Author's notes: I got caught up with my little brother and ragnarok. This morning, I think I was having a case of bro-con… D: It was terrible. Maybe I just miss him because he's going back to college (not here equals dorm and so far… it's a hassle to visit him) and I'm back in college too. . I'll be busy with a lot of stuff so don't expect the really fast updates like before. I'll make this my priority though.

Here's the 7th chapter.

The Snow King

"Tsunayoshi Sawada, you ask me stupid yet peculiar questions," Reborn said. The man observed the boy who stood before him, and noticed the crooked tie.

"Thus, because you amuse me, I will answer them," Reborn smiled. The man beckoned for Tsuna and unraveled the knot that Tsuna spent so long to make. He tightened it and flapped out the collar. Then he motioned for Tsunayoshi to follow him. "I will try to make this lesson enlightening for you, dame-Tsuna. We do have a few minutes before we leave."

They left his room and Tsuna wanted to say that he didn't have to follow Reborn when he knew the way.

Tsuna gulped. Reborn smiled and said, "Do not worry. I will not punish you today if you disappoint me."

"That's not reassuring. You don't sound convincing, Reborn."

"And how would you like me to rephrase that? It sounds like you're pleading for me not to hurt you today. Is that it, my dear pupil?" Reborn said in his low velvety voice. He leaned on Tsuna to intimidate the child and Tsuna shrunk away from him.

"I… I'm not pleading at all… besides, who likes to be hurt?"

And just like that, in a snap, Tsuna found himself screaming, when Reborn dislocated one of his fingers. Reborn merely stared at him, and popped it back into place.

Tsuna was teary eyed and closely guarded his hands to himself.

"I hate–"

"Know your place. When you signed the contract, you have given me the freedom to use whatever means to educate you. Pain is a wonderful motivator. Cherish it and learn to shut your mouth, you weak, fragile little boy."

As if to traumatize the brat, Reborn took his wrist, and began dragging him. Tsuna tried not to think what else those hands are capable of snapping in a mere whim.

They stopped walking when they reached the large balcony overlooking the receiving area of the manor. On both sides of the balcony were two curved marble stairs that led below.

Tsuna was still afraid and affronted. He murmured softly, "but I'm not a masochist…"

"Regardless, my methods are effective. Now,"

Reborn took one of the yellow roses that one of the servants left on the display table beside the stairs. He put one on Tsuna's breast pocket and another one on his. Reborn continued, "This is for your cousin, Massimo."

"You have forgiven him, have you not?"

"I think so."


Down the stairs, the Chiavarone famiglia's best men and Dino were busy with preparations. Guns, explosives, and equipment were being packed, tucked inside inconspicuous looking bags. There were the black suited Chiavarone guards. Then there were women dressed as maids and butlers, ones he never saw before.

"When the dead die, they will cease to exist as person… they are gone but the living will be there to remember. See, it is how we've lived which is important. It is how Massimo died, which makes his death rather fortunate."

"But I really don't think dying is fortunate at all," Tsuna replied, eyes downcast.

"Massimo is simply lucky that he is remembered in a positive light. It will not matter to him, but it will matter to who he left behind. His death, is an instrument and a message. Don't you see? Have we not taught you enough?" Reborn asked and seemed slightly exasperated.

"Families, allegiances, debts, favors, loyalty, trust, and power… these words should spark an idea if you still have a brain. In his death, many will live on, and yet, many will still die… why?"

Tsuna pondered about it, and thought about the last lesson Dino and Reborn taught him a day before the departure. He hated this.

"How slow. How do you expect to present yourself to your relatives if you cannot understand such a simple concept, dame-Tsuna?"

Tsuna shook his head and looked down, "It's not that I don't understand it. I think I do but I don't like what I'm thinking about… and I want a different answer."

Reborn's eyebrow rose. "Well then, enlighten me of your thoughts."

"I think that… you say Massimo's death is good because he did not die as an embarrassment to his family. From what you told me yesterday… Xanxus and G… Giotto were tricked by him, and those two would not have stopped until Massimo is dead. Vengeance matters more than blood, and for the embarrassment, it would not have taken long until Giotto or Xanxus killed Massimo regardless of the consequences. And since neither Giotto nor Xanxus can take the credit of bringing down Massimo, Nono… and Vongola would not put them in a more favorable light."

Tsuna bit his lip. "It might be… the opposite in fact. Since it's public knowledge that Massimo almost got the two tricked in his last escapade… and the last skirmish with Giotto was like… erm… a stalemate… Massimo was clearly on the losing side, but was able to escape Giotto's attempt on his life… and now, Massimo just got killed but something else. It would mean that Giotto and Xanxus would never be able to have their revenge. If they were the ones who killed Massimo, they would have claimed it, and have the glory… but now, there will be nothing else left to take the burnt of their anger except Massimo's followers… or Enrico."

"Hmph, you have a brain after all, continue."

"Massimo is fortunate that he is dead not because he got killed by either of the two heirs. He is also fortunate to be dead… because he will not be here to witness what will happen after his death?"

"Why end it in a question?"

"… Well. We would all be gathered for his burial, and Nono instructed each heir to bring some flowers if they'd be attending… I think this is mildly insulting as well… I just. Hmmn. Like you said… a lot of things would happen because he died. Now… I am the fourth in line… and. Arghh… I don't know Reborn. You told me you were going to answer my question."

"I give you 6 points for a lousy conclusion. But truly, can you not imagine for yourself? It is easy enough to predict."

"I don't know… that's why I'm asking... or maybe, I just don't want to think about it." Tsuna suddenly closed off, and regarded Reborn with a look that reflected a bit of horror for ever making him think about such things, but that was his life now.

The child left him on the balcony and descended the stairs, still massaging his finger subconsciously.

Reborn felt like he was missing something. It was something important.

For a time, after the incident in the bathtub, Tsunayoshi was cold. He did not want to speak to anyone. He did not even want to look them in the eye. He was alone in a world that they could not reach. He seemed terrified of something… This lasted for half a day and Dino was so worried, wanting to postpone the trip. It was true that it was unforeseen for the child to suddenly render himself mute, deaf, and just plain catatonic, but perhaps it was delayed shock.

It was just too late to cancel the trip. If they did, Tsunayoshi and his famiglia would be the laughing stop of Vongola.

Reborn had none of it, and when the two of them began shouting, almost leading to a fight that would no doubt land into Reborn's favor, Tsunayoshi finally came out of his shell, hugging his Dino-nii and pleading both of them to stop fighting.

"Are you alright, Tsunayoshi? Was it a bad dream? Can you… can you speak to your Dino-nii now?"

"…yes… I think… it was just a bad dream… I wish it was all a bad dream… Dino-nii. I'm okay now."

Feeling mildly irritated at having to remember such a thing, Reborn laid his thoughts to rest.

"Tsunayoshi Sawada… if you are hiding something important from me, I will give you a punishment you'll remember."

"We are leaving. You know the drill. To my loyal household servants, Maria, Isabella, Anabelle, Kristine, Karen, Alfonso, Silvestro… and the rest of you… This will be the tenth time we've done such a thing... As much as I would love you to guard the estate, there is no use for it, not when your life might be potentially in danger. I will not risk that. We have the Mosca and they will serve as our eyes and ears."

Some of the servants began to swoon to the passionate speech. Tsuna was looking fondly at his Dino-nii.

"I would have all of you to continue on with your other lives for the time being. Return back to your families. You will be summoned when and if we return. At the first sign of danger, you also know where to go. You are all beloved to me and I do hope you all know that I will miss you terribly while we're gone."

The maids all rushed to hug their master while the male servants were shaking their heads.

"It's a harem," Tsuna murmured to himself. "I agree." Silvestro, the cook grinned and then later looked rather put off by the entire idea. "It is a pity, all those beautiful women are in love with him."

"Even Maria?" Tsuna wondered out loud.

"Even Maria."

"But she's in love with Reborn, right?"

"What, a woman can't love two men at the same time?"

Somehow, with the way Silvestro said it and the waggling of his eyebrows, Tsuna blushed beet red.

"But they… do they do… it?"

"You bet. They are as loud as hell."

Somehow Tsuna didn't want to continue the conversation, afraid of imagining the details… of his two teachers and Maria.

"Oh… you didn't know?" Silvestro scratched his chin, "the young master would kill me if this gets out… ah, so… just secret between the two of us okay? Please signore."

Tsuna paused to consider, "but I don't like secrets. I hate lies and liars. I don't want to… lie to Dino-nii."

"Signore! Don't be too hasty please, let this old man teach you something good." Silvestro patted his back, and said, "The world is full of secrets. Lying and secrets… We cannot live without them, signore. Let's say, your crush is wearing this hideous dress. She seems to really like it, and she asks for your opinion, but you think it's hideous… what would you say to her, signore?"

"I would say it looks bad on her." Tsuna said flatly, not even bothering to think about it.

"But can you really? Try to imagine signore. The woman you love, looking so happy in that disastrous dress, but so happy and excited with it…"

Tsunayoshi tried to imagine his school crush, a fellow Japanese like him, Kyoko… wearing a hideous dress… but nothing on her could ever seem hideous.

He sighed.

"You see signore. You cannot tell her it is hideous! Sometimes it would be best to deceive someone than to tell them the truth, for their own good."

"How is lying to someone for their own good?" Tsuna grumpily bit out. This was hitting too close to home.

"Then what about your mother?"

"What about my mother?" Tsuna had to control his breathing. His mother was still a sore spot that Reborn had relentlessly tried to beat out of him.

"I mean no offense signore, if you would let me continue, I was about to say your mother… and the rest of this household are quite similar. The young master mentioned it awhile ago… we loyal servants of the Chiavarone famiglia live double lives. Some of us have families, lovers and friends who will never be privy to the life within Vongola or within the Chiavarone famiglia. If we break the code of silence, the omertà, we will be executed with no mercy. We have chosen to live our lives like this not in fear of omertà, but more… out of loyalty to the young master."

"That… sounds tiring."

"It is, signore. And yet we are happy, and our families our happy. We are paid generously, and we are given the incentive of keeping our loved ones safe… signore, I would never tell my mamma of this life. I fear she will not be able to accept me. Perhaps, she felt the same fear, of wanting to protect you signore… Nana Sawada… and she seemed like the type from what I can remember of her," Silvestro murmured mournfully.

Silvestro didn't speak, and Tsuna pondered about his situation. It was not fun to be kept in the dark. Look at what happened to him. Sometimes, he hated the adults for thinking that lying or keeping secrets in order to protect him was doing him any good. It would hurt more if he found out by himself. It made all sorts of doubt spout out of his chest.

It made his chest tighten at the thought that so many people, including his mother would betray him… but what was he supposed to think? He was becoming paranoid. He was becoming paranoid of the idea that Silvestro was telling him such things because Dino or Reborn didn't want him to waver…

His lessons were always sporadic… and Silvestro mentioned it was a lesson… but just maybe like this, he could forgive his Dino-nii for what he heard last night. He had to know first though… he had to weigh for himself if the secret should have been kept from him… or not at all.

He still wished he knew now, and hoped that Dino would tell him before he found out the truth…

"…so having said that, signore. A little lie… would save me from certain death. Young master… has expressed his desire to keep you innocent of such things… so please, for both of our sake, do not tell him."

Tsuna smiled, and decided to take the man's advice to heart, "Ok… I will not tell." A lie. A lie of omission.

He didn't think Dino was brutal enough to kill Silvestro just because of such a simple tidbit. Tsuna blinked.

Dino was in front of him, and was done kissing his maids goodbye. Upon seeing how close Tsunayoshi and Silvestro was, Dino's eyes slightly narrowed. It was almost imperceptible to notice, but Tsuna did. He smiled cheerfully for his Dino-nii… if only to soothe the man who was currently trying to keep a straight face.

"Have I kept you waiting?"

"Mmn, not at all."

"Silvestro was good company?"

"Yes, he told me about Maria though. He said Maria loves you. But she also loves Reborn right? I wonder. How is that possible?"

Reborn chuckled a little at the antics of his pupil. There was hope for Tsuna. He was left wondering if he was going to be blamed for Tsunayoshi's twisted sense of humor. It was true, Silvestro was another plant, but he got himself in the situation so there was no saving him. That is, if Dino snaps out of it. Watching him sputter, trying to explain how it actually works to the child was amusing and Tsuna was asking questions that would lead to that.

Tsuna was still easily impressionable, and if Reborn had his way, he would continue to mould the child to his liking until Tsuna succeeded in where Dino cannot.

"But… you say, share… affections… if it's possible to share then… how do you do it? Do you even love her, Dino-nii?"

'What an evil little child,' Reborn thought but they do have to go. The Vongola manor was a couple of hours away with the helicopter, but still, it took hours.

More out of the necessity for punctuality than actual pity, Reborn pulled Dino away, and was more amused when Tsuna stared at him, then at Dino, and at his fingers, a blush on his cheeks.

The Vongola manor loomed in the horizon. Tsuna's hands were sweating, and he was trembling in both fear… and awe.

It should have been the feeling that he'd first felt, had Alaude taken the time to educate him.

Tsunayoshi Sawada, once an ordinary school boy beat up by bullies, was now a fourth heir to the group that holds the highest power in the world, Vongola. Vongola took his mother, and replaced them with a famiglia, and knowledge that any sheltered man or woman would kill for. Vongola granted him freedom, but put him in a cage, a lovely little cage of bloodshed, and dispute, and chaos. To witness a full assembly once more and finally to partake in it… made his eyes light up.

He did not know if he could do it but he had to do it. He would do it for his mother and for the unanswered questions that would remain unanswered unless he had power.

But one thing remained.

He hated Vongola with a passion.

The sun was travelling a lazy pace beyond the hills. The sound of the wind, the birds, and the swaying of leaves can be heard.

From the main hall, they have travelled a long way to embrace this nature that Massimo had the audacity to write on his diary… that should he want to die, he'd want to be buried outside and not in the family graveyard.

There were five factions.

Xanxus and his small but deadly unit, the elite assassination squad, Varia, stood out in black robes. They were a loud and rambunctious bunch, unmindful of the silence that was only broken by their voices.

They were all very striking in appearance, but however rude they acted, the gathering gave them a wide berth, ignoring them as if they were all used to it.

The tales of Varia's accomplishments were received with great pleasure by Vongola. They had never failed a single mission ordered by Nono, and brought strategic victories led by Xanxus.

To their left was Tsunayoshi's famiglia. It was composed of the Dino Chiavarogne and his right hand, Kyoya Hibari and Reborn, all dressed in customary white. Their flower of choice was the yellow rose.

Next to them was Giotto's group. They wore white with gold accents. Each of them held a beautiful bouquet of flowers composed of Basil, Fraxinella, Saffron, Yarrow and Asphodel flowers.

Enrico's group was by far the largest, having five of his most trusted guards and seven of Massimo's most priced assassins. None of them brought flowers except for Enrico, who had a small bucket of Aloe.

Behind them were supporting families. The Varia had none, while Tsuna had the Chiavarone, The Association, and a couple of unknown families.

Giotto had a large gathering of old blood supporters. Giotto Vongola II as he was came to be known, came from the direct line of the founder, and knowing this, those who did not particularly like Nono's famiglia had flocked over to Giotto's side, serving as the primary opposition to both Nono and Nono's sons.

A comparable number of supporters rallied under Enrico, while the fifth faction, whose loyalties were to Vongola but to none of the heirs, stayed at the sidelines.

The assembly was gathered at the backyard of Vongola which overlooked a large man-made lake. On an alter, Nono and his guardians sat, and waited for the last esteemed member of the famiglia who confirmed their attendance to arrive, and once everything was set, Nono stood.

Immediately, the crowd quieted.

Timoteo gazed at the assembly with his tired but knowledgeable eyes. He was twice the age of many, and still going strong, known as "the miracle man", who led them through triumph and splendor of the new age, the esteemed leader of the GU empire, the ninth man to inherit the Vongola throne, Timoteo Vongola.

Even the Varia closed their mouths and opted to listen.

"We have abolished the old laws, and put aside frivolous practices that we've all once abided… and yet, here I am, saying to myself… how I wish my son was given a chance to confess his sins, and have a priest preside over these matters instead of myself. I am getting old. I am not blind, however. I am aware that there is enmity within Vongola, and I am beside myself to find a way to stop it."

At these words, the tension in the air rose, and Tsuna stared at the head, wondering why… but hoping that since he was the boss, he would not allow more bloodshed.

"I will not stop those of you who will seek revenge. The strong shall live and the weak shall die. It has been our way, to settle things, and that is why until now, Vongola had stood strong. We spilled the blood of our foes! At the same time, for as long as I can remember, we have spilled the blood of our kin! It is a sad thing. It is sad but it is the truth. I accept this. I accept that this is what we are. I will not be surprised to see our manor painted in red, and we will all bathe n it."

Before anyone could react at the horrifying picture the ninth painted, Nono raised his hand and gently put it down in a gesture of silence.

"I will, however, allow those who wish to grieve, a few days to grieve in peace. For a week, I would like everyone to peacefully coexist. Anyone who disobeys this will meet death. I will personally kill those foolish enough who do not heed this warning."

Then, the heavy countenance of Nono seemed to soften, and he smiled a little.

"Now… I speak to you as a mere man who has lost his son…"

AN: Um… All this time I thought Senhor was Italian (got influenced from the last Tyki/Allen fic I read) before it dawned on me today that it was Portuguese… right, it's supposed to be signore, but those are minor corrections left for the future… I'll just keep that in mind when writing from now on.

Again, sorry for the grammatical/spelling errors. I will go over them when I have time. Oh, and I love flowers. Those who don't understand, I'll mention it on the next chapter. A bit Tsuna-centric here. Well, the story is primarily about him… Sorry if it's a bit anticlimactic, but hey… a lot can happen in a week.

Published 1/8/2013