Hello everyone. One more story to be added to my OpheliaxClare trilogy. It's basically the same story from Tough Love, but now from Ophelia's perspective. I doubted for a long time if would ever see the light of day as it was very dark. I lightened up the darkest parts, added some more dark humor to accentuate the quircks of Ophelia's personality and added a little romance to the twist to make the story seem more... viable. I've posted this as a second chapter to Tough Love because both stories go together. Imho, the stories read the best when read back to back. It does creature a nice sense of closure, I think.

Note: this is AU, and considering the path Ophelia has chosen in this trilogy, it stands to reason (to me, at least), Ophelia was present at Piata. And having a single-digit with a psychotic hatred for Awakened Beings around could mean a lot more Claymores survived the conflict. Feel free to disagree with me, though, since I can imagine Ophelia's wrecklessness could also mean a lot more Claymores could have ended up dead. :)

Edit: I've implemented some changes which Shelter suggested. These do make the story a lot better. Thank you!


I hate you... I love you...

A slash of the blade. A vicious kick. And so the useless creature ends up quivering before me.

Such a waste of my talents, really. Oh, one should never pass up the opportunity for slaughter, of course, that would just be silly! But with weak Youma such as these the fight tends to be over so quickly, and that's the real disappointment.

I briefly look over my shoulder to see how Clare is doing. She looks injured, but otherwise alive and out of immediate danger.

Good.

That'll give me some me some time to play.

The monster's posturing and threats are gone now, and if a Youma could piss its pants it would have right now. The tip of my sword presses into its trembling flesh.

"Well, well, well," I smirk at the creature. "What'll I do with you then, hm?"

I shift the sword towards it throat and knee next to it, my face inches away from its. It fears me. It fears me as much as a creature can fear another.

Intoxicating.

"Oh, I know!" I smile excitedly. "A game! I love games. Do you like games?"

"I... I... love games," it stammers, probably thinking he sees a way out if he agrees with me.

I rise again, and press my sword against his gullet. Oh, this'll be SO much fun! "I have an idea for a very fun game. And tell you what... if you win, I'll let you go. How does that sound, hm?"

The creature nods vigorously. I am so excited!

"Alright, let's play," I tell it. "I'll let you go if you... eat your own guts!"

The creature stiffens. "What?" it asks in a bestial, yet confused voice.

"Come on," I tell it. "You were so hungry for guts a moment ago when you sliced open Clare. How dare you?" I snarl in anger. "How dare you?! Clare belongs to me!"

I seethe while Clare lies behind me, bleeding in the sand. The thing... the abomination in front of me had better hold its tongue before I will end my fun in one foul stroke.

"Look," I say through clenched teeth and slice my blade across its gullet, making sure to make the stroke as quick and painless as possible. I want its full attention, after all. No time for bawling monsters. "I even made it easy for you by giving you quick access to your own innards," I say as I see purple blood bubbling up from the wound. "Just reach in, yank out your gut and take a bite. Come on, what do you have to lose? You can regenerate them after, all."

"Y-you're insane..." the creature growls defiantly. I merely laugh in its greasy face. Insane? So many called me that. Humans, fellow Claymores, Youma, Awakened Beings... even my Clare from time to time. Insane, am I? I consider this 'insult' to be a compliment to my creativity, really.

"Sanity is overrated," I smiled as sweetly as I can muster. "Now... EAT!"

The creature hesitates, but eventually one clawed hand reaches down to the wound and digs inside. I giggle ever so delightedly when it howls as it pulls forth a worm-like purple appendage. It hesitates and I can actually see something resembling tears forming in its bestial eyes when it chomps down on its intestine.

It's rather amusing to watch a youma dine on its own guts. Irony at its finest and I do so enjoy irony. Like a snake eating its own tail, the youma sucks down its gut as if it is a piece of spaghetti. Well, a rather thin, long, bloody piece of spaghetti, of course. I briefly wonder what it'll digest it with. An odd thought, but a poignant one: the world would be a different place if Youma simply ate their own guts, regenerated them and eat them all over again. I should ask Clare what she thinks about that.

"Yes, yes," I tell the creature as I grin wickedly. "You won. You really won. But you know what's funny?" I tell the creature, but I do not wait for an answer. "I told you I let you go right?"

My sword ripples through the creature's body, slicing its flesh and bone into the tiniest of ribbons within a matter of seconds. Its head drops from its shoulders into a pool of shredded flesh, blood and bone, dying in the sand.

"I lied," I giggle, and swiftly kick the head into the ocean as if it were an old leather ball.

Really. A creature eating its own guts, what is this world coming to?

I slowly make my way to the fallen Clare. It doesn't take me long to see that the Youma managed to corner her and injure her quite extensively. Really, you'd think she'd learn after the Northern Campaign and our decade of traveling together. It'd be ironic if after all the battles she'd fought; she'd end up getting killed by a couple of backwater Youma.

I look at her, her body marred by numerous claw-wounds, a previously severed leg below the knee which Clare had already set herself and a gaping wound in her stomach.

"Yare, Yare," I scratch the back of my head. "What am I going to do with you, hm?"

I briefly toy with the idea to pick her up and dip her head into the sea until she wakes up, but that wouldn't be a very nice thing to do, now would it?

Hm, something else, then? I spot a nice little home near the main (and only) dock of this ratty little village. Perfect! I decide to take the wounded Clare in my arms, stroll over to the house and kick in the front door.

It is a very nondescript home. Not too small, not too large. Two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. The occupants hastily abandoned it right after we warned them the Youma were coming. I slalom around the toys strewn about the floor, head for the master bedroom and lay Clare on the bed. I swiftly remove Clare's boots and pauldrons... and sigh at the sad spectacle in front of me.

We are no longer affiliated with the Organization, so we opted to drop our old uniforms in favor of more non-descript leather armor. It was not so much a choice made out of idealism or esthetics, but more of practical reasons: with the resources of the Organization out of our reach, it'd be hard to find replacements for our uniforms if they were to be damaged in battle. And considering the sheer number of times that Clare gets wounded in battle, well... she'd have ended up traveling around naked nine years ago if we hadn't opted for easy-to-replace leather tunics.

Already her wounds seem to be healing up nicely. I take a seat on a small chair next to the bed and watch her heal.

I watch her heal.

Watch her heal.

Heal.

Come on, heal already!

Dull, dull, dull, dull, dull, dull, and dull.

Boring. Boring. Boring.

Watching a sleeping Clare heal herself is about as interesting as watching paint dry.

Correction: Watching paint dry is actually MORE interesting than watching a sleeping Clare heal herself.

"Clare, it's been over a minute already. Wake up!" I huff. And infuriating as she is, Clare doesn't respond at all.

Clare always says I have a short attention span. So did Onii-chan when he was still alive. To which I say I prefer to be more efficient with my time.

"Why do I even keep you around?" I whisper to myself as I recline and watch the ceiling for a moment, hoping to spot a spider making a web or woodworm crawling around in the support beams. No such luck, though. The ceiling is just as boring as Clare is.

Oh, I know! Food!

I'll tell you a little known secret about Clare. Clare loves food. Of course, we need very little food to begin with, but what little she eats, she tremendously enjoys. I figure just the smell of food will speed up the process.

I look in the kitchen and find ingredients in abundance, ranging from fresh vegetables to pieces of chicken. I cut some vegetables and pour them into a cauldron above the fireplace. Soup is about the only meal I can fix and Clare happens to love it. Heh, I might even have some myself... been a week since I've eaten.

In no time, the spices I've found enrich the air in the house. It reminds of a time long past, of the meals our mother made when Onii-chan and I came home from playing in the fields.

Suddenly, I am a little girl again, looking up at the world through tiny eyes... How annoying... Hm, I remember this well. Three bullies from the village mock me while they are playing monkey in the middle with me. I desperately try to grab my precious teddy bear, but the boys keep throwing it over my head and at each other. Today is one of the few days Onii-chan isn't with me, and the bullies have been waiting for this moment.

"Nii-nii! Nii-nii!" I hear myself cry out. "Onii-chan! Help me!"

The leader of the pack laughs. "He's not here, now is he? So what are you gonna do about it, huh? Want your bear? Want it?"

"I want my bear!" I shout out. "I want my bear!"

The lead boy takes my bear and pulls on his arms. "In how many pieces, hm? I'm gonna tear your little bear's arms off and there's nothing you can do about it."

"NO!" I hear myself wail in that desperate and horrible little girl voice. "NIIIII-NIIIII! NIIII-NIIII!"

And suddenly the lead boy is hurled to the ground after receiving a vicious punch to the jaw. My heart jumps with relief as Onii-chan stands over the downed boy, who is spitting out a tooth or two.

"Hey!" Onii-chan shouts. "Leave Ophelia alone! Why don't you pick on somebody your own size?!"

"Cheese it!" shout the boys. The lead boy picks himself up and runs after them, fleeing in the woods.

Onii-chan smiles at me and hands me the fallen teddybear. "Here you go, Ophi," he says and ruffles my hair a bit.

I smile at him as I hug my beloved bear... but then I narrow my eyes and swiftly kick him in the shin as hard as I can.

"OW!" he shouts. "What the hell did you do that for?"

"You weren't here!" I shout at him, tears stinging in my eyes. "You left me all alone! I had to punish you..."

"Geez, Ophi," he rubs his shin. "You are one twisted little girl, you know that? Come on, let's go help out mom, okay?"

"Okay!"

Together we walk home, hand in hand. Together we are singing a silly little song my onii-chan made up, about a laughing Claymore and her faithful monster-sniffing dog.

All memories of Onii-chan are precious to me. Hey, don't look at me like that, Onii-chan... there are things in this world which even I consider to be precious. I'm not made of stone.

When my eyes snap open, I'm in the present again, but I am still singing the song, it seems. Onii-chan? How long was I...? Hm... I hope Clare didn't hear that. The sun has just risen above the sea and I can see the soup is about done. Furthermore, I hear stirring from the bedroom, so Clare must be up and about somewhat. Time to bring her a bowl.

I skip over the threshold without spilling a single drop and put it down on the nightstand next to the bed.

"Well, well," I mock her. "How is my patient then, hm?"

"Reasonably well," she replies in a raspy voice. Clare's a lousy liar. I can feel her body still silently screaming out its pain. Still, some color has returned to her cheeks.

"I managed to find some ingredients to fix us both some soup. There was only little to work with, but we need very little food anyway," I tell her. She looks at me sheepishly, as if she's expecting me to do something.

Really. Does she expect me to hold hands while she's eating or something?

"Well?" I cock my head slightly.

"Well, what?" she asks.

"How about," I lean forward. "'Thank you, kind Ophelia, for taking the time and effort to do something nice for me.' Honestly, didn't your mother teach you any manners?"

She shrugs and looks at me with an expressionless face. "I'm an orphan, remember?"

I watch her as she takes a spoonful of the soup.

And at that very moment, I hate her.

I hate her for taking such a stupid risk. I hate her for being so weak that she keeps getting herself wounded. I hate her for always getting in my way. But mostly, I hate her just because she's Clare.

"Thank you, kind Ophelia," she drones like the pathetic sheep that she is. So weak. So feeble. So useless. "for taking the time and eff..."

I am enraged to the very core of my being. I want to rage. I want to kill. I want to destroy. I want to remove the festering cancer from my soul. I want to end my weakness.

"YOU FOOL!" I shout in her face as I rip her from the bed and slam her in the wall with the speed of a lightning bolt. How dare you? How dare you almost die, Clare?!

"Ophelia..." she whispers. Foolish Clare... do you really think invoking my name will make me go soft on you? Think again

"You stupid, stupid, stupid fool!" I slam a youki-empowered fist into her stomach, at the same spot where her stomach wound had been only half an hour ago. I am elated as she gasps in pain.

I have to punish you, Clare. I have to punish you, or you'll never learn.

"IDIOT!" I shout at her and hoist her up so I can look her in the eye. "If you are so eager to die, Clare, you need only ask me."

And I mean it.

She remains silent, which infuriates me even more. She just takes her punishment like a sheep. No resistance, no defense. I can't stand the sight of her. I can't stand it! She's so weak. She's so pathetic.

"Fucking IDIOT!" I slam the side of her face into the dressing mirror and grind her flesh into the broken glass. I have to hurt her. I have to make her understand. I have to punish her for her weakness.

I spin her around and grasp my hands around her neck. I squeeze. And squeeze. And squeeze. I hate her so much! I hate her so very much! And finally, finally, she starts struggling.

Too little. Too late.

"Ophelia," she fights for every breath. For life. I have to make her understand. Now she does. Only now she does.

"I hate people who put their lives on the line like that," I say, and an indescribable sadness takes hold of me. Onii-chan. I see Onii-chan, right before the one-horned monster tears him apart. It is an image I've seen so often, in my waking nightmares. But... it's not Onii-chan I see in front of me, but Clare. She smiles at me, right before... before...

"Don't you realize how much you will hurt me if you... if you were to..." I stammer. Sadness makes way for anger again. Dire, unadulterated rage! I have never been so angry in my entire fucking life. Clare's weakness has made me reveal something I never wished her to know!

I'll punish her! I'll punish her! She must learn!

I hate her, because I love her.

And only now, Clare truly starts to fight back. I must reluctantly admit that she takes me completely by surprise as she powers up her youki and has a go at me. Her youki collides with mine and before I can recover, the both of us fly through the wall of the house. We land on the sand outside, amidst a hail of splinters.

I never expected her next move, though.

She suddenly grabs me and presses me against her chest. "Don't leave me," she pleads softly. "I love you. Don't leave me."

How odd, Onii-chan. Don't you think so, Onii-chan? I hurt her, I beat her, I say I hate her... and now she doesn't want me to leave her. Why would I leave her, Onii-chan? I have no intention to leave her. I wonder what she means.

Memories come flowing back and take hold of me. Do you remember, Onii-chan? I do. It is the last winter solstice we had celebrated as a family. Just me, Onii-chan and mother. We'd just helped mother decorate the house and she is putting the finishing touch on a small roast she had managed to save up the money for. We're not rich, but we're happy together. Just the three of us. I want this moment to last forever and ever and ever. Every smell, every sound, every touch.

Tell me we'll always be together, nii-nii. Lie to me that we'll always be together.

I try to held on to the memory of our old house, of mother putting the roast on the table, of my belovedOnii-chan as he runs around the house lighting candles. And then, mother freezing in fear when she looked out of the window by chance and noticed a purple skinned one-horned monster standing in the yard...

Moments later, you were both dead and I was left all alone, Onii-chan.

Lie to me and say we'll always be together.

Lie to me... I fear the truth... Just lie to me.

I start out of my stupour, only to find myself being held desperately by my Clare. She whimpers softly, pleading me to stay with her.

Oh, crap... I almost went over the limit, didn't I, Clare?

And only now does my anger start to fade. If Clare hadn't... If she hadn't... Then I'd be the one standing in someone's yard shopping around for an easy meal of guts and organs.

I am the fool. Not Clare. In the end, she's stronger than I am. You stopped me from falling over the edge, Clare.

Don't lie to me Clare. Tell me the truth. Tell me you don't want me to leave you...

Oh, Clare, what a foolish mooning cow I have become because of you. I wonder... would I have been better off if I had decided to attack you when we'd first met, Clare? Maybe you'd be dead and I'd be free. Maybe I'd be dead and your life would have taken a different path, Clare. What do you think, Onii-chan?

She holds me close and gently strokes my hair as my anger completely fades away. This is... nice. Very nice indeed. Ah, love and hate. Two sides of the same coin. So close together.

Well, that's that over with. Let's get back to the order of the day.

"Come on," she looks at me confused as I stand up. "Let's get you back to bed."

"Hm?"

"Yes, come on," I stroll back into the house through the newly created ventilation system and am delighted to see Clare's soup still standing there, completely untouched. Surprising, considering everything else in the room is pretty much destroyed. I decide to pick it up.

"Clare, your soup is getting cold!" I call out.

Eh? Why is Clare laughing? Well, laughing is a strong term... it's more like an extended gasp, but still. Honestly, is she mocking me?

And so I end up lying on the bed with Clare as she's eating her soup, holding her around the waist from behind.

Don't look at me like that, Onii-chan. I can be affectionate when I want to. I kiss her cheek and move on to the nape of her neck to bite her flesh gently. A bit too gently for my liking.

The first time something like this happened was in Piata. That fight, the memories alone... the most fun I've had in my entire life. So many Awakened Beings to choose from, one even tougher than the next. It felt like my birthday! Every Awakened Being was like a birthday present waiting to be opened.

You probably won't be surprised those others never assigned me to be the commander of a team, Onii-chan. They said that every team effort I've lead ended disastrously... well, not for me at least, but the others tended to end up dead. Ah, just as well, since a team of weaklings'd just cramp my style.

In any case, my anger focused on Clare after she took such ridiculous risks in fighting and ending Rigardo. In the end, it had taken the efforts of no less than four others, Jean, Undine, Miria and Flora, to pull me off Clare and the combined efforts of Helen and Deneve to keep me pinned down. I did so enjoy the look on their faces when you strolled over to me and kissed me on the lips, Clare. Priceless. Just priceless.

I notice a stir next to me.

"Hm?" I ask, taking a moment to stroke her hair.

"Just thinking," she replies softly.

"About the now well-ventilated house?" I say. "Hm, I bet they'll be mad."

A silly thing to say, I know. But it makes Clare smile.

I have a feeling I know what's on her mind. It's on my mind as well after all, Onii-chan. What do you think, Onii-chan? Should I...

I need you, Clare. I never want you to leave me. I love you, Clare. I've loved you for a long time now. Longer that I'd care to admit to myself.

Hey, don't laugh at me, Onii-chan! It's not very nice. I'm pouring my heart out here!

Maybe I'll tell you someday, Clare.

Someday.

But not now.

Oh, what the hell.

"I love you, Clare," I whisper in her ear.

I smile inwardly when I feel Clare stiffen and hear her breath quicken. Looks like I can still have an effect on Clare. Clare, in turn, says nothing... probably afraid to say something in fear of breaking the moment. Hah! I've just turned her world upside down! Perfect!

But, yes, Clare. I do love you.

But you know what I also love, Clare? It's that I've just realized that saying those three little words to you has opened up a whole new avenue of psychological games and emotional torture I can inflict you. Oh, this is so exciting! I should have told you I love you years ago!

Yes, Clare, I may love you, but that doesn't mean I'll be getting soft on you. No way in Hell.