Alas, now it shall be complete. Part II of 'Of Swords and Petals'. Hope you enjoy!

Thanks to Eve, burichifan, and existence555 for reviewing the first chapter. I'm glad someone could enjoy this. -ahem- ^.~

Part II ~ Musings of an Archaeologist

'I should just end,' was her first thought. There truly was nothing left for her to call 'home', even if just for pretend. With Crocodile's defeat came the end of all hope for her dream.

It was ironic. Once the thing that threatened her was out of the way, she no longer had any reason to live.

She rested her head back against the sandy dunes. Thinking back, maybe there was somewhere for her to go. Albeit, it was risky, but she could make it work.

Stowing away had been no challenge. She slipped onboard the ship completely unnoticed. Now came winning them over. This had been quite an effortless task as well, for the most part. Analyzing their basic habits, she baited each with the precise interest/desire/BS pastime that applied to them. And just as quickly, they received her; she was a part of them.

She sat back, relaxing for the first time in perhaps years. She happily indulged in the volume propped up against her legs, absorbing the history of the legendary 'Rainbow Mist' with ease.

Her new life was quite enjoyable. No longer was she the dreaded Miss All-Sunday. Here, she could just be Nico Robin, archaeologist/historian of the Straw Hat Pirates. She could observe her new companions without the threat of being maimed or murdered. They really did seem to accept her for who she was and not what she had been.

Hearing a grunt, she looked up from the words of some Commodore Lapanui. Her eyes met the sight of her latest intrigue. Yawning and groaning as he awoke from his drowsy state was he. Mr. Swordsman… She gave a silent laugh.

He was an amusement. Simple as that. When everyone else in the crew welcomed her with open arms, he still retained a skeptical eye towards her. Roronoa Zoro definitely was not your average nineteen-year-old. His skepticism seemed to make him pay extra attention of her. It entertained her so much, she sometimes plotted to perhaps tease him a bit and give an accusation of a crush; however, she thought better of this. An ever-watchful Mr. Swordsman was better than an annoyed one.

She often felt a bit sorry for him. His for his distrust might not have been so far from the truth. Should her painful past resurface, she would be forced to leave this happy little family of hers behind.

However, for the time being, she found solace and hope from the presence of these people.

Already, she had located the key to finding her dream. Perhaps her search for the True History would not prove to be any longer. Maybe she would finally have her answers!

However, to get to them, she first needed to acquire an escape for herself and the rest of the crew from the near-doomed Sky Island.

Doomed. Somewhat like herself.

Yet it seemed in this instance, her trickery would again turn against her. She knew this as the misguided megalomaniac sent thousands of volts flying to and fro her body, depriving her of all feeling and self-control.

This helplessness. It had her so tightly within its grasp. Why could she not let it go? She wanted it gone… she wanted… What did she want? …so much that she just could not have… 'It's all out of my reach.' She was falling, again, both literally and figuratively, embracing the hopeless spirit she was so familiar with.

She would have given it all up; just letting herself stay on the ground. She would have just fallen and let her dreams remain in her sleep. She would have, had she not been caught. This feeling…the utter sensation…even just being held like this, she felt immensely empowered. Even without a muscle of movement, she still had the gut feeling she could be capable of anything.

"She's a woman!" Robin could make out this infuriated statement faintly. Mr. Swordsman? Had he really been the one to say it? Or was she again imagining things?

Later on, when it was all over with, she knew she could not deny it had been him. But what did it mean? She thought over the moment, replaying it in her head over and over. He had caught her; he had refused to let her fall. Did he – did Zoro? – accept her now? Was there any confidence for her in him now? Whatever it was, she felt intent to maintain it, let it flower. If he possessed even a lick of faith in her, she felt – she knew – it was necessary to keep it alive.

Even if, in the end, she did have to let it go. For the time-being, she just wanted that from him. It was all that mattered.

She calmed down afterward, to again resume in her easing off and observation. She had again sat back bemused, watching the swordsman's uncomfortable motions after absorbing the fact that he had caused them the loss of yet another round of Davy Back Fight. He kept glancing back at her with irritated glares as they awaited the result of their captain's final challenge.

Needless to say, in a matter of minutes, she and the reindeer were back among their loving nakama. Quite frankly, where they belonged. She still sensed hostility from the swordsman. Even with her feigned nonchalance, she really hoped this time around for it to blow over; his trust that had been such a trial to attain…she silently wished for it to continue on.

Continue it did, for what she could tell. But what occurred next was something she could never have expected.

To think hers would be the only memory left intact the night the rest of the crew's would be stolen. To be the only one to recall what adventures they had had when everyone else forgot. She kept her assumed composure and guided the rest of them along the path to recollecting their precious moments.

Something egged her on to wonder why she was doing such deed. "They're our nakama. We have to get it back for them," would be the captain's rarely intelligent reply. But she knew somewhere she was only doing this for herself. And maybe, just one other…

She contemplated the possibility that perhaps had the swordsman not dozed off during his night watch duty, he could have been alongside her. Or had he been alert, they could have avoided the situation altogether. Oh well, either way he would be a walking source of joviality for her once memories were reinstalled in their rightful place.

However, it seemed her unhappiness still haunted her like an unlucky star. The efforts to regain the crew's memories led to the complicated, if temporary, loss of identity for all of them. Even she, for just that moment would not remember the misfortune that had so often befallen her. Maybe in this instant, triggered by her physical memory, she could have a taste of the self-repose she had for so long relished.

No such thing. In a moment of the captain's useful but rather tactless bumbling, she again recalled everything. Even seeing the imprints of reminiscence of every one of her nakama. Specifically that of a certain swordsman. And through this, she was only further reminded of her persistent misery.

The sight which had stopped all thought for her had been the image of that girl. She had noticed the way the swordsman reacted to seeing the illusion of this girl, one that probably meant so much to him. The one who held the white-hilted sword which was now perhaps his greatest treasure. She was his past. She was the reason for his dream; the motivation that allowed him to be standing here and now. Robin just knew this to be so.

But perhaps there was no longer any point in being disappointed. Sealing her fate, she went ahead and turned her back on them, just as she had planned. The guilt, it hurt; it being greater a pain that any she had endured before. To have just let them go…

But most of all, almost at the heart of her suffrage, alongside her unhappy past, was the knowledge of her hugest betrayal. To him…

She did not predict her disdain of losing his belief in her would be so relentlessly unbearable. To see his menacing gaze; angered, distrustful, and this time somewhat insulted, was more than she had realized she could take. What made it all worse was knowing it was her fault.

If she could have the chance at life even one more time, she would accept it for the sake of righting this wrong.

Maybe the persistent aura he drew up was faltering a bit, or somehow the swordsman was finding it in himself to let her know that she was forgiven. In his movements, words, even reactions, he seemed to be softening towards her.

Now, just maybe, her real wish was coming true.

"Robin-chwan, please excuse my asking you of this dreadful favor, but would you be so kind as to fetch the marimo? With his habits, he's probably snoozing the day away and I haven't any time to deal with his shit. So, I would greatly appreciate – "

"That's fine, Mr. Cook. I'll get him." Setting down her book, the archaeologist rose to release the swordsman from his slumber.

Approaching his sleeping form, she nearly laughed aloud at how peaceful he looked. With his often intimidating stature which led to his very many violent attacks and insults, one would not think him capable to appear in such a manner.

Waking him up was even funnier, she would have had to say. His tired grumblings made for a lovely contradiction to his usually perfect alertness.

She could still feel his eyes upon her as she turned and sauntered away. Again was that bright feeling that enabled her hope for his reacceptance to reform.

"Oreja Fleur," she whispered. The extra unattached appendage formed in an area undetectable by the currently bickering cook and swordsman. It was rather enjoyable for her to listen to their hilarious altercation.

In her pilfered attendance of their unorthodox battle, she was greatly caught off guard by the beginning statement. The quip had obviously been meant as harassment and embarrassment for the swordsman. However, the latter reaction only seemed to apply to her.

"You gonna hypnotize me with that swirly eyebrow of yours, ero-cook??" challenged one.

"You gonna poison me with your toxic hair, shitty marimo??" threw the other.

Robin smiled. Those were definitely new. But what she was more focused on was the one thing; hoping that somehow the cook's careless comment could possibly be of some truth…

Yosha! It's over… *cries* But, I hope you enjoy reading it, as much as I did writing it. I'd say for my first OP fic, hell, my first RoZo, it went pretty well. XD But that, I believe, is up to you guys. ^^

EDIT: I checked out the real name of Robin's techinque. Apparently it's "Oreja Fleur" (Ear Flower; she's quite literal XD). I have thus corrected it.