Welcome back!

It's been awhile hasn't it?

I actually have a very valid reason for my lack of updates on any of my stories. To put a long story short, my little sister was kidnapped. You don't have to worry, she's safe and sound at home now, and the man who took her has been arrested. As you can imagine it's been…really, really hard lately. Especially because I'm across the country from her, which makes me feel useless and horrible. I just…had to take a step back from the computer and revaluate my life. And then my internet just went to shit for a few weeks anyway and I had to buy a new router. Yeah, life's been a real bitch lately.

Add that to the fact that both of my parents just got out of the hospital, I've been cramming and finishing my finals and am rushing to finish off the last assignments I have before school ends and you get yourself a very busy Dev.

And a very tired Dev.

Sigh.

Anyway, back to the story!

Thing about this story is that I have almost everything up until the current arc in the manga planned out. Not even kidding. Yuta's first character came around when I was doodling some cute girl characters. When I finished my lil doods I found that I actually really liked the way she looked, and that she instantly reminded me of Lucy – and my mind just went wild. So many ideas popped into my head and so many different character interactions evolved until eventually I just wrote all of this up on a coffee-induced high.

Because of this, the updates for this particular story will probably be pretty far-spaced. Also, the chapters will probably be very long in the future. I want to focus on my other stories to get more of a feel for them right now. My updating always tends to be sporadic anyway lmao.

Also, I have a new pole on my profile regarding on whether or not I should make a Tumblr/Twitter/Whatever where I'll answer questions regarding my stories and post updates on their progress. Check it out if you want!

Well, that's all I can think of right now.

Onto the story!

Disclaimer: kekekekekeke-

Chapter 2: Wanderer

Living on the road was…hard. Like, really hard.

Money was almost impossible to come across seeing as not many people were willing give a nine year old a job, no matter how mature they may be. Lucy had an easier time on that front being fifteen years old, but odd jobs weren't enough to feed and provide shelter for two growing people, and so the majority of their days were spent camped outside or taking shelter with whatever kind soul would grant it to them. It was harder than it sounded; it seemed trust doesn't run deep, even for children.

She wasn't expecting to run away so soon.

She didn't have enough time to prepare.

In the original timeline, Lucy had run away when she was 16 – they left a year too early. She couldn't help but be worried about how this would change things.

Whatever.

She just had to make sure they made it to Hargeon in two years.

o.O.o

"Please miss!" Lucy says, holding tight to her hand, "We won't be a bother, just until we reach the next town."

The woman Lucy's talking to sighs and runs her fingers through her long red hair – they've been at this for a while. Travelling in groups was much more ideal than travelling alone – especially for children. Bandits had no mercy, and it was expensive hiring a guild for protection. They had managed to find a caravan on their way to the next town, which was nearly a week away by foot, and Lucy had been begging to travel with them for hours now. The rest of the caravan was packing things away around them, and she sighed as a cat rubbed against her legs, purring happily. The caravan's leader stares down at them for a long moment, bites her lip, and pinches her nose.

"Alright kid, but you're gonna have to pull your own weight."

"We will!" Lucy promises.

Smiling down on her, Lucy beams happily.

"See Yuta, it'll be okay!"

Lucy has become more protective of her lately. The stress of running away, of hiding from police and destroying missing-persons posters, of hoping and praying that they'll have enough food for tonight, enough shelter…it was starting to get to her, to them both, and it was starting to show.

They've been on the road for about a month now.

They don't have a particular destination in mind. Just…aimless wandering. In a way, she hasn't been this happy in years; hasn't felt so free and like she can- she can just do anything she wants. But at the same time…she misses her mom. Her master. The person her dad used to be. She misses her home.

She misses– that home.

It was harder to train her magic while they were on the road as well, but they've somehow managed to get by. She tries simple exercises, focusing her magic on one area of her body and attempting to move it around while they walk. It's harder than it sounds, her magic so foreign to her soul it won't cooperate, and she has to strain on not using too much or too little of her energy.

Sighing, she pulls the small white cat up and into her arms, cuddling it against her chest as she looks around the small camp.

A bald, middle-aged man was staring at them, and she resists the urge to hide behind Lucy.

"Really, boss?" she hears him mutter quietly, just loud enough for her to hear, "we don't wanna' look after two kids, do we? We've got 'nough of our own."

"It's been decided," the redhead sighs as she begins to pack away things onto one of the larger carts, "so there's no use complaining about it."

The man tsks, sends a scowl at them, before turning to continue shoving a large cloth bag full of…something into one of the large carts. Happy chatter and laughter fills her ears and she has to struggle not to duck behind Lucy. She's never done well with people.

"Do you want to play with the other children?" Lucy asks kindly, pointing to a small boy and girl who were running around each other while performing complicated looking poses. She gives Lucy a blank stare and the other girl laughs nervously.

"Right…" she mutters and rubs the back of her head before offering tentatively, "but it might be good of you to make some friends?"

Looking up into Lucy's hopeful eyes, she sighs and tugs at the back of her hair, which is situated into a -familiar- bun. She's taken to just wearing it like that now – it was easier and it had…sentimental value. She knows Lucy is worried about her, knows she wants her to be a normal nine year old, and she loves her for it, she really does, but it's just so hard when she's not a child. Not really.

She can't help but wonder how Lucy is doing so well. The mansion is all she's known, expensive food, and attentive staff at her every beck and call, and now…even with Yuta's own memories of a previous, less luxurious, life she sometimes struggles with common interactions with normal everyday people. And yet Lucy is just…so natural at it. It's hard not to wonder who is really the reincarnated soul here.

"Alright," she says weakly, and Lucy positively beams.

"Right!" she claps her hands cheerfully, "Then I'm going to go get our stuff situated and get things in order!"

Nodding her head, she watches Lucy trail away from her, moving to talk with the Caravan's leader. The cat in her arms mews questioningly and she gives it a grimace.

"Let's do this then," she tells it and it gives her a solemn stare.

"What's your name anyway?" she asks as she dodges a large beam of wood aimed for her head. The carrier of said beam apologizes profusely, but she waves him off.

"Junsui..?" she hums thoughtfully, and the cat leaps up to settle on her shoulder, "that's a nice name."

She lets her fingers trail through the cat's fur and turns her gaze back on her goal. Gripping her resolve, she stalks forward, and both children's eyes drift up to focus on her. She swallows nervously.

"Hi…" she says lamely, and the girl closest to her smiles brightly, curly blonde hair bouncing from her pigtails, "my name's Yuta, do you mind if I p-play with you?" she cringes as she stutters over the word 'play' and uneagerly awaits their response. This is how kids made friends right?

"Of course!" says the girl, who was smiling at her happily, creepily, before darting forward to grab her hands. The boy looks annoyed at the intrusion, crossing his arms, narrowing his eyes, and she once again smiles weakly.

"W-what are you playing anyway?" she asks quietly and the boy scoffs.

"Isn't it obvious?" he asks, and she tries not to bristle at his tone, "we're playing Guilds!"

"Guilds..?"

"Oh you've never played it before?" asks the child clinging to her hands and she nods hesitantly while subtly trying to twist her off.

"Well, it goes like this!" the girls twirls with flourish, her skirt dancing around her, and she notices that one of her front teeth is missing before the other stops and points at her dramatically, a gleam to her eye, "we're a part of the Guild, Ravenheart," she stops for a moment to show off a small mark shaped like a long black wing colored on her hand in what appears to be dark blue marker before continuing with, "and we specialize in completing jobs!"

"Ravenheart, huh?" she says and settles on the ground.

"Yep!" the other blonde plops to the ground in front of her and the boy joins them after a small, annoyed tsk.

She doesn't bother looking towards where she knew they would be hiding and lets her chin settle in her hand.

"It's 'cuz Ravens are cool!"

She doesn't say anything and merely lets the overexcited blonde chatter on about how cool their Guild was, and how many missions they completed, and, oh yeah, would you like to join?

"You'll have so much fun!" the blonde promises.

She looks between them and lets out a small sigh. She moves Junsui to settle on her knees and hides her face in the cat's fur.

"Yeah, I'd like that," she says.

"Very well then!" the girl scours through her pockets in search of something, and with a sigh the boy hands her a dark blue marker. The girl takes it with flourish.

"Where would you like your Guild mark?" she asks cheerily and grins widely.

This girl…was too cheerful.

"Um," she flounders for a moment before indicating the area around her neck, "here's fine…"

The girl smiles and stares at her blankly for a moment, holding the marker up in the air listlessly. The boy heaves a sigh, rolls his dark eyes, and takes it from her before settling in front of Yuta to draw on her skin.

"Sorry," the girl says bashfully and rubs the back of her head, "I really suck at drawing hehe…"

Yuta says nothing and a moment later she's lightly touching a dark blue wing curling around her collarbone.

"Now what?" she asks and lets Junsui curl on the top of her head.

"Now it's time to take a job!" the girl pumps her fist in the air and Yuta resists the urge to edge back.

"O-okay…" she mumbles and eyes the ground in front of her.

It's silent for a long, drawn out moment.

"Oh no!" the girl suddenly exclaims, "Bandits are attacking Shisuta town! We need to stop them!"

Tugging her to her feet, the girl twirls around her and the boy before marching forward.

"Are you coming?" she smiles, teeth practically gleaming, and Yuta flushes before trailing after her.

"Y-yeah..."

o.O.o

Once upon a time, in a land faraway, a young girl died.

It wasn't a particularly painful death, nor was it full of remorse or heartache. It was a simple death, a delicate death, and in death the young girl wandered.

The young girl wandered across the lands, traveled across the seas, glided across the skies until, eventually, Death – having been watching the girl's travels closely – came to claim her soul.

The young girl gazed upon the last embers of the dying sun and caressed the stars in the sky, awaiting the Death she knew would come until, eventually, she was alone no more.

And with a smile and a sigh the young girl looked into Death's eyes and Death-

Dea-

o.O.o

"Are you apart of the caravan?" she asks a while later, after they had saved Shisuta town, taken down their evil leader Kokona, and were settled under the incline of a shady tree. The girl looks at her questioningly, grin tugging at her lips.

"Yep!" She says happily, eyes closing from the force of her smile, and she feels vaguely uncomfortable. She notices the girl has a lisp.

"My sister and I are going to be joining the caravan until we reach the next town," she reveals quietly and lets Junsui climb onto her shoulder. The girl looks positively ecstatic at the prospect, while the boy scowls and slumps into a slouch.

"That's so awesome!" she enthuses while the boy lets out a drawled, "Great…"

She opens her mouth to say something else when-

"It seems Junsui has taken a liking to you," a voice suddenly calls out to them, and they all flinch before turning to see who it was.

It was the red-haired lady who ran the caravan, and the two kids in front of her brightened immediately.

"Riko!" called the girl happily, as seemed to be her most common emotion, "are we ready to leave?"

'Riko' smiles at them and nods as the kids waste no time in getting up to dart after her. She can see Lucy talking to the bald man from earlier and lets a frown slide across her face briefly. Turning her attention to the children whose names she had never learned, she watches them run off.

"Hey," she calls out to them before they could fully leave, "I never caught your names…"

The bright-headed blonde beams before darting forward to hug her.

"My names Yuzu!" she says before reaching out and tugging the boy in their direction, and he shuffles awkwardly for a moment before offering a quiet and curt,

"Suto."

Yuzu looks at her expectantly and she lets her eyes drift to the floor as she offers out a quiet, "my name's Yuta."

"I'm sure we'll become the best of friends!" Yuzu says as she turns to dart after Riko's back.

She watches them go for a moment before noticing Lucy's attempts to wave her down. Blinking, she lets her feet guide her to her sister, and Junsui curls into her arms whilst purring deeply.

"Did you have fun?" Lucy asks her brightly, tugging a piece of hair behind her ear, and Yuta notices the sweat trailing down her face but says nothing. She reaches out and lets her hand rest lightly on Yuta's head, rubbing back and forth.

She thinks for a moment before settling on a, "Yes."

Lucy's smile widens as she pets her head rhythmically.

"I'm glad," she says, and Yuta tries not to flush.

Their dynamics have changed. Whereas before it was Yuta who did most of the 'leading', running away seems to have emboldened Lucy's confidence. Lucy was no longer afraid to take charge and say what she wanted to say, and she can't help but feel incredibly relieved about it. Maybe if Lucy is stronger…more confident in her own abilities…

"We're about to set out," Lucy says absently as she begins to tie Yuta's bag of clothing and miscellaneous items on her back more securely, "and we need to keep close the caravan while keeping a look out for bandits. These roads are dangerous."

Stopping to look Yuta deep in the eye, Lucy adopts a serious face.

"I want you to stay in my line of sight at all times, no matter what, do you understand?"

"…yes," she mumbles out and tugs Junsui closer to her.

She was honestly afraid at the idea of bandits.

While her physical abilities were definitely a bit more…powerful, in comparison to her magic (which hardly cooperated on a good day), she didn't think she could take on a group of bandits as she was now. That wasn't exactly something she had to deal with in her last life.

More than that though, the idea of pain scared her. She had always feared pain, even back…then.

Smiling tiredly, Lucy tugs her into a hug, which Junsui allows gracefully, and pulls back with a determined face and hardened resolve.

"We'll make it through this Yuta! You'll see!"

o.O.o

Travelling on the roads was hard, but not nearly as bad as before now that they had a caravan to look after them. It was easier this way, and Yuta couldn't help but relax slightly in their presence. Having company, even in the form of two small children, to talk to (or listen to, as the case may be) wasn't that bad either.

"How long have you been with the caravan?" she asks as they steadily make their way through the dense foliage the forest provides. The sounds of talking and moving people surrounded her, and Yuzu skips in front of her cheerily while Suto trudges after them.

"For as long as I can remember," Yuzu answers thoughtfully, "I was born into the caravan after all! So was Suto though,"

The girl stops for a moment to point at the bald man from earlier, and Yuta resists the urge to scowl. He irritated her.

"That's my dad!" she says.

"W-what?" she replies blankly, looking between them in something akin to shock.

Suto nods at her sympathetically.

The other blonde gleams in her happiness, and she can see the bald man begin to shout at a pair of bored looking teenagers in the distance.

"I'm not going to address that," she mumbles to herself quietly, and is careful not to accidentally step on any of the many cats that were winding and weaving themselves between her legs. It seems Junsui has a family.

"Animals really like you, huh?" asks Suto curiously.

"Yeah," she says blandly and studiously avoids looking into the trees.

The past two days were spent in something of a lull. Travelling across the forest was a tiring and tedious process, but she knew they'd soon arrive at their destination. What they'd do then she wasn't sure.

"What about you?" asks Yuzu, "why are you on the road?"

She lets her eyes drift up to the sky and simply stares at the clouds drifting their way across the blue expanse.

"It's nothing important," she says, "we're just…living. Existing."

"One day," says Yuzu, and there's something confident, and hopeful, and melancholic about the way she says it, "I'm going to create my own magical Guild. And we'll the biggest and happiest family ever!"

She says nothing and watches the two children out of the corner of her eye.

"Our Guild will be the best in all of Fiore, and everyone will want to come to us for help and jobs!"

"Oh," she says, "well, I think you can do it."

The two kids stop for a moment, and Yuzu turns towards her ecstatically, hands latching onto her own.

"You really think so?" she asks hopefully.

"I think you can do anything," she answers truthfully. This girl was so full of hope and joy and…someone like her will make it far in this world.

"Maybe you can join us!" Yuzu exclaims excitedly, and she lets herself smile sadly.

"I don't think I can," she says, and cuts off Yuzu's disappointed expression with, "I think this world has something else planned for us. For my sister."

Suto looks at her questioningly but she says nothing else and the rest of the day is spent in silence. For some reason, she can't stop the sadness enveloping her heart.

o.O.o

"I'm bored…" Yuzu whines softly and Suto rolls his eyes.

"Deal with it," he says.

"But!"

"But nothing, I'm bored too y'know!" the boy suddenly lunges forward and latches onto Yuzu's hair. He seems to have become more accustomed to her presence, and hardly scowls or glares at her anymore. Hardly.

"Yuta! Help meee!" Yuzu cries as Suto pulls on one of her pigtails, "You're a bully Suto!"

"It's called corporal punishment!"

"Uwaa!"

She watches them bicker back and forth with a smile and sees Lucy's relieved expression out of the corner of her eye. She flushes and hides her face behind a gray cat named Lucky's fur.

Maybe being a kid wasn't so bad after all.

o.O.o

"Have you ever played 'hide-and-seek'?" she asks one sunny afternoon.

They were taking a brief break in a small clearing, and the sound of stomping hooves and talking people scattered throughout the leaves and enveloped her peacefully. She enjoys travelling with the caravan.

"Hide-and-seek?" Suto stumbles over the words, the English sounding strange and foreign on his tongue, and she bites back a laugh.

"It's one of my favorite games," she says, memories of playing it with Lucy in the large garden that inhabited their home darting through her mind, as well as vague images of a boy with dark hair and bright eyes. Sometimes it's hard to remember who she was.

"How do we play?" squeals Yuzu excitedly.

"The rules are simple," she says, "one person will be the 'seeker' and their job is to find all of the 'hiders'. At the beginning of the game the seeker will count to 10 while the others hide, and when all of the hiders are found the games over."

"That sounds fun!"

"…That's not too bad, I guess."

"For the first round I'll be the seeker…"

The game was an instant hit, and before they knew it all the other kids and teenagers that called the caravan home were joining in too.

She managed to pull Lucy away from her work to play with them, and watching the look of happy relief spreading across her sisters face, she feels hope begin to bloom in her heart.

Perhaps there was a way after all.

o.O.o

She isn't sure how exactly she got herself into this situation.

The night had begun like any other. The caravan had come to a stop in a small clearing as the dusk had begun to set, and she and Lucy began to help with the preparations for dinner, which involves cooking and handing out food before settling in to sleep. And then…

She can't remember anything.

When she had awoken it was pitch black, her arms were straining against her back painfully and she couldn't move her legs. She was tired, sluggish, and it had taken her a long moment to process what exactly was happening.

"…are you sure…Jewels…" she could hear someone mumbling and she groaned softly in pain.

The voices hushed and she blinked blearily around the dark room. A sudden beam of light assaulted her eyes and she blinked back tears as she tried to look past the glare.

A silhouette outlined by the bright light filled her vision and she wearily winced.

"Oh, you're awake?" it asked.

"W-what happened?" she asks and cringes at the harsh sound her parched throat produced.

The silhouette laughed and kneeled before her, and dark brown hair came into her vision before moving away. Looking up and blinking against the light, she took in the features of her captor.

Brown hair and brown eyes set on a smooth and handsome face, the man looking down on her smiled and bared his teeth threateningly.

"W-who are you?" she managed to utter out, and the man laughed again.

"That's not important," he says, and his voice was smooth, soft, and something about it relaxed her muscles and eased her worries, "what is important is you and your little friends here," he indicated towards the space next to her and she struggled to turn her head.

Lying across the hard floor, hands tied behind their backs and legs bound together was Yuzu and Suto.

"I don't understand," she says.

"You don't need to," he smiles before everything goes dark once more.

o.O.o

She dreams.

Darkness everywhere, not a hint of light to be seen, she gazes through it and through the edges of black and more black she sees the vague outline of trees – hundreds, thousands – surrounding her on all sides, and even deeper within she sees eyes. Slit and red, ever unblinking, she can feel the magic pulsing within them, can feel the essence of life and death swirling in an untamed tempo, and she feels fear and understanding.

And then, suddenly, everything makes so much more sense, a scythe is bearing down on her carrying with it the weight of two worlds, and Death looks her in the eye.

'Do you understand now?' it asks, and she can only think-

'Yes, yes I do, and I'm so sorry, I'm so-'

And then the world brightens and darkens, hundreds of thousands of dark birds watching her every move, and Death only answers-

'No, no you don't. Not yet.'

And suddenly-

The world ends.

o.O.o

When she awakes next it's to a painful prodding in her side and an unending rumble in her stomach. Wearily blinking her eyes open, she grimaces and looks around the dark dreary space she finds herself in. Next to her, sit two children.

"Yuta!" cries Yuzu quietly, tears in her eyes and an unhappy frown twisting her usually happy face.

"W-what happened?" she croaks out, and Suto helps her sit up.

"I don't know," he tells her quietly; frame trembling lightly with what she can only assume is fear, "we just woke up here. You were sleeping and we couldn't wake you up…"

He gives a scrutinizing look and she smiles weakly. Her body feels sore and heavy, exhaustion set deep in her bones, and the edges of a strange dream cloud her vision. Her magic feels distant and…vague…

"What do we do?" Yuzu cries softly, tears streaking down her face.

"Do you remember what happened before we got here?" she asks, taking their hint and making sure to keep her voice low.

Her head is spinning, her heart pounding heavily in her ears, and something feels familiar and yet foreign at the same time-

"After eating with papa I went to bed…" Yuzu says.

"Same," says Suto.

"Me too," she sighs.

A long moment of silence passes.

"Do you know who took us? Have you seen them?" she asks eventually, and Yuzu once more bursts into tears.

"N-no," she whimpers, "I just wanna go home…"

"It'll be okay," Suto comforts her, rubbing her back and looking at Yuta worriedly.

"It'll be fine…"

o.O.o

She isn't sure exactly how long they spend there in that dark little room. Sometimes it feels like days. Sometimes it feels like months. The only change in their strange isolation is the occasional tray of food that finds its way into their room without any of them noticing.

Yuzu was deadly silent, not a peep to be heard, and Suto often spent his time curled up next to her. She doesn't know what to do.

She feels so weak and tired, her magic a distant memory, and it takes all of her willpower to stay awake. With each passing day, moment, hour, she feels like she's losing a piece of herself and she-

She's scared.

She's scared that this darkness is all she will know, scared for Yuzu and Suto who seem to be losing hope with each minute, she's scared she'll – she'll die. The thought chills her.

"Are we ever going to make it out of here..?" she hears Yuzu rasp quietly.

"Yeah," Suto replies, "yeah we will."

"Why are we…?" Yuzu cries silently, and Yuta bites back a flinch.

This wasn't fair, this wasn't right, they were just children – she's the adult here she can't-

She can't-

But she says nothing and so they fall into silence once more.

o.O.o

More time passes.

Food becomes a happy memory and rare occurrence. Water even more so.

She finds herself dreaming of blonde hair and warm eyes, of sunshine on red cheeks, and dark death looming in the shadows.

She was never a particularly hopeful person, she wasn't filled with determination or adhered to some greater purpose, but even so she didn't want to die here, like this.

"We can't just sit here and do nothing," she says.

Yuzu looks at her with dry eyes and a still ashen face – she doesn't say so, but she knows she is dying, out of all of them she was the weakest, the most hungry – Suto with a twisted grimace and tired eyes. Her voice was scratchy and barely there, the lack of fresh air and water having warped it into something that was near unrecognizable.

"We don't know why we're here. We don't know who took us. We know nothing," she continues, and Yuzu looks away with a small whimper, "but that's not important. None of that's important."

Suto looks so exhausted and weary, hunger wearing down his bones and fraying the edges of his mind, and Yuzu looks so lost and confused, her breath becoming shorter and raspier with each day and Yuta found herself hating the-the things that brought them here – who stole them away and claimed them as their own, and she is filled with something-

Something-

Powerful.

For the first time she can feel her magic pulsing within her – waiting untapped for her to grasp it, ever so violent and hungry, so desperate to be set free – and she feels the world twisting around her, warping into darkness and more darkness; the very edges of clarity is on the horizon-

"The only thing that matters," she can hear herself say distantly, "is going home."

And then-

She

Vanishes

o.O.o

Whoop~ Very happy for this to be done – you have no idea. I'm particularly excited about this story to be honest. Just, something about Yuta's character makes me want to write.

Anyway, I hope to see you in the next chapter ! I'm having a lot of fun writing this.

See you next time!

-Dev.