Hello, everyone. Yes, I am alive. Yes, I'm updating this. And yes... I am rewriting this.

I hope you like this new version more than you did the previous one. I certainly do.

So, you know, all rewritten chapters will have "This chapter has been rewritten." on them. Until chapter 8 or so when I stopped writing last... year. After I rewrite all the chapters, I'll delete these notes.

Please enjoy, everyone. It's good to be back.

This chapter has been rewritten.


There was an unusual silence in the Sakurada household. Perhaps, not so unusual, after all, it had been two months since the showdown with Barasuishou. Without HinaIchigo running around turning his life into chaos along with Suiseiseki, things had gotten pretty quieter. Well, it wasn't that Suiseiseki wasn't around, but since Souseiseki had lost her Rosa Mystica, her twin sister was pretty downcast.

Jun was sitting at his desk, trying to concentrate on his homework, but the silence just filled his head, leaving space for nothing else. It was pretty ironic, how after such a long time of fighting for silence, it was now such an impossible thing to bear.

Even Nori was downstairs quietly preparing dinner, probably with Suiseiseki's help. She had never made flower-topped hamburgers again after what happened with Enju and his doll.

Looking at his side, Jun saw his bed… Except that he barely did. It was completely covered in thick, hard-cover books, most of which in foreign titles, probably German or something similar. And, right in the middle of that organized, chaotic assemble of reading material, was a doll, reading one of those books.

"She really does look tired." was the first thought to cross Jun's mind as he looked at the blond girl.

"Hey, Shinku…" he started "Are you sure you aren't overexerting yourself? It's been two months. I'm sure nothing bad would happen if you'd rest for a bit."

Of course, when her blue eyes focused on his dark golden ones, they carried a message of disgust.

"Jun." she said, with that assertive tone of hers, almost enough to make him reconsider ever speaking again "Both Souseiseki and HinaIchigo are still… asleep. You know it's my duty to discover how to wake them up. As you just pointed out, it has been two months. I should have awoken them a long time ago. For them, these months must have been full of nightmares... And for me… Well, there's the nightmares, too, but of course, along with deep regrets. I can't stop working. I have to wake them."

"But Shinku…" he got up from his chair, and sat down on his bed, next to her, after moving some books aside. "You are getting so tired these days! You might even miss an important clue, being so sleepy!"

"Do you mean to say that my work isn't always perfect?" she was looking at him with cold eyes, and he quickly reformulated his sentence.

"N-No!, I'm just saying, you've always said that sleep was one of the most important things in our lives! And when you don't get enough rest, you know, you might…"

She sighed.

"I know."

"What?"

"You are right, Jun." she looked up at him, a sad smile on her face. "Anyone can see how tired I am. Even I can see that. However… For as much as I want to rest… I don't want to rest."

Tears started forming in her eyes, slowing falling down her cheeks.

"I-I… I am the only one who can do anything, don't you see? I just want to wake them up, so we can all be happy again. Every day, I see how gloom Suiseiseki is… She's never been like that, for the hundreds or years I've known her! And… This house… Without HinaIchigo being awfully noisy, it just feels wrong, you know?"

"I know" he answered, seeing as her words almost perfectly matched his thoughts some minutes ago. "I know exactly what you mean. But you know… You're not doing anything good for them by doing this to you. I miss them too. We all do. I think even Suigintou does. But… We need you, Shinku."

That was probably the breaking point for the exhausted doll. The book she was holding fell on the floor, and she just started crying, her hands curled up into fists.

That was so unexpected and so un-Shinku-like that Jun just didn't know what to do.

"Shinku…" he sighed. Then, he embraced the doll, pulling her onto his lap, her head on his chest while her tiny hands grabbed fistfuls of his shirt, as she just kept crying. And there they sat, by what the clock told Jun to be about ten minutes, but by what looked to him like a lot less time.

She stopped crying, and let go of his now thoroughly wet shirt.

"I'm sorry, Jun. That was very unladylike of me."

He smiled.

"It's okay. I guess even you can be cute sometimes…" his phrase was cut short with the deadly look she showed him. "What I mean is…"

He looked her in the eyes, seeing so much more than just a charmed doll. That was Shinku, the fifth doll of the Rozen Maiden, and someone to whom Jun owned a lot of his current happiness. And a lot of his current sadness too.

"Shinku. Don't worry. I… I will help you. I'll help you, and together, we'll find a way to wake them up. There's nothing impossible for us, Shinku. I… I promise you."

"You promise that you'll help me find a way to wake them up?"

"Yes. I do." Still maintaining eye contact, he grabbed hold of her hands. "But Shinku, please… Please promise me something too. Please promise that in order to wake them up, you won't do anything stupid or reckless. That includes overexerting yourself."

She squeezed his hands.

"I know you'll find a way, Jun. And, yes. I promise not to do anything reckless." She smiled.

He was about to extend his pinkie finger when a thought crossed his mind.

"That's right, where you come from there must be other ways to seal promises, perhaps?"

"Oh." she replied, a blush creeping on her cheeks. "Yes… We… We Rozen Maiden dolls did seal promises in some other way."

"Really now? In which way?"

"We… We used to kiss." she was now really avoiding eye contact.

"Oh." It was his turn to blush. "Why did you say "used to"?"

"Well, when the Alice Game started… There was really no one we could trust anymore, isn't that so? And how can you promise something to someone whom you do not trust?"

"R-right."

"Then again… The Alice Game is now over… Is it not?"

Her eyes focused on his again, and he gulped. Did she mean… For him to… K-kiss her? Certainly she couldn't…

But just as these thoughts crossed his mind, her eyes closed, and her lips parted slightly, letting a soft sigh escape.

Jun was completely paralyzed. She really was expecting a kiss from him! He looked around nervously, expecting Suiseiseki to appear out of nowhere and start yelling that he had a fetish for dolls. Of course, he remembered, Suiseiseki was not in the mood for that anymore. And the reason for that was also the reason he was making this promise.

"This is a promise, Jun." he thought "A promise, not a kiss. It's not like you want to kiss a doll or anything…"

Slowly, he moved his face closer to hers, feeling her soft breath on his lips. Surely they had to be more than dolls… Who'd ever heard of dolls that breathed, and ate, and made him feel all those strange, unexplainable feelings down in his heart?

Jun placed his lips atop of her smaller ones, like a soft, blooming rose, so pink and perfect. She pressed those lips on his own, and a soft, red light began radiating, much likely the same one that appeared whenever she used her power.

Slowly, he began moving backwards, but she wouldn't have any of it, and her arms circled his neck, keeping him in place. Of course, this being Jun, the added pressure made him fall backwards, hitting his neck on a pile of hard cover books.

Shinku let go of him, and was now sitting on his chest. Their eyes met again, and she looked more serious than she had ever looked. The blush spreading on her cheeks like wildfire pretty much destroyed that image.

"Jun, I hope that you know that the promise we have now sealed is a most sacred one. But…" she hopped down from him, landing softly on the floor. "You might be quite a lousy servant, but I know you'll stick to what you promised."

She started heading for the door.

"Thank you, Jun." she said softly. "Now if you wouldn't mind, I haven't had my tea for such a long time. Go prepare me some."

He usually would have fought against her orders, but he just smiled softly this time.

"Certainly… Shinku." And he picked her up, and they both left the room, happier than they had been when they last entered it.