Executioner's Love

Summary: Feelings were never part of my job... there was simply no room for them. Even so, I found myself swinging the axe that was meant to kill her at the ropes that binded her arms and legs. Dropping my mask to the floor, I grabbed her hand and began to run yelling back to her among the angry shouts of the crowd, "Don't worry... I'll save you..."

Italics with single quotation marks mean memories/flashbacks.

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The crowd was divided into two sections. One section was filled with people shouting hateful comments directed at me, tears of sadness... of depression... and sometimes with...disappointment... Disappointment in me... because of what I was willing to do to survive...

The other section yelled more hateful comments, not at me, but at my victim.

"Bring her out!" women and men yelled in unison.

"Let her pay!"

"Avenge the death of Yamamoto-san's son!"

"Kill her... mercilessly...!"

I closed my eyes behind my black cat mask destroying the silent drops of my tears threatening to go out in the open.

I couldn't cry... not even if I wanted to...

As if they obeyed the crowd and not the King, the Palace Guards brought her forth.

Tears were slipping silently from her deep hazel orbs showing how scared the girl was. Her chocolate brown hair fell to the floor along with her head because of the brute force the soldiers used against her.

Her legs were folded back and her chest had no other choice but to forcefully rest on her thighs. The strands of her hair that didn't fall on the ground stuck to her tear-stained face.

The village's announcer began to ask for the crowd's silence.

"Mikan Sakura," he began reading loudly from the scroll that had provided to him by the King personally, "ran a trial run by the King himself. She has been charged with robbery of a noble family, who's wishes were to remain anonymous, and the death of Kei Yamamoto, age 6, in the process."

That one statement sent the whole crowd in a frenzy. More hateful comments were heard.

"Murderer...!"

"The reincarnation of the devil himself!"

"Damn you...!"

"Spare our eyes and go to hell."

"Don't you ever come back from death!"

The girl's lips trembled. "I-I didn't," I barely managed to hear her whisper before she miraculously found the strength to over power the guards. She stood up on her knees sending the guards back as they lost grip on her body. She now began to scream between her loud and angry sobs, "I DIDN'T KILL KEI-KUN!"

Shouts of laughter and encouragement began to resound over her shrieks of rebellion as the soldiers began to pin her head against a tree trunk forever stained in red.

"Due to a lack of both evidence and trust," the announcer continued, "Ms. Sakura's price for her crimes shall be execution. May the executioner move forward!"

It's ironic how minutes ago the crowd hated the girl for her crimes, but now, I was the one being hated.

The same insults that had been thrown at her were now thrown at me. Why? Because I was the executioner: the one person who killed far more than any criminal.

I walked forward and stopped besides the girl. A few rotten vegetables and dirt were thrown at me.

Among the crowd I saw two familiar faces: a couple...

The girl wore a black bob and sniffed in sorrow with her cold, wet, amethyst eyes. She made eye-contact with me and quickly looked down burying her face into the chest of the guy holding her: a blonde who kissed the top of her head lightly as he tightened the grip on the girl. He looked up at me as well, and shaked his head sadly before he looked down as well.

"Silence," the announcer demanded with conviction.

He silenced their voices, but not their glares.

The Palace Guards tightened the rope around the girl's hands and legs before moving back.

"Hey," she whispered and only then had I realized she had stopped crying, "Looks like this is what it all comes down to, huh?"

I felt a knot in my throat; yet, I found myself responding, "Guess so, Polka."

She giggled a small joyous giggle. She looked up at my face as she smiled nostalgically, "I'm sorry; I have nothing to pay you by, but would you make this as painless as possible? To show how much you appreciated our friendship?"

I didn't answer her. The knot in my throat had become tighter, forbidding any words from coming out.

"I-I- You always liked your code-name didn't you Kuro Neko," she giggled sadly, "You know, ever since I was smaller I said that if I died, I'd die seeing your face..." she sighed, "But that stupid black cat mask is preventing me from doing so."

"I-"

She interrupted me, "No... Don't worry, I'm not... I'm not informing you of my death wish... It's just how I wanted to die... If you took off your mask the crowd would grow berserk with madness wouldn't they? They'd know who killed their loved ones and would make sure you died too. I don't want that and neither does Aoi-chan and Kaoru-san."

'Natsume, Ruka-pyon, Hotaru!

'Mom's sick and I need to care for Youichi.

'I'm going to work as a servant in a noble household.

'I'll be tending to the nobles' sons and daughters, and a play companion that the parents bought for their children; his name is Kei-kun.

'Not only that, I'll be teaching them!

'Can I practice teaching on you Natsume?

'Hotaru is already smart and Ruka... well... Nogi-san is a teacher herself, so can I?

'We'll be spending more time together and that's great! I'll be over there for 3 years and come back on my 18th birthday!

'So please?'

She wasn't due to come until another month...

"I'm so-"

The screaming of the crowd cut off the rest of my apology.

"Just kill her already!"

"She deserves it."

"Don't kill her! You'll stain your hands of something you can't clean."

"Listen to her."

"Onee-chan!"

"Kill her at the count of ten," a soldier commanded.

10...

'I'm leaving now...

9...

'Hey... If you haven't found anyone by the time I come back...

8...

'Would you consider... marrying me...?

7...

'Good-bye...

6...

'Tell Hotaru I'm sorry that I didn't tell her when I was leaving.

5...

'Tell her I hope she doesn't kill me when I return...

4...

'Tell Ruka I'm cheering for him and Hotaru and to take care of himself and Usagi-chan...

3...

'Tell Mama that I'll be sending her money every month and that I love her and Youichi...

2...

'Tell yourself I love you...'

1...

Feelings were never part of my job... there was simply no room for them. Even so, I found myself swinging the axe that was meant to kill her at the ropes that binded her arms and legs.

Dropping my mask to the floor, I grabbed her hand and began to run as I yelled back to her in the middle of the angry shouts of the crowd, "Don't worry... I'll save you..."

'Ne, Natsume? Do you love me?'

'Forever and after.'


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