Taki introspective the night Klaus is knighted. Written for the prompt "1AM: focus is on wholeness of self and the banishing of any shadow". Inspired by chapter 21.

Along the eastern side of the gardens is a wide clear lake, visible only to the plum trees and those allowed into the shrine's interior. When Taki was but four years old, he began to spend long hours at the lake's shore – reciting philosophy or practicing his calligraphy, whatever tasks the imperial scholars deemed necessary for his lessons. Even now the lake remains transparent and calm, its shallow depths unhidden. But Taki is not here to admire how the crescent moon reflects upon its surface, or how odd it is to find a place so tranquil in a time of war.

What Taki seeks here is the solace no one could ever provide.

The water is cool in his palm. He lets it spill over, running down the length of his forearm, past the wide white sleeve of his robe; dips his hands in again and splashes his face, so that his hair is damp and matted. But it is only a precursor for what is to come, and with deliberate motions Taki discards his sandals and steps forward. Waist deep, he bends and plunges his head under.

Once upon a time, says the echoing wind, this lake was murky and tainted. But the founder of the Reizen family purified its waters.

Taki breaks the surface – gasps for air then plunges back under. Around him the pressure bombards his ears, its reach forceful and unrelenting. And it makes him think of the intensity in Klaus' eyes, how Klaus' hands strip and demand without hesitance. How Klaus cannot know what tomorrow will bring, cannot understand how Taki has betrayed him, all for a selfish wish.

"Now we will be together", wasn't that what Klaus said? And Taki stood silent, frozen. Hadn't dared to admit that now … now they could never be together. By binding Klaus to his side, Taki has unilaterally ended whatever affections they might share.

The water lapping at his sides is the only physical touch Taki can allow now. Surely Klaus will foresee the altered circumstances; grasp the honour that has been bestowed. To become Taki's knight speaks of an intimacy surpassing any other.

And only the water that caress him now will ever know Taki is defiled.