Chapter 1

Smoke, acrid and overpowering, accosted his nose, irritating him out of his slumber. Somewhere in the forest, there was a fire. With a grumble, he fell back asleep. It wasn't his forest, so it didn't bother him. No, it wasn't until he felt a presence that he opened his eyes and was met with a beautiful shade of blue.

"Eriwyn," he noted dryly. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

A giggle escaped her lips as she knelt beside him. "I need a favor, of course!" She tucked a strand of long, wispy blonde hair behind her ear, looking as innocent and bubbly as ever.

He groaned. "Go away."

Melina had once described her cousin, Eriwyn, as a nymph-like girl with too large a heart—stubborn, yet kind. The two of them had been close enough for Melina to talk the girl out of marriage at one time, so why wasn't she asking her dear cousin for this favor instead of him? His brain quickly calculated the answer. He wasn't the only one Ciel had spoken to that night.

The smile never faltered from her face. If anything, it grew. "But Lycan," she said softly, "you're the only one who can do this. Please?"

Not even giving a moment's deliberation, he said a curt, "No," before turning the other way and trying his best to ignore her.

"Just listen to what I have to say." She leaned over him, gazing at him imploringly, her countenance filling his line of vision.

"No," he repeated.

The smile was effectively wiped from her face, replaced by a scowl. "Lycan!" she shouted, enraged. "You won't even listen?"

This time, he said nothing.

"Perhaps there will be something in it for you," she offered.

The hair she had tucked behind her ear came loose and fell onto him. He reached up and tucked it behind her ear almost fondly. "I'm listening."

Instantly, she brightened. She rose to her feet and began to pace. "If you do this one favor, I will do what ever you ask of me."

The gentle expression on his face melted into skepticism. "What is the favor, Eri?"

With a sigh, she turned toward the forest. "We don't have much time," she mumbled. Then, her gaze was back on him. "I'd rather show you than tell you." An impish smile crossed her lips. "Follow me, Lycan, and do try to keep up."

A growl sounded, and Eriwyn giggled before glancing down at the wolf padding softly at her side. It snarled in return.

"This had better be good," the wolf muttered.

She heard all the same and smiled. "Believe me, it will be."

A sigh escaped from the wolf, part defeat and part exasperation. "Where are we going?"

She stopped her rushed steps, pausing and wrinkling her nose as if deep in thought.

"You don't know?" the wolf asked skeptically.

Hesitantly, she turned left before pausing again and turning completely around. "Now, which way was it?" she asked softly, crossing her arms and tapping her forehead with her left hand.

The wolf snorted before lying down and gazing up at her wearily. "Are you wasting my time, Eri?"

"No, no, Lycan. I just—oh!" Her troubled expression popped like a bubble, replaced by relief. "That's right! I could just-" She snapped her fingers, and the forest disappeared, replaced by a burning house.

There was a crowd of Zephyrian guards crowding around, being ordered by a boy no older than twelve. They rushed to do his bidding, the strange blonde woman and wolf unnoticed.

"Why are we here?" Lycan asked, lowering his head in irritation. Now that they were actually close to the source of the fire, the acrid stench became much more pronounced. His head was starting to ache.

Eriwyn was frowning at the boy, ignoring his words entirely. "They're not here to save these poor people," she stated.

"I never asked that, Eri."

She turned to look at him. "I need you to rescue someone trapped inside that building."

He met her gaze for a moment, then… "No." He stood and turned to leave.

"It's a little girl," she added.

"I don't care."

"Her parents are already dead, and, if you leave her, she'll die too. Do you want that on your conscience?"

"You can save her," he replied. "Just wave your pretty little hand, grab her, and get out of there. Why does it have to be me?"

"Because that boy is the Crown Prince of Zephyr, that's why! I cannot do anything to jeopardize my status in the castle. Even if I do save her, what will I do with her? Her parents are already dead, Lycan. I can't bring them back!"

The wolf cringed, sighed, and looked back toward the blazing fire. He watched the last of the guards race from the inferno. Then, "You and your bleeding heart. It will end up costing you your life one day."

She waved off his words. "I know, I know. Melina tells me the same thing."

He paused. "And why didn't you ask Melina for this favor?"

"Because you are right here!" she replied cheerily.

He growled low in his throat. "I wouldn't be here if you didn't ask me."

The look he got in return made him want to go back to his forest immediately. "Lycan, Lycan, Lycan… You still follow my beck and call like the child you used to be. It's so endearing, really. And how you naively chose to close yourself off from society? It's adorable."

"…and I'm yet again wondering why I associate myself with you," he replied irritably.

"It must be my winning personality," she said, smiling.

"Yes, that must be it," he remarked dryly. "And I thought that your cousin was a femme fatale, but you're every bit as bad. It's like you're plotting my demise," he muttered.

Her smile fell momentarily, but before he had time to question what it meant, she was ushering him toward the building. "The little girl is dying in there!" she cried out, eyes widening in fear.

Giving her a glare, he made his way to the burning building. "You owe me for this, Eri. You owe me big time." Then, he disappeared into the inferno.

The smile disappeared from her face, replaced by a melancholic frown. "I know, Lycan. It marks the beginning of my end…" Tears formed in her eyes, and she quickly wiped them away with her hands. "I had a good life," she said softly, as if trying to reassure herself. "It's just…I'm afraid to die after living for so long! What kind of fool would want to die?"

Her hands trembled, and she clasped them. When she noticed that it did nothing to help, she crossed her arms and took a few calming breaths, gazing up at the sky before closing her eyes and letting the gentle breeze calm her nerves.

Everything will be alright.

Her eyes opened, and she nodded. "Yes, everything will be alright. I'm doing the right thing."

Heat surrounded him, threatening to smother him along with the smoke that was a constant presence in his nose. Why had he chosen the wolf form? Wolves had a keener sense of smell than humans!

But they were also more agile. Four legs were better than two, after all. A wooden plank fell, and he jumped out of the way, narrowly missing being hit. As he glanced back, embers shot into the air, landing on his nose and singeing it painfully. A yelp came from him, and he rubbed the spot with his paw. That didn't help.

Where was the little brat so he could get out of here? He sniffed the air and sneezed. If not for the damnable smoke… Still, he found what he was looking for.

With expert precision, he made his way up the stairs, dodging various fiery pieces of debris. Although he couldn't die, he could still feel pain, and he wasn't fond of that sensation. If anything, he tried to avoid pain at all costs—physical and emotional. Hence why he no longer spoke to Melina. But that was a different matter altogether, one that he never dared to spend too long pondering. No, he had nearly five-hundred years to get over that mess.

As did she.

The sound of a board falling quickly jerked him out of his thoughts, and he raced past a room that stunk of burning flesh—a truly horrible smell, compounded a hundred-fold by his wolf form's nose. Eyes watering, he made his way to the far room. A furtive search of the room found the little girl hiding beneath her bed.

She wasn't breathing.

He sighed and shook his head. Of course, she wasn't breathing. How long had he been arguing with Eriwyn before actually deciding to come here? A pang of guilt swept through him, and he returned to his human form. Pushing the bed out of the way, he knelt to better examine the small child.

She had to be…six? But he was never good with ages. Her blonde hair was the lightest shade he had ever seen, bordering on silver. With her eyes closed, he couldn't see what color they were. Something cracked not far from him, and he glanced up. The ceiling was positioned at an awkward angle. Turning back to the girl, he sighed. Regardless of whether she was alive or dead, he told Eriwyn that he'd rescue her.

Picking her up, he backed toward the window and glanced down. Eriwyn was looking at the building anxiously, and he felt some grim satisfaction in that action for a moment before he realized that it was really the girl she was worried about. He scowled. Of course. He couldn't die.

Cradling the girl to his chest, he kicked the glass, watching as the shards floated to the ground. For some reason, it reminded him of snow, and a brief smile crossed his face as a memory came to his mind. It was a happier time, when his father had taken a day off from his work to play with his boys in the snow. They used flat metal disks to slide down snow-covered hills. With this memory playing behind closed eyes, he fell backward, out the window. The weightless feeling comforted him and made him feel as though he really was back in that time—that innocent time before Ciel had betrayed them and everything had spiraled out of control.

Eriwyn's scream echoed in his head as he hit the ground, hearing a sickening crack as his spinal cord snapped.


Author's Note: Well, it's been forever since I last updated this story. After trying to write it only to scrap what I'd written, then trying again only to go through the same process. I've finally written something that I've decided is good enough to add to the FP version. Yes, I'm pretty sure that this will be the unscrapped version because I like this one. I realized that I was trying to hurry it too much in the other versions, and that was making it sloppy. So, this is the version I'm sticking with! Oh, and KoT will be updated when I get around to writing it. I was listening to AFI, and I felt that this story is better AFI material than the other one.

Special Thanks to the following reviewers: Erikaizzle, S. E. K. Arouet, Faith Adeline, aiur, Pen Killer, miss-life, Riley Hunter, Crystal Royale, Iphegenia101, emrevolemina, Bonjour, planurescape, Written, MirrorMirrorOnTheWall, Harmonic Discord, Si-Sidera, and Broken Shards of Plastic. Like always, you guys are awesome!

Q&A:

If he does fall in love, and it kills him, then wouldn't that be bad, considering she's the one killing him?

Yes, it would. I'm giving this warning now: This story will not end well. It is a tragedy (but there will be funny parts, and you'll learn about Melina's past and about Eri, etc.). But, like all tragedies, it's fun to read until the end and try to delude yourself that everything will work out. That's what I usually do, and if I don't like the ending, I like to pretend that it became a happy ending and nobody ended up dying. I do that a lot with movies, actually. I did that with Mirrors, mostly because the ending didn't make sense to me. But yes, it'll end badly.

Will most of this story happen in the same time frame as Kiss of Twilight?

Yes! Actually, just about all of it happens in the same time frame. The beginning is actually a few years before the beginning of KoT, but you'll see where the two lines cross and whatnot. But the focus of this is the relationship between Lycan and Bliss.

Your stories are a bit slow-paced with little romance. Could you possibly improve upon that?

You have no idea how much I wish I could improve upon that. If I could, my stories could be 130% better. But, sadly, I'm still experimenting (finding my voice through my writing?). I'm worried that if I make them less drawn-out, I might lose the depth of the characters. And, sadly, I don't have a boyfriend My longest relationship was two weeks, and it didn't even really count considering we did nothing. He only really wanted one thing-when I wasn't into that, the relationship went "poof," like magic. So, until I get a boyfriend and actually feel "chemistry," I'm not sure if I'll be able to write it. I think that I've been improving with KoT: Absence, but I'm not sure. But I'll try harder with this one (while still keeping it T). And I don't think that this one will be too drawn-out. But watch me say that now, and have it be 60-some odd chapters long. That would be painful... Thanks for the criticism, though. I just wish I knew how to improve upon those things.

What's the deal with Lycan and Melina?

This question wasn't asked, but I figured I'd put it up here anyway, considering it'll be a question going through a lot of people's heads when they're reading this. I'm not going to answer this question, but it will be answered in the story at a later date and time. Was he in love with her? Is he still? I'll leave those questions be for now. And what about Ciel? How will Eriwyn die? Ah! So many, many questions. Better yet, how will Lycan die? You'll just have to wait and see. Until next time!


A/N: I fixed the whole "breathing" issue in the first paragraph of the prologue. Ha! Thesauri (?) are awesome. Or is it thesauruses? Whichever... My beta loved the last line about his back snapping. Ah, he's immortal, remember? I didn't kill him off that quickly, promise!