Always

DISCLAIMER: I don't own One Piece.

Always

Feelings are volatile and yet intense. Pleasant and unpleasant. They are numerous and various but she has never discovered and felt the whole lot of them.

The ones that she knows are mainly negative. Few, precious few, are positive.

"There she is!"
"Let's attack!"
"Take this, monster!"

Hatred. Scorn.
Those children only insulted her. They never understood who she was: they just saw what they wanted to see...

"Hmph.. You sure eat a lot to be an adoptive child."

Contempt.
Her relatives had just taken her in. She was 'his sister's child', never their niece. They never really adopted her..

"Congratulations!"
"From now on, you will have the title of archaelogist!"

Acceptance.
Professor Clover gave her a shelter from her pain. It was a realm made of books where she learned about faraway countries or ancient civilisations that are no more. Reading eased her mind and gave her knowledge but it was the old man's gentle touch on her head when he gave her a pat and his warm smiles along with the smiles of the other archealogists that really reached her heart and reduced it's emptiness. They never flinched when they saw her...

"Dereshishishi!"

Happiness.
Saulo said that when you laugh, you feel happier. She had accepted his theory. He was her friend and said that he would never lie to her...

"Robin, you are still a child! We have put our lives in stake for this research..."
"Promise me that you won't eavesdrop about this again or I will negate you access to the library!"

Fear. Betrayal.
It was for her safety, she understood that now. Professor didn't want her to be in danger but he didn't understand that she wanted to be with them and be part of their group. They were the only people to which she thought she belonged.

However, he didn't know that it was too late. She knew a lot more than he thought. It was her secret dream: she never told him.

"You should laugh in the bad moments!"

Hope, the hope of surpassing grief.
It was the only way to go on when everything seemed wrong. Saulo's words echoed in her mind many times but as she grew up, the feeling, so strong in her youth, had turned into a faint glimmer into the depth of her heart.

"Seventy-nine million beli?"

Dread.
Her life, worthless to many and so precious to the ones that had loved her, had a price.

"Robin, you dirty traitor!"
"Your fault is to be alive!"
"She's a demon! She must be stopped!"

Loathe. Anger.
She was a betrayer but she didn't care. Those pirates had accepted her only because she was an outcast as they were. Only because she was powerful and could be useful for them. But they didn't trust her because she was dangerous and she didn't trust them because they were all the same. Fake.

All these feelings had filled her life and very few are good ones. She has grown up learning to coexist with the bad feelings and to be immune to them. Tears and sadness were a luxury that she couldn't afford.

They called her Demon child because of her native land and the scholars' crimes against the world -or so they called them. They called her Monster because of her Hana-Hana No Mi powers. They called her traitor because all the organisations she had joined had fallen shortly after.

Her heart should be dark after all of this. She shouldn't be anything less to the portrait the World Government had made of her.

But, nevertheless, in the depths of her heart, there was this luminous, small orb of light.

"But I am very glad that you have learned such a thing. You must have studied very hard.. It's not something that anyone can achieve. I am so proud of you, Robin."

Appraisal.
The love of her mother, her warm embrace. It was an emotion that she would never feel again and that she would never forget. It was the reason she never stopped her research; her mother had agreed with her; so what she doing was right. What she was seeking was not wrong.

"The sea is vast. Someday, without a doubt, you will find nakama who will protect you. No one is born into this world being completely alone!"

Hope, the hope for a better future.
Saulo's last words. They had been both a symbol of hope and despair for her. She hoped to find her nakama but at the same time, she wondered if her enemies would allow her to do so or, worse, if her nakama would stay by her side once her past and her burden caught up with her...

"STAY ALIVE, ROBIN!"

A plea. A promise for herself.
Her mother's final words to her were forever present in her mind. Always.

In all these years, she had faltered only once and had risked to break her promise. Fortunately, a stubborn, rubber boy took the matter in his hands...

And the same boy had done so much more...

"If you want to die, I don't care! Say it when you are with us!
"TELL ME YOU WANT TO LIVE!"


He had given her acceptance. He had given her a chance to go on. But most of all, he... they had...

"Robin!"
"Robin-san!"
"Come back, Robin!"

"Leave the rest to us!"

They believed her despite her apparent betrayal. They trusted her even though she had said that their friendship had ended. They came to her even though she had told them to forget her and let her be. They didn't let her go although she had tried to do so for their own safety.

They had been all standing there for her, ready to face her foes and defeat them. All for her sake.

"I want to live! Take me across the seas with you!"

They had given her hope. They were her hope. Her nakama.

Saulo was right. It was true: he would have never lied to her.

She had found her nakama and they would protect her as much as she would protect them. Even though she refused their help for their own good. Even though she hurt them so that they would hate her and be safe.
They cared just as she did.

Nakama.
That feeling will never leave. It will be there forever.

Always.