Crown of Thorns

The war was something that she never desired, but her birthright as a daughter of the Yagari family forced her to be a part of it. She killed level Est and slowly destroyed herself until the night her life was saved. Salvation was a distant dream, but maybe it was closer than she had originally believed.

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18. A nightmare

Each morning she opened her eyes and hoped that she would wake in her bed. She would start to move only to find herself unable to because of Kenta's body covering her own or his arms wrapped securely around her waist. Her eyes would close again and she would pretend to sleep until he left and she was alone. When she opened her eyes again she was aware of her new reality, but still hoped. Ignoring the sound of him bathing in the other room she would rise and walk to the window. Each time she wanted to see the view of her home's grounds spread out before her, the treeline that hid her mother's grave, the garden just outside the kitchen. She missed it. When she drew aside the curtains though she was greeted instead by the sight of a field and beyond that other houses.

It had been several days before she had gone to the town. She would have remained hidden away if Kenta had not insisted that she leave the house. His excuse was that they needed to buy some more rice. There was at least a week's supply of rice that remained. Reluctantly she had left and had walked with him down the road leading from his house and to the town.

They had passed three houses during the walk. Kenta lived in a community similar to the one where she had met Takeshi on that fateful hunt. The town was very different though. The road was dirt instead of paved with stones. She would look at the red dirt each time that one of their neighbors greeted Kenta. Thankfully, they had not stopped. Only when they had passed these people would she raise her gaze and study the lands. It was fields as far as her eyes could see. A farm town was where she had been brought. It was better than the city.

Talking could no longer be avoided once they entered the town. Though it was early the inhabitants were active. The small size of the town made it so that everyone knew each other. As such she found herself stopping and being introduced to many people. It seemed that no one knew that Kenta had planned to marry. They had fawned over the both of them. The men said that Kenta was lucky while the women complimented her beauty. All asked how they had met, how their marriage had come to pass, and when they would have children. She had left Kenta to answer their questions. He had told them all the same thing. They both worked in the same trade, the marriage had been arranged, and soon. The last answer caused a knot to form in the pit of her stomach.

The entire time Kenta kept his arm around waist. Normally she would have shied away from him, but she found his presence comforting in the face of all of these strangers. As a hunter she had faced dozens of vampires, but now she was wilting before the sea of faces around them. She kept close to Kenta. This pleased him if the tightening of his embrace was any sign. She didn't like the fact that she liked how near that he was right now. While she would like nothing more than to shove him away from her she couldn't bring herself to. A part of her wanted him close. She just assumed that it was because he was the only one that she had now. At least, that is how it felt.

 

It had taken too long for them to return to the house. She couldn't bring herself to call it home. However, it was a sanctuary. At least from the people of the town. She could not keep away from Kenta. Until the Council decided that enough time had passed since their marriage and she was allowed to hunt again she would have to keep near him. Unfortunately, he was just as restricted as she was.

The second that they stepped inside she freed himself from his hold and went to their bedroom. She heard Kenta mutter something, but she didn't bother to know what it was. More than likely he was expressing his distaste about her pushing him away. Closing the door tightly behind her she found herself wishing that she could lock it. There was no way to. It would be simple enough to place some form of blockade in front of it, but that would result in conflict with Kenta. As much as she didn't want him near her she respected him enough that she would not keep him out of his own room. This was his house after all.

No, your house. It is yours and Kenta's.

The voice made her feel cold. She hated that truth. This is his house. Kenta's only. It will never be mine.

You will have to face the facts eventually.

I have.

No, you haven't.

A knife became imbedded in the wall.

Kenta turned his head and glanced at the weapon that had just barely missed him. He looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

"Sorry," she muttered.

He pulled the knife free and walked over to her. Setting it down on the bed spread he then sat down beside her. "You're angry." She didn't respond to him. He reached over and took her hand. She didn't flinch like he had expected her to. "I know that you don't want this."

"Do not pretend that you did not either."

"I won't. I didn't really think about it until your father-" He silenced when she suddenly tensed. "I could have done worse. You're a hell of a lot better than the women that my mother wanted me to marry."

Her lips curved up in a wry smile. "Are you trying to make me feel better?"

"Trying."

She shook her head. He wasn't being fair. He was acting as they did when they had those few missions together when they found conversation desirable.

"I'm sorry about what happened in town."

"No, you're not. Your ego drove you to show off your prize." She did not try to stem the bitterness that seeped into her voice.

He frowned. Releasing her hand he looked away. Standing, he then walked to the window. "We cannot change this, Shiriko."

"No?"

Glancing over his shoulder he regarded her for a time in silence. Her expression was impassive, but there was defiance in her eyes. She would change this if she had the chance, he knew. After a few minutes he knelt down in front of her. Grasping her chin he made her meet his gaze. It was not difficult. She had not tried to look away from him or even move when he had approached her. "This is our reality now, Shiriko. This is our life. I suggest that you get used to it."

His words were hard, but his lips were soft when he kissed her. She didn't yield. Even when the voice told her that maybe this wouldn't be so bad, that they wouldn't be so bad together she refused to give in.

"You'll change your mind," he spoke against her lips. "Just give it time."

That was amusing. It was terribly amusing. She didn't care if there was some truth in his words. They would not happen.

He released her and left the room.

She remained where she was. Once the door closed she moved to remove her wedding band only to stop. As time slowly passed she pondered what he had said and what that voice inside of her continued to say. She did not accept this. She did not want this. However, Kenta was right. For now they were together and this was their reality. Until that time when things changed she would have to accept it, even if she did not want to. This was not what should be.

When the time for supper came she found herself standing and going to the kitchen. For now at least, she would pretend. Kenta appeared surprised when she entered the room. He was gratefully silent. She set to work preparing the evening meal. Neither of them spoke and she was left alone. It gave her time to tell herself that she was Kenta's wife. Kenta's wife. The words were unnatural. It was not right. The very thought was disgusting and made her feel ill. It was not what she wanted. Could she really pretend? Could she really do this when she desired none of it.

She did not want to be claimed.

She did not want to be Kenta's.

She did not want to be caged.

It was torture.

"Smells good."

She glanced over her shoulder at Kenta and uttered a quiet thank you before returning her attention to what she was slicing.

Her father had won. That fact alone was very clear to her. That man had gotten what he had wanted. He had rid himself of her and he had insured that what he feared most would not come to past. That knowledge left a bitter taste on her tongue.

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