Chapter 3 - Thorns of Blood

She stumbled again, her hand suddenly tightening its grip on his. Solomon was half-expecting it; his body shifting instinctively to catch her.

"My queen, please." He said gently, and while she shook her blonde head before she had even begun to register the question properly, there was little protest left.

The fact was, she needed blood, no matter how much she disliked the idea. Solomon had been trying for nearly three weeks to persuade her to at least drink from him, but the principles of Elizabeth continued to refuse.

Now though, with the change to Diva complete but for the colour of her hair, the hunger was impossible to ignore.

"I… won't…" She gasped, before her knees gave out completely. Solomon was still supporting her, so she didn't fall, and he lowered her gently to the carpeted floor of her bedroom. Her parents slept on oblivious on the floor below, with her younger brother. Solomon's speed had been rather useful when it came to sneaking unseen into Elizabeth's bedroom.

"You must. Please." She looked up at him, her eyes shifting colour from pure blue to glowing azure. And finally, the blue glow won out, and Solomon saw it with relief, shifting her up so that his bared neck was within easy reach. She bit, and she drank almost as much as the greedy Diva of old would have; she had been resisting for so long.

So enthralled in the moment were they that neither noticed when the light flickered on. Both looked up, however, when Elizabeth's mother gave a loud shriek that brought her father running. Elizabeth looked up, her lips and chin stained berry red.

"Elizabeth! What is going on?" Elizabeth stared at her hysterical mother for a few moments, as Solomon stood, somehow managing to look guilty, surprised and unsure all at the same time.

"Um…" He said quietly, and Mr & Mrs Howard's eyes both flickered to him.

"Who are you?" Mr Howard asked suspiciously; his voice measured but angry.

"Ah… I'm Solomon Goldsmith; it's nice to meet you." He bowed, and as he did so he frantically caught his queen's eyes, only to find she was glaring at him incredulously, as if she couldn't quite believe how imbecilic he was.

There was a small silence, before Elizabeth sighed and held up her hand.

"Solomon." She commanded, and instantly Solomon was at her side, helping her up. The blood that had trailed down her chin suddenly dripped onto the white of her t-shirt, making her mother jump.

"Elizabeth, what is going on?" Mrs Howard repeated, stepping forwards with one hand outstretched. Elizabeth faced them, and both parents froze; they knew their daughter, and this girl was not her.

"Mr and Mrs Howard, it has been a pleasure knowing you. Thank you for taking care of me up until now." Neither her mother nor her father could say a word as she bowed, before turning to Solomon once more.

He needed no audible command; sweeping her up in his arms, he leapt out of the open window and out of sight.

-n/s-

"Damn it! We can't just leave it like this, but what can we do!" She exclaimed, running her hands through her hair. Solomon swiftly pulled the scissors out of the way of his queen's fingers.

"My queen, it makes it a little harder for me to cut your hair if you do that." He said mildly, and she obligingly pulled her fingers from her hair.

The transformation seemed to have brought on a bit of a growth surge where her hair was concerned; previously a bob barely brushing her chin, it had quickly grown in length until it trailed across the floor. Not that it seemed to have slowed the pace down, Solomon was shortening it so it reached her hips. Strangely enough, she had decided that she didn't want a fringe; so whenever the wind blew the forefront parts of her hair blew across her face.

"Don't you agree?" She demanded, her fists clenching, as Solomon began to finish up his haircut.

"Yes. They will look for you, after all." He said, and he heard her teeth grit.

"Damn it. It's really the only way…" She murmured to herself, and Solomon looked up enquiringly.

"The only way?"

"To fake my death, Solomon. Somehow, you're going to have to help me do that." His eyes widened before he thought, finishing the last few cuts as he did so.

"Well, there is probably a poison or something that would work…" She giggled suddenly, making him jump, and stood, stretching her arms out.

"Just like Juliet, huh?" She laughed, whirling to face him, and he smiled. She wandered over to perch upon the window seat, gazing out over the wide grounds of the country-side mansion that Solomon owned, as her chevalier packed up his scissors.

"Hey, Solomon." She said softly, suddenly serious.

"Yes?" He had moved to sit in an armchair, facing the window and so his queen, with a book, but now he looked up, attentative.

"I think I need a new name."

"A new name?" She turned to face him, her expression sombre.

"Yes. I can't be Elizabeth, and I don't want to be called 'Diva'. Diva is Diva's name. The real Diva." She answered, and he put his book aside.

"Did you have any ideas?" She turned to gaze out of the window once more.

"Yes. I looked on your laptop, and I found three that I like, but none of them are quite right…" She trailed off thoughtfully, and Solomon smiled again.

"Well, what are those three?"

"Asami, Atsuko and Ayano." She said, turning and meeting his gaze with a mild curiosity to see what he thought.

"Mmm. 'Morning beauty', 'kind child' and 'my colour', and the letter 'a'?" He asked, and she smiled gently at him, the same smile she smiled when she sang to him.

"I like the letter A. It is a dependable letter, nice and safe. What do you think?" She asked, standing and coming to sit on the arm of his chair. He looked up at her, taking her hand as he found it; the perfect new name for her.

"Amaoi." He said. She blinked, before looking thoughtful.

"'Ama', 'heaven' and 'aoi', blue? Blue heaven… I like it." She decided, before abruptly half-falling from her seat to give him a hug.

"Thank you, Solomon." Solomon knew that she wasn't just thanking him for her name. She sang to him then, to say thank you.

"Into the deep blue sky

Our affections are being dispersed

If only you were my fated person

Reality isn't always like our dreams

Inside the shining wind

The wings of a dream descend

Have courage and fly to the future

So beautiful

The burning beat of my heart starts beating

At the same speed as on that day

I love those who look straight ahead

I want to look at it forever

To the glittering stream of stars

We each murmur our special important wish

When I close my eyes, only you come to mind

I want to see you now

Because twice you have not turned back

And not let go of this movement

You have brightened my life

And made it lovely

I want to discover the real me

I have been reborn in order to protect you

Catching the miracle which keeps passing through

Until the next world

The burning beat of my heart starts beating

At the same speed as on that day

I want to discover the real me

I have been reborn in order to protect you

Catching the miracle which keeps passing through

Until the next world

Powerfully, eternally."

Solomon was so lost in the song that the sharp sting as her fangs slid into his neck shocked him; his grip tightening on his queen's lithe body. His expression grew sorrowful as she drank, and he tipped his head back.

"And so the thorns of blood tighten, digging ever tighter…" He quoted, though he did not know whom had said it. Probably Nathan, or possibly Karl. They always were the insane ones. He closed his eyes, as she drank deeper.

-n/s-

"We weren't prepared for you to go, you were to full of life to be, taken away from us so soon, it's still hard to believe. How much we'll miss your smile, and your laughter in our ears, your absence leaves a hole in us, we're filling with our tears. You taught us how to be our best, to in the moment live, to never hold a grudge for long, and loyal friendship give. Your presence was a light and joy, our darling daughter, Elizabeth." There was muted applause as the poem from Elizabeth's mother finished, and Solomon surreptitiously loosed the black tie around his neck.

Amaoi had asked him to go to her funeral to 'oversee' things, and while he still wasn't entirely certain what she meant by that, he was there. It had been a relatively simple matter to do a little 'mind magic', as Amaoi liked to call it, and convince Elizabeth's family and friends that a) he had never existed, and b) Elizabeth had died peacefully in her sleep from a silent disease that nobody really knew much about.

While he was upset at the grief they had had to cause her family, Amaoi had argued that it was better than putting them in danger because she couldn't let go, and Solomon could tell that she was more distraught than he was.

As soon as the lid of the coffin shut, he felt his queen begin to breathe again, and heard her rustling as she pulled out her i-pod to entertain herself. He tried not to laugh; bending over to hide his smile.

A sudden buzzing sensation against his left thigh nearly made him jump, before he realised it was his phone. Carefully, he delved into his pocket to retrieve the smart phone, gazing at the number and name displayed on the lit up screen grimly.

'000-000-000 - Saya Otonashi'. With a sigh, he disconnected the the call and, switching it off, slipped it into his pocket. He knew exactly what the calls log would say when he later took it out to stare at again; 367 missed calls and 412 messages, variously from Saya, Hibiki, Kanade, Kai and Hagi (though he suspected that was Saya on Hagi's new and rarely used phone - Hagi wasn't exactly one for technology. He had broken the computer a few months back, or Solomon probably would have had numerous unread emails as well.)

As they lowered Elizabeth's coffin into the ground, he mentally prepared himself for the task of digging that up to let Amaoi out later. And so the funeral continued, and 'Elizabeth Katelyn Howard' died.


Hello! God, I'm so sorry it took me so long to update... I think I have a disease where I keep starting new stories and not finishing them...but I will finish this!

This chappy is short because it's a bit of a filler - transition if you will. So the next one should be longer, and hopefully quicker too!

The song is shining days from Mai HiME and the eulogy poem is Gone Too Soon by Jilchristy Dee.

Review and let me know what you think! XD