After new year passed the days seem to fade into their usual rhythm, sometimes Minami would hear something about Machi and Yuki, other times she would hear things about Kyo and his crush (though he's in denial) Naomi.
Minami spoke a bit to Ritsu, seeing how he was doing and was on and off the phone with Hatori. She was still desperately ignoring Shigure due to not wanting to clash with him and everything had been going as per usual until Rin showed up at Shishou's with her hair cut short.
"I'm happy you're alright." Minami said without a second thought and Rin blushed a bit and nodded.
"It was Akito, wasn't it?" Minami asked and the entire room went still, their faces filled with shock.
"How do you always know these things?" Haru asked, once his eyes went back to their usual form. "We don't even have to tell you what happened, somehow you always know."
Minami sent him a small smile and shrugged. "It's not like it's hard to guess, Akito isn't exactly the friendliest person. Plus you were injured before by him right?"
Rin looked away from her and nodded her head. "Still, you could look a little shocked." She looked like she wanted to pout.
Yuki, Haru and Shishou went on to talk for a little while longer and Minami laid down inside, feeling the cool breeze, with the sliding door fairly closed.
"How troublesome…" A familiar voice said quietly and Minami moved herself closer to the opening to listen in on the conversation. "I heard a lot of things, but I haven't found the way to break the curse yet. It seems like a blind chase. Have you felt the uselessness of being reckless?"
"I could've found the method, Ren said she would tell me, she would tell me in exchange for a favor but.. Then…" Rin trailed off.
"That was a lie. She doesn't know this sort of thing. You've been used by her. Got… caught in the quarrel between her and Akito." Shigure took a seat.
"... You're lying." Rin said, gritting through her teeth.
"I'm not please believe me. I'm quite close with her. Very. Rin,, I didn't come here today to tease you. I pity the effort you've put in only to gain nothing, so I wish to tell you a piece of good news." Shigure went on to say.
"... What?" Rin took a seat right beside him.
"You don't have to be scared. Just listen to me. I'll tell you about the curse.. It can be broken, even though you don't actively seek the solution. The curse is slowly disintegrating. Such an age-old obstacle. The day will come sooner or later. We are the ones invited to the feast. The Zodiacs."
"Don't… Don't say such irresponsible things you have no evidence…" Rin stopped as the door slammed open, showing Minami listening in on their conversation.
"Our evidence is right here." Shigure said with a smile and pulled her up with his hand. Minami scrambled to her feet and nearly tripped as Shigure started walking away from Shishou's house.
"Wait! Shigure!" Rin yelled and but he didn't stop. Minami sent Rin one last look as they walked away.
"S-Shigure." Minami stuttered and but he didn't look back, his feet moving forward. "Shigure?" He still didn't say anything his feet moving forward, almost robotically. Minami, feeling annoyed and confused stepped in front of him to look at his face.
Her heart seemed to freeze as she saw the expression on his face.
"Shigure? What's wrong?" Minami asked and raised her hand to touch his cheek.
"..." He didn't say anything and looked into her eyes. He placed his large hand on her head and leaned forward to whisper in her ear. "Do you remember?"
Minami looked at him confused. He took out a white feather which appeared from seemingly nowhere. Her eyes widened as she took the feather. "When?"
"The moment I grabbed your hand." He said. "Kureno's broke as well didn't it?" She paused for a moment but nodded. He began to walk forward, his hand still on hers. "Somehow, I have the feeling that this will be the end of it. As you know, this is the first time all the 12 Zodiacs are gathered. In the past, there is always someone who's not born yet. So all the servants were happy, and thought it's something incredible. But I thought of something else."
"Because this is the last banquet. That's why everyone has gathered, and are now here. I think that the 'blood ties' are weakening, after such a long time. The evidence can be seen on Kureno-kun. He didn't force the cruse to be broken, but it broke so easily for him? That's why, the transformation to the animal form is quite different from the past too. Like the child of the Dragon. I know this might sound selfishly childish, but, now Kureno-kun is now no longer a part of the twelve Zodiac."
"Due to the nature of your curse, you already knew about Akito, about myself… about everyone am I right?" Shigure asked her, not looking back.
"Yes… I did."
"But something changed, your sister… Tohru-kun wasn't it? She was supposed to be here, but now she's not anymore." He looked back at her for a moment. "The end is near. Subtle changes, chances have gathered, there is a change. But I'm still sure of this… very well. In the near future, how will Kyo-kun be treated, as a member of the twelve zodiacs. But we don't do anything, neither do we say anything. We're conniving; pretending to think. "Why"...? Because it's the cat's duty, that's why."
"The Zodiacs' are monsters, and they're an extremely ugly thing. Do you think we're thankful being like this, in this state? Do you think we're happy? Just living in this world, it's painful for us. The existence of the cat is a relief to us Zodiacs, we don't need to be worried."
"Compared to the twelve Zodiacs, he's the ugliest monster of all. Because he's the most inferior, that's why. Being locked up, discriminated, and ostracized is a natural fact. Seeing him undergo such treatments, the Zodiacs felt a peace of mind, thinking, 'How wonderful. Nothing is better than that.' You can ask the others, ask if 'In their hearts, do they look down on the cat'. They will be speechless. The cat's around for the sake of the Zodiacs, not as a friend to the other animals. And this, Kyo's very clear about it. Do you understand?"
He turned around and stood, looking directly at her.
"Yes, of course you understand... after all you're not doing this for Kyo's sake — for my sake, for any of our sake — It's for yourself." He sent her a dull smile which fit his face. "You're just pretending to care."
Minami stared up into his dark eyes and crossed her arms. "Yes, I am doing it for my sake. I'm not doing it for you, for Hatori, for any of you. It's for myself. I used to believe that I was doing it for Tohru's sake or for some other 'purer' reason but the fact of the matter is I'm just trying to finish this story. To close this book, once and for all."
"If that was the truth then you'd already go talk to Akito." Shigure said and his eyes glazed over. "If you think that everything is going to play out the same way it did in that manga, then you're mistaken."
"How can you be so sure about that?" Minami asked him suspiciously.
"Because the Akito from that manga and the Akito in this reality, are two separate entities. The curse isn't going to magically break because of Kyo, it has to purposefully be broken, by you." He paused with a fake thoughtful expression on his face. "That cliff scene, Akito stabbing Kureno, they're not going to happen."
"How can you be so sure about that?" She asked him and he tossed something into her hands which she barely caught.
"I just do." He said and Minami looked down at what was in her hands.
"What am I supposed to do with this?" She asked him but he waved his hand and left her where she stood.
"I wonder what story you'll write for us." She heard a voice ask her.
It was a tomato.