'It should have been me…'
Was the only thought in her mind, as she sorrowfully stared at the toddler before her. The thought allowed no argument, or acceptance, in her mind. Any semblance of peace she had held onto the past few months, had been destroyed by her lack of attention.
The mission was barely up to team STRQ's standards, but it was the only one available to actual Hunters. All other missions were far less difficult, for students.
Take down the horde of Ursa.
Ursa were formidable foes, for trainees. However, for graduated Hunters like themselves, their numbers were decimated with ease.
Rather than it being a team effort like their training at Beacon had taught them to do, the separately annihilated their share of Ursa.
Taiyang had, unintentionally, yet single-handedly, torn the team apart.
They had become good friends by their graduating year, getting along very well. They knew each other's antics, and what made them tick.
Taiyang, had apparently fallen for Raven during their sophomore year, and since then, he had been trying to get together with her, but Raven wouldn't have it.
It wasn't until their senior year that Raven could admit to herself that Taiyang had, indeed captured her heart, much to her chagrin.
She hid it well, but the graduation celebration, where alcohol of many forms was present, had no mercy.
The whole team had gotten drunk, and Raven couldn't deny the red line on her pregnancy test.
She had practically abandoned her team then. Becoming entirely elusive until she had been missing for more than a two years.
She came back with a baby girl, blonde, with purple eyes.
Her anger at Taiyang and herself, turned completely to hatred at her former lover and her former partner when she noticed that they had married, and had birthed a small girl themselves.
They welcomed her back with open arms, but she would not have it.
She abandoned her two year old, leaving her with Taiyang and Summer.
Almost a full year later, after Raven had left once more, she came back.
She regretted how she had treated her friends, and wanted to make it up to them.
They were surprised when Raven wanted to go on a team mission, but had wholeheartedly agreed.
'It should have been me…'
She was distracted, wanting to see if Taiyang ever noticed her, ever was worried for her. It was far too late when she realized that she had made a massive mistake.
Summer barreled into her, Raven snarled at her, ready to unveil pent up anger at the cloaked woman, before realizing, Summer wasn't tripping her, she was pushing her away.
A giant feather of pitch black had pierced her former friend.
Blood sprayed everywhere on Raven's face and clothes.
It took her a few seconds to process what happened, as her anger at Summer faded.
"Wha...why..?" She choked out weakly.
"Even if…you hated me, I never hated you…" She mumbled, blood spilling from her lips.
Raven could only gape in shock as the life faded from her friend.
"SUMMER!" A mournful cry filled the area as Taiyang went on a red eyed rampage. Flames from his semblance filled the area and caught on the surrounding forest.
"I-I'm sorry… I'm so sorry…" Raven mumbled, collapsing to the ground as Summer faded.
The white cloaked woman only managed to smiled weakly before finally going limp.
Qrow guarded his sister from the dark monsters that lunged at her, but the mission was quickly going down hill.
An Ursa must have summoned other Grimm. There were Nevermores, Beowolves, Boarbatusks, even a Deathstalker and a King Taijutsu.
The remains of STRQ, or TRQ, barely made it out alive, mission failed, and a friend lost.
Taiyang was a miserable wreck, sobbing like a child. Qrow was pale, like he couldn't understand what had happened. Raven had her usual emotionless facade, but it was so, so difficult to hold up.
She should've known that Taiyang would start screaming at her, blaming her for Summer's death, Summer's sacrifice. She couldn't deny it, it was her fault, and there was no helping it.
She should've known that her brother would side with Taiyang, and start yelling at her too.
So couldn't hold in her tears, but didn't want these two to see her, so she left.
She had only one place she wanted to go before eternally abandoning Patch.
Her throats burned with with the foreign sobs, and her eyes stung with the foreign tears.
She found Summer's little cottage quickly, despite only visiting once. Slightly hesitant, she found herself knocking on the door.
Internally, she scolded herself for stalling, no one would answer.
She broke the lock with her sword, walking in.
She searched the rooms, quickly finding the baby's, Ruby, she reminded herself of the name, room. The baby giggled up at her miserable form, dark red hair and silver eyes, a near carbon copy of Summer.
Raven chuckled slightly, amused that her pain satisfied Ruby. She picked the baby up, carrying her in a way she learned from a book, when she was slightly interested in actually mothering Yang.
Yang. Raven sucked in the air, remembering her blood daughter.
She looked around the room, seeing a small bed made for toddlers. There she was, sleeping.
Raven sighed. She quietly kneeled beside the bed, brushing her daughter's hair with her fingers. Blonde.
"Yang… Next time we meet, we'll have a lot to talk about…"
And then, she was gone. Out of the house, through the window.
A rage-filled howl filled the air of Patch when Taiyang discovered Ruby was gone.
Raven surprised herself with how well she raised Ruby. Even as a toddler, she was obedient. She often whined for things, but would stop once she received the order.
She was four now, three years after she was taken, three years after Summer passed, three years after Raven abandoned Patch.
Raven figured she must've rubbed off on Ruby, because she liked black, rather than white like Summer.
The toddler adored Raven, and told her many times that she wanted to be like her.
Raven had adjusted the the lifestyle of having Ruby, and had come to think of her as her own daughter. As if Yang was Summer's, not Ruby.
Often times, Raven found herself carrying the little girl.
Sometimes Ruby would throw a fit, not wanting to be carried anymore, and walk on her own. It never took very long for her to exhaust herself out, to which Raven picked her up once more, and continued their journey across Vale.
What was likely the hardest for Ruby, was how Raven ignored her pleas for food. Sometimes there was none available, other times it was deemed unacceptable (much to Ruby's dismay since most of the unaccepted were sweets). Whenever they came across a fairly decent restaurant, Raven allowed Ruby to eat as much as she wanted, since there were usually large gaps between meal times.
They traveled from village to city, soaking in the views and, in Raven's case, rumors. She always listened for rumors of two different things, one being strong Grimm. She needed avoid the areas where they patrolled. Alone she could likely win, but with the defenseless toddler hanging off her back, she would take no chances.
She was also keeping an ear out for rumors from Patch. Since it was a small island, there were very few. She only caught wind of one rumor from Patch:
A wife abandoned her child to raise another.
Surprisingly enough, as was rare with rumors, it was completely true. Gossip would change that with time, but for now that was its current condition. Raven was mildly surprised that such an event could actually spread to the rest of Vale. It must've been quite the uproar when the island's inhabitants found out about her absence, and the reason for it.
'They will never understand, nor will they ever get both sides of the story,' Raven thought with distaste.
Her thoughts were broken when a grumble sounded out from her back. She looked behind her to see Ruby eyeing a cafe hungrily. Having grown used to the child by now, she knew Little Red wanted the cookies, rather than the other, healthier, foods cafes served.
Raven sighed heavily. 'It couldn't hurt if it's just one time...right?'
Ruby was elated with Raven's decision, as was obvious as she chowed down on her cookies.
Mentally wondering if Ruby would enjoy her baked sweets, Raven took a close look at her surroundings.
No one, nothing, seemed suspicious or out-of-place, but that could always be an illusion. The booth the two were sitting on was the same as all the others.
'It never hurts to be aware.' Raven firmly stated her training in her mind.
The redhead sitting opposite to her let out a dramatic whimper when she realized she had nothing left to eat.
"We should leave soon. Should I buy you snacks for the road?" Raven asked her companion. Her response was an eagerly nodded head.
Raven often asked the girl about different things, trying to gauge what type of weapon would fit her.
As much as she hated to rely on her twin brother, it was deemed necessary; Ruby seemed highly compatible with scythes. They just needed to test it…
"You should know by now that you can't sneak up on me." Raven stated.
Ruby, who was sleeping while sitting in her lap, twitches slightly at the sudden noise.
"Oh come on, Raven. I was just...walking quietly is all." Her twin replied. Qrow looked normal, carefree and strong, but the odor wafting off of him told a different story.
'So that is going to be how you deal with it, Qrow? So be it. I guess people have different ways of coping with loss, although you chose one of the worst ways.' Raven thought, taking notice of the stench of alcohol.
"So...this is where you went… With Ruby no less." Qrow muttered. The bright red of Ruby's cloak stood in stark contrast to Raven's blood red scheme.
Raven glared at her twin; she hated it when people stated the obvious.
"So… What did you need?" Qrow said, shifting uncomfortably. His twin's glare was a force to be reckoned with, and it usually spelled death threat.
"I want you to see if Ruby is compatible with scythes." Raven stated.
Qrow's brows went sky high, "She's four Raven!" He protested.
"If she is to fight, as she wants to, she needs to start early.
Qrow grumbled in annoyance at his sister, taking note of the 'as she wants to' that Raven emphasized. Taiyang would never forgive him for encountering Raven without taking Ruby back, but he felt that it would be a mistake to betray his sister.
With a sigh he mumbled, "At the very least, you'll teach how to use a sword, right?"
Raven said nothing, but nodded.
"Okay… When will we start..?" Qrow asked.
"You were always quick to give in… We start as soon as Ruby wakes up, it's about time she met her...uncle?" Raven said, slightly confused at the way the family worked.
"Uhh, I guess…" Qrow mumbled.
Ruby had always wanted to learn to fight, and as such, she was excited to finally get teachings, as she wanted to become a Huntress like Raven. Although she was frustrated how she couldn't even hold a stick properly, as it was too big for her tiny hands and small body.
"It's a small stick…" Qrow mumbled, almost apologetically.
"I can do it!" Ruby said, as if to encourage herself, while she struggled to lift the stick.
It came over her head, then anchored itself on the floor. With a cry of despair, Ruby collapsed.
"I can't do it…" She cried.
"Get up." Raven ordered, "Practice makes perfect, you can't be good without first being bad."
Ruby stood back up, and wordlessly tried again.
For the first week, it was just learning how to hold a stick properly. According to Qrow, it was a 'light wood' and it was just Ruby's 'age' that was hindering her.
All that did was opt the small girl to try harder. After about a month, Ruby was able to carry the stick and swing it. Qrow brought her a wooden scythe, made of a heavier wood.
It was back to step one again. The unbalanced weapon only served to make her training harder, and the heavier wood didn't help. Raven never allowed her to drag it on the floor, so she had to find a convenient way to carry it. She quickly discovered that slinging it over her shoulders made her life easier.
Often times she ended days by collapsing on the ground with a groan of despair, unable to get back up. For her young body it was difficult to counter, and sometimes she spent whole weeks recovering from exhaustion.
But, her hard work and determination paid off, and she was already considered a prodigy by the time she made her first Crescent Rose.
She named it as family, as if it was her sister.
Her first secondary, a sword, was modeled after Raven's signature weapon, and was a smaller version of it. Raven had named it for her- Midnight Dreary.
She was ten now, and already a fighter. Almost immediately after Ruby became adept with the scythe, Raven abandoned her brother. Ruby never minded it, for she is obedient.
Hearing the call of her mother, Ruby was quick to answer.
She found the red eyed Huntress and did a small bow of respect, "Yes, mother?"
"I have a gift for you." Raven replied.
"Oh? What is it?" She asked, struggling to quell her growing excitement.
Raven said nothing in response, but stood up from her seat on a rock.
"Little Cardinal," Raven said one of Ruby's few nicknames. She cupped her daughter's face in one hand, placing a mask upon it.
"A mask?" Ruby chirped in question, fumbling with it. It got perfectly, and had no hint of falling down with only the pull of gravity.
"You've seen mine, yes? Consider it a armor to guard your identity." Raven said calmly.
"Umm… Okay… Thank you…"
It was red where Raven's was white, and black where Raven's was red, wider, with a bigger 'beak', like a cardinal.
The gift was graciously accepted, and often times, Ruby wore it. Whenever she went out, during battles or even just an errand.
It was a lesson Raven ingrained into Ruby: Never let people know the true you.
Five years later, Ruby was fifteen. Early in the morning, doing her usual daily training.
Raven had gone on a solo mission and was due back any day now.
Ruby had dutifully kept up all of her many training regimens, and was currently doing a basic sword exercise, swinging it down, and repeat for hours on end at times.
It was at first to ingrained the movement into her muscles' memory, but was more of just a way to clear her head now.
Hearing footsteps, Ruby whirled around, ready for combat, before realizing it was Raven.
"I'm sorry, mother, I didn't realize it was you…" Ruby said guiltily, hanging her head.
"It's fine, you reacted in a fine manner. Never let your guard down." Her hand was hovering over the hilt of her own sword, evidently ready to block if needed, but it was an unnecessary concern.
"You don't usually sneak up on me..?" Ruby said, her underlying tone questioning Raven.
"Good observation. I need you to do something for me, but it will take four years." Raven hinted.
"Yes! I'll do anything for you!" Ruby immediately blurted.
"Enroll and graduate from Beacon Academy."
"Wha..? But...but I'm not old enough!" Ruby said in a rare protest.
"I know Ozpin's very well. Show off a little and he'll let you in." Raven said, as if she had anticipated Ruby's response.
"Really?" Ruby said uncertainly.
"Do not doubt me, Little Cardinal. He knew Summer too."
Ruby went quiet with the mention of her blood-mother, her mom's, name.
"Yes, mother." Ruby said, bowing slightly.
Raven let a rare smile come across her face, "You've come a long way from the toddler who could barely hold a stick, Ruby."
Ruby smiled too, perking up, "Yes, mother!"
"Take your two weapons and take some Dust for refills, and don't forget your ammo." Raven demanded.
"Yes, mother." Ruby said, rushing into the house to ready herself. She would make Raven proud.
But Raven was already proud. Her daughter was a prodigy in full bloom.
But this has actually been an idea I've been playing with for almost a year, and I just now decided to publish it...
I have a ton planned for this story, but I of course, can't promise quick updates...
Even so! I hope you liked it, and if you read these, then please review!