Chapter 17: Akatsuki
I leaned against the wall, arms folded across my chest, and I watched her.
I watched her as she sipped from a glass of crimson blood, my attention oddly drawn to her full lips. I watched as she stood next to her parents, little more than a lovely doll with a cold gaze. I watched as those cold eyes melted with longing as they searched the room for one I feared would never come.
Kaname Kuran couldn't be bothered with such petty things. He was a Pureblood. She understood this, I knew. But that didn't quell her longing to see him.
And so, I watched her eyes betray her with just a hint of sadness before again freezing over with indifference.
Later, I was walking up the flights of stairs to my bedroom after having walked home from Ruka's house. I was very tired; it was already 3 in the morning, and I still had to shower and prepare to sleep.
I opened the door to my bedroom and was startled to see something move.
"Akatsuki. You're finally here," Lord Kaname said calmly, as if he had been waiting for hours, but would still have waited many more to see me. What could be this important? Not to mention, if he had been here, couldn't he have at least made an appearance at Ruka's party?
"Forgive me, I had no idea that you were waiting for me," I said, only a fraction of the impatience I was feeling bleeding into my voice.
"Sit. There is something we must discuss," he said, and I did.
"What is this about, Lord Kaname? Is something wrong?" I asked, a little curious.
"I assume by now you know of the letters I sent to Hanabusa's Estate and the invitation to attend Cross Academy," he stated, pausing to look at me for confirmation. I nodded.
"And I assume that Hanabusa and Ruka are both accepting my invitation. But I want to know about you, Akatsuki. What are your feelings on this?" he asked me, and I stared at him, wondering how this could be considered a pressing matter.
"Well, I have thought about it, and I guess I'll probably end up going, because they are," I said truthfully.
"Just as I thought. Let me ask you this, Akatsuki: can I trust you?"
"Have I not demonstrated that you can, Lord Kaname? I have fulfilled every mission you have sent me on, and killed every level E that you order me to. What more is there?" I defended myself against his unblinking gaze.
"You have indeed demonstrated that you are able to carry out the tasks that I need completed. However, trust is something different. Both Hanabusa and Ruka are prepared to give everything to me, if I asked it of them. Are you prepared to do the same, Akatsuki?"
I stared at him, not knowing what to say. Of course, he was a Pureblood and I was a noble. I was prepared to follow him. "Yes, Lord Kaname," I told him.
"Then listen to what I am about to tell you. I know that Ruka desperately wants to attend Cross Academy. However, in her current state, I cannot allow it," he told me cryptically.
"Her…current state?" I asked.
"Her parents, though on the surface they are said to be pro-monarchy, are actually on the side of the senate."
"But…does that matter? I thought you didn't want to reestablish the monarchy anyway. Why would this stop Ruka from attending the academy?" I asked, surprised at his declaration, but not understanding why it was necessarily a problem.
"Because the senate wants to control me, and the time is coming very soon when I will need to be in control and not be hindered by the senate. I need for them not to interfere or know of my plans if I'm going to protect someone important to me."
"I don't understand. How does this involve Ruka?"
"Because, Akatsuki, what better way for a pro-senate vampire to gain information on me than through his daughter who attends the academy at my side? Why do you think the Souens have kept Ruka so close to them all these years, never allowing her to leave?"
"Ruka would never betray you and tell them—"
"She wouldn't have a choice."
"What are you saying?" I asked quietly, looking into his dark eyes, fearing his reply.
"Ruka's father has formed a blood bond with her," he said simply, as if it was a fact.
As if it was a fact, and not a tragedy. As if it was something normal.
I gaped at him as he told me this so non-chalantly. How could this be? I had known for some time that Ruka's home life was not the most pleasant, but this? This was utterly wrong. A blood bond was something only formed between the most intimate of pairs; it was something lovers shared. How could her father have done this?
As my anger and despair hit me, so did all of the pieces I had been desperately trying to glue together. All of the times she had suddenly pulled away from me or seemed frightened. Were they all because of this? I knew that a blood bond allowed two vampires to completely share thoughts, information and feelings, not to mention sense where the other was at all times. Another piece of the puzzle flew into place as I realized that this was what the Pureblood had been speaking of. If Ruka had a blood bond with her father, and almost certainly one against her will, there was no way to stop the flow of information from her to her father, and wherever she went, he would find her. He would know of the Pureblood's plans as soon as he was with Ruka.
"What…does this mean?" I asked, trying to force the words out, dreading the answer.
"What are your thoughts now, Akatsuki?" he asked his own question, disregarding mine. I thought for a minute before responding.
"Well…before, I thought I wasn't so sure about Cross Academy. And I also knew that if I didn't go, there was a chance Ruka wouldn't either. However…now, hearing this…what she's been through…" I trailed off, thinking about just hours before when we had been in her room. I had known for years that the thing she craved most was her freedom, but the weight of her wish had only just sunk in as I realized what was really ensnaring her. I had promised her that I would do anything to free her. Maybe this was the way to do that.
"Now, I think that the best thing for her may be to come to Cross Academy and get away from…everything," I said reluctantly.
"Good. But there is still the problem of her blood bond with her father. I cannot allow her to attend the academy when a bond such as that exists."
"So how is the bond broken?" I asked warily, hoping that it would be something that at least wasn't painful.
"The bond can only be broken when another is formed. And once it is, then the first is forever severed, meaning that even if the first pair bite each other again, the thoughts and emotions can no longer be shared between them. So here is where you fit into the equation, Akatsuki. I know that Ruka is close to you. Therefore, I can ensure that your loyalty is true if you allow me to form a new blood bond with her myself in order to break the one with her father," he said quietly, watching for my reaction.
My heart stopped beating and my breath escaped in a gasp. What was he saying? Did he even understand what he was asking? This was twisted; warped even. This was not my decision to make; it was Ruka's. She was the only one who should ever be able to decide what to do with her blood.
Besides the fact that I was appalled, I could feel the anger rising in me. What was this? As images of the Pureblood sinking his fangs into her pale neck crossed my mind, my vision went red with rage and I could feel the fire inside me rush to my fingertips, begging to be unleashed. I had never wanted to kill someone this much in my entire life, never mind that this happened to be, a Pureblood, the Kuran prince.
"You see, Akatsuki, this is the only way to ensure that I can trust you and to allow her to come to Cross Academy. Didn't you promise to give her her freedom, Akatsuki?" he taunted me, and at this point, I didn't even bother to wonder how he knew of my promise to her. "Don't you want to protect her? You do understand, Akatsuki, if she isn't for me, then she is against me. For her own safety, you should comply with me," he added, and to my rage-filled mind it sounded like mocking.
Of course I wanted to protect her. Of course I wanted to get her away from that man who called himself her father. But at what price? Would she really be free or would she then become a slave to the Pureblood's wishes, more than I feared she already was?
"You're struggling," he stated.
"I just…don't see how this is my decision to make," I told him through my teeth.
"She can't know of her father's involvement with the senate, Akatsuki. She may already know that her father has created a blood bond, but she must not know the implications of it. Knowing would only put her and my plans at risk. That being said, the blood bond with me must be formed without her realizing the implications. Basically, I know without a doubt that if I offer to drink her blood, therefore forming a blood bond without her knowledge, she will not refuse me. The only one who stands in my way is you, Akatsuki."
"I will always protect her—" I started angrily.
"Maybe sometimes the only way to protect those you love is to do the unthinkable," he interrupted me, and I could sense a deep sorrow in his voice in spite of myself. I suddenly remembered what he had said earlier.
"Who is it that you care so much for?" I asked him.
"It doesn't matter who. All you must know is that everything I have done and everything I have asked you to do has been for that person. That person is also the reason that I am gathering followers. You will be needed soon. Certainly you understand that you are not the only ones who I have been visiting and giving missions to for years. Now, Akatsuki, do you agree to my terms?"
I hesitated. I had promised to free her, and here was a chance. Yes, it involved a blood bond that she was unaware of, but I had to admit that the Pureblood was right; she most likely would be overjoyed with the prospect of him drinking her blood; she had told me so herself years ago.
And, ultimately, it would save her. How could I deny her that only because of my own selfish anger that she would share a blood bond with the Pureblood?
"Lord Kuran," I started, ignoring it when he raised his eyebrow at the impersonal way I addressed him. "I will agree to your plan to form a blood bond with Ruka. However, I want you to understand something. I will be loyal to you and I will trust you, because you are doing something that ultimately will free Ruka from her father's grasp. But unlike Hanabusa and Ruka, my relationship to you is that from this night on we are allies. We are not friends. So as long as your interests do not interfere with Ruka's happiness, I will follow you completely and you can trust me completely because I know you are helping her. But the moment she is unsafe because of you, I cannot serve you anymore," I finished boldly.
The Pureblood was quiet a moment, seemingly thinking over what I had said.
"Alright. This relationship is mutually beneficial, so I will concede."
"I understand." I said solemnly. If this would free Ruka and ensure that I was trustworthy, then I would agree to it. Even if I have to force each word of compliance painfully from my throat, I will do it for her I thought as I tried to push back the irrational rush of possessiveness that clouded my mind.