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Poppy Potter pushed herself forward as best she could, commanding her aching legs to keep moving. One step, and then another, and another.
She wasn't going to be fast enough. She could hear them coming closer, angry shouts. She didn't dare look back, knowing that the three men would be catching up to her. There swords would be out. If they caught her, it would be all over again.
Her legs were so much shorter than the men's and with the bundle of food she had stolen from the men. It was slowing her down. She should get rid of it. Maybe they would stop chasing her to retrieve it, maybe they would just let her go. But her arms held tight to the bundle, unwilling to let it go. The cruelty of hunger was much worse than death by a blade. At least being cut down would be a quick end.
The dirt patting underneath her bare feet sounded like thunder as she ran. Each foot step showing that she was still alive. She was still fighting.
She turned into an alley, hoping to lose her pursuers, but only managed to ram herself into a crate that had been just out of her field of vision and tumble to the ground, the food spilled out from her hands and rolled in its wrapping across the ground.
Poppy's eyes focused on it and she crawled to it, reaching out to try to grab hold of it. But before her hands could reach it, a sandaled foot stopped down on her hand hard enough for her to feel her fingers popping as they struggled to stay in their joints and she gave a scream of pain.
"You thought you could just steal from us you little shit!" The foot was withdrawn from her hand only to smash into her stomach, sending her tumbling into a wall.
The men had caught up to her and now stood above her, swords in hand and horrible looks on their faces. Then again, they might have just been ugly people.
One of them bent down to pick back up the bundle of food and held it up between two fingers, waving it around in front of Poppy, watching as her eyes stayed glued to it. "No one steals from us, brat. This mistake will cost you." One of the three said as he spat to the side. "And since it doesn't look as if you have anything to pay with, I guess we will just have to take your life."
"Now hold on guys, after she gave us all this trouble, I don't think we can let her off that easy." Another said, stepping forward and towards Poppy. "I think we should have a little fun with her first."
Poppy's heart sank and memories of her uncle doing things to her that could not be recounted flashed through her mind. They weren't going to just kill her. They were going to rape her first.
The thought was horrifying. She wanted to do something. Wanted to scream. Wanted to fight back. But her arms and legs wouldn't move. Her lungs refused to process oxygen after that kick to her stomach and so she just lay there as the man came closer.
Then they stopped. Poppy thought that it was just her mind speeding up as her own end approached for a second time, but it wasn't. The men had stopped for a more mundan reason. They were all dead.
The spray of blood socked the entire alley as their bodies spilt in half. The death so sudden that their hearts had not been told to stop pumping and the blood just continued to squirt out everywhere. Poppy was drenched in the closest man's blood. It had covered her face and bits of it got into her mouth. Though thought she would throw up, but there was nothing in her stomach. After a moment of gagging, she looked up to see a figure standing over behind where the men had been.
It was a massive man. Poppy wasn't even sure it was truly a human at all. He was almost ten feet tall and built like a ox. The unclean rags on his body were loose around him, showing lean and muscular arms, the guy had on honest to god ten pack! Poppy had never even heard of something like that. His face was narrow and his eyes hard and black as coal. His black hair was straight and unwashed, falling down to his shoulders in a manner that suggested he didn't care about his appearance. He was sliding a long blade into its sheath. The blade's edge was rough and Poppy thought it resembled the teeth of a wild animal.
The man screamed danger, almost everything in Poppy's body told her to run. To get away from this monster. But the desire for safety left her, when she saw him holding up the bundle of food.
The claws of hunger gripped at her, telling her that if she let this slip through her fingers, she would die. She had to get that food. She had to.
Struggling to her feet, she grabbed one of the swords the men who had been chasing her had been carrying. It was way to long for her, over twice the size of her body, and it was so heavy. But she used what strength she had left to lift it up in both hands and point the edge at the monster.
"Give... that to me." She gasped as she struggled to hold up the blade. The creature just looked at her with a blank expression, as if she wasn't even worth seeing. Like she wasn't even there. Poppy growled and rushed forward, trying to use her momentum and just letting the weight of the sword do most of the work. She put her entire will behind the one strike.
The monster of a man caught it. He caught the blade with his bare hand. Poppy's eyes widened in shock. The blade shattered at the half way point as the man put pressure on it. Poppy was pushed backward, falling over as the weight of the blade was changed.
She looked up at the monster, thinking that he was going to kill her now. But to her surprise he was staring at the palm of his hand. The hand he had used to catch the blade.
A small trickle of blood was sliding down his hand. As if he had only gotten a paper cut. It was the only sigh of damage. How could he just catch a blade like that, and only get a paper cut. But it looked as if he was surprised to see the blood there. He looked at Poppy, as if seeing her for the first time, a grin spreading over his face.
Poppy's mind was registering all of this in a daze. Her body was so weak and heavy. She had used up what little strength she had.
"No... I can't..." She mumbled as she tried to push herself up, using the broken sword as a crutch. She had to keep going. She refused to die. She tried to fight away the darkness that was moving into her vision, but it was no good. Her knees gave way, and she collapsed to the ground.
Zaraki Kenpachi, the Demon of Rukongai, carried the small girl under his left arm back towards the place where he and his little charge, Yachiru had been holding up the last few days.
He had been surprised when this tiny black haired girl had somehow managed to gather up another spiritual pressure to put the smallest of cuts on his hardened skin. Surprised enough to take an interest in the child. The look in her green eyes as she struggled to hold onto life impressed the fighter, so he took her along.
The girl was thin as a bone, on the verge of starving to death. With her being so small from starvation, it was hard to tell her age, but Zaraki guessed that she would have been around seven or eight if she had been human and well feed.
Her hair was a mess, though Zaraki couldn't exactly judge there. It was more than half way down her back and was a tangled black mess. Her face was bony, probably do the starvation rather than it naturally being that way. The child looked pathetic.
Even so, that look the girl had given him was that of a fighter, and she had actually tried to pick up a blade against him. He could respect that. More than respect it, he wanted to cultivate that.
"Kenny!" Yachiru shouted happily as the man entered the house that he had cleared for the girl and him to sleep in. It had used to be a bandit hideout, but Zaraki had liked the location, not the bandits. "What's that you got there, Kenny!?" Yachiru asked as she hopped up and down next to the large man, before climbing up his clothes to get a better look at the girl underneath his arm.
Yachiru was the first child to catch the man's eye. The little pink haired girl only looked to be around three or four by human standards. Zaraki had found her right after her parents had been murdered and she had been all alone in the world. But for some odd reason, she had gravitated towards a man as drenched in blood as Zaraki, with no fear what so ever. So the Demon had taken her in, trained her to defend herself and kept her safe and feed.
"Brought a new friend for you. You can introduce yourself as soon as she wakes up." Zaraki said in his gruff voice as he lowered the girl onto a bed and brought out some of the food he had taken, placing it beside her so that she would be able to grab it the moment her eyes opened.
"Who is she?" The little pink haired girl asked as she pushed back the girl's hair to show a lightning bolt shaped scar on the center of her forehead.
"Don't know. Guess we'll find out." Zaraki said with disinterested shrug of the shoulders as he started at his own food. Something told him the girl would wake up, he just had to wait. In the meantime, he could get his afternoon nap.
I'm not going to be using the name Poppy for long. It was just something that Zaraki could think is stupid before discarding to give her a new name.
The name I'm planning on is 'Senkou Marai' meaning either 'Flash of Lightning' or 'Bright Future'.
I saw a different story involving Zaraki adopting a female Harry, but I don't feel they really captured Zaraki very well... he didn't have a single line of dialogue. Despite his violent nature, Zaraki is deep and dangerously intelligent. There is more to him then just being a comically laid back Captain and a man who hangs out with a little girl. And I feel like an opportunely was missed.
Harry, or in this case Poppy, starved to death because her uncle locked her in the cupboard and just left her there until she died. Thus the fear of starvation outweighing the fear of Zaraki.