Hello again. I know I said that Twisted Love was a one-shot, but after writing it, I really wanted to write a story from Ophelia's perspective, about some 10 years after Twisted Love. Writing a complex (and not to mention, completely bonkers) character such as Ophelia was more than a little daunting, but I hope she came out well.
This story follows the Anime's continuity, for the very simple reason that I haven't gotten past volume 8 of the manga yet. Since I made some changes to the plot with Twisted Love, it stands to reason that Ophelia was there during the confrontation with Priscilla. And again things went a little differently. I hope you like it.
Disclaimer : No, I don't own anything.
Some inn. Some bed. Some town. Some monster. Some dull peasants.
Story of my life. Or rather, our lives.
We do not need much rest, or sleep. Yet I lie here in bed, propped up against the headboard with my arms in my neck, watching out of the window. We have a room on the top floor, and outside the window I can see the rooftops stretching out in front of me in the darkness of night. The view is nice, I suppose, and a room with bed is more luxurious than standing outside in the rain leaning on our swords.
And if I'm bored, I can always kill some time hopping over the rooftops.
She lies next to me, one arm snaked around my waist. She looks up at me, with that stony expression of hers. Honestly, after 10 years, that stony-faced expression of hers bores me to no end. True, she is a person who can emote more with her eyes than with any expression she could muster, but... when people start saying that I'm the one of us who's the most sociable, something is seriously wrong.
I wish she'd laugh once in a while. Or smile. Doesn't matter if it's fake or not. I'd just like to see a change of scenery.
She shifts closer to me all of a sudden. Oh, crap, don't tell me she wants to cuddle. I let out an annoyed grunt and shifted a few inches to the right, safely out of cuddling range. A brief flash of disappointment shines through her silver eyes... probably all the change of scenery I'm going to get tonight. While I resume my contemplation, I do allow her arm to remain around my waist. Call it a concession.
So, that's where we are now. Swords for hire on another continent. And you know what? There's youma to be killed everywhere. They aren't unique to our homeland. It's good, really. One shouldn't ever get too bored. If only the youma here were more interesting than they are...
In any case, we are swords for hire, like I told you earlier. You want a monster killed? You want some bandits chased out of town? You want us to protect your favorite herd of cows from being tipped over in the night by your neighborhood's teens? You come to us.
We're good at what we do. And I assure you that any rumors regarding the incident about a pasture covered with shredded beef and teens being hanged from the nearest tree by their own entrails is nothing but vicious slander! I swear, it was their own bloody fault! If those teens had known better than to make me angry, they'd still be... Ahum, well it's not really worth a copper coin to into at the moment. Suffice it to say, Clare was very disappointed in me. Let's just get back to the subject at hand, shall we?
So, how did we get here? It's because ten years ago, both Clare and I fulfilled our lives' greatest ambition. It's almost ten years ago today that Clare, myself and several others took down the one-horned monster. I still saver the memories of my blade slamming through her chest and rippling it through her shredded flesh. I did it, onii-chan. I ended your murderer. Did you see it, onii-chan? Yes, of course you did.
Though I wish I could have enjoyed the victory more, but... It's strange. Everything you do your entire life is focused towards one thing, one goal... You live, fight and breathe for that goal. And when that single battle is over and won, it's as if all your ambitions die with it. Though I avenged you, my beloved onii-chan, I felt so... empty when the one-horned monster lay in pieces at my feet. She, Clare, was at a similar state for a long time.
It tends to put things in perspective, onii-chan.
And so Clare and I left. Together. That annoying slip of a boy of hers never followed. I don't know where he is now and, more to the point, I really don't care where he is now. But wherever he is, I hope he's dead. Perhaps he fell down and broke his neck while getting out of the tub, who knows. Or maybe he's impaled himself on his own knife while peeling potatoes.
Oh, don't tell Clare I said that, onii-chan. She's still a bit sensitive about the boy.
So why do I travel with Clare, you ask? I have to think for a moment before I answer. Hm, what to say, what to say? Well, obviously the sex is good, but that can't be the entire answer. I look at her for a moment and she meets my gaze, a questioning look in her eyes. My expression hardens and I look away, snubbing her.
She responds by taking my braid and twirling the tip around my bellybutton. I'm ticklish there… damn her for finding my sweet spot. I'm lying in the right position to elbow her in the face to make her stop, but the feeling isn't unpleasant. Not at all, in fact. I decide to allow it for now.
I suppose I have to owe you an answer, onii-chan.
The question makes me think, though. I insult her every day, but I hardly lay a finger her anymore. Unless I think she really deserves it, of course. And sometimes she does.
Come to think of it Clare and I don't talk very often. We are not like other couples, who sit in a booth at an inn and chat the night away. No, we don't chat. We never chat. It's just that we don't need many words to understand each other. And it's not as I don't like talking. I talk to my onii-chan all the time. Sometimes he even talks back.
Are you happy where you are now, onii-chan?
Are you proud of me, onii-chan?
Onii-chan? Am I still your precious little sister?
Against my will, memories come flowing back. Memories of my home village. Of you, onii-chan. Of us playing together in the fields, fighting imaginary monsters with wooden swords, running from dragon fire or dancing in victory.
My onii-chan. He was my idol. My world. He must have been so tired of his annoying little sister following him around all the time. He did smack me around sometimes when I got too annoying. But onii-chan loved me. And I loved him.
Another memory comes flowing back, one I desperately fight to keep from floating to the surface and squeeze my eyes shut.
I don't want to see it, onii-chan! I don't want to see you die again!
My breath quickens. My body stiffens. I am six years old again, standing in front of our burning house among the bodies of the people I have known since birth. The one-horned monster stands there, digging her teeth into the belly of jovial smith who used to give us both candy every sunday. His motionless body is like a rag doll in her claws. I stand there completely shell-shocked, only able to watch.
I hear my onii-chan behind me. He whispers me to come with him. To run and don't look back. And then it sees us. IT SEES US!
Onii-chan yells at me to run. To run. He picks up one of the wooden swords we've slain so many imaginary monsters with and takes a battle stance. He yells at me to run again and adds that he'll be following shortly. He is lying. Even then, I knew he was lying.
I hear my own screams when the monster's claws tear into him. And I run. I run and run and run. When I look over my shoulder one more time, I see his smile. Smiling because he knew I could escape. And then the monster's claw separates his head from his shoulders, I run and cry. I cry and run and I never stop until I collapse from sheer exhaustion...
I am back in the present, grasping the sheets in my fists while I tremble wildly. I can feel my tears fighting for release.
"Ophelia?" she asks, propping herself up as well.
I turn to her, a sneer on my face. How dare she? How dare she?
No, Clare. I won't cry. Least of all in front of you. Never in front of you!
I grasp the hair on the back of her head and yank her down. I crush my lips to hers and mercilessly invade her mouth. Our tongues meet and our kiss is wild and savage. Only when I taste her blood in my mouth do I calm my assault somewhat. Our kiss continues at a slower pace. More tender. More gentle.
As our kiss is broken, I find that my primal fears and anger has been replaced by a certain other primal urge. Funny, that. How close fear, anger and lust lie together, I mean.
She looks at me expectantly. I toy with the idea to withhold, to leave her wanting... but that would also mean denying myself. I am in no mood for that. I close my eyes and smile wickedly before pushing down and laying on my side next to her. Our lips meet for another kiss as we grasp each other.
Forgive me, onii-chan, but I would rather not discuss the intimate details of my sexlife with my own brother. That would be strange thing to do, even for me.
Suffice it to say that I ended up in the same position where I had been when I began telling you this: lying propped up against the headboard staring out the window. In the morning this time. As the roosters crow, I watch the sun slowly rise over the buildings outside.
Both Clare and I are exhausted. Sex between Claymores can be exhausting for both parties. Why, you ask?
Well, let's just say that over the years we've found ways to involve altering the flow of our Youki into the game, which adds entirely different dimension to sex. Ah, but again I'm revealing too much of our bedroom secrets. Let's just say such adventures often end with the both of us screaming each other's names into the night and and leave it at that.
I have to admit that nocturnal activities with her always quite stimulating. I sit up and hug my knees as I watch Clare for a moment. Clare lies beside me, sleeping on her chest, not a mark on her. It's odd how easier it has become to treat Clare with more tenderness during sex over the past years. And not only during sex.
I fact, I find that a disturbing development, onii-chan. I don't mind you knowing that. Do you have any advice, onii-chan?
Of course, this is one of the times onii-chan doesn't answer. Then again, he never was much for relationship-talk. So, me and Clare... Maybe I'd the wisest for me to one day just step out the door when Clare is still sleeping and never to come back. I've had this thought for years now, even did leave a couple of times... But I always came back.
I slip out of bed and head towards a metal tub and a bucket of cold water in the corner of the room. I stand in the tub and pour some of the ice cold water from the bucket over my back and chest, making absolutely sure that my hair doesn't get wet. I wash my face, dry my body and reach for my clothes.
As I fasten the straps of my armor, I see Clare stretching in the bed.
"I'm going out," I tell Clare while strapping my sword to my back.
Clare lays on her side, putting her slender nude form on prominent display. "Stay?" she asks.
I roll my eyes. See, onii-chan? She wants to cuddle yet again. I swear, she's just so high maintenance.
I close my eyes and smile mockingly. "Yare, yare," I start. "Won't you save it for tonight when you'll have my full attention?"
She looks at me intently. Her eyes seem to plead with me. She needs me to stay with her. She wants nothing more than for me to stay with her for just another moment. A moment has arrived where I have complete power over her. Joy upon joy! Time for a game!
I grin wickedly.
"Do you really want to spend all day lying on your back?" I sneer slightly and take an apple from the table. I aim the apple at her head, channel my Youki and throw it at her with inhuman speed. Of course, Clare being Clare she reads my Youki and instinctively moves to catch the apple. Unfortunately for her, the speed and power of the throw had turned the apple into mush, which splatters all over her body.
I giggle for a moment. "Whore," I chuckle before stepping out the door.
Yes, onii-chan. Don't worry. Clare can take a joke. Seesh, you've gotten so much more serious over the years, onii-chan. I suppose being dead can do that to a person.
I find myself in the inn's common room where the peanut shells crack underneath my boots. The patrons here consist of the early risers coming in for a quick breakfast, guests or the drunks who have pulled an all-nighter. They cheer me as I step into view and I am hailed as a hero to the town.
I mean, their problem was a three-foot tall Youma! Three foot tall! It was so weak they should have been able to take it out themselves. I still remember tearful pleas and frightened cries... All for a Youma that was not worthy to have a Claymore fight it.
That's the problem with my life today, onii-chan: lack of challenge. I should have asked Clare to cut off both my arms and legs and have fought the Youma with only my teeth! I still would have won easily by biting it to death!
However, the town is saved and Clare and I were terribly overpaid. All is well, onii-chan.
I step over to the innkeeper and sit down at the bar. "Innkeep," I ask, a hard edge in my voice. "Deliver a carafe of orange juice to our room."
I take his hand and hold it tightly. His face contorts in acute pain as I lean in and whisper in his ear. "Clare likes it best when it's fresh-squeezed. Got it?"
"G-g-got it!" he stammers a sigh of relief when I let go of his pained extremity.
Don't look at me like that, onii-chan. I was just making sure that Clare'd get a fresh batch of orange juice. She hates bitter old juice. There's nothing more to it than that... Really. Are you making fun of me, onii-chan?
I step outside and walk the streets. I'm going nowhere in particular. I just want some fresh air... and the fear on the faces of the populace is just a delicious perk. I smile as they nervously give me a wide berth and stare after me. They realize I could kill them all in an instant if I wanted to, so they are wise not to annoy me.
I pass three playing kids who did not appear to notice me. Well, can't have that, now can we? I come to a complete stop and stand with my back to them.
"Hey. Kids," I say, and accompanied by the sound of a sickening crunch, I turn my neck almost 180 degrees around.
"BOO!" I shout. The kids run away screaming their heads off while my neck snaps back forward. It's good to know that I'm still able to scare small children.
I continue my path through town, enjoying the warm sun on my skin and the hushed fearful voices around me.
What's that, onii-chan? I stop and lean against a wall when I come to the town square. I still owe you an answer? Ah, yes, I do. So why am I with Clare, then?
I think for a moment, rubbing my chin as I tap the heel of my boot against the brick wall repeatedly.
I suppose, I... don't like being alone anymore. Clare is a foil. Clare is a willing playmate. Clare is a skilled warrior too.
I throw my head back and laugh. Several frightened people look at me, then quickly go about their ways.
Onii-chan, you have to promise me that you'll never tell Clare that I think she's a skilled warrior. If she'd ever find out I said that, I'd never hear the end of it!
I giggle as onii-chan asks me another question. One that's even sillier than the last one.
Is Clare happy? I don't know. Why should I care? That's her responsibility, isn't it? To be happy or not. Huh? What was that, onii-chan? Do I... want her to be happy? That one makes me think for a moment. Dammit, onii-chan, why do you keep asking such difficult questions?
I shake my head. Onii-chan always knows how to press my buttons. I laugh even harder when onii-chan asks me he final question.
What?! WHAT?! Do I... love her? My, my, what a ridiculous question! Of course I don't.
I open my eyes and see Clare standing there in full battledress. I offer a lopsided grin and cross my arms.
"A whore, am I?" she says dead-pan, with that stony expression of hers. "Well, let's see. That'd be about 50 gold per night for four, let's say, five nights a week for the past ten years. That'd be, uhm... about 130000 gold you owe me in back payments. Shall we work out an installment plan?"
"Can I take it out in trade?" I ask.
"No," she replies.
Though her expression is unreadable, her eyes shine with humor. It's good to see that she's working on her snark. I'd like to think I've had a positive influence on her.
"That's a lot of cows you have to guard before you can get that kind of money," Clare nods. "Thank you for the orange juice, by the way. I saw that you squeezed our innkeeper as well?"
"Just making sure," I grinned. "Tell me again why we came to this two-bit hick-town in the first place?"
"Because we lost all our money when a certain someone blew her top and slaughtered the entire herd of cows she was supposed to be guarding," Clare crossed her arms and challenges me with her gaze.
"I was bored! And they stank! And their mooing annoyed me!" I state matter-of-factly. "Besides, if we'd killed the farmer too, we wouldn't have had to pay."
Her eyes narrow. "We can't do that."
"There you go again, all moral on me," I sigh. So much for the positive influence. "So, what's next?"
Clare nodded and fished a few scraps of paper from her pouch. "Three notices on the board outside of the sherif's office. A village to the south claims a monster has been stalking through their pastures."
"Ugh, no more cows! Toss it."
"Alright. Here's another one from a town to the east. A mysterious murder has taken place and the victim's guts were apparently eaten right out of his body. There's no sign of the murderer."
"Pfft, probably another three-foot tall wonder-Youma. Let them solve it themselves. Next!"
"The last one details a mysterious seamonster off the coast near the Cliff of Fangs. Apparently, it's been attacking the shipping lanes and has already sunk several ships."
"Ooooh, boat-trip!" I nod enthusiastically. I fold my arms to my chest and clap my hands together like an excited little girl. I don't know why, but I love ships. I've loved sailing ever since I'd stepped on the boat that took us from our homeland to this new strange land beyond the horizon.
"We have a winner," Clare says dead-pan. "Shall we move on?"
And so we walk off, leaving the town and its annoying and cowardly inhabitants behind us. The cool forest greets us as we walk silently, our eyes straight forward on the road. We never talk while travelling. What is there to say, anyway?
So, this is my life, onii-chan. I'm so sorry I forgot about you. How could I have ever forgotten about you? It was all the one-horned monster's fault, but she's dead now. And I'm glad you came back when the one-horned monster died. I miss you terribly. I'll always miss you terribly. But you don't have to worry about me anymore, onii-chan. I love you, my onii-chan. I love you...
While following the road, I gently put my hand on her shoulder and let it rest there as we walk. Clare doesn't speak, doesn't look, but gently puts her own hand on mine.
I love you...