Dedicated to Merhielle a.k.a. alien-chan.

AU plot, with nothing much related to shaman king except the characters themselves. Just something to write while I'm busy brainstorming for my other on hiatus ficcies. ^^

Maiden Jeanne unclasped her hands from its prayer position awhile ago. She was tensed, evident by how Marco kept looking at her from the driver seat. He silently stopped the horses and looked back at her.

"Are you not feeling well, Jeanne-sama?" he asked. "We can always go back…"

"We can't," she said, her voice tight. "I know we're far from the convent…"

He turned his attention back at the road. "It was you who wanted this," he said politely, but there was a trace of impatience in his voice.

I know, she said sadly. She wanted freedom from the four corners of the convent, from the hawk eyes of her guardian, Marco. More importantly, she didn't want to spend her lifetime not knowing what life was like beyond the high walls surrounding the nunnery.

It was some weeks ago when heavens answered her mute prayers. A young man with emerald hair and eyes, with a constant kind smile on his handsome face, had come into the convent to talk with the mother superior. His family was donating its annual part to support the convent's funds. As the representative of his family, the young man—perhaps three to five years older than her—went there personally to talk with Mother.

And at that time, she was outside the door, peeking through the slight opening of the door. She was gazing at the young man seated comfortably on the sofa, smiling brightly. Oh, she could remember how her heart raced at the sight of him. And she could never forget how his eyes suddenly met hers in surprise, and the quick but brief smile he gave her. He then turned his attention back to the elder nun, and she, on the other hand, ran out of the hallway. It was quite a sight to behold, she was sure, a young novice nun like her scurrying through the halls like a little girl.

But she could think of no other matter but being caught by the young emerald-eyed man in her sheer stupidity. A nun-in-training like her pulling such stunt! He must be laughing at her now.

However, she didn't count on him approaching her in the chapel where she sought shelter after what she did.

"Hi," he greeted her, smiling warmly.

She gulped inwardly, then smiled back shyly. She then turned her eyes once again at her lap, at the open bible before her. She gazed at the verses with all her intensity, which could have made the stranger beside her wonder.

"Would you mind sharing with me what you are reading?" he asked, inching closer to her.

She was stunned when she felt his shoulder next to hers, his face close to hers. He was looking down at the bible intently.

"The Psalms?" he looked up at her for a moment. "As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more." It was Psalm 103:15-16. "That's a little depressing."

"But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear him," she pointed out softly. "It says so there."

"Fear…and God expects us to love him out of fear." The young man shook his head. "The irony of theology."

She couldn't believe what she just heard. Were those words uttered by the same man whose family donates a substantial amount to the convent every year? She couldn't believe it.

"We…who love God…we fear him out of love. That is the difference," she said timidly. She stood up quietly. "Please excuse me—"

He quickly held her hand. "Wait, don't let my agnosticism frighten you. I'm sorry if I shocked you." He smiled tenderly. "My name is Lyserg Diethyl."

"Diethyl-san…" She bowed. "Please call me Jeanne."

"As you wish." He gently pulled her down with him again. "You seem so pious. You are frightening me, Jeanne," he said half-jokingly. "Usually, when I quip on faith, no one stands up against me."

"My faith is nothing to be laughed at," she said warily.

"Of course," he said hurriedly. "But please don't get mad at me. My faith…my faith consists of believing in nothing."

"Oh!" She clamped her hand over her mouth. "Diethyl-san, that's…"

He chuckled. "Ever since God allowed some crazed bastard take my parents' lives untimely…I had stopped believing."

"Every event in our life has a reason," she pointed out.

"No, don't bother to convert me, Jeanne-san." He laughed, but sadness was evident in his eyes. "I'm a lost cause."

She quickly took his hands and clasped them with hers. "No, nothing is lost. Diethyl-san, after what I have seen today, I know that I will not stop until I help you heal your brokenness."

"Brokenness…" He sighed, then looked away. "You are dangerous to my convictions, Jeanne-san, but something within me insists to see you again." He turned to her. "May I visit you again tomorrow?"

She smiled warmly. "Of course."

Jeanne woke up from her trance when Marco halted again. She looked up guiltily; she must not worry her guardian just because she was allowing herself to drift away with her thoughts.

He had always been paranoid about her, his concern on her frighteningly intense. But she shrugged; it was only expected of someone entrusted by her parents to take care of her.

"Marco, is something wrong?" she asked, looking out through the glass window separating the carriage from where he was seated. She heard Marco yell, and this alarmed her. She pushed open the carriage door.

"Marco!!!" Her ruby eyes then widened.

Marco was lying on the gravel, unconscious. Beside him knelt a long-haired man dressed in dirty white mantle.

Sensing her presence, the young man slowly got up and turned to her. He smiled at her. "Hmm…so you must be the bride of Lyserg Diethyl."

She stepped back. She didn't like the smile on his face, as well as the fact that he knew her when she knew nothing about him, or the situation. Her eyes went back to Marco, then she breathed deeply to retain her calmness. Panic will do her no good in this situation.

"What do you want from me? And why must you have to hurt Marco?" she asked, her carefully modulated voice betraying the fear growing within her.

"Oh, that guy." He smiled at the body. "He was being…well…uncooperative. He didn't want to hand you over peacefully, so I had to do this." He grinned at her again. "Jeanne-san, I'm taking you with me."

Her eyes widened as he snapped his fingers. Her consciousness surrendered, and everything went black.