Disclaimer: Anybody who's actually reading this would know that Vampire Knight is the creation of Matsuri Hino. I am merely a fan.

Summary: Even when time passed, even when there were laugh lines around her mouth and wrinkles around her eyes, even when she was too tired to dance the night away like they did when they were young, even when the people around them gossiped, convinced that she was old enough to be his mother or even his grandmother, Hanabusa still reckoned she was the prettiest lady in the room. [Aidou x Sayori] [minor Akatsuki x Ruka]

Author's Note: Was inspired by the special VK chapter that recently came out. Have to admit, I'm not a big fan of Aidou/Yori pairing. But the scene at the end, it kind of prompted this. Anyway, hope you like it :)


Sixty-two years by Witless Fool

Sixty-two years. A wedding. Three renewals of vows. One child – a beautiful daughter. Two grandchildren (and counting, hopefully). First days of school. Graduations. Engagement parties and weddings of their friends and relatives. Walking their daughter down the aisle… Countless moments of memories to be treasured and remembered.

But when he opened his mouth, there were no words.

How do you say goodbye to the love of your life?

On the day of the funeral, the sky was grey and gloomy. And a part of him wondered if she had organized it just for him. God knows how many sunny days she had sat patiently by his side, waiting for his nausea and headache caused by the direct sunlight to pass. He always regretted that he was never able to take her to amusement parks, public parades and flower festivals but she never complained. She insisted, repeatedly, that she loved just being with him.

What good are regrets over what we can't have? Wouldn't you rather cherish the gifts we've been given?

Sayori Wakaba. She always did know what to say.

Was it love at first sight? Their grandchildren always insisted on asking. She would always laugh that gentle laugh of hers. Senri would snort, only to be jabbed in the stomach by Rima. Takuma, much to Hanabusa's annoyance, would chime in and insist Aidou was too busy being a prat to notice Sayori's blossoming beauty.

Hey, he got the girl at the end. Didn't that count for something?

But looking back, Hanabusa had to admit that Takuma's teasing words did hold a grain of truth. He had been too involved in his jealousy of Yuuki-sama and then later, his involvement in keeping the pureblood princess alive to notice the quiet human girl who was always by Yuuki-sama's side. Even when he rescued her from the Level E vampire all those years ago, he only saw her as an obligation he had to fulfil in order to get Yuuki-sama out of harm's way.

So when did he first notice her? Probably around the time she said –

Thank you very much.

Even now, more than seventy years later, he could still remember his surprise as the young Sayori stood up, her legs still trembling slightly in fear, and smiled. She had, with a few simple words, not only managed to calm the entire Day Class down but galvanize them into voicing their support and gratitude for the Night Class. Before then, he had always viewed humans as simple creatures that saw all the glitter and shine on the surface but none of the darkness hidden beneath. But when the entire class stood up to voice their objection against erasing their memories, it was as if he was viewing them, viewing her, with a pair of fresh eyes.

They didn't see each other for another year. Life had different plans for the two of them. He was to educate Yuuki-sama for her grand entrance into the vampire society. And she was to finish her schooling before going back home to her fiancé. So young and already a pawn in her father's game of politics and power.

And for the years following that, their lives kept parting and coming back together, touching but never connecting. It was like she was just… sort of there… quietly in the background. Most of the time, he was too busy running around to notice her.

When he finally did slow down and take a good proper look at her, he thought he was the only one who noticed.

Four years had passed since Yuuki-sama went away due to her pregnancy and in that time, Sayori had grown up. The quiet pretty girl had evolved into a dignified lady. She had let her hair grow past her shoulders – those tendrils of ginger-coloured hair settling around her face effortlessly. He could barely keep his eyes and attention off of her. So when Ichijou commented on her beauty and he stepped in, he must have looked like a complete idiot.

Not that you're not normally an idiot, Hanabusa. Ichijou would always say.

But it was more than just her looks. There was an inner beauty of hers that shone through, which always left him with a sense of awe that this human, this beautiful brilliant human, had chosen to spend the rest of her life with him. Even when time passed, even when there were laugh lines around her mouth and wrinkles around her eyes, even when she was too tired to dance the night away like they did when they were young, even when the people around them gossiped, convinced that she was old enough to be his mother or even his grandmother, Hanabusa still reckoned she was the prettiest lady in the room.

Falling in love with her had been easy but not without obstacles. They had never really had a real conversation between the two of them. He wasn't even sure if she saw him in that light. Plenty of girls did. But he knew she wasn't just another girl. He courted her the traditional way (he figured she would have liked that) and after a three months whirlwind romance, he managed to convince her father to cancel the previous engagement and asked him for her hand.

She said yes.

What had followed had been sixty-two years of … life. What other word could he use to describe the brief time they've had together? There was joy and sorrow, laughter and tears, and above all else, love. They fought often, sometimes jokingly, sometimes perhaps even deliberately (he loved ruffling her calm cool feathers). They would argue over where to go for the holidays, where to send their daughter to school, his tendency of hogging the doona and her steadfast refusal to let him turn her. It was the last one that always led to furious debates and more than once, her storming out of the room. He wanted to be furious, wanted to remain in the right, and he would stew angrily in the room alone. But every single time, without fail, he would run out after her.

I had a fulfilling life with the time I was given – that's good enough for me.

It was a sentence she repeated to him often. And it was also the last thing she said to him.

He had already been researching on a cure for vampires but the going was slow, painfully slow at times. It was never going to come out in time for her to see it but he had to try. There were a lot of reasons why he was doing the research – some noble, others selfish. The one that he never said out loud, but everyone knew was his wish to live out his life with her.

If she wasn't willing to be turned, then he'd do it instead.

If only he found the cure in time.

If only…

As he knelt down beside the coffin in which she was resting, he looked back at the sixty-two years they had had together. He wouldn't take a single second of it back, no. But at the same time, there was a small part of him that always wished they had just a little more time together.

"Hanabusa?"

His cousin's quiet word startled him out of his thoughts. She looked exhausted. And she would be, with the new baby and all. The pair of them, Akatsuki and Ruka, had just come out of their three year confinement two days ago, just in time to say goodbye and now, attend the funeral. A glance over her shoulder revealed the third of their trio, carefully carrying their newborn. The pregnancy and childbirth, according to Akatsuki, had been difficult. And from the haunted look in his eyes, Hanabusa reckoned it probably had been much, much worse.

But he could also tell that the pair of them thought it was all worth it. And he couldn't help but agree.

The baby was all caramel curls and big hazel eyes, just like his mother, but his quiet solemn demeanour was entirely his father's. Right now, from the way he was rubbing his eyes with a small chubby fist, Hanabusa could tell he had just woken up from a nap and he was not happy about it. But then he opened his eyes, spotted his mother, and they lit up like fireworks at night. Without hesitation, he reached out with both hands, demanding her attention.

With quiet chuckles, Ruka and Akatsuki did a quick transfer, and the baby was content in his mother's arms once more.

That, Hanabusa mused, probably also came from his father.

Looking at the three of them, as a united close-knit family, Hanabusa marvelled at how far his two cousins have come since their childhood. Akatsuki had finally gotten what he wanted from the bottom of his heart. And Hanabusa had never seen Ruka so content and happy. Despite her exhaustion, motherhood suited her and Ruka was positively glowing. Looking at them, Hanabusa rejoiced in the happiness they had together.

But a small part of him couldn't help but taste the sourness of jealousy.

They had all the time in the world, relatively speaking. They could afford to take a couple of decades off to tour the world, bask in each other's company and fall in love. They had enjoyed a long engagement, often sneaking off from wedding plans to have some private time of their own. Even after they got married, they enjoy being newlyweds for close to fifteen years before they decided to start a family with each other. Even now, they still had centuries left together and would live long enough to have a big family and see their great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren grow up and start families of their own. They still have all that to come. And what did he have?

"Sixty-two years, huh, Hanabusa," Akatsuki commented as he bent down to place a white rose to pay his respect.

Sixty-two years.

There was that number again, never to increase to another.

"She loves you, you know," Ruka commented as she reached out with her spare hand to nudge him gently. "What you two have… no one can ever take that away from you."

With a lump in his throat, Hanabusa could only nod mutely. He was so glad that Ruka had used present tense.

"Grandpa!" his two granddaughters dashed over to his side, tugging on his pants until he obligingly bent down to their level. "Can we go over and speak to Yuuki-chan?"

Hanabusa blinked, so surprised by the request that he didn't even correct them on the correct way they should address the pureblood princess.

"Grandma said we needed to be her friend," one of them chattered with a big smile on her face.

"She's a crybaby," the other one interjected in a loud whisper.

Yori again, Hanabusa thought as he smiled and gently nudged the two of them in the direction of Yuuki-sama and Zero. Even now, she was looking after the rest of them.

"What are you going to do now?" Akatsuki wanted to know.

There was only one answer really, and that was to work harder than ever before.

Sixty-two years. It was not enough, it would never be enough. But he was still grateful. He had loved a wonderful woman and was well loved in return. They had a fulfilling life with the time they had been given and Hanabusa supposed, as he laid down his white rose, that was good enough for him


Author's Note: Penny for your thoughts? :)

Witless Fool