Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight Fanfiction: Centuries Of Love - 5. Soulmates
Thank you all for reading! Here is the final chapter for my Kuromaya Vampire AU!
Disclaimer: I do not own Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight.
Chapter 4. Soulmates
Truth be told, Maya hadn’t really understood herself why she’d felt the need to wander away from her group of friends while shopping last weekend. Something had just been urging her elsewhere, as if drawing her, like a magnet. She’d never felt anything like it before in her life. She couldn’t explain it.
But as she’d followed that strange pull all around town, down the sidewalks, up the streets, and around that corner, it had led her directly to the striking young woman in the old-fashioned dress.
Now Maya had acted in dozens of plays about destiny and fated meetings, but never before had she actually felt she’d been a part of one until that moment.
She was certain she’d never met or even encountered Saijou Claudine before in her life.
And yet, from the moment she’d laid eyes upon her, Maya had felt like she’d known her. Somewhere, somehow, at some point in time, or perhaps for all of time.
Even though she knew nothing about her – had no memories of her – she knew she was meant to meet her.
She’d been drawn to her for reasons beyond simply looks or personality, though as she’d gotten to know Claudine better over the days and nights, those factors had certainly made Maya enjoy their time together to the fullest as well.
Even when she’d discovered Claudine’s secret – her fangs, her impossible joinery – Maya never wanted to let her go if she could help it. She just felt like she needed to be with her. It was a yearning she’d never experienced up until the moment she’d bumped into her on the sidewalk.
She’d never needed Claudine before, but now that she has her, she feels she can’t ever let her go.
And after only a few week together, Maya has felt her connection to Claudine growing stronger, and her feelings for her as well. Claudine was so lovely, so passionate, so interested and accepting, not just of Maya, but of everything Maya shared with her about what the world had become. She was dedicated to her cause of finding Elizabeth, thus showing her undying loyalty to the one she loved dearest.
So Maya tried to ignore her own budding feelings for Claudine, tried to cut them before they could blossom, not wanting to impose things on her when Claudine was in search of someone else.
Part of Maya hoped Elizabeth was inside of her, so that Claudine could end her journey and finally rest.
And the other part dreaded that possibility, not wanting Claudine to love just the spirit inside her – a spirit Maya knew nothing about. She wanted Claudine to love her. Tendo Maya. She wanted to be with Claudine for the rest of their lives…
But now, as Maya lies in bed with Claudine limp in her arms, feeling the small push of teeth against her flesh, she understands all too well that Claudine doesn’t intend to live till sunrise.
Her pulse is weak and fading now against Maya’s chest, her fingers uncurling without strength to keep a grip on her clothes. Her jaw parts and her fangs make contact, but never pierce.
Claudine must use the very last shred of her willpower to overcome instinct and stop herself from biting. She becomes very, very still.
Maya feels as though she’s been plunged into deep, dark waters, surrounded by a heavy, ubiquitous terror. But for Claudine’s sake, she finds her voice.
There’s a feeble moan in response, but nothing more.
Maya knows right away Claudine hasn’t been feeding like she’d said she was. She’d been growing weaker and weaker with each passing day, and Maya should have known better.
On that first night when Claudine had spilled her heart to her, Maya had spoken the truth as well. She wasn’t scared of Claudine, and she still isn’t. This girl had been wandering the planet for longer than anyone else had been living, eating only for the sake of staying alive one more day in hopes of finding her lost love.
And yet, when she believed she’d finally found her, she’d been too scared to hurt her. She’d wept in fear of causing Maya any pain. She’d trembled in her uncertainty, constantly tormented between what her body needed and what her heart wanted.
Part of Claudine had wanted Maya to be Elizabeth. Maya knows this. But by the end of it all, she can’t be quite sure of what that other part may have wanted.
And now it may be too late to ever ask.
“Claudine!” She cries out again, breaking the frightening silence of the room. Maya pushes herself up, cradling Claudine in her arms, holding her close. When she focuses past the terrified beating of her own chest, she can still feel the tiniest flutter in Claudine’s.
Maya eases her back, holding her dearly as she cards a hand through Claudine’s hair, thumbing over the tears that had spilled from eyes that are now closed. Claudine’s lips are slightly parted in a stagnant breath, her fangs visible, but not a speck of red on either one. Maya tries to fight back tears of her own, to no avail. They spill over, hot and stinging, and drip down onto Claudine’s clothes.
“Claudine, please… You can’t leave me…” she chokes. “You’d told me… that Elizabeth left you to wallow in grief for an eternity… and now you plan to make me do the same…?” Maya dips forward and holds a soft kiss between her eyes. “Please… spare me… I am not strong enough… I am not strong like you are, Claudine… So please don’t go… I need you…”
What right does she have to love her this much after only knowing her for two weeks? And what right does she have to love her when they aren’t even the same species, with the same lifespan? Maya isn’t sure.
But she can’t change her heart. She loves Claudine, and she feels like she’s loved her for a long, long time. And she doesn’t believe that to be any soul’s feeling but her own.
She holds her close, sending out silent prayers in hopes that Claudine will be able to understand her. Now that Maya has met her, she is far too weak to live without her.
She begins to cry, tears the likes of which she’s never shed before in all her life; heavy, bitter, terrified tears. The tears of loving and losing a stranger she’d somehow known and loved all her life.
“Claudine… please… don’t go…” She’s begging now. Maya holds her close, sobbing into Claudine’s shoulder. She isn’t even sure of how hard she should be holding her. Claudine is a wilting flower now, and Maya’s greatest fear, after losing her, is hurting her.
Maya’s voice leaks into her sobs, and her heart thumps with the deepest kind of sorrow.
And in spite of her fading life force, Claudine’s eyes flicker, and flutter open the tiniest bit.
She recognizes that sorrow. It’s the very same sorrow she’d existed with for decades after Elizabeth had died. That same hollow misery, yawning a hole deeper and deeper into her soul by the minute, until it all but consumed her.
The only thing that had spared her from such agony had been meeting Maya.
And Maya is right. Claudine knows she’s right.
It’s unspeakably cruel of Claudine to have come to her, to have fallen in love with her, and to have let Maya fall in love with her, only to try and leave her forever.
For Elizabeth, it hadn’t been a choice to go and to leave Claudine to suffer.
But Claudine… she had chosen this. She had chosen this, deliberately knowing in her heart of hearts what it would do to Maya.
That must make her absolutely wretched. She is breaking Maya’s heart, subjecting her to a lifetime of remembering regret that stemmed from only a few weeks of loving Claudine. It will haunt her until the end of her days if Claudine isn’t there to live them out with her.
She can end Tendo Maya’s suffering. She knows she can.
All she has to do is bite.
What Claudine dreads the most is what Maya desires with all her being.
Claudine can feel it. Maya’s soul is on fire, raging and wild with the fear of losing Claudine in her arms tonight. It sparks a tiny flame in Claudine’s soul as well. Just an ember, but it’s enough to replenish some heat.
Claudine realizes she’d given up the day she’d met Maya. She’d already decided in some corner of her heart that she’d end things for her own selfish sake.
What she hadn’t realized was that the end of her journey that she sought was only the beginning of Maya’s. And Maya could never have a happy ending if Claudine leaves her now.
So Claudine gathers up that tiny ember and holds it close to her heart, where she can feel Maya’s beating too. Her nails cling weakly to the blue robes, barely anything, but still enough that Maya can feel it.
With a gasp, Maya eases away, tears streaming all down her cheeks and neck.
“Claudine-?” she chokes, voice hitching.
Claudine struggles to open her eyes once more, her vision hazing and blurring in the darkness of the room, trying to find a source of light. And she finds it looking right back at her, two lavender windows to the soul that matches hers.
“Oh-” Maya cradles her closer, breaking down all over again as the tears come in rivulets now. If Claudine had truly wanted to leave, she would have. But the fact that she’s trying to speak to her again now… Maya can only pray she’s changed her mind.
“Please…” she whimpers. “Oh, please, my dearest Claudine… please don’t go… I can’t lose you now… not when I’ve only just found you… Drink from me if it will save your life… I beg you…” She kisses her temple, supporting the back of Claudine’s head while coaxing her lips closer toward her neck.
Claudine’s mouth parts in a desperate gasp for air, thick and choked as her own tears begin to slip free. When she tries to inhale, all that comes is the sweet, tempting scent of Maya’s blood.
Claudine grips her sides with hands that shake almost violently, and Maya can’t tell if she’s trying to pull her in or push her away. It feels like both at the same time. Her heart pounds so hard Maya can feel it more clearly than anything else. It makes her body shudder, so harshly Maya can only imagine how much it must be hurting her. She holds Claudine tightly, trying to keep her from falling apart, guiding her with her answer.
“Please… It’s all right…”
She hears a broken whimper being sobbed into her neck.
“I… d-don’t…. want to hurt you…”
Maya’s heart throbs with pain, and with so much love. She eases back once again, cradling Claudine’s head in her palms, brushing away as many tears as she can with quivering fingers. Her eyes overflow with her love for Claudine, shimmering and scared. She lays her soul bare for her here and now.
“Claudine… your fangs could never hurt me… You living could never hurt me… Even if you leave Seishou, or even if you leave Japan, I will come with you… The only thing that will hurt me… is if you go to where I cannot follow…” She kisses her. Not knowing if it’s right, but also knowing that it is.
Claudine didn’t know if Maya was her soulmate or not, but Maya knows for certain that Claudine is hers.
So she kisses her as bitter tears pour down her cheeks, her heart beating through her veins, fearful of losing the part of herself she’d never even known she’d been missing. She pours her very soul into Claudine, wishing she could fill her with life and love.
And even if it’s impossible by their earthly standards, Claudine feels it. She can feel Maya’s love – raw, heartfelt, and burning. And yet it’s so very soft, so very gentle, so very tender.
Claudine’s heart aches like never before.
She knows these lips. She knows this heart. She knows this soul.
But they aren’t Elizabeth’s.
All this time, she’s been chasing Elizabeth, following that intangible thread leading her to where she needed to be, thinking her long-lost love would be the soul that waited for her.
But until now, Claudine hadn’t even considered another option.
That perhaps… she could love someone else. That perhaps Tendo Maya is her soulmate now.
Even if she might share pieces of Elizabeth, Maya is Maya. And Claudine loves her for that; for being Maya, not anyone else.
Some part of her must have known this all along, but she’d only just realized it now, when it was almost too late.
Claudine has the power to end both their anguish. Maya had given her consent.
And so Claudine accepts.
Maya hears a small whimper from her, and her heart jolts in the worst kind of panic. She tightens her hold on Claudine, fearful she might sway or lose all her strength.
But as she clings to her, Claudine clings back, nails finding soft purchased in Maya’s nightgown, pulling herself closer. She feels Claudine nudging her nose against her the side of her neck, feels her quivering lips hovering over the softest spot. The fact that Claudine is still shaking this much – that she’s still so scared of hurting her after everything she’s been through – just proves to Maya how dearly she must care for her.
But does she care for Maya, or for Elizabeth…?
Even if it’s the latter, Maya won’t mind. She just wants her to live.
Keeping one arm across the small of Claudine’s back, Maya lifts the other to support her head, guiding her forward, letting her know it’s all right.
“Please…” she whispers. “Drink.”
She hears a small sob, feels warm tears leaking into her nightgown. Claudine’s shuddering lips press a kiss to her skin, and Maya feels her hiccuping around the tears.
Then, the softest murmur.
“I… I love you…”
Claudine parts her lips, allowing the fangs to push against her neck. Maya stiffens only a little, bracing herself not for the pain of the bite, but for the pain of hearing Elizabeth’s name fall from her lips.
“I love you-” Claudine whispers, voice breaking. The fangs push more fully. And then-
Maya’s troubled heart suddenly forgets all its worries in that instant. A warm, calming wave of relief and joy washes through her all at once, filling her with such a poignant happiness she doesn’t even feel the prick of the fangs sinking into her neck. She smiles through her tears now, hugging Claudine all she can.
“I love you…” she whimpers back. “I love you, Saijou Claudine.”
Claudine feels herself shudder as she finally breaks the skin. Warm blood flows up to meet her lips, and she drinks at long last.
And it isn’t like the tasteless blood of all the hundreds of girls she’d drank from over the years. Maya’s blood is so, so sweet, like honeyed sugar after centuries of eating only dry salt.
Though her dying body craves to take it in with gusto, Claudine forcibly controls herself, not taking a drop more than she needs. She drinks slowly, gently, kissing Maya’s neck every time she closes her lips to swallow.
She cries all the while, and tastes a bit of salt from Maya’s tears that had dribbled down her neck.
Maya sighs in the utmost relief to know that Claudine won’t be dying in her arms tonight. Or any other night, if she can help it.
She feels no pain at all, only sheer, genuine joy and relief.
She holds Claudine closer, encouraging her to take all she needs.
Claudine is still shivering from all of the emotions churning inside of her. But she can feel her body growing stronger now, bit by bit…
And then, all at once, everything stops.
Maya feels the exact second when something goes wrong. Claudine’s weight suddenly goes limp in her arms, and the fangs that had gone in so tenderly and gently now slip and scrape on their way out. Claudine sags almost lifelessly, her eyes closed and grip gone. Maya yelps in terror.
She holds her up in desperation, seeking her eyes only to find them closed. Her jaw is open slack, droplets of blood still smeared on her lips and fangs. Maya feels tears coming on again.
“No… Claudine, please…” She leans down, dipping her head against Claudine’s chest to listen. Her pulse is faint but steady, and Maya can feel her breathing. Cautiously, she eases back again, running a hand through her curls and down her back. “Claudine…?”
That’s when it happens.
The bloody fangs in Claudine’s mouth begin to shrink back into the canines they should’ve always been. A sheen of sorts seems to vanish from her skin, making her complexion a bit fuller, more rosy. Her brow furrows, and Claudine gasps back into wakefulness, her eyes wide and panicked for a second until she finds Maya is right here with her.
“Claudine-?” Maya rasps her name, voice thick with relief. “You… a-are you…?”
Claudine slowly reaches her shaking fingers to her mouth. She touches her lips, wiping the blood away, and then runs her fingertips along the top row of her teeth. The fangs are gone.
Tears well up and spill down as Claudine throws her arms around Maya with all the strength she has.
“Human-” she cries. “I’m human!”
“Oh, Claudine!” Maya falls back into the bed with her, never loosening her embrace on Claudine all the while.
They both sob into each other’s shoulders, letting their clinging hands roam a bit before clinging again elsewhere.
They weep, softly and happily, wobbly smiles eventually forming on their lips.
Claudine can feel it in her body and soul. She is mortal now. She is dying – very, very gradually.
But death isn’t what she thinks of.
It’s life. Living. Being able to live a full, fair, healthy lifespan.
Together with her soulmate.
Together with Maya.
Maya – who had been drawn to Claudine with the same fervent confusion as Claudine had been drawn to her with.
Maya – who had been so kind, so gentle, so accepting of Claudine, in spite of being what she was.
Maya – who had loved her with all her heart and soul, enough to offer both to Claudine in order to save her life.
Now, Claudine can live together with her.
And one day, she can lie to rest with her.
But until then, she could finally live.
For now, Claudine nuzzles into Maya’s shoulder and clears the puncture wounds, wiping them of blood. Being human now, she no longer has the desire to drink, but actually is looking forward to a proper food meal with her in the morning. Claudine kisses over the wounds softly, apologetically. Maya tells her there is nothing to apologize for.
“Thank you,” Maya sighs, after some time. “Thank you, Claudine. Thank you for… for coming to find me, even after all this time… Now we can spend the rest of our time together.” She eases back from her, gazing with sparkling lavender into her eyes. “I’ve loved you for so long… Before I even met you, I loved you, Saijou Claudine.”
Maya kisses her, brushing away the tears on her cheeks, cupping one hand at Claudine’s cheek gently and laying the other at her side, feeling her heart.
Claudine kisses her in return, a small half-sob, half-chuckle breaking free as she does so.
“Centuries of love… have led me to you, Tendo Maya. I love you, with all my being. With all my soul.”
At their meeting, Maya had promised Claudine she’d help her find who it was she’d been seeking.
And she’d fulfilled that promise, without even knowing she’d been the answer all along.
The two girls laugh and cry together all through the night, kissing each other time and again, hugging each other, carding through hair. They kiss many times, as if making up for all the lost years without one another, murmuring sweet, heartfelt feelings all the while.
By the time dawn breaks, they’ve both cuddled up close and warm, breathing together, their hearts beating as one. They sleep for now, fitting perfectly in each other’s arms.
And their souls dance together, ignited by that little tugging flame that had brought them to one another.
Centuries of love have finally brought them together, broken a curse, and begun the chapter of a new book.
The love of Tendo Maya and Saijou Claudine shall be unlike any other before, or since.
A/N: Yes! Though I love the concept of soulmates, I also love the concept of loving people for who they are, not who they might have used to be in past lives.
I’ll be honest, I can’t listen to Christina Perri’s “A Thousand Years” without imagining this fic… It’s too perfect.