Good morning everyone, and welcome to the second to last of the Lost Files. Just a few announcements before we get started.

First of all, She Who Fights Monsters is up for adoption. I have a rough outline of where the story was going and how it was intended to segue into Champion in Exile. If you'd like to work on that please PM me or reach out to me on discord.

Second, as I've mentioned, I've recently self-published several books. The first of which is going to be Free as an ebook for the week of 4/19. If you'd like a copy please come over to my discord or PM me and I can provide you the name and link.

If you want to know more about the books, wish to discuss Student of Vacuo, want to adopt either of my other RWBY concepts, or you think you'd like to do a sequel: Feel free to PM me or join my discord at:V EHqnnVqcg

Thanks, Kat

This was supposed to be the first reveal of Pyrrha's less than stellar childhood, was cut and shifted when I decided to have her vent to Ilia instead.

"You really don't like me, do you?" Pyrrha asked, despite knowing the answer.

Yang scoffed at the question, stomping through the underbrush as theyheaded north. "What gave you that idea?"

She just sighed in reply, shaking her head. "I did apologize to Ruby."

"Oh, great, an apology." The blonde growled without turning around, "Cause that totally makes up for almost killing her. You apologize to Meral and Titus too? How about Nean? Pretty sure his confidence has been totally shot since you pummeled him two weeks ago, since he's lost every fight since."

Pyrrha winced, looking away. Another one...

"You just can't stand to do anything but humiliate us." Yang continued, not seeing her shoulders slump. "Can't hold back even a little, can you? Heard Miss G is going to have you fight an entire team next week. Bet that will be fun for you."

The part of Pyrrha that was the Invincible Girl nearly snapped right there at the sheer condescension in the other girls' voice, wanting nothing more than surge forwards and show her just how much she was holding back. How she could end every signal fight instantly if she so chose!

The rest of her, the part of her that wasn't... broken and obsessed with winning, with giving the crowds a good show, just slumped in defeat. Nean would just be another casualty behind her, another opponent too broken to continue on with their career. Maybe his team would pick him up, help him... or maybe they wouldn't.

I hope the others are doing all right...

Professor Arc's first class hadn't been what any of them had expected, even just beyond the fact that another team had shown up. She'd thought they might do some kind of group strategy session out in the forest, or work together to take down Grimm. Instead he'd told them they were going to be repeating the initiation mission... but with partners that he handpicked for them.

"Your goal is to reach the outer ruins and locate a relic, today that's going to be one of four books." He'd told them, "Then to reach the old ruins by the cliff and work together to scale them and return here. You'll be graded on speed and cooperation. Good luck."

Up until then they'd thought they'd just be working with someone else in their team, something he'd seemed to encourage. It had only been right before they'd been tossed out into the forest that Jaune had cheerfully switched all of the pairings up betweenthe teams, and then pressed the button to launch them before they could try and change his mind.

Ruby and Ren will be fine together... and I think Nora will do all right with Blake. Ilia... Pyrrha winced. He had to have put her with Weiss to make them cooperate, just like he put me with Yang.

So far... it wasn't going well.

"Oh great." Yang muttered, pausing as they entered a clearing. "Grimm."

"We should go around." Pyrrha suggested, "We're being graded on-" Her new partner shot forwards, sparks trailing from her hair as she sprinted towards the Beowolves in the distance.

"...speed." She finished a little lamely.

Sighing, she drew Milo and Akuou, then rushed out after her.

Yang had already engaged several of the creatures, putting them down with punching blasts from her weapons. Their dying howls had drawn in the rest of the pack, more black shapes appearing among the trees as they rushed forwards.

Pyrrha charged in on the left, shifting her blade to its spear form as she thrust it into the head of the first beast. Its roar abrupt cut off as she spun past it, her shield spinning off of her hand to ricochet into three more, her semblance guiding it back even as she fell on the stunned creatures. Her weapon shifted once again as she hacked and slashed, her face set in focus as she aimed for their hearts and heads, killing them in as few blows as possible before moving on to the next target.

Nearer to the center of the clearing, she could hear Yang still fighting, the girl shouting with each punch and shot from her weapons.

The pack was mid-sized, a few dozen individuals strong, and with the open clearing to work with didn't really pose a threat. What they did do was take up time that Pyrrha didn't think that they had, not with the other pairs probably moving right towards the Relics.

Ruby might get distracted by the Grimm as well, so would Nora... but if Weiss and Ilia are able to coordinate despite their feelings... They'd remember that the professor had emphasized the speed of the mission, and that he hadn't said anything about fighting Grimm. In fact he'd openly stated that their grade wouldn't be affected by how well or poorly they fought.

"Yang." She spoke into the echoing silence as the last Grimm fell. "I think we need to move faster... I don't believe we're supposed to be-"

"So move faster." The blonde had already turned away, "Pretty sure we already failed this."

"No," Pyrrha tried, "We haven't yet. We can still win, we just have to-"

"Winning?" Yang spun around, her violet eyes turning red. "That's all it's about to you, isn't it? You think we don't notice? You might as well carry a sign around telling us how obsessed you with not losing, it goes real well with that humble heroine. Your parents teach you that?"

A cold wave washed over her, and she felt her mouth move without input from her brain. "I hate my parents."

Yang's mouth opened, then snapped shut with a click as purple flooded her eyes. " what?"

"I do hold back in every fight." Pyrrha told her, some part of her panicking, but the rest... just didn't care anymore, just wanted to vent it all out. "Every single one."


A hand reached up, and Yang was abruptly yanked off of her feet as both of her weapons shot above her head. She yelped in sudden surprise, kicking her legs wildly and struggling as she tried to work out what the hell was happening.

Pyrrha let her see her hand held out, the subtle grey-black energy around it, then gently lowered her down to her feet. "My semblance is polarity. I can manipulate metal, any metal. That's why none of your punches ever land, why I'm the Invincible Girl. Why so few ever manage to even touch me. I can end almost any fight before it starts if you're armed."

Yang... just gaped at her, her hands held close to her chest.

"But... crowds don't like that kind of thing." She continued, her voice still flat. "They want a show, a display, something worth the lien the were paying, the lien my parents, agents, and sponsors were taking. So... I was taught by the best to hide my power, to use it subtly, in ways the audience wouldn't notice."

"Pyrrha, I-"

"It was a dream at first. Every little girl's dream." Pyrrha continued, looking away, remembering the rush of her first win. That utter high of standing on the podium as people chanted her name. "To be famous, a celebrity. But... I didn't really know what that meant then. By the time I was sixteen, I did... and I hated it. I hated the endless hours of training that I didn't think I needed anymore. I hated the events where I had to pretend I liked strangers. The friends who just wanted to be famous themselves, who didn't care about me. The lines where everyone shoved things into my face to be signed. I told my parents and my agent that I was going to retire from tournament fighting."

The other girl's mouth fell open again, "You... quit? But, last summer, you won the-"

"Of course I did." She smiled bitterly. "They told me that I didn't have a choice."

"They forced you!?"

She shrugged, "In a way. They said that I couldn't quit. That the family needed me to keep fighting, to keep paying for the mansion they'd bought. The businesses they'd tried to start. The cars they never drove." Yang flinched, clearly seeing where this was going, "I was a minor, so all those millions the sponsors paid, that the tournament winning provided... it was all gone before I was allowed to touch it, and there was a mountain of debt beyond that. I have as little lien to my name as Ilia does."

Yang swallowed, look down and then away. "...everyone wondered why you came to Beacon. You just... you just wanted to get away, didn't you?"

"Yes." Pyrrha said simply. "My parents told me I was going to Haven, so that I could keep competing in the Mistral tournaments. I filed for Beacon instead with my grandfather's help, then I bought an airship ticket and left in the middle of the night." An actual smile broke across her face, "I imagine it's been quite the scandal back home."

The blonde bit her lip, seemingly struggling, "Then... why always win, why not hold back more? Just lose on purpose?"

"Because you're right... I hate losing. I'm terrified of losing." Pyrrha shrugged bitterly. "I can't stop myself. I have to win."

Yang swallowed, then looked away again, biting her lip. " really apologized to Ruby?"

Pyrrha opened her mouth, then swallowed, "I did... we've been sparring twice a week for most of the last month. At night, out in the gardens."

"Tuesdays and Wednesdays?" The blonde sighed, shaking her head, abruptly looking as exhausted as Pyrrha felt. "I knew she wasn't going to the damned forges... she tired to get us all to spar with you guys, you know that? Gave us this big speech on improvement and everything. Never seen her so disappointed when we turned her down."

"Yang... about our fights, about the ones with the other teams... I'm sorry."

" mean that, don't you?" Yang asked rhetorically. "You really just can't help it. Gods that screwed up."

A half hysterical laugh came out of her throat before she could stop it, "I know."

"Well... according to my uncle, all of the best hunters are screwed up." She shook her head, "I thought he was just making excuses for himself, but I'm starting to wonder. I mean, look at Professor Port, and then Oobleck!"

Pyrrha swallowed, her heart lightening a little. "What about Professor Arc?"

"Maybe he cross dresses?" Yang suggested. "Maybe in pink lace panties he steals from his partner even!"

The mental image was so ludicrous that she had to put a hand over her mouth to stop from snorting.

Yang smiled, a little strained, but it was still a smile. "Look Pyrrha... I still don't know about you, I mean... I think I get it, at least a little, but... it's been a long seven weeks. How about we try and win this, then do a team lunch or something... see if we can start fresh?"

"That... sounds grand."

Intended to take place after the Forever Fall battle/field trip, meant to continue developing Ilia as a character. The scene was going to continue into discussing Jaune and Neo's treasure hunting past and to plant the first seeds in Ilia's suspicious mind that there's more to them than they're saying. Cut for pacing and for the early removal of a sub-plot involving team RAVN trying to work out Jaune's secrets.

Ilia drew back her arm and then flung it forwards, her whip snapping out to crack against a training dummy. Sweeping left and right and flicking her wrist sent two more blows into it, bright red lines appearing as the gel-like figure showed her where she'd hit it.

"Well?" Ruby quivered next to her, watching, "Well!? Does it still feel right?"

"It's a little different." She said in reply, glancing at her repaired weapon. Where she'd once had just two slots for dust, she now had four thanks to the weapons savant beside her. "Little heavier in the handle, something to get used to, but the extension on the range is nice."

"I'm so glad you like, I really worried since we couldn't get the rotating assembly as good as I wanted." Her friend babbled at a million miles an hour. "And the extension assembly was way more complicated than I thought especially with the dust vein running through it and-"

"Ruby!" Weiss planted her hands on her hips while Pyrrha smiled behind her, "She can't possibly understand you if you don't slow down!"

Ilia chuckled quietly, shaking her arm out before cracking her weapon through another sequence.

The three weeks since their first class with Jaune, and since the Forever Fall debacle, had proven to be a kind of... reset for more than just their two teams. Evidently ending up in a real life or death struggle with everyone was something that made people think a bit about how they were acting, what they were doing, and there'd bee a bit more outreach between teams than there had been in the first month and a half of the school year.

Jaune had helped with that, spending his next several classes emphasizing partnerships and building bonds beyond their assigned teams. His most recent homework had been... unorthodox to say the least, at least compared to the other teachers.

"I want you and your partner to spend at least four hours this week with a partnership from another team." He'd told them, "Then write down what you think their strengths and weaknesses are when they're together, discuss what both groups write down, and then take a few notes about what you can do to improve."

Ruby had ambushed her and Pyrrha immediately after the lesson, claiming them as if there had been a great rush to pick out who you'd work with. Not that she had complained, far better Weiss than Cardin. Although... Cardin had kept his mouth shut since their fight, including during their detention, and he'd seemed to be less of an antagonistic jerk overall.

He was still overbearingly arrogant and obviously didn't like her, but he was a lot less obvious about it, and he'd stopped trying to incite problems between the various teams.

I guess that's a win... the leadership always said if we can enforce different behavior on the Humans, then hearts and minds will follow eventually.

The other teams had likewise calmed down somewhat, though MINT more so than FRST. The latter still mostly avoided sitting next to RAVN, or interacting with them where possible, but they'd also eased up on the total exclusion they'd had going. MINT was more open, mostly because it had turned out that the two girls and two guys on it had been Yang's closer friends back at her old school.

So when she'd calmed down, they'd just followed along.

Mostly calmed down, Ilia reminded herself. She's still edgy around Pyrrha.

Edgy more or less described the unusual spot RAVN and RWBY had ended up in with each other. Ruby, Ren, and Nora were quite obvious in the fact that they didn't have issues with anyone so long as the other team didn't openly start something. Yang was still calming down around Pyrrha, but was otherwise fine, while Pyrrha remained nervous about interacting with her out of fear of saying the wrong thing.

For her part, she'd... admit that Ruby was pretty adorable, and apart from her lamentable sense of humor, Yang was reasonably good company. Weiss Schnee and Blake Belladona on the other hand... she was trying, remembering Jaune's advice to treat her as separate from her last name, and it seemed like Weiss was trying too, but it wasn't exactly easy for either of them.

And Blake was still wearing that damned bow.

"Ruby, I know you and Ilia have spent most of the last two weeks on her weapon." Schnee said, "But we do have other homework to get to and I'd rather not spend all weekend on it."

Ruby rolled her eyes dramatically, "Oh fine... not like it's hard. Pyrrha is the big flashy distraction that also whoops butt while Ilia sneaks around like a ninja. Pretty good team."

"I think he's looking for more detail than that." Weiss countered. "What do you two think?"

"I'm not sure." Pyrrha admitted, "Ilia? You know him the best of us."

Ilia thought about it as she went through a last sequence of strikes on the dummy before collapsing her weapon entirely, absently attaching it to her belt. "He's probably not looking for full battle details, but maybe a page in total?"

Weiss put her hands on her hips again, "I was thinking closer to three, perhaps more... but I suppose we have to start somewhere, and at least a single page each will give us that."

...overachiever much?

"Well," Pyrrha interjected, smiling, "Why don't we go to the library so we can relax while we work?"

They all made sounds of agreement, it was getting close to noon and the heat was starting to ratchet up. And it wasn't like they could really discuss it here, other students were loudly testing their own equipment and chatting as they did, including several other first years. Ren, Nora, Meral, and Isa gave them waves as they left, and they passed Russel and Dove heading into the forges just outside.

"Hey! Rose!" A woman's shout made them all turn to see an... wow.

Ilia tried not to stare, but the older student strutting, very confidently strutting their way, made it really hard not to. She'd clearly gone all-out on her fashion sense, everything in shades of brown, and just tight enough that you'd notice without being obvious. She was making a beret, a beret, actually work with her outfit.

"Hey Coco!" Ruby waved cheerfully back, "What's up?"

The girl, Coco apparently, hefted a titanic handbag up and onto her shoulder in a way that told her it was far heavier than it looked. "Hoping to get some maintenance done, the forges still swarmed by freshmen?"

"I think we're mostly done, couple groups out in the firing range but only a few are inside." Ruby reported back, "Should be pretty quiet."

Coco tipped her beret as if saluting her, "Thanks. You still showing up on Sunday to work on the ammo-feed with me?"

"Of course!" The youngest girl present practically vibrated excitedly, "Will I get to shoot it?"

"Tell you what," Coco grinned, "You help me drop the weight even more, I'll let you demolish the firing range with it."

Ruby stabbed a finger at her, "Challenge accepted!"

The older teen laughed and gave them a jaunty wave before turning towards the forges. "See you there Rose, later freshman."

Ilia may or may not have watched the intriguing spectacle that was the girl walking away from them, and turned back to the others to see them all staring at her with variously amused or incredulous expressions on their faces. She felt her freckles ripple to pink, "What? You saw her, she's hot!"

Pyrrha struggled to keep a straight face while Ruby giggled and teased her, "You were totally drooling at her butt!"

Weiss rolled her eyes and tried to usher them along, "Ilia's preferences aside, since when do you know any of the older students Ruby?"

"Coco? I met her when I was cleaning Crescent Rose the day after Forever Fall." Her partner answered, "Her weapon is super cool but it's really complicated, I helped her tweak it a bit, but then she got annoyed at all of us younger kids showing up to fix our weapons."

"Hm." The heiress hummed in reply, "I'm sure Yang will be thrilled that you're making new friends."

"Don't you start that too! I have tons of friends!"

Ilia smiled a little as the two continued to bicker about everything and nothing, slowing her pace a little so she could walk beside Pyrrha and let the other pair get ahead of them. Her own partner noticed and shortened her much longer strides, tilting her head with a polite question on her face.

"I just wanted to make sure you're doing all right." She said quietly, "I know Weiss can be... kind of overbearing for you sometimes."

Pyrrha gave her a quick smile, "Thank you for asking, I'm... doing very well today. It's been splendid to spend time with friends."

Ilia nodded, turning her attention back to the front. Her relationship with Pyrrha had... grown since their midnight conversation. It had made her pay more attention to the champion, and even though she knew her own social skills weren't great, she'd started to pick up on the fact that Pyrrha could easily get lost in conversations with new people, or people she hadn't interacted with much.

Not that many of them seemed to actually notice... Pyrrha was very good at hiding the real Pyrrha behind her public persona.

She and Nora had quietly looked up a few of Pyrrha's old press conferences from Mistral, and had found her speeches and responses to questions disturbingly similar to the way she would talk to people from MINT, or CRDL, or even the professors. Ilia, along with everyone else on RWBY and RAVN, had gotten a small glimpse through her mask in Jaune's first class... and then she'd gotten a deeper one the night Pyrrha had begged her not to leave.

On the outside, Pyrrha was the epitome of humble, polite grace. Always ready with a kind word, always with a cheerful smile, yet also willing to fade into the background despite her fame and celebrity. To bear no ill will if someone else took the spotlight for a while.

But after sharing her thoughts with Ren and Nora, and telling them what little she felt comfortable sharing about Pyrrha's private moment with her... the three of them had begun to think that the real Pyrrha was unhealthily obsessed with competitive victories, deeply ashamed of her own talent and power, socially naive, and almost frighteningly lonely.

When she'd said today was a splendid day because she was spending it with friends, translating that from Pyrrha-speech meant that she was almost incoherently happy with life.

If I told her I was White Fang... I don't think she would care. If I told her I've killed people before... assassinated them... I don't think she'd care either.

It was... not as reassuring a thought as she'd originally considered, not after she'd spent most of a week thinking about it.

"Well," Weiss' voice broke her from her thoughts, and she absently realized that they'd reached the library. "It seems that everyone else is out in the sunlight, we should have least have some peace and quiet with which to work in. Study room?"

"Nah," Ruby waved a hand, "Let's just go upstairs, plenty of big tables and windows."

Schnee huffed, but when she glanced at Ilia and Pyrrha found the pair of them siding with Ruby. "Fine then."

Ilia followed the pair from RWBY towards the stairs, past the tired looking librarian and a couple of older students evidently doing Grimm research. They made it to the second floor, and then lost one of their number as Ruby promptly veered off to the right instead of following Weiss to the left. "Hey Jaune! Hey Miss Neo!"

Blinking, she quickly took the last few steps two at a time and looked over to see the professor and his partner standing near a table, books spread all across it. The two glanced up from where they'd been looking at one in particular, and Jaune blinked twice before giving them a cheerful smile. "Morning everyone. What brings you here?"

"Your assignment." Ruby answered cheerfully, "We just got done testing the repairs to Ilia's weapon, we based a bunch of it on Weiss' and its super-improved now."

Jaune lifted an eyebrow, "That was kind of you to allow, Weiss. Good to see that you're getting along."

Ilia glanced at Weiss in time to see the heiress return the look, then the heiress sighed. "It's a work in progress."

"I think you're both doing very well." Pyrrha promptly offered her support, "I think we all are, especially after your lessons."

An additional section during the visit by the Arc family, cut for pacing.

Milo vibrated in her hands as Professor Arc slammed his blade against it, his strength pushing her back a step before she could properly brace herself. Pyrrha felt her heart thrum as the competitive high truly kicked in, twisting at her hips to send Jaune's sword past her while her shield came flying at his face.

Her opponent ducked at the last possible moment, then drove forwards into her guard, clearly aiming to drive his shoulder into her sternum. Pyrrha dropped her blade and accepted the charge, grinning as she saw his eyes widen in surprise as they collided. Her breath left her in an explosive huff, but her now free hand snapped up to grab his messy blonde hair, hauling down as hard as she could.

Jaune hissed in pain before she introduced her knee to his jaw, right before he rammed the pommel of his sword into her left breast. Her teeth ground as she refused to let go, bringing Akouo around to hammer the shield into his shoulder as hard as she could. The man twisted, getting a leg up to plant a foot on her thigh, kicking hard and shoving her, and several blonde hairs, away.

"Ow." He growled just as she kicked Milo back into her free hand and charged him.

She deeply enjoyed trying to pierce his and Miss Neo's defenses when she had them on the back-foot, forcing herself not to use her semblance so as to properly learn... and today was no different.

Jaune slowly fell back, as their blades whirled, both of them fighting one handed so as to move with speed. Milo and Crocea Mors sent sparks flying as they collided, Jaune parrying her quick slashes and thrusts, never letting her strike true, his open hand lashing out in quick strikes that forced her to keep Akouo up and protecting her chest.

After thirty fruitless seconds that saw no openings appear, Pyrrha let herself bite when he launched a feint at her head, bringing her shield high to block it and stepping in, thrusting hard at his stomach. Jaune checked his swing, side-stepped her blow, then brought his own blade down towards her left shoulder.

It was her turn to make a quick step, copying the same maneuver he and Neo were so fond of, her blade coming around to aim for his neck... and then she saw the collapsed sheathe of his sword in his free hand coming directly for her nose.

She twisted aside desperately, the movement leaving her off balance and open for him to resume the attack. Two rapping blows from the hilt bruised her shoulders, and a slash to her thigh made her grit her teeth in pain despite her aura... but just as she'd been experimenting, trying to breach his defense, he was evidently doing the same on the attack.

And he was far more vulnerable when trying to remain on the offensive.

Pyrrha bit her tongue, tanking a fourth blow, then caught him in the chin with her shield before driving two low slashes into each leg, driving his reeling form back with a hard kick to his sternum.

The professor stumbled back several steps, coughing and shaking himself, holding his weapon up. "Good one."

She let out a relieved breath of her own, smiling as she let her weapons fall. "You were far quicker on the attack today, you're getting better at that."

"Heh." He chuckled, sheathing his sword before rubbing at his chest. "Not quick enough... I'm starting to regret teaching you to fight dirty."

Pyrrha felt herself flush a little, "When did you grab the sheath? I missed it entirely."

"When you brought your shield up, you blocked your lower vision for a second or two." Jaune answered, the pair turning to head towards the small crowd who had been watching with rapt interest. "Just enough time for me to grab it and keep it by my leg."

And the angle of his body when he'd side-stepped would have helped with that, her peripheral vision had likely mistaken it for still being on his belt. She nodded, filing away the move and the memory so as not to get caught a second time. Not that she would in a real fight, given her semblance, but as both Ren and Neo continued to remind her; relying on it was a sloppy habit she had best break.

Of course, now that their spar was over... there was a large number of blonde persons waiting for them outside. She thought their utter focus on their particular fight was a little unfair, given that Ren and Ilia were engaged in hand to hand off to one side, while Nora and Miss Neo were similarly engaged nearer to the doors.

Then again... it's as much Jaune being their brother as it is my name for once.

His mother was staring at them both with very wide eyes, while his father gave her a slightly gruff nod. "Impressively done, you don't feel the need to fight to full aura loss?"

"I generally find shorter sessions better." Jaune shrugged, smiling and quietly thanking one of his sisters, one of the older twins... Sable, that had been her name, as she handed him a bottle of water. "Thanks. And besides, this lets us get in a bit more variety."

"I suppose it does." Nicholas Arc agreed, Pyrrha quietly shifting aside to get a bottle of water for herself. While they had only just met, the man was... somewhat intimidating, even to her. In some ways he reminded her of a much older Jaune, if less lean and more bulky, and almost entirely lacking in her professor's habitual cheer.

Though even that is a tad strained.

Pyrrha would freely admit she was hardly a social genius, given her problems, but she knew Jaune and Neo well enough to guess that neither was terribly happy with his family's presence. She knew from past conversations that there was some kind of tension between them, and it evidently hadn't faded with their unexpected arrival.

Their reactions to his sparring didn't seem to help either, for some reason they all seemed surprised, even startled, by his skills and the respect she and the others showed him.

"If you're up for it," The man continued, "I'd appreciate a match, Jaune."

Jaune nodded agreeably, but his smile didn't quite seem to reach his eyes as he set his water aside. "Why not. Mind me stretching out a bit first?"

"Of course not."

The two men headed back for the main ring, leaving her watching them and fighting the urge to bite her lip before she felt someone's gaze on her. She glanced around and found the same sister who had brought Jaune his water regarding her with interested eyes, smiling a little.

"I'm sorry for staring, Jaune asked us not to but it's... well, difficult."

"It's quite all right." She quickly moved to reassure the older woman. "I'm used to it, and you aren't all hounding me for autographs."

Sable Arc smiled, walking over to stand beside her. "Well, I'm sure Amber would like one, but I think she's too shy to approach you... or maybe too stunned that her brother could fight you evenly like that."

In spite of herself, Pyrrha bristled slightly. "Jaune is an exceedingly skilled huntsman, and a difficult opponent."

Sable blinked, then seemed to wince slightly. "That did sound harsh, didn't it? I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that. It's just.. please remember, excepting father and Sapphire, we haven't seen Jaune in three years. He's grown, quite a bit."

Pyrrha promptly flushed a little in embarrassment, "Oh... no, I'm sorry. I didn't quite think of things that way."

"Not your fault." She reassured her, patting Pyrrha on the shoulder before stepping aside to settle onto a bench. "Just... surprising. He and I were always close when we were young, getting into trouble, dreaming of bigger things than a small city near the coast. We both wanted to be heroes, boasted that we'd have more statues of the other put up in our honor."

The woman smiled almost nostalgically as Pyrrha moved to sit beside her, "Stupid kid stuff really. Competed over every little thing, tried fighting with sticks and garbage lids, trying to copy dad. One time we managed to steal dad's shield, he knocked himself out trying to use it."

The mental image drew out a quiet giggle, and she felt herself relaxing. "You both wanted to become hunters then?"

"Yeah..." Sable sighed, "But... well, our parents didn't want to hear of it. They wanted us to have nice, boring jobs where we'd never run the risk of dying young."

Just like that, a slender needle punctured her good mood. "I... see. That's not a bad thing, to want for your children."

"Speaking as a mostly grown adult, no, it's not." Sable agreed. "As a kid? I hated it, so did Jaune. We made Jade and Hazel seem positively well behaved."

Pyrrha bit her lip, then lowered her voice. "He... hinted that his becoming a hunter wasn't quite approved. I guess that was true?"

"Heh, you have no idea." The girl shook her head once, short blonde hair falling over an eye before she brushed it aside in a habitual gesture. "But.. sorry, didn't mean to start on family politics, just thought you looked a little lonely and could use someone to talk with. Say, what's Mistral like, if you don't mind me asking?"

It seemed a far safer topic of conversation, and she found herself talking almost as easily with her as she would with Jaune. She described the family's old home in Wind Path, then Mistral itself, and learned a bit about a small Valean city named Ansel in return. Ren and Ilia called a break partway through the conversation, wandering over to join them.

Ilia sat beside her, but as always seemed wary of being too close and making her uncomfortable, something she was quietly thankful for. Their little group attracted more attention quickly enough, the youngest Arc daughter cautiously approaching, clearly keeping her older sister between her and Pyrrha.

There should be enough material for one more. Hopefully everyone is enjoying.

Please read and review, criticism is welcome, flames not so much, as usual. Reviews are my lifeblood as a writer.. every-time my email goes off with a review it makes me want to write more, so please take the time to leave one. Guests can leave them as well, and it only takes a minute, so please. Even if it's as simple as "I enjoyed it, please continue."

Thanks, Kat