A Dandelion Wish

Chapter 1: A Battle Lost, and A Battle Won

By: BrokenPoetry

Edited/Betaed By: FireGoddess

"Anybody remotely interesting is mad, in some way or another" -Doctor Who

Kaoru had learned to enjoy her insanity. It was far better than reality.

She wandered aimlessly through a field of swords. They had all been thrust tips down into the soft earth; their tattered and worn hilts glowing red thanks to the setting sun behind her. Over head screams rose and fell like thunder and bloody rain fell from a cloudless sky. She clenched her hands, resisting the urge to shudder. The sound of snapping greenery reached her ears. She looked down and realized she clutched a handful of dandelion flowers; their stems broken and bleeding crimson blood all over her hand. She dropped them with a gasp, their fuzzy heads filled with seeds scattering as they fell.

"Make a wish, sweetheart. Make a dandelion wish," a familiar voice whispered. Kaoru dropped to her knees amongst the broken flowers and the swords standing silent around her.

There were so many chains. Their weight made her breathless as they pushed her relentlessly into the floor. Only her head was left free. She heard the sound of slow footsteps drawing closer. Then a pair of boot clad feet came into her limited view. Kaoru twisted against the chains, making them rattle, trying to look up. She finally managed to turn her head at the needed angle. Her blue eyes found the smirking face of her victim as he raised a gilded sword. The weapon had Commander Katsura's chrysanthemum stamp on it. As he raised the sword for the beheading blow, light flashed off the golden stamp. To her, it looked like a yellow dandelion.

Bright, hot orange flames danced without patters or music, save for the crackle of wood. They licked closer and closer to her feet. She curled her toes away, trying to ignore the slowly intensifying sensation of burning. The pain was just like the flames, bright and hot. Kaoru didn't cry out. She learned to never cry out. There was a grunt, and suddenly the searing heat turned into biting cold. She looked down at her hands. A crown of flowers fell from her head and landed on the burning ground. Dandelions. A bucket fell at her feet. She realized she had been painted blood red.

Kaoru forced her eyes open, and instead of receding the sensation of being wet and cold remained with her. Her eyes fell on a pair of sandaled feet just outside her cell, a bucket thumped down next to them; a few drops of water trickling down the side.

"On your feet, Kamiya," the guard ordered.

Kaoru forced herself to obey. She slowly and painfully tested her limbs, sending her chains clattering. Her previously filthy, matted hair was now a filthy, matted, sodden mess that slid around her shoulders and back in a way that had her biting back the urge to gag.

The guard grew impatient and opened her cell. She had just barely made it to supporting herself on her hands and knees when he roughly grasped her by the upper arm and jerked her too her feet. Her body, unused to the activity made its protests known, but Kaoru ignored them and let the guard drag her from the cell. It wasn't hard, she probably didn't even weigh a hundred pounds, despite being soaking wet. The guard forced her to find her feet, and then let her go. Kaoru felt herself settle into a semi-upright position that she almost had forgotten her body could manage.

The guard prodded her in the back, sending her shuffling forward. She was so busy concentrating on walking; the jeers of the other prisoners didn't bother her at all.

"Ho! Ho! Someone's headed for the gallows!"

"Swish! Crack! Pray your neck breaks, bitch!"

The guard pulled out his sheathed sword and slapped at few bars, no doubt breaking a few fingers. From the corner of her eye, Kaoru noted the deep grey color of his gi, coupled with the black hakama. He was one of the captains that guarded the line.

"Silence on the line," he roared, "I'll favor the next bastard that speaks with the nine 'o tails!"

They shut up. Kaoru didn't blame them at all for their compKarounce. Whippings on the capital crime's line were brutal. And yes, she knew from experience. She continued shuffling forward; her chains making it impossible to take long strides.

So, her execution day had arrived. Kaoru sighed at the thought. Finally.

The stairs were harder, and the guard was impatient; but she made it up out of the dungeons by her own feeble power. Her first breath of air, not tainted by the filth, and rot of the dungeons was beautiful beyond words. The guard suddenly took the lead, dragging her along by her chains. She noticed that she left a trail of filth and slime behind her. Kaoru felt her lips twitch in an attempt at a smile.

Then...they passed a window.

She stopped short; and trembled as her knees threatened to give out. Kaoru felt tears well up in her eyes. It was the sight of the sky that did it. That perfect expanse of perfect blue. Wonderful and encompassing and...perfect. She'd forgotten what it looked like, what it felt like to be underneath it. Her eyes took in the sight of the spring flowers, realizing dimly that she had been in the Commander's dungeon for almost a year now. A breeze blew in through the window, and chilled the water and tears on her face. That same breeze combed through the flowers outside, stirring their fragrant blossoms and sending them swaying on their stems. It also disturbed a patch of dandelion flowers in the corner of the yard. The wind touched the fuzzy heads and the flowers released the seeds in a flurry of grey and white.

Kaoru suddenly felt something stir within herself in response. Something awoke in her heart that she had not felt in so long. It was something she had not dared allow herself to feel as she lay rotting in the dungeons below. It was a sudden, wild, and fierce hope welling up inside her. Hope, desireā€¦a wish.

She closed her eyes tight and wished with all of the shattered pieces of her heart. Making a last and desperate dandelion wish.

She was jerked forward by the guard, causing her to stumble. She quickly regained her footing and dutifully followed after him. Casting one more glance out the window before it disappeared around a corner.

The dandelions swept up and out of the yard, fading from sight.

Kaoru sighed and returned her eyes forward looking but not really seeing the guard in front of her. In her mind, she held on to the memory of the view from the window. The sight of the dandelion seeds dancing on the wind; just like they had always done no matter how old she was, or what her nightmares had looked like. Clinging to that, she silently repeated her wish over and over; trying to control her desperate hope.

She wished for those gallows to be out underneath that brilliant blue sky.

A/N: This is the only disclaimer I'm doing; and it is meant to cover the entire story. I do not own any of the Rurouni Kenshin characters, nor do I stake any claim on them with the publishing of this piece. I also make no claim on the basic nature of the plot of this story, as it belongs to M.V. Snyder and her book Poison Study. So I guess you could consider this a crossover.

Hello all! Here we go again! This is a story I've been kicking around for a while, pretty much ever since I read Poison Study last year. I am really excited to see where it goes. However, I have to warn you all, I am currently writing another fanfiction, one that is almost finished. That one will remain my number one priority. It's 3 chapters from being finished (Thank all the Gods above).

Please leave me a review with your thoughts and comments. (Basically: Feed the Author!)