Kaname was worried. Very, very, worried. Pacing the floor of his room he frowned at the worn carpet beneath his feet, browned with age. Zero's condition had been getting much much worse during the last few days. He no longer responded to people entering his room, just laying there with glassy eyes, dull silver light reflecting in them. His skin looked like glass, frail and translucent. Veins were visible beneath his skin. His breathing was ragged, and every so often it even stopped. He shivered violently in spasms, but he was scalding hot to the touch. Shizuka had forbidden everybody but herself and the doctors from entering the room, in caution of diseases they could spread. It had been days since Kaname had last seen Zero, and every so often he was tempted to creep up the stares and visit him in the night. But Shizuka was overly wary, having Shiki stand outside the room every night. It was driving Kaname crazy knowing Zero was in intense pain and there was nothing he could do about it. He couldn't simply ask Ichiru to quit it.

Ichiru. A shiver crawled up Kaname's spine, as he thought about the last words he'd spoken to the young boy days ago. The pure uncensored rage had scorched him, and the only thing that lied in Ichiru's eyes now was bitter sadness and an evil lust for revenge. If there was one thing Kaname was sure of, it was this; Ichiru had lost his humanity. He was no longer human.

Briefly pausing his pacing, Kaname looked up at the faint noise of knocking at the door. "Come in," he said distantly, still much farther away in his head. Takuma entered with a respectful bow. "Kaname, it's another letter from your sister." he informed cheerfully, handing over the thick envelope. Kaname blinked in almost surprise. And then felt terribly guilty. In the wake of what was happening, he'd almost completely forgotten about his dear younger sister. "Thank you," he mumbled in the general direction of Takuma, rubbing his face and massaging his temples. Even without a mirror, Kaname could tell he looked like an utter mess. His eyes were bleary, his hair was in disarray from constantly running his fingers through it. He was half-dressed as it is. He probably looked half mad. Takuma stepped forward, gently laying a hand upon Kaname's sagging shoulders.

"Master Zero will be quite alright. He's recovered before. What's to stop him this time?" he reassured. Though it seemed as if the question had been answered by the swift silence. The chill that had taken over the house. From the dingy hailing snow outside to the darken gray skies. The winds howled with cruel laughter, the roof creaked. The entire manor, from the swaying dead bushes to the churning frozen water of the pond screamed one word in answer to Takuma's lighthearted question: Ichiru. With another firm pat of the shoulders, Takuma left Kaname in front of a dying fire, the crackling embers like gunshots in his ringing ears. Running his shaking hands through his hair again, Kaname sat down heavily in the large chair before the fire, using numb fingers to pry open the letter. He needed comfort, and had hardly anytime to waste with fetching a letter opener. A small, worn smile appeared on his face at the familiar lilted handwriting, and the very subtle scent of roses. He could see Yuki as she always was, sitting amongst rose bushes in the garden and scratching out many letters with a stolen pen. Her concentrated face as she hunched over the letter, trying not to be caught for skipping lessons yet again as she used the face of her books as a desk upon her lap. She was one thing he could always rely on.

Dear Brother,

Kaname, it has been such awhile since I've received one of your letters! I would be very happy if you wrote back. I wonder, how are you? What's the Kiriyuu manor like? Mother told me that they used to have two boys there, are they still there? How old are they? WIll you tell them hello for me?

Kaname chuckled. It was wonderful to see that his sister was still almost impishly curious. Though it made his heart twinge to think that it had been so long since he'd last seen her, so long since they'd last written.

Anyways, things are going swimmingly over here! Lessons are still an enormous bore though, without a question. I don't see how anyone can stand them. And my new tutor is such a dreary man! Besides that, there was a garden party yesterday! A lot of my friends from the fellow estates showed, and we had a blast. We snuck off in the night for a swim, but don't tell father. He'd have my head! It will start getting cold out here soon. Is it snowing where you are? It is only weeks away from Christmas. I can hardly wait! Father wants to know when you'll be coming home, as Mrs. Kiriyuu hasn't written him in awhile. I miss you dearly, I hope you'll be home in time for the holidays. Mother has planned such a fantastic ball! You better show, or at least write, brother. I warn you, I'll have your head if you don't! And don't even dare forget a present!

Sincerest Love,

Yuki

Kaname smiled, tracing the loopy writing of her name. She always managed to cheer him up, no matter what the situation. Her childish demands of a present would surely be met, Kaname thought, thinking back to the necklace stashed in the bottom drawers of his dresser. He'd hidden it, hoping no one meddlesome would try and thieve it. Pushing out of the comfy chair with a near groan, Kaname stretched widely, hearing the reliving pops as his spine realigned. Glancing towards the mirror on the opposite wall, Kaname imagined it was high time he stopped pacing, and actually did something beneficial. But first, a wash. He felt awful.

Taking the stairs two steps at a time, Kaname felt a bit more like himself. He felt fresh and renewed, and was ready to do something, anything to counteract Ichiru's ill-caused sickness towards Zero. Heading towards the library, where he expected he'd find Ichiru, Kaname almost bumped into Yagiri. Yagiri glowered down at him with one eye. "Lord Kuran. We need to talk." he said shortly, immediately turning tail and making his way through the kitchen and out the backdoor. Kaname hurried after, shooting a grateful look at Ruka as she offered up his coat. Hastily pulling it on, Kaname followed the older man's tracks through the icy and thick snow. The gardens, which must have been beautiful in the spring, were either dead or laden with churning snow. The fountain in the middle of patchy, bare flower rows was completely frozen over. The cheerful cherub on top had snow laden in stony curls and icicles dripping like fangs bared in a horrible grin. it was almost beast-like in comparison. It was hardly a cheerful, saintly cherub anymore, with it's face faded to almost nothing. Hustling past with his collar turned up against the wind, Kaname was surprised to see a small shack, not to close, not to far away from the main house. It glowed with warmth and there was a distinct smell of smoke as it trailed out of a small chimney, the remaining pillar of rebellion against the blowing winds as all else bent to it's will. Yagiri was silhouetted against the doorway, black curls whipping around his face and frown marring handsome features. "Hurry up, boy. The fire'll go out." he said gruffly, just barely turning in the doorway so Kaname could squeeze past. He shuddered as his body was reintroduced to warm temperatures again.

"What did you wish to speak with me about?" he questioned, politely settling on the chair offered to him. Yagiri turned his face towards the one window in the room, scowling harshly out the frost laden window. He glared into the frozen afternoon. "I want to talk to you about the boy." he muttered, settling heavily down into a chair stuffed with old cushions and lined with skins. He kicked his feet up onto the hide rug.

For a moment, Kaname was unsure who Yagiri was talking about. But then he suddenly remembered the aversion most had to saying Ichiru's name. "You mean Ichi-" he started, before Yagiri harshly cut him off. "Don't say his name!" he hissed, eyes turning to the window. For a moment, Kaname was sure he'd seen a flash of silver locks and the ends of a coat, sodden with water. A chill crept up his spine. "The unrestful don't need anymore reason to come around here." Yagiri grunted, settling back into his seat. He saw Kaname's rapidly paling features and added, "Can't get in neither. ' ve got charms all around this place." he said as if that was reassurance. "Charms?" Kaname blurted, eyes stealing around the small one-room home. All he saw was many firearms and other weapons alike along the walls. The head of a large buck peered at him blankly. A bear sneered back, mounted above Yagiri's head. "Not easy to spot, they aren't. Just small symbols. enough to keep him outta my house." he explained shortly, waving away anymore questions that could of possibly popped into Kaname's mind. "That's not what I wanna talk about." he said seriously.

"Then what did you want to see me about?" Kaname asked, somewhat anxious. Though the fire had warmed him to some degree there was still a lingering chill in his bones.

"I think he was killed."

"What?" Kaname blurted at the straightforward statement. There was no beating around the bush anymore, and Yagiri's answer was a blunt spike in his heart. "I think the boy out there was murdered." he said gravely. "Him? Murdered? Why?" Kaname asked. He couldn't help but feel a twinge of pity for the boy. Young and sickly he'd died. And now he was never spoken of, to be murdered on top of that, Kaname could almost understand his bitterness. "S'been a man, interested in this land here." Yagiri said thoughtfully. "Been at it for years, hassling Shizuka's husband, and then Shizuka when he passed. And when Zero turned 12, hassling him too." Yagiri said. "I wouldn't be surprised if it had been him that killed the boy. When the boys were getting close to coming of age, lot of accidents happened around here. Coincidental accidents."

Kaname leaned forward, brow furrowed. "You think Ichi- he was killed for property at the age of 6 for the matter of a piece of land?" he said incredulously. It seemed simply preposterous in his mind, and he fought the urge to scoff. The fire didn't, spitting out hot flames of skeptical disbelief, the chimney smoking like an old man on a pipe. Fierce wind howled down the chimney, suffocating the doubtful flames back into tameness. Yagiri folded his hands over his stomach, sliding down his seat into a languid position. "That year, Zero had a mirror twice the size of him dropped on top of his head. That boy was pushed off the roof of this very house," he glanced upwards towards the roof, "said he was lured up there by a man. Didn't say his name. Said he'd give him a treat if he walked the length of the roof. He 'fell' off halfway through." Yagiri said, giving an example.

"After the boy died, we thought the accidents would stop. They didn't. Someone almost ran over Zero with a cart. Didn't stop neither. He was poisoned at a ball by a nameless waiter who slipped something into his drink. Just barely survived. 'M telling you, he's been pushed, tripped, cut, poisoned and ran over more times than most could count. But Zero's a fighter, didn't even give up when someone convinced him to hold a pole in the middle of a field during a storm."

Kaname coughed in surprise. "He was struck by lighting?" Yagiri nodded his head yes. "But there's always been someone there, someone to convince them or trick them. Poison yhem. But always a cover. And this man, this man he's been known to mow down people to get what he wants. I wouldn't be surprised if he was the one to drown the boy."

Kaname shook his head. "He was trying to rescue bloody Rose from the middle of the pond. It cracked while he was trying to crawl off." he recited. Yagiri's eyebrow raised a bit, before lowering again. "So I've heard. Let me ask you this," he leaned in closely. "That boy, he was a weak fragile child. And that kitchen door is real heavy. Could've just barely managed to open it himself."

"So, Lord Kuran, how could a cat do it when he only just did it himself?"

Kaname fingered his coat uncomfortably, glancing out into the dim afternoon. "Maybe the cat got out another way," he mumbled.

"That house was sealed tight, I checked the doors and windows myself in the morning. All of the servants were in bed, and who the hell would let a cat out in the middle of a blizzard?"

Kaname fidgeted. There was a cold pit of ice settling in his stomach. "I don't know," he said desperately, "Why are you telling me this?" he asked. There was a feeling of being watched wracking his entire body. He wanted to turn, to lock the door again and block out the windows, but he doubted even that would stop the feeling of being watched constantly. Yagiri shrugged. "I know you've been talkin' to the boy. Just wanted to see if you noticed anything." Kaname shook his head, standing abruptly. "Well, I haven't. Thank you for the talk." he said quickly, making his way towards the door. Yagiri turned his head slightly to peer at him as he opened and shut the door quickly in his departure. "The unrested aren't welcome here." he muttered to himself, staring out the window. He watched the flapping tails of Kaname's coats disappear into the swirling winds. " They aren't welcome anywhere in this world."

A resounding thump of icy snow against glass hailed agreement. Kaname trudged through the winds, paranoia weighing every movement. Pushing open the kitchen door, Kaname noticed that even he himself had trouble opening the heavy oak. What he didn't notice was the cheerful cherub balanced on top of the fountain. No longer facing the gardens, it stared directly at Zero's window, needle-like icicle teeth spread in an awful grin.


A/N: Ugh, hello guys! I was doing so well at updating but then splat, I just stop. I'm so sorry, there's not a lot of time to write in doctor's offices. I'm fine though, getting better at least. I'm back though, and I'm definitely on track. I hope you guys review, I thought I did pretty well on this chapter. Don't worry, all shall be explained.

But who is this shadowy figure?