Summary: The Seven Deadly Sins begin experiencing each other's sin one by one. They must figure out a way to break the enchantment-without tearing each other apart first.
A/N: Thank you for reading! I am new to the fandom, but I became so enthralled with the anime that I watched it in a week, immediately watched it again, and then read the entire manga. The idea for this story came to me in the middle of all that, and despite the fact that I haven't published a fan fiction in about six years, I had to get writing!
I typically try my utmost to make sure my stories are within canon and make sense in the timeline, but those of you who read the manga and watched the anime know there's a bit of a discrepancy after Hendrickson's fall. So I'm setting this after the end of the anime for simplicity's sake. I also didn't think that the story would make sense without Ban being there, so for that reason he is still with the group.
Chapter One: The Empty Town
Princess Elizabeth watched Meliodas' blonde head as it moved away from the tavern and disappear into the woods. After another moment, she turned and hurried down the steps into the main room of the Boar's Hat. There she found the other members of their band, the Seven Deadly Sins, sitting and playing cards at a large wooden table.
She hesitated for a moment, unsure whether to disturb the game. "Stop cheating, Ban," Merlin grumbled as she pulled a card from the center pile.
"What are you talking about?" he grinned, and then laid his hand across the table.
Merlin laughed in spite of herself, while King gave a growl and pounded on the table. "You're cheating!" he accused, raising into the air over his seat and jabbing his finger into Ban's face.
"He is cheating!" Diane's voice came from outside. "I saw him!"
"Blah, blah, blah," he chuckled, scooping the cards into a pile. "Let's have another round, and I promise I'll stop peeking."
"Before you deal," Merlin said, "I believe the princess has something to ask."
Three pairs of eyes turned towards Elizabeth. She felt her cheeks flush and cleared her throat. "E-excuse me, I don't mean to interrupt. But I was just wondering—I mean, I wanted to ask—well, you see, I'd like to learn to, well, how to fight."
The three Sins stared at her, and Elizabeth felt herself blush again. She looked to her right and saw an equally confused Diane peering through the window. The silence made her feel more and more uncomfortable by the moment, so she went on, "I don't mean the way you—well, I'm obviously not a Holy Knight, but I thought—well, I thought, if I could defend myself, then perhaps it would make it easier…" Everything was coming out wrong, and the focused gazes of the Sins made her more and more self-conscious.
But then, Merlin flashed one of her mysterious smiles. "You want to learn how to defend yourself in a fight, is that it? Why didn't you just ask the Captain?"
Elizabeth twisted her hands together. "I did, actually. He told me no."
At this, Ban threw back his head and laughed. "Well, there's your answer then."
"Please!" Elizabeth interjected. "I really want to do something to help. At least if I can defend myself, then Sir Meliodas wouldn't have to worry so much."
"I'm sorry," replied Merlin. "I haven't had much luck with apprentices, and swore off the practice after the last disappointment."
"I'm busy," Ban said, returning to shuffling the cards.
"Oh, Elizabeth, I wish I were smaller!" Diane called in. "But Captain doesn't want me using up the pills unless I absolutely need to."
"I understand," Elizabeth mumbled. She turned and looked at King, who was floating over the bar, snuggled into his Chastiefol. Ban caught her look and gave another chuckle. "Don't bother asking King. He can't even make a fist."
"Don't talk about him like that!" Diane shouted, reaching inside the window to give Ban a poke. As they started arguing, Elizabeth sighed and turned to go back upstairs. She should have known better than to think the Sins would go against their Captain's wishes.
But then, there was a tap on her shoulder. "I can help you, perhaps." Elizabeth turned around and was surprised to see Gowther standing right behind her. He was so quiet, sometimes it was easy to forget he was there. "I was watching the game with great interest, but this newest interaction is even more intriguing. I believe I could help you learn some techniques."
"Oh, would you?" Elizabeth breathed. "I promise to be a good student."
"You're going to go against Captain's wishes," Ban said in a sing-song voice, dealing a new hand to Merlin.
"The captain never told me not to teach Elizabeth combat," Gowther pointed out rather matter-of-factly. He tilted his head for a moment, and then turned on his heel. "Follow me, please."
"Right—right now?" Elizabeth squeaked, but hurried after him outside. Merlin and Ban glanced at each other and followed, eager to see the princess in action. They sat on benches outside near Diane, who laid on the ground to watch.
"What's going on?" Hawk trotted over from his sunny patch and yawned. He plopped down next to Ban, who scooped him up in a not-entirely-sober hug.
"You'll never believe it, Master!" Ban laughed. "The princess is going to become a warrior!"
For the next half-hour, Gowther took the princess through a series of holds, showing her how to get away from an opponent. The others drank as they watched and cheered, shouting encouragement towards Elizabeth and jokes at Gowther.
"Captain!" Diane suddenly hissed. Everyone froze for a moment, and then Meliodas emerged through the line of trees.
"Hey there everyone!" he called. He jogged easily towards the group, and then stopped as they all stared at each other. "What's all this? Having a party?" he joked. Then looked curiously at Elizabeth, tilting his head. "Why are you all sweaty? What have you been doing?"
Gowther stepped forward to speak, but Diane plucked him up by the shirt and threw him into the air. He sailed over the tops of the forest trees and out of sight.
"Elizabeth was just exercising," Diane said with an innocent smile.
"As are we!" Ban shouted, lifting his mug and falling over.
"Well I hope Gowther is back soon," Meliodas said as he walked towards the door. "I scouted out the next town, and there is something strange going on there."
No one mentioned the lesson again as Mama Hawk walked the company towards town. Gowther appeared in his usual seat in the corner at one point. "I'll have to apologize for tossing him," Diane whispered to Elizabeth, who rode on the upstairs balcony to keep the giantess company. "He just doesn't know how to lie, and I knew he'd tell the captain."
"Poor Gowther," Elizabeth sighed. "I hope he isn't upset."
"I don't think Gowther knows how to do that, either," Diane mumbled.
The next town was a tiny hamlet named Cadbury. It was made up of a small collection of huts, a mill, and a larger-but-still-small building that most likely served as a town hall. Mama Hawk stopped a mile out and dug a spot.
"See what I mean?" Meliodas said as they all exited the tavern. Everyone listened.
"There's no sounds," Merlin commented.
"Not even a cricket," King said.
"It's creepy," Hawk whined, hiding behind Elizabeth's legs.
Meliodas turned and grinned. "Hawk, you stay here and protect the princess. We'll go and see what's going on."
Elizabeth began to speak, but before she could say a word the band was gone. The princess sighed and sat on the steps of the Boar's Hat, and Hawk jumped up next to her. She absentmindedly scratched his head. "I thought that once the Holy Knights were defeated, that Sir Meliodas would stop being so protective."
"He doesn't treat you right," Hawk agreed, leaning into Elizabeth's hand. "I've been saying that all along."
Elizabeth couldn't help but smile as she stroked Hawk behind the ears. As much as she'd like to agree with him, she knew that Melodias only acted as he did to keep her safe, and none of them were truly safe while the Coffin was missing. They sat in a companionable silence for a while, straining to hear any sounds from the village. Elizabeth felt herself starting to doze a bit as the sun came down, but bolted awake when Hawk said, "I wonder when they are getting back. I'm hungry!"
The princess stood and stretched her stiff back. As she stepped down onto the grass, a movement in the woods caught her eye. "Sir Meliodas?" she called, taking a few steps forward. She stopped suddenly when it was obvious it was not.
"Who's there?" she called, trying to keep her voice steady. Hawk called after her, but Elizabeth steeled her courage and stepped through the line of trees, following the figure that had moved again. She could hear a voice, but it was too soft and too quick to make out the words. "Are you all right? Do you need help?" she called again.
After a few more steps the figure was gone. Elizabeth circled around, squinting in the fading light for any movement. However, everything was still again, and the only sound was Hawk, squealing her name from the steps of the tavern.
"For heaven's sake, I'm fine," she called back, when suddenly there was a blast of energy that knocked her over. She landed on the ground in a very ungraceful heap. A bit dazed, she sat up and looked around frantically. It felt like the greatest gust of wind she could have ever imagined, but now that too was gone.
She climbed to her feet, brushing the dirt and leaves from her uniform. A minute later, she heard more voices, and she began walking back towards the tavern.
"I found her!" came a voice from above. She looked up and saw King hovering, sitting comfortably on the Chastiefol.
Footsteps pounded towards her, and then Meliodas himself came running up, calling her name. "Elizabeth! Are you all right? Are you hurt?"
"I'm fine," she tried to assure him, jumping a bit as he ran his hands over her arms, turning her hands around to examine them. Then, in his typical fashion, he quickly slid his hands under her shirt for a moment before running them down her thighs and under her skirt.
"You sure you aren't hurt?" he said. She assured him again, but he was too distracted with feeling her up to hear.
She followed him back to the Boar's Hat, where Diane knelt down and peered closely at the princess. "Are you hurt, Elizabeth?"
"I promise, I'm fine," she said. "Did you all feel that wind too?"
"That was no wind," Meliodas said gravely. "More like a spell."
"Spell!" Hawk screeched. "What kind of spell?!"
The captain ignored him and looked back at Elizabeth. "What were you doing out there anyway?"
"There was someone there," she said. "I couldn't see who it was, just a figure. I followed in case they were hurt or needed help."
Meliodas nodded and turned away, looking back into the woods, but Elizabeth could tell he was not pleased.
"Get the others," he said to King. "I want to go immediately." Then he flashed a smile. "This town is empty. We won't make any money just sitting here!"