Disclaimer: Anything you recognise, I don't own.


001 - First meeting

Hayato is nine when he sees her for the first time. He's been living on the streets long enough to have learnt ruthlessness in order to survive, to know not to trust anyone. He knows that attack is the best defense. He has learnt that in most cases, it's better to attack first so he won't need to defend at all, because in his child-body, he can't win a fight. It is a lesson he learnt the hard way.

Another lesson he has learnt: Put yourself first. Others are deadweight.

Those are the most important things. There are others, but they don't carry as much weight.

Hayato has a plan: Survive. Get strong. Join a mafia family. Prove his worth. Be respected.

He also has a dream: To find a worthy man to follow, to be his right-hand man, to have family that won't use him, that respects him for who he is, that just loves him.

But right now, survival takes priority. And survival means he needs food. Food like the two hot dogs that fat blond kid is holding. Hayato hasn't eaten in eighteen hours, his stomach hurts from hunger, and his eyes hungrily follow the food with his eyes. One hot dog is already crammed in the fat-ass kid's mouth, and Hayato hopes he chokes on it.

The pebble in his hand has the perfect weight. Hayato calculates the trajectory he will need, the wind's influence, and the air resistence. Then the pebble goes flying in a perfect arc, and lands just under the fat pig's foot just as he is about to set it down. The pig falls with a cry, the not-yet-eaten hotdog flies out of his hand. Hayato smirks in victory.

The horse-faced woman screeches and starts fussing over the fat pig. The pig's father - looks like a walrus, genetics are a funny thing - he swells with rage, and his eyes lock on a small figure that had been trailing behind them. Hayato doesn't know how he didn't notice that one, the red hair should have been a beacon. Though the waif is pretty small and almost disappears in oversized clothes. And the red hair is somewhat hidden by a cap.

Walrus stalks up to her and starts shouting in English. Hayato understands every word, he is fluent in five languages. It's useful in picking targets among tourists. Verona has a lot of those.

The girl shrinks into herself while she is shouted at, clutching heart the bread roll in her hand that looks like it's a hotdog without a sausage. She looks around for help, but none is forthcoming. Then her eyes meet his, and he's surprised at the startling green shade. Where his eyes are jade green, hers are the colour of spring leaves in the sun, pure and innocent.

Hayato also notices the complete lack of baby fat, the slightly gaunt cheeks. Malnourished for sure.

He also sees her realise the same thing about him.

Walrus continues shouting at her, apparently he holds her responsible for his fat pig of a son tripping. Said pig is now bawling and demanding they go home, and he hates it here, and this holiday is stupid, and why is the freak with them. Walrus growls, grabs the redhead's arm harshly, and drags her over. He steps right onto the remaining hotdog, making Hayato grit his teeth.

The family walks away, the girl dragged after them.

She looks back at him and throws him her bread roll. It makes Hayato even more pissed off.

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002 - Second meeting

Hayato forgets about the encounter pretty fast.

He remembers her immediately when he finds her sleeping in an alley behind a restaurant five days later, shivering under a pile of newspapers.

A dog bellows in the distance, she wakes up almost immediately, jumping up and looking around in fear, indicating that she has had bad experiences with dogs previously. She bumps into a trash can which falls over, creating deafening noise.

"Idiota!" Hayato hisses to her as he runs. She gasps as she notices him. He hears her scramble after him as shouts come from whoever lives over the restaurant, wailing about fucking brats going through trash again like rats.

Hayato is a fast runner by necessity. She keeps up with him.

"S-s-sorry!" she gasps when they finally stop. He glares at her.

"Get lost," he growls out.

"P-please!" she pleads. Fucking pathetic. She'll get herself killed like that, and good riddance. "Don't leave!"

"Tch." He walks away. "Stay away from trashcans. They put rat poison in it sometimes."

Hayato doesn't need baggage.

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003 - Help (not) needed

Surprisingly, she's still alive after a month. Hayato sees her sometimes, moving about the streets unnoticed by everyone else.

What innocence he saw in her eyes that first time is long gone, replaced by cold calculation brought on by the harshness that is street life. Like so many things, this makes him angry.

Fucking adults, destroying beautiful things. Like that girl's light. Like his mother's hands that created such beautiful music.

Hayato won't admit it even to himself, but he keeps an eye out for her. Hears the gossips among the other street rats. He knows the gang that calls itself the Coltelli - the knives, what a dumb name - are looking to capture her because she steals in their territory. They are never successful.

Instead they find Hayato. He's run into a dead end. He can hear them coming behind him, looking into the alleys he could be hiding in. They'll find him in a matter of seconds.

"Psst," hisses a voice. He looks around wildly.

There she sits, on the roof four meters above him. Has she come to mock him? She's going to watch him get beat up or worse and walk away.

She throws a rope down. "Hurry up!" she hisses.

He stares at her. She's helping him?!

A shout at the far end of the alley spurs him into action. He scrambles up the rope. She helps pull him onto the roof with surprising strength for her little body, then she hastily pulls the rope up behind him. The coltelli shout angrily below. Hayato can see them start to climb onto the taller members' shoulders to get up the wall.

The girl only pauses to grab the rope and stuff it into a ratty backpack, then she grabs his hand and runs.

Hayato understands now how she was never captured.

The gangs, street rats, and Hayato, they use the alleys and back streets. This girl, she uses the roofs. Like the wind she runs, dragging him after her. She jumps over the looming gaps between the houses like they're nothing. And she seems to know them like the back of her hand.

Soon, the Coltelli are left far behind them.

Hayato rips his hand out of hers. "I didn't need help!" he snarls.

"Keep telling yourself that," she answers. "Well, I'm off."

Wait, what?

She's leaving?! Just like that? Hayato practically frothes at the mouth. What's her angle? Why did she help him? What does she fucking want?!

And where is she even going? The way off the rooftop is to the right! To the left, there are only housewalls much too tall... to... climb...

Hayato watches in disbelief as she runs at one wall and then up five steps before flipping off to land on a windowsill. From there, she leaps across to a balcony and pulls herself up. Another seemingly impossible jump has her leaving his sight.

What the hell?

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004 - Hook, line, sinker

"Fellini's is hosting the Alcantara wedding reception," a voice says above Hayato.

She sits perched on a balcony's railing, perfectly balanced. Hayato has no idea how she got up there.

"What do you want, woman!" he barks at her.

He's heard about the Alcantara wedding, of course. The heir of the richest, most respected family in all of Verona, is getting married. To a woman by the name of Francesca Riccati, who comes from a family of bankers, almost as rich. The wedding is the most talked-about event of the year. Everyone wants to be invited.

Fellini's is the single most expensive ristorante in the city. A glass of water costs there costs the same amount of money Hayato needs to survive for a month. They make the kind of food there that even Hayato's filthy rich former family would have considered high-class.

Hayato would rather die than admit he sometimes misses rich-people food.

So what's this bitch doing, taunting him like this?!

She tilts her head in a rather birdlike manner. "You wanna hit that?"

He glares at her. If looks could kill, she'd have gone splat on the street way below ages ago.

She shrugs. "Your loss."

"Wait, woman!"

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005 - Unexpected encounter

The reception of the Alcantara Wedding is an ostentatious abomination. Hayato hates every moment he spends there. Especially with her clinging to his arm.

Melodia Angelini. It's no more her name than Aurelio Angelini is his.

They are just roles they play. With the stiff suit Hayato wears, and the fine silk dress she has on, no one questions their presence. Who would expect two street rats to sneak into the single most expensive and high-class social event of the last ten years, anyway?

Hayato has had etiquette and manners drilled into him since he could barely talk. He's been shown off in rich-people events since he could walk. There never was a question about fitting in here.

As for her... she looks pretty and plays the shy girl exceptionally well, clinging to his arm like she does.

That's what she needed him for: His education and manners. Somehow, she had guessed that he came from money, that he knew how to behave in this kind of situation, unlike her. Now he's parading her around, casually snatching appetizers from trays, and eating the famous Fellini food, and making conversation, while she lifts jewels and money from the rich women and men.

Hayato won't be worrying for money for months to come. He'd even be able to buy material to make dynamite for himself. Then he'd be able to take actual mafia jobs and make a name for himself. Putting up with her is annoying, but the price would be well worth it.

She's an exceptionally good pickpocket. Much better than him, anyway. He never was good at going unnoticed.

But hell, he hates being in this crowd. He looks around disdainfully. And his eyes catch on a familiar shade of rose. He stiffens.

"What's wrong?" she asks.

Hayato skillfully steers them around. "We're leaving. Now," he hisses.

At least she has the good sense not to ask questions and follows him as he casually directs them in the direction of the bathrooms. When nobody is looking, they disappear into a staff room instead, one with a small window that no adult could fit through, but which is just large enough for two thin street rats. She gives him a boost up, and follows right after him.

"Hayato?" he hears Bianchi ask from the corridor, but by then he's already well on his escape.

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006 - Hayato and Harry

They are on a train to Bologna two hours later, stowing away in a luggage compartment. Hayato has no idea why she's with him, and he doesn't feel like asking.

"So, Hayato?" she asks. He glares at her.

"What's it to you!" he snaps back. She shrugs.

"Nothing, I guess."

"Why're you even here!" he growls out.

"One, to figure out the haul," she answers.

Oh. Yeah. The haul. He forgot about that.

"And two, I wanna see something new. Also, some people want to kill me."

Hayato can't blame them. She's annoying.

"...I guess fair's fair, so you can call my Harry, if you want." She gives him a lopsided grin. Hayato can admit that it's prettier than the sweet smile she had on the whole time at the reception.

"The hell kind of name's that for a girl," he demands.

"I dunno!" she laughs. "I guess it's short for something, but no one ever told me."

"Tch. Idiota," he mutters.

She laughs again, not caring in the least about the name he called her. She's got to be the only one who's better off on the streets than with that Walrus family of hers. She's actually managed to put on some weight, her clothes fit, and while the purity and innocence is gone, the light is still there, sparkling mischievously.

"So why did we run?" Harry asks him.

"None of your business," he growls out.

Just because she'd helped him once or twice doesn't mean they're friends. The moment they reach Bologna, he'll be glad be shot of her.

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