Down from her eyes the crystal tears did flow:

She said, None knows what I do undergo:

Upon my bed of sorrow here I lie;

My carnal life makes me afraid to die.

Then with a dying sigh her heart did break,

And did pleasures of this world forsake.Charles Lamb

• * •

Were it a normal crusade, instead of the grass glittering under the sun like a sheet of gold, mutilated bodies would have been strewn. Were it a victory worth celebrating, instead of citizens defaced with shameful fear, they'd rejoice over the expurgated poison in the council and cabinet and lived on with lion hearts. Since the king and queen were the administrators of the theme, citizens were cautious and considered a second inspection at what had been transpiring under the council's persona.

Hidden rumors about destroying the crown unraveled. Secrets about a pureblood's mind controlling and blood transfusion to produce servants on the inside was unleashed. At this, the big and small, the coy and brave, the frantic and calm, men from all trades and women from all distance rose to lend ears and speculate what had been brewing. The system was flawed, not even the king trusted his government. Helplessly his queen gave public appraisals after another, vying to regain trust in the people.

She all but tried, as the king grew brutal. The pureblood that hurled the political world upside-down was missing. Talk about a pureblood within the royal family was suspected. No one remarked on his identity.

As Kaname grimly regarded the pile of bodies cascading the battle fields, he thought of all the nobles that'd spent years in the council, with his father and him. Only to lose themselves over Rido's pervasive summons. He regretted they were gone and let his heart twist and knot in the feeling of faithlessness for having failed them and his own people.

The field was left, as it was, unclean and untouched from the fight. The sight of their dejected carcasses reminded passersby and curious ones what a pureblood's craze unthreaded. Each day, Kaname roamed the hills and fields, eyeing the dusts and contemplated what caused them to turn their backs on him. What favorable things did Rido promise to spawn deceit in his noblemen? He couldn't forget it wasn't just his oji-san. Members who were deeply attached to Asato resumed to play about his tactics.

Kaname stopped and looked at a patch of dead grass.

Being a pureblood didn't signify the extremity of his prowess. He was a king betrayed by his own kingdom. A man turned feeble in the inferno of trickery. A pariah in his own home. His insides were disintegrating, his organs flush and infected, dismembered in vesicles and teeming with pus, and he was mortal to distinctions. He couldn't heal neither could he live, a moribund invertebrate wallowing in its last moments. He should retaliate, smother everything wrecking his province, but all he wanted to do was submerge like the rest of his noblemen before him. He should menacingly infiltrate and regain the city's security, but he had no will, no strength left in him to champion those dreams. He ought to expedite the goodness of life among his people, and yet, torn was he from life, from ambition, from faith and hope, from kindness to make do these things he'd always wanted.

He couldn't do it, he didn't want to anymore. He wanted to sink, crumble into parallel pieces and be scattered across the universe so he couldn't be put to one. He wanted to damn them for succumbing to vileness and he also wanted to damn himself for not showing them the views he envisioned. He wanted to demolish everything into dematerialized remnants, unfit to be carcasses or remains of what they represented in life. He wanted to die, to weep, and to curl up nowhere and be forgotten like he never existed.


A voice, a soft voice suffusing rectitude called him out of his depleted soul. On the right were mountains, an evergreen heaven and the snowcapped Fuji launched out, stalking the sky with its apex. Movement slithered upon the dewy white colored grass. The smell of dead vampires exhausted under the sprinkles of sunlight and flowers. The smell, like its owner, anchored his insides. It forced his lungs to push out air and bring it back in, it festered water in the back of his eyes and blurred his vision, and it made his extremities tremble, like the quakes that so often made the solid earth quiver and crack. Rustling with left over life inside his body, Kaname turned his head to the left. There, stood his beloved, her eyes burdened with deep emotion and her hair dancing in the ebullience of the yellow sun. The weapon in her hand hung in a controlled grip, refrained but unafraid of usage.

"Let's go." Yuuki said from the distance. She held out her bare hand, valiant toward the invertebrate that he was. "Come."

When he moved, he found his legs step uncomfortably over heaps of men that were his comrades. Somewhere in his gloom, he could hear their screams under his boot. He clenched his jaw as he stopped across Yuuki, glancing at Artemis in her keep. "Would you be decent enough to use it on me?"

Her mouth didn't move and her eyes retained its natural poise. "Did you forget our promise to share a casket together? My years without you were cruel. I'll plunge the blade through me first and then you, that's how I would do it." As she shoved Artemis in a lateral pose, the scythe ebbed and she retracted the rod in a portable size.

Kaname was gazing at the glitters in the grass, thinking of the lives under their feet. "Yuuki, I've made a grave mistake." His voice resembled a throng of clouds prepared to rain, and the bloody nerves of his eyes that shimmered his blood beautifully thickened black. She read the desire in them, the starved urge to diminish in the blackness that ruled inside his heart. "I've endangered everyone. Our city will terminate."

"Our city will not terminate." Her unbroken light thrust in his darkness like a straight white-hot sword, cutting and distorting shadows with its swing. "Our city will have peace like no other. Our city will blend with humans, and they will love the lives they'll lead." She turned sadly to the field. "They won't be forgotten, and they'll remind us of our flaws. We'll tailor future decisions without them and we'll empty out culprits like we have to. Our people aren't in danger yet. We're fortunate to have gotten this far without their deaths." Her soft eyes narrowed on his downcast profile. "We have one important step to take. That is to kill Rido too. He's capable of creating such vast amounts of servants in no time. He can force himself on our people any moment. That's what we have to prevent."

The red of his eyes starkly intensified. "This last battle I'll have to do." Kaname whispered. His hand slipped through her locks and caressed her warm cheek; he beheld the tenderness of a bolstering sun right in his hand. "Thank you for always being my strength, Yuuki." The gravity of her voice was cumbersome like the land felt exhausted and dropped rocks it held for eons into sea for a great reprieve. He felt himself in her voice, under her skin he touched, and in her steady eyes. He was pulsing life in her, as he would forever. He was everywhere in Yuuki.

Like she is in me.

"For giving me reasons to change the way purebloods live and for coming to me when I was most afraid."

She sighed softly in understanding. "Go..." Yuuki mumbled resignedly despite her eyes were supple with pleas. Everything inside of her split in half; her thoughts, her heart, and her veins. No longer in committed union but drenched out in the numbed cold, alone and tired without the other.

His form twisted into shadows, bats coagulating in dark substance and skyrocketed into the amber sky. "I love you..." She mouthed at the black river soaring the world above and darted frantically in his direction. "Make sure to come back!"

The creatures submerged under infinite shadows of the forest.


If he so as much got scratched or cut a finger, she would seethe. He was supposed to return unharmed, fully functional and coherent. Three years of watching over you like the sky and if you abandon me again, you...just wait what I do to you. She gritted into the shadows.

When she turned around, the Right Hands stood watching Kaname vanish in the sky. "He went to look for Rido." Yuuki notified.

"So he decided to do it by himself." Ruka murmured, a grudging tint trembled in her irises. "Alone. With no one's help. Just by himself. He really is selfish."

Yuuki caressed her arm and nodded. "Let's head back to the palace. Rima, has the Ambassador arrived?"

"Already waiting at the palace." Rima blinked her lavender eyes, her lips wedged sideways. "Shouldn't the Great Queen have a good idea where he went? He can shroud his whereabouts skillfully, and he expected the Elders Council's demolition one way or another."

She carried her suddenly heavy body, as if she dragged the seven seas with binds on her arms and legs, through the field and toward the cars. "She might but she won't help us anymore. Shizuka-sama doesn't want to be affiliated with the crown." Her head pushed up, whisked by the power of a tainted smile. "Our Great King sure is shrewd. He hid himself in time. We'll have to alert overseas. He is a wanted pureblood."

"And because he is apt, he can undermine even foreign Hunters." Kain hissed in his breath. "We should inform the Council of Ancients, they'll call for him, and he won't be able to disobey them."

"At this point, Kain," Yuuki sighed at the disconcerting subject. "I don't expect him to listen to anyone, not even the Council of Ancients. We'll give Kaname two days to track him down. If we don't hear from him, we'll see what we can do."

Shiki lingered by the car with folded arms, his stare remorseless but afflicted. "It's not like I can bait myself and force him to come. My existence is of no significance to him." He opened the door for Yuuki, who had halted to review Kain and Ruka gazing at the sky, picking up traces of Kaname's presence.

"I won't hold you back." Yuuki said then, eyes blemished with dismay. "Go with him if you want. Track anything new and keep us updated."

Kain blinked peculiarly at the brunette but dipped his head in a firm nod. "We'll find him, don't worry."

"As long as you take care of yourselves and return in one piece." Yuuki whispered and disappeared behind the door. If her obligations with the public weren't mandatory, she would've joined Kain and Ruka as well.

Rima slid inside and closed the door. Her hand dangled on her knee and she gave Yuuki an unnerving glare. "He wants to remove the monarchy, doesn't he?"

"He wants a lot of things." She could hardly hear her whisper bounce the walls of the car as she caught the Kain and Ruka's images wink out of sight. "The monarchy will be obsolete by the time the movement is through. The Hunters Association will culminate in power, as we'll strengthen our bonds with the human city. We'll make slow progress for now and test how everyone reacts to the change."

All of the Hunters Association was under inexorable pressure to locate the prevaricating pureblood, the originator of havoc in the Elders Council and Royal Cabinet. After leashing destructive bonds with members, luring them and using them against Kaname, he took off into an undetermined refuge. Rumors circulated he hid underground, cultivating more annihilating armies. Citizens grew restless by the disturbing themes. While their king looked all over hell for the pureblood, Yuuki was left behind navigating skepticism and interrogation as to the actual accounts of the Elders Council and the future of their liberal rights.

Without question, none wanted to be slaves of purebloods. Finding the culprit instigator was vital for the protection of their city. All superlative hunters were scouted from overseas, including those that had retired specifically for the task.

"I call upon our most experienced and heroic hunters to find this creature. Their competence and natural ability can save us in our time of need. Your king is already traversing the city in his hunt. He is not alone, and the overseas forces amalgamated with our own had created the most deathless league ever in vampire history. I request, my dear citizens, that you comply with their orders during the investigation. They will be ubiquitous in our city and amenities, and I grant them full permission to investigate anything attached to suspicious nature or activity. They are liable for your security, if you feel doubtful around your premises, please consult with them as soon as you are able."

"Joousama, is the pureblood instigator part of the Royal Family?" Asked a reporter.

"You recently heard about your king's plans to reform the Elders Council, which was forged because of his deleterious attack in the cellars over three years ago. There were enemies of the crown bolstering in the council. Some were clever enough to keep their rivalry a secret, and when the chance came, for example, an opposing pureblood, they confederated with this pureblood. I can't disclose his identity yet, but he was someone I was willing to trust and help."

"Will there be a new Elders Council?"

"If our Elders Council was corrupt, how can we tell if our monarchy is corrupt or not?"

Yuuki held up a hand to silence the shrieking questions. "I regret to inform you there will be no Elders Council in the future. I can't force you to trust the monarchy. We are striving to build an environment where vampire and humans can thrive in union. Your lives are crucial to the monarchy, and we want you to live healthily. Because these are dangerous times, you might not feel safe. At the moment, the Royal Family will continue to find ways to protect you from this creature."

"Why is there much secrecy about this pureblood?" Someone asked from the corner of the room. "What do you wish to obtain from hiding his identity?"

Yuuki clenched her fists in her lap. "Due to this man's actions, he taints the reputation of all purebloods."

"Our queen," The reporter smirked, "Is not a pureblood, either. This shouldn't harm you."

"It does affect me like everyone else." She replied, cool-eyed and soft-voiced. "As a noble, I also want to keep a good relationship with purebloods. The Royal Family feels troubled over his malignant aspirations. I want to prove to you that trusting some purebloods is all right. Like your king."

"Ousama should've informed us of his troubles!" Shouted a reporter across the room. Others hollered and bombarded curses in the air. "We don't want the monarchy to stand without a Cabinet or Council around."

"The designated functions of the Council and Cabinet will be given to the Hunters Association." At her announcement, the room turned solemn silent. "The Association will work closer than ever with the Royal Family. They will advise us and represent you. These hunters, after all, hound and eliminate vicious vampires from our city since the segregation. It's been thousands of years since our borders cut out humans from our streets and lives. The Hunters Association will guide you toward the pacifism we wish to establish with humans."

A stir of questionable expressions and frantic whispers browsed the audience from all corners. Swarmed by their flustered sounds, Yuuki nodded.

"I know you feel unsure about this. We won't completely open our borders to them right away. First, we'll have short meetings on intervals. This will allow both sides to communicate and develop camaraderie. If both parties receive each other cordially, we'll continue with the conferences. Only at your discretion, my dear citizens, we will open our doors. This can happen tomorrow or thousands of years in the future. But I'd like to remind you," Yuuki gently smiled, "In our modern society, we are curious of one another and should educate ourselves about each other. Our ancestors may have set off on the wrong foot, but the longer we imprison ourselves in ancient bigotry, we won't be able to obtain the equality we need. And I know, there is a liberation in equality like no other."

A shadow strutted from the sides and leaned into her ear.

Yuuki politely withdrew from the microphone and bowed toward the cameras. "I must leave you now. Please, hold off your questions until the next conference."

• * •

Blood bonds warranted an unspeakable bond between peoples. It was the modes operandi of unfathomable connection where components could seek and communicate mentally. It was doable and uncomplicated for lovers, but only if both parties were receptive, and such things always required a good relationship. The Great King and Great Queen never had one such a relationship. He spurred affairs for centuries and she relentlessly returned to the arms of her lover, Haru.

Kaname's eyes narrowed on the cirrus clouds distorting out of sight in the sunrays. The scent of sakuras dawned on him, but he didn't turn his head. As if too fixed on learning why simple things had the audacity to vanish between blinks. They were supposed to exist with basic metrics but their terminable modus vivendi called on his irritable mood. He rummaged all venues he could think of where his oji-san was, but he was nowhere near. If he tried to forge telepathy with the older pureblood, the effort was a waste. He was removed from making any connections.

"It's no use." Said the silhouette between trees that had been watching him.

He didn't dismantle his glare from the sky.

"He's set on his ways." Her form passed between sunlight and crept back in shadows. "There's no way of reaching him. He has turned his back for good. I heard your queen wanted to redeem him. And to think, he wanted to devour her when she came as a sacrifice to the palace."

Kaname clenched his eyes and pushed a fist on his forehead.

"He will surface on his own, Kaname."

Out of the corner of his eye, he found trails of milk-white hair floating from tree branches. "I don't favor being followed. Didn't you reject helping Yuuki and me? What do you want?"

Her silver eyes melted on his for a moment, "You dare glower at me when the world laughs at your expense?"

"Why not? You deserted Yuuki in her time of need."

Shizuka tapped her fingernail on a branch and sakuras drizzled over the grass. "I wanted her to learn her lesson. She can be a little cruel in her own way. As far as being your consort, she needed to develop her grace in court alone. She grew up significantly."

Kaname's eyes turned pitched back. "You didn't come to praise her." He snatched.

"I came because of you." She said simply. "Eliminating the Elders Council and Cabinet completely, really?"

"What other solution is there?" Kaname rasped in the still wind. Underneath him, his city sat like a remote Utopia, peacefully hushed and blanked in layers of clouds.

Yet, within the silence he sensed disquiet buzzing between grass fields, penetrating on chariots in streets, peeling down skyscrapers and homes of billions of vampires. Lives—lives he was responsible for, lives he ought to protect and keep forever. They were lives his ancestors strived to guard. Lives he could not neglect. If he was one person who changed the meanings in the palace by marrying a noble woman who was deemed a Sacrifice, then surely he was also the same person who could transition the horror of his city into a haven it deserved to be.

Surely he could.


"The Council and Cabinet that lost faith in me and let themselves become pawns, it can't continue." The quality of his voice felt unfamiliar to him, and for a long time, Kaname thought it wasn't he who had spoken.

"Perhaps erasing them was rewarding, but what will you do now? People are still losing faith in you. Will you raise your hand on them too?"

"No." He could all but say. They were innocent and they deserved to thrive as long as they wanted.

Shizuka moored her gaze over the buildings and streets. "Show them you won't. Yuuki is doing what she's qualified to do. In order to desist from Rido's attack, strengthen your people and Hunters Association. Allow them to have the security they desire to prosper. In the time ahead, Kaname, they'll expect you to finish him off. They hold you responsible for this."

She searched the mountains and hilltops. "If he's not here, he's gone to build his siege elsewhere. If he wants to fortify himself, he'll build and rebuild himself until he's immune to all attacks. The nature of this preparation insists on time, plenty of it. I'm the only person who can sense his blood like it's my own because it's bound to me. So go to your wife and comfort your people. You'll know immediately about his location when I'm done here."

Kaname smirked icily at the great woman. "I won't accept your help."

"This matter doesn't depend on your decision." She reminded, her words cryptic as the underlining shadow in her eyes. "I can bring him here from wherever the hell he's hiding. Until then, Kaname," Her slender fingers contacted the chains glittering from his lapels. "Fortify your borders and seal him in this city with Hunters magic. You will kill him then."

• * •

The Kiryuus were the start of the Hunters Association. The brothers' late father had assembled the finest and truest hunters he could find and constituted them with the rights to eliminate noxious creatures that haunted the living. Lord Kuran dispatched generous funds for the Association to persist their outward control, and as of recent adjustments, the need for hunters was logical and imperative.

Yuuki summoned hunters from all countries, almost all of those in alliance with the Japanese kingdom materialized. At the unsightly news of a pureblood's impact on their council and cabinet, overseas Hunters Association suggested additional compliance plans to contain the creature promptly. Even hunters who lived and warred for years had seen examples of pureblood control and negativity. They attested some were good while others, not so much.

Ichiru wished the Association was pumped with power more than four years ago, when the Kurosus were murdered in their homes across the city under disguised orders of the king, and later revealed it was plotted by the amoral Head of Council, Asato Ichijo. Even to this day, he couldn't stop from flinching at the memory of Juuri and Haruka's ashes piled in the hallway. They had fought till the very end of their lives, never swooping for a moment of peace and vanished like ephemeral dreams.

He had been kept from supporting the Association's manifestations and suppressed himself in the Kurosu household for over a year. It was for the inscrutable pounds of messages seeping from Haruka's personal phone line, which hadn't been aborted. After Haruka's sudden death, his property and possession was given to the Kiryuu brothers. Ichiru had been spending a great amount of time living with the couple before their demise.

The more he listened and waited in the gaps of the messages, the deeper and impatiently he delved for the source. For starters, the messages came in every three months from blocked numbers. As he traced Haruka's phone lines to uncover the source, he came to an abrupt discovery. A paralyzing discovery that elated and made him want to cry out; he had to tell someone of his findings, someone who could keep it.

His relationship with Zero began to mend after Asato's death, nevertheless, he was cautious of his blood brother every now and then. Questions about his associations and whether he guarded secrets for his and Yuuki's sake like before. After the screening, Ichiru decided to divulge.

"I found someone you wouldn't believe." He said to his brother across the parlor.

Zero was looking over some documents in his hands. He looked up sternly and lifted a brow.

"After Haruka-sama's death, I kept his phone. It never rang but I wanted to keep it anyway."

Zero rubbed his temples and shut the folder. "I'm going to sleep." He trekked toward his bedroom.

"Recently I've gotten messages. They're not long but they come at random times." Ichiru worriedly turned around as his brother strode out. "It's important, Zero. You'd want to hear it out."

"Who is it?" He scoffed.


Life around Zero froze.

• * •

Lord Kuran lingered on the threshold of the office, hesitation nibbled his conscience, and he recounted the previous scene where his emotions cracked open his firm façade as he'd demonstrated the veracity of his rage. In the fit of ire, he'd sputtered meaningless things, something along the lines of —'you're nothing to me.'

On his immediate left, Lord Aidou made a flagrant show of his unpracticed throat and cleared it with reverberations that ate at Lord Kuran's bones.

He looked sideways at his comrade, who lowered his fist from his mouth and blinked sparkling blue eyes. "You should drink cider." The Great Great King haphazardly proffered, "I have an enumerable amount in my cellar. I'll send you a carton. Late 1860s French, they're ambrosial."

"If you recommend it, I'll definitely have a taste." Replied the Lord in upbeat pretension.

"Definitely, definitely." Lord Kuran nodded. "Ah, err, and wear those knee length socks I gave you last year. They have heated pads and will keep your bones in good condition. Last I heard a subduing cold affects nobles intensely. Make sure you avoid it." He wagged his index finger in profound consideration. "You don't hold the healing potential of a stripling no more, be careful."

It was queer Lords of high caliber discussing health concerns out of nowhere.

Lord Aidou peered down at his slacks. "I wore them last Wednesday, they were effective. Where did you purchase them?"

"Oh, good you asked. My tailor has quite an eye for materials like these. He had them imported. There's this place he suggests I go where they have quality garments for the winter. We'll go there tomorrow."

"The winter is not for a while." Lord Aidou squeezed his gloved fingers. "Although I feel it's here already. Age does hideous things to the body." He distressfully muttered.

"If you take the supplements I told you about, you'll be fine."

"They work better on you than nobles." Informed Lord Aidou.

Lord Kuran scowled. "Says who? I'll give you mine then. They aren't bland. Drink them three times a day."

"One would think purebloods didn't need to take care of themselves." Lord Aidou sighed.

"I'm 14,000 years old. If I don't take vitamins, I'll be dust in no time." He grumbled. "My governess, goodness gracious, that woman was right about eating vegetables."

"If you can chew with the right dentures these days."

"Dentures?" Lord Kuran blinked twice, "They make those now days too?"

Lord Aidou nodded eagerly. "Oh yes, they make finer fangs for the right meal course."

The Great Great King waved the thought aside. "Doesn't matter. I don't really use my fangs on anyone, not even the servants. Those Blood tablets are my sole source of food. It's insulting how we're supposed to govern our hunger with those tasteless supplements. Sometimes we deserve to drink fresh blood, no?"

"But you have massive amounts of servants to take blood from." Lord Aidou reminded. "It's good to drink fresh blood occasionally. Physicians say it's good for the system."

"Ah." Lord Kuran pondered as he glanced at the ceiling. "My systems have probably forgotten how to swallow actual blood. It's been quiet a while."

"I'll have a physician prescribe you fresh blood." Lord Aidou patted all over his coat, front, back and sides for something. Once he groped what he needed, he swung it out and narrowed his eyes to pinpoint the numbers on the cell phone. "I'll give him a call right now. 7…9….0…"

Lord Kuran bent down on the screen, "What number is it?"

"I'm looking for 9." Lord Aidou tipped his head up and down on the panel, massaging the numbers carefully. "I just dialed it."

"Here." Lord Kuran pointed.

"Ah. Now 5."

"Oh." Lord Kuran frowned, opening and closing his eyes repeatedly for better focus. "Why are the numbers falling away?"

The wall of guards behind them suffocated from laughter.

"Technology is no good." Lord Aidou muttered in mutual bitterness with his comrade. "Rascals never make it easier for us."

Lord Kuran had been busy scanning the numbers with a disoriented expression. "There, I found 5." He retreated after a second to rub his pained eyes. "No wonder I ban those things from my office."

"Your eyes are better than mine." Lord Aidou eulogized.

"Eye sight that's left from old age." He sighed drearily back.


The Lords swirled around to the lithe figure leaning on the threshold of the room they had yet to enter. The queen pinned them an expected look before gesturing inside. "You're being waited upon, Lords."

Lord Kuran cleared his throat with meaning and nodded at his granddaughter-in-law. "Ah-ahem, Yuuki, um. I-" He stared off into the distance as if reading the words written on the walls. "Those words I said. And you looked scared. Ah, humm, Kaname can be some kind of ah-ahem, wiseacre."

Lord Aidou bowed his head, urging him on. "Yes, yes, indeed."

He continued with his broken ballad. "I felt things. Anger, fear, oh...worry—maybe."

"Old, old feelings. We barely have these at all nowadays." Lord Aidou empathetically provided.

"Spend time together, you need to. Oho-oho," He cleared his throat, "Been years for you and all without him around."

"Patch it up quickly." Lord Aidou nodded.

"Mistakes happen—"

"Lords!" Yuuki's authoritative voice snapped them back to real life. She promptly pointed in the room. "We're a having meeting. Inside, now."

Blankly Lord Kuran exchanged glances with his comrade, they swooped inside the room and she banged the door in the lock, the expression she adorned made her husband's grave scowls danger-proof. The Hunters Association sat on the transversal end of the table. Looking up at the newcomers, they nodded heads in acknowledgement.

The Lords seated after a brief exchange of greetings and Yuuki snapped on the projector. Lord Kuran clenched his jaw at the image flinging on the white screen.

"Rido Kuran, many of us are familiar with pureblood powers and based on his recent activities, he works extremely fast. His acumen for striking at the heart of organizations makes him all the more a lethal opponent. His last whereabouts was at the Royal Cabinet. I went there an hour later. Within that timeframe, he could've crossed cities or went north-west." She slid the indicator on the map.

Members of the Association scanned details on the report in their possessions and the map on the screen.

"Our objective is clear, ladies and gentlemen. Find this man under any circumstances."

Nods of approval overcrowded the room.

Warmth stroked her back, seeping and nestling under her clothes. She stiffened and oscillated around to confront with a wide chest. It was her favorite chest. Elation abounded within her eyes and the former sternness lost to the enveloping warmth she radiated toward the looming man.

"I didn't know you were coming. It's good you did." Yuuki murmured and stood on her toes to claim his lips.

The room passed shy glances at their documents and back at the couple.

After she withdrew and planted firmly on the ground, Kaname swallowed the room with an appreciative glance. "You'll be dispatched as soon as possible." He said to the Association, gaze lingering on his grandfather. He sorted out further details on the investigation and dismissed them to prepare for the mission.

Lord Kuran, Lord Aidou and several promising elders who fortunately didn't fall from grace sat rooted in chairs. Yuuki joined one side of the table and bowed her head toward her superior.

"I was fixed on the meeting, my earlier austerity didn't come from heart. I do apologize, Lord Kuran, Lord Aidou."

Lord Kuran rendered his grandchildren a modest smile. "Clearly after the Elders Council and Cabinet's dissolved, the remaining Lords that're faithful wonder what's left for us?"

"You'll work closely with the Hunters Association and form laws that generate equality between humans and vampires." Kaname's back glistened in the pallid reflection of the world from the window. "Prime Minister Akira deserves a visit. We can discern what are his plans from here." He passed a severe scrutiny of the room occupants. "Be on guard."

Akira had expected Kaname sooner or later. Talk about his evident crisis and fading power pervaded in lands that had nothing and yet everything to do with vampire monarchy. It was an inflicting thought to hold, a king having lost the support of his vassals. He silently quelled the urge to jeer and waited for the attendant to retreat after delivering tea.

"I heard what occurred to your council and cabinet, it's most tragic." Akira lamented.

"That's not why I'm here." Kaname succinctly enunciated. "I'm aware of the current affairs of my city and the culprit's identity. However, I don't intend to occlude my proposal from our previous encounter."

Akira casually sampled his tea and held the pureblood's red-eyes. "Ah, yes. Let's go along with it. While you were busy with your affairs, I prepared medical teams and researchers to help with the acquisition. How did you want to approach the matter? Human ailments can't alleviate without pure blood, and you said to avoid it."

"There are other methods to go about these things." Kaname answered and shifted back in his seat, eyes steeled on the Prime Minister. He tipped a brow and set a knuckle against his elegant jaw line as he added. "You didn't happen to consume pure blood, did you? The consequences are irreversible and your city will be endangered."

Akira smirked over his reflection in the tea. "One way or another, I want our research to keep men alive longer and healthier. If there is one thing I can trade between vampires and humans, it's the versatility to heal faster." He paused and set the cup back. "Let's cut to the chase. What's the method you had in mind?"

Kaname's elusive scrutiny panned the private room before embedding on the man. "I'll remind you of the consequences of drinking pure blood, my Prime Minister. You'll be subservient toward a pureblood all of your existence, if bitten your DNA will coagulate attributes common on Level Es. If not, you'll be potent but all the more irresistible to a pureblood's control."

His mouth curled in rivaling disgust and from across the table, Kaname shared the sentiment.

"How despicable we are, purebloods. Truly loathsome!"

"Let me assure you, you've nothing to worry about." Akira shifted on his cushion, hassling with his tie.

"I'll give you my serum at the last resort. The part that filters my anti-pathogen agents and reinforces inhuman immunity and healing abilities." He said.

"This is interesting." Akira marveled. "Usually we use this method on animals. Clearly you're avoiding my question again."

Kaname cruelly grinned against his knuckle, his fangs sparkling. "We are animals. I'll only send it if there is no other choice. There're more ways to heal humans too."

"You never fail to intrigue me." He whispered. "How many ways are there?"

"Several." Kaname moved back his chair and claimed his height. "Drinking blood is no longer prominent. This was how we increased our sustained population and avoided making servants. Need I add there're vampires who also don't have the ability to heal like humans? You're not the only one. The gift of healing was granted to the originators of our kind. It was not to make us powerful, it was to protect, not us, but in act of procreation and laying the immortal bite on another, it was to grant those who were weak protection with our blood."

Absently his mouth hitched in a scornful smile. "Some preferred power over protection instead."

Akira assessed the floor uncomfortably. "I...See. Not all of you are the same. Power isn't everything to some of you." Gradually he studied at Kaname, mockery nonexistent. "This is why you're different." He smiled quietly all of a sudden. "I think I understand you better now."

Kaname had already turned to the door and was stepping out. "We will discuss the conference dates in the future." He left the building unarmed and solitary, strode the streets and seized attention as he habitually did so and came to a stop at the appointed site.

Yuuki was waiting in one of the rooms among patients impatient on admission. Her head picked up from her book and she turned automatically around, feeling him inch in her direction through streets and doors. The entrance fished open and Kaname slipped after a train of observant humans. He politely cast nods at their abject scrutiny and ignored remarks on his looks once Yuuki flashed into eye range.

She smiled softly as he came to her side. "Looks like he agreed."

"Did you expect him not to?" He replied in mild curiosity and passed shimmering red eyes upon walking humans.

"No." Yuuki frowned and stood up. "I figured he'd want any type of assistance. He's desperate. I heard he persistently asked for help from other countries. The Council of Ancients was uneasy." Her white fist clamped his sleeve and her tensed eyes beckoned his downward into hers. "If I were desperate to revolutionize medicine, I wouldn't be patient. I'd find it somehow."

She was perceptive, he approved and leaned daringly close to her rosy cheeks. "To think my delicate wife has vicious thoughts is surprising."

"Not vicious." Her fingers uncoiled and dropped. Yuuki lifted her soft face and said in a low, sultry whisper that made him weak-kneed. "Just a precaution." Her eyes held a mysterious glow. "Go, do what you wanted to do."

Kaname assembled his thoughts and regarded the area. "It would've been wiser to come when they weren't…lively."

"It's a hospital. It's always busy." She patted him on the back assuredly. "It's now or never."

His hand slipped between them and grasped onto hers. She saw him pick up on the security establishments in each corner, the arrangement behind the windows leading to halls incumbent with patients, young and old, all which were diseased. When he first took a step, he disabled the cameras in each department. Then through the private doors they went, pushing to the back of the building and near rooms. Kaname came to a pause in a hallway.

She had never seen him use tremendous energy as his power emanated and dropped festers of antibodies through touch on normal appliances; take the door, cart or chair. Suddenly a flash of his energy spurted through halls, directly contacting individuals inside. The healing would take mere hours but it would be successful. As he proceeded from one level to the next, the smell of death and disease enhanced. He did as much as he could. Healing all persons, without touch or those coming in ephemeral vicinity, like a simple brush of his sleeve turned them immune.

Yuuki looked up to his haggard but fatigued profile. Fortunately she called the chauffeur to the border. A possibility of self-transportation was risky. She disfavored Kaname dropping unconscious out of exhaustion. Once he was seated, his head rolled against the cushion, eyes shut.

A day later news of a miracle washed over the city.

Akira folded his arms as he looked out of his window. "It was that pureblood." He murmured to none but his own reflection in the glass. "He works differently than the other one."

"Akira-sama." His secretary stepped to the table and laid a folder under the light. "The stat on the patients."

One glance at the folder and his internal thoughts cringed. "Is he a king or what?" He snorted. "I've never known a pureblood that eager to help humans. He has proved his efficiency already."

"Shall we send more information on the conference reservations?" The secretary moved cautiously to the door.

"Go ahead." Akira grinned. "By the way, how is our guest holding up?"

His secretary smiled over his shoulder. "Better than you imagine. He is taken by our services."

• * •

The blade retracted from the wood, and the sound of chirping birds rippled from somewhere above. He could feel the earth turn tender beneath the glazing sun but there was something else in the skies. The tangoing clouds melted away and the cerulean chart spread its arms and legs further and further until his eyes couldn't afford to search the universe.

He stilled and peered at the northern trees, tingling in sun-spray, and leaned in the direction of the southern lake, colliding and rolling uncontrollably against itself. Then he thought he had grown quiet old and lonely for a human-turned-vampire. Living in the forest of the king's territory, cutting wood in the twenty-first century before arranging his fireplace for the night. His daily routine of stirring a pot over the stove, cracking open blood tablets and fusing left-over food to sate his belly and curling on his chair in front of the fire while his cold bed sat neglected for years.

The wind whispered sinisterly in his ear, bating him from his tasks. He waved away the noisy temptation and swung the axe until two pieces abruptly plopped to the ground. He regarded them for a long time and continued working. Suddenly the blades of the axe slid off the handle. He gaped open-mouthed at the durable tool he had been implementing for nearly two centuries.

Was it bad luck? Sometimes superstition got the best of him. He decided the day would tarnish before sunset and he'd ought to be careful going about his business. As he glanced at the steep hills and sunlight tangled between evergreen trees, he breathed in the crisp freshness of wood, grass and wild flowers. The king and his queen hadn't been around for a certain period, and word circulated they were busy visiting citizens every day in private, supplying advise on how to protect themselves from the threatening pureblood.

He glared at the grass around him. The identity of the said pureblood was not lost on him. Stooping down, he gathered the wood and stacked them against the shelter of his house. The river tickled in the background, summoning him unusually. He thought no harm in the venture and went afoot. Knowing each twist and bend of the forest was to his advantage and he could never get lost.

He stopped next to the stream and leaned in, tasting and splashing water on his face.

"What's this? A woodsman has come to drink from my pond?"

Haru fleetingly shot to his feet, his speed electrifying as the grass beneath him quivered.

"What punishment shall I bestow for drinking without permission?" Shizuka's lengthy legs were wedged deep in the stream and her robes spread vastly in a circle, connecting opposite banks. Her milky hair sprawled down her chest, seeping in the water and turned into silver silk.

His throat dried and crumbled.

When she waved her sleeved arm luxuriated in snowy tresses, the trees feebly sputtered sakuras, raining it on her beloved and the stream. The wind leaped and soared over them. She closed her eyes, letting the earth under the stream tumble. Haru also staggered from the bank but collected himself a second later.

"My husband is tormenting the crown and the kingdom. I am here to advise my nephew. If he doesn't win against him, Haru, Rido will become king. I don't want that." She looked solidly at his hooded face where black-silvery eyes glittered, as if he had stolen moonlight and sealed them in his orbs.

"Shizu…ka." Haru whispered in disbelief.

"I'll draw him out with my blood. There's no other blood poisonous to him than mine. He expects me to watch over Kaname. I've told him already that I'll call him. I can't have Kaname lose this significant battle. So if something happens…" Her eyes softened and it seemed silver waters scarred her cheeks. "Love, don't despise. I have to die with that imbecile if it comes to be."

From the sides of his cloak, his fist coiled and disappeared inside his sleeve.

Shizuka let a smile win over her refined and cold features. "You're furious. For some reason, this makes me happy. Your fear toward my leaving this world makes my heart tremble." She locked a fist on her chest as if to keep it from escaping. "Yes, the kindness and love you whispered for years, sacrificed your humanity and waited without complaints in the darkness… You've always been good to me."

"I'll go with you." He announced.

"You'll watch over the territory." She decided. "Watch over Kaname and Yuuki. Give your shoulder to their children when they want to play and your lap to tell them my story." Shizuka squinted at the sun. "Someday I wanted to have a large family but circumstances prevented me. If I ever birthed, he'd steal the child and force him on the throne. If…If..." She breathed shakily. "Kaname and Yuuki have children, give them my blessing and love. Kaname, who grew up quickly after Sora's death, was the only child I ever loved."

Haru moved closer to the stream. "Come here."

Her face was soaked from tears. She moved toward him, cold water clenched around her skin and pressed damp clothes on her frame. Her pale fingers brushed his shoulders and her palms settled comfortably on his chest. He was warm just as she imagined.

"Make me warm, Haru." She mumbled.

He caressed her wet cheeks.

• * •

The citizens lurched from the door, deciding again and bowed repeatedly toward Kaname and Yuuki. "Ousama, Joousama, we weren't told you were coming!" They cried.

"We're checking each house to see if everything is all right." Kaname replied. His waving palm shuddered and he slipped it inside his coat.

"We didn't mean to interrupt you. We wanted to inform you there are hunters patrolling the streets." Yuuki slipped a packet from her bag. "Call this number if you want to speak to someone from the Association. There's no harm in shouting out to those guarding the neighborhood. They're at your service."

"Kindly prepare your family and children for possible intrusion." Kaname relayed. "Normal weapons have no affect and we can't properly give you access to hunter weapons."

"What should we use?" Asked the homeowner.

"The best method as of right now is to prepare yourselves for anything." Kaname replied. "We're setting up refugee camps if you have to leave homes. All services will be provided from the palace. I do have to impose on you not to travel out of country. We've secured borders and are under way of sealing the city."

The family gaped raptly. "Are we being contained?"

"As of now, we've made sure the threat is not in the city. We're sealing the city with hunter magic to fend him off. Please, don't go near borders. The whole idea is to prevent him from entering the city and reaching you."

At least the family was slightly appeased by receiving word in person from the royals.

"We'll follow directions like you ask." They said at last.

Kaname hissed under his breath as fatigue plundered into his bare bones. Millions of houses, billions of faces and innumerable meetings afterwards with the Association and paperwork with the human Prime Minister robbed him of rest. Rest his body wobbled and pined for. He couldn't sit around aimlessly and close his eyes when the city was prone to attacks. Hunters worked tirelessly but they also slept.

If he tried closing his eyes, thoughts and visions knocked him out of bed. He wandered the streets late at nights. Shed shadow spies from his body, the numbers increased by the day to watch borders and track movement overseas. There was no sight of Rido. Kain and Ruka were in the human city, analyzing the Prime Minister for hidden movements.

Humans may be less powerful but their minds weren't numbed to greed. Like Yuuki remarked, he was desperate and desired the upper hand in medicine. He could resort to any method to get what he wanted. Trust him, Kaname surely did not. Nonetheless, working with him was crucial to secure the foundation of pacifism.

He lost his footing slightly and grabbed the table in time. Kaname snaked the blood tablets from the container and dropped them in water. His numb eyes waited for the color to entwine and shoot to the surface. With the glass clutched in his hand, he picked it up to drink it immediately.

A hand launched out and knocked his glass out of the way. He looked bewildered, dizziness claiming him and stared resentfully at the splatter of red potion dribbling over the table and floor. Black hostile tainted his eyes as he glared at the fomenter.

"Yuuki!" Anger unfurled like the edge of a knife at her name. His head throbbed and he draped a quivering palm on his temple. "Uhg."

She stood unfretted by the cracking wood and the clash of glass shattering spontaneously from the table. His back aura raided corners. Were it someone else, it'd impact them and he'd let them sink in the plows of death. He felt unnerved that despite his augmented ferocity, he hadn't the will or provocation to use it on her. The power she had on him was astounding.

His fangs gritted against his lips.

"You need fresh blood, not tablets." Yuuki deduced.

His eyes narrowed monstrously upon her. "I plea for you own safety to never do that again." Kaname warned between jutting fangs.

Her lips slanted from their supple, soft line. "Ok. Sure." She nodded and merely pushed her bountiful hair over her shoulder to reveal her slender throat. "Here."

His reaction was prominent. It was in his breathing and reddening eyes, as well as the claws scrolling down the table he hovered. "Oh, Yuuki…" Kaname crooned, madness lost in the calamity of hunger. "I'll destroy you even if I gently brush you with my fangs. Allow me to stabilize my hunger with the tablets first." He begged.

"You've rejected me completely for five months." It was now her voice rising to crescendo over the office. "You can't even walk straight, let alone sleep like a normal person." Her fingers made quick work with her shirt and she peeled the material to reveal her slender chest for his impassioned eyes.

He throbbed with inviting agony at her radiance. The table under his palm cracked and frizzled to dust. His drink tray, ornaments and supplies dove in the floor into debris.

"Heavens…" Kaname palpated under the force of hunger. She moved toward him and his weaker legs couldn't maintain his weight. He slammed on his knees upon glasses and chipped wood. "I want you." One arm snatched around her waist and his dizzy eyes, anguished and malleable in desire, bleakly looked up at her. His claws anchored on her spine mechanically. Yuuki sank in front him. Kaname held her against himself.

She brushed his cheek. "I know. I know what you're going through."

His hunger was undeniable, and he pierced the flesh on her neck. His fangs dipped deep, grazing layers of skin, muscle and vein. He felt an electrocuting sensation shoot from the soles of his feet and directly in his throat once her blood filled his mouth, as if his entire body could feel it draw near his blood.

She was quintessentially vulnerable in the cradle of his arm, under his fangs and as a noble blood. He could rip out her life and devour it. But she was also his finest and truest treasure he could never trade. As he pressed her body, Kaname wavered as he lived in her thoughts and visions.

Her parents came into mind, her dear comrades, the Kiryuu, and the unquenchable but elusive silhouette of her brother whom she met and did not truly meet. Her fear dripped between his tongue, forging a path down his throat and filtering in his veins. Rido, she feared him most. Yet the thought of losing him again a second time haunted her every moment. Kaname drank her anguish as well, feasting and letting it attach to his equal agony. At last he found himself blending inside of her. He was there, floating in her thoughts and the cot of her heart.

Her arms clenched around the back of his head. "Kaname." Yuuki wheezed, eyes doubled in pain.

His need pierced the wall of restraint, dragging Yuuki with chains of hunger as he sucked her life force. She felt little and big things. Yuuki looked up to him, adored him. Sometimes she withered with a rivaling need to smack him for his thoughtless and evasive habits.

Kaname situated himself and flattened on the floor, carrying her soft form with care. His eyes watered in the receding hunger. The magic of her blood took its course to soothe his body.

Her ruby eyes wearily winked in the shadows of her long hair. During his absence, she was forced to adjust to blood tablets. As he studied Yuuki perched on him with his fingers tucking her tresses and his healing saliva glistening over the traceless wound on her neck, a swerve of emotions fastened inside his chest. And all he could think was…

Yuuki touched the edges of his lips, tracing the drops of her blood.

He loved her. Like the sky loved the earth, like mountains loved seas and like caves loved sands. He loved her and loved her and loved her.

She had grown inseparable to him over several months. Felt Kaname's presence and essence in ways she hadn't before. Even though he was absent, she could feel him revolve under her skin, wrapping himself around her bones, feeding off of her heart. She could read his thoughts and unconscious gestures. The obscurity that prevented him from her perceptibility was gradually clearing.

Her honest heart flooded her smile.

At the foot of the sincerity was appalling possession. Now that she understood the push and pull relationship, she trekked on percipients on owning him. The need was seductive and guile, tugging Yuuki by her ankles. She wanted him for herself. If her claws could imprint her ownership, she'd mark him everywhere. On his chest, his ribs, his face, his tongue, in his hair—everywhere. She'll start from the inside.

"Take my blood from now on." She whispered.

Kaname was not aloof from her meaning. The need to belong solely to one person, to bind oneself in submittal salvation. "You should know better and drink mine."

"I learned my lesson, I won't refuse you." Yuuki admitted.

He pushed himself up on his hands and she stirred to give him room. Kaname stopped inches from her mouth. "Yuuki." As if his voice had wings, it fluttered against her face.

"Mm?" She blinked sleepily back.

"I'm sorry Rido is such an oppressor."

"That's nothing new." Yuuki caught a yawn in her palm. "I was silly for thinking he could change. It's in his control, but he doesn't want to change." She cupped his cheeks and peered narrowly in his blood-shot eyes. "Are you feeling better? Don't go around collapsing from malnutrition."

"Yes, dear." He batted lashes, embarrassment knocking him off his pedestal.

She moved off of him but his arms restrained her back, forcing her flush on him. His mouth opened as he lingered on his forthcoming words. Her stomach clenched and the muscles in her thighs tingled in anticipation. He felt her prepare for anything.

"I prefer you in less clothes each time I see you." Kaname examined every pore on her face. "Scanty can't do it justice. Stark naked, all day…." His throat tightened. "Everyday."

Her lips formed an enigmatic line between a smile and a grin. "If you had maintained your stamina, I would've jumped you months ago." She spat a chuckle at the all-knowing ceiling that hovered and held in silence. "We're so occupied with the Association and press, we can't bare to promise ourselves a good nights sleep, much less…" Her nails in their wily query parted his collar and traced a ductile nipple. She looked away as color abruptly sprang on her face and neck.

Kaname bent his head and kissed her shoulder. "My sentiments exactly."

She leaned to caress her lips on his, his blood streams flinched inside and muscles jolted from the gentle sensation. As if she had pricked the tensed wires of his nerves with her claws. She kissed his forehead and fingered the long hair strands, mauling over secret pain at their length and beauteous thickness.

She decided to do something then, not to him, but for him. Something, which she meant to do a long time ago. In her office the next day, Yuuki unraveled her list of activities complied in his absence over the years. They had walked in the human city, shared an umbrella and coincidentally returned to their memorable shed. It was time for something sincere.

Takuma blinked as if dirt wedged in his eye and strolled through the green patches, averting from the paper.

"Is it hard?" Yuuki frowned at his doubtful expression.

"No, not at all." He flattened it and folded it and clenched it inside his fist. She figured he'd stuff it inside his mouth and chew it. "Just too simple."

"Does it have to be extravagant?" She gaped.

Takuma tossed pros and cons around his head. "I suppose not. You can make it more meaningful though."

"It is meaningful." Yuuki snatched it back and pressed the note possessively on her heart. "The effort is what counts."

"Kaname wants nothing but excellence." Takuma sang, wagging his finger around.

Yuuki had the urge to snap the finger between her teeth. "Suck it, Ichijo. He's lenient with me."

"As ever." He drawled with a roll of his green eyes.

She marched confidently across the garden, passing servants. "Are you going to help me or what?"

"I have no choice, do I?" He mumbled over her shoulder.

"What choice? Right Hands have no choice." She tossed back.

"I should've known his callousness would rub off on you." Takuma muttered. "By the way, you ought to check on Hanabusa. He's not taking things well lately. Ever since we started spending time together, he glares at me like he's plotting something behind my back."

"He'll grow out of it." Yuuki assured.

Takuma sighed as they came approximate to the territory. "Kaname reinforced the barrier because of Rido-sama."

"No harm in being careful." She replied and stepped under the tower of trees.

It had taken a whole day to prepare. Now, she was nervous. There was one so many moments she reminded being nervous in her life. The first she came to the palace, the second time she asked Shizuka's necklace to help her meet her Senpai, only to be chased in a circle and run into Kaname, and the third was the feeling of the plummeting aircraft—where she ended the afterlife.

This was a different kind of nervous energy, a positive, lighter but nervous nonetheless.

She fixed her dress and reviewed the room. One more look over the halls, stairs and back in the living room. Curtains flared over the deck, skipping through moonlight.

• * •

Takuma twiddled with his fingers beside Kaname, eyes planted on the black floor. "Go to the territory." He said suddenly. "There is a surprise for you."

Kaname was glaring out the window, his black brows crowned above slithering maroon eyes. "You're aware of my abhorrence for surprises."

"This one you have no choice but to like." Takuma informed.

Kaname turned his head and stared with empty eyes. "No choice?"

He nodded and shifted against the car door. "Yes."

When Kaname walked to the territory at night, he absorbed all movement that dashed from the forest. The exterior of the house was unappealing as usual, the screen doors were locked shut, he noted, and the lights were off. He hadn't been to the house since his revival and it was plain bizarre to be told without warning his presence was summoned by some divinity. He wasn't looking forward to what lay ahead. All he insisted and longed for was a nap.

A nice warm nap with his face buried in Yuuki's silky neck. He wanted rest and peace away from duties, a simple break from hassle meetings contingent on Rido's furtive motives that waged no immediate war. Citizens were being trained on using hunter magic around properties, many volunteered to work the Association and learn how to wield weapons. Another immense teethed on the imminent conference between humans and vampires.

The night breeze was free and for a stretching second, Kaname halted over the porch and regarded the stars gleaming down on him and the forest of his haven. In that moment, it seemed everything was perfect and the thought of a pureblood taunting on such gorgeous peace was nonexistent.

An exacerbated sigh tore from his lips. He turned to door; his spell defused the locks and turned the knob. The dark entrance was as it should have been, suppressed by silence and inactivity; it was as if no one had been around for ages. As he penetrated the entrance, his sleek shoes echoed over the floorboards and rugs.

Kaname eyed the portraits in the foyer and stiffened before accepting it was none but Yuuki's doing. His parent's image hung in adjacent to hers. He bent forward for another examination and unhinged the webs of memories with a light smile. He had seen the photograph before, the same one sat in the living room of the Kurosu resident years ago when he visited there with Kaoru. The couple shared a warm embrace with the red zenith exuding in the background.

He withdrew mutely and swung in caution toward the halls, his nose stung with the idyllic scent of his wife, but the quicker he resolved their distance, omnipresent gold light leaped out to hug his vision. Candles on the stairs, candles on doorways and aisles, candles draped on windowsills, hundreds lined the deck and some floated in the pond.

He beheld the vague motion of his mouth flexing open.

A shadow drifted from his right, out of the curve of the doorway and in her arms she held a large tray of fire.

Kaname gawked for an indefinite period at the flames undulating in the breeze. He stared at the bottom of the candlesticks and let out a short, unconventional but awkward scoff. It was a cake. A cake with candles—for him.

"Welcome home." Yuuki scintillated in the candle glow with a grace and softness that made his eyes saturate.

He looked from the brilliantly massive cake to her.

She ducked her eyes shyly, murmuring with a voice as fragile as the fire wavering on wicks. "I've...I've always wanted to do this for you. Welcome you home with a pleasant meal on the table, a romantic dinner for the two of us."

His eyebrows wiggled out of its trained straight lines and hooded to the center of his forehead. At the moment, he resembled a very angry statue than a surprised husband.

"We never got the chance to sit and eat alone." Yuuki nervously swallowed her throat. "Don't you like it?" A hand apprehended her around the side and curled around her bodice. She flinched worriedly as he leaned inches over the candles. "You'll get burned!"

"I'm a pureblood." His husky but traceless words silenced in the fierceness of his kiss. She swerved the tray out of the way. "Thank you, Yuuki." He murmured against soft lips, his fangs lovingly caressing her cupid's bow. "No one has ever done this for me."

She reeled back with a playful grin. "I just made the impenetrable Kaname all soft and gushy inside."

He instigated no argument to the claim and nuzzled her affectionately.

Yuuki slyly unbundled from the embrace and gestured toward the table. "Come on and eat." Sitting the cake aside, she pulled his chair and beckoned him forth. "I asked the palace kitchen for your favorite foods. I'm no expert and it is my first time cooking in large amounts, but it's the thought that counts, agreed?"

Kaname regarded the trays of food lined before him with a graceful smile. "Doesn't matter. I like anything you make."

"I don't mind criticism. Ichijo emphasized you want perfection." Yuuki scooted in her seat transversal to him. "If there're places I need to improve, tell me. I want to blow your taste buds away."

"I have distinct taste buds." He relayed while carefully draping the napkin over his lap. Now that food bestowed his vision, he was famished. "Your carnal exuberance is more than enough for me."

She smiled crookedly and a blush whimpered on her cheeks, shooting sparks in her deep red eyes that spoke of growing hunger, not for food but the individual it gazed at. "That is something to reflect on after I've confiscated your clothes."

When he slowly looked up, he would've given anything to strip her naked and make love to her on their table for his duly retaliation at her wayward tease.

"But you have to eat." A furtive purpose exploited the generous offer. "I worry what a toll your stamina is taking. You let yourself deplete from stress." Guiding the stew pot to him, she poured the contents in the bowls. "Now I finally understand what you felt when I resisted blood."

"Don't worry, Yuuki." He collected his chopsticks. "I won't forget to take care of myself. If I do, I'll feign to collapse just so you can suffocate me with attention—which I'm positive you want to do."

She added roast beef to his plate. "It's your turn to cook next time. I suffered the awful assistance of Ichijo-san. He literally burned everything he touched."

Kaname graciously appended a smile to the statement. "Not all noble men are apt in everything." He sure was no cook. Multiple flavors saddled his tongue and plunged his throat. He stiffened and murmured. "It's good."

The dinner was unsurpassable, one Kaname would remember for the rest of his days. They stepped over the deck with wine glasses and listened to the unreachable carols of the wind. Whatever comfort and peace they obtained in the comforts of the territory was gone the following morning when both hustled from one organization to another, balancing press and the Association.

• * •

"Alive?" Zero asked. "Kaien—our oji-san?" At Ichiru's wordless nod, he drifted in a chair and searched the floor. "How did he escape?"

"We'll never know." Ichiru spoke with silent tears. "He didn't care to stipulate details, and I found no reason to query. Knowing he's alive is sufficient. He was hiding from the Elders Council. Recently he found out the organization is defunct and h—"

"Contacted Haruka-sama, but why?"

"He was desperate to know if they survived. Learning anything new, good or bad, was fine."

Zero glared at his twin. "Where is he?"

"He won't disclose." Ichiru rubbed his forehead. "I doubt he'll ever come back to Japan again."

Zero looked at the curtain falling against the window, like the wind sighed and turned dormant. "He's the finest hunter in existence, Ichiru. We need him."

• * •

The shadow spies screeched and swarmed over her head. She stunted them with a graceful swing of the rod. Her reflection glistened on the water surface. Hurriedly Yuuki thrust another blow to the elusive silhouette. Kaname's worn out spies were beginning to be less challenging. She inspected the red-eyed creatures plopped on the grass and vanished into black smoke.

His accumulation of spies surveyed each alley and border nonstop, and the effort was mentally draining. Yuuki closed Artemis and clenched her gloved fingers on the handle.

"I thought I heard Yuuki here a few days ago. She looked busy, and I didn't intrude." Whispered the shadowy trees.

Yuuki looked up in the direction and crept closer to the aisle of trunks and blinked, staggering at the sight of the elderly man sitting on a rock, which hadn't been there moments prior. "Oji-san!"

"What were you doing the other night? The place was lit with candles." He remarked.

"Oh." A film of red filled her cheeks. "I made dinner for Kaname. We never had the chance to eat together, alone."

A long finger slid away from the hood. "Ages ago, I heard women fancied these things." Then he turned around. "Shizuka is here. You kept trying to contact her, I thought you should know."

Yuuki geared eyes on the forest, as if looking for the woman between trees. "How is she doing? She must've been surprised about Rido."

"She came because of him." Haru towered Yuuki like the very trees and mountains he loved. "She wants to bless your children."

"Heh?" Yuuki blurted. "We have none."

"Which is why she encourages you to make some soon."

She began tracing designs on the soil with her boot. "Babies don't precede the making." She felt him scowl. "We're busy and Kaname is all over the place." She added. "Not in person but with spies."

He chuckled suddenly, "We are alike. Whisked out of public, from our previous lives to belong to one person. Always hidden, kept in secret, and in turn we do what we possibly can for that person." Black glittery eyes ghosted over her form and relaxed on Artemis. "Sometimes to please them, sometimes to comfort and give them a peace of mind. We've been living like this for a while."

"I was never forced to do anything Kaname wanted."

"That is how it is. We were never forced, you and I." Haru stared at the world above. "It was of our own will we decided to stay and cherish them. We wait and listen, we think and despise, often despair over their actions."

Leaves drizzled and fluttered around Haru. His eyes widened on the sunny fragrance rummaging his senses and peered at Yuuki amusedly. "Scent of happiness…" He whispered to himself in realization. "Yes. In the end, we are truly at peace with them. Aren't we?"

Yuuki sighed and twisted her fingers in the wind, vines glided out of her skin and knotted into a pale lily. She offered him the blossom. "In the time we have, it's important to be happy with each other. If we are not around, what do you think will happen to them? They…" Her eyes listlessly fingered the pond. She saw herself talking to the wind as he was inside the shadow, inside trees and not a normal person with a reflection. "They have all the time in the world and still can't cope."

A stable hand sprung lightly over the distance for the blossom. "I should return. Lately she wants to be smothered." His shoulders floated under the vibrations of laughter. "She can be cute."

Yuuki couldn't imagine that side of Shizuka, the notoriously cruel and cold pureblood who spurned her at every chance she had. Yet Haru knew a side of her no one knew. Just like she was familiar with Kaname's gentleness unknown to the world.

"There is someone for everyone I guess." Yuuki smirked and turned away.

A gleam of fangs merged from his shoulder and he disappeared beneath the clove of shadows.

There was practically no signs or news of Rido. Not only hunters but also citizens grew frustrated. How much longer could one be ready for attacks? How much preparation could one invest? The city outdid them-selves by honing hunter magic, sealing the city with the exception of communicating with Akira and company for the conference. Months froze and melted and work continued to take priority over personal lives.

Yuuki dropped the pen and craned her head against her wrist. Reports never concluded, neither did her appetite. She was thirsty and hungry all the time. The tasteless blood tablets could only satisfy her for minutes. The change in her was obdurate as ever, and the streaks of crimson resided in everything she looked at. She was craving, and her body had evaded it as long as it could. Each moment hunger eroded scarps of control. Her stomach convoluted with itself and her nerves itched like missiles waiting to take off.

She couldn't bypass it with tablets and sometimes weakened under the constraint of venereal impulse. His eyes would narrow over the desk, reading eloquent desire in her body language. Occasionally he happened to undo buttons around his collar for better visibility of his neck and throat, an unsaid coaxing to inspire her into action. His new petition that she help him dress after showers occasioned an inerrant show of his absolute physique. The same physique she thought of possessing.

Were it up to her, she'd lock him in a dungeon and tend to him each night. For all eternity he would beg for her devotion, for her hands, for a caress of her hair, solely for her.

Sometimes from her pillow, she could hear him whisper in her ear. "Why do you deny it?"

In a few hours passing, she'd stir from thoughts of him between her thighs in the dark of the room. The sound of his suckling her dew hymned with the breeze falling from the window. She would sigh in her want for him.

They settled permanently in the territory at her counsel, reducing much interaction with strong-willed servants. Lord Kuran procured control over the innings and goings of the palace. They visited weekly to have dinner with the family. The remainder of the time was split working, often not seeing each other for weeks or cooking together in the kitchen. In recent times, they dropped from fatigue over chairs and tables, too exhausted to hike upstairs to their bedroom.

It was always amusing when one caught the other sneaking sleep. Kaname was found one too many times catnapping with reports in his lap by Yuuki and Takuma. As for Yuuki, she had affairs with her desk in the office every night now.

Tonight, no. Now it's all going to change. Was it too much to ask for quietness? There was no such thing as caffeine for vampires.

With a stiff frame, she swung in her seat and glared at the hindering phone line. If she desired peace—among other proceedings—with Kaname, she'd do it now without regrets.

Her fangs flashed at the outlet. Without regrets, I'm going to take what's mine.

Her hands dipped through air and unplugged the wire. Was it wrong to pine for him as much as she did? They were not normal beings and depended on another's blood, but he was in every part of her it was normal to covet him so hopelessly.

She pulled out of the office quietly and worked through each room of the house. Sealing windows, clasping doors of the deck, drawing curtains and in the foyer. I have no reason to feel afraid.

Calmly Yuuki turned the door lock and tied the chain. She eyed the coat hanger and snatched it, bridging it with the lock and entrance further. No reason at all. The library was locked soon after as was backyard entrance.

Her steps spoke of strength, of ability, echoed the desperation kneading her entire being. She was not afraid but her heart banged sharply against her chest, nearly diving out of her body if it wanted.

Yuuki halted in front of the door, the lamplight inside cascaded over her heels. She inhaled the soft aroma that slipped illicitly from the room to the halls. Every inch of her shook like separate pieces.

He is mine.

She opened the door of the smaller library. Gold splattered the shelves, rug and wooden floor. His chaise faced the fireplace, positioned away from the entrance. Her stomach knotted in the traveling fervidness spiraling down the middle of her chest to her lower belly.

He is mine. The door slapped in the lock. In the treading silence, she wanted to laugh with the world behind her back. She had jealously locked every entrance and opening to the house, impounded them in safe solitude. Exactly as they needed.

And I am his. Yuuki drew steadily from the door, the sound of her shoes quaint but firm. He didn't stir or indicate having heard. The buoyant fire rustled within the walls of the hearth, yearning for escape from prison. Where instincts reigned, words became redundant. Kaname was superior in the waiting game. He hadn't touched her or pursued physical aspirations unless at her discretion.

His body instinctively tensed under her loom. Her fingers crept through his hair, pushing locks from his delectable flesh. Without turning, he stiffened in the heat of her mouth. Her lathering tongue relaxed him a second later as it circulated the plaint texture. Two piquant fangs plunged until his flesh touched her roof and the bottom fangs clung to support the pooling blood in her mouth.

He flooded her like geyser, rushing forcefully down her throat and brimming her core. Yuuki feasted for ten seconds, securing two gulps and inhaled the saccharine scent residing in her mouth, now being sucked by her own bloodstreams.

She circled his chair and he seemed to move an inch, lifting enervated eyes from the pages of his book. Her lips had colored from his blood. Earlier he sensed her move from corner to corner of the house until she made a complete u-turn to his room. He studied her intently, her cheeks dark and eyes trembled for control, as if she was forcing herself to be passive. Her bite healed but her wet lips opened to sip warm air and once again, he was given the secret but suppressed sight of her vermillion shaded fangs, of which outside world never witnessed to this day.

Kaname clutched his book. There was something in her eyes. No longer bridled but two infernos engaged in longing. Her shoulders bumped ever so slightly against the still air as they rose to breathe. Steadily he found his own chest expand and shrink. Even though she didn't close the distance, he felt as if she launched on him, or towered him. He sat without words as she slipped her hands under her dress.

Bands felt with fingers and motioned down from the hooks of her thighs to the slimming narrowness of knees. The lacy garment pooled on her heels, glistening wet from her dew and the smell awashed Kaname like a tidal wave. Instantly his eyes shot up to her unblinking features. They were soft but focused, controlled but stormy. The book that lay in the definite confines of his grip dropped on the floor, certain now than ever it was not superficial but sensual hunger.

She wanted him. Blood or no blood, just him. All of him.

His throat constricted as thoughts dived in the possibility of reaching the moment their bodies could achieve salvation from union. His starved gaze followed the meandering of her hands as they withdrew under the dress again.

She soaked her fingers in her dew and offered it to him, dressing the liquid on his lips. His tongue feverishly caught the sweet slaver and devoured them on contact. Kaname's mouth opened for more and licked the entire length of her fingers, finishing any remnants. He sat up when her hands fell on his chest, dripping like hot stones over the musculature in vicinity. Her touch turned rough and impatient. Suddenly buttons spurted over his legs and floor.

Trapped, Kaname clamped the armrests, the wood snapped and cracked.

Yuuki looked up narrowly at the pressure of his hands. He squeezed wavering breath through fangs and clipped mouth at her sultry stare.

She shoved his shirt apart to lather her palms over his breasts, massive rib cage and slender torso. She moved without caution and confidence, alarming but assuring him a great deal.

Yuuki unfastened his belt and shoved her hands inside his pants. He fell almost immediately inside her palms, soft and warm, stretching and peeking from the gates of his undergarments. Her eyes closed in memorization of his length. He was exquisite, long and thick, always pushing her to her limits.

I missed this.

She squeezed him with her fingers, held his length and expressive heaviness firmly. His tip propelled silk moisture, milking her hand. She rubbed it with her thumb, drawing more of the creaminess.

It's been so long, almost cruel how long it has been.

He shivered inside his shell, unable to contain the pyro-like wrath brimming his loins. Completely divested in her hands, in the security of her palms, Kaname watched with widened eyes and clenched teeth as she crawled on top of him. Her velvet thighs peeked out of her knee-length dress and secured around his waist. His ever so acute senses and intuition with the world deafened and numbed at the mere thought that she was naked underneath. Her wet cunt rubbed on him.

When he plucked his claws from the armrest, the attachments shriveled to dust. He anxiously twitched beneath her when she lowered her divine lips on his nipples, pinned them between teeth and tugged them. He let out a bovine grunt from his throat. Her tongue lashed and whipped and danced on his creamy skin. Kisses, soft and harsh, deposited down his waist. Yuuki slid her thigh and clenched them again around his waist.

He stiffened hurriedly in reaction, impatient and restless, robbed from words and logic at what was happening. Things inside of his body were ripping, unhooking, disconnecting quickly. He was letting go of thought and submerging in a hurricane of lust. Desire, sharp like razors slowly crawled from his legs, cutting through his limbs, abdomen, and bones. In the near suddenness of the stinging and digging razors, the world blanked. His fangs slid through his lips and hung eerily outside.

He wanted her. He'd made sure she knew that. He'd take her. He'd have her.

Yuuki melted down his waist like running water, its current as its will and stopped promptly on his member. Kaname grabbed her arms, claws ruthlessly spoiling skin but she clenched him in her hands tight, his eyes rolled back and head slammed on the cushion. He heaved in the growing tightness of her fingers. They were not damaging but the sensation was similar to the channel in her womb.


His disoriented eyes sailed from the disarrayed ceiling downward, where his wife was posted between his knees. He plunged to full length in no time. Yuuki brushed her soft lips on his tip. He flinched and quivered unnaturally, distinctly weak at the sight—at the thought of her mouth even near his genitalia.

She made him watch as her lips formed a remarkable O and drew him inside her mouth.

He cried automatically, blabbering her name like a confused oaf who had gone lost sailing. She sucked voraciously, uninhibited. The smooth lining of her mouth rubbed him back and forth, she bobbed him close to the back of her throat. Kaname stared, his lips, a tarnished line, as Yuuki pulled him out and brushed the surface of her teeth on his sensitive skin. She kissed underneath the base, her nose adding a new sensation each time she crept closer. Again he found himself locked fast inside her mouth.

Yes, he had gone sailing, lost his boat, his crew. Kaname swallowed a groan in the suction. He was completely at her mercy. Shaky breaths sprinkled out of his panting mouth. His eyes squinted and dizzily searched around him for something, some sanity, something to latch on, a memory to help him reign increments of control or else he'd slam repeatedly in her mouth and splurge.

Yuuki sensed him fight with himself. It was in his cringing expression, the frequent jerking of the face and the cushions gnawed by his claws on his sides. His arousal was at its peak, like a bold sword raked by her tongue and vacuumed by the muscles of her mouth. He lurched forward and she could feel large amounts of his seed flex and spill accidently.

Kaname bared his fangs at her. Where did she learn this? Who taught her—h-how?

Her sucking mouth made a slick pull, aligning a pucking sound. She set back and gathered him with her eyes. Sweat decorated his temples, his shirt withered agape and the skin of his chest was smeared in an ethereal glow. The sound of his shallow breathing spurted, each blow of breath smacked the fire across the room.

Yuuki tucked him inside her mouth again. He made a nervous sound, peering worriedly and she knew he was seconds from spilling. She licked him instead, caressing him with taste buds, a calming motion that helped him ease back hesitantly. Until she shoved him back in her mouth and squeezed him between the inner linings, her fingers reached beneath the shaft to play with the testes. He was extremely beautiful there.

Kaname pushed his forehead against a fist in frustration. He couldn't take it anymore. He was about to explode.

Uncontrollably he yanked Yuuki from himself. Her eyes collected a dark and uncharitable color. The power of his arms snaked her off the ground. His chilling countenance spoiled no nonsense but plain apoplectic lust. Kaname chained his fingers on her wrists, his second hand grasping her soft thigh and tugged her on his lap. Her foot stuck against the chair, throwing her forward. An impact that came invited by Kaname and his impatience. He made fluid work assembling her on top of him, his penile tip aligned to her vagina.

He was solid hard against her, brimming with secretions from her ministrations and from contacting her flush lips. She could only blink and blink again as Kaname hiked her dress to her hips, the material bunched over her highs and his large palm drifted around her rear, massaging firm muscles.

He did not wait. He absolutely could not but she rubbed herself insistently against his shaft, taunting and all the more suggestive.

Kaname gasped against her scapula, eyes narrowed and emotive as they lanced over her shoulder to the bubbling fire. She breathed loudly in her continuous assault, rocking and moving her hips in circles. Yuuki leaned firmly on him, forcing her weight on the column of his chest. His searching hands cruised trails of red with claws over her thighs and ass.

His eyes met hers for unspeakable seconds, her brow pressed to his temple and their lashes wiggled against each other. Kaname hooked his fingers around her thigh, his claws digging in the hidden flesh underneath and pulled her a slithering inch toward his tip. She hadn't prepared herself. Her hands lay loose on his shoulders when he jammed scathingly inside of her channel.

She clenched his shoulder, the other flinging to his hair but he continued to penetrate her wet tube. Yuuki flinched and twisted in pain, shrinking out of the way. He gravitated with speed, with brusque exertion that she toppled over his lap. He went with her on the floor, diving in their half-joined expedition and landed on her. Yuuki widened her thighs, grunting in her throat and felt him pierce the skintight walls that missed and wanted him for years.

She panted, her breaths coming out in soft wails from the pressure he implemented with his frame. She lay tethered to Kaname in the most inescapable and defiling positions. Kaname fixed his claws on her hips as he thrust deeper and deeper, wedging past the solid close, which had sown and filled when he wasn't there. His large eyes took in her open-mouthed and flamed-cheeked face. She stunned him with her aroused stare and hair sprawling on the wooden floor.

He filled her until the end, until he couldn't thrust any further.

Oh Yuuki closed her eyes. So deep, so so deep.

Kaname stilled in her limits, savoring the crawling skin of her tube, the dripping wetness against his testes and luscious columns of her inner thighs draped around his hips. He looked at her unblinkingly. Her eyes were closed as she enveloped his breadth, her walls internally convulsed as they tightened and seemed to move around him with the vibrations of her heart.

Finally. He sighed over her. Her eyes stirred open from the breeze.

They didn't remember it being this excruciatingly good before.

Yuuki studied the hair locks dangling around his severing eyes. He regarded her with spellbinding hunger. She slid her thighs higher, anchoring them around his ribs. The motion dragged Kaname inward another inch, and he shuddered in the utter scorching softness of her haven that was meant solely for him.

She seemed to tighten her muscles unbeknownst to herself, a rebounding sensation fired and trapped inside of them. She grunted passionately as her muscles latched onto him. His eyes widened in the grip and she lifted her head, heaving as she pulsed on him.

Kaname lifted her off the floor and plunged in the wetness, he rolled downward and she pushed back, creating a friction as his tip collided with an incurable electrical fire of her womb. Kaname's mouth came open at the throttling sensation that wrecked him on his knees. His fingers around her thighs tensed. He wanted to come. He wanted to come fast right now. She sat up on her hands, her thighs dripped lazily around him, thrusting roughly.

He slammed her down hard, craving her on the floor as he pounded to an irrevocable rhythm. His fangs attached to her neck as their hips spurred in a race. Yuuki pulled him in friskily, her arms caught around his back as he dug inside of her deeper. She wheezed under him, the floorboards groaning in the repetitive movement.

Kaname stiffened above her, prying off his fangs and loosened his hands on her thighs. Her hips plummeted to the ground. She could hardly control her breathing. Kaname callously ripped her dress. Materials flew, seams tattered and tossed every which way, jewelry flung about, even the divine laciness of her bra. She bit down on her lip and groped the mouth of his pants, tugging the last of his clothes.

For a second, he slipped out of her and she clawed down his slacks, ripping and snarling as she did so. The dark garments were disposed, and he hugged her thighs to his waist once more. Impulsively Kaname snapped off her heels and chucked them across the room.

The shoes went sailing ferociously and embedded on the door.

His large and forceful hands pulled her legs up and thrust into her frantically. Yuuki fidgeted underneath, spiraling and bending her spine each time he filled and retracted. Her claws skittered over the floor, scraping, hovering between boards and rug ends, groping for an anchor. She grabbed the foot of the chaise, her croons muffled under the shadow of her arm from his boiling tempo.

She wrestled to keep herself silent, wrenched her lips between fangs but they snapped open in howls and moans. Kaname hung her ankles on his shoulders. Rooted on his knees, he pelted in her sheath, bruising the coiled muscles of her core. His own noises were no different than hers. Harsh, violent and truculent hums rumbled out of his throat.

His eyes turned sable in the flimsy firelight. Yuuki threw her arm back, he grabbed her breasts in the power of his fists. Hunching over her, Kaname propped one and feasted on a prepped nipple. His mouth passionately bristled over her body. Over her shoulders, bendable breasts, down her ribcage and waist. Drizzling scars from fangs and creasing the body with layers of healing saliva. He was not gentle, not once. Her body whimpered under his pureblood fangs, recognizing them in their aroused state.

Still, Yuuki heaved and jostled angrily into him, loving each time his sac of testes slapped into her and the pinching of muscles in fierce spasms as he tore her insides. Feeble croons bounced from the bottom of her throat.

Kaname bit the region where her whimpers invoked, like a lion putting its quarry to eternal silence. Yuuki pushed her head back, her eyes shut in marveling desperation. The sound of her naked skin squeaking on the ground merged with groaning boards.

She gave one thrust and an epic screech bellowed. Her climax expelled forcibly, milking Kaname's penis with smooth substance. It dripped against his thighs and knees. They mated like animals, lost but free in the tempestuous taiga, without names or titles, like it was their first and last time. Kaname's growl shot like a surging bolder dropping in shallow waters. He pinned her hips to the floor, not allowing her to thrust but only receive his penetrations.

He had waited so long to do this, nearly given up and stopped hoping. He was unstoppable with his lust painted moves and touches. Yuuki hoarsely shrieked in reciprocation, a film of blood smeared on her breasts.

In an instant, his large burly hands smashed into the floor around her head, shattering wood and creating holes. The windows quivered and sprang apart. The fire in the hearth sizzled from the force of his call. Furniture's chucked from places and the glass coffee table next to the chaise shattered just as Kaname gorged her vagina with his semen.

Yuuki rubbed herself anxiously against his wet chest, sweat, saliva and blood swapped. Her claws clung to his sides, aligning her-self up to equate his thrusts. Their chests bumped and glided in the maniacal ride. His mouth soared over the distal curve of her shoulder, hungrily scarring her barely healed breasts that seemed to perk each time in the presence of his fangs. It was a bizarre reaction, they were so lusciously molded on her chest, bounced again and again from his thrusts, sporting studded nipples that were decorated by his teeth, as if they felt his emanating power and frenzied lust.

Her ribs were another measure of incredulous fascination. Perhaps it was the way he shoved her against the floor or how she arched her body in the reign of pleasure, but each slender bone peeled to the superficial surface, exerting out of her body to be touched by him. As he held himself over Yuuki, panting under the reverberation of their corybantic thrusts, he found he loved them. How they swept around her body and melted far in her spine, how they crossed starkly under her supple breasts, and how despite their narrowness, they felt strong under his teeth. His fangs raked down one side of her hip, biting violently on the broadening curve next to her lumbar.

She fidgeted in the searing pain of his fangs. He drank her blood, rubbed his face in the red potion that justified life, love, sanity and insanity to him. Kaname peered down at Yuuki sprawled beneath him, helpless to his actions, divine as a forgiving monsoon, teasing in the erotic testimony of lovemaking. He flung her thighs further out to free his cycling motion, but he became distracted by the sight.

Her, with her eyes clamped shut, a definite furrow on her glabella in fixated pleasure. The skin on her temple and neck was wet, and loudly the floorboards squeaked under her hips. His lover, his wife, his other half, he could do what he wanted to her. She had submitted to him like melted stones in sculptor's hands. No one on earth could have her as he did.

Kaname retracted from her, feeling his knees wobble in the sound of her gasp. Her thighs trembled and the secretions of their passion drizzled under her thighs. He swooped down between her cushiony apertures to suckle the residue. Yuuki pulled her hair to quell the feverish reaction from his languid tongue. He kissed her lips and darted his tongue inside of her. The sound of his suction sprinkled like soft chimes ringing on snowy mountains in the winter. She drooped croons and sighs in the melody, uneasy under the insane verge of where her hips trained off the floor. She shoved her mound on his face, enticing and begging for more.

Yuuki locked her thighs around his shoulders. She had come already once and the nearness of another climax was desperate. Mouthing incoherently at his famished mouth, Yuuki sprang up and clamped on his hair, forcing his mouth and tongue access deeper. He sowed letters with his tongue around her walls, brushed his face in her glossiness and caressed her taut thighs. His agile tongue made her insides slither from simultaneous tightening and unbolting. He drank the sap of their mania as much as he could, dribbled his fingers within her clenching tube and watched her flutter abusively on cut glass and floor.

She shoved his shoulders, kicking the expanse of his mid-back, grabbling for control in frustration and hooked her claws on his arm. His blood spurted over her leg, but she pushed so far back he nearly stumbled. Yuuki turned over and he snatched her waist. She crouched on her knees, waiting for him to mount her. His nose, wet from their dew, rubbed over her spine as he crawled on top and pierced her in one propelling stroke.

Inside, he felt walls contract and pulse around him again. Kaname plunged madly, growling with mad want against her ear. His fangs locked on the conjoined center between her neck and shoulder, ravishing the wound with rough fangs. Her arms rattled beneath their weight before she dropped dramatically from his forceful movements. Kaname held her captive under his giant frame, riding her from the rear with her knees bent and face pasted on broken floorboards.

She cried out in his satanic alacrity, wailing as he rode her. In her high, she beat the floor as she came, smearing her face on wood to muffle her screams. Kaname slipped his hand between her thighs to toggle her clitoris. Yuuki pushed blindly into him and turned her head around to spy as his grainy expression shadowed and wet from perspiration and other fluids.

His other hands groped her blessed breasts resting against the floor. Yuuki rolled her hips backward into him. The gusty sound of her catching breath from each slick thrust her hips encountered. Air charged out of her mouth angrily.

Yuuki reached over to brush his hair. There was a faint silence where she closed her eyes, taken by his blowing breath on the shell of her ear. Every cell in her body was singing and racing. She let out a sigh and flinched at the running liquid between them, drooling their legs. Kaname pulled back thoughtfully and she took it as an opportunity to rest.

Automatically her hips rotated and she fell on her back upon the clustered floor. He was bending over her. His mouth was a ring of red, and his intoxicating blackish eyes delved her for deleterious injuries. His penis extended out in full appraisal. Yuuki licked her lips at the sight of dripping cum on her kneecap. His concern was mighty and hers were faint under the drape of desire. When she lifted her hand to cup his penis, he hissed in his throat, his head snatched back.

The creature inside of Yuuki cackled. The idea, the image of his complacence made her shiver wickedly. To do iniquitous things to him while he lay obedient, he was much powerful than her and when he trembled because of her, she wanted to see him do it some more. Yuuki tightened her hold on him, wheezing at the weight and rigid length. Her movement was slower from lack of blood. She caressed his inner thighs, brushed the sacred central of his member and testes. Kaname's chest tensed once her nails pricked his torso and pecks. She sat up on her knees, still incomparably shorter and tinier than him. One nick of her claw fixed on his sternum and her mouth molded over his beating heart. She pushed her fangs, breaking through skin and muscle to breach the blood that ran close to his heart.

Kaname swayed and trembled. Her small hand clenched his penis harder. She tipped her head back to bask at his pained expression. She wasn't aware of her own force when she pushed him down. The sound of his shoulders rolling on stinging class snipped in her ears. Yuuki crawled and mounted him. His upright member propped against her mound. The drivel of blood chained over his white chest and flooded the floor. Tenderly, with controlled softness, she brushed away hair locks wedged on his eyelids.

He held her eyes silently, watching as she raised her hips and slid him delicately inside. Yuuki straightened her shoulders and dropped her head back. Her entire body knotted with fever at the sensation of him filling her. Her shoulders stood out and her breasts tilted back and forth. Her lips flung open to swallow air in the rushing pleasure as blush clumped under her skin.

Her eyes glittered down at him. She rocked him in sinful slowness. Kaname gripped her sturdy thighs clamped tight around his hips. The furniture's creaked under the surge of his power, he grunted in the switch of direction as she bounced deftly and surely. Kaname clenched his eyes and panted, his hands briskly locked on her flesh. Her moves turned irregular and coarse. Yuuki fell over with hands bracing his shoulders, her fangs glinting on her lips.

Kaname marveled at the lioness above him, at the definite precision of her angling hips working him off. His knees whisked higher from the pressure of her vagina, she continuously clenched and clenched him, tugging him from the inside. Looking lost with his mouth agape, Kaname fought to breathe.

She bent her head and licked the sides of his face. Her tongue lapped over his jaw line and galloped to his neck. Her fists soared into his hair as she draped herself on him, grinding him softly.

"Come for me." Yuuki mouthed against his lips.

Kaname yanked her abrasively, his hold on her thighs pinned her directly where he needed her. He sailed into her from below, until Yuuki convulsed, crying out hysterically on his shoulder. She bit down on the jutting bone of his scapula, depleted her screams in the thickness of his blood. Kaname came like a reckless machine that sputtered broken. One clawed hand clamped in her hair and his other hand nudged her on him by her ass. He moved faster as Yuuki tried to keep up, whimpering and crooning.

• * •

She was sixty-three; he was eighty. Contracts were produced, hands were shaken, some smiles were shared, and a silence rained at the concept of marriage. She sat in a gown too simple and minimal for a woman who would soon be a princess. Her tailors would ready silk kimonos next week. She gazed out through the creaking windows of the saloon. Idle mornings were slow, and she wished she'd slept through the colorful hours like the rest of the palace.

She had heard about him for years. His passions were vague. His interests were diluted from clandestine security.

It was not entirely out of curiosity why she used her spells to seek him.

She was merely part of a contract, a woman passed as one of the future mothers of vampires, and she'd long accepted the reality since she was a child. Needless to say, her fiancé didn't. This didn't alarm her. He was different than other purebloods. He was notorious, vicious and crudely intoxicating. He was dangerous as he was hysterical. His emotions were unparallel like the skies.

She supposed she was curious, by a tiny bit.

He was a creature of passion because he moved with only his heart, not thought, unless he wanted. When he wanted something, he'd deviate methods to acquire it. Through meticulous schemes or submissively plummet to his knees and beg for it, he would. They all considered he wasn't fit for succession, and this didn't sit well with him.

If he were king, he'd harass humans. If he were king, he'd turn one woman's life around.

Not in this story. Two women were in this one.

"Stop it." She pulled back to worriedly rub her wrist. "I told you to go away. Stop following me."

His mouth moved back in a tight smile. "I, too, have business about this region not just yourself." He gracefully waved to the streets.

She scowled and swung back around, marching to the sidewalk. "I've told you a million times, I'm not allowed to talk to vampires."

"Heh." His eyes spiraled on the empty street and back upon her moving form. "We're unavoidable. There're many vampires making up the population. What'll happen if you get caught talking to me?"

She wrapped her arms around herself, shivering under the drifting winter wind. "My father will kill me." The sound of his elongated strides clattered over her shoulders. She stiffened and snuck a wide pair of hazel eyes on the looming vampire. "Stop it, right now. We're outside, what if someone sees?"

"I'm taking my routine stroll on the street." He replied. "And one bug-eyed cute girl was walking home at the same time."

She rolled her eyes and scoffed. "You vampires really think you're superior than us, don't you?"

He cackled. "That's because we are superior. Purebloods control your people. You belong to us." Fury intermingled with begrudging fear feathered his nostrils as he peered enthusiastically at his prey. "Glower at me all you want, I stated a fact of our world. Have anything against it, why don't we talk about it?" He leaned into her moonbeam face but she flung back around.

"Asshole." She slurred among other gaudy disseminations of profound repugnance for the pureblood and his entire kin. "Don't think too high of yourself, you scalawag swine. You and your creatures, I hate you all."

He smirked, appeased by the sounds of obstinate anger she deluged on him. "Why so animus, my schlemiel?"

"To hell with you." She growled and minced her words eloquently like the sound of skittering dice on a plate. "Take your crap elsewhere."

At her hateful candor, he laughed as if there was an indignant tickle inside his bones, undoing ligaments from his skeleton. "Shun me more and more, and I'll come to you tirelessly." It was not a challenge. It was said as a promise he'd oversee until the very end.

He had been following her for good four years now. Anything readably stalker-ish had turned lame, as his increase in visits wouldn't hold sway to what she endured over the years. No laws protected humans from purebloods, primarily being that purebloods were above the law due to their regal status. Humans were at the bottom of the grid, spineless bugs discarded on sidewalks that would later be crunched or plowed by vehicles and feet.

Either way, hateful though she was of common laws because none reckoned secular needs of a high-minded young human woman from indefatigable purebloods. She ought to move overseas, change names and surgically alter her face. Or something. Something to ward him off and disable him from tracking her as he meticulously did.

His skills were well tuned it seemed sinister. What was it about vampires that allowed them to find whomever they wanted? Over a year ago, she went to Sicily with friends. One way or another, he showed up. She was smothered under his watch each day, each hour and in each dream. In the beginning, it hadn't always been like this. She was sacred. Oh, so scared of him.

In her wholehearted conscience, she still was. He could simply snap her head off without moving.

Arms bundled around her waist, shackling her in a forced embrace. He rubbed his face in her hair, mouth twisted in a grin at the wet fear pooling on the pores of her pretense.

"What're you doing?" She cried, striking her arms uncontrollably. The streets were deserted, and nearly half of the city retired home. He could whisk her from public and she would never be seen again. "Let me go!" She panicked.

He smelled her hair. "Mmmm...Lavender shampoo, this is new." In his arms, she whimpered. "I'm memorizing your scent. So that anywhere you go, I can find you."

She cringed and fought out of his arms. "Go away!" Her running feet lugged her to her doorstep seven blocks away. Not once did she stop or give in the gesture of his pursuit. She went home, where her family waited, where she could pretend to feel safe. The smell of her father's cigar inspired relief in her system. She closed the door and fixed her braids.

Form the hallway, her father trailed slowly while folding the newspaper.

"Were you waiting for me?" She smiled, sliding on her in-house sandals. "Sorry, it took me long. Did you eat?"

His gray eyes received her, not with affection but stern caution. "That pureblood is obsessed with you."

She flinched but smiled. "He doesn't have anything else to do. Do you want tea?"

"We leave for the cottage tomorrow. Don't pack. Leave your belongings as they are. No one should hazard a guess to your whereabouts. You won't be coming back here." He dropped the wrinkled paper that had been folded too many times during the impatient and feverish hours until her arrival.

The hazel colors of her eyes darkened in a motionless and languorous inner acceptance.

"They're all dangerous." He wiped the sweat on his upper lip with his wrist and glared at the floor. "If you get out of here secretly, he won't know."

"He'll find me." She whispered. The quake of her tone defined the plague in her reality.

Despite the verity of her statement, her father muttered. "I'll kill him. Purebloods, who do they think we are? Toys? So many families were forcefully transformed. Their numbers climb by the month. Soon it'll be our family!"

"I'll do whatever you say."

He looked upon her sadly. "I know you will. If he attempts to so far as even touch you, I'll kill him."

A highly educated woman such as his daughter ought to know humans didn't stand a chance subduing purebloods, but she only smiled at his desire to protect her and went about her nightly routine. She bathed and dressed for bed, succumbed to empty relief in the mundane and mindless ministrations, which would cease after the horizon. She'd delude everyone in her life to escape the pureblood.

The shadows of her room talked again. When she went to sleep, she dreamt of knives lacerating her heart as it rolled to her feet, struggling to beat and live. She should be dead because humans couldn't live without a heart. Slowly she peered into teasing eyes pressed to her temples. He stepped over her dead heart and claimed her in his arms.

She struggled in bed, tangled in sheets, blankets and pillows. Her body quaked as if she had been sitting in the rain. Long ago before crawling into bed, she locked the window and curtained her room. Shadows swooped each wall, screw and floorboard. With an agitated cry, she leapt to her lamplight. To sprout some form of light that would make it difficult for him to travel to her world.

A pair of boots on the study table rippled under the gold light.

She was too late. Vampires didn't need light or footprints to travel. He morphed from shadows that made her room and seeped inside hours earlier. She gave a devastated cry at the sight, cringed and rambled about how sick and angry the image of his sitting in her room made her feel. She gagged in tears. It wasn't the first time or the last.

He snuck in her room for years, and no matter how many times she bolted her doors and windows, he breached security.

"What do you want from me?" She snapped. "Why can't you leave me alone?"

As if tasting his words, he slapped his tongue in his mouth. "How about another proposal to become one of my scullions? I'll let you and your family live. If you behave, you can be my lover. Pureblood's lovers are acclaimed, you can have anything you possibly want."

Her hand snuck under her pillow and caught around the blade. "You really think just because I'm human, I want to be with a pureblood? Just because I'm human, I'll do anything you tell me? That I don't have the right to defend my family and myself? I'll tell you something right now," She screamed, "You don't own me! I'd rather die than be with a vampire."

She swept out of the bed and lunged at him, the glinting blade swiped at his neck, treading open a thin red wire. The wound sealed in a matter of seconds. Widely she struck him again. He caught her around the waist, gurgling laughter. "It's fine if you try to attack me." He said.

She shrieked, flimsily scratching his arms and shoulders, "Let me go." Her fist launched at his jaw and snapped his head sideways.

Momentarily he blinked and reverted impassioned eyes. "That's right, fight me." In one movement, he whisked her off the floor and relinquished her on the bed. She kicked angrily, flinging out of his hold.

"Let me go. Let me go! Don't touch me."

"Fight me as much as you can." He bent in her ear. She huffed against his collar, squirming underneath. "Just imagine..." He traced her throat, "My tongue here and finally my fangs thieving on your life-force. Cut me with knives all you want. But remember," He grinned at her horrified face. "One cut from me shall steal your humanity."

His eyes narrowed at her shivering stare. "You should be used to me already. My threats mustn't alarm you."

She clenched her teeth. "Why, why me?" She quivered in tears, "Why not someone else? Why does it have to be me?"

"I want to take my time exploiting you."

The sound of a gun blasting off thwarted the parties in separate preserves. He slouched wearily over her. His stretched arm oozed with blood on the sheets. She thrashed in the drenching heat and sprang from the bed. The door swung wide and the gun went off again. She ducked automatically from the barrel.

"Get the hell out of my house." Her father slurred.

His wounds sealed as he turned to the tall stature of her father, shackling a gun with murder beaming in his eyes. "You're going to wish you never met me." He swore, losing control of himself and launched more bullets.

The pureblood merely shifted closer and leaned into the man's face with a fastidious grin. "Oh my, looks like I'm already on your bad side." The gun handle scuffed his jaw. He drew back to rub the bruise, "What's with humans? Attacking vampires at any cost. Do I petrify you this intensely?"

Her father beckoned her from the floor. "Come here."

She sprang up, struggling under the weight of steel arms strapped around her middle. "The blood you spill so easily," The pureblood snorted over her hair, "Will be what keeps her alive."

Her father seized her arm. "Get your hands off of her."

He twisted her head around and fastened her mouth in a kiss. Her father shrieked and tore her out of her his arms, covering her safely under his wing. "Get this straight. I don't care who you are, but leave my daughter alone!"

He ran a tongue on his lips and smirked. "She will be my servant."

"She's nothing to you!" He spat, raising the gun again and shot him three times.

An arm spurted through the splatter of blood, snaring around the man's jugular. She leapt out of the comfort of his protection and screamed. "Let him go, oh please!" Her father gagged and paled.

"You see the nature of a pureblood is not a nice one." He sang. "I wish you knew better."

She punched and kicked him. "Stop it! Let him go."

He peered enthusiastically at her tear-smeared cheeks. "This is what I enjoy from you. To watch you scream in pain and beg me."

She dropped to the floor and bolted up to cut him with her knife again. "Get away, you demon."

Her father slumped unconsciously once he released his bloody neck and licked his claws. She watched in startled horror and anticipation. Without a word, he brushed off the blood dripping from his sleeves and coat. Mere fingers tangled between dark hair locks and brushed the corner of his eye. He spared her another glance and chortled sinisterly. The knife in her hand rattled uncontrollably.

"Attack me again." He encouraged.

She bit her lip and scurried to her father.

It was the first time he felt some form of pity rumble in his chest.

"Why am I not enough?"

She shut her eyes and wept in her father's hair.

"Why am I never enough?"

An elephantine wind bayed from outside.


From the open window, the wind resounded his hollowness between flapping curtains. He would come again and again, she knew. Doubt pedaled her bloodstreams. The next time they would meet, she knew, with his ebbing patience, he'd claim her and even then, she would be powerless against him. This would never change.

• * •

Turning over from the distant terrain, coming alive out of her world to the one they shared, her senses became rummaged by fading smoke, rubble and piercing glass against flesh. Deep inside her brain, pain cadenced from one cortex to another, wrapping stealthily around her jaw. She must've hit her head.

With a faint rustle, a soft twitch in reigning control over movement, she gathered thoughts and constructed insight of her whereabouts and sounds. Her tired eyes flared at the wide ceiling above her. The rerunning glisten of sweat between her breasts winked from the corner of her eye, and she realized that she had been trying to catch her breath, before fainting completely. The evidence of what and why was imprinted on her body as she was lathered in ashes, bites, dried blood and potent saliva as well as dew. Whose dew, that was the least of her concern.

She tried to engage her arms and legs to stir but at this point, Yuuki was terrified to know if she had any, much less where they were. Some legs were over and under, arms were craned beneath and one was surprisingly crusading craftily over her breast. Passing a look at the masculine large fingers, she deduced it was not hers.

Kaname lay sprawled, partly on top and off of her. His fatigued but aroused eyes pinned to her responsive breasts. The smell of sex and blood rubbed her nostrils and she threw her head to the side, wheezing for air against the suffocating heat of his body. Movement roughened between her thighs, thumping and demanding attention. He was still there, incarcerated inside of her, alive and poised as ever.

She moaned weakly or thought she did, the single sound skipping out of her bitten lips came as a rusted sigh.

Kaname was too intrigued by what his hand was doing to her nipple. His eyes stayed glazed, black and red squeezed in one. She tried to recall how she lost conscious but realized it couldn't be much different from how their plenary affair initiated. He had taken her just about in ways he had never done and in a number of times humanly impossible, and up to this time, her hunger that had increased over the years hadn't quenched.

His nail scrolled over her belly button and crawled on her apex. She mouthed between rasp shivers and let him continue all over again. They lay locked serenely, without motions or sounds except for her struggle of contained gasps whenever his hands returned to her breast.

With soft eyes, she admired his disorderly profile. Her eyes doubled on his shoulder and the plate of muscles of his chest. Exactly how many times had she bitten him? Her heavy hand pressed over his pecks, on the remnants of dry blood coated with sweat and her saliva. Then his finger retaliated her perky nipple sharply and she flinched, a grunt hooked in the back of her throat.

"Kaname?" She whispered with a mouth numbed from his kisses.

A throaty sound echoed from his throat, he made no interest to open his lips to talk.

"How about we take this upstairs?"

He sent another challenge to her breasts and Yuuki sighed, screaming inside her self. What was he doing to her? He swept his mouth around her breast as the other snuck between her legs. She moaned in his hair, grabbing his shoulders.

• * •

The sound of a door bang burst through halls, a scent of peril smoked walls and windows, but he stood clear and emotionless in the quiet dark with arms chained across his chest. His abusive eyes embellished with scorn at the seated man behind the table.

"I'm trying to be patient with you." Said the elderly vampire with a voice as weak as snapping wire hanging over a fire. "We don't want to confirm any inauspicious outcome. Your future was decided before you were born but why are you so damned concerned about humans? And your ridiculous acropolis of female servants gives the Kurans a bad reputation!"

His son merely cackled as if he was tickled in the soles of his feet.

Lord Kuran bustled out of his chair, sneering in his face. "You'll never succeed me. Kirrin will go on to be crowned, but you—never!"

The silhouette filling the ajar entrance broke out of its grave stillness and wafted, like perfumes of fresh lilac and ponds of wine, to the center of the room. "Is this how a father and son interaction is usually executed?"

Lord Kuran didn't avert from his son and waved toward the ethereal shadow. "This is your fiancé."

"Introductions are idle as walking on broken feet, Ousama." Shizuka treaded to the window and drew open a curtain to find the summer garden spilled in gold and moss green. "Your gardens are always well kept."

"Shizuka, demand me anything," Said Lord Kuran softly, "And I will stoop in front of the world to give it you. But you must marry Rido and change his will. He is blinded by a human woman."

"A darling confectionary she is." Shizuka laughed in the mellowness of rejection and cold pain. "Sweet and sweet all over... and breakable."

Rido grinned. "You sure did your investigation before coming here."

"Oh yes." Shizuka smirked at the falling curtain. "I showed her everything. Including what it's like being transformed into a vampire—I'm positive you considered turning her soon. And if you're worried how she feels, it's not different than her shocked disgust at learning about your army of female servants."

Lord Kuran covered his eyes in shame. "You make me want to resign to slumber."

"At least I have a record worth considerable attention." Rido muttered. "Kirrin has nothing. Pure and white as snow. Snow and cold like death."

"Hold your tongue!" His father seethed. "He will be the future king. You will be in his shadow."

"Tell me, Shizuka." Rido chanted mockingly from his corner, bearing her a burdensome glare. "My enchanting fiancé, is a lifetime of being my wife good for you? Wouldn't you rather be wrapped in another's arms?"

Shizuka scoffed to herself at his liquorish words, "It's not sufficient for me. I am also a woman with a heart that dares to be loved. But I am a murderer of dreams as I've eloquently dissolved mine."

"I'm sure you have." Rido echoed.

Lord Kuran paled, "Forgive me, Shizuka. The marriage was planned ahead of time."

"I won't reject the offer." She replied with a snip of measured malign. "A relationship where neither party belongs to the other. I have nothing to give. He has nothing to share. We are even."

Rido chuckled, "There is much to give you, damsel. Misery, anger, and animosity..." He clamped the space between them and touched the silk blankness of her kimono. "In such intensity, your inner hatred with imbue into red silk until you die. And the life you'll live with me will go beyond that. You'll become an irreversible skeleton whom no one will revive."

"That woman is all you need to care about." Shizuka smirked icily over her shoulder.

He grinned as she turned to the door. "It'll be an interesting journey together, my fiancé."

To her, it was a journey of suffrage and a test of patience. More than on one occasion she was diseased by the idea of abandoning the marriage with the pureblood prince. While she watched from cursive boundaries, he showered weaker women with magic, sucked them to their death and mumbled mercilessly about transforming his human weakness.

His indelible prey.

"I gave you a forewarning." Shizuka murmured to the sobbing girl. "It's your turn."

"Please, help me." She begged the pureblood. "Please, help me flee from him."

"You are utterly young, we never should have met." Shizuka huffed to the wind. "But after I revealed his world to you, you still wish to escape. The truth is you don't want to."

"No!" She cried, clinging to her white sleeve. "I don't want him in my life, I—"

"He's stronger than you, what can you do?" Shizuka narrowed her eyes. "Your fear has already consumed you."

From the cottage, her grandmother called out. The trees whistled and swayed from the wind. She darted several steps back up the path and lingered, spilling a frantic glance toward the strange pureblood. "Why don't you kill me?"

Shizuka's white robes shivered around her feet. "It's not that I don't want to, it's that your kind is so weak, you're better off killing yourselves."

She slowly headed back to the house as Shizuka's voice called out. "He'll come tonight. You already know when."

The fear Shizuka spoke of haunted her all day. She slept with her grandmother. Her heart carried a stampede of beats in the dim room. His eyes were on her. She stirred around, turning her back on the windows, the wind howled just then. Cringing against the pillow, she wrapped her arms around her nana, fighting back tears.

God, please protect me from that creature. Don't let him come in. Make it so he'll never find me.

Storm clouds cluttered the next morning. She was working in the fields gathering vegetables when her grandmother spoke up, "It's going to be a big storm."

It's not a storm. She dropped the bundles of tomatoes from her hands. It's him.

It rained for three days, and she stayed locked inside, never leaving her grandmother's company. The lights of the house never turned off, warding the place shadow-proof. The dingy cottage was at the base of the city and two miles from the beach. She lived alone with her grandmother but the neighbors often visited, especially when it didn't rain.

Her gray hair sprinkled wet on her shoulders as she knelt in front of the fire, stroking fiercely. She turned around tiredly and whispered. "Go check if the windows are open."

Her grand-daughter sat up and stretched her arms, "I closed them already."

"Check anyway." Said her grandmother and returned to the fire. "I feel a draft coming from somewhere."

Generally she avoided windows. Nervously she shot in the frigid room, curtains fumbled in the wind. The window panels stood gaping, letting water splatter over wooden floor. She quickly locked the hinges and fixed the curtain. Standing over the wet floor, she panted at the blots of black rippling and cascading over the wall. She sprang from the corner and the shadows leapt from the ceiling, smothering her in a cage of his body.

She fought first, lurching out of his arms and grabbed the lamp. Flinging the fire to his intrepid darkness, she kicked a chair between them.

"Yo-you never learn, do you?" She stuttered.

"Submit to me. You know why I'm here." Rido shrank inside the shadow and barged from behind her. She shrieked and scampered away. This time used the chair itself and hurled it on him. Nothing stopped her from using viable weapon in reach. She found a knife that didn't cut. A vase that didn't make him bleed. The fire that caught his clothes and turned to smoke.

"Nothing works!" She cried out in frustration. Her own kicks and punches were subdued by his massiveness, and he silenced in a heartless hold after suffocating her in a kiss.

"My fiancé showed you about my army of women, eh?" He cackled against her cheek. "I can kill them in the blink of an eye."

She smacked him.

His face stung and reddened from the impact. "I'm not used to someone so uncooperative. Oh, I know." Rido chuckled. "I can take control of your mind."

"Shut up. I want to live a normal life. For the love of god, leave me alone!"

"And you assume I'll readily give you up?"

"You can have anyone you want." She clasped her hands in prayer. "What do you want with someone like me?"

He stilled and the hand lingering over her head quivered like a string hanging in air. "Nice try, but I've made up my mind about you."

• * •

She first appeared in the river of a portrait. The art show had the city buzzing and many were leased overseas. If not the paint and sketches, his hands adored crafting her on pages. How rarely her hair stirred from winds or elusive emotion heralded her eyes that left blank stares on passersby and lingered on branch arches at the park.

He couldn't tell in detail, only draw what he saw. His favorite scene was her standing in a rain of blossoms. Either winter or spring, sweet sakuras interlaced her hair, stalking her path from the grass into avenues.

"I can help you meet this woman." The curator smiled. "At your discretion."

He folded his arms in the chair, eyeing the ceiling and rose windows. "How old is the building?"

The curator blinked, "Uh, a few hundred years. What do you say? There's a gala for vampires. She'll be there. Your art has mesmerized people overseas. Each containing the same subject...and if I may add, it'd be great if you met your muse in person."

His downcast eyes caressed the chalk marks on his sleeves. "Oh look." He muttered in disdain all of a sudden. "I forgot to wash my hands."

The curator leaned in his face. "Will you or will you not go to the gala to meet her?"

He stared back. "I refuse to."

The curator looked startled and sputtered, "Wh-why? It's an grand opportunity, you moron!"

"Leave me." He waved carefully to the door, "I wish not to break the distance I've patched to secure my allure of the arts. I claim no desire or obligation to meet this woman. From where I am, far away from her, I'm able to continue to paint. I prefer it actually."

"You are one bizarre man." The curator grumbled. "We were invited to the gala because of your work, but the artist himself doesn't want to go. What'll we do there instead?"

"Come back as you left a mortal. Try not to get your blood sucked."

None understood him. He walked through parks alone, had a penchant for doves and thought if he died, he'd turn into one. He laid down on green pastures by himself to figure out the sky, thinking little things, drawing people, animals, sculpted mud and sold famous artwork over the world. He was quite famous in his field, a Japanese man who adored painting besides fish and water.

His muse was a certain type of animal, a vampire...pureblood.

Striking, sensational, and perilous.

She could feel her arms being drawn by his sketch pencil. The air in her chest dissipated under the spell of caution. Trapped in his pages, a nameless shadow, a mistaking run on graphite, she came into existence from the tip of this pencil, until it finally whisked off the pages and let the wind ruffle the sheets like disturbing the calmness of the scene. She sensed him a long time ago, seated in the corner of the avenue, locked eyes with her back as his hands skittered tactfully with knowledge and grace.

"Shouldn't the subject give permission before showing up on the artist's page?" She mused to the whispering wind.

He went on uninterrupted, head bent and hands glazing where it wanted over paper. He was a strange one. The human assumed no contact with her. He simply watched her. Everyday in the park from the palace garden, where he knew she'd be, he'd come early morning and leave after dusk.

Shizuka lowered scornful eyes on the absent-looking human. "What're you looking at?"

His brown eyes were free, as it had never known emotion from its clarity. They floated on Shizuka sadly, reading the perfect symmetry of her face, shoulders and the pale hands that failed to link to the swimming breeze as they remained nestled somewhere in shawls. "You are hurting." Said the human first. "And now you're angry."

"Anyone would be. When they find themselves on portraits they shouldn't be." Her words scuffed something in him, stirring him to collect his belongings and rise from the bench. Then without further development, he set out. A rolled paper caught Shizuka's eye. She glared at it in disinterest but found herself taking gradual steps in its direction. It was a sketch of her eyes where emotion she hadn't registered glowed like apparent dye on silver silk.

She crumbled and burned the sketch. From there, each picture he designated to her didn't survive. His art in the museum succumbed to a similar fate, and all those that followed after were no different. He drew, painted, redrew until it came to a point that he gave up painting and drew up images of her only in his head. She couldn't destroy them from his brain, so they lay safe in his thoughts as he considered the changing colors of her silk kimono from pale to vermilion on her wedding day.

Her wedding was not a compounded ceremony, the celebration stretched for two weeks. She stopped meandering gardens and vanished from his vicinity. Sometimes he'd wake up from a dream and quickly dot a scene of her. Those sketches, the ones that didn't burn, were locked inside a box. He mused over them occasionally and thought of her whereabouts, sinking in dubious sensations clawing secretly inside his heart. Silently he smiled and concealed the box.

Then it came, like cold rain on naked shoulders.

He shivered and felt the cells of his body squirm from the breeze. A silhouette fleeted between the flying curtains. Her moonlit hair fumbled out of the windowsill, flaring in the black river of the night. He sat up but tumbled back on the bed from the hushing weight that captivated him to the mattress. The back of his eyes felt cold and numb. He blinked from the pale silhouette cut out from the black world and suddenly she was by his bedside, looking down at him with drizzling, freezing hair and forlorn eyes.

"Your pictures show a side of me the world mustn't see." She whispered. His secret box was flung open on the table, sketches unraveled but not ruined.

"Because you have so many sides to hide." He murmured, sleep swaying him back and forth.

Her hands sagged on his chest. She let out an incoherent whisper, her breath fanning her hair. Her eyes seemed to leak from the corner of her eyelids, scrolling mercury on her cheeks and knuckles. "You loathsome human." She muttered. "Do you think you can do this to a hime like me?"

His blinked charitably at her soft white face that was brighter and lonesome than the moon. One hand took a fancied course in the ropes of her hair to caress a cheek. She felt like ice and hot glass. Her tears ran and ran, wetting his fingers and chest. He realized he may be the only person to have seen her cry. "If you could make a decision, why not make one to protect your happiness?"

"Purebloods aren't moved by simple things. Our hearts do not stir from emotion, not happiness." Her fingers knotted on his shirt, an insistent urge to hold on to him. Latch onto the strange human man who knew her emotions and what she looked like when she cried, better than her parent's and husband.

"That's unfortunate." He replied. "We all need something to feel happy about." Calmly he shifted but her flat hands riveted him like weights.

She envied him for he was free and kind, most of all warm. While she was trapped and cruel, always shivering from the frigid blood continually fusing with hers after marrying Rido. Never had she touched a creature who was warm like bubbling hot water, perfect for weary bones under her skin.

Their story began from one such a night like the first one.

He looked in her sad eyes to find his shadow shrinking within grooves of lavender. "Why are you cold?" He asked almost unexpectedly, catching himself.

"I'm filled with the blood of a husband who's in love with a human woman." The princess answered. "I see his secret thoughts and feel his deceitful feelings. He can't let her go." Her cold hands once again draped his shoulders. Somehow he'd forgotten they liked reaching and hanging onto him there, it was unfailingly natural and she didn't seem to notice her actions either.

He said nothing and talked about the stars. Though they were ancient like the seas, they weren't alone and shined like lanterns of hope for those that were miserable from the void in their hearts.

She could pick his scent like a favorite flower from a field. Unlike others, he didn't reek of dry, worn out clay. He had the scent of the sunny sky, and the limping stems of new plants.

"It's not everyday I see purebloods sitting on trees." He remarked, looking over the setting sun.

The branch was sturdy to hold her weight. Leaves fluttered over the walkway, some wound in his black hair. "It's not everyday I have the urge to sit in trees. Not since I was a little girl." She replied, her voice gliding into musical tunes among chirping birds and running flower pedals. "You may take up your paint brush again."

He scanned the horizon and turned around. "What do I need to paint? When I can see you all the time, as if you're stuck in the corner of my eye?"

"That is true." She visited his home again at night to ensconce on his warm chest.

He awoke in coats of her hair, stirred against her kimono and stared mildly in question at the pureblood, who was not at all naive and bestial as she seemed. In the passing seconds, his breath steamed on her brow and her eyes unlocked. Rims of lavender, youthful and fixed in paroxysms it hadn't known, stared back at him. The moon spun outside the window next to skittering stars. Trees sprang between howling wind, even soundless mossy grass crunched from the stampede of the cold breeze.

The world raced and tripped, whirled like a dancer's skirt and stumbled like drunk men on sidewalks. Within the commotion, there was a bucolic stillness. His chest struggled in the frizzling air, searching and wanting more. Time registered, circuiting the waning moon. A silence fingered their consciousness, recharging areas and rounding on the temperature. He had come awake, bleak from fatigue as she rang with canniness and certainty.

She sat up on her hands, forcing a distance he didn't like, her face disappeared in the shadow of hair. His hot skin against her cold one made her teeth clatter.

One strong grab around the back of her head sent her plunging back in the trap of his arms. Her mouth tasted like rosewood, perfect against the sharpness of her fangs that bruised his lips and tongue.

"Shizuka..." He breathed on her lips.

She trembled, feeble and gnawed by streams of strange passion.

Valiant and unafraid, he weaseled into her robes, ran his tongue on the soft cold surface of her chest and merged finally with a breast. He was tender, like a sweet song. His touch was unfamiliar and speechless, but brimmed with reason and desire. He stroked inside of her lips, let her dew run richly and tasted the flavor that crept around his fingers and blended on the corners of his nails. Always she looked frozen and harrowing, she was shaking now. Her hands and legs, as well as the sheets of her hair, quivered. She arched over him like a tree, letting him pick her fruits and delight in the harmonizing sweetness that hadn't been appreciated.

She was never held nor caressed, never quested. To this day, she was never given the chance to feel a lover's breath. He made love to her as much as he could, gave her a moment to feel the thrill of pleasure and the serenity of being cradled afterwards. Her lavender eyes shimmered through the dark, the smell of her tears trekked like wax on his bare shoulder. No one had ever touched her softly, with utter care in her life. She forgot who she was when he touched her loins and fastened claws on sheets. His name lathered like draconian rum around her gums.

In the world, there was millions of lunatics, some dangerous, liars and faultless, but there was only one Haru. Was she a pureblood who could only feel loved in a human's arms? She ridiculed her husband's love for a human. Strange how she was no different than he.

• * •

There were significant advantages with laying with a pureblood. He healed her sore muscles and gravitating fatigue, rendering Yuuki good as new. On the other hand, it was strangely different for him. Laying on his stomach within twisted sheets and blankets and hair flooded pillows, he seemed content to ward off movement and sexual inductions for the time being, considering the multitude where he was compelled to heal and soothe her before sleep whisked her secretly. Kaname needed his share of sleep, if that's what it was called when pureblood's lay uncaringly naked and messed from constant love making.

Her brows wrinkled at the black hair trailing between her arm and his shoulder. Slowly she sat up and crawled over his prone form, a brief glance at his sealed profile suggested he was asleep like the dead. Marks of blood flicked over his toned back from absent cut and bruised from glass and wood. Her hands swept down his spine and folded over his sacrum. Even though he didn't agree to a massage, she felt no struggle from the binds of muscles underneath her palms. The more pressure she added, muscles relaxed and burning heat bristled her skin.

Yuuki sat back and sighed. Outside there was a light, birds swarmed trees and the sky, hilltops were crusted in dense morning frost. She could smell the garden and standing pond. Sunlight milked the windows and sprinted deftly on the bedroom floor, wherever the covering curtains allowed it to domain. The world was wide awake and already at work, time was ticking, clouds were whirling, water and rain was ready to sprinkle. Everything was where it belonged. Except for her and her lover. They were not ready to give up their prison. Both remained in their preferable isolation that swore off clothes, talking, politics and most of all Rido.

It was bliss, Yuuki ought to say. The perfect sanctuary none disturbed and as far as she discerned, Kaname was in need of some pain-free vacation. She wanted to whisk him away, if only the trip to the human city didn't get them in trouble with Lord Kuran. Despite the undoable troubles and merciless punishment, including the nonstop overwhelming work they kept abreast by sacrificing sleep and food, it was about time they did this. Spend day after day in bed locked in each other's arms. Except he was tricky and often was filled with doubts. Kaname resorted to sending his spy-creatures over city whenever he could. It was like sleeping comfortably in bed was a sin, he said to her secretly, and she understood where he was coming from.

She decided it was better he lay spent and breathless from lovemaking because he could claim he was too 'tired' to spy over the city and think about Rido. Finally when she did come upon his sleeping, a thing so rare in their bedroom over the last few days, she was beyond too chipper and exuberant for fatigue. He healed her sore muscles and troublesome scars without trouble, and it was questionable whether it was to his advantage that Yuuki was never tired to continue any administrations when he could give an arm or a leg for a nap.

There was something irresistible about his sleeping, incautious and unaware of the world, especially with her on top massaging his back. His muscles leaped and spread like fire under her hands, and his spine swept downward like an elegant trail, caught and fixed under ivory skin. Delicately she traced a finger on the spinal hooks that protruded, minimum but visible, but all the more engaging for her study.

She brushed his back more than twice, listening to the tightening pitch of his breath and the raking shiver harassing skin that glistened from his sweat and her saliva. The more Yuuki caressed him, she was reminded vaguely but surely of a violent creature who purred and wheezed from pleasure and pain from her touch. His heart was ringing through his back and his blood charged like upscale waterfall from his shoulders, arms and lumbar. She planted a kiss on his spine, enjoying the half-hidden bone texture but thrilling in the swirl of blood that pooled where her tongue had touched, spiked and elated by the nearness of her mouth.

He may be asleep but his body was raging awake, a quivering wail in the shrilling winter, lost in sounds but completely alive. She relaxed on him more comfortably than she would have when he was awake, but it wasn't the only reason why she felt her guard diminish. It was the sound of his sleeping breath. The hum and the echo of peace he needed for a long time. As Kaname was gone from consciousness, she allowed herself more liberty and basked over his skin like hanging clothes over a line in the heating sun.

"Just this..." She pressed a palm on the middle of his back. "Right here, I'll live and die right here. It's so perfect." She kissed the place where she wanted to begin and end simultaneously. "I want to have this. It's sits against the back of your heart."

Through heaps of dark hair, red eyes flourished over her. He slowly shifted, and Yuuki flinched as if the very ground quaked. She sat up, rigid and wide-eyed for being caught. Kaname blinked once, eyes flushed from rising blood and drained from lack of sleep.

"This is new." He whispered.

She touched the place again, her place, no one could have it. Yuuki bent over her favorite pasture and sunk her fangs through his skin. He stiffened but only for a moment and relaxed in the flowing blood. She licked it clean. "I marked you."

• * •

The rain had calmed, now the world stood intoxicated by the remainders of moist, mildew, and musk. As she watched the clouds pillow the moon, a breeze fleeted over the farm and the ocean whispered secretly about its soothing reign, not the chilling disease from the temperature. She quelled her thoughts to a stop and sighed. Her fingers clenched the curtain and sealed them over the window. Three steps back and she stopped, half hungry for another life, another chance, and she swore she heard a loud crash in the back of her mind. It was the sound of her death. A rifle going off in the burst of summer.

He came through the window, infiltrated shadows and stopped silently on the walls. There was a silence before she quivered.

When she turned, he was no longer a silhouette but a statue with a haunting face. Her shadow melted in his, from the depths of her pocket, she lifted a blade. He watched her strike him, a final plea and attempt to slay the demon he was. Coated in blood, she scoffed at the knife and dropped it.

"Go ahead." She whispered. "Make me your slave."

Claws gripped her forearms, infused deep in her skin. The smell of blood ran in the air as he said. "You'll come to know how much I love you."

Do purebloods know what love is? Did his words and cold eyes ensure the livelong love that continued to shake the world?

She wondered over this nonsense as he drew her in his arms, the same place where he held her dying. And as brief and fatal they were, his love blazed eternally from repentance. All essence of humanity he could remove, except his unremitting love for that one human woman.

There was a window, her favorite window in the loft they shared perched over the city from where she watched and wondered about passersby's and imagined she was somewhere in the clouds, invisible but looking over them. Her ashes lathered the floor and stained the wall with her blade rummaging her remains.

"Why didn't you listen to her? It was always about you from the start, wasn't it? You suffocated her and she had no choice. In case you want to try again with another human, you'll be stained with the memory of her corpse. That was her point. To make you suffer... and realize your evilness."

"And you sure seem knowledgeable about a woman's heart." He mocked back. "I figured you were without one all this time, but something..." A notorious color reflected in his orbs as he considered his wife. "Something about you has changed. No longer empty silver but blossoming lavender. You're full of color, life." He lifted her sleeve and studied the silk texture. "And now you have a scent."

"You continue to surprise me." Shizuka smirked coldly.

Rido circled her in his survey, his fingertips caressing the length of her silver hair. "Oh, I know about these symptoms more than anyone, Heika."

"You almost sound like you could care about life beyond yourself." She taunted automatically.

He paused to stare at the ceiling. Shizuka had turned to regard his solid form, but from his profile she noticed his eyes were closed and the smoothness of his facade was scarred by concentrated lines. Her nose ticked and she turned her head toward the window again. There was still a layer of dust hanging on the sill, intact and forgotten.

"Her presence is strong." Shizuka murmured after a moment. "You can still feel her."

In that deafening moment, she could hear his pain louder than the blowing wind outside.

"Even you are capable of pain." Shizuka whispered at the mourning pureblood. "Even if you don't like it."

He resented the truth. It was in the mirror of the river he bent into late at night, and in the blood of people he gorged, also evident in the dead bodies that dragged after his heels for centuries. The truth was strict and pungent, and she was too real to him to forget about how held himself over her, yearning but ferocious, solid and entrapping, all of which ultimately coerced her to suicide. And yet he was too cruel to care about his loss. So for a long time he discarded the sentiments, as well as the tale of how he succumbed to the disease his wife also underwent with a human.

Incapable of goodness, but inciting pain in others became his role.

Servants scurried to clasp the windows from the chilly gust. Their slender legs curtained under a skirt sharply strutted out of the room at the piercing shadow from the ceiling.

He set the ice drink against his forehead, letting the evaporated water sink into his clammy forehead and stared grimly, almost carelessly at the depositor who wrestled time and frost weather to find him.

"You can't continue to hide any longer." Said the shadow in certain defiance.

He merely closed his eyes again and sighed against the glass. "I can do whatever the hell I want."

"If you want forgiveness, you're going to have to start with yourself."

He scoffed wretchedly at the ceiling, before rendering a murky glower on his younger half. The candle light was beginning to wane, but blades of gold fell like dust on the tall shadow. First it was his elegant and sturdy shoulders that never engaged in bowing for others. Soon there was long dark hair shadowing a pair of fine cheeks and jawline. He moved slowly, like he controlled time very much like the candle light that hung on his clothes with its last breath.

"I'm here because you know I'm right. I'm the half you continuously suppress and ignore, but I'm not giving up on the goodness left inside of you. The one, which allowed you to love that woman. It will help you let go of her as well."

"You preach too much." He hollered drunkenly. "If I cared to listen to that shit, I'd go to the Great King."

Kirrin chuckled absently, a long digit caressed his jaw in speculation. "At least you didn't deny how much you continue to love her."

"That worthless woman cursed me." Rido growled over the cracking glass in his hand. The vase on the coffee table quivered under his raven glare. Kirrin slipped the artifact carefully in his hands, like a mother tending a baby chick.

"She didn't curse you. You miss her, and it's normal."

The unruly urge to laugh died automatically under the hiss of solemn truth in Rido's chest. A truth that crazily haunted him like the stars that knew nothing but the night.

Miss her? No, he was brimmed with anger, dissolved in fury. He hated her and would hate her forever.

"I came to deliver news, nii-sama." Kirrin leaned against his chaise, still cradling the vase against his hip.

"Surely you didn't come to teach me a lesson, not you, never!" Rido aridly spied at his king above and stopped upon pure, rosy eyes glistening from the power of compassion and kindness. "Why the hell do you look at me like that?"

"Because I don't want you to suffer anymore." Kirrin said without hesitation. "I want you to move on and give me some nieces and nephews soon."

"If there'll be any child, it won't be a pureblood." Rido snarled under his breath. "She is bedding a human."

Kirrin sighed, "You can turn her toward you, and let her love you. You can have a family, a good life, everything is at your disposal."

Rido snickered crookedly, "You think a normal life satisfies me? Stay by my ototou throughout his kingship and raise his flag when he does something brave?"

"It'd mean a lot to me." Kirrin whispered unblinkingly.

It was then Rido understood the source of compassion his brother emitted. "So you're here to brag." He chuckled, almost out of breath, in disbelief.

"I wanted you to know about her."

"Pry tell, what is she? A succulent pureblood prepped to support the crown with pureblood heirs, mm? Or will palace life be too boring and she'll have no choice but to stray? Do tell me!" He exaggeratedly exclaimed.

Slowly Kirrin set the vase on the table and aligned his height. "Her Sora."

Rido hadn't looked away from the vase with menacing eyes, a single wave of his palm shattered the ornament to pieces over the floor.

"We'll wed in a month."

"Of course." Rido whispered, eyes planted on the pieces.

"You'll like her, nii-sama." Kirrin said.

The thought of women made his insides crawl with anger. "Of course."

• * •

Birds were singing, and the river below bustled indefinitely. Her mind was imbued by the tick-tock engagement of the natural world that she hardly remembered grabbing the brush to comb her hair. Her strokes were gentle and distracted, as her eyes were lathered in smoky thought. A plane whistled over the lands filled with a hundred and five passengers, humans all of them. She sighed to herself and put the comb away.

The mirror before her held the silhouette of a tall man on the left. She stiffened with a startle and turned to her visitor.

"I didn't know you were coming!" Shizuka cried, shocked and dismayed to be caught unguarded.

"I didn't tell you." Haru smiled and rested the bouquet of flowers on the table by her window. He touched the fluttering curtain and said, as if no one was in the room, "The season is changing. Another year has gone."

His words left a nervous hot trail over her back. She clenched her fists in her lap without looking. "Haru... We are losing time."

He glanced over his shoulder. "You don't look well." In his worry, he started toward her.

She glared at the flower vase on the table, and the object erupted. Shards sprang boldly, injecting and grazing Haru's arms and cheeks. He stopped halfway, clutching his bloody cheeks. "Why did you do that?"

"What can you do?" Shizuka growled angrily. "What is there that you can do?" She shrieked.

His facade wrinkled in disbelieving hurt. "Shizuka, I'm-"

"You're nothing but a worthless human!" She roared. "A simple wound endangers you. A disease makes you terminal. What makes you think you can be with a pureblood?"

Haru stared at the pieces on the floor and slowly knelt to gather them. "Originally vampires came from humans. Some lived for centuries, and some couldn't." He stacked them on the table and cleaned his hands off particles. Looking solidly at Shizuka, he murmured. "I won't hurt you or try to kill you. I won't betray you. And I don't want to fight you. Fighting with you is like fighting with myself, and that never gets me anywhere."

He paused with a frown. "What're you scared of, Shizuka? My gray hairs? The possibility of my growing old?"

Her eyes stung sharply, leaning wearily against the table, she admitted. "Of losing you. I'll go mad if I ever do." Shizuka turned away sturdily, glaring bleakly at her claws. "I'll have to turn you, Haru. It's the only way for us."

• * •

The mausoleum lights sparked gaily from scones. Customary silence spun the sunless crypt, even the burning candles dare not whisper smoke. They were lit slowly, each tomb and urn brisked with light as their souls journeyed for centuries in the bliss of afterlife. She calmly lit the candles on Kaoru's cenotaph, the tranquil quality in her eyes tensed and rippled to disturbance. Her lips opened to inhale the smoke as her eyes searched the ceiling in confusion before resting on the evidently unperturbed shadow lighting wicks on his parent's tombs.

"Can we depend on an afterlife?" She blurted, repulsed at the oblivion and insensitivity of her curiosity. Her husband, neither flinched nor wrestled for answers. His elegant posture emulated soundly in his words as usual. Kaname came toward her and stopped in front of Haruka and Juuri's urns, the flame in his hand teased by his lucid strides. He glanced at their urns that glistened from his candle and then without thought, replied Yuuki.

"We're too comfortable with the idea of endless life. Whatever we receive after death, oblivion or tragedy, heaven or hell, we don't necessarily care." Kaname squinted his eyes and added. "Purebloods don't, I figure. Noble-bloods and Common vampires will react differently I imagine."

Yuuki was shaking her head a little too peevishly at his response. "That didn't make sense."

He blinked blankly, both of his lips tinged downwards at her disapproving stare. "What did you want me to say? The truth, no?"

"Our parents," Yuuki gestured to the row of tombs before them, "Are they together in the afterlife? Is there such a thing as the afterlife? What is it? Where is it?"

He resumed dispassionately ogling her in the candle light. "Are you implying you want to break your promise to live with me forever?"

"Our tomb will be cumbersome for us both anyway." She muttered.

He turned even more bland and passive, that his gaze lost its ebullient glow and blackened into two rings of candle wicks, he clenched his jaw.

"I want an afterlife." Yuuki said. "I don't want to dissolve to dust and-and I want a reunion in heaven or something!"

"Are you proclaiming faith in a religion?"

"I want to be in an optimum state after death."

"Impossible, you'd be dust."


"Impossible, my spirit will be chained to yours to burden you in the afterlife."

"I won't let it!" She rasped.

"You'd have no choice, dear." Kaname munched in slight threat. "Since we're sharing a casket and all."

Yuuki gritted her fangs. "Stop deciding my afterlife for me."

"Then you ought to stop contemplating death and move on from the subject." He blew on the candle, letting smoke fog between them.

Stranded in half decision of her inner dispute that couldn't be quenched, she reached out and pinched his arm out of spite. Kaname stared at his victimized arm in silent startle. "I want an afterlife where I can be with everyone I love." She whirled on her heels and began to walk out of the chamber.

Kaname clenched her elbow and detached her from her route, she struggled stubbornly and stomped her shoe, only regretting a minuscule to have missed his foot. "Is your fear of death eminent?"

Yuuki thwarted her profile to avoid his eyes.

"It's not something to feel fear for-"

"What do you know?" She snapped.

Kaname gripped her numbed arm harder. "This fear is nonsense, Yuuki. We're in a position where our lives can be compromised any second, and you can't despair over something so imminent."

The candle in her hand broke, she spun back around. Her lips dripped with blood from a sharp fang, it barely reeled back in her mouth before she hissed vehemently. "Everyone in this mausoleum, our parents and my brother, they're here because of someone. All of them were killed, Kaname! Murdered. They suffered to their last breaths." Tears surged and sobs dribbled along her throat as she screamed, "Tell me you're not afraid of that? Tell me you can stand someone stripping you away from me? Better yet, stripping us both from each other and everything we've begun to build? You're fine thinking about letting it all go? Holding me in your casket without a clue as to what happens afterwards? Will we ever see each other again? What the hell kind of resolution is this?" Yuuki flung back, shrieking violently.

As her frustration accumulated to crescendo, his collected whisper whistled. "It's the only one we have."

Fire floated in her glaring eyes. "I hate it." Yuuki mouthed. "Hate it all. At this rate, I'd forbid us to have a family that'll suffer from the same fate as our parents."

His eyes narrowed starkly. "Do you want to run away?"

"Yes." She automatically spat.


Her brows lifted in surprise.

He continued speaking in sterile strength, uninterrupted by second thoughts. "I won't stop you from living a comfortable life. You deserve it. Before I proposed to you, I debated sending you away to live peacefully with your family. Had I gone through with the plan, you wouldn't be burning with regrets as you are now. And your parents might still be alive, basking you with love I've seen them devote to you."

"You're despicable." Yuuki seethed. "Tear me in half every chance you get, always need to have your way!"

"I am not someone who can irresponsibly neglect my role in this city. Whether you're by my side or not, I will pursue my ultimate plan." Kaname only answered, as perfect as coral, chimes and bell.

Yuuki stared at the candle in her hand, the fire quivered and the wax wept on her fingers. I had made up my mind to protect him at all costs. But today, in front of our parents and onii-sama... a bitter animal inside of me came alive. One that kept screaming and was filled with fear. One that wanted escape. To whisk him away.

He's all I have, you see.

"Ok." She whispered, blowing out the candle at long last. There was a hushful stillness in the darkness. She dropped the candle, the sound of her shoes clicked repeatedly in her departure. "But you know," Yuuki began sturdily from the longitude of their distance. "You're afraid, more than me. I lost you once, but I never left you. If I wanted to run, I would've done it then. And you... You never lost me. You haven't tasted that pain, Kaname. It's different for noble-bloods, like you said. We don't have the option to revive."

Her journey outside of the mausoleum was not strictly efficient as she hoped. She slipped, scraped and accidentally chewed a couple of bugs that happened to fly in her mouth. The merge between their recluse property and the forest was slick, nearly unavoidable, and she damned herself to return home only to immerse in gloom for another hour. The trees were steep and the grass was slippery from frost. She reached the cottage after novels of curses and angry cries at Kaname's spy birds.

Shooting to the porch, she rattled the front door and threw it off the hinges to make inside. The fire place stood neglected from wood, chairs sat untidily with treks of stained plates and cup from the living room to the kitchen. Yuuki paused in the hallway and mumbled about running into another inappropriate scene subjecting her to flee from embarrassment.

A hooded shadow lurched out of the hall, swaying until it draped itself against the wall on her right. She shrieked and stumbled against a table, sharply injuring her hip in the process.

"Didn't mean to frighten you, but it is late in the night to be barging into someone's home." Haru yawned in his palm.

Yuuki friskily nodded with a short, nonchalant apology. "I'll amend for it later. I had an urgent question to ask you."

Haru nudged his hood back and revealed his tall nose, the corners of his jet black eyes wrinkled with intelligent scrutiny. "Yuuki is a gentle creature but the air around her is intensely hostile. You reek of tears and anger." He stilled and caressed her vision with a benumbed bow. "You came from an argument."

"If you call attacking each other for not knowing pain and going over some freakishly obtrusive afterlife revolution, then so be it." She folded her arms and huffed from exhaustion. "I hate what I feel right now. I want to be angry with him an-and hit him hard."

Haru scratched his disheveled lustrous hair. "Yuuki couldn't possibly have come here to ask for my permission to hit the king."

She searched the ground for a moment. "What made you stay?"

Haru loomed above her, blinking twice. "Stay?"

"What made you stay with her? You were a human. You had plenty to sacrifice in order to live with her, hardly ever, or when she feels like she can be with you, I must add. You lost everything but to gain one person?"

Haru's mouth curled. "Don't you just know how to sum up someone's life in a worthless second."

She twitched, "I didn't mean it that way."

"I understand, the above reason you stated was my outcome. I gave up everything to be with her, and to this day I can't guarantee if I can be with her all the time."

"But why?" Yuuki cried anxiously. "What was it all for?"

Haru smiled and caressed her head. "What're you asking me for? You live by example. The same reason you stayed with him. These purebloods, we know better than to leave them crippled with heartache. They'll rot from the inside. Humans are capable of it too, but they rot faster and die even quicker. Now, Shizuka will never warm up to anyone in the world. She'll hold onto to something for the rest of her life. I've seen this trait in multiple purebloods. They stay in one state for as long as possible."

He sat down, rubbing his temple. "In my case, I didn't particularly feel I had a choice but to be with her. I was alone, and she had no one to trust. I reached a point in my life where nothing made sense, and I couldn't make a living. I was depressed and barely kept contact with my family. I kept to myself often, avoiding social commotion and vampires. My life was simple. But it wasn't enough. Nothing made me content. Not until I met her. She was extremely negative and lonesome, not to mention, a pureblood. When I was young, I made a pact to never cross paths with vampires, purebloods especially. Shizuka was not like the frightful creatures who plowed cities for excess slaves. She was cold on the outside. But inside she was burning, melting and ready to burst. I needed that burst, whatever it was. And I never stopped feeling the same. Not too long after, my close family passed away and relatives lost contact with me. I started a different life with Shizuka, a life I wanted to hold onto. So I did."

"And you never had regrets?"

He closed his mouth and blinked at the floor. "I would not have learned and seen what I have over the years if I remained a human."

"Did she regret you were a human?" Yuuki whispered to her hands.

Haru looked up, as if struck. "Yes." He replied.

Yuuki patiently held his gaze. "Did you regret she wasn't human?"

He smirked unfeelingly. "Yes..."

"I can't-I can't have a family."

Haru tensed, exposing out of the chair. "It's crucial for you. You married the last Kuran, a descendant of the founders of our city."

"And I am the last Kurosu, my ancestors were also co-founders of our city."

He stiffened alertly and glared at the vacant fireplace. "Why...why all of a sudden?"

"Would you have children if they were to suffer as much as you?" Yuuki asked.

Haru turned back. "That'll never happen, I guarantee you. The blood your children will have will be the core of the revolution. Equality, co-operation between humans and vampires? Don't be afraid, Yuuki. You expressed your desire in starting a family and a life with him. You can expect risks but if you're afraid all of your life, you'll never live or do the things you wanted. In this sense, you'll have greater regrets as you age. Don't let death and war be the reason behind why you stopped yourself from achieving your dream. And remember, you aren't the only one carrying the burden." Haru glanced at the window, his black eyes steeled on the shaking curtain. "You know better than to make your heart small. The wind is picking up, it's getting colder. You must get home quickly." He stirred toward the main door. Hanging it ajar, he rested eyes on a peculiar shadow sitting on the porch. His black coat glistened wet from frost and moonlight.

"I don't assume you have the option to spend the night here." Haru called over his shoulder. She silently stepped through the threshold, ceasing in front of Yoru. The red-eyed wolf tangled looks with her for a series of moments before it descended the stairs, preferring to lead her out safely from the forest.

Haru smiled curtly as he patted her shoulder. "Don't over-analyze. He knows your attachment to that creature and sent it over."

"It's not too late to spend the night over, is it?" She hoped. Yoru stopped short in the front yard, his ears tweaked and red eyes floated upon Yuuki through the dark.

Haru cleared his throat. "I wouldn't recommend it. Shizuka detests guests."

"Well, give my regards to her. I know she's inside." Whirling back in the house, she shouted, "I'd figure some royals would have the courtesy to come out and say hello."

A gust of wind seized the living room and slammed door shut on Yuuki. Haru scoffed under his breath and shook his head. "She is very hot temperered when you're around."

"Likewise." Yuuki spat at the door and hurriedly followed Yoru.

She took her time wandering out of the forest, processing Haru's words rendered from evident concern and experience. Despite their commonalities, he was potent enough to remain constant in Shizuka's life and heart. His motives and interests may have withered for certain periods, but he didn't give up on the life he dreamt of creating. His ultimate decision to transform wasn't lost on him, infact he seemed appreciative of his growth within centuries. He was no different today. Sturdy like wood, perfect for chiseling into a weapon or roof, but he was brittle and absorbent, as Shizuka preferred. An exceptional contrast of characters, extraterrestrial variance which diminished her memory of Rido. They filled each other to the deepest depths, Haru and Shizuka.

Yoru stopped midway to search for her, she appeared out of the curving turn of two trees. Sullen eyes contemplative in the sound of crunching grass, she passed him without a glance, whispering below the rising breeze, "It means nothing, whether I am here or there. You were set on your way from the start."

She returned to the territory alone, along the way Yoru had diverted in the shrubs. The house was chillingly dark, she clutched the sliding door of the deck, quelling the magnifying wrath of cold twitching in her bones. Yuuki locked the doors, and instead of rolling in bed restively for hours, she changed and cleaned. Not only was it productive, but her immediate thoughts were borderline abandonment and death, which she concluded, did not garnish sentimental value to Kaname. That made her irritably hurt. He could go at it alone if he wanted, he had no problem overcoming loss.

But how could he had forgotten? She was not the same, not at all.

Considering the perimeters of the house, she commenced her cleaning fest from the library and worked toward the west. The penitential truth in the territory was the discounted harmony of palace personnel. They lived without maids, leaving Yuuki in charge of house keeping. That meant no maids blushing and fumbling with dirty bed sheets after discovering their nightly activities. Yuuki was almost always horrified to face them afterwards.

Just as she derived sense and reason in the quality of her emotional outburst at the mausoleum, she imagined Kaname stalking street after street, peeling signs of unappealing vengeance and threat distressingly, occupying his mind with rational diligence. Like her thoughts hustled like pent up fire from a cave, Yuuki slaved until the morning sun peeked. She was not tired, not even passively wary of his whereabouts but saddled in his now dust-free and mopped library with liquor at her disposal. Books draped her lap, transversal chairs and table, all flared open in variation from partial inquisition and interest, all also deserted from besieging insecurities that came off obnoxious.

She peered at the broken seat with gnawed armrests. It had taken most of the day to recompose the study room. Kicking the rug over, she bent over the floor in inspection. Nail marks cascaded, depleting the original varnish. The broken floor boards required a repair as it was formidable to walk on the weak frame. She sighed on her hands and knees, hair falling over her cheeks and forehead. Merely rerouting back to the incident over two weeks ago left her pulsing. Absently she caressed her claw designs and let out a deplorable sigh. The air in the room no longer tailored to its original dimension, it was no more the quaint and comfortable wedge between walls where she could land with her feet on the table, fall asleep, or where Kaname could spend eternity enraptured in pages of his books.

The place was peculiarly dangerous. The evidence of their actions soiled the previous tranquility. Now all she could remember was opening her legs and feeling him inside.

Yuuki clenched her temple and recoiled to her height.

His alarming height protruded from the doorway. A silver blade of light flicked off his left shoulder and landed on the floor.

Yuuki caught her balance by efficiently reaching for the sprawled books on the chair. Then, without remitted acknowledgement, began to restock them in the shelf. Her procedure took no longer than a few minutes but she lingered over toppling books on elevated shelves. He closed their distance, and she twinged despairingly at her enumerating quivers. Kaname stopped short distance behind her as she desperately cradled tomes in fragile arms.

Please, don't say anything. I can't talk to you, not in this room.

"Yuuki." Kaname scrutinized her trembling frame, overwrought with fret.

She flinched inadvertently, but quickly cleared her throat and shoved a book randomly in the shelf. "It's late. Get some rest."

His fingers wove through her long tresses. She shivered, from fear or something else he couldn't distinguish. She withdrew cautiously to rearrange the rug. Kaname felt his fingers arrest in a fist against his side.

"Are you angry with me?" He murmured.

"No." She answered composedly, her hands in frequent movement on the floor. "You were being frank. Who am I to be angry with you for that? If anything, I should be understanding and adjust to your reasons for feeling the way you do."

Red eyes narrowed crudely upon her averted form. "How exactly did I come off? Uncaring and indifferent?"

"If you know, then why do you ask?" She folded the throw against the chair, a delicate scoff engaging her remark.

"There are many factors that come into play, Yuuki." Kaname began to explain.

"Let's move on, it doesn't matter. We should focus on Rido." She cut in, a glare unconsciously darted on his dispirited profile. Unable to stand the fatal aroma of pureblood fury, it was not fear dragging her to the door but the abject need to explode her own frustration without creating a scene. Somewhere away so he could not see how much she was hurt.

He had other plans and made the door ripple to splinters. She dodged flying pieces, flinching as one scarred her arm and tangled in her hair. The rubble of tattered wood lathered the hall, blocking her way out further.

"That was not necessary." Yuuki mouthed through clenched teeth and wavering self-control. With a shake of her head, she sighed deeply, "I'm tired. If you want to blow up anything, do it somewhere else, not in this house." One foot locked over the island of wood, and she felt her weight propel sideways. Yuuki landed against the spine of the threshold, widely finding herself trapped under his bulky iron arm.

Any words of spite she could muster swallowed back at the sight of his furious red eyes. They beamed inhumanely, radiating thunderous acrimony she hadn't ever seen. The smoothness of his visage was raided by vein curves and repulsion cut his lips back, fanning belligerent fangs. He was truly a beast. Calm and kind thoughts repelled, just a monstrous creature hanging on the crumbs of lasting anger and verve he was capable of expounding. Yuuki blinked at the rasping growl flying from his throat and stopped upon acerbic red eyes. His claws settled like blades on her warm throat, hooked on the surface but trembling with the urge to tear the flawlessness to reach the blood inside.

"I've been suffering, Yuuki." He said in augured acidity. "Everyday because of this."

Yuuki felt her head drop against the wall and let out a painfully inert sigh, one which filled her with burning tears.

"But if we don't do our part correctly, we might as well let Rido murder the two of us. You should know," His claws strengthened their bind around her throat, "If one of us is killed, it has to be the same for the other one."

One of her hands rested on his shoulder, her lips thinned in a straight line as she forcefully nudged him back. A cold shiver trespassed in her spine and spilled into her right hand, she felt a force drivel her shoulder and elbow, licking under her skin.

He whispered softly on her temple. "You may hate me for it, but it's the only option for me: to dissolve should anything happen to you."

Her tears had dried and now she looked at him with fathomless, hard ruby eyes. "So that's your escape. What about your plans and our people? To hell with them?"

Kaname knocked falling tresses out of her brow line and fixed her a notoriously unfeeling stare. A kind that made her bones crack standing against him. It was purely ingrained in him since his birth. "Why do you think I removed the Elders Council and instated the Hunters Association? There won't be a need for the monarchy, remember? No need for me."

"Or me."

His claws clipped around her delicate chin. A bewitching shadow lifted the buried emotions within his eyes. The redness of his irises sparkled, until she was sure to be seeing his soul. "I'm sorry, Yuuki."

I understand now, Haru oji-san. She cupped his hand. These purebloods, regardless of how strong they are, they're irresponsible and uncaring of themselves. And this makes them full of pathos.

"You have nothing to be sorry for." Yuuki tightened onto his hand. "I won't let anything happen to us, I promise. First we finish our jobs, eliminate Rido. We'll talk about it later."

• * •

He'd never known doubt to be a sour feeling roiling his self-control and mental health. The customary cycle exercised an emergent attachment to suspicion, a hot hunch he couldn't forget, because out of all logic and scientific technicalities, his gut feeling never let him down. It was always infallible. So why was his gut screaming at him that his lovely fair-skinned wife, so petite and strong willed, was not being honest with him? She had something up her sleeve. He'd let her get away with her silly plans before, but for the moment, Kaname couldn't turn a blind eye this time. She was thinking insurance and in large extent at that.

What to do if something happened? How can I prevent it? Can I trust my colleagues in the end?

A grim world it was, Yuuki had discovered for a long time now. A world Kaname was compelled to share with her, and if he didn't, she had methods of finding out. By drinking his blood for one, and by careful perusal of his daily schedule. He'd stopped writing notes for himself to prevent her investigations, but every now and then she was prone to turn calculating eyes on him and jump on his lap, demand him about his plans.

Yuuki blew a long hairlock from his temple. The corners of his eyes creased as lashes covered his pupils in shades of black. She hummed in her throat, and this was when he figured an interrogation was imminent.

Why didn't you tell me you went there? What about Ruka and Kain? Are you still talking to the Prime Minister? Good, I don't trust him either.

She wasn't the only one shaking from suspicion anymore. He was more suspicious of her than the Prime Minister.

"You..." Yuuki tapped his lips. "You didn't wash the dishes."

Internally he flinched and rubbed an eyelid with a knuckle. "My mistake, it must've slipped my mind."

"Very well." She smirked, unlocking her thighs from his hips. "Do it next time, I already took care of it. Living without maids takes time getting used to."

The look on her face unraveled nothing about house keeping negotiations and customs. She looked distracted, aloof he might say, as she stalked out with her arms wrapped around her body, light shivers quaking out of her throat from the frantic cold weather. Kaname couldn't quite put a finger on what it was. She could be a smooth talker and an impeccable distraction to him, but she was not her usual self. A fastidious foresightedness that unnerved him an astounding degree. She'd lie if confronted so he decided to follow her thought pattern or catch her off guard when possible.

Even late at night when he reached for her, he sensed her struggle before reciprocating his kisses. She was not next to him when the horizon sheathed light over the world, neither was she in the kitchen or the backyard. Three in the morning, Kaname sat still on the edge of the bed. After seven, he adorned his coat. It was a little after ten he reached a conclusion. Yuuki was gone.

Somehow, surprised though he was, he felt terror inch under his feet and take him down, but he didn't stagger as he left the territory. He went to meet advisors, conducted meetings, sat in his office under a pretense that she knew what she was doing and he could depend on that sole truth alone.

"You still don't understand..."

Takuma entered the office and stopped himself further once the brooding pureblood came in sight. He was leaning against the window, peering into the streets. "I have the reports you wanted. The Ambassador for Human Relations arrived just as Yuuki-sama requested. Considering the grudge she harbors against her, it'd be reasonable for you to go in her stead."

Kaname dipped a claw against the glass and scrolled downward. Screeching impaled the room, nearly setting the noble blood to retreat from the office. "Guess you're not in the mood, huh. I'll come back in a few minutes." Takuma started to flee.

"Why do women do that?" Kaname questioned the walls and artifacts on shelves. His Right Hand fidgeted unconsciously by the door.

"Are you—are you asking me?" Takuma swallowed his aching throat.

He tilted his head and glowered outside, where a crew of photographers herded the gates. He unclenched his jaw and sighed out of exasperation. "I suppose I should let her be."

"Eh, hehe. I'm sure you know best." Takuma waved placatingly.

Kaname tossed him a fervidly irritable glare. "Why didn't you stop her?"

"I'm still trying to figure out whom we're talking about?" Takuma blinked wide and handsome green eyes pleadingly toward his king. He carefully stepped back and nodded in realization. "Ah, oh! Of course, whom else? Um, I hadn't a chance to talk to her. I don't know where she went."

"Aidou isn't up to his tasks anymore, I see?" Kaname sneered.

"He's upset with her. I'll lure him out for the conference. Don't count on it working out, though." He grinned.

His searing red eyes narrowed accusingly. "I am counting on it." Kaname replied. "And so should you, like your life depends on it. Gather all Right Hands." He ordered.

Takuma flinched and couldn't help but assume where Yuuki was absent or acting cryptic, Kaname's mood was susceptible to depletion. "Did you have a fight?" He asked bluntly. "You were doing fine just a week ago." He blushed starkly. "With all the imprisonment and what not at the territory, ahem, ahem!"

Kaname began to smile but it turned threatening. "Prepare for the conference, Ichijo, and don't pester me."

He bowed and escaped his presence.

• * •

The unavoidable emptiness in the rural town set her mind at ease, in some respect. Actually whatever peace she found except for neglecting to inform Kaname about her trip. She imagined he wasn't taking her strange absence well, and she'd gladly devise a plan to make it up to him. He wasn't the easiest person to win over. Forget charm and apology, words and actions had no affect on that man.

Yori stomped the breaks and watched her passenger bounce back and forth in her seat from the impact. Yuuki panted and spared her comrade a glance before checking the closed road.

"That's the issue with these areas." The blond muttered, fingering her thick sunglasses and opened her compact mirror to powder her nose. "You can't drive everywhere."

Yuuki unbuckled and kicked open the door. "I'm going to walk." She declared.

"In those heels?" Yori shrieked at the delectable pair she had her eye on for two months.

"No choice." Yuuki closed the door.

She tossed her mirror and leapt out of the driver's side. "Are you going to be fine?"

"It's not too far." Yuuki inspected her watch. "Thirty minutes should be good. You'll be waiting?"

"Not like I can go anywhere else." She rubbed her scarf and examined the rice fields. After a thought, she reached into her coat for her phone. "Take this with you. In case you need to call someone."

Yuuki caught the phone. "Are you expecting something to happen to me?"

"Nothing wrong with being careful." Yori shrugged.

She stuffed the object in her pocket and nodded. "Ok, I'll be back as soon as I can."

"No worries!" Yori laughed. "This is going to be an interesting encounter. I bet the two of you have tons to talk about. Don't forget to fill me in, eh?"

Yuuki pointed back to the car. "Get inside and lock the doors!" She ordered.

Yori mimicked her but followed her advise.

The small town wasn't the place she ever imagined high-class vampires to settle, not unless out of legislative pressure to lead discreet lifestyles. As Yuuki hiked up the street in heels, her coat and hair fluttering from the rapid wind, she remembered the comely rainy day when she and Kaname were stranded in the human city. The weather wasn't on their side, however, the day was as normal as it could between the two. Bickering was apprehended, coquettish and genial whispers were sweet surprises. She laughed under her breath and straightened her hair. If she was dared, she'd whisk him away again, just to hold hands and rub elbows down the street. It'd be even better if it rained.

Farmers stopped to gawk, mumbling under their hats at how high her shoes were and how short her coat was.

Yuuki bowed even more apologetically.

The designated shelter struck on the side of the road. Benches and wooden chairs were arranged outside for visitors. She darted across the muddy lane and ascended the short stairs of the entrance. The few heads that were seated under shades turned in her direction. She scouted for multiple seconds, the hope in her eyes dismissed from the stark memory of their last meeting.

She hated me so much.

It would be no different today, Yuuki figured. A quiet wind howled, tearing the straws from the shade and rattling the chairs around Yuuki. The men in her presence lifted sake and sunk into the flavor. Yuuki clenched her fist and turned back to the road.

The slender silhouette stood with folded arms in jeans and a sweater, her vigorous and voluminous blond hair tumbling in the window. She was exotically enchanting even in the most menial wardrobe, something which Yuuki could never govern.

Yuuki descended the stairs slowly and stopped on the opposite side. "Thank you." She murmured more shakily than she wanted. "I thought you weren't coming."

"I wasn't." Replied the tall blond, her cerulean eyes unnaturally frigid. "But I was curious what someone like you would have to say to me. Wasn't hurting my family enough?"

The sun cascaded between clouds and the wind was thick. "Let's talk." Yuuki said over the scattering leaves in the afternoon. "Sara."

• * •

The first conference to commence free interaction between humans and vampires was set to be testiest and memorable. The Hunters Association, who were in reasonable and equal terms with both parties were officially the ones to open city gates. It was not exactly a celebration but an experiment of species. Akira, followed by his subordinates were among the first humans to set foot into Kaname's city. Those who loyally followed their Prime Minister appeared and were welcomed gregariously by the hosts. Each avenue and house was under vigilance. There were no deposits for errors and crime scenes, not tonight.

His Right Hands were visible like Kaname ordered. Among the cheers of finally embracing human and animal differences, a stalling, elastic wait stilled the air. Each person was wary, human and vampire. If there was a time for attacks, tonight would make a perceptible fiasco. At least Kaname expected it would be, so long as Rido preferred creating stunts at big parties. Being blood-related to the insect, he had notable advantage to tracking him faster than hunters. He requested, out of intense repentance, for Shizuka to be present for the very reason.

She arrived like a giant cloud, overcasting the party. None could take their eyes off of the voluptuously stunning creature. Her milky hair was braided over her shoulder, swaying with perfection and grace, and her silver-lavender eyes were piercing as thunder.

Kaname slipped through crowds and offered the Great Queen an arm. "Thank you for coming."

"I live for extreme events such as these, Kaname." She remarked coolly, "It'd be fun if he showed up."

Kaname surveyed the streets rummaged by incoming cars. "That is my hope, for the meantime at least."

"And the borders? They are cast with Hunter magic?"

"They'll be triggered the second he tries to infiltrate. Knowing him, I'm positive he figured a way." Kaname added.

She smiled gently and caressed his cold cheek. "My." Shizuka pulled back. "You're freezing." Her brows lumped in a scowl as she browsed the occupants of the hall. Overlooking humans and speechless vigilantes, she was finally in tune with the reason for his desperation. "So where is that lovely thing you can't see yourself living without?" Shizuka looked into his passionately inflicted eyes.

His jaws clicked and fangs rippled under his lips as he worded with a review of the room for the tenth time. "Seems like I'm not the only one with that question tonight."

"How bizarre, Kaname." Shizuka dismally shook her head. "And you have Right Hands especially for her. Shouldn't you dispose of them if they're worthless?"

Kaname lured her into the room and through tangles of circles. He gallantly revealed a love seat and helped her on the cushions. "My Right Hands are not at fault. My spoiled wife is." He stood back up.

Shizuka let out a deep sigh and relaxed on the cushions. "Haru will keep a look out in case there's movement at the territory. She can't escape purebloods. Keep her on a leash, Kaname. Tonight is a preposterous evening to pull a disappearing act."

"I will pass on your sentiments to her." Kaname replied softly and remerged in the streams of multiple.

From the ribs and branches of confederates hoisted a flatulent vixen that loved to teeth at his sleeves and frolic for his attention at any given opportunity. Kaname had the mind and noble indulgence to politely excuse himself upon encounter but failed to distinguish the mishaps of snubbing a non-average and mature vampire. He stood tall in greeting, shoulders squared and smiled barely, because he had an infallible gift of never executing a comely countenance in public.

"It's been a while, Kuran Heika." Maria tipped her nose high and low over his form and twirled her champagne.

"Thank you for coming on this important event." He basked in the fragile sized hand she offered and kissed the pale flesh.

"Without my presence, the borders wouldn't open. Regardless of your orders, someone only in my position can make things like this truly come real."

"And I'm in debt to you." He recognized.

Her lavender eyes meandered over his facilely arid orbs. "Just because I haven't kept in touch, doesn't mean I'm in the dark with the current events, Heika." Maria ran a nail softly against his cravat. "A lot of things happened after I left. Only recently I heard you wanted to demolish the Council in exchange for equality and what was it? Pacifism, ah."

"If you didn't agree with my logic, I reckon you wouldn't be here tonight, along with your supporters. And the conference wouldn't have reached this point."

She smiled secretly, "You know I'd never oppose you. But I did hope, truthfully," She glanced at her drink and sighed, "That you wouldn't settle so early in your life."

Kaname lowered her hand back to her side carefully. "Yuuki—"

"Was only a sacrifice, last I met. Today she is the queen." Maria looked troubled. "Did you plan this beforehand? To deceive the world by picking a tactless thing fo—"

His fingers rained over her cheek, and she hushed in the movement, steeling herself from the silk pressure of his palm that warmed and could surely make her jawline and ear bleed. Kaname tucked a stubborn strand back. "I've had this conversation with everyone in company. You can exchange notes if you prefer and quell your bitterness. The fact is no one wanted it to happen, and Yuuki doesn't deserve to be scorned by you. You shouldn't expect me to remember my genial upbringing if you continue to bring this up." Kaname lifted his pocket watch for inspection and drank a deep tight breath, his eyes chilled on the roaming occupants. "I have other guests to attend. We'll talk more, if you don't test my patience," He crookedly flashed her a fang, "I might enlighten you about what's truly been happening here over a drink."

• * •

"Kaname is going to snap your neck, chop you from limb-to-limb and drown you in the ocean!" Takuma murmured for the second time.

She deposited her coat on a chair and strutted up the stairs, unbuttoning her blouse. Hardly able to sample a word in the conversation, her mind wandered from valleys of safety to the dead ends of hell as she speculated her eventful day that wasn't nearly over without a hint of raging anxiety at the prospect of Kaname. She opened her shirt and unhooked her skirt from her hip, marching directly to their innermost secluded bedroom none but the owners entered—until now.

Takuma pounced around her heels, muttering about how wrong she had been about her secret plans. "He's going to choke you and bury you in the garden. He's going chain you in the crypt and let your rot for a century, he's going to kill you!" He exclaimed at the woman shuffling with her skirt.

Yuuki, now shirtless but a bra, kicked off her shoes and began sliding her skirt over her thighs.

He skittered backward, slamming into the wall as the engines of his body combusted and tried in vain to revive. In panic, he began shaking his head, waving his arms and gulped. "He's going to kill me. He's going to kill me!" Covering his eyes, he started back out of the room.

Yuuki tsked in annoyance and headed into the restroom. She turned on the shower and unclothed completely. "Go to the closet and find a dress. Be quick." She called out.

Takuma gaped painfully worried at the open bathroom. The sound of the shower screen slammed, and her bare feet raided the hot puddle of the tub. He nervously blinked several times, searching the room as if his principals and moral values might be sitting on a table. She wasn't horrifyingly inept about undressing or at the fact that he stood in the conjoined room of her bathroom, from where she showered—naked. Takuma wiped the pool of perspiration from his brow and set about the task of locating the closet she mentioned.

He couldn't imagine what Kaname would do if he was found tearing through Yuuki's private closet. Swarmed by scent, by the sight of her limitless jewels and stacks of coats, skirts, dresses and shoes, he fought the frightening confliction that he was, once again, in a despairing position that'd utterly devastate Kaname.

After all, what subordinate or noble blood would have the gall to be near the queen while she bathed? Besides her chamber maidens? Last Takuma checked, he was the Council Head and Kaname's valuable Right Hand, his conscience when he needed. He felt a shiver of fear and doubt eat him from the inside. One look at the present and he'd lose his valuable title, most of all Kaname's trust.

"Did you find it?" Yuuki asked from the shower.

He jumped and grabbed a gown out of the side, whisking it out of the room and hung it on the back of the chair of her vanity. "Found it. I'm going!" He sprang to the suite exit.

"Don't forget the shoes." She shut off the water and draped herself in a towel. There wasn't time to properly wash her hair so she'd merely tied it in a knot. The steam rippled and cascaded in clouds toward the outer room. Yuuki shimmered in sight, holding the towel by one hand and darted toward her drawers for undergarments.

Takuma shrieked and stumbled. "I don't want to die." He cried.

"You're not going to die!" She retaliated, "Get the shoes already."

He returned, fidgeted by the dress and held up a pair of heels. "I found one that matched the color of your dress."

She sprinted out of the corner, "That'll do just fine, thank you." Yuuki picked up a few articles from her vanity.

His jaws clattered from brutal fear, "He's going to kill me." Takuma whispered, rubbing his wrinkled forehead. "I'm doomed."

"It won't take me long. I have to sneak in the hall before he finds out."

"Sneak in?" He cried incredulously. "Don't be ridiculous! Everyone's keeping an eye out for you, there's no point."

"I'm trying to avoid that I am late to this historic confere—"

"And whose fault is that?" Takuma demanded. "You could've picked any day to go crazy but tonight. Kaname is pissed off! Even I-I have never seen him like this."

Her mouth curved in a cold grin, "I bet." She swallowed her trepidation and collected a handful of pins.

At a time like this, she wished for an abundance of maids who could transform her into an irreversible queen than a scatter-brained girl squeezing in a dress that was too good looking for her size. She debated going to the palace but her current, untidy appearance would raise red flags and redundant media. The palace was probably streaming with photographers and reporters, it'd be an appalling fact to admit she was neglecting duties as one of the hosts. Silently she cursed at her self. Yori had stomped the gas pedal and nearly ran over seven people to help her get back. If only she could fly like superior vampires, she'd avoid the dilemma of her messy hair and a hassling Right Hand.

Takuma tried to patiently keep his ground, only to pronounce his phobia of 'Wrath of Kaname'. To put it plainly, he was freaking out, more than the woman having trouble with pinning her hair in one place. Yuuki stabbed another pin, cursing numbly under her breath and snatched the powder brush.

She wouldn't go looking like royalty but an ordinary woman. Appearances was the least of her concern in comparison to standing under the lime-light next to humans. She was nervous for all the good reasons, yet a furtive hesitation spawned deep in her heart. Tonight was crucial for both vampire and human world. In the prospective future, there'd be one world. If the conference runs smoothly to the very end, it would be a step of positive change.

"Ichijo-san, bring the car out and watch for Kaname." She reminded.

He stopped pacing and looked up. "I'll be waiting outside."

"Won't take me long!" Yuuki assured.

It was not suitable to jump around in their respected house, but he had the urge to leap over the second floor. Takuma restrained, teeth-clenched and took the stairs sullenly. He alerted the chauffeur to keep the car running all this time and since no vehicle or external parties could enter the territory, Yuuki'd have to resort to walking, running rather, to the parking lot.

The sound of locks unbolting snagged him out of his reverie. Takuma stilled at the sight of the door stalled open and in stepped a dark shadow. It wasn't like the house had ghosts or any person could randomly waltz in the private territory. He pretended not to be surprised, but the evident shivers covering his body had the opposite affect. Takuma tried to dodge his eyes, willed his eyes to pull away but found himself gaping foolishly like a withering puppy.


The door closed by itself and shadows circulated the floor, merged through wood, caught on the banisters and walls. Takuma blinked uncertainly while he calmly made his way to the stairs without acknowledging his Right Hand. "She's getting dressed." He hissed at himself for blurting too much. "I mean, she told me to get the car running."

Kaname kept ascending the stairs, his steps radiated the power of exploding bombs. Through the doors of their bedroom he entered, trailing her obvious aroma and subtle movement in short distance. She was determined not to get caught by him. All the effort of scouting Takuma and secretly show up at the event like nothing happened, just to tranquilize him. So much effort and consideration was rendered, and all Kaname could think of was seeing her face, feeling the bold strength of her thighs, the thickness of her hair, and how his stomach burned. She must've expected him to be upset or she wouldn't launch a tedious plan to submerge his outrage and dissuade confrontation.

He pushed the parted door of the bathroom. She cradled her hair over her shoulder with pins in her fingers, some tucked between her teeth. They scattered on the floor the second she registered his contour.

Yuuki clutched her chest as she jerked around, gasping. A shadow transcended and further galloped the bathroom interior, cutting out the lights. She trembled in the chilling temperature. It was clear at this point that she'd have to pray for existence and escape. Kaname was not easygoing when angry. The wooden door beneath his palm cracked in the passing seconds. She reigned plausible theories as to why that could be. Maybe the door was weak? Oh, no, they had termites!

"Hi, how're you?" The best way to circulate the situation was to act indifferent.

His eyes flickered into fiery red beams.

She cleared her throat and returned to her hair. Her grip around a pin amplified, but the power in her arm deadened as she reached to secure it in her hair. Her breath tickled streaming tresses around her cheeks, and her crimson eyes were frantic from the metal stillness of his frame. She had no choice but to stay composed, and if he pushed it further she feared retaliating in an equally destructive manner. Those moments were never forgotten, but they weren't feared either. So why were her insides quivering? And her vocal cords became stiff dry?

Stop it, it's going to be fine. She snapped at herself. Breathe in, out... There.

Kaname pulled his hand off the door and straightened. The whole room shook this time and the mirror infront of Yuuki split in half.

Yuuki clenched her eyes and sighed at a pin.

"I am thrilled, as you can see." He hissed.

"Good." She picked up her brush and arranged her makeup.

His fangs gleamed out of his lips and his eyes sparkled. "The conference was your plan, and you're a host. I never stop you from doing what you please, but I deserve to be informed about your plans ahead of time—Where were you?"

She faced him with a pleasant smile. "Went on a drive with Yori-chan."

Kaname's eyes fired even more, she felt her body burn as crunched words loosened from his clenched fangs. "You snuck out, Yuuki."

"I didn't want to wake you."

He'd been listening to lame things all day, ruined by assumptions of Yuuki's welfare and whereabouts. She was an accessible target, especially while the city prepared for the monumental human visitation. Rido could be anywhere, or worse he'd gotten to Yuuki already and he hadn't a clue how to resolve it.

"How did you get away from my spies?" He demanded.

"I used the scythe." She admitted, upfront.

His brows curled and curled until more lines defined on his forehead above sable eyes. "Why did you hide from me? You left the city." He caught on.

"There's not much time, I don't want to be later than I am." Yuuki returned to her makeup.

Kaname patiently edged closer to his petite wife. Her shoulders barely reached his chest. From above, her fragile appeal lent an innocence he stupidly adored and resented because it came to her advantage. Occasionally he mustered the resolve to make her succumb to him and blind her with his powers, but he found it redundant. She loved being conquered by him, and his mammoth height that crouched over her often in endearment.

Yet there were times his prodigiousness had an disquieting apprehension on Yuuki. Just like it did now. She wanted to hide under the bed. As far from his as possible.

"Rido can be anywhere, and by your leaving without my knowledge unsafely, it puts you in extreme danger. I was blind-sighted to have thought you had self-control."

"I didn't do anything precarious, I promise you."

"Yuuki, I couldn't breathe!" His talon-like hands shackled her forearms and sent her caving against the wall.

Suffocated between the wall and his frame, her burning eyes raided his furious ones. "When you're like this," She breathed against his fangs, "It's hard for me to believe you're not afraid. You can't accomplish anything if you keep holding onto me like I'm you're ev—"

His claws clamped on her chin and pushed her face back, unable to forgo a word without checking her emotive eyes. "You are." Fear flickered and strength accumulated in her lustrous pupils. She clenched her jaw as he continued. "I've never trusted anyone like I do you. If you drop out of my sight, you can't hazard a guess what I would do. To both of us." Her pulse bounced against his fingers. "Why don't you understand?" Emotion strangled his cool tone. His pain dewy and saline, and his tormented gaze unaware of the love and terror it conveyed.

Yuuki panted noisily from lack of air. "Rido knows our weaknesses. Don't treasure me so much. He won't play this game fair and square. We both know better. He'll mutilate all goodness we've maintained. I can't always be here, but I'll do what I can to keep you from feeling helpless."

"You have a skill in making it seem otherwise."

Yuuki looked away. "For that, I'm sorry."

Suddenly he released her, and she slouched sullenly against the counter. Her hands pale and listess, careless of her staggering towel that revealed her nudity. Kaname moved to the door and grasped the handle.

"I wake up everyday, Yuuki," He whispered, his words breathless and hurried, "To see you next to me. I thought whether we lived or died, I would be fine as long as I was next to you."

Her head jerked in his direction and limp hands clenched.

"And all this I learned before I realized. You never gave me up when I was in coma. How can I ignore if you're not around and not know if you're safe?" He turned around slowly to watch her stand struck in guilt.

The door groaned, reverberant like rocks crumbling from mountains.

She let out a hollow sigh, and it tightened the air in the room.

Her eyes widened.

Kaname shot upon Yuuki.

She slipped against the counter from their weight. Her fists locked in his hair the minute his mouth crushed on hers. He was savage, his tongue, smell and hands. His tongue plunged in her mouth ruthlessly and fangs tore her lips. He was boiling under her arms. Like the power of the world was suddenly ensnared by his hands, he lifted her off the floor. There was an agitated wrestle from both parties, but his burning hands briskly removed the entirety of her towel. Her undergarment dangled on her ankle. Yuuki gasped desperately and retracted for air. It was only for a second, a pin dropping in snow, like the falling sound of a car horn, and she felt herself being infiltrated. Her vision blackened as a moan bawled out of her throat.

His mouth brushed hazily on her left ear and lingered on her jawline. She clung like a spider capturing her prey, arms and legs tangled around him with teeth latched on his flimsy cravat. As brash and prurient they were, her body wrung with tension from his raggedly confounded thrusts. Her skin hissed and bruised from his burning fingers but she howled in pleasure and requited him in equal brazen and spite.

That poised rationality and approbative nature of his turned defunct in a manner of seconds. He was listening to her with certain control, when he turned she was basking in guilt and self-reproach but an obdurate shudder passed through her eyes. She was in his arms, whether he pulled her or she came of her own will, he couldn't configure. He felt his anguish and inner turmoil unravel as he filled her depths. Her thighs coiled and clenched finally, shocking his waist by the delicate but bearing strength they contained. She kept tugging him further inside her channel, completely ignorant about the damaged mirror against her shoulder and the slippery counter or the untuned affect her movements had on his suit as she came.

Doesn't matter. Kaname congealed in her vaginal traction and the elegant twists of her thighs. He had clenched his eyes and finally opened them to find her rocking out her spasms. He clasped her thighs, scarred them with claws and licked her below her jaw. Kaname clenched her hair, panted over her perspiring face and exploded inside of her. She tilted her head back automatically, her lips quivering in the reverberations of pleasure. The enigmatic fury bathing his blood calmed and his thoughts leapt to the surface.

She was completely rumpled and out of place with time and plans. He caressed her cheek, remitting elements of recollection, and she charged awake from her pleasured daze. Her cheeks and eyes stark bright and falling hair a figment of how impossibly careless he had been when he grabbed her.

Cognizance flashed in her eyes as she searched him. Kaname tucked a few strands here and there, but they slipped effortlessly and clung to her wet cheeks. Her thighs unlocked and dripped to the floor. She grabbed the counter to steady herself and examined him before herself.

"Oh god." Yuuki mouthed, too shocked for better words and dabbed her forehead. She looked carefully up at his falling hair locks.

Kaname detached himself and arranged his clothing. She reached for her towel shakily, blinking all the while as if trying to piece what had just occurred.

He seized her by the waist, she yelped. "Again?" Yuuki cried.

He looked at her a little speechlessly but carried her nonetheless to their room. Placing her on the bed, Kaname held up the dress draped on the back of her chair. Yuuki twitched in her nudity and friskily snatched her underwear from her ankle. She slipped it on just before he turned with the unzipped dress.

"Get in."

Her brows lifted. "In the dress?"

His fangs snapped inside his mouth. She deduced he had clenched his teeth. Kaname plunged the dress over her head and corridordinated her arms.

"I need a bra." She clamored.

His larger hands angrily tugged the dress over her knees and twirled her around. She almost toppled sideways from the force. Kaname grabbed the back of her dress and began zipping. She cried out as her skin caught in the zipper. A trailing red crusaded the paleness of her skin. Kaname merely brushed it once and the mark disappeared.

Yuuki could hardly control her breathing at what was happening. He was dressing her in silent fury.


"I still need to fix my hair." Yuuki reminded, brushing a few locks unconsciously.

There was no significant movement emitting from his stature, except his eyes slanted and blackened, and it herded another tension in the room. "Shoes, Yuuki."

She grabbed a brush from the vanity spitefully and combed her luxurious hair. His burly hand slipped around her throat and steadied on the plate of her chest. Rather than returning a composed gesture, she froze widely. Her reflection no different than a petrified doll against a black shadow.

Kaname breathed against her ear, his words raspier than a growl and emptier than draining echo in a cave. "Shoes."

Yuuki felt her bones and cheekiness split into crumbs at the tone. He was starting to implement his famous devices on her too. She scowled empathetically and stroked her hair again. His claws glinted starkly like diamonds on her neck, trained with delicate control on her jugular. "I can't go looking like I was ju—"

He hadn't blinked from her profile. "If you don't put on your shoes, Yuuki, I will do it to you again." Kaname started fleetingly to the door and hung it open. His eyes radiated a sinister promise. She was looking at him with her head held air, like she didn't give a damn about his meaning. His black brows cluttered acerbically, resembling stoned sculptures as he went over why she wasn't moving. It wasn't not she didn't understand the threat. Moments ago, it had absorbed meaningful self-control and diligence to clothe her instead of repeatedly ravish her. Did she still not understand how he loathed their clothes, and the awaiting conference preventing him from having her again?

It was not the time to be thinking of such subjects, anyway. Kaname rubbed his temples with a soft groan. He couldn't dismantle how distractingly stunning she looked when he took her a series of moments ago, and she was not housing quality undergarments currently. Although it was shameful risk to permit her to the conference without a better set of undergarments, he couldn't compromise on time anymore. He needed her at the conference promptly.

Yuuki tsked and blinked her glowing eyes on her husband. "How is that a bad thing? You were enjoying yourself."

"I don't have the patience to amuse you." Kaname replied. "I'd never let either one of us from this room if I did."

She picked up a few jewelry from the table followed by her shoes. "You made your point. I'm sorry we're running late." He closed the door after her and trailed her down the stairs. She stepped into her shoes at the foyer.

Takuma poked his head through the front door and beamed at the couple. "You're fina—" His eyes dripped eerily on Yuuki's slender form. "Sass me, Yuuki-sama, you look ravishing!"

"Hmm." Yuuki flashed him one perfect fang and nodded. "Something like that, eh, Kaname?" Settling whimsical eyes on his looming height.

He didn't reciprocate but held out a demanding palm to Takuma. The Right Hand slipped inside and deposited the package into his superior's hands. Kaname didn't linger and whisked the artifact into light. Yuuki's eyes doubled on the precious ornament.

"This will only take one minute." Kaname explained, peeling the protective gear from the royal crown. "My mother adorned it last, and I relayed it to head servant to prepare it for tonight."

"I've never..." She nibbled her mouth uncontrollably, "Never worn it before."

"On such important occasions, it's mandatory." Kaname returned the empty box to Takuma before aligning the crown on Yuuki's scalp. The bold metal scraped through strands and hooked comfortably. Kaname mouthed approvingly under his breath at the precise fitting. She tenderly mapped the structure and sighed gingerly to herself. "What a face you make, Yuuki—after wearing your crown." He smirked distantly and offered his arm.

"It's my first time." Yuuki rambled.

"Tonight is just a spectacular night as the day your coronation will be." Takuma inputted assuredly. "You have to reveal your status to the humans."

"I figured." She nodded and was escorted to the parked vehicle at the edge of the territory.

Walking in the dark next to Kaname, Yuuki appeared to value her personal thoughts than conversation. Takuma waited with a lopsided smile as they reached the car. She began to seat inside but halted with a doubtful stare at her spouse. Her bewitching eyes twinkled knowingly the instant Kaname released her arm and retreated one footstep.

"You aren't accompanying me?" She murmured, unsurprised.

"There is something I need to check. I'll meet you there." Kaname answered.

Her jaw moved and eyes rowed across his visage delicately. Then she cupped his cheek and captured his mouth. His brows crinkled in rasped control, a shudder throttled him, but she dropped back to her height without further word and scooted in the seats. Kaname closed the door and waited for the vehicle to turn out of the gates. He was still standing alone when the lights disappeared in the distance, an engraving scowl smeared on his usual apathetic countenance.

The chorusing shadow creatures splattered the glassy black night and whooped over trees. His red eyes narrowed in nothing short of cool expectation.

• * •

Shadows warped into sparkles before fusing into black once more. She couldn't distinguish her greeters beyond the tinted windows. Yuuki clicked her bracelet and arranged her skirt. One last careful review of her clothes and hair, she decided it was useless to teeter over her appearance. This was the real her. The smeary left over makeup, dangling wet hair and three pieces of jewelry—not much of a statement for a vampire queen, nonetheless she hoped her audience wouldn't be overly critical. Combing back her unnecessary insecurities, Yuuki stepped out once Takuma opened her door.

Cameras flashed, accompanied by the sound of running feet as hunters swarmed her perimeter. Her gaze flicked over the known and powerful army that assisted her away from stubborn reporters and toward the door. The footmen dropped to their knees as she entered. Yuuki searched over her shoulder for Takuma, he was a step behind and her searching fingers knotted over his sleeve, steady and cutting circulation.

Takuma cleared his throat quietly. "What is it?"

She wasn't smiling but scanned the standing audience that awaited her within the room. "These humans, Ichijo-san." Her eyes narrowed. "From one look, I can tell they've drunk from a pureblood."

Takuma pretended not to reflect on her words and smiled at the cameras. "Kaname is looking into that already."

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed an imposing silhouette leaning against a pillar. He slipped one leg in front of the other, directed an unwavering and irresolute glance at Yuuki. Her nails injected in Takuma's sleeve. He hissed nervously at the blood soaking through his shirt.

"One minute, Ichijo-san." Yuuki pulled to the side, drawing the train of photographers and eyes along.

Zero had to force himself to stand straight under the penetrating lens of the room. Yuuki stopped a few meters from him and bowed her head. "I need you to do something."

"I know what you want to say." He murmured. "Scouts were sent beforehand."

"Not so fast." Yuuki gritted her fangs, trembling against a haunting concern. "Be subtle. There can't be any attacks tonight."

He smirked coldly and closed his eyes. "Those were his words too."

"Thank you for understanding, Zero-san."

"I'm only doing my job." He answered, glancing at the shifting silhouette over her shoulder.

An arm looped casually around her waist and turned her slightly back on her path. "Your efforts will not be forgotten." Kaname said to Zero. "Yuuki, don't ignore your guests who have been waiting an entire evening to see you."

"Ah, yes." She nodded slowly, her gaze wistful. "I'll try to discern whatever I can."

"You're not obligated to hunt." He reminded.

Her eyes looked him over in rebuke. "We can use all the help we can get, Kaname."

He inhaled and studied her in faint consternation. "I'm sorry if my demands are stifling."

"I'm not going to prance around not doing anything." She remarked.

"I never expected that of you."

"Since you know this much, you won't object to my wanting to get to the bottom of whose blood—"

Kaname leaned intimately close to her face, his eyelashes swept against her brows. "You are not amongst agreeable company. Shall we continue this conversation in private with the Right Hands?"

Her blushed and conceded.

Shizuka took a significantly long gander of the queen before offering her welcome. Yuuki apologized to her guests for her delay, despite it won artificial acceptance she spent tantamount opportunities generating conversation, praises, and introducing parties from different islands to different seas. She tried to maintain her title among guests by being the best host, and although she was distracted by security measures and thoughts of a spontaneous appearance by Rido, she lingered by her assignments stubbornly.

"Why don't you rest your feet for a while?" Shizuka called from the sofa she had been lounging happily upon. Without tributing a transient glance upon Yuuki, she whirled her wine rather slowly for the menial task, her eyes trained on the reflections in her drink. "You've been worked up ever since you got here, Joousama."

Yuuki trailed in her direction, her inner annoyance scribbled from attention. "Is he coming or what?" She demanded.

Shizuka tilted a brow up softly. "Him? Are you referring to my husband? Why do you think I of all people will have the answer to your question?"

"You promised Kaname to lure him, did you not?" Yuuki narrowed her eyes.

Shizuka raised her shoulders and set the glass a satisfactory distance from her seat. It shattered, pieces flicked off into space and some managed to seep into Yuuki's skirt, damaging her legs. The scent of her blood shot across the room like a bullet. Vampires in vicinity stilled and browsed corridors, only the chattering humans appeared oblivious to the commotion.

The Great Queen smirked at Yuuki's skirt. "Your blood isn't the only thing you need to cover up." Her arm stretched out to snatch Yuuki by the forearm. Shizuka grinned at the accumulated heat of her skin and licked her lips. "You're radiating a sexual aura." Her gaze feasted on Yuuki's sweeping blush.

Yuuki broke her arm from the grip and sat on the edge of the cushion, face averted.

Shizuka laughed at the ceiling, and all seemed alright with the world. When the pureblood laughed, her eyes glittered as if they reflected the stunning stars. The room returned to normal activities at the sound. "I'm a woman who had to conceal her lover from a madman."

"Kaname is not concealing me."

"He was." She corrected. "And the best thing you could've done was live by his side with your mouth shut."

"I'm no puppet." Yuuki snarled under her breath.

Shizuka's smile gleamed in the lightening. "Or else I would've killed you."

"Yea, well, you weren't the only one." She scoffed.

"I sure am enjoying this tid-bit of ours," Shizuka muttered between her fangs and ran her eyes over the length of Yuuki's bare back. "But I can't digress any more. You look more womanly than I've ever seen you." The remark was filmed with quivering revulsion and appall.

Yuuki piercingly regarded the pureblood over her shoulder. "I'm not pregnant." She snapped, "And I'm not having children just because you want me to."

Shizuka beckoned a maitra and dismissed the female after receiving her drink. "That's wise." Disregarding the stiffness in Yuuki's frame, she continued in her airy fashion, "If Kaname were to sire an heir, an upheaval would promote it's death, or it to be deposed from the throne in the intended future. A pureblood choosing a noble as his mate is awfully romantic but it does the society no good. The foundation of our city and social class will suffer. There are also..." She speculated her wine and handed it to Yuuki, disinterested. "Poisonous things waiting to taint it."

Gingerly Yuuki cradled the glass. "Is that why you never bore a child?"

"He's been hungry for an heir after Kirrin's death. What a legend it would be if your noble child would become a scapegoat of his diabolical plans. He'd thank you from the bottom of his black heart for that."

"You know, Shizuka-sama," Shadows cascaded on the glowing floor in front of Yuuki. "I can't give up on putting an end to Rido's life. I've been over a thousand scenarios: how can one stop a pureblood? All I could think of was stabbing him in the heart. That would stop everything. You can live without hiding Haru oji-san."

Shizuka caressed her bottom lip with a fingernail. "Hmm. Are you ignoring that we've wanted to kill one another for ages, it's normal between us? He might care if he heard it from you. He tasted your blood and favored it. Unfortunately you remind him of something he hates."

Yuuki clenched her jaw and climbed to her feet. "I believe I can take a good guess here. He's guilty for her death, and he hasn't been able to properly grieve."

"Tsk, tsk, lose that naive accent of yours. Purebloods don't grieve."

"No wonder they don't know how to let go."

• * •

Lord Kuran looked up tentatively at the sauntering figure enter the chamber. He raised his glass in mirthful celebration but halted, numbed his voice to an octave and peered as the man lugged himself in a chair and cradled his head in a hand.

"Evening not up to your standards?" He couldn't help but ask. There was no answer at first, or the individual acknowledging having heard the question. The Lord cleared his throat distractingly and sampled his drink. He reviewed the glass windows that revealed the dance floor and streaming crowds. "Seems the people are getting along nicely. Humans haven't acted strangely."

A soft hissed echoed from the side, alerting Lord Kuran. He blinked inanely at the shadow and demanded apprehensively. "Another quarrel? What was it, because she disappeared in the day? You want to punish her and tie her down? Cut off her legs and put her underground?"

Kaname rubbed his temples and closed eyelids, exhaustion encouraging another mundane sigh from his lips.

"Quarrels are normal for couples!" Lord Kuran cried. "Are you not happy?"

"No." Kaname felt his vocal cords waver and shrivel from emotion. "It's actually...that's not it." His red eyes shimmered on the windows as he dropped the covering hand. "I'm too happy with her."

Lord Kuran didn't move for a long time, then scowled. "And that's a bad thing?" He shouted.

Kaname clenched his seat, foggy-eyed. "I've never experienced this. It never lasts long."

"Ah." Lord Kuran sighed at his drink and nodded. "Don't be wary. Enjoy it, stretch it as long as you can. What you're feeling is irreplaceable. Make the most of it."

Kaname recognized his grandfather was correct. Happiness, though easily spoiled, deserved to be enjoyed despite the conflicts hassling the city. He rubbed his temples and listened to the approaching foot falls of his Right Hands. They assembled in corners, took chairs, lingered on table edges or stood in plain sight from Kaname.

Lord Kuran eagerly waited for the fellow loyalists to compile and ushered the guards to shut the door. He recounted heads and mumbled out of confusion out loud. "Where is Yuuki?"

"She was speaking to the ambassador." Ruka answered.

The door unlocked and the subject entered, caught by the stares of the room occupants. "I'm just late everywhere, aren't I?"

Aidou scoffed and turned his back on her completely.

"Good of you to show up." Lord Kuran imposed, offering her a drink. "The reason why we've gathered for a short period is due to the definite conviction that the humans in our presence are in alliance with a pureblood outside of our network." He surveyed Ruka and Kain respectfully. "Our resources confirmed there is suspicious activity brewing beyond our borders. Although we are protected by hunter magic, there are purebloods who may have crossed our borders and initiated in some illegal human-vampire transformation. This is alarming because we eliminated the Level E population over two decades ago, but the risk and possibility is paramount today, especially during our civil movement."

"I reckon we keep this bit of information to ourselves for the meantime." Masaru-sama inputted from the side.

"Yes." Lord Kuran replied, "We don't want to overwork anyone right away."

"I've placed hunters in the human city already." It was Kaname's quiet voice weaving into the room. "They will remain until we confirm whose blood was traded to win the human's over. I've reviewed my previous associations with Prime Minister Akira, and his urgency in acquiring blood from a pureblood was obvious. He wants a miracle drug to keep humans alive longer, regardless of consequences. The humans who are here tonight wouldn't have drunk without his permission."

"So what you're saying is Akira-sama recruited a pureblood behind our backs?" Takuma inquired. "He didn't feel secure with our conditions."

Yuuki glanced at the blond standing on the left of Kaname's chair. "Were you able to locate this pureblood's hideout in the human city, Ruka?"

"We were skeptical with we found. There was activity around Akira-sama's manor. It has died down." Ruka explained. "My hunch is they're being cautious because of the conference tonight. Our confederates and hunters will be there."

"Why is Akira-sama here tonight? If he already has what he wants?" Shiki asked.

"To keep a front." Kaname said.

"There's something not quite right with his situation," Masaru-sama shook his head, "I know for a fact there aren't purebloods migrating out of our city, including the Shirabukis."

Yuuki stared particularly lengthily at Kaname's profile. His brows were knotted in crude thought, harnessed by an unfavorable gut feeling that he didn't want to be true. "Although there's a pureblood who is fixed on his hatred for Kaname." She whispered unblinkingly.

His eyes narrowed at the windows, not a muscle on his facial expression twitched. Yuuki stood under the realization that he had already arrived to the theory a long time ago before anyone in the room.

"You don't think—" Takuma blinked widely at Lord Kuran and Kaname.

"He is there." Yuuki averted from Kaname's profile. "I say we go there tonight. The borders are open."

"We don't want to invest in any form of warfare with the humans." Kaname said without looking. "The hunters are there, they know their tasks."

"We've been searching for him for months! Who knows what big of an army he has constructed by now?" She bellowed.

His head snapped in her direction and the room flinched from the viral electrocution sailing the walls, the conference table cracked and three chairs sprung apart altogether. The Right Hands shifted uncomfortably behind Yuuki, who stood immobile and undaunted. Perhaps it was his fault for overly assuring he'd never do her harm why she didn't cringe from fear at the animosity seething in his eyes.

"Treading in the lion's den isn't the best offense when the situation isn't perceived entirely."

"He won't expect us to come tonight!"

"Expert hunters have been sent to identify the problem. We've agreed not to make a move because of the current conference."

"Kaname, he's taking advantage of human—"

He was on his feet without hinting he moved. "That corruption was invited in the human city in the first place." Kaname sliced.

"We have to fight humans in the end!"

"Wrong. They'll have already exchanged their humanity to become animals. They won't be humans."

She clenched her fists, "I sure as hell won't let this go on. I am going."

Kaname grabbed her by the arms. "You'll use the scythe to escape my spies, again?"

"Of course!" Yuuki shouted. "Anything to prevent this from continuing."

His nails dug into her skin, restraining her within his arms. "You can't escape me."

Bystanders stood with elevated brows at the transforming scene as Yuuki attempted to struggle. Lord Kuran hissed distastefully and shrieked vehemently. "You two—get yourselves together!" Taking Yuuki by one arm, he chucked her from Kaname's imprisoning arms. "Yuuki, you're deranged to consider seeking Rido tonight."

"I want him dead." She spat breathlessly. "Just dead! The longer he breathes, the more destruction he brings. We know he'll turn the human population into slaves if we don't stop him immediately."

Lord Kuran nodded, "Yes, yes, you're right, but it won't be effective if we march out there and corner him."

"It's worth a shot."

He uncontrollably rattled her with extreme breadth, her earring sprang and crown sloppily dropped over her forehead. "You're a damn noble! What can you do?" Lord Kuran roared with blood-shot eyes, veins populated and streamed over his neck and face. His claws had breached and cut her skin. Blinking out of his fury, he realized she was dangling. Lord Kuran set her on the ground and gestured Kaname. "Make it clear to her that this is battle of powers, and it can't be tuned by nobles. This is a pureblood war. He is my son. I will stop him."

"Clearly what you are suggesting is also not foreseeable. I won't let it happen." Kaname interrupted coldly.

"He doesn't resent you, Kaname." Lord Kuran growled. "He resents what you have." The standing loyalists refrained from blurting a sound amidst the altercation. They watched in astounding silence as Lord Kuran strode out of the room. Masaru and fellow nobles pursued him, the Right Hands bowed toward Kaname and Yuuki before dismissing themselves.

When the door slammed in the lock, Kaname tore the gentle hand on her elbow and followed their example.

She gazed in disbelief at his departure.

The human guests, including Akira were beginning to grow uncomfortable from the elongated absence of the vampire hosts. Kaname made his return smoothly by stepping into bundles of crowds for a brief chatter. After rearranging her crown and removing the last earring since she couldn't find its pair anywhere in the room, Yuuki, too, resumed her duties as host. The Right Hands remerged on their posts as if the meeting never occurred. She passed scrutinizing humans and stopped in Akira's vicinity.

He looked up from his confidante and smiled. She returned an artificial one and stalked toward him. "I hope you were enjoying the evening, Akira-sama."

"Thank you for asking. So far, everything seems to be going smooth." Akira grinned, gaze skipping over the clandestine shadow in her eyes. "These conferences look promising, it was a brilliant idea."

"I'm glad you approve. In the future, I imagine we'll continue this track. Someday soon I hope we can officially open our borders to each other and live in harmony." She forced a docile smile.

"That is Kaname-sama's intention, yes." Akira speculated his drink.

"In the medium of the civil movement, Akira-sama, don't you think having an open mind and trust in your associates is valuable?"

He briefly looked away from his glass. "Hehehe, Yuuki-sama, I hear people look upon you favorably because of your honest and empathetic heart. Of course, it's essential to have these qualities or it ruins the nature of associating with others."

"I thought you'd say that." Yuuki beamed, a chill in her eyes as her fangs whipped into view from an cryptic smile. "I'm an expert in deciphering these qualities in others, Akira-sama. When we first met after the airplane crash, truthfully you only wanted to talk about acquiring blood from purebloods, am I right?"

Akira scowled down at her. "What does that mean?"

"Would you really go out of your way to acquire a pureblood's blood to generate a miracle drug?"

He cleared his throat and glanced at his comrade. "Yuuki-sama, before you cont—"

She laughed cutely and batted her lashes. "I'm being pushy, aren't I? I apologize."

Akira clenched his jaw spitefully. "You don't sound apologetic."

"On second thought, I wonder who should really be apologizing here." Yuuki grunted, her fangs chopping words angrily. "You don't see me abusing the contract and turning humans into fodder."

"What exactl—"

Her claw lodged against his adam's apple, pinned to his skin and scraped a drop of blood. "Be on your guard, Prime Minister. After tonight, we'll have an interesting affair. The lives of our people are at stake. Miracle drug or not, I promise an insufferable weasel like you will never get your hands on it. Not at the expense of turning humans into slaves. Not at the expense of our purebloods. And definitely not at my expense." Yuuki picked up her nail and smelled the crimson on the tip. "Did you really think you could get away from drinking a pureblood's blood and come here expecting nothing?"

Akira dapped the cut on his throat. "How dare you!"

She grabbed the champagne from him. "Unfortunately this doesn't contain blood. We have some in the cellars that do. Would you prefer that, since you're so blood hungry?"

"Enough, Yuuki." Kaname spoke from somewhere in the distance.

Akira glared ruthlessly at Kaname. "What is the meaning of this?"

"No one will stop you if you want to leave." Yuuki said. "It'll be better if you do."

"Kaname-sama, are you going to let her continue this charade?" Akira growled as the pureblood stepped between them.

He glanced eerily at his wife, without moving his lips, he uttered to her a final warning. "Enough."

Her eyes sizzled unwaveringly on Akira. Yuuki curled her bottom lip and stalked away.

Akira rounded upon the vampire. "I didn't come here to be insulted!"

"Perhaps, it is a good idea that this evening draws to a close." Kaname said momentarily, still in thought. "Humans will be escorted safely back to your city. Please, return. We will talk more soon."

He gripped Kaname's sleeve. "You weren't willing to dispense me blood. I found someone who did."

Kaname regarded the Prime Minister in fervid tranquility. "From this point, Prime Minister, you will forever be his slave. Whether he kills you or ruins you alive is no problem of mine. You aren't my opponent." He swiftly unshackled his arm. "You are just a pawn he's using to get to me."

• * •

Yuuki wished to throttle Akira, but first she had to survive Kaname's fury. He was not speaking as they wandered out of the venue. Chauffeurs huddled to assist her into the vehicle. She sat by the window without turning her head, expecting without question he wouldn't join her on the ride. The door locked and the empty space was all she found when she turned around. Kaname didn't accompany her to the territory. She visited the palace first, hoping to requite opinons with Lord Kuran, but he couldn't be found. The Right Hands were distributed with duties. No one was around, not even the relatives. Yuuki hung back in their quarters, uncertain and worried about returning to the territory. Oddly she'd rather spend the night at the palace, amongst the company of maids and silk sheets, than the cold deserted bed that would surely wait for her in the territory.

She surmised Kaname wouldn't appear for the next several days. He was overly furious and daunted from pursuing normal conversation, anything passable for exchanging words and thoughts. He'd rather snap necks and destroy the forest. She understood he was trying to contain his anger toward her. So she walked through the grass fields, using any gumption left in her body and ascended the porch of their home.

Yuuki passed the photographs of their parents in the foyer and slipped off her shoes. She moved unwillingly through halls, let the chilling floorboards sting her bare feet and stopped by the open glass doors of the deck. The light was not on. Quickly locking the doors, Yuuki pulled away. Ordinary furnitures and articles sat as they were before, untouched. She blinked at the silhouette in the chair outside.

Flinging the sliding doors apart, Yuuki peered at his shape lounging in shadows. His drink clamped within his hand, resting on his knee.

"I thought you weren't coming home." She mumbled drearily. "When did you get here?"

He didn't say a word or hint an absent noise. The air around them became blustery.

Yuuki stared determinedly at the forest. "It was frustrating to see him pretending he was doing us a favor. I had to tell him off."

"Go to sleep." Kaname whispered.

She scowled at his head. "You're not going to find Rid—"

"Yuuki." Black anger dripped from his slather.

He should already know she was damn stubborn. "I'm not going to sleep alone!"

The glass cracked and blood splattered over the floor. He released the crumbled article and brushed his palm slowly. Yuuki slipped forward to clean the fermented pieces from cutting his skin. There was some blood, but the cuts healed instantly. Kaname's eyes flickered over her caressing fingers and at her profile. He snatched her around the waist so fleetingly, she cried and landed on her knees against him.

His fangs obtruded as turbulent growls escaped from his parted mouth. Yuuki gaped fixedly at his subduing eyes that whisked her will to breathe. The anger within them mounted. His jaw relaxed and the emotion diminished. Kaname's grip lapsed as a woeful sigh leaked into the air. "I can't be angry with you even if I try." He bemoaned, burying his head on her shoulder.

Her stiff frame slumped in the chasm of his arms, they clung to her and pressed her threateningly against his frame. She flinched from lack of circulation. "I'm sorry. I'll be careful. I won't do it again."

His mouth brushed her forehead and eyes. "You're unusually clamorous as of recent. It's exasperating."

Yuuki snapped her head back. "I didn't apologize for talking down to Akira-sama, and I definitely won't!"

Kaname grated his fangs hard as he peered down at her face. "I've spoiled you gravely, it's my fault." He took in her fiery eyes and determined frown.

"You didn't spoil me." She refuted. "I had to speak up. I don't want to sit around not doing anything."

"This is not your war, Yuuki." He returned, feeling his blood boil again.

"Yes, it is. If you're involved, I have to help."

Kaname cupped the back of her head. "Or what? You'll use the anti-vampire weapon to run out of here trying to seize the day?"

"I won't let you down." Yuuki promised.

He closed his eyes, dispirited. "You remember he tried to kill you? Twice?"

"I'm an easier target than you." She understood. "But something tells me he's not after me. He wants more this time."

Kaname sighed against her lips. "How do I keep you safe, Yuuki? How do I keep you from getting involved? I want you with me forever..."

"Kaname?" Yuuki touched his fast beating heart, his chest burned beneath her palm. "We have each other now. This will lead to forever and beyond that."

His fingers bunched in her hair as he tugged her in a vicious kiss. She pulled back with a rasping whisper. "I want to choke him."

Kaname withdrew an inch. "His own greed will kill him."

Yuuki rose from the floor, gathered his hands and pulled him inside of the house. "I'm sure I'll rarely see you after tomorrow. While you investigate what Rido is up to, I'll maintain things here." She hiked her skirt and ascended the stairs to their room.

Kaname observed her bare heels brace over the cold floor. They settled firmly on the ground upon reaching the second floor. Yuuki opened the door to their room, dropping a shy glance over her shoulder. The door had barely sealed in the lock when she laced her fingers through his, drawing him closer. Her lips were open and her eyes dripped emotively over his wide shoulders. Pressed against him, Yuuki slipped his hands on the zipper of her dress.

He felt slightly foolish for turning giddy and nervous for the same reason as she. Kaname peeled open her dress and explored her bare back. Her breasts fell into view, and he admired them as they were supple and lovelier than ever. She unraveled his cravat and unbuttoned his shirt, marveling over the softness of his skin. They undressed each other in the secret pool of moonlight. Kaname carefully set aside her crown and tugged her in his arms, appreciating how perfectly she fit in the width of his chest. He slipped her panties from her legs, brushing her tenderly on her apex.

She kissed him energetically, and there again, he felt something he was beginning to fear: happiness.

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