A/N: Spoilers for Willow Schnee here. You've been warned.
If you know her from Volume Seven, then you know why I've written this.
I'd say she deserves a happier fate, no? Better than the one she got in the actual story.
FINALLY! ALL the requests are done!
No more new stuff for the rest of the year! WHEEEEE~!
Now I can kick things into high gear and move on with my master plan!
*spins happily in chair*
In case its obvious, this and Hunting a Demon were the last requests/commissions that I promised to do. Now I can finally move on.
On another note, here's my update schedule for this week, since folks have been begging for it:
Monday: An Uncharted Road (this). Tuesday: Just a Bit of Bread: Wednesday: Embers of Hope. Then come Thursday: All Things Must Die. Friday: Fate story. Saturday: Fate Story. Sunday: Fate story. Weekends are now dedicated to everything Fate related.
The Monday after that will be the next chap in Remnants of a Shinobi alongside Not My Remnant, hopefully.
You'll get an update every bloody day if I can help it, bad health or no!
I know some are dissatisfied with me for posting stories the way I do. I understand and make no excuses for it. That's a problem that I'm trying to reign in due to my ADHD among other mental problems I'd rather not mention. I'm not making excuses. But those who call me a bitch or a twitch -whatever the hell that is?- is uncalled for and will be blocked. I'm more than happy to receive criticism, mind you. For instantce, Xsean and Quartermass have helped me improve by leaps and bounds, because they're good friends. It helps me improve as a person and a writer. Bashing, flames and trolls however have not, nor will ever be tolerated. Can't we all just get along?
Next week's update schedule will be listed...well. Next week. Its going to become a thing.
That way you'll all know what I'm working on, as I work on it. Hope it helps~!
Now enjoy the fluff, because its even more wholesome than usual.
And with that said, I now proudly present An Untraveled Road.
Yes, this chap is short. Its only a prologue after all.
Next chapter will be faaaaar longer.
"There is a saying in Atlas.
Don't. Mess. With. A. Schnee."
Willow Schnee was looking at a dead man.
At least, she was fairly certain he must be dead; because the blond before her looked as though he'd fallen through a blender and lost an arm somewhere in the midst of it. There was no use in asking where he'd come from. She'd seen it herself. He'd fallen from the night sky and crashed headlong into her garden without warning. While she was standing in it; a twist of fate that did not go unnoticed by the Schnee heiress. She hadn't been able to sleep, so she'd thought to take a walk here, hoping a glass of wine would settle her nerves and lull her to asleep.
To be fair, it had settled her nerves.
Until this screaming buffoon nearly landed atop her.
The impact might have killed him she theorized, feeling slightly guilty.
Even as the stranger slumbered the stump of his left arm continued to bleed, staining said garden red alongside the wine she had spilled. Still, she couldn't avert her eyes from the sight any more than she could will the moon to fall from the sky. She could only stare. On a certain level, she knew what was to be expected of her, just as she chafed at their implications of what she was about to do.
She should have screamed for Father. Called the police, at the very least.
She was a Schnee, after all. She shouldn't hesitate.
Certain things were expected of her.
She was a young woman with an appearance to maintain; an appearance that did not involve hoodlums dying on her property. Which was precisely what this one would do if she left him alone. The longer she looked, the more certain she became. By the Gods, he didn't even look to be breathing. That couldn't be good. She couldn't just gape at him like a gaudy socialite. Action was required. Didn't mean she had to like it, though.
"Oh, for the love of...
With a put upon sigh, Willow knelt and, gripping his uninjured shoulder, turned him over. There.
Anymore than this and she'd get yet more blood on her nightgown.
Now he wouldn't suffocate in the roses, at least.
With his body sprawled out before her, Willow found she could get a better look at this sleeping stranger. Whiskered cheeks lay pinched in a slumbering scowl, framed by a matted mess of blond hair. His body looked to be in a bad way as well; his battered orange jacket flung open over a mesh shirt to expose a tapestry of countless cuts interposed over faded scars that ran the length of his chest. Then there was the matter of his arm. That looked...messy. As though it had been blow clean off just below the elbow. Still, he wasn't quite as young as she'd initially expected. They seemed nearly of an age with one another. That knowledge did nothing to ease her conscience.
"If you're sleeping, I'm going to be very cross with you." she scowled.
The young man still didn't move.
Willow gulped softly.
This was pointless, a small voiced hissed at her as she bent to expect him, Father expected her to meet -and likely marry- a man named Jacques on the morrow. Whatever would he think if he saw her like this with some hooligan? More than anything she wanted to run away and become a huntress. She had her weapon, she had her Semblance and she had her glyphs. She was certain she could make a good show of it...but it would never happen. No matter how much she might yearn for it. She was Father's only heir; he'd hound her to the ends of Remnant if she fled. Not out of any spite of course, but because he wanted the best for her. That was the problem.
But Father didn't know about this boy. Not yet.
So she nudged him with her heel.
"Excuse me? Are you alive?"
A muscle jumped in Willow's jaw. Was he mocking her? She felt like he was mocking her.
Tentatively she reached out and laid a pair of pale fingers against the nape of his neck, seeking a vein. When that didn't produce a pulse, she dared to splay her palms across his shirt and lay her head on the cleaner part of his chest. His body was warm, even in the brisk night air and she struggled to ignore it. She'd never been this close to anyone before. This might be a corpse for all she knew. But no, as she laid her head down on his chest, a thin reedy pulse greeted her ear. Well! He was alive. Surely that was a good thing. Wasn't it? She would've felt horrid if someone died in front of her.
Unfortunately, it also left Willow at something of an impasse.
She lacked the raw physical strength to move him further and while she could use one of her glyphs to wake him, she doubted the stranger would take too kindly to a fireball in the face. Or an electric shock. Perhaps a bit of ice? Or even-
In the end, the choice was taken from her.
This time Willow did yelp, but only for a moment.
Blue eyes burst open with a gasp and the stranger's chest lurched violently beneath her ear, causing the pale-haired lass to jump. Unfortunately, with her legs tucked beneath her, she only succeeded in tumbling backward instead. She didn't get very far before his remaining hand shot out like a snake and coiled around hers. His grip was terrifying; she felt her wrist fracture almost immediately under the pressure. Willow tensed, expecting an attack as he pulled her closer. Any moment now and she'd find a dagger in her ribs-
"Please." the word was a croak, little more than a groan. "Help me."
A beat of silenced passed between man and women alike.
...well, shit." Willow managed eloquently.
It was such a heartfelt play on words, such an earnest plea, that she found herself unable to refuse it. Frightened azure orbs gleamed back at her in the moonlight, baffled by everything, and she could no sooner refuse his request than she could cease breathing. He looked so lost and afraid -alone in the world- that something in her heart lurched. Was she really going to refuse his request out of fear? She was a Schnee. They did not balk in the face of duty. Even when held captive by someone going into shock.
Willow made a snap decision.
Rather than pull away, as any sane individual would, she reached out with her free hand and wrapped her fingers his. His grip on her wrist slackened; that bone-cracking force abating enough for her to pull her other hand free and place it over his own. For a moment, his body almost seemed to pulse gold, a gold that guttered out soon thereafter when she made no move of aggression towards him.
"What is your name?" she asked of him.
Hazy blue orbs fluttered rapidly. "I...Naruto." he muttered. "My name is Naruto."
Willow considered the stranger's name for a moment, memorized it, then nodded her head.
"Naruto." she repeated it, watching the tension drain from his body as he sat up. "That's a unique name. I've not heard it before. You may call me Willow." A slow blink served as his sole response and the Schnee Heiress bulled on with singular determination. "I'm here now, Naruto." she cooed softly, repeating his name for effect. "Rest. I won't leave your side." terror burned brighter in his eyes and she redoubled her efforts to calm him as best she good. "You're going to be alright. I'll get you a medic."
...what happened to my arm?" He blinked owlishly at his mangled limb, and this time, she didn't have answers for him.
His eyes squinted, but it was clear that he was slowly losing the battle against his own battered body.
"Where am I?" he croaked, shaking his head. "I don't recognize this place. How did I get here?"
"You're safe," Willow repeated, smooth fingers running over his gently. "Sleep."
"I don't want to die." That tiny whisper hit her like a gut punch.
A spark ignited deep within her bosom, fire and defiance.
"You won't." she growled. "I swear it."
He surprised her with laughter.
"Heh...if you say so...
Just like that?!
As Willow looked on in mild consternation, the young man who called himself Naruto relaxed against her, eyes finding hers for only a moment before he succumbed to sleep. When he pitched backward she flailed to catch him with one arm, still clinging to his hand with the other. He didn't fight, his body turning to dead weight against her arm. A breathing weight. Thank the gods. She released a breath she hadn't realized she'd holding until this very moment, only to realize she still hadn't let go of his hand. She almost couldn't bear to. So she didn't.
Fishing her scroll out from her scroll, Willow hastily dialed a number.
"Yes, hello?" she began calmly. "I'd like to report an accident...
Once the call concluded, she made another decision.
Screw daddy dearest; screw what he would think of this. For the first in her life, someone had asked her for help. Her. Willow Schnee. Not for wealth or power, or even influence. Just one human being to another. She didn't know who Naruto was. Didn't know where he was from or even if he was a good person. But he'd asked her for help. And she'd be damned if she let him die on her watch. She had a reputation to uphold after all. It would reflect poorly upon herself if he perished her. Or so Willow told herself. She repeated the lie over and over until she almost believed it, almost forgot the heat in her cheeks, almost forgot that tiny, faint flutter of her heart.
Almost; but it was still there.
Sighing softly, Willow tucked her patient's head into her lap and resolved wait for the paramedics. Such a simple choice; the tiniest spark of defiance. And yet that spark would one day become a raging flame; one fierce enough to to scorch even the coldest hearts. Jacques never stood a chance. Why, you ask? Because now, when she did meet him, her heart would be hardened against him. She wouldn't be deceived by a handsome face, wouldn't fall prey to his pretty, poisonous words, never tumble into the twisted web he wove. Never fall under his twisted little thumb, never fell prey to his machinations.
She had no way of knowing that she'd just changed her fate.
By this single act of kindness, not just change her world, but the whole of Remnant.
Because from this single, seemingly harmless encounter, everything would begin to change.
A/N: Yup. Just did that.
Willow is NOT weak in this story. Not at all.
Think of her as the best of Weiss and Winter combined; and the result? She's quite stubborn.
I feel I should also mention that we'll get to see Summer and Raven in this, given the timeline. And of course, Drunkle Qrow.
You know, I take personal pleasure in screwing over Jacques by denying him his chance with Willow, and essentially the Schnee name. Nasty little weasel married into the Schnee family for nothing but power; he deserves all the misfortune he gets. Nevermind Volume Four, Volume Seven made me SEETHE after learning all of his nasty stunts. Naruto's fighting days aren't done either; he's got a few more fights left in him. Even with one arm -assuming he doesn't accept a replacement- he can still beat the tar out of his enemies.
He's like to get a mechanical arm, though...with a vicious little twist that I'm sure you'll like.
We haven't seen the last of Jacques yet either. He's a vicious little...you know.
Before anyone asks, yes, Winter and Weiss will still be born.
But not Whitley. Screw that little brat. He'll be replaced.
So In the Immortal Words of Atlas...
...Review, Would You Kindly?
And enjoy the previews.
"You certainly recovered quickly."
His smile was sunshine itself. "Yeah, I always heal fast. Were you worried about me?"
Willow's pale face turned scarlet. "N-No! Surely not! It would just reflect poorly upon me if you died!"
...is that a yes?"
"Leave this to your betters, boy. Why, I have half a mind to-
Naruto's open palm cracked across Jacques's face, sending him stumbling away.
"Oh, I'm sorry. My hand slipped."
"Why you impudent pup!"
"Oops! Slipped again!"
Willow didn't smile.
No. Surely not.
"So? You can fight, right?"
Willow's rapier came up under his chin.
"Would you care to repeat that question, good sir?"
Naruto laughed, and her frigid smile melted. "Nope! Question answered!"
"Oooh! Who's he?! Is he the reason we're here? But he doesn't look all that special-
Raven exhaled in a put-upon sigh. "Summer. Sit."
"Your hair is going white." Willow hummed softly as she stroked his scalp.
Naruto laughed as she continued to tend to him. "I think it makes me look distinguished."