Disclaimer: If college students had any money we'd be sued a lot more. If I could get paid to write this story I'd give it all to JK and whoever created Kenshin. If ifity if if blah blah blah in accordance with prophecy. Oh yeah the original characters are mine.


Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial for once he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.



The War

Kenshin leaned against a bedpost. He drew his blade and stared at it, 'no blood, not a speck. So it was a trick. Saito made me think that I…'

Angrily Kenshin snapped the blade back into its sheath. 'And then he acted as if nothing had happened! That dirty-'

Kenshin's irate thoughts were cut off when he heard footsteps approaching. He looked up sharply, only to see the smiling face of his friendly guide.

"I am sorry to have startled you Mr. Himura" came Dumbledore's kind voice.

Belatedly Kenshin realized his white knuckled grip on his sword and released it. 'I hope he didn't see that' thought Kenshin abashedly.

"I came to wish you farewell, but if there is anything troubling you, feel free to tell me," he asked seriously.

Kenshin plastered a false smile onto his face, "It's nothing you could help with, but thank you anyway." He paused staring down at the sword in his hands, apprehension filling his fingers. 'This is the right decision and the only way to change things,' he told himself resolutely. He looked up at Dumbledore. "Thank you for all of your help."

"I am glad I could be of service. I hope that we may meet again."

"I doubt it," said Kenshin sadly.

Dumbledore's eyes lost their sparkle as he watched Kenshin somberly.

"You'd be surprised Kenshin." At his words the boy looked up hopefully. "Time has a way of changing things. The world is not so large."

Kenshin found the mysterious words comforting somehow. "I hope I will see you again someday too," he said truthfully.


Hiroshi Kazeshima, beloved by his wife and two children, was a very kind and generous man. He was tall (for being Japanese) and handsome. He was also a tactical genius. It had been two years now since Pearl Harbor, not his biggest accomplishment since he joined the emperor's forces, but the muggles over in America seemed to think so.

Hiroshi took the steps to his home two at a time. He wore his long raven hair back in a high ponytail and it streamed behind him. The light of the setting sun revealed its bluish highlights as the red light danced over his moving form through the spaces in the trees.

It was Hiroshi's birthday and he knew his wife planned something for him. He knew her so well that she could hardly hide anything from him anymore. It had annoyed her at first, being a woman and not able to keep her little secrets, but Keiko had forgiven him. It was his unusual perception into her psyche that had let him fall in love with her in the first place. He treated her like a queen. In return Keiko always seemed to know how to make him happy. She gave the best presents, which was why he was currently so excited.

"Keiko, Good evening," said Hiroshi trying to appear calm and collected as he lifted the latch to his front yard.

His wife gave him a look from where she sat enchanting one of her daughter's play kimonos.

She hid a smile, "Good evening Koishii (beloved)." Keiko knew he had run all the way up the steps, if his heavy breathing and ruffled hair were any indication.

"Your day was good?" asked his wife. She didn't need to ask. Her husband loved serving his country.

"Yes, as always. How were Aki–chan and Ha-chan?"

"Your daughters were their regular selves."

"My daughters, hmmm. What did Aki do this time?"

"She jumped in every puddle from here to the marketplace and back. I swear she should have been born a boy."

Hiroshi laughed and sat next to his wife on the porch steps. Her needle flashed in the light of the setting sun as she sewed the enchantment adroitly into the fabric resting in her lap. 'Hand made spells are always more precise than using a wand to fling about magic,' she thought as she proudly held up her handiwork to examine the even beautiful stitching.

"Perfect as always dear heart" commented her husband from where he was reclined next to her.

"It is nothing" she said humbly, "I only hope it keeps the dirt from Akiko's kimono."

"Your charms always work" grinned Hiroshi roguishly.

His wife laughed lightly and gently smacked him on the shoulder "You are the one who uses charms." She stood and entered their home. "The girls are napping. I will wake them for dinner."

He grinned and followed his wife inside.


Kenshin sat uneasily amongst a group of men, well mostly men. Light from the early afternoon sun filtered through the traditional paper walls. They wouldn't stay here long, only until sunset. The assignments began at dusk when they broke apart into individual missions. As Kenshin looked around the circle he noticed some of the wizards were young, though none were nearly so young as himself. All carried weapons of some sort. Some carried guns and others swords. Kenshin couldn't see them, but he knew that nearly all of the older assassins had wands and other magical weapons. Kenshin felt out of place. He knew that he was the only muggle in the group, not to mention the youngest.

The leader, one of the two females in the room, sat in the center. Known only as Dai-sama, she had an ordinary appearance and wouldn't be noticed for what she was outside of this room. Here she organized and relayed tasks according to the skills and experience each of the assassins held. Most of the people in the room would use magic against magic. Where magic and gunpowder could not pierce, Kenshin would use his blade.

Tonight his task was high priority. It was given to him because of the targets location, despite its importance. He wasn't the only one with objections to their leader's choice in giving him the mission. It was his first and he felt hopelessly unprepared. He fingered the black envelope in his lap nervously, wondering whose name it contained.


"Come Koishii I have your birthday present ready in the shrine room. Keiko took her husband by the hand and pulled him to his feet.

He stood excitedly, "I am glad you had the children go to bed early. Tonight I wanted to spend time with my beautiful wife."

"Say that again after I show you your gift, and I might just agree with you." Keiko said while blushing appropriately.

She led him through the rooms adjoining the shrine to the rest of the house. They paused in the doorway to bow respectfully to their ancestors before entering.

She led him to the center of the room where a fur lined basket sat. Inside it was an oval object about the size of a softball. Hiroshi dropped to his knees before it, gaping at the gift in awe. Finally he tore his gaze away from it to look at his wife.

"H…How did you get this?" he asked bewildered "Is it what I think it is"

Keiko smiled as she settled next to her husband, "It waits only for a drop of your blood and then it will be yours. She pouted cutely, "I'm a little jealous. I hear that they share a special bond with the one who donates their blood."

Hiroshi laughed at her expression and then took her hands in his. "No one is more special to me than you Keiko." He looked at the egg with unveiled interest. "Though I must admit I am looking forward to having her around."

"How do you know it will be female?" asked his wife curiously.

"I'm not sure, but I have a feeling." He smiled to himself, wondering at the possibilities.


"Your letter acts as a portkey. An hour after sunset it will activate and take you to a place near your target. There is a magical barrier around the location so you will have to appear outside the wards. We will send Haru-san with you to show you the entrance, but he cannot enter because the wards will detect any intruding magical presence and warn the master of the estate. Eliminate the target and any witnesses. The portkey will activate when you leave the barrier. Do you have any questions."

"Uh, yes the part about witnesses… I don't think" he trailed off helplessly.

His leader, Dai-sama, smiled apologetically, "Mr. Himura, if someone sees you and reports you to the Emperor's army, you will be recognized wherever you go. You would be useless as an assassin. You would be putting the peace of the world in jeopardy."

Kenshin suddenly felt very young, "yes, you are right. I'm sorry for asking."

"Don't worry, just do your duty and you may ask as many questions as you like." Dai stood, "It is almost time, Good luck and don't think about it too much Himura-san. She nodded to his partner, "Haru-san I'll see you this evening to hear your report." Their leader left the room gracefully.

Haru rose from his kneeling position and stretched his spidery legs, "Come on Himura we have a long night ahead of us. Get your sword. There's little time to waste."


The mountain was breathtaking, like something that would be on a postcard. Above the low peak the sky faded from orange, pink, red, purple, and then the deep indigo of night. Tall pines covered the entire surface of this low mountain. And a fine dew had begun to settle along ground and above on the needles and leaves of the trees.

Two people dropped into existence on a wide dirt path cutting through the woods at the mountain's base.

Kenshin stood at the bottom of the hazy mountain looking up its side. 'I don't see anything,' he thought, 'just lots of really tall trees.'

Haru rested his hand on the shorter boy's shoulder and pointed between two tall pines "There, that is the entrance. Just go all the way up the steps and into the shrine. Don't let anyone see you, preferably not even your target. I'll be waiting here. Try not to take to long or I'll worry." He ruffled Kenshin's fiery hair.

Kenshin glared at him.

"Haru raised his hands in apology, "sorry, sorry, just kidding. Take your time."

Kenshin squared his shoulders and marched between the two trees.

As soon as he passed under the boughs of the two pines, a path in the darkened forest melted into existence. Neat stone steps lead up the side of the small mountain. When Kenshin looked behind he saw a red painted archway, on the other side stood Haru, waiting patiently for Kenshin to finish his task. 'I couldn't see any of this from the other side. It must be some sort of spell.' Kenshin marveled at this as he turned and swiftly ascended the steps.

As he drew near the house Kenshin followed around the outside of the gate in the deep shadows of the forest, hoping to catch a glimpse of his target. There was no one outside, but he could see two faint lights on opposing ends of the house. 'More than one person is home,' he thought anxiously. 'I hope I choose the right one.' Kenshin silently slipped over the gate and crept towards the nearest light.


"I'll be in bed soon" promised Hiroshi as Keiko stood with a yawn. She smiled at her husband.

"See that you are, or I'll be asleep before I can give you your last present" she winked coyly and left her husband to marvel at his gift.

He sat quietly thinking for a few moments when the door opened again.

"Can't wait for me to get to bed huh?" he asked slyly without turning.

"Hiroshi Kazeshima," said a flat voice.

Hiroshi whipped his head around in surprise to see, not his wife, as he expected, but an unfamiliar boy.

Hiroshi stood tall and faced the adolescent. "What are you doing inside my home?" he asked, in an authoritative voice.

"Are you Hiroshi Kazeshima?" he repeated.

Hiroshi's eyes narrowed, "I am. Who are you?"

"That does not matter. I have come to kill you. Prepare yourself." Kenshin drew his sword and leapt towards the man. Hiroshi's eyes widened at the sight of the sword and he stumbled backwards upsetting the fur lined basket. Still he managed to pull a dagger free from his belt. It was a futile effort. Kenshin easily ducked around him with lightening speed and sliced open his back before Hiroshi had even begun to turn. He fell down to his hands and knees and gasping for air. Kenshin stalked around to his front and waited momentarily for the man to stand. Hiroshi looked up at Kenshin with wide fearful eyes.

"Why?" he asked quietly still gasping.

"Orders" said Kenshin simply. He drove his sword through the prostrate man's neck, silencing him. The body fell with a thunk next to the basket on the wood floor.

Kenshin turned his dulled eyes to the side where the basket sat. It hadn't been knocked over by Hiroshi's fall as it had a wide base. Speckles of blood were strewn across the surface of the dark object nestled snugly in its middle. Even as Kenshin begun to turn away a crack appeared on its surface. The drops of red on the outside of the shell seemed to sink into the opening. It lay still for a moment and then the basket and the thing inside it began to tremble as more fissures appeared on its shell. Kenshin took a step back, staring wide eyed at the phenomenon. After only seconds fascination overtook his surprise and he was suddenly on his hands and knees next to the basket leaning over the shaking thing.

A small chunk fell from the egg's shell. Kenshin realized now that was what it must be, but he was clueless as to what it contained. He could see movement through the small hole in the shell.

Kenshin flinched as pieces of it exploded outward a few sticking to his cheek. Absently he brushed them off with the front of his hand. He was busy staring at the contents of the basket.

Where the egg once sat there was a long serpent-like creature. It was covered in what looked like-

'feathers?' wondered Kenshin. Its dark coat gleamed in the low light of the room. 'Not a snake' he observed as he took in the creature's appearance.

Four short legs each with feet ending in three delicate white claws protruded from its long snake-like body. Two long thick whiskers extended from the sides of its nose and hung limply down to the ground as it lifted its head wearily

Weakly the creature turned its head towards Kenshin and opened two large golden eyes. Its first sight in the world was of Kenshin's face with his violet eyes wide and a smear of blood across his cheek.

'It kind of looks like a dragon,' thought Kenshin as he smiled kindly at the beast. 'Like the stone ones I've seen guarding shrines around here.'

"Master" a voice, maybe the wind, brushed against Kenshin's ear.

The blood-haired boy looked around the room in alarm searching for the source of the voice. Finally his gaze settled back on the golden eyed serpent. It was watching him with a steady gaze.

"Uh, did you say something?" asked Kenshin quietly. He felt stupid talking to an animal.

"Master" whispered the strange voice once more. It was strange, like both a man and woman were speaking at once. He recognized one of the voices. Kenshin looked over at Hiroshi's body, 'still dead, but it sure sounded like him.'

The dragon weakly struggled to pull itself up the side of the basket. Kenshin reached out a hand to help, but stopped when he noticed his hand was stained in red. Confused he looked down at the floor where it had previously rested. All around the body and the basket where Kenshin knelt red was spread across the wood planks like a stagnant pond.

If Hiroshi's body had been a prison and his blood the captive then his death freed it and the blood leapt to escape its container. Only now that the blood was free there was nowhere to run to. So there it lay, soaking into the ancient floorboards of his earthly home and sticking to the clothes of its liberator.

Kenshin could feel bile rising in his throat, 'What am I still doing here? I have to leave before someone comes looking. Hastily he pushed off of the floor to leave, but his legs had fallen asleep and the blood on the floor was slippery. Kenshin stumbled a few feet and fell to his knees. He had to force himself to breath deeply.

'I don't like this place,' thought Kenshin desperately. The full weight of his actions were finally pressing in on him. He refused to look at the blank face of the dead man that was only a few feet from him. He had enough to remember as it was.

A weight settled across his shoulders. Kenshin blinked. The little newborn dragon had draped herself there with her delicate tail curling around the curve of his neck.

His desperation gone, Kenshin met her eyes curiously, 'How did you get there?' he thought, momentarily forgetting his burning anxiety as he looked into her catlike amber eyes.

Nearing footsteps rang in Kenshin's sensitive ears, pulling him into the present.

"No witnesses," Kenshin muttered to himself. Like a shadow he slipped through the door.


'That was easy,' he thought as he leapt over the gate.

Kenshin had only retreated partway down the steps when a shriek so overflowing in pain filled his ears, that he raised his bloodied hands to his ears and increased his speed to a full sprint. The sound was burned in his mind even after it had fallen into silence.

When he passed under the enchanted gate Haru emerged from the trees across the road. His voice was clearly annoyed when he spoke his greeting.

"Himura, took you long enough." Once he was within three paces of Kenshin his obstinate demeanor fell away and was replaced with a worried one.

"Are you alright? You're covered in blood."

"It's not mine" answered Kenshin quietly, looking down at his hands

"Kami! What did you do, take a bath in the guy's blood" Haru said disbelievingly.

Kenshin didn't answer as he stared at a point past the older man's shoulder.

Haru's exclamation was entirely justified. Kenshin's once pale grey hakama was stained from the knees down in red from where he'd knelt on the floor. Blood was also smeared across his face and his hands were covered in the coppery substance. He'd already tried to wipe it off. All that accomplished was getting his clothes dirtier. Once he realized it wouldn't come off so easily, he stopped trying and did his best to ignore it. But it was hard when every place the dead man's blood touched his skin pulsed irregularly, constantly making its unwelcome presence known.

Haru rolled his eyes at Kenshin's stoic response and fished a letter out of his gi. He held it out to the red haired boy. When Kenshin touched the dark paper both he and Haru vanished.

In the wake of the night the quiet tranquility of the trees belied the once full house away up on the side of the lonely mountain. The sun rose unnoticed the next day on the broken home. Its light would give them no warmth today.


(again 2 years in the future)

Megumi glared at her cousin, "Kaoru, You know we're not allowed outside the castle."

The younger of the two girls puffed out her cheeks in frustration and glared back. "I know!" that's why I'm going to ask Sibi-nee to let us. I'm five and you just turned seven. I think they should let us outside.

"By ourselves?" asked Megumi incredulously. "They'd never let us do that," but excitement was filling her cinnamon eyes. Neither one of the girls felt any compulsion to follow the rules. Especially if Megumi decided they could get away with it. Often it happened this way, with Kaoru first suggesting an idea and her cousin deciding whether or not to act on it.

"We could do it in the morning," suggested Megumi, "when everyone's still sleeping.

"What if they wake up and see us?" asked Kaoru with a grin, seeing that she had won her cousin over.

Megumi leaned closer "We'll be quiet and besides, we won't be outside that long. We'll be back before lunch."

"Yay!" Kaoru jumped up and down, "we're going o-"

Her jubilance was cut off as Megumi clamped a hand over her mouth.

"Shhh. We don't want anyone to know," she hissed in her younger cousin's ear while looking about the room. It was empty except for the presence of its two conspirators and the resident kitten portrait that slept uninterestedly on the wall above the fireplace.

Kaoru immediately sobered, her eyes still shining.

"We'll get up early and leave through the window." Megumi pointed to the large balcony outside their shared room.

Kaoru's face drooped, "I already tried. There's a spell to keep us from climbing up on the railing."

"Oh" Megumi paused, "we can use a different window then."

"Why don't we use a door?"

"Because they watch the doors silly. We'd never be able to get out that way."

Kaoru pondered this for a moment and finally gave up, shrugging her little shoulders. "It's more fun using a window anyway."

"Good it's settled then!" Megumi said happily as the girls settled down on the plush rug near the balcony to further discuss their plans.



Kenshin stared at the pommel of his now sheathed sword. To him it looked the same. A month of in depth use and still it still remained unchanged. 'At least to me' Kenshin thought, 'but I see it every day. What would my master think…' as his thoughts trailed unwillingly onto that less traveled path he shook his head and rose from his reclined position on the veranda against the wall. He had escaped outside hoping the green of the garden would divert his mind from his upcoming assignment. Now that even the outdoors seemed too small to constrain his thoughts Kenshin felt no loss at heading in for the final debriefing.


In the failing light the boy blended with the elongating shadows as he slid across the dark carpet of grass. The assignment this time was located in a towering estate on the edge of Kyoto. The building was a traditional Japanese beauty with curved corners and red tile roofing. In the longer wavelengths of visible light it shone a crimson hue, testament to the coming bloodshed.

Kenshin noted the strange mix of European and Japanese carriages and automobiles around the steps leading to the main entrance. He sat crouched behind the wall of a lesser used stable.

'Dinner party,' he noted, 'the target will be harder to find alone. There are also guards at every door.' He growled in frustration. 'If I raise any kind of alarm they'll line up like cattle to be slaughtered.'

Airashii stirred on his shoulder and Kenshin looked over at her in surprise. 'You've been awfully quiet lately', he thought, annoyed by the innocent dragon's presence. 'I have enough trouble as it is focusing on the assignment in the first place.' Airashii could sense Kenshin's dismissal of her presence and glared at her chosen master. Kenshin pointedly ignored the tiny feathered creature as he furiously recalled the details of his mission.

"Obviously your target is foreign. Though I'm sure you knew that by the characters even before you read the name. We've been specially asked by our allies in England to take care of him."

She took a breath before diving into the explanation, "He's a German ambassador, an infamous dark wizard who's come to keep relations strong with his allies here in Japan. He'll be the only foreign there so no problem recognizing him."

"As a muggle you have little knowledge of such potions and disguises as will be necessary in this particular mission, but before I explain these to you, I must stress that Grindelwald's reputation precedes him. He is known to be a powerful empath. You must hold your feelings in tight control on this mission. Anger and fear, are most likely not big worries for you," here she smiled fondly at the red-head, "but indefinitely more subtle feelings such as confusion, and doubt might be dangerous to feel." She paused watching the boy steadily. "I think you can handle this mission, but because of the danger involved I will give you a choice in this case. Please take into account that the risk to anyone other than yourself will be much higher, as you are our most skilled fighter who still remains unknown to the enemy."

Dai waited for Kenshin to nod his understanding before launching into her next set of instructions. She cleared her throat and began…

'How do I get a hair from one of these wizards without alerting all of them?' Kenshin stared at the house in a quandary. After about two minutes he gave up and sighed. 'I'll just have to figure it out once I'm inside.' The adolescent stood and followed a line around the edges of the property. He was very conscious of the open space as it left him open to the eyes of his enemy. Thankfully there was a garden around the back of the towering building with a high line of neatly manicured bushes. They had obviously been grown as blinders from the rest of the city. For Kenshin's purpose they served to cast a deep shadow in which he could safely stay. He crouched like a cat watching the groups of people milling about the garden near the doors. No one seemed to stray very far from the house. The groups consisted of men with laughing women on their arms, pairs obviously married, and single men in friendly conversation. Kenshin could see no malicious planning going on here nor could he see any man or woman, for that matter, who was not Japanese.

Kenshin swore mentally 'I hate waiting.' He noted the waitress serving the drinks. 'If only the guests would wander nearer. Then I could easily claim the waitress's position and have easy access to every guest in the entire building. Except…I don't want to become a woman.' He gulped feeling his face heat up. 'I'd have to change into her clothes.' He looked down at his chest in dawning horror. 'I'd have…' He shook his head to rid it of that particular line of thinking before he gave himself a nosebleed. 'I'll find a suitable male. I'm NOT becoming a woman. Not for anything.'

Kenshin followed the hedge to the end of the garden and then with a watchful eye for guards and wandering guests advanced on the house and pressed in as close as possible to the building's wall. There were few windows as this building was of the ancient variety, but Kenshin paused at the ones he passed to peer inside the glass panes carefully to asses the situation. He still hadn't located his target and it was making him uneasy. This party was supposedly all in honor of the German so why didn't he just show up and prance about so Kenshin could get it over with?

He looked down at the top of the bottle tucked neatly into his belt. It was filled with a strange viscous brown liquid that bubbled every now and then. Kenshin really didn't want to drink it, but eventually he knew it would be necessary.

"Obviously the building is old and warded to prevent magical weapons and uninvited guests from entering the property. For you to get close enough to the target you must impersonate a wizard that is invited. I leave it up to your discretion of which to choose."

"So I just add the hair?" Kenshin asked doubtfully. He'd never attempted a mission quite like this one before. The organization had always made the decisions for him and had any necessary items completely prepared. This was the first time he had to do it himself.

"Yes, then you change into their clothing."

"And I will look exactly like this person?"

"Yes, but please be careful. Your body will be shaped differently. Make sure you understand your reach so that you will have complete control over your sword arm."

When Kenshin looked up through the window again a few guests parted and he caught sight of a blond head amongst the dark.

'There he is!' Kenshin felt relieved for a moment until he remembered to control his emotions. He observed the unremarkable man from his vantage until he saw what he was looking for. A waiter walking amongst the people dressed in western clothing. 'Kenshin eyed the odd garments in consternation. I never saw anything in Tennessee that looked like that. I suppose that's how rich people dress.'

Kenshin stood and went back around the building to the hedge. Patiently he retreated as far into the shadows as possible. He reached nervously across his body for his sword before realizing it wasn't there. 'Damn! I forgot. Dai-san said swords were too hard to conceal and there would be plenty weapons available inside. I wish I had my sword. It's like a piece of me is missing.'

Kenshin didn't have to wait more than 20 minutes for the people to begin wandering further through the garden. The night was warm and comfortable with a light refreshing breeze. Soon servers were outside as well, but the German wizard didn't seem predisposed to go out. Kenshin strained his eyes to see all the way across the garden and into the building, but couldn't catch sight of the blond. He sighed, 'I really will have to use this' he thought as he looked down at the disgusting looking liquid in the bottle.

The sound of running footsteps caught Kenshin's attention and he looked up to see a young serving boy a little older than himself hurrying past to go back inside. Realizing the perfect opportunity Kenshin deftly stuck out a leg as he passed and the boy fell ungracefully on his face.

"shimata!" the boy groaned as he held his injured nose as he began to sit up, but he didn't have time to say anything more, as Kenshin struck him on the back of his head with a fist. The teen fell to the ground out cold and Kenshin, with moderate ease, drug him under the hedge to the outside of the garden. The red head crouched beside the boy and plucked a dark hair from his head. With little ceremony he pulled the stopper from the flask of brown goo at his waist and inserted the hair. He watched with disgust as the potion changed from brown to a fairer blue color.

'It doesn't look so bad,' thought Kenshin, 'at least it's not that nasty brown anymore.' He threw back his head and swallowed it all in one gulp. 'That tasted like soap. Bleg.' Any other thoughts Kenshin might have had were cut off at the coiling feeling in his stomach. The twisting sensation brought him to his knees and he gasped for air. The writhing of his insides finally subsided only to be replaced with a spreading heat all across his body. Then he felt the bones in his legs grow painfully longer and the hair on his head felt as if it was being pulled back inside his skull. Once all of the disturbing sensations ended he stood and tentatively reached up to feel his face, wishing earnestly for a mirror. As he ran his fingers through his hair Kenshin could only think of how short it had suddenly become. He looked down at the unconscious boy with a frustrated expression. 'Now I'm at least three inches taller. He can't be more than two years older than me. Grrr.'

With a huff of annoyance he bent down to begin changing into the boys clothing.

A few moments later Kenshin crawled out from under the hedge and left his own clothing folded in a neat package under the foliage. He hoped no one would find it there while he was inside. He didn't want to leave it lying around as evidence. Suddenly he remembered that the boy had been in a hurry before he was knocked out.

"I think he was going back to the kitchens," muttered Kenshin as he strode purposefully toward the entrance.

"Hey! Mura I thought I told you to hurry, we have guests waiting." Kenshin jumped slightly at the irritated voice from behind him and turned around to bow apologetically at the waitress who was glaring at him from across a bed of flowers.

"Don't waste time bowing and scraping, just go get the drinks!" The woman hissed as she gestured angrily to the entrance.

Kenshin turned and quickly jogged the rest of the way inside. However his quick progress slowed significantly when he actually got in the building. The room was somewhat crowded and he didn't want to run into any of the guests. Most of the people were dressed in traditional Japanese kimonos with the exception of a few of the men who were wearing military uniforms. Kenshin tried to observe the room covertly as he walked towards the back without looking like he was trying to find dagger hidden in a flower pot. He noted the position of the blond wizard as he finally made it through the open sliding doors into the kitchen. There was a flurry of activity inside. Cooks were busily chopping away, and servers were running about in a near frenzy. Kenshin hoped no one would pay any attention to him as he remained near the door.

The now dark haired Kenshin turned and peered around the doorframe to search the main room for the vase where a compatriot had hidden his weapon. To his dismay it was all the way on the other side of the room from the Blond German tucked into a corner far from the crowd. It would look odd for Kenshin to walk away from the people he was supposed to be serving. And worse the foreign wizard was obviously the center of attention. He was currently standing in a large circle of people, all who were peppering him with questions and complements.

'Well' Kenshin thought morosely, 'no worries about not alarming the crowd. When I kill him there'll be a thousand witnesses standing around to scream and point their fingers at me.'

"What are you doing?" came an annoyed voice from behind him. Kenshin turned to see a thin middle-aged man with a harried sallow face glaring at him.

Kenshin lied quickly. "I was counting the guests to see the number of drinks I would need to bring with me." Inwardly he groaned, 'was that the best I could come up with?'

The man gave Kenshin a funny look and pointed to the trays of drinks sitting on a table nearby. "Just take a tray and come back for more when you run out." The man said in an exasperated voice, "and stop making excuses to waste time," he added for good measure.

"Sir," said Kenshin with a slight bow. He briefly allowed relief to fill him, 'I can't believe that he let me off that easily.'

When he noticed the manager had turned away the teen walked around the table and lifted up one of the trays like he had seen the other waiters carrying them. The cook standing next to him didn't seem to notice that one of his knifes was now missing from the rack. The dutiful waiter walked through the doors to the room outside and began to cross towards the German, all the while clearing his mind of feeling.

"May I have a drink?" said a slightly accented voice to Kenshin's right. Kenshin slowed to a stop and turned carefully. He wasn't quite used to carrying this many drinks at once and didn't want to draw attention to himself by spilling the whole tray.

"Of course Sir." Kenshin lowered the tray and let the man take a long stemmed glass. Kenshin began to move away when he spoke again, bringing yet more attention to his strangely accented Japanese.

"It's a beautiful evening" The man said conversationally.

"Yes certainly" Kenshin replied as he shifted his weight onto the other leg impatiently. From the corner of his eye he could see the blond man moving away from him, probably to talk to another group of friends.

"Have you met the guest of honor yet?" questioned the commonly dark haired Japanese man.

Kenshin looked up at the finely dressed man (all the people at the party are dressed finely) and studied his simple smiling expression, looking for traces that he knew more than he should.

"No, I have only seen him from a distance," answered Kenshin shortly once he deemed the man as not being a threat.

"Oh, what a shame, Grindle-san issuch an intresting man too." The man slurred the last few words and Kenshin blinked.

'Is he drunk or something?' wondered Kenshin.

"What did you say your name was Waiter-san?" asked the man in barely understandable Japanese.

"Mura" Kenshin said evenly, his attention now entirely focused on the strange person in front of him.

After a few moments of the man prattling on in that same odd accent, introducing himself and making small talk about the weather, Kenshin's curiosity finally got the best of him, "What part of Japan are you from Sir? I don't recognize your accent," he interrupted in the middle of the man's second introduction. Kenshin still hadn't managed to catch his name. He hadn't really been listening to the words themselves so much as their annunciation.

"Oh, here'n'there say wh-"

"Yabu-sama! There you are. I've been looking for you" said a pretty raven haired woman as she rushed across the room and latched herself on the drunken man's arm.

Kenshin took this as an opportunity to get away from the couple. Originally he thought an hour would be plenty of time to finish the task, but if people kept stopping him he would have to pull something drastic before he turned back into his red-haired self.

Kenshin made his way carefully across the room towards the German ambassador. He still felt like he was walking on stilts in the taller teen's body and had to be extra conscious of his longer legs.

Kenshin was sure to offer a drink to anyone he passed. He readied himself as he came closer to the blond. His right hand was casually draped inside the left lapel of his suit while the other held the tray of drinks aloft. He stopped behind the German and offered drinks to a group of women who stood tittering and laughing quietly with their beautifully decorated paper fans held up, effectively hiding their conversation from the passer by. He listened to the conversation between the German and the small group of Japanese guests, biding his time for an opportune moment. They seemed blissfully unaware of the predator in their midst calmly serving them drinks. Strangely Kenshin now played the part the proverbial dragon in wolf's clothing as he stood amongst the plotters and executioners.

"So how's the war going on your end Grindle-san," said a portly man richly dressed in a maroon silk Kimono with a dark gold obi. His tone was light and jovial, a result of the warm sake and fine European wines readily served by 'Mura' and his fellow servants.

The light-haired man laughed and replied in similar spirits, "Very well, Your country is doing it's part and we have begun to cleanse our nation and others around it."

"Oh? Who have you started with?" queried a woman dressed in a lovely jade kimono embroidered with plum blossoms.

"Well Muggles as you know are easily controlled," he began. There was a chorus of nods and affirmative hmms and ahhs all around the circle of conversers.

"We merely played upon their hatred of one particular religious group, then upon the disabled, and now we have spurred them to encamp anyone out of the ordinary." Here he paused for effect and then continued. "Of course they are unaware of our control. And the ones who are, are too afraid to say anything. It is quite the agreeable situation. In the end there will only be the executioners to be rid of." He stopped his speech and sipped his wine delicately.

"I am glad to hear that in your country things are going so well," said a tall dark man in a white gi and dark hakama pants, "Here it will be far more difficult to remove the unmagical persons from our society. They are not so unaware of our existence as those in Germany."

"Well, once we have conquered all of Europe, We'll be glad to assist you." The ambassador winked and raised his glass in a toast. The others laughed heartily and followed his example.

After they had all downed their drinks and retrieved more from the servant boy nearby. Another woman in the group opened up the conversation again with a question.

"How is it that you are able to understand those strange riddles the seers often speak in? I always wondered at the divinations in the history books. They never seem to make sense until applied to the events after the fact. There is so much room for misinterpretation."

The blond smiled amiably at the woman and then opened his mouth in reply, "We have people to do the interpreting for us and-," he stopped suddenly with an odd expression on his face. Unexpectedly he jerked and the group watched in confusion as his drink slipped from his fingers and broke on the expensive imported Chinese rug. One woman turned immediately to retrieve another from the attentive boy who had been waiting on them moments before, only to find he was nowhere to be seen. Gasps and the sound of something heavy dropping drew her attention back to the guest of honor, who was currently being lowered gently the rest of the way to the floor by the tall dark Japanese man. He was unconscious and soon it was apparent why. The dark color of his navy officer's uniform had disguised the blood quickly staining his back, but the red substance could not be mistaken for anything but what it was once it touched the white sleeve of the man who caught him.

Kenshin resolutely wove his way between the people towards the garden outside. Now that the empath was taken care of he allowed himself to feel relief that it had gone so smoothly. When he broke into the outdoors he took a deep breath of the night air and continued towards the bush where he knew his clothing and the unconscious boy lay hidden. Kenshin clenched his fingers around the wooden handle of the blood stained kitchen knife hidden in his vest. He wanted desperately to hurl the thing away from him. He hated having anything bloody near his skin. Even though his shirt was a barrier between him and the knife it still made him feel dirty.

"Mura! my most excellent listener." Greeted a familiar voice, now devoid of its thick accent.

Kenshin mentally gritted his teeth and turned around with a pleasant smile affixed to his face. "Yabu-sama." He greeted formally. This time the blathering man was not alone. He had with him another couple and the same raven haired woman from before.

"Oh so formal! You are a polite one. I suppose that is why they hired you. You get the job done yessir, and with little fuss." He paused as a several terrified screams broke out behind him from the inside of the building. "Oh dear I do hope there aren't any centipedes crawling about inside scaring the ladies."

(centipedes are a common pest in Japan. Kind of like ants and spiders in the US. At least that is what I have been told)

His other companions stiffened and looked as if they did hope that it was only centipedes causing the yelling. Their eyes were wide in dread as they looked back into the house. Yabu's raven haired companion, looking especially terrified, spoke quietly to the other couple.

"You don't think it's him do you?" fear was plain in her whispered voice. "The one who no one will talk about. The killing shadow. No one alive has seen his face."

"Oh don't be ridiculous child." Said Yabu soothingly as he continued to watch Kenshin. "There are no murdering shadows here, right Mura-san." The man's gaze was entirely too intent upon him and that thick accent was back. He was saved from answering when the man's next comment threw cold water over his thoughts "Weren't you taller last time I spoke to you?" He quieried innocently with his voice back to normal, "And you know" he paused tilting his head to the side, "the moonlight certainly gives your hair a different look to it. I was convinced it was completely black when we were inside but now-"

Kenshin backed away from the man quickly. He was unable to keep his eyes from widening slightly. To cover his blunder he slowed his movements and bowed politely. "I am sorry Yabu-sama but I need to retrieve more drinks from the kitchen…and… I believe I heard someone calling my name just now, forgive me." Kenshin turned and practically ran away from the group, taking a path that lead him out of their sight around a group of frightened women. He ducked under the nearest hedge dropping the mostly empty tray on the dark turf under the green barrier. The glasses made little more than a few clinking noises as they rolled onto the ground. As Kenshin emerged on the outside of the garden he hurled the kitchen knife away as far as he could and then pushed up his sleeves which had become a bit too long. He moved quickly around the outside to where the boy sill lay. He stripped off the servant's clothes and quickly pulled on his own. His once again brilliant blood red hair now hung around his face as he pulled on his familiar navy gi. He had lost his hair tie in the process of changing into the servant boy. He knew it was around somewhere but he didn't want to waste anymore time looking for it.

Kenshin ran around the hedge towards the stable and paused before leaving the concealment of the bushes. He knew they must be watching for someone trying to leave. It was with great caution and speed that he proceeded into the open stretch between the hedge and the stable. Surprisingly he met no resistance. There was a tense moment when he thought he saw one of the guards missing from their post, but when he looked back again the distant shape of the guard was back in place.

Once he'd rounded the stable and crossed the border of the expansive property Kenshin pulled the black letter from a pocket he'd clumsily sewn into his sleeve and, still running, vanished into the cooling night air.


On the opposite side of that fated city in an ancient well kept house enclosed in the center of a blossoming ornamental garden none of the panic or confusion of this night was able to climb over the ivy covered walls. Nothing from the outside could cut through its sense of timelessness and peace. War and death did not enter here. Something, perhaps an illusion, kept them at bay, howling on the other side of the high walls. Huff and puff as the losses and pain of war might, they could not blow down the gates of this mansion. Why did the war continue it's futile attempt to gain entrance? Perhaps because it had not yet tried knocking. This family would gladly open its doors for such an honored guest.

"Would you have me enter the military?" Questioned Akira in a disbelieving voice. His intelligent dark eyes carefully masked the stirrings of unseen feelings entering his lungs.

In the silence that followed the pining man received his answer. He would do anything to have her.

Akira watched Tomoe, his beautiful flower. She sat impassive and without a glance in his direction. Her beautifully crafted features were schooled into familiar impassive tones. Her crimson and white kimono and midnight hair served to heighten her beyond fair complexion.

As he studied her faultless appearance from his seat the beginnings of unease and resolution were making their presence known. It was not his wish to convince only her parents that they should marry. Then he would have a bitter wife and his children would have to choose which parent to hate and which to love.

She had not yet answered or even responded to his proposal. He sighed inwardly. Akira had not wanted to resort to this, but he knew he must if he were to gain her full respect and love.

"Because you so plainly wish it of me, I will to join the military under your father's command."

Akira Kiyasato did not want to join the military. Especially now in a time of war when Japan was no longer safe, but Tomoe held an enormous respect for the emperor's forces. Her family could trace its roots back easily on both her mother's and father's side as direct descendents of the emperor. And all through those thousands of years past human memory her family remained protectors of the emperor and his vassals. That meant no daughter of the Yukishiro family would marry anyone who was not a patriot and a soldier of Japan.

Tomoe had plenty of suitors, but truly she loved this man before her.

'I will not disappoint my parents when I know Kiyasato will do anything for my hand.' So Tomoe sat until she heard Akira's professed intention to join the army.

Tomoe looked up at her suitor where he sat at a respectful distance across the room and smiled. "You may have my virtue. I will tell my father and then you will guard it along with your own until our wedding ceremony."

Akira let out a breath as his great joy left no room in his chest for it. Joyfully he raised his thoughts to the fortunate consequences of his choice.

'I have made the right decision then. Tomoe is worth every moment I will have to spend in battle. Her respect for the emperor's army will certainly earn me more of her affection.'

In his happiness Akira once again directed his attention to his new fiancé.

"Tell me anata(fiancé/wife/husband) in what form is your virtue, a hairpin, a bracelet, a ring?" asked Akira in happiness. Excitement suffused his every word. He knew it must be beautiful. No ancient family would disgrace their daughter by putting a piece of her soul within an inferior trinket.

She smiled mysteriously, "I do not know. I am not a man and so I cannot wear mine out in the open as you do, lest it be stolen from me. My father guards it and even I do not know its appearance or shape."

"I always found it strange that anyone would try to steal virtue from a woman. considering the penalty for doing so." Akira spoke in a more relaxed tenor now that she had accepted him.

"If women were not so beautiful men would not risk death to own them."

"That is very true," said Akira in total agreement. 'very true indeed.'


Five months later in the month of February near the end of winter in a very different place far from the rocky island of Japan a broken family sat in their kitchen watching the dying light of the sun ripple colors across the sky. The charming cottage was prettily situated in the green English countryside not far from London. The grass outside, despite the time of year, was as thick as a carpet and very welcoming to bare feet.

Tatsu smiled at Sybill from where he sat across the table. His wife Kaori was chasing Kaoru about outside. The toddler laughed as her mother gently tackled her and showered the squealing girl with kisses.

"They will have to come in soon" commented the young woman to her brother-in-law, "it's almost dark." The two lapsed into comfortable silence both content to watch the other two play outside until the last rays of the sun no longer lit the sky. The weather was unseasonably warm and comfortable for February. It was almost as if the Kamiyas brought the sunshine with them. Sybill certainly had a hard time of it on her own, and Megumi was inconsolable.

When they'd heard about the fire it was like a bad joke. Little Megumi didn't understand and Sybill was so shocked that she had to ask the unlucky messenger to repeat himself. Her older sister Rachael and her brother-in-law Itsuma left only for the weekend, so that they could spend a few more days in their home together before they left Japan permanently. They said the country had become unsafe for foreigners and made Sybill and Megumi leave for their cottage in England. Thank God they had made Megumi come. The little girl had practically begged her father to let her stay and he had nearly given in, but the five-year-old's mother had been resolute, so both of their charges were sent to England. Rachael must have known that she herself was in danger.

Sybill shuddered away from the thought of her sister. It was better not to think of her too much, but she couldn't keep the voice inside her head quiet for long.

'The one thing I can't understand is why two full grown magic users where unable to escape a simple fire. Why couldn't they put it out, or put a barrier around themselves?'

Sybill thought she knew the answer and it came unwillingly to the surface of her mind almost as if it had been spoken to her.

'They were murdered,'

This thought surprisingly didn't make her angry. She didn't have the strength left to feel that particular emotion, but she knew it would come later.

'I've lost my parents and now my sister and her husband. Megumi keeps asking for them. It's like someone wants this family to be left without anyone to protect it. Who will be left when the war is finished? Will I be alone or…'

Sybill looked up at Tatsu and then out the window at Kaoru and her mother.

'but I'm not the only one hurting.' Suddenly she remembered her young cousin and sighed. Sybill didn't know how to handle the little girl's grief when she was dealing with her own. Her own parents had died three years prior and had been in fact among the first casualties of the war. Sybill had just begun to feel like she belonged with this family when it too was broken.

Yet again she was beyond grateful that her Itsuma's brother Tatsu, his wife and daughter were staying with her and Megumi. Sybill knew that they would stay as long as she needed them, but then what? She was fifteen, old enough in the wizarding world to care for herself as long as she had an official guardian, but she didn't feel prepared to be responsible for another person, especially a grieving five-year-old.

'Tatsu thinks I am ready. I wonder what he sees in me?'

She looked up in time to notice the man in question watching her with a gentle smile. Sybill smiled weakly back at him. She didn't have the energy to do much more. It had been an exhausting day.

"Your heart is heavy" he said in that odd way he always had about him. Sybill rubbed her forehead. There was a familiar pressure building behind her eyes and she didn't want to think anymore. It seemed all she did now was cry. It was useless really, didn't solve anything, just left a knot in your stomach and irritated your eyes.

"I don't wish to add to your burden" he said, his own voice full of emotion, "but I have had a dream" he fell silent and looked out the window at his happy wife. "This is not the end of your losses." His dark eyes met her own and Sybill knew, she just knew.

"What are you trying to say?" dread made her choke on the question.

"Kaori doesn't know," he swallowed. His eyes were bright with unshed tears. His hands which were previously resting calmly in his lap grasped fistfuls of his hakama as he bent his head forward, squeezing his eyes shut.

"I… I've never hated my gift before, but this…" he took a shuddering breath and looked up at Sybill, who was watching him like a dear in the headlights. He swallowed with difficulty and told her.

"Kaori will be getting sick soon" he paused staring through glass surface of the table into a far away place. "she won't live through it."

His words were desolate, devoid of hope.

"I… don't understand…you've seen this." Sybill was so confused.

"Yes, there is nothing I or anyone else can do." Tatsu watched Kaoru, who was dancing around his laughing young wife like a fairy. His eyes memorized every detail of the scene like a starving man at his last meal.

Sybill felt an irrational anger welling up in her throat. "You've done everything? How do you know you can't save her? Isn't she worth more to you than that?"

The silence that followed was deafening.

Immediately after saying those words Sybill wished that she could take them back.

"I'm sorry brother, I know Kaori is worth more to you than your own life." Sybill took a shaky breath. "You're sure there's nothing you can do to prevent it or…or maybe give her a few more years. Kaoru and Megumi and … and I need a mother."

Tatsu sagged in his chair at her words and the weight of his own loss, "No," he replied, "I've tried everything, but I don't want to make her suspicious. I cannot prevent this. I don't know why I can see the future when I can change NOTHING," he spat the last word out like a curse.

Sybill watched him wearily, ' he's grieving his wife's death before it even happens'

"I…I can't begin to understand how you must feel" her voice was weak as she asked her next question. "Why are you telling me this?"

He sniffed and cleared his throat, "I have something for you." Tatsu reached into his gi and pulled out a narrow wooden box with Japanese characters engraved all around its surface.

Sybill could feel the powerful magic from where she sat. Gingerly she took the box from his outstretched hand and traced the unfamiliar carvings with a finger. "It's beautiful. What's inside that needs such powerful protection?"

"Kaoru's dowry, I had it made the day she was born." He lifted his heavy gaze from the box and met her eyes. "Keep it safe until she is old enough to protect it herself."

"Why can't you-"

He cut her off, "Please…just keep it for me."

Sybill closed her mouth and looked down at the box with awe. "I am honored. Thank

you Tatsu. I will protect Kaoru's virtue with my life."

The older man exhaled in relief and managed a small smile, "thank you, I am in your debt."

"You owe me nothing, your kindness has repaid me many times over."

The door opened and closed. "Koishii," Kaori appeared next to Sybill with a sleepy eyed Kaoru in her arms. The graceful woman's comforting presence filled the room like a perfume. "It is time for Kaoru's bath. I thought you might like to help."

"Of course Love. I'll go run the bathwater." Tatsu stood and left the darkening room.

Kaori watched her husband disappear up the stairs before turning her attention to her sister-in-law. She stroked Sybill's hair comfortingly with her free hand and smiled softly down at the girl with her indigo eyes. "Everything will get better I promise. Nothing stays sad forever." Then she left the room. Sybill sat alone in the dark, eyes dry, wishing with all her heart that what her sister said was the truth.


Any comments from my brothers will have to wait for a bit…not that anyone reads those inane comments anyway. Seriously 'viagris giganticus' What kind of mind comes up with that? Don't answer that.

To my few reviewers thank you for your reading my story past the first paragraph. And if you see any misspelled names, please email me with the information instead of mentioning it in the review. I'm still recovering from the embarrassment of spelling Dumbledore's name without the 'e' at the end.