Memoria— Snowy Birthday

Note: I do not own Gakuen Alice or any of the music produced by Hisaishi Joe. Yes, there is some music involved in here... and there will continue to be music in later chapters. I do not own The Merry-Go-Round of Life (the song). Now, enjoy!

Her head still against the pillow of her bed, she opened her eyes and squinted at the white light coming from behind the blue checker curtains of her bedroom. Suddenly, she was awake, and rolled off the cotton sheets of her bed in one fluid motion. Her hand shaking with contained excitement, she threw the curtains to the side and tugged the blinds open.

White, sparkling snow had been dolloped on the roof, and the pine trees that circled the small house wore full suits of heavy snow and glistening icicles. The young girl squealed in delight, and then hurried out of her room, still in her night clothes.

She ran down a short, wooden floor hall, then came to a stumbling halt before a white door. As promised the night before, it had been left ajar, and she made no noise as she pushed it gently open.

In the dim bluish light, she could make out the outline of a sleeping person. His jet black hair contrasted nicely against the white pillow that rested under his head. A thin fringe of black hair lay on his forehead, and his cat-like eyes were closed.

The girl kneeled next to the bed for a moment, and she watched in fascination as his chest rose inward, then out as he breathed slowly. Then, a thought occurred to her, and a grin spread on her face as she stretched out a hand.

She prodded his shoulder softly with one finger, and giggled quietly as his eyes popped open. Dark, crimson eyes stared back at her groggily, then they blinked and opened up wide.

"You can't fool me!" the girl whispered with a mischievous gleam in her eye. "You were faking, weren't you?" Then she squeaked as the man rolled off his bed and scooped the little one from the floor.

"Hm," he said in his alluring, low voice. "Not even a 'good morning'?" He slung her onto his back, where she giggled silently into his neck. He glanced at the open door and the golden light that poured in from a light in the hall way. "Okay, let's get out before your mom—"

Too late. A pale, almost ghostly hand in the bluish light, shot out from under the white sheets and grabbed the man's hand. The girl clomped a hand over her mouth to muffle her surprised squeal.

A woman's head emerged from under the covers, and her long, auburn hair was very untidy. "Where are you going, Natsume…?" she mumbled. Her grip on his hand tightened.

Natsume laughed gently, and kissed the soft skin of her wrist. "Nowhere," he said in an assuring voice. "Go back to sleep, Mikan."

She nodded groggily, and the little girl on Natsume's shoulders giggled again. Mikan pulled the sheet completely over her head, and the two of them snuck out of the bedroom.

He closed the white door slowly, and as silently as possible. Then, he set down the girl onto her feet and surveyed her with narrow eyes.

"Have you brushed your teeth yet?" he asked suspiciously. He made a little "aha" noise when the girl hesitated, then shook her head furiously. Natsume moved her spiky inky black hair to the side, and then tweaked her ear.

"Ow," she said with a laugh. "But, but today's Okaa-san's birthday, so I hurried down as soon as I could…"

A devilish grin spread on his handsome, young face. "No excuses!" He grabbed a nearby ladle from the kitchen counter and waved it threateningly around. "Want me to whupp your butt?"

Her hands flew to her bottom and she looked aghast. "Okay, I'm going!" she whispered hurriedly, then danced up the stairs to avoid the swing. She stopped at the top of the cream carpet stairs and stuck out her tongue impudently. "Otou-san is a meanie!" she sang. Then she turned and dove into the bathroom with a whimper when Natsume's eyes gleamed red in the dark.

After she brushed her teeth and wiped the water from her face, she cleared the stairs with a few jumps and hurried into the kitchen. The sugary smell of waffles and cream wafted in the air, and the girl drooled as she peeked around her dad's side.

She watched as he ladled some batter into the square black inside of the waffle maker, and a smile lit up her face as she heard a sizzle.

"Anzu," he said suddenly, and she jumped in surprise. "You cleaned yourself up?"

She stood ruler straight and made a clumsy salute. "Yes," she said, trying to summon up her best serious face.

Natsume smiled, and glanced down at her. "I see that you haven't combed your hair."

"Ooh, really?" Anzu twisted a dark lock around her index finger. "Ahaha, oopsie."

He looked amused, and then pointed at the fridge. "Have you decided your toppings yet?" he asked as he moved over to the stove. A few browned sausages bubbled in a frying pan, and he shifted them around with a black spatula.

"Mm…" she said mindlessly as she tugged on the black handle of the fridge. Her eyes scanned the hodgepodge contents of the inside, and she pulled out several cartons of small fruits and a half-full bag of hardened semi-sweet chocolate chips. "How about these?" Anzu said as she set them down on the counter and waited for approval.

Natsume twisted around and his dark eyes lit up. "Haha, clementines? All those berries too? And the chocolate.." he said with amusement. "Go ahead, do whatever you please."

She made a quiet cheer and took a handful from each berry container, then dashed them in a strainer. Cold tap water from the chrome sink spout washed over the fruit, and she shook the extra drops out. Anzu set the strainer on the spotless counter, then got to the process of peeling the skins off the clementines.

After that, she dashed over to one of the wooden cabinets and stuck a hand in. She pulled out a small plastic cutting board and a small knife that fit her hand perfectly. Carefully, the little girl slid them onto the counter, and she seated herself and cut up the fruit into tiny pieces.

The door to the downstairs bedroom opened slowly, and Mikan squinted at the busy kitchen. "Mm, smells good," she commented with a laugh. Anzu spun around in surprise. "Oh, sorry, I couldn't sleep with all this racket."

Natsume smiled as he retrieved a few golden brown waffles from the waffle maker. "You have something to tell your mom?" he prompted the little girl.

"Oh!" she exclaimed, and a juice stained hand flew to her mouth in horror. "Um, um.. Happy birthday, Okaa-san!" She then wiped her hands on a clean paper towel and gave a running hug to Mikan. "And Happy New Year's too!"

The young woman laughed. "Oh, don't remind me. Birthdays are just when you get older. Plus, I still have a headache from last night…"

Anzu looked strangely at her from the skirt of her mom's night gown. "But you only had a sip of sake last night.." she said dubiously.

Natsume chuckled. "Your mom's really bad with alcohol," he snickered as he turned off the flame under the frying pan.

Mikan busied herself as she helped Anzu with the fruit. "Hey, hey, no need to inform the minors that," she chided him. The little girl beside her giggled.

"Very good!"

"Mm-hm! Otou-san is the best~!"

"Well. Thanks."

Anzu finished the rest of her blackberry-topped waffle and chugged down the contents of the glass set down in front of her. She hopped off the stool and waved her arms excitedly.

"Um, Okaa-san!" she burst. Mikan and Natsume looked on in amusement from their plates. "For your birthday, I—"

The young woman laughed. "A piano piece, right?" She smiled when the little girl bobbed her head up and down enthusiastically. "Will you play it for me?"

Anzu grinned. "Of course," she said, and then hurried over to the grand piano that was by the front door entrance. She put her fingers carefully under the black polished lid and lifted it slowly to reveal a long board of ivory keys, then delicately rested her fingers on them. Anzu turned to her parents with a beam on her face. "I've named it 'The Merry-go-round of Life,'" she laughed. Then she turned and her fingers moved slowly in side to side motions. The piece started with a repetitive series of notes, cascading downward.

Suddenly, her hands glided over to the left, and her hands produced a string of low notes with one rolling motion. Then her hands came back to the middle C and a C two octaves lower than the latter hand.

Her right hand slowly worked in a few notes, then her left hand immediately followed up with a single low note. Then her hands began to dance rhythmically and slowly on the board, and the room was flowing with an enchanting melody.

A smile spread on Anzu's face, and she spoke, breaking Natsume and Mikan out of their reverie. "You know," she said with a laugh as her hands did the work, "I really liked the story you told me about the Christmas dance at Alice Gakuen." She grinned at their surprised faces. "So I imagined you two were waltzing and I thought about what kind of music was in the background…"

Mikan waved a hand and laughed brightly. "I don't even remember the music from that time. And it certainly wasn't as beautiful as this," she said with a smile. Then she looked amused. "I do remember that I stepped on your dad's feet and we fell over…"

"You kissed me with your teeth," Natsume added, then ducked as the woman threw a punch in his direction.

Anzu sweatdropped, and turned to the piano with a giggle. "Why don't you dance now then?" she suggested, watching her hands move up and down the scale. "Hold on, there's a bridge here…"

A string of melancholy notes that almost seemed eerie passed, then she motioned at her standing parents. "Okay…" she said as her fingers rested on the board. "Now!"

Anzu tapped on the keys in staccato style and produced a drum-like rhythm. A second later, her hands took up the same melody from before, but with many more chords and dynamic enthusiasm. Mikan made a surprised noise as Natsume swept her gracefully off her feet, and the little girl watched with a beaming smile on her face.

The music seemed to echo within the room, and notes weaved in and out in the air, with the complexity of a full orchestra. Natsume and Mikan were both laughing and smiling as they twirled around the spacious family room that seemed vibrant and alive with music. Outside, the sun cast a warm glow in the frigid, cold sky, and the snow that littered the road and tree tops sparkled liked thousands of diamonds. It most certainly was a beautiful, snowy birthday.

Red-faced and breathless from laughing, Mikan insisted on a few more songs, which Anzu obliged to play happily. Her parents waltzed around the room the whole morning, and then flopped onto one of the black leather couches in the early afternoon.

The young woman clapped her hands together in delight. "You have a wonderful Alice," she said proudly to her daughter. Anzu fled from the cushioned piano bench, and sat on her mom's lap happily.

Natsume sighed in relief as he sunk deeper into the couch. "That was interesting," he said with a smile. He ruffled the little girl's inky black hair, much to her indignation. "You've probably surpassed Beethoven by now."

Anzu shook her head furiously. "But he wrote hundreds of pieces!" she argued. "I'm only eight!"

The auburn-haired woman smiled and stroked her daughter's hair. "You still have a lot ahead of you," she said softly. "You'll write thousands of pieces for sure!"

The little girl looked up at the ceiling wonderingly. "Thousands," she echoed, then giggled in delight. "That sounds fun! I'll do it!"

While they laughed together on the couch, the white cordless phone on the kitchen counter started to ring.

Incoming call, it parroted in a calm, female computer voice. Natsume received stares from Mikan and Anzu, and sighed as he rose from the couch and strode over to the counter.

Incoming c—beep. The young man frowned and pressed the talk button.

"Hello?" he said into the small speaker.

There was silence in the room as Natsume leaned on the counter. The two on the couch watched as he froze on the spot.

"How did you get this number?" he hissed, and turned so that the other two could only see his back. There was more silence, then he glanced around hurriedly and grabbed a nearby wooden bar stool.

Perching on it with his back still to them, he said quietly, "Sorry, I don't understand." His tone sounded angry and gruff. And his sentence probably went along the lines of, I don't want to understand. "Could you repeat that?"

Mikan noticed something was amiss, and smiled a small smile as she gently nudged Anzu. The little girl slid off of her lap and watched as her mom glided over to the hushed Natsume with saddened, hazel eyes.

Okaa-san? she wanted to ask. Otou-san, what's wrong?

The woman gently took the phone from her stiff husband and put it to her ear. "Hello," she said quietly. "May I ask who this is?"

Natsume slid off the stool and walked back to where Anzu was. She was frightened by the strangeness in his walk, and the way he kept his face down so that she couldn't see his expression.

He scooped her up in his arms, almost crushing her with his strength. "I'm sorry," he said, and his voice was strained.

"Oh!" exclaimed Mikan as she paced in the kitchen. "Narumi-sensei, is that you?" She seemed to have forgotten about the conversation he had had with Natsume. "How are you? How is the Academy?"

Anzu felt a burning sensation through her night clothes. She coughed dryly and placed a small hand on her dad's arm that held her to his shoulder. Hot! she realized with a jolt, and she cradled her stinging hand to her chest.

"Otou-san, are you angry?" she whispered as she scrunched up both of her arms to her chest now. "You're hurting me…"

Natsume gasped and swiftly set her back on the couch. Her feet touched the cool leather seat, and she stared wide-eyed into the bright crimson eyes of her dad. His face was pale with either fear or anger. Or maybe a dangerous mixture of both.

"Sorry, Anzu," he said in a hushed voice as he sighed outwardly. He sank into the couch tiredly, and the little girl flopped next to him worriedly.

They both watched as Mikan paced in the kitchen, sharing words with a man named Narumi. Anzu was familiar with the exuberant language teacher of the Elementary Branch at Alice Gakuen, as her parents had whispered stories of their past when Anzu crept into their room and said that she couldn't sleep.

"Wow, sounds like you have a bunch of rowdy students!" she laughed. "But they'll turn brilliant as they grow up and experience more of the school life." Mikan smiled and lingered by a small window in the side door to their small back yard. Her eyes grazed over the sparkling snow on the ground. "So," she said, her tone turning strange, "what news did you tell Natsume?"

There was a brief silence as she listened to Narumi speak. "Wh-" she said, alarmed. "Two days from now? That's a little…" Mikan's mood seemed to dampen. "But, Narumi-sensei… it's already that time?"

She listened some more, and Anzu rested her head on her dad's arm. To her relief, it was a bit cooler, but still warm.

"Okay," Mikan choked. She paused again, then nodded slowly. "I'll tell her."

Natsume stiffened, and his eyes swerved to Anzu. Confusion swept over her as she watched her father grimace, and her mother spoke into the phone once more.

"Yes, I understand," she said. Her eyes looked a bit teary. "Yes. Two days from now. Goodbye, Narumi-sensei." She pulled the phone from her ear, then pressed the END button.

The little girl jumped from the couch and ran up to her. "Okaa-san," she said worriedly, gazing up at her. "What's wrong?"

"Um," Mikan said as she wiped the tears from her eyes. She smiled a shaky smile. "Apparently they've found us."

Anzu looked bewildered. "Alice Gakuen?" she asked softly. "But, Okaa-san," she said as she took her mom's hand in hers, "Aren't you happy? This way, I can make music for everyone…"

Natsume shook his head furiously, and he stood with them. "That may be true," he said, his eyes downcast, "but you won't see us for a while. And security has been tightened severely since that incident…"

That incident. The hairs on the back of her neck prickled. The image of injured and fighting students was conjured in Anzu's mind. "The one that forced Okaa-san and Otou-san to run away from the school?"

Mikan nodded, and lifted her up to their level. "Yes, that one. We told you that they forgave us after a while, right?" she said to the little girl.

Anzu nodded, and Mikan continued in a somber voice. "They've been keeping their eyes on students who participated majorly in the rebel. Even though it was completely due to the corruption of the school, they tightened security." Mikan's eyes narrowed. "They're quickly trying to snatch up children with Alices when they're young, so that they don't question their ways as they get older. Their rules will be hammered into them."

"Wait," Anzu said, putting one of her small hands on Mikan's cheek. "Um, sorry for the change in subject, but did they drop the Dangerous Class? Or at least stop them from doing missions?"

Natsume tensed, his eyes full of past pain. "Narumi didn't mention that to me," he said. "What about you, Mikan?"

She shook her head sadly. "No… he didn't say anything about the Dangerous Class." She touched the hand that rested on her cheek with one index finger. "He talked about the security issues and of Anzu's departure."

The raven-haired girl felt mixed emotions swirling inside her. "They're coming here to take me then?" she asked, a bit frightened now.

Natsume kissed the top of her head. "Yes, in two days," he said. "Narumi also said something about Ruka and Imai's—no, Ruka and Hotaru's kids."

Anzu's eyes flickered. "They're going too?"

"Same day as you."

She bit her lip, and wriggled out of Mikan's arms. She stood on the wooden floor with her shoulders slumped and her head bowed.

"I think I'll go pack," she said quietly as she headed up the stairs.

Comment: Hello, readers! (laughs) That concludes the first chapter to this going-to-be epic. ^-^ I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I typed it.

There will be a lot of children of the other characters in Gakuen Alice. Just like from the one couple mentioned above…

By the way, as I mentioned before, I do not own The Merry-go-round of Life by Hisaishi Joe. He is an actual composer and he has made pieces for animated movies like Howl's Moving Castle (where Merry-go-round was the theme song), Princess Mononoke, and more. The Merry-go-round of Life is also translated as Jinsei-no-Merry-go-round.

Please review the story! :D And now, onward to Chapter Two (when I gather more ideas).