title: lost and insecure, you found me

pairing: none (may be faint RinShiemi if you squint)

dedication: to strawberry poptarts and chapter 30 of Ao No Exorcist cos it was awesome with a captial A. also, to Sara because she is the one who made me read the manga in the first place. be mine forever.

lost and insecure, you found me

The thing she remembers most is her grandmother's voice and the gentle fragrance of sweet flowers on the summer night air. She remembers sunsets and sunrises and the feel of cold morning dew between her toes in the greenlit hours of dawn. She remembers the skittering of frightened rabbits fleeing towards the shrubbery at the very end of the garden, her own wide and saddened eyes.

But her grandmother is dead now and there are demons lurking around every corner, hiding in every crevice and Shiemi is enrolled in True Cross, but nothing has changed, except the world.

"You should just keep quiet and let other people protect you!" Izumo shouts. There are no gardens now, just endless trees closing in – a screaming and claustrophobic wood. The night sky is a pitch black canopy above their heads and the stars are hiding.

Her friends, her classmates are scattered in the darkness and even now she can feel the grass against her knees withering up and dying as the Impure King resurrects itself far, far overhead.

Yes, a voice in her heart whispers through every frantic heartbeat pressing against her ribcage. Why don't you? Why don't you sit back and let them protect you, little rabbit-hearted-girl?

The whispering is quiet but persistent and to her shame, but Shiemi has always been a frightened little girl, hiding beneath lengthy kimono's and her grandmother's skirts.

Everything in her life has changed, except herself. She can wear the clothes and learn the prayers, but underneath it all, Shiemi is just like the rabbits she used to startle all those years ago. She is like the flowers that she so ardently loves – small, sweet and useless. A flower without fragrance, dying on the wind.

And as the ooze-like spores of the Impure King drop upon them, as they seize Izumo up and over, choking, squeezing, killing her – something remarkable happens.

"Don't worry about me! Get out of here!"

The entire world stops and it feels like a rubber band snaps inside her – snaps and mends in the same breath, until her soft and malleable bones are coated in steel and her eyes flash fire and when she bites down on her thumb, the strokes of her blood across the earth are sure and unafraid.

Ni-chan comes at her call and her pulse pounds in her veins, but nothing else matters.

I can't stay weak like this forever…I want to be together with everyone!

The winds shift and change. The night air stills and when Shiemi stands it is as a lion-hearted girl, resolve filling the hollow spaces in the depths of her spine.

Ni-chan grows and grows and grows until her summons is bigger than her, bigger than all her childhood dreams. The world is a garden and gardens are her domain. All things are living and she has nurtured green leaves, protected them since she was old enough to toddle after her grandmother's shadow.

"Kamiki-san! I'll definitely save you, so just wait a little okay?"

Shiemi has always been a rabbit-hearted girl, lost and insecure, wishing she could be brave. But the sweet perfume on the air is decay, not flowers and in the end, her inability to change herself into a fierce warrior doesn't matter.

She stands up and steps out into the yawning jaw of darkness anyway.

notes: if you can name the songs that inspired/influenced this, i will give you my heart and soul. and the bottle of bacardi on my desk.

notes2: literally want to die.