Disclaimer: I don't own Vampire Knight or any of its characters or plot. I only own my OCs and the plot that differs from canon.

To my guest reviewer from April 5: I'm happy you think so :D Yeah, she just seems to click with Takuma whenever I write her... Aidou and Kain are indeed out of the question because I like their canon partners and ships. Yuuki is out, too, and so are Rima or Senri. I've thought about pairing her with Kaien, too, because that man deserves some more love, and they have similiar values, but we'll see what my muse decides while I write. I have something in mind for Kaien. Hehe.

That other part of your review made me burst out laughing as I read it xD. I actually contemplated if Koharu should just go on her merry way, travel the world, and let canon just be canon, but this would have been a very short story then. Lol.

To GoldenHourglass: I know exactly what you mean. If I'm into a fandom, I usually know all the facts and try to get them right, and it puts me off if the basic rules and facts of the respective universe are plain wrong (when it isn't an AU) through a lack of research, or if the characters act completely out of character for inexplicable reasons (and it isn't marked as OOC). I'm glad that you think I've done a good job with grasping the personalities right! I do try to keep the canon characters IC, but everyone has a slighlty different understanding of a canon character's personality, so opinions how a character should act may differ in some points. Nonetheless, I hope that someone points it out if a canon character acts horribly OOC in my story and their behaviour makes no sense.

And you're right, Koharu's familiar is a bird! What kind it is will be cleared up in this chapter :)

To kiki80: I've taken your critique into consideration though I'm not sure why you think Koharu won't be able to change anything. This is only the beginning of the story. The future is not set in stone and some things that happened in canon might not happen here ;) If you read this chapter, you'll find out more about Koharu's plans for the future.

To chaosmoon75: Omg, I was super excited to see that one of my favourite authors on this site has read and commented on my story! Thank you for commenting on two of my chapters! I'm happy that you like this story so far and think that everyone is IC :D Your question is really interesting. Yes, at the beginning of her new life her memories were a little hazy and Koharu only began to remember a few things more clearly as time passed and she grew up. At first, she couldn't make much sense of the bits she remembered, but after a certain event occurred most of them returned all at once, similar to how Kaname regained his memories. This will be explained further in a future chapter.

To Wolcen: The ex-human vampires who have lost their mind and have succumbed to their thirst for blood are called Level E in my story, just like in canon. Before that they are canonically Level D – ex-human vampires who still haven't gone mad and fallen to the Level E status but haven't drunk the blood of the Pureblood that turned them yet either. Level D that are stabilized by drinking the blood of the Pureblood who bit them become Level C, common vampires. Aside from ex-human Level C, there are Level C vampires who have been born as vampires, too, and they just have more human ancestors than Level B Aristocrats, who also have a better pedigree. Maybe my explanation in the previous chapter was a little confusing? I hope I cleared things up!

To kimchi759: You're welcome :D Are there even stories like that out there...? Please say no xD I don't want to see Kaname as a complete pedo. In my opinion Yuuki is already too young for him when they become lovers though it makes sense because they grew up together and Yuuki was his only light and all that. I also think (hope) that she might be older than she looked like when they became a couple because she might have aged slower when she was a vampire... You will find some answers to your questions in this chapter!

A/N: My thanks also goes to AliceRuiLin, Azaira, Ari, Aria, Imafantotally, lizyeh2000, lmamc, Lily Noir, Mithya Aviana Cailin, RosieDunne, and edrch, for taking the time to write and leave a review! I hope I didn't forget to mention anyone.

Thank you so much for the many kind reviews, and over 100 follows and favourites! That's amazing! I really do appreciate them and they motivate me to write. I'm sorry that my updates for this story are so slow because real life and my other story Between Two Worlds take up most of my time, but I hope you enjoy this chapter! It should also clear up some of your questions :)

Rewritten on 09.06.2021

Chapter Four – The Outside World

As silently as possible, so she wouldn't wake any of the servants or residents of the mansion, Koharu sneaked out of her room. She'd woken up at 4 p.m. in order to take a walk outside in the sunlight again. Unfortunately, it was coming down in buckets today, so she had to cancel her walk.

While she enjoyed her frequent walks with Takuma and Kaname during the night, Koharu yearned to feel the sun on her skin, even if it was a rather uncomfortable sensation now. Maybe she'd developed a masochistic streak over time, like Kaname.

'Maybe I've inherited that from him,' she contemplated wryly.

In any case, taking walks had become a routine and Koharu found joy in her daytime walks even if she was always being supervised by two of the guards who were guarding the mansion at all times. They followed her at a distance whenever she went outside... or what they believed was Koharu.

She was getting better at controlling her familiar and had even figured out how to create a shadow puppet, a doppelgänger of herself that she could control and use as her substitute to slip away from her watchers. The shadow puppet and familiar worked in a pretty similar way – Koharu had to create an extra body with magic and then transform it. She could give the familiar and shadow puppet simple commands that they would follow, but if she wanted them to talk, listen in on what they were hearing or do something more specific, she had to actively concentrate on the connection between them and her and control them.

It was also mentally exhausting to control them for extended periods of time but it was necessary if Koharu ever wanted to change the future. She wasn't going to sit still anymore, as if she was still in a cage, and just let things happen. This was her life and she refused to let other people use her for their plans or become a victim of the Plot.

So, she'd started to spy on Ichiō and the Council meetings by using her familiar whenever she could make time for it. It would take years to gather the evidence she needed for her plans but she could be patient. She still had a few years left before her father came out of hiding, hopefully, that would be enough.

It was pretty convenient that her familiar manifested as a white dove since they were fairly common animals. However, real doves were diurnal so Koharu still would have to be careful if she used her familiar during the night. She was also kind of embarrassed that her familiar, a manifestation of her subconsciousness, was such a symbolic animal even if it represented her state of mind and wishes for this life perfectly.

Well, nobody would ever find out what her familiar looked like if everything went according to plan.

Her own plans included becoming the head of the Hiō Clan because she'd probably need the economical resources and political power and reputation that came with the position. Even if the Hiō were feared more than other Purebloods, their origins dated back to the Ancestors of vampirekind, like the Kuran family, for which they were also regarded with great respect in vampire society.

Shizuka had never held the position of the clan head officially and the other members of the Hiō clan were dormant at the moment. If Koharu introduced herself to vampire society as a Kuran like she'd done to Takuma – which had been a dumb and thoughtless move in retrospect – Kaname would have even more control over her because he was the current head of the Kuran clan, which she would become a member of. People would also assume that she was the only Kuran princess because they didn't know about Yūki, which would have all kinds of negative effects for Koharu and her younger relative in the future.

For one thing, Koharu would be expected to marry Kaname in order to continue the Kuran line, which would be pretty problematic once Yūki turned back into a vampire, even though she was Kaname's true fiancé. People's perceptions weren't easy to change.

Koharu also wasn't romantically interested in Kaname and doubted that she would ever be. It was ironic that she'd once had a small crush on the fictional character Kaname in her teenage years in her past life. Reality was another matter, though.

They got along well enough as tentative friends and 'cousins' but that was it on Koharu's part. In addition, he was already smitten with Yūki – which was rather creepy considering his age – and Koharu has never had any interest in real men who were in love with another woman. It had always been one of the biggest turn-offs for her in her past life and nipped any romantic interest she'd shown in someone in the bud.

Furthermore, if Koharu introduced herself as a Kuran, she would come before Yūki in the line of succession. Koharu was the firstborn child of the true Kuran clan head, which made her the rightful heir of the title.

If Kaname went into hiding like in the series, it most likely wouldn't be her younger cousin but Koharu who would have to assume control over vampire society once the Senate was gone and the monarchy back in place. People would have known her for years at that point and might want Koharu and not Yūki to succeed the throne their grandfather had abolished so Ridō wouldn't become king.

Koharu didn't like that possible outcome and hoped that she'd be able to change things with her plans until then, but it was a possibility, so better be safe than sorry and become known as a Hiō in vampire society, even if that came with its own problems.

In any case, one day Koharu would need her independence and a group of supporters that she could rely on, but it'd be a slow process to find people she could trust and caution was required, so the Senate didn't catch wind of it. Staying with the Ichijō family was equally advantageous as it was disadvantageous.

On one hand she was socially, economically and even politically dependant on Ichiō and Kaname at the moment, and was under constant surveillance, but on the other hand she was in the position to keep a closer eye on them too to a point and could involve herself with people she wouldn't be able to meet if she had gone into hiding somewhere like Shizuka.

Certainly, it would have made her life a lot easier for some time if she had just fled to a place far away from the Vampire Knight canon and waited until it was all over – if you ignored that she was a Pureblood vampire and would face a lot of problems if she tried to mingle with normal humans. And that either Kaname or Ridō, or any other power-hungry Pureblood might come after her anyway to absorb her powers and kill her.

Leaving everything behind would have come back to bite her in the ass one day, she just knew it. Koharu couldn't rely on what she knew about canon, simply because she existed and she had already caused ripples voluntarily and involuntarily. This world wasn't the same as the story anymore.

Unpredictable outcomes meant danger, and despite her new life being somewhat bland, Koharu was grateful to be alive and didn't want to die anytime soon. And, like she'd told Kaname, she didn't like tragedies.

In conclusion, she decided to stay for good to better keep an eye on everything and get involved in the dangerous but slightly more predictable game her ancestor was playing. She also felt somewhat responsible for Shizuka and her future actions, and if Koharu stayed alone without any allies, she was a sitting duck. Even Purebloods needed supporters.

She had to tread very carefully while she was searching for dependable allies for the future and was continuing to play the role of the young and compliant Pureblood. Fortunately, she didn't have to pretend to be someone she was not due to her disposition, and only had to keep some things to herself.

At least, Koharu didn't have to worry about being hunted down by the lackeys of the Senate, or about being put on the elimination list of the equally corrupt Hunter Association while she was staying with the Ichijō family.

Spending a lot of her free time by going on sunlight walks or sitting in the cherry tree and dozing in the sun, though the guards found her odd for it, playing the flute, or reading one of the manga Takuma had leant her strengthened that image of being harmless she tried to project.

Other times she drew in the sketch book Honda-san had gotten for her per Koharu's request. Koharu was an example of peace and quiet. Or at least that was what they thought – they didn't know that it was her shadow puppet that took walks in the forest or dozed on a cherry tree.

The guards reported their observations back to the Ichiō, being none the wiser that Koharu was using her familiar to spy on their master or using her shadow puppet as her substitute to give them the slip.

She almost felt as if she was in a spy film at times.

When she was away from the Ichijō estate, she practised her power over plants and her other Pureblood abilities in secret. This was a precaution to ensure that the Senate wouldn't know what she was actually capable of.

Koharu sometimes wondered if Kaname had caught on to what she was doing. If someone could discern between a shadow puppet and her true self, then it was the other Pureblood.

At times she had the feeling that she was being followed when she left the estate and as if she was being watched during practise but Koharu never saw anyone and Kaname never showed himself or mentioned it back at the estate. That was why she didn't bring it up either.

While she wasn't eager about having to actually fight in the future and would have preferred to live a peaceful and quiet, non-violent life, Koharu knew that it would be foolish not to learn how to defend herself. She couldn't and didn't want to count on someone else to protect her.

Koharu was an adult woman at heart, who had fought her own battles in the past even if they weren't of the same nature as the ones she would fight in this life, and not some damsel in distress.

She also practised how to suppress her presence completely, so she didn't run the risk of being discovered even if her shadow puppet had taken her place at the mansion and she took the form of her familiar to slip out of the building. She doubted that it would prevent Kaname from following her, though.

Maybe controlling the guards with her will would have been less tedious than creating a doppelgänger every time Koharu wanted to leave the premises, but that was an ability she'd rather not give a try. Taking away someone's freedom to think or act was a vile thing to do, just like physically locking someone up. She didn't know how to do it or practise it anyway.

Since it was raining cats and dogs today and Koharu wasn't in the mood for a wet kimono and socks, she decided to forgo her walk and training.

Koharu remained inside the mansion and entered the living room. She turned on the TV and zapped through the programs, curious what would be on.

'I'm allowed to be lazy once in a while,' she thought to herself.

Koharu didn't have a TV back at the Hiō compound and wanted to know what kind of entertainment programs existed here. She hadn't recognized any of the manga Takuma had shown her.

Soon, she was engrossed in some kind of bizarre prank game show and had to snigger about it. However, at some point Koharu sensed a familiar vampire approaching the living room.

'Hmm, I could use this opportunity to find out how good I've become at erasing my presence...' she mused.

In a good temper, Koharu jumped off the sofa and then rolled underneath it to hide while she concealed her presence and scent as well as she was able to. She couldn't help but feel amused at her own childish action, and replayed the theme song of a spy film she'd watched in her past life in her mind because she was feeling particularly playful after watching that show on TV.

'Maybe acting all secretly and sneaky all the time is getting to my head? Well, it's not like a small prank will hurt anyone.'

Takuma entered the living room and seemed to be looking around, as if in search of something. "I could have sworn..." he mumbled to himself before he approached the television that was still displaying the game show.

The young vampire watched the program for a moment. "Oh, that looks entertaining..." he mumbled and looked around once more before he sat down on the sofa Koharu was using as her hiding place.

The Aristocrat seemed unaware of Koharu, she noted with satisfaction. She kept hiding herself and her presence for a while longer, until Takuma was engrossed in the game show. Seeing how the Aristocrat didn't suspect a thing, Koharu felt a little mischievous and crept quietly forward. She stretched out her arm and quickly gripped the teen vampire's right ankle.

Takuma immediately jumped up out of fright and let out a startled yelp before he pulled his legs onto the sofa and out of Koharu's reach. Too bad.

"Wh-what...? Wh-who...?" he stammered.

With an amused smile Koharu released the hold on her presence and scent.

"This is..." Takuma quickly picked it up. In the next moment blond hair and forest green eyes appeared in her visual field, as well as an upside-down face.

Koharu looked at him with barely hidden amusement and Takuma blinked back with a puzzled look. She sniggered at his expression that became even funnier when she rolled out from underneath the sofa. Her kimono made it hard to crawl and she would probably look like a revengeful Japanese ghost if she tried to.

'To hell with my Pureblood dignity. At least in front of Takuma I want to be more like my true self,' she thought wryly.

Takuma's dumbfounded expression was definitely worth sacrificing it. In addition, Koharu knew now that she'd succeeded in suppressing her presence. All that training hadn't been for nothing.

Takuma regained his composure when the Pureblood attempted to stand up and held out his hand to her to help her up. "You gave me a fright, Koharu-chan!" He pouted, his expression being one of mild anger mixed with incredulous amusement. "Why did you do that?"

She pointed wordlessly at the TV behind her.

Takuma once more looked at the program. "...Koharu-chan, you shouldn't startle people out of their wits just because you've seen it in a game show." His tone held a light reprimand, but the Level B's eyes were brimming with mirth.

"Your shocked expression was very cute, Takuma-kun," she told him with a smile, feeling a little bolder than usual.

The teen vampire blushed lightly in response, which she found precious.

"Koharu-chan, you shouldn't find somebody's shocked expression cute! Th-that's not very nice!" Despite his words, he could barely contain his happy smile at the strange compliment from her.

Ah, yes, very precious.

"...But I'm glad that you feel comfortable enough around me to show me more of your true self. You're very aloof when there are servants or guards around."

Koharu felt a little bashful at his words and about what she was about to say. "Well, we are friends... right? And you won't tell on me... right?" She liked to believe that they had bonded over their mutual love for manga, tea ceremonies, and joint efforts to get Kaname to stop reading his dusty, depressing dramas.

Koharu fiddled with a strand of her silvery-white hair and felt heat building up in her cheeks. The young vampire was a little nervous about his answer, but she wanted his confirmation to her childish inquiry.

She had been a young adult in her past life, but for the first few years as a Pureblood she had hardly remembered it until something that triggered her memories had occurred. As a result, Koharu's behaviour and personality were a strange mix of who she had been in her past life and who she was now – a young pureblood who had lived in almost complete isolation until some time ago.

"Of course we are!" Takuma replied with another beaming smile and a load of positive emotions and sincerity that she could sense from him. "Your secrets are safe with me."

Koharu had the feeling that she could trust Takuma – her intuition rarely let her down – but she'd wanted to hear it from him. Just because she was taught that she was supposed to act dignified at all times and shouldn't reveal her true thoughts or feelings, so no one could use them to take advantage of her, she wasn't going to be that way around everyone. That kind of behaviour was a recipe for loneliness and disaster.

Koharu didn't necessarily want the servants to see past her mask, because they reported everything back to Ichiō, but she didn't mind showing her emotions or her true self in front of Takuma. As for her plans for the future... well, that was another matter. For the moment she would keep them to herself.

While Takuma was his own person, not a lackey, and wasn't afraid to speak up when the Ancestor went too far, he was also Kaname's loyal best friend. Knowing her secrets would put Takuma in a very delicate and troublesome position. Koharu didn't want to force him to choose between them.

Not yet, at least.

She wasn't afraid that Takuma would report her weaknesses to Kaname – the other Pureblood had seen plenty of them already and she doubted that he would ask Takuma for them or that the Aristocrat would reveal them if asked. That was all that she wanted.

Koharu also hoped that Takuma would do the same for her in the future as he was doing for Kaname. That he would scold her if she ever lost her way and her plans became twisted. And that he would become such a close friend to her as well, even if he would ultimately choose Kaname over her.

"By the way, I like that game show, too. Humans come up with such interesting concepts, don't you agree?" Takuma changed the topic, having said everything that needed to be said.

Koharu nodded in agreement. "They do."

"Is this show the reason why you are up early today, Koharu-chan?"

"Not precisely. I usually take walks or relax in the sunlight at this time but the weather is too bad for that today," she explained.

"Heh? Doesn't the sunlight bother you?"

"A little but any discomfort is worth it. The world during the day is entirely different from the world during the night."

Koharu probably only liked the sunlight because of her nostalgia and human past. It was very uncomfortable on the eyes and skin as a vampire and getting up before dusk clashed with her now naturally nocturnal lifestyle. It was like waking up before dawn as a human but worse.

"Hmm... Would you mind if I join you sometimes, Koharu-chan? I think I would like to explore the world during the day, the world that humans see and live in, a little more too."

She smiled warmly back at the teen. "Not at all, Takuma-kun. I would like the company." She would still have enough time to practise her Pureblood powers.

"Great! I hope the weather is better tomorrow." Takuma's smile was infectious.

Together they watched the game show and shared laughs until it was time for breakfast. Slowly but surely, the young Aristocrat was earning himself a place in her heart.

It became routine that Takuma and Koharu went out together a few times a week in the afternoon, or watched the game show together when the weather was bad. Either they would meet in the living room or Takuma would fetch her from her room.

When she was in Kaname's company, Koharu tried to figure out what he had in mind for her and get him to read one of the romcom novels she'd acquired through Honda-san. She even went so far as to sneakily swap his depressing books with them. Takuma had been all for it, too and suggested a few that Kaname might like.

At first, Kaname showed her the same indulgence a parent would show their child and was entertained by her futile attempts to change his taste in literature. But as Koharu was getting better at hiding his novels around the mansion and left clues for him to turn the search into a game of treasure hunt, he became slightly exasperated with her, or at least Koharu suspected so.


She couldn't find her flute and she was pretty sure that Kaname was the culprit. He must have hidden it out of retribution. She'd already searched for it by scent inside the mansion – the instrument smelled of her – and had asked the staff if they had seen it but to no avail.

Koharu entered the picture room, where Kaname and Takuma were playing chess together. "Have you seen Takehiko?" she didn't waste a second and came straight to the point.

Takuma furrowed his brows. "Who is Takehiko?"

Kaname kept up his poker face, but Koharu could tell that he wanted to know the same thing, judging from the interested gleam in his russet eyes.

Koharu's face lost colour as she realised that she had just said the name that she'd given her flute out loud. It was a quirk of hers to name objects, mostly plushies, that were of importance to her ever since she'd been a human child.

She'd lost that quirk when she grew into a teen in the past but ever since being reborn, Koharu had picked it up again. Maybe she'd just been that lonely... No one could stay in solitary confinement for years without developing some issues.

'Oh no, this is embarrassing,' she fidgeted in her place. 'My friends at school teased me endlessly about it once they found out about my childhood quirk because of my sister.'

Koharu's pale cheeks regained a rosy hue when she began to quietly explain, "Um... Takehiko is my flute."

"You have named your shinobue?" Kaname inquired incredulously as he lifted a brow, and she nodded while glancing to the side, too embarrassed to speak.

"Awww! That is adorable, Koharu-chan!" Takuma swooned.

She got even redder at his remark. This stupid childish quirk of hers!

"No, I haven't seen your flute," Kaname answered thoughtfully. "When and where did you play it last, Koharu?"

He appeared innocent, as if he didn't have a hand in Takehiko's disappearance. Or Kaname was just very good at pretending. Still, Koharu thought back on it like he'd suggested.

"Yesterday in my room... No, this morning at the cherry tree."

She hadn't searched outside yet. Her flute could have slipped out of her obi when she had been there earlier with Takuma.

Koharu turned to the window, only to see that it was drizzling outside. That wasn't good at all because the bamboo flute could get damaged by the water.

'Shit, I need to get it fast!'

"Koharu-chan should I hel–" Takuma began, but Koharu had already used her telekinetic powers to throw open the window and had jumped out of it not a second later to get to her object of desire faster.

She was glad that she was wearing a kimono, so she didn't have to worry about potentially flashing guards on the ground her underwear as she flew through the air. All vampires could jump very high and far but Purebloods even more so and they could even levitate for a short amount of time. She wasn't about to show that she knew how to levitate but stayed in the air for as long as she could without making it seem suspicious.

Koharu was getting wet from the rain but at the moment she didn't care. Even the joy she usually felt while darting through the air was dimmed by the concern for her precious belonging. She landed lightly right in front of the cherry tree, using only a bit of her power to make it a smooth landing. The guards were too far away to see her now in the midst of the trees.

Koharu didn't need to search for long. Her shinobue laid at the base of the tree, safe from the rain.

She let out a relieved sigh as she picked it up. It was a little damp but drying it and letting it rest on some newspapers ought to do the job.

On the way back to the mansion she got even wetter but was surprised when Takuma met her halfway with an umbrella, the guards following him like dogs at a distance. From the wet spots on his clothes and his slightly accelerated breathing and heartbeat she could tell that he had been running to catch up to her. The teen vampire held the umbrella over her even though Koharu was already drenched.

"Are you alright?" Takuma asked her while they walked back and Koharu nodded in response. She was cold but Takuma's care made her feel a little warmer. "What about Takehiko-chan? Did you find it?"

She was surprised that Takuma was using the name she'd given her flute... without laughing some more about it. It was a truly ridiculous habit.

"Yes," she held up the sleeve that she used to protect the instrument from getting wetter to show him the flute that peeked out of her obi.

"I'm glad you found it. It's very important to you, isn't it? You play it all the time."

Once more Koharu nodded. "It was a gift from Kurenai Masaru, my music teacher."

Masaru-sensei, Kurenai Maria's father, had been the one who had taught her how to play the shinobue. She'd exchanged letters with Maria through him and could probably consider him and his daughter her first friends in this world, even if Maria and Koharu had never met in person.

A few years ago Masaru-sensei had suddenly stopped coming to the Hiō compound, which made Koharu worry that the Senate had somehow gotten wind of their secrets and had cut off any interaction between them. Unfortunately, she hadn't been able to create a familiar back then and even if she had known how to do it, it wouldn't have been able to leave her quarters either, so she didn't know where he and Maria lived and couldn't check on them.

"You must have liked the teacher then."

A sad smile spread over her lips. "I did. Thank you for coming to fetch me with an umbrella, Takuma-kun."

"That's what friends are for."

It was after a long walk on a sunny afternoon that Takuma and Koharu decided it would probably be for the best to get some parasols. The exposure to intense light for an extended amount of time had made them a little dizzy and they had even gotten sunburns though they healed the moment they stepped into the mansion.

Ichiō said that they should have taken precautions if they so foolishly decided to play in the sunlight like human children. However, instead of asking the staff to get them what was necessary, they would make the trip to a town themselves on one of their days off – Koharu had insisted.

At around 1 p.m. the limousine arrived at the town. Koharu was a little sleepy because it was in the midst of her usual sleeping time, but her excitement overshadowed her tiredness. Kaname was reading another one of his dreary books, but Takuma was in an upbeat mood as well and watched the sights and humans they passed with almost as much curiosity as her.

Even though it was a little cloudy, the midday sun hurt Koharu's eyes like always as soon as she'd left the vehicle, but she didn't complain while she was taking in the town. She'd seen pictures and drawings of the towns of this world but had never visited one in person until now.

The houses were made out of stone, as were the streets, and the architecture of the buildings actually reminded her a little of her own home town from the past. What she hadn't been prepared for, however, was the noise and the many different smells. It was some kind of market day and the streets were full of humans out for shopping and vendors who were trying to sell their wares.

The sensory input was overwhelming. Koharu wasn't used to being around more than a handful of people at a time or large crowds anymore nor was she used to perceiving human crowds with her sharp vampire senses. In fact, it was the first time that she was personally so close to humans in this life.

And it was distinctly different from being around vampires. She hated herself for even thinking this, but above all they smelled delectable. Incredibly so.

Koharu's throat was suddenly uncomfortably dry and she was thirsty, so very thirsty that it ached.

"...Koharu-chan?" Takuma got into her personal space as he looked at her with a worried expression. "Are you alright?"

Koharu was clutching the frilly white collar of her lilac kimono. "It's... just... a lot to take in," she answered vaguely. It wasn't a lie, but definitely not her only concern at the moment.

A look of understanding crossed the Aristocrat's features. "Being around humans, especially so many at once, can be overwhelming at first."

"Your vampire instincts are awakening, aren't they, Koharu?" Kaname asked lowly next to her, being able to pinpoint what was bothering her right away.

Koharu tensed as he said out loud what she'd been suspecting for the past few days. Honda-san had almost collapsed earlier when Koharu took a large amount of life energy from her. It hadn't been anywhere near enough to satisfy the craving that was getting stronger and stronger with each passing day, but Koharu didn't want to accept the inevitable.

"...Yes," she admitted reluctantly.

It was one of the reasons why she had insisted on going into town now. Koharu feared that if she waited a little longer, her thirst for blood would awaken and make it impossible for some more time to personally go out into the outside world.

Even though she could have visited the town by herself, she'd wanted to do it in the company of the two other vampires. Not only because it would be more fun that way but also because Koharu had been a little scared to meet humans in person without having someone around who could restrain her if she lost control over her vampire instincts. She hadn't known how she would react to being face to face with humans.

"We should return to the mansion then," Kaname suggested, but Koharu shook her head in disagreement.

"Please, let us stay for some time longer. I can still control myself. I just need a moment to... adjust." She was pretty sure of that, but was relieved that Kaname and Takuma were here with her.

"Why don't we go to a cafe until Koharu-chan feels more comfortable? There aren't as many people there as on the streets and we can order something to drink too, which might help her," Takuma suggested.

Kaname observed Koharu for a few more heartbeats and she did her best to swallow her discomfort as she returned his gaze. "Fine."

Koharu was glad that the Ancestor didn't cancel the tour. As they made their way through the crowd, they received a lot of attention from the humans they passed. They even made way for the three of them, either because they subconsciously sensed that something was wrong with them, or because they were starstruck.

Koharu had almost forgotten how humans usually reacted to vampires, specifically Purebloods and Aristocrats, in the series. Being stared at or chatted about by strangers as if she was a celebrity was more than weird in real life and made her feel oddly self-conscious, as if she had something on her face.

She let out a breath of relief when the three of them found and entered a cafe. Once more they drew the attention of many of the other customers as they entered the establishment and sat down at a table in a more secluded area.

The waitress was stunned for a moment before she hurried over to their table. She didn't stop staring at them while they were ordering drinks and cake and seemed to have taken a fancy to Kaname.

'Oh my God. Do I have to live as an attention magnet for the rest of my life?' was Koharu's horrible realisation. 'How do Kaname and Takuma deal with this all the time? Maybe I should put a paper bag over my head or wear a mask the next time I enter a town... Or would that draw more attention?' she wondered.

Just a minute later, because the waitress was eager to please, Koharu sipped on her iced tea and was relieved that it helped with her painfully dry throat and thirst. Keeping a distance from large groups of humans improved her condition too. She confirmed that she was feeling better when Takuma asked her about it.

"But... is it like this all the time?" Koharu whispered and glanced at another table, where a group of teenage girls was taking pictures of the three of them without even asking the three vampires for permission. Rude.

"Pretty much. Humans are very lively and can also be a little mischievous and impetuous at times. Don't you think that they are cute?" Takuma smiled and gave the group of girls a little wave with his hand, which made them blush and squeal.

"Did you see that?!"

"He waved at us~!"

"Not really." Koharu looked at him in complete disbelief and mild disgust.

How was someone who acted like a paparazzi or fangirl cute? She liked her privacy. Some servants were intrusive enough.

"What do you think about humans in general then, Koharu?" Kaname asked her, his gaze boring into hers.

Koharu's answer to this question was important to him, she could tell. Yūki was currently a human after all, and for Haruka, Juri's and her sake he would establish the Night Class.

"Hmm... I think that depends on the human." There were good ones and bad ones, just like with vampires.

"You didn't answer my question," Kaname pointed out. Was this not enough of an answer for him?

"I did. I can't generalise humans, just like I can't generalise vampires. Everyone has a different personality and I have to meet the person first before I can decide whether I like them or not. Vampire or human, it doesn't matter," Koharu elaborated.

"I like that way of thinking," Takuma voiced his approval.

"You don't think that humans are inferior to us then?" Kaname further inquired.

How could she ever do that with her past? "No, I don't. They may not have the same capabilities as us and seem frail compared to vampires, but that doesn't make them inferior or weak in my eyes. Humans have their own strengths," she told him straight to his face.

Koharu had to think of her human parents and her younger sister, as well as her friends that had been with her until the end. No one could ever call them weak.

Takuma nodded in complete agreement. "Right? Despite their short lifespans and frail bodies they can create amazing things... like this." Using his fork, he held up a piece of the appetizing strawberry cake he'd ordered, and she could almost see sparkles around Takuma as he did so.

Kaname had that slight, barely there smile on his face, apparently satisfied with her answer. "If there was a school where you could attend classes side by side with humans, would you want to attend it?"

Oh, wow, was the Night Class already being established? "Hmm, that sounds intriguing... Yes, I think I would give it a try. I want to live in peace with the humans – we shouldn't repeat our mistakes of the past." Namely, the bloody history and wars between humans and vampires.

Takuma exchanged a conspiratorial look with Kaname but they didn't tell her about the Night Class or that its establishment was under way.

The small shopping trip continued soon, and while Koharu felt slightly better now because she knew what to expect, she was still a little overwhelmed with all the new impressions and could feel the dryness in the back of her throat, the thirst, acting up. But it was bearable and she refused to cancel the trip.

They quickly found a clothing store that also sold parasols. Takuma commented that the lolita dresses that went together with the parasols would suit her, then the owner spotted her and gushed over Koharu, and finally Kaname told her to try the dresses on. One thing led to another, and now they were on a full-blown shopping tour with her being the dress-up doll.

She wasn't particularly a fan of shopping but Takuma seemed to enjoy seeing her in different outfits, so she indulged him and had fun as well, though she did get tired of trying on clothes after a while.

Kaname, that evil guy, sent her a thinly veiled, slightly gleeful look from the chair the owner had brought him as he pulled out one of his novels – where did he even keep them? – and began to read. She narrowed her eyes at him in suspicion.

'Is this his retribution for hiding his books? I guess I do deserve it...' Koharu thought. 'Next time I'm going to hide his novels even better and make the clues a lot more complicated.'

They ended up buying four different parasols and eight complete outfits, which was excessive in her opinion but Takuma insisted. Afterwards, they went into a bookshop and bought some manga and novels.

Inside a flower shop Koharu also found some gardening utensils and flower seeds that she could sow and grow by herself. She got some tips from the florist, who told her to come by at any time when she had questions and also gifted her a rose.

Yes, it would definitely take some time to get used to this... attention.

If a vampire was in contact with a flower for too long, their aura would destroy the flower and make it wither, but Koharu didn't have the same problem thanks to her heritage. When she left the flower shop to join Kaname and Takuma, who had waited outside for her, Koharu gave them a bright smile.

She wanted to try and create her own bed of flowers, having never gardened before.

Two days after their shopping trip Koharu woke up from a disturbing nightmare that featured rivers of blood. Her throat was painfully dry and her whole body was demanding for something to quench the horrible thirst that she felt even in her bones.

As she sat up in bed, she clutched her throat and panted to try and alleviate the uncomfortable sensation but the ravenous want, her thirst for a certain liquid, didn't go away.

Koharu licked over her dry lips and felt the now slightly elongated, pointy canines in her mouth. The darkened room, that she could normally see perfectly in as if it was midday, had an unusual reddish tinge to it.

Red like the liquid she craved. Her vampire instincts, her thirst for blood had awakened.

A/N: The Pureblood powers are not often explored in stories even though they are very interesting, so this is my take on them. Thank you for reading, and I hope I'll see you again in the next chapter! Feedback is always appreciated :)