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.


11. Forbidden Fruit

She paused at the edge of the tree line. Her gaze lifted to the house that she had been born in, had been raised first by caring hands and then by hands that were absent most of the time, the home where she had found happiness and loss. She studied the structure, trying to figure out how long she had been away. Since she left the city she had lost track of time, each day blending into the next. She couldn't remember where she had been, only that she had been walking as she tried to sort out her thoughts.


The front door had opened and she looked at Toga, not recognizing him for a briefest moment. For a few short seconds, he had appeared to be their father.

For a moment, he had thought that he might be imagining her. In the time that had passed, he had thought that he had seen her only to discover that it was a trick of his mind or a shadow that took on a human-like appearance. His reaction to her absence had made everything look like her. So now he stood at the window, trying to decipher whether she was real or not. Something within him told him that she was, but he could not be sure. She had yet to disappear so he immediately stepped outside. When she looked at him, after he called her name, he knew. Striding across the grass to her, he grasped her shoulders tightly. "Where were you?"

He had appeared before her in an instant, it seemed. Toga was not a vampire though and such a thing would be impossible for him. She stared blankly at him for a moment as his question slowly registered itself to her. "I do not know," she answered after several minutes.

Frowning, he examined her appearance. Her boots were stained with mud and she was dirty. "You look terrible. Where did you go."

"I do not know. I was walking."

"Do you know how long you've been gone?" She shook her head and he frowned. The fact that she had answered all of his questions with either a negative or uncertainty was troubling. Grasping her chin, he turned her head to either side so that he could see her neck. There were no bite wounds or any other injury that he could see. His gaze met hers again. For a few minutes he just held her gaze, trying to see if she had been under the spell of a pure blood or an aristocrat. "It has been six days, Shiriko," he said as gently as he could, breaking the silence between them.

There was concern in his voice. Studying at his expression, she saw what looked to be fear. She felt a pang of guilt. Toga was afraid. She had made him fear for her well being. "I am sorry. I do not know what I was thinking." She lowered her gaze, unable to meet his eye any longer. "There was so much- I had to sort out my thoughts."

His hold on her relaxed. "Shiriko... You idiot," he said, shaking his head. You lovely idiot. Wrapping his arms around her, he held her close to him before releasing her just as quickly as he had embraced her. "Just do not do that again." He was silent for a moment. That would be too much to ask of her, he realized. "At least, give me some sort of warning before you wander off next time," he said, managing a smile.

She glanced at him before nodding. "I will," she promised.

He touched her face in an affectionate manner before releasing her. "Come on. You smell like you haven't bathed."

Her eyes narrowed and she looked sharply at him. "Thank you, Toga," she said, sarcasm evident in her voice. She could not help but smile though. He was putting this behind them, which was nice. She had done something that had worried him greatly, she knew. It was best that they had not lingered on the past though. Following him inside the house she walked to the bathroom and immediately stripped out of her clothes the instant that she closed the door. Turning on the water, she stepped beneath it. The water was warm and washed the dirt and grime from her body. She closed her eyes and rested her forehead against the shower wall. Only now was she aware of the soreness of her body from walking for so long. She felt weak. Had she even eaten or drank while she had been gone? She couldn't remember. From the way she felt, the answer was probably a negative.


Toga glanced in the direction of the bathroom. The water was still running. She had been in there for a time and he was slightly worried for her well being. Considering how she had been when she had come home... He heard the door open and looked again to see her. She was wrapped in a towel, her long dark hair dripping. He could only stare at her.

Feeling the weight of eyes on her, she looked at Toga and smiled. "What is it?"

"Nothing," he said, quickly looking away.

Her gaze lingered on him for a moment longer before she lowered her gaze.

Focusing on cleaning his weapon, he tried his best to discard the image in his mind. He could hear her moving around.

Picking up an apple, she took a bite out of it. The fruit was sweet. She took another bite. Her gaze drifted to where he was. There seemed to be a weight on his shoulders, but there had always been. This though... Had she worried him that much? It must be so. The thought that she had caused him pain just because she had not immediately returned home caused a painful ache in her chest. It had been wrong of her.

Her gaze was on him. After a time though, he felt it move and he relaxed slightly. Sensing her presence beside him, he looked at her again.

"I am sorry."

"Don't worry about it. I'm not angry."

"I know." She smiled slightly. How he could not be angry with her was beyond her sense of understanding. His patience far outweighed hers. She knew that if their positions were exchanged that she would have probably beaten him for having worried her so much though, that was very unlikely. The worst thing that she would likely do was ignore him for a few days.

There was a water droplet that trailed down the side of her neck before trailing down her chest. He followed it before quickly diverting his gaze when he reached the top of her towel.

"I just do not like making you concerned. You have your own life to worry about and I should not be placing that extra burden on you."

"You are not a burden, Shiriko." He dared another glance at her. His gaze met hers. "Do not worry about this. It is in the past."

She nodded and her smile grew some. "As you wish, Toga."

Her smile was beautiful and he could not help but stare at her lips. She seemed to be ignorant of this for her smile didn't falter and a blush didn't darken her features. He forced his eyes back to hers. There was warmth in them as there always was.

A faint chill passed through her and she became aware of the fact that she was still in her towel. "I will be back shortly, Toga," she said, starting to walk towards the stairs. His hand grabbed her arm and she stopped. "What is-" His lips covered her own, silencing her words. It felt as though everything had come to an abrupt stop.

Grasping her forearms, he pulled her close to him. This was a sin, he knew. He no longer cared about it now. For too long he had been resisting this.

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