It was oddly liberating, being a paid assassin. It certainly wasn't the career choice she would have considered growing up.

After the war though... it felt like she was coming home. Too many instincts more or less engraved in her memory and no one really commented on the fact she was a restless sleeper.

She was a 'mook', someone who had yet to earn the right to a proper codename. So long as she did her job and kept her mouth shut, no one would look twice at her. She wondered how the Officers would feel if they ever knew a witch had literally walked right into their group, written herself on the payroll and was employed as a member of the Lightning division.

"Get geared up. We have an assignment," said Darkholm.

She honestly had no idea where the hell the Varia came up with codenames. Some of them were positively ridiculous. On the plus side, she was picking up a lot of languages and was able to subtly cheat using snakes to learn more. Who knew parseltongue was so useful when it came to learning languages?

A few days of speaking with a snake from a random country and she suddenly knew whatever human dialect the snake spent the most time around. She couldn't speak it without a lot of practice, but her mind was starting to naturally filter all the many, many languages spoken around her to "snake" before it switched automatically to English.

Brier Rose, aka Rosethorn as she was known in England, was already prepared for the assignment...unlike the other "Lightning" mooks she never really unpacked, just restocked. Ironically her prompted ability to be present and prepared on time without any whining made her an almost favorite of the Lightning Officer.

The man was a headache, but at least he didn't hate her personally. He was absurdly 'devoted' to the Boss, a man she had only seen in passing.

Boss had the most beautiful deep blood red eyes she had ever seen, and wore feathers as a sort of strange hair accessory, along with a long coon tail. There was a sort of angry, powerful aura about him that reminded her strongly of a territorial dragon about to turn you into charcoal if you pissed him off.

Unlike Riddle, his red eyes didn't make her feel the least bit afraid.

Seeing the eight year old with the genuine crown on his head, she fought the urge to frown. She didn't doubt that the boy was competent... anyone who had the badge of an officer was already blooded.

"Voi! Is everyone here yet?" demanded the loud Rain. Squalo Superbi was usually the one giving out assignments since the Boss was apparently too lazy to do so himself.

Rosethorn adapted the usual blank expression that had become standard when it came to being around the older, more experienced assassins.

Becoming invisible without the use of her cloak was a specialty of hers. Squalo's eyes passed right over her after he registered her patch declaring her a Lightning. From what she could tell of her fellow Lightnings, there seemed to be some sort of really odd bias that all Lightnings would be Stupid to Gryffindor levels and take the hits first, drawing any enemy fire to themselves rather than hit their comrades.

Like a lightning rod for damage, which she found to be very ridiculous, but knew better than to ask why everyone seemed to think a "Lightning" should be loud, boisterous and try to attract all the attention in the room.

Actually she found a lot of weird quirks in the Varia.

Everyone seemed to think Mists were highly untrustworthy simply for existing, Clouds were antisocial, Suns were heavy physical hitters on top of being healers and Storms were hot-headed morons.

Which sounded about as stupid as classifying everyone by what House they were sorted in. Like you couldn't be hardworking and cunning, or intelligent and courageous to the point you'd jump in without a plan first.

Rosethorn accepted the assignment and noted with some annoyance that she was the only Lightning in the group.

Which meant everyone expected her to be "brave to the point of Gryffindor-level Stupidity". Terrific.

"Voi! Lightning, what's your name?" demanded Squalo.

"I haven't been assigned one yet, sir," she said with a bland expression.

Squalo looked irritated by that.


"Hex, sir," she replied dutifully. Asking for the real name of someone in the Varia was way too personal. There was a damn good reason everyone went by codenames.

Nicknames were another matter.

"Hex, then. You're in charge of the Prince brat until the mission is over," said Squalo.

"Ushishishi... you better not slow me down peasant," snickered the Storm officer.

Rosethorn rolled her eyes. Sexist pig... just because she was a female didn't mean she automatically knew how to deal with kids!

"And you had better not annoy me too much to the point I tan your sorry hide, your Highness," she shot back in Carpathian. Upon learning there was a royal from one of the more isolated magical kingdoms in the Varia, she had looked up which family had that particular crest and promptly bought the language lozenge to learn the native tongue of the area.

If only to keep on the good side of the Prince. Besides, the poor kid likely hadn't heard his native tongue in a long time, having run away so young. She was still trying to get her hands on cookbooks from the area.

There had to be a damn good reason for a prince to run so far from home and end up in a group of bloodthirsty assassins who would eat him alive if he gave an inch.

The kid went almost ramrod straight from pure shock. There was a hint of blood red eyes peering from under his bangs as he stared at her with open interest.


Rosethorn stayed close enough to be considered back-up, but allowed the Storm Officer (who's name was Belphegor, apparently) to do his thing without making it look like she considered him anything less than actual Quality just because of his age.

Seeing the surprised and curious look on his face when she rolled her eyes and removed as much blood as possible with a quick wandless spell, she pretended to act as his minder and dragged him to the first gelato shop she could find.

"Shishishi... what's this for peasant?" he asked, amused.

"Because everyone loves ice cream, and you deserve a treat for being able to handle that job on your own without needing me to cover for you," said Rosethorn. She had noticed he liked berries and chocolate, and ordered a chocolate with strawberry for him.

Belphegor's expression was unidentifiable, but he accepted the treat without a word.

"You're a strange peasant."

"I've been called worse," said Rosethorn. She looked at her phone and noticed a call for back-up...apparently the other team had somehow stumbled into trouble and needed help. "Do you want to finish your cone first, or do you want to rescue grown men from a mess they created because of their incompetence? Bear in mind I will blame you for why we took so long."

Belphegor blinked at that.

"You're a Lightning."

"I may be part of the Lightning Squad, but if they need a half-trained 'mook' and a boy not even nine to save their sorry asses, then they deserve whatever they get. If they survive until we get there, then good for them. If anyone asks you can claim we had to take the long route to avoid cops," said Rosethorn without remorse.

Belphegor snickered even more at that.

"I like you, peasant," announced Belphegor. He finished his ice cream and then put on the helmet Rosethorn had acquired for him. She was his ride and back-up, after all. Besides she bought him gelato, spoke his native language (her accent was terrible, but he could forgive that), and didn't treat him like a child that needed to be coddled all the time.

Most of the mooks stuck acting as his ride tended to only see his age or be too terrified to be of any real use.

They got there in time to rescue the other group, though Rosethorn was rather pleased when Belphegor skewered the leader of those idiots for interrupting his "fun". Which basically implied that Belphegor had been "playing" with his target and didn't appreciate having to cut his game short to rescue a bunch of idiots.

On the plus side, thanks to a recommendation from the Prince she finally had a proper codename. It was unoriginal, but at least it was a name.

Hexe. German for "witch".

Oh well... at least the Storm officer seemed to be genuinely fond of her after that mission. Enough so that he openly sought her out when bored and proceeded to help with what he called "a truly terrible accent" when it came to his native language. Belphegor apparently enjoyed being the "teacher" to someone at least ten years older than him who wouldn't take it personally and actually treated him with the appropriate respect for royalty without being condescending about it.

Hexe was stuck acting as the unofficial secretary of the Boss due to the fact she was behind on her paperwork from a flu. Lussuria, the Sun Officer had been very sympathetic about it... especially since the flu just happened to hit at the worst time of the month for her. So in an effort to repay the woman... it didn't matter what people said, she could tell "Sorella" truly was a woman in soul, if not heart despite being unlucky enough to be born "male"... she had offered to deliver the Sun Division's paperwork for the next week.

Levi didn't care what she did so long as she stayed out of the way of his rather disturbing stalker tendencies towards the Boss and didn't make herself noteworthy in a way that might make her a potential rival for Lightning Officer.

There was a reason why she had infiltrated the Lightning Division. Besides the fact that the Officer was one of the most lax so long as you didn't draw too much attention, it also had a much larger number of people in it compared to the Clouds.

Ottabio might make her skin crawl, but he would have noticed an extra Cloud in his division. Levi had overlooked the fact there was one more than there should have been because she did her job without complaining and was actually efficient at it. No one looked at Lightnings unless they needed a meat shield. Besides, it was behavior she was already conditioned to which made her ability to hide in the division all too easy for her to pull off.

That no one had discovered the fact she had basically infiltrated the place and made herself at home said quite a bit. If she wasn't leery of mind readers (which was only natural, considering the head of the Mist division was called "Mammon Esper" and had genuine psychic abilities if rumor was to be believed) she would have found the fact that a group of elite assassins had missed a civilian sneaking into their ranks hilarious.

"Voi! I wouldn't go in there," said Squalo with a pinched expression on his face.


"Vongola Nono is in there with his Storm. Boss is always in a foul mood when he deigns to show up."

"Then he could use a distraction who doesn't mind being in the line of fire to begin with," said Hexe.

Squalo eyed her oddly for a moment.

"Voi. Wait here a minute... if you're going to take in paperwork anyway then you can drop mine off as well," said Squalo.

He came back with some papers, and pointed out the red ones.

"These get signed first... I need them today, not a week from now."

"Got it. Into the breech, I guess," said Hexe.

Within seconds she understood why the Boss didn't like it whenever this "Nono" visited. He had the same aura as Dumbledore, except he didn't feel like he was too chickenshit to actually kill someone.

In other words a manipulative old bastard who wouldn't hesitate to ruin a child's life to achieve his own goals and then pretended he had some lofty reason for doing it.

The other man felt like the stuffy old bloods back home. The kind who were stubborn as hell and a total bitch and a half to work with because they were stuck on a "This is how we've always done it and if you don't like it, then tough shit because I'm not budging" mentality.

She couldn't blame the boss in the least if this was what he had to deal with. He'd probably be more than happy with a distraction from this sort of bullshit.

She walked right past the old bastard (as she was already mentally calling him) without even introducing herself.

"Squalo and Lussuria's paperwork, Boss. Squalo said he needed the ones in red done today, not a week from now," she said, interrupting the old bastard and his asshole sycophant without any remorse or hesitation. All while looking Boss right in the eye without backing down or acknowledging the sheer level of pissed off intent in the room.

Boss looked darkly amused at her stunt, especially when she gave him her full and undivided attention while blatantly ignoring the other two in the room as inconsequential of her notice.

She had no idea who the old bastard or his sycophant was, nor did she honestly care. She only considered four people in the castle to be worth listening to, regardless of how stupid she felt the order.

In order they were "Levi A Than", Lussuria, Squalo and the Boss himself. The first because he was her officer, the second because she was in charge of everyone's health (but was thankfully less cloying than Madam Pomphrey had ever been... Luss accepted it when she said she was "fine" enough to go back on mission duty and only brought out the bed straps if it was clear that someone was being unusually stubborn about their own health to the point of being stupid), Squalo because he was generally the one to dole out mission assignments for the other officers to trickle down to the rank and file, and Boss because he was the one In Charge of the Varia and no one said no to him.

In short these two were positively inconsequential in the face of Boss' bad mood and the ever-pressing need to get paperwork done on time.

The old bastard looked at her with a thoughtful gaze she really didn't like.

"What's your name miss?" he asked politely, trying for "kindly".

She turned to face him with an odd look on her face (at least as much as you could see with half her features obscured by her hair) which she knew the Boss had definitely noticed.

"Are you going senile, sir?" she inquired sweetly. "Everyone knows there are no women in the Varia. To assume otherwise is Stupid on a level only civilians every successfully manage with any consistency."

Boss was clearly trying desperately not to laugh his ass off at the look on the sycophant's face at that comment, if the choking sounds from behind her were any indication.

"That's an unhealthy shade of red. Are you suffering from an aneurysm?" she inquired of the sycophant with mock concern, which only made the amusement she could feel from the boss worse.

Hearing the sputters of indignation from the other gentleman, she went back to ignoring them both.

Seeing the boss was in no state to look at them, the two went to leave.

However before the old bastard moved more than a few steps away from his chair, Hexen felt something press against her which killed any and all amusement from the Boss in an instant.

Hexe didn't even realize she was reacting on instinct. One second she was next to the Boss...the next moment she had sent the old bastard flying through the door with a strong right hook that coincidentally had the nice side effect of giving him a nasty broken jaw.

Registering the threat nearby, she quickly sent the sycophant after him before he had a chance to react with any real success.

Dead silence. She could recognize the look of shocked amusement coming from Squalo as well as the dark interest on the Boss. But right now it was taking everything she had not to drop into a nasty flashback of the last time she had felt that sensation around Albus Dumbledore, back when he was still trying to mold her into his little protege without any consideration for her own feelings or potential plans.

Boss was definitely looking at her with actual interest in his eyes. He had been amused before, but that knee-jerk reaction had put her firmly on his radar as someone who might be worthy of his notice.

"What's your name, trash?"

"Hexe, Lightning Division twelfth squad," she replied.

Boss grunted, and waved his hand off. She made herself scarce so that the two who had been so unceremoniously thrown out of the room wouldn't be able to get a proper look at her... the Boss kept the rooms a bit dark, and half her face was obscured by her black hair.

She was so getting drunk tonight.