuran." He retreated.

She overlooked the matter as her gaze transferred to the passing beautiful women and reached for her drink. Her fingers grazed the glass and stilled at the merging presence of steadfast vampires in the placid union between humans.

She would've obeyed instinct and run at the hastening league plummeting the hall. However she held to her seat, consumed the champagne, an act very tamed and well pronounced of a pureblood. Her demeanor wouldn't be analyzed and the spell she learned since her birth at disguising her scent and origins from the world would come in handy. She came as a furtive insect did. Basking in the illusion of mingling with various humans, listening to their hinted conversation in idle amusement, all unrelated to her objective for the evening. Nonetheless, Yuuki idolized the imperceptible attachment in equi-standard with mortal humans.

A steady review of three men dressed in apparent trench coat limited them to the legendary presence of Vampire Hunters. Seated in the diagonal corner on the second level and overlooking the principle dancing hall, Yuuki glided to her feet. One hand perched on the back of her chair and the other hanging loosely on her side with eyes pursuing the three scourgers in the horde of dancers.

How do they know? Was her first question but she had no doubt her disguise would resume effect.

Power of a pureblood was formidable on all grounds. Even with the existing hunter's association that employed habitual tribal magic, most pureblood surpassed their methods. Largely they worked successfully on humans. Of course the mere notion of being blinded to their special mission stirred unwanted interest but Yuuki stood restrained and passive, like all composed purebloods in the world deemed to be and gaily passed the frequent shadows promenading the floor, forever fusing amongst shadowy corridors.

Raptly, Zero glared at the second floor. Lavender eyes charging the cornered corridors, it wouldn't strike none in the slightest but the quiet drift in the air made his lungs freeze and soon he was rushing up the stairs past inconsequential humans and halted next to an empty table and a half drank champagne.

"Zero." Kaito stealthily advanced to his side, warily eyeing the shadows as vigorously as his silver-haired comrade. "Hasn't been too long." He snidely grunted.

Having no interest to respond, Zero quietly watched the passing train of guests. From the corner of his eye, he regarded the drawn chair and before Kaito could question his motive, he had grabbed the drink and sniffed the ring of the glass.

"Will it always be like this?" Kaito folded his arms and continued to hose Zero's calm disposition with a mouthful of displeasing augur. "A relentless tug toward the suspected, only missing him by seconds. The air is surprisingly clear. Did we miss something or are you hungry for a prey like a disillusioned idiot?" Through clenched his teeth, he added grudgingly, "Remember, I'm here to watch you. Don't hold your desire to kill far important than your duties."

An apathetic glance was cast toward Kaito as Zero stepped toward one of the many corridors. His nose stung with the scent of alcohol and sweat. His fascination with the intermittent halls and ajar doors ceased the instant he caught a drift of extreme heat against the soles of his feet.

Kaito sensed it too, one more efficient with his surroundings and swerved Zero out of the way as the impounding explosion throttled the fragile humans into shambles of blood, clothes, and bones.

Another explosion proceeded, but Zero shoved Kaito, nudging away from the rubble of wood toward the direction of the blaze.


At first sight he thought he stared at the original. The same luxurious brunette tresses and soft face that made his heart ache at the trite recognition of emotions that lay hidden for over a decade. In spite of the bewitching picture she made, sprawled harmlessly on stones and shackled by the arms, he felt the act of restraining her was farfetched despite her being an indomitable and revered pureblood.

"So you have finally revealed yourself." He touched the metal bars of the prison with a smile. Removing his glasses, he slipped the key in the lock before pushing the portal and stepped within the confines. "If you sense me, why don't you awake?" He gently requested upon noticing her hands tug across her curled legs.

Fur coat and silk crimson gown dignified for her status in society. She appeared nothing short of royalty, and he assumed it was her prime or a habit learned from living elegantly. He had no doubt she was treated fairly special. Her blood, like no other on the planet. An esoteric name and beauty, she was a precious stone the world jealously hid. With her vampire instincts reviving from its previous comatose state, he waited for her astute senses to map her surroundings.

Lowering himself on the stoned floor, he studied the ripples of concentrated lines on her forehead and in between twin brows. Ruby, a shimmer of intense crimson entwined with black, the pair of eyes strayed from the floor directly toward Kurosu Kaien.

Stunned by her stark resemblance to her mother, Kaien flung a hand on his mouth and edged sideways once she patiently sat up. Her unwavering and calm gaze turned to the prison bars and back on him. She shifted her legs under the red sea of her gown and folded shackled hands in her lap.

"Were you hiding?" Kaien questioned in slight debate. "Your existence has been unknown, I was convinced you were dead. Juuri hadn't informed me your whereabouts. Unfortunately, I heard she too diminished with Haruka." The stiffening of her timid frame made him pause his contemplative mumble and examine the nervous creases around her mysteriously gloomy eyes.

"How?" She mouthed, "Do you know mother and father?"

"Kuran is a distinguished name in both worlds." He animatedly smiled. "I happened to be acquainted with them early before you were born, dear Yuuki."

In stifle shock, her fingers gripped the silk around her legs. Swiftly hoisting the dress, she rose to her feet with expert agility and lingered. For a moment, Kaien considered she'd resort to disable him with her powers and barge her way out of the prison like a tempest from a new day. Yuuki resisted the noxious thought that filling her bones and bubbled the ventricles of her heart. She might as well make the most of the belligerent danger by working her powers on the oaf and make her escape. Any pureblood would demolish any essence of themselves in the lower vessel's mind. Her efforts wouldn't be glaring compared to others.

Glaring at the blond man kneeling on the floor, she pressed her arms into her ribs. "My spell has worn off. I don't recall how but you shouldn't remember a thing after I'm—"

"Removing my memory?" Chuckling amusedly, Kaien climbed to his feet with an approving nod. "Your powers will affect anyone you want. But before you proceed, wouldn't you prefer to know how you came to be in Hunters Association?" He indicated the hunter bounds trenched with spell-work further limiting her mobility. "You are officially under arrest, Kuran Yuuki."

"Arrest?" She repeated in disbelief. "What have I done to fall into such a predicament?"

"Perhaps nothing." Kaien automatically comforted, "It was a matter of finding you at a place you hadn't right to be. You were caught in the explosion. None survived but you. As is expected of a pureblood to weather mortal fatalities, expect beheading or a stake to the heart."

"Stop." Yuuki averted her head, feeling dismal to hear him narrate her abilities as if reading a mundane pamphlet. "Whoever you are, please, stop. Don't mention my parents, who or what I am, and what I can or can't do."

"And why not, Kuran Yuuki. The pureblood princess has lastly unveiled."

"Please, stop!" She cried anxiously. The force of her emotions rattled the bars and stirred a flurry of wind that whipped his glasses out of his fingers and flung back his neatly tied hair into an withered mess. Apologetically, Yuuki shook her head, "I'm sorry. Usually my composure never leaves me but current circumstances have stripped me of this."

Bafflement was overridden the instant his heart rang faster at the acknowledgment of where she had procured such a temper. One that reminded him of her late mother years ago. "You resemble Juuri most definitely." Kaien murmured fondly. "She wasn't very patient but whimsical. That was very charming."

She huffed impatiently under her breath as his ceaseless babble about her mother. "I don't understand why an explosion would have occurred at the Rouen Gala. I was enjoying the festivities."

"Neither do we, dear Yuuki." Kaien replied, "We, the Hunters Association, received a message moments prior to the explosion that a Level E vampire wandered into the gala and could consequently endanger the inhabitants. As you might have guessed," He implied at the bland expression she wore, "There was no Level E vampire. We found you instead. Doesn't it seem strange the outcome came in your disfavor?"

"My disfavor? How can I be at fault if I'm perfectly innocent?"

"A pureblood can survive mortal attacks, even lure vampires to your feet and cause them harm. If you wanted to blemish the gala with a sea of blood, you need to have a monstrous side with that pureblood character. I've come to understand the nature of vampires isn't appealing or gentle."

"I'm told the hunters' ancestors ate a pureblood to gain powers. So the part about being appealing and gentle is your hunter side speaking? Hypocrite." Yuuki growled. "I didn't instigate or had anything to do with the explosion. The killing of humans—I would never."

"The nature of my questions is simply to know why you were there. An unprecedented pureblood who hid her identity with spells and was considered dead for over eleven years. It sure is perplexing."

"Can't I attend a simple gala by myself? I often disguise myself as is my habit since I was young."

"Due to the explosion, your force field shattered, and we were able to recognize you right away and brought you here without fail." Kaien stretched a palm toward Yuuki with an elated smile. "I'm Kurosu Kaien, President of the Hunters Association."

She glared uncannily at the hand. "Since you already know who I am..."

"Hohoho." Throwing his head back, he chuckled. "Juuri would've loved to see you grown up! But it would've created trouble since you both look alike. I wouldn't be able to guess which one was which hmm." He pondered.

Yuuki muttered morosely out of exasperation. "I see you talk about my mother. A lot."

"I am indebt to Juuri." Kaien bowed his head reverently and spoke up frankly, "I can't release you yet as we must continue investigating. I don't doubt you hadn't a thing to do with the explosion but for the Peace Treaty to exist—we have to do what is right."

"I understand." Yuuki lowered her gaze to the floor in deep thought. The outcome smartly incepted her to possible conviction and she'd nothing to substantiate her innocence. Even her status as pureblood piled against her.

"You will remain here." Kaien paused at the magic laced shackles. "We have it for protection, dear Yuuki. Your being a pureblood is risky. We haven't had a pureblood in our captivity for over a decade." Kaien swallowed the numbness in his throat at the thought. "The last one was… Not docile."

"I'll cooperate with protocol." Yuuki muttered not too happily. "I'm not afraid. I have nothing to hide. But…Kaien-sama."

His eyes widened with rivulet of tears. "Sa-sa-saamaa…. Meeee?" He pointed at himself and rubbed his eyes with the back of his sleeve.

"Eh, oji-san?"

"Ojii-saaaan?" He shrieked incredulously, swaying on his feet from dizziness.

"Uh—well, you do seem to know my parents so if you don't—"

"I don't! I don't!" Kaien squawked, flapping his arms energetically. "Be my guest!"

"Hm." She nodded. "Then, Kaien oji-san—"

He was chocking on tears but nodded encouragingly lest she lose patience and douse him with incapacitating increments of pureblood fury.

"Please grant me the favor of safeguarding my identity from outside personnel."

Drying the rivulet of tears, Kaien asked, "Why, Yuuki? The Vampire Society will want to now the existence of their pureblood princess."

"I've always kept it hidden from public." Yuuki frowned at the floor. "It wouldn't be right releasing the news yet. In time, the world will know I haven't died like my parents."

"And your brother?"

The gentleness of her expression decreased in place of a forced smile that seemed cold and calculating, unfitting for the soft face. "Just keep it a secret for now, I beg you." Yuuki bowed down her waist, "Kaien oji-san."

"No, no!" Kaien jumped to straighten her. "Juuri's daughter shouldn't bow to me! Hnh?" He reverted to the bars questionably as an advancing shadow halted near the open door. "Zero-kun." Kaien grinned, "Our princess has awaken. Your assumptions were true. Even if you hadn't made them, I would've known but I'm impressed by your sharp….ness." Kaien slowed at the abhorrent scowl above piercing lavender eyes that regarded the subject unblinkingly.

"Loosen the glare, Zero-kun." Kaien sighed, "She is a daughter of a friend."

"A suspect is a suspect." He hissed from the darkness.

Kaien released Yuuki's delicate arm and stepped back. "Don't mind him, Yuuki. I promise to take good care of you, but while I'm gone, Zero-kun will be responsible for you. Officially you are his catch, or so he claims." He gave the silver-haired a rueful glance.

She could only think of sitting back on the cold ground moments after Kaien's departure. Yuuki peered at the cracks and laps of chains falling from the wall and circulating her legs. Fingering the lock with an index finger, she focused on releasing the locks apart. The mechanism thrust out the loop and slid back.

Watching her from the darkness in disapproval, Zero clamped a fist around a bar. "Purebloods sure find resources to satisfy themselves."

Yuuki's nocturnal vision discovered him under the terrain of shadows. The gun clutched within his hand trembled from weak control. She sensed his resistance on the trigger. "I'm not trying to escape." She shifted the shackle over her wrist. Her fingers glided across the thick red gash draped upon pale skin. "It hurts, the shackles burn my hands. Hunter magic is very extraordinary. Like the Bloody Rose can weaken my healing powers, giving you the advantage to wound me and have ultimate consequences."

Zero merely returned the gun in the hoister. "I'm not impetuous to strike a pureblood without specific indictment. You are merely a suspect."

"I suppose that means I'm safe for now." Yuuki whispered.

Zero's eyes hardened in aversion. Her real nature lay hidden beneath a doll-face and intoxicating charm of a gallant lady. He couldn't be fooled, but she did resemble an innocent lamb confined in a lion's den. "When you're found guilty for massacring humans, you won't last for a second in my hands, Kuran." His incisors grinded in enunciation at the royal name. Crudely lavender eyes flashed on her and he stepped into the shadows, leaving the prison.


"And what have we found?" Kaien questioned late in the evening in his office. "She was there at the wrong place, wrong time."

"No doubt pureblood have the ability to do dangers and cause deaths in the blink of an eye." Kaito eyed Zero with narrowed eyes, "The news of a Level E vampire was clearly a red-herring."

"I agree." Kaien leaned forward in his chair, resting his elbows on the wooden table. "Oddly, the set up has turned the tables on our dear Yuuki. I don't believe she is the culprit."

"No matter what sentiments you hold for that pureblood, she is still a suspect." Reminded Zero impatiently.

"Ah, Zero-kun." Kaien squinted his eyes and bashfully batted his eyelashes. "Don't you see how cute Yuuki is? Thought dead for so long but ultimately she shows up—out of nowhere! A miracle of the purebloods! Juuri's wonder never fails to astound me!"

"A set up to uncover the little lamb." Remarked Kaito, kicking the leg of the guest chair to make room for him-self comfortably and glanced austerely toward his comrade on the left corner, standing alone near the curtains. "She was living capably for years."

"I understand what you're trying to say, Kaito." Scowled Kaien in deep thought, "The one who sent us the red-herring is quiet possibly the culprit himself and responsible for setting Yuuki up. Even with her disguise spell, this individual already knew of her plans to attend the gala."

Zero peered at the two and strode toward the doors.

Kaien briskly stood up, "We still have to discuss Yuuki." He alerted.

"Who ever the culprit is, I will give him his punishment." Zero slammed the door in the lock.

"He always does things on his own will." Kaien chuckled sheepishly, "Doesn't care what I say…heh."

"Ever wonder why?" Kaito raised a brow, "Zero hates to be smothered."

"But he was very accepting a couple years ago." Countered Kaien, "Wasn't he?"

"Face it, he hates you and your stupid fatherly displays. Affection can't be offered but must be awarded. Hunter's don't live by the lifestyle you've forced him into. He is suffocating and has reached past his limits."

Limits. Falling back in his chair, he nodded. "Yes, even Zero-kun has limits. So does dear Yuuki—as does her brother and the fragile humans who strived to fight the fire at the gala."

"Speaking of which," Kaito lifted a finger to the ceiling, a speculative glimmer appeared in his dark eyes as he declared, "Because of all possible evidence burnt to crisp and no survivors remain, we must debrief the little lamb soon." Digging into his head full of hair with a fist, he scratched his scalp, droning as if half asleep, "Since she claims she is innocent, we must retrieve details prior to the explosion. She must've been conscious at the time. Discounting her, the remaining ones were Zero, Toga, and I. We sensed the explosion at the last minute. The first floor was eradicated unlike the second floor."

"It was a trap." Murmured Kaien softly, "Calling you there, killing humans, coincidentally finding Yuuki…"

"Why?" Kaito opened his eyes. "So we can have the blood princess to ourselves?"

Kaien looked up with a tight smirk. "Think closely, Kaito." He leaned back in his chair and resumed liquidly. "A place where Vampires can't be trusted or permitted entrance unless tamed. At the heart of the citadel is one of the long considered 'deceased' pureblood. What does that say to you, Kaito? A sinister work and we are the ones falling into a trap?"

"Knowing me, do you have to ask?" Kaito stood up and folded his sleeves to his elbows. "The only plan I guarantee is getting to the bottom of the incident. It'd be best to let the princess know she'll have to do incomparable things for a pureblood."

"I know the association will not agree." Kaien began. "But I intend to protect her."

"Then you ought to gamble your life," Kaito approached the door. "If our president vies to protect the princess, whatever plan we are falling into can't be avoided. It was so we could find her at the gala, bring her with us and keep her here—a protection from what, we don't know." Kaito raised a brow. "And you wonder whether the explosion was done uniquely to save her or bring her down. Need I remind her existence has been unknown to all? If you want to protect her, keep her away from me, or I will pluck all hair off her head to get the answers I seek. Because I see it clear than ever, the culprit knows the princess personally." He closed the office door sharply.


He wasn't overly reactive but the impulsive desire made his legs weak. Desperately clutching his throat, he shoved his shoulder against a brick wall of an alley. Bloody Rose pressed tight against his throbbing heart, he grunted, and closed his eyes in agony.

From the narrow opening, a hand launched on his shoulder, steadily brushing into his silver hair and cupped the back of his scalp. "Thought you had better control of yourself." Toga murmured.

Pushing indignantly away, Zero slid across the wall. No one had seen him at his worst but having his teacher as a rapt audience once in a while made his thoughts somber.

'Don't make me regret saving your life.' It was true, the very reason he was alive and continued to exist was Toga.

Multiple times he had the urge to give up on his blood-starved body and sink under the barrel of Blood Rose. Toga succeeded holding him back. Moments like these, he had to push down his primal vampire instincts. Out of breath, Zero slumped to his knees.

Looming above the young boy, Toga folded his arms. "Hmph. The intervals are growing shorter. With the presence of the pureblood, the thought of tasting the most powerful blood is craving for release." Toga glared at the opening of the alley. "These unfamiliar tidings will continue. Take these for now, Kid," From his coat, he tossed a pack of pills over Zero's shoulder. "Giving me your pills won't stop your need for blood." A flare of pity sparked across his gaze at his dear pupil.

One so strong with an extraordinary future, Kiryuu Zero would rise and became a remarkable hunter like his ancestors. Only now, he has been reduced to a starving vampire unable to control his cravings. Bonded by a pureblood until his last breath, there was no escape. His resentment for vampires began since birth. The duty of a vampire hunter was indeed to eradicate vampires, but being one himself, ruined the nature of his work. At his worst and trying times, Toga could only watch Zero's back as he struggled to swallow the pills his body had been rejecting.

"Make it work." Toga murmured deep in his throat. "When you've had enough, I'll ready the trigger but not now." He growled. "Not now, Zero."

It took considerable twenty minutes for Zero to recompose. Catching the rift of Toga's cloak on a random chair on the street-café, he arrived looking disdainful and hopeless as usual, a picture Toga was accustomed to over the years of monitoring Zero's health. Instead of sitting, he stopped next to the table to regard the elderly man gravely.

"Have you considered what to do with the fine princess?" Toga flicked open the lighter and brushed the tip of his cigar through the flames. He scanned the passing pedestrians and analyzed them for his own amusement. "You didn't sense it, but I was sure I caught a glimpse of something unusual at the gala. The presence was furtively hidden like the spells the princess used to hide her identity. She was not alone."

"Another pureblood?" Surmised Zero bitterly.

"I'm not sure." He tapped the cigar over the astray and settled his arm on the armrest of his chair and regarded Zero's pale countenance in silence. "How much longer are you going to push yourself? Underneath your human disguise, your ruthless nature needs an outlet for blood. If you want, I can arrange for Kaien to gather volunteering humans—"

"I don't want it." Zero cut him scathingly. "The scent of blood…" He averted and covered his mouth. "Is retching."

"If you hate it so much, why does your body want it?" Toga wearily brushed the corner of his eye with his knuckle. "Face it, unless you accept what you've become, you'll continue to suffer."

"That woman…" Zero clenched his teeth in revulsion.

"Ah, the pureblood," Nodded Toga, "I've ascertained she is dead. But the damage was done years ago and now the affects are unavoidable. I can't have you attack anyone randomly just to stable your instincts. Doesn't Kaito tell you how to deal with it?"

Zero scoffed, "I'm used to having my limits tested. And I won't attack purely to satisfy a filthy craving, it's monstrous…" What I've become. He glared at the strolling crowds of human.

"Obviously purebloods have more powers than anyone." Toga brought his attention to significant matters, "It's possible whoever she met was a pureblood like herself, using the same spell. But why was she found alone? One so rare and fine, their existence is scarce and the need to protect each other is foremost—"

"She was abandoned." Zero quietly uttered.

Toga put out the cigar before rising. "We can only know for sure through interrogation."


She was left in the bleak dark and cold of the under ground prison for five days. Obedient to her word and primarily straightforward, an ostensible honesty imbued from innocence. He might have thought she'd been sheltered her whole life from her lack of knowledge of the world. Her well-bred and fine features were trademark for the Kuran clan. To think her ancestor at one time was the King of Vampires and furthermore believed in ultimate pacifism between humans and vampires to live peacefully.

"I went alone. I never go to soirees and looked forward to the opportunity and enjoy myself."

"Yuuki." Kaien tilted his head in concern, "Where have you been living all this while?"

Her face flushed in embarrassment, lowering her eyes, she mumbled. "With a trusting friend of the family. After my parent's death, I was taken there."

"A friend from the Vampire Council?" He inquired.

"Yes, Asato Ichijo."

Kaien's frozen countenance denoted his unease at the name. "It wouldn't make sense if you were not close to the Vampire Council, Yuuki. Hearing that you've been living without your brother makes me suspect on the accounts of your separation—"

"Enough of that." Kaito slammed his boot on the table and folded his arms. "We want to know if you have any idea someone followed you?"

She licked her bottom lip. "It's possible, I'm heavily protected by the Ichijo clan, and they may have come to the gala without my knowledge."

"Does that mean everyone uses the same force field to conceal their identity?" Kaito raised a brow.

"In the presence of humans, it's safe to act neutral. Hiding our powers is a safety-check."

"According to you, there were no other vampires at the gala. You went alone and were caught in the explosion." He summarized.

"Yes." The trails of long brown tresses fell against her knees and wrists at her nod.


The thick scent of burned flesh accumulated the damaged building. Only a grain of relief flooded his form in the absence of blood. Digging across the room of corpses reminded him of the macabre murder of his family. Injuries executed, lives taken, unwanted memories imparted…only to live with the heart-wrenching vestige.

"Oi." Toga ruffled his hair, "Find anything more deplorable than dead bodies?"

"You mean vampire particles." Zero shook off the hand and calmly strode into the tattered halls.

"He was leaving from the first floor, I noticed." Toga reviewed the area intently. Zero paused in between the entrance of the boardroom.

Again the train of dead bodies reined his vision from the doorway. Fire, sizzling furniture, rubbles of weak humans, if he had empathy for a moment it was only due to the brief realization that he might have been one of them if not a vampire. Like a shadow gliding through the night, he made his way into the board room. Through the suffocating smoke, a trailing heartbeat echoed to him, reeling him to the designated corner.

Kaito couldn't have noticed and at first believed they roamed in a ghost town. He glanced at Zero as he shoved a giant table off two bodies. From within the piles, he picked off the dead carcasses. Boot stepping over broken glass, hunting through smoke. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a hand dipped in crimson.

The blood froze his body and he refused to make an advance toward her.

Sensing his disquiet, Kaito marched toward the bodies. "Don't tell me the scent of blood has weakened your resolve." He eyed the unconscious girl.

Ignoring his remark, Zero stooped to the floor and pushed off the chair from her legs. His hand snaked underneath her shoulder. Brashly he bent forward to lift her. The thrilling scent of her blood wandered in his nose, exhilarating his senses. His gaze transfixed to her insensate face, focusing on the dark brows. Suddenly, her fingers pinched his left shoulder.

A flare of wind shattered the remaining window, sending the brittle glasses across the room. He was fluid enough to duck behind the table. In her unconscious trance, her senses had every urge to protect herself. The powers of a pureblood were not wayward but distinctly dangerous, possibly employing the field of human's bodies to shield her own during the fire. She may not remember in her dazed state, yet to survive meant everything surrounding her needed to perish.

"Zero." Kaito growled from somewhere within the smoke.

The strength of her fingers eliminated and the furrowed brows cleared. Swiftly, Zero curled an arm over her head and dodged the blowing fire. Her force field had withered as well, leaving her wide open for an attack. At first glance, it was a helpless creature he found, but within his arms was in fact a body fueled with extreme power, rushing with the strongest blood in the world, a pureblood.

He set her down into the car seat outside and closed the door. Wearily, Zero leaned against the window as Kaito approached him speedily. He was about to remove Zero who had hovered the door out of unreasonable guardianship.

"Can't be! Not a pureblood!" Kaito hissed.

The revulsion weeding and fusing in turmoil inside Zero was exposed on Kaito's face. Sternly, he glanced at his comrade from the corner of his eye. "That is my catch."

Kaito glared distrustfully at the prone girl within the car. "Locking her in the association is safest. Who would've thought," He grunted impatiently and stared coldly at Zero's calm disposition. "Keep it in all you want, the moment your desire for her blood will awaken, you'll need to bound her with hunter's magic."

Zero's eyes narrowed in silent resentment. "Losing my nerve for blood, never." He growled.

"You wavered." Kaito pointed, reaching out, he knocked Zero's temple. "If I see that again, I'll be forced to use your own weapon against you." He circled the car and opened the driver door.

Zero glanced over his shoulder at the shadowed figure against the seats. Her hands were still tainted with her own blood from the fire. Yanking away from the car, he strode into the building.

Kaito unrolled the window. "Where are you going?"

"Go without me." Zero muttered. "Her smell is disturbing."

He had long since struggled with his craving for blood, long before meeting the Kuran. With every need for blood, his hatred for vampires increased. Charging into the boardroom, he fingered the burned furnitures and peered out the broken window.

"Won't help," Spat Toga with a curled lip, "We'll have to track him ourselves."


Kaien was jogging toward the main hall. Guards stepped back obediently and bowed before the silhouette. Restraining his stiff abhorrence for the individual, Kaien stepped over the ledge and pressed his glasses higher against his nose upon reviewing the two-century-old vampire.

"What can I do for you?" Calmly, Kaien questioned, "Head Council Asato?"

No one could underestimate the Head of Vampire Council Asato Ichijo. However, his extreme questionable presence at the doorstep of the Hunters Association was unthinkable. To enter the ground immersed with hunter magic was an act against his diplomatic judgment.

"A word with you, Shacho Kurosu." Asato murmured.

"We regulate vampires and those who aren't tamed can't enter. You must know about our boundaries."

"I do." Asato growled distastefully and cast a snide glare toward the indignant hunters that had assembled behind Kaien.

"Since you aren't tamed and can't enter," Kaien began animatedly, "Therefore, let us meet elsewhere!"

"That won't be necessary." With a wave of his cloak, the wind rifted into the hall. If he tried to take a step forward, the binding spell stirred smoke around his boot and clothes. Flinching back at once, he glared at Kaien. "I will make a compromise," He receded, offering a stiff nod and resumed, "A specific bond between the pureblood and myself acknowledges that I'm aware of their locations. My surveillance of the one so called pureblood leads me here. Allow me to meet her in private, and I will abide to the association regulation and create no harm…" He gave a staggering glare at the troop of hunters that resisted trembling.

"Kaien-sama," Approached a hunter unapologetically, "Don't give into the account of the vampire. He comes from the distrustful council."

Kaien brushed him back. "If to abide by our regulations, I can arrange a meeting. We were coming to meet you but seeing you here is convenient for us." He bowed politely. "I will bring her myself."

"But Kaien-sama!" Cried the army of vigilant hunters.

"She will be with me." He informed.

A tight smirk lifted the corners of Asato's immaculate expression. From the gateway, he watched Kaien turn into the deep halls and steer toward the prison.

He stripped the magic shackles that left her with burn-marks. Addressing the gash remorsefully, Kaien absently touched her hand with an index finger. "The spell was strong enough but you wore it for days. I'm sorry, Yuuki, I have to be fair for the association. If not for that, I wouldn't resort to extreme measures of keeping you locked alone in the cold." He held open the prison door and frowned at her immobile figure on the floor. "Yuuki?"

"Where are you taking me?" She asked calmly.

The unfeeling expression adopted by all vampires, she too had one. Eyes narrowed, he flushed and cleared his throat. He never remembered Juuri composing a cool and untouchable expression like her daughter but it sufficiently indicated her up bringing was within the confines of the vampire society. A life without Juuri's gail personality, it would only seem right for Yuuki to be molded like the rest of the mundane vampire folks who were all about restraining emotion as it was degrading.

How unnecessary. Kaien pouted and said loudly. "If you have an urge to scream, I have an amplifier in my office if you'd like?" He grinned at the suddenly empty prison. "Yuu—Yuuki! YUUKI?" He gasped, clutching his head anxiously, "Where did you—"

"Here." A hand gently tapped his shoulder.

Swinging around, he found her standing patiently for him outside of the prison. "Ah! Don't scare me like that! You may be a princess by name or…or…" He paused to contemplate, "Your real name means princess too, as a matter of fact, and you were born a princess. Oh! How fitting!" Kaien exclaimed excitedly.

"Can we go now?" Yuuki gestured to the main doors.

Clearing his throat, he pushed his glasses on the bridge of his nose. "Sure. Follow me." Having calmed, Kaien flung open the door and escorted her toward the elevator.

"Hiding in the warmth of the ground." Yuuki whispered in the lift, "Is suitable for us. We don't feel cold, but we have sensitive noses." She rubbed her nose with the back of her hand. "Is it necessary to wear cologne, oji-san? You hardly sweat."

"Mm-me?" He pushed a hand on his chest. "I am a regrettable form between a human and vampire, you might not believe it but my human qualities are stronger than vampire. Spraying some doesn't hurt." He shrugged happily.

"Human…" Yuuki mumbled in distraught, "Those fragile dolls that pass in the blink of an eye. Hard to believe you are half."

Kaien alertly stared in stupefaction. She truly had been sheltered. Never having interacted with humans or stayed in the rays of the sun merely to bask in its warmth. She endured a secluded life, unlike her mother. The stark contradiction of personalities made him stiffen at the inexorable disbelief of failing a dark, lonesome promise forged many years ago. Within those years, he was convinced in the disastrous death of the Kuran family, Yuuki being one of the victims.

The doors peeled open, she glanced at him and waited. Silent on their way toward the entrance of the building, Kaien uncertainly scanned the vengeful and rancorous glares of his comrades targeted on Yuuki. With each footstep, she left a trail of humid blood, bold and stinging like cut on sensitive skin.

"Don't mind them. Because you're spell has worn off, your identity can't be hidden. Soon, everyone will understand who you are."

Yuuki lowered her gaze to her moving feet. The black-gray force field spurted past her shoulders, flinging back brown hair as her reproachful crimson gaze sterilized the glares of the audience.

Speechlessly, Kaien took her arm. "You shouldn't do that, not here."

"It wasn't taxing." She replied softly. "I've always concealed myself."

Noticing the luminosity of her skin and the sparkling brown orbs of her eyes, he was struck in apprehension at her ability to conceal her pureblood features.

"Concealed yourself again?" He smirked at the rhetorical question. Stepping over the ledge at the gateway, he said, "Because you are escorted by me, you aren't repelled by the protective charms placed on the gates."

Her hunting eyes raked the statue-like sentries. Their black eyes narrowed in hatred at her presence. Dodging behind Kaien, she trailed him into the heat of the afternoon.

Flinging an arm over her face, Yuuki hissed in pain.

"Are you alright?" Kaien stopped worriedly.

The harsh sunlight made it difficult to keep her eyes open. Glaring at the ground, she stumbled but regained her footing. "Sorry…" Yuuki mumbled in guilt. "The last time I went outside was when I was fifteen."

Kaien smiled apologetically, "I should have considered a parka to bring along."

"No, no." Hurriedly dismissing the notion, she caught her footing again and forced her eyes to adjust to the bright sunlight. She brushed the burning tears from the corner of her eyes and sniffed. "How much longer?"

Her question couldn't be answered sooner. Asato floated to her rescue and swarmed her tiny figure under a cloak. Fury imbued green eyes lanced irritably at Kaien, but he busied his hands to arrange the clothing protectively over Yuuki's head.

"Ichijo-sama!" Stunned, Yuuki stepped back, holding up the hood above her eyes. "What are you doing here?"

Dropping to his knees, he captured her hand and kissed the soft skin between her knuckles. "Yuuki-sama…"He glanced up at the young girl, "We were concerned for your safety after the news of the explosion reached us. Traveling without permission…"

She pulled back in embarrassment, "I wasn't trying to make a fuss. I just wanted…"

"If you had waited patiently." Asato eyed Kaien critically, "You wouldn't be trapped in the association, amongst enemies and kept watch like a caged animal."

"No, I'm following the obligatory regulations of the association. Once I'm found innocent, I'll come back." She assured and smiled peacefully at Kaien.

"Innocent." Asato mounted back to his towering height in a single motion. The creases at the corners of his eyes blackened. "You are held prisoner for a crime you haven't committed. The true culprit, I have found myself."

"We did receive a message to look out for a Level E." Kaien interrupted, "We were vastly misled, however."

"The culprit is far from a Level E vampire. I searched for the true felon. He was after her life."

Kaien smirked at the floor, "Pureblood can not die from fire."

"No. He had pursued her secretly and caused the fire to misdirect his attack. At the crucial moment he tried to reach her." With a skating glance at Yuuki's pondering expression, Asato remarked, "You can't recall but he watched you closely, Yuuki-sama."

"I remember seeing the hunters." Yuuki whispered, "I left and went to the board room." She looked up skeptically. "I don't remember what happened afterwards."

"She is innocent." Asato stated coolly. "To tarnish the name of our blood princess with murder is indecent, unlikable, and fallacious!"

"She is not innocent." Kaien replied indifferently. "Your council may construe your own theories. Being the party with the large quantity of deaths and a living suspect retained by our association, it will be us who will decide the outcome of her sentence. Kuran Yuuki is still a suspect unless proven otherwise."

"I brought him for your eyes only." Asato sourly grunted.

"Then you should leave him at our disposal for the investigation. As for now," Kaien turned to Yuuki, "The investigation is still underway and Yuuki is not dismissed. If she is proven guilty, I will decide on the penalty." Reviewing Asato's frozen expression, he added, "It won't be death."

Yuuki peered worriedly at Asato's steamed cheeks and blazing green eyes while Kaien turned back to the building. He waved at Yuuki to follow. She hesitated momentarily and touched Asato's sleeve. "Don't be concerned." She offered a brilliant smile. "Kaien oji-san is actually funny, and I don't think the severity of my penalty will be something I can't handle."

Taking her hand, he pressed it to his bowed forehead. "Yuuki-sama…." He sensed the fragile shake of her hands and raised his head. "Are you in need of nourishment?"

"No." She retracted her hand. "Thank you, but I'm fine for now. I'll get going then."

Asato watched her trail across the courtyard toward Kaien. "You are being waited upon, Yuuki-sama." He murmured.

"I'll come home soon." Yuuki assured.


The vampire in the next cell was downright morose. The perilous existence that unwound from sanity sat within three meters and a wall from Yuuki. She predicted to hear his feverish blood and the echo of his heartbeat numbing her brain for being close to his prey but as she reached her hands through the bars for him, he pretended not to notice.

"Do you really." Sorrowfully crimson eyes regarded him, "Want to kill me?"

He was a Level C. One of the overly populated vampires in the world that made his irreversible transition from human to vampire very late. In order for a human to transform required a bite from a pureblood.

He turned his back on Yuuki and rested his head on the cold wall. Chained to the ground by the spell bound shackles, dismissing her was probably his safest bet.

Her fingers hang in midair, stretching out to him. "This is a first." Yuuki pulled her hand back and clutched her side. "Usually vampires like you desire our blood more than anything. But you…don't." Within the tickling scent of his undead body, she caught a hint of a familiar blood. One that coursed through her as well. Alertly sitting up, Yuuki grabbed the bar, pressing her forehead eagerly. "Was it really you?" She demanded. "Did you really set the fire? Is someone forcing you—"

Clank…

The silver-haired hunter loomed at the entrance of her cell. Flinging the door back, he entered and knelt to undo her chains.

His scent was cold and bitter than the drift of soil in a coffin. Sensing the rigidness of his body under her study, he fiercely drew the chain over her wrists, making sure to leave bruises on the skin. Instead of reacting to his brutal action, Yuuki solely regarded Zero in mild consternation.

"What?" He spat furiously, implying a shivering glare that often dissuaded others from approaching. The glare inflicted miniscule impact on Yuuki. She dutifully removed a shackle and set it on the floor by her ankles. Grunting under his breath, Zero fluidly shot to his feet, yanking the unlocked chain and dragged her outside with barbaric force.

He paid no heed to her stumbling and hissing. The shackle clenched on her left wrist induced flushed marks on her white skin, veins were swelling from hunter magic but she didn't protest. He was beginning to grow annoyed by her subdued nature.

Standing in the corner of the lift, Yuuki deftly glanced at the pained bump on her wrists. Healing would be automatic if she had fresh blood in her disposal.

Thump—Thump—Thump

Her eyes widened at the sound brushing the corners of her mind. Yuuki stared up at the tall silver-haired in front of her, glaring at the elevator doors.

His heart, I hear it. Swallowing the nervousness in her throat, she stepped forward, her right hand lifted from her side. The familiar raging heartbeat of a vampire… In starvation. Does that mean he hasn't… Taken the blood of the one who gave him life as a vampire? Her small hand brushed the back of his coat.

Ding!

Zero clenched his teeth and closed his eyes. "If you dare so as much touch me with that filthy hand of yours," His guttural growl stung with venom disgust, "I will kill you." Reaching into his coat, he triggered the barrel.

Thump—thump—thump!

Shaking her head, she lowered her hand. The booming snap of the trigger should have made it clear, but standing close in the lift, all she could hear was the rhythm of his erratic heartbeat, starving, screaming for blood.

He feels different than the vampire in the cell.

Glaring over his shoulder at Yuuki, Zero's lips turned into a grim line of displeasure.

Kaien offered Yuuki a guest chair at the table, his eyes skimmed the gashes of her wrist from the shackles, apologetically averting, and sighed. "According to the vampire, Genki, he admitted to following you because you were not permitted to go out alone."

"Maybe your vampire senses can't tell but he drank the blood of a pureblood." Yuuki notified softly, "Something is not right."

"I don't deny the possibility." Kaien approved, "But while following you into the gala, he was caught in a gruesome attack by a human who recognized his true origins. The explosion was due to the human being pushed in the boiler. By the time Genki flooded the scene, the entire building erupted into flames with you inside. He tried to reach you but failed. Judging by his confession, it seems he wasn't after your life." Kaien glanced at the three hunters sharing the office.

"The verdict will be?" Yuuki asked.

"You shouldn't have been at the gala, Yuuki." Kaien pressed an index finger to his forehead to rub away a headache. "Even with your power to conceal your identity."

Toga tossed a packet of human appendages consisting of hands, bloody fingers and clothes. "You didn't know at the time of your unconsciousness." He eyed Yuuki strangely, "The need to protect yourself in the fire, you used humans occupying the same room as a shield."

Yuuki sat up in astonishment. "I'd never do such a thing."

"Zero felt it when he carried you out of the building. He removed you underneath a pile of humans. Why else would so many bodies engulf you if you were pretending to be a regular human? Despite your disguise, your desire to live was stronger than the lives of others." Toga folded his arms. "Your unwanted presence and using humans as protection in the mistakable fire, Kuran Yuuki, you will be held prisoner in our association for a long time."

"Nonsense," She growled. "I was unconscious, how could I do that?"

"Yuuki." Kaien sighed dejectedly. "The consequences and the rights of the association will file you as guilty if we debrief you in front of the entire association. Don't make it hard on yourself."

"I am not—"

"The nature of purebloods can stir trouble. I wish I can say you aren't at fault but if you hadn't been there and Genki not following you, it is likely so many lives wouldn't perish."

Yuuki widely gaped at the hunters, "Are you accusing me of killing everyone?"

"Do you not realize the extent of your powers, Yuuki?" Kaien asked without moving his lips. His eyes narrowed coldly. "I was a prominent hunter and vowed to destroy all vampires to be rid of my fate. Everyone at the gala—not only because of the fire was lured to shield you. The concentration of bodies found at your location was greater than any other place."

"That doesn't make sense!" Yuuki shot up.

"Take her back, Zero." Kaien gestured to the hunter standing at the door in silence. "And loosen the shackle on her hands, if you can."

Rather than obeying, Zero juggled the chain and snatched the length, yanking Yuuki away from the table. She stumbled but her sharp reflexes prevented her from slumping on Zero's marching heels. Once the two were out of view, Toga slammed the door in the lock and whirled around toward the president.

"We both sensed something sinister and with her appearance, it's only a matter of time."

Kaien stood up and turned to the window. "She could've accused Genki. The false confession is evident. I'd have to be blind not to see it but she didn't fall for it. Did you see, Kaito?" He tossed a glance at the debating hunter sprawled on a chaise in the corner.

"I never trusted that blood-thieving mosquito. Obviously a pawn of a pureblood, he was sent here to do someone's bidding. Asato sure thinks we are stupid."

"Kaien," Toga's eyes narrowed grimly. "Forcing her here won't succor the investigation."

"I understand lives were lost, and we're at fault for not being careful." Kaien turned around. "But before it get worse, we have to protect Yuuki. Do you not sense it? The illusion cast by a greater force? If that explosion didn't occur, Yuuki could have been victimized by someone else hungry for power."

Toga clenched his teeth. "Asshole—the hell are you rambling?"

"My guess would be." Katio chuckled, "Someone from the Vampire society, of course. Probably they knew she was alive for a long time, and when she went to the gala unguardedly by herself, he or she used the perfect opportunity to strike."

Kaien sat down in his chair and removed his glasses. "You are more acute than I thought, Kaito."

The dark haired shot up and set his elbows on his thighs as he leaned forward amusedly. "They all want her blood. She is the reflection of supreme control, the descendant of the eminent Kuran King. Why wouldn't they want her to die? At the cost of many lives, ultimately it was the explosion that saved her. Probably a bootlicker was sent to do the work, hmph." He scoffed in revulsion.

"That Genki in our prison." Toga growled.

"He is part of the ploy, sent to ridicule and mislead us." Kaien replied. "For now, we will do what Asato wants and listen to Genki's faithless confession."

"The little lamb," Kaito quietly whispered and tilted his head against his palm, "Was innocent after all."


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