It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
“Nii-chan! A festival! A festival! Let’s go to the festival!”
“Just thirty minutes, Lamie. There’s a patient in right now.”
A young Trafalgar Law pored over his textbook, his father at his side to guide him through the care of the patient currently visiting. Across the table from him, another girl was leaning on her elbows with a happy smile on her lips. She reached across and pointed to a line on the page.
“It says it right here, Law-Nii,” she said matter-of-factly. “Now can we go? Lamie’s getting anxious.” Law swatted her hand away and glanced up at the girl who resembled him in so many ways. Where Lamie had very much taken after their mother with fair hair and a round face, the girl across the table resembled him and their father with shoulder-length dark hair, a more angular facial structure and astute yellow eyes. Like all children in Flevance, her naturally tanned skin bore pale patches on her skin. The most noticeable of those patches spread across her hands.
“Quit reading over my shoulder, Roma,” Law protested. “I want to learn myself.”
“I’m not over your shoulder. I’m reading upside-down.” The girl only a year younger than Law stuck out her tongue and winked at her older brother. “Give the patient that stuff to soothe his stomach, and the ointment Papa made will make the spots smaller. Just like they did for us!”
By the time Law finished with the patient their father had allowed him to treat, Lamie was all but bouncing off the walls of the hospital wing, pulling on Roma’s hand.
“Nee-chan, let’s go,” the youngest of the Trafalgar family urged. “Before everyone goes away.” Roma smiled softly and glanced over her shoulder to where Law was finally preparing to leave with their father and mother.
“Nobody’s going to leave the festival, Lamie. It’s still early,” Roma answered with a grin. “But Law-Nii better hurry up before we leave him behind again!”
“You better not!” Law called after them as his two younger sisters ran off ahead.
Once outside, it took all of Roma’s attention to make sure Lamie didn’t run off and lose herself in the crowd of people who were milling about the city. Lanterns hung in strings across lampposts while the scents of freshly cooked food wafted through the air. Law easily caught up with his sisters while their parents followed behind at a leisurely pace, chuckling at their children’s antics. Lamie led the way with a wide grin and bright eyes as she pointed at everything she wanted to eat, play, or buy. Roma held the middle ground, holding Lamie’s free hand to keep the youngest from disappearing from sight. Every so often, she’d glance back behind her to ensure Law hadn’t fallen too far behind. Ever the serious boy, Law followed behind his two sisters so he could watch over them. After all, he was the oldest and felt it his duty to ensure they stayed safe, even if their parents were not so much as ten feet behind them. But even he couldn’t help smiling from all the sights and sounds of the festival that surrounded him. Lamie’s grin had always been infectious.
The country of Flevance had always been something from a fairy tail for as long as its inhabitants had known. The landscape was completely white, thanks to a special ore that could be found beneath the soil, and it often reminded Roma of snow, though she’d never seen it before in her life. That ore, Amber Lead, had led to the prosperity of their country, which allowed for the city in which they lived to have extravagant festivals to celebrate the various holidays on their calendar. Unbeknownst to the citizens of Flevance, Amber Lead was also the cause of their primary illness that caused the pale spots that adorned their skin. It was an illness that deeply concerned the two Trafalgar doctors in the city, though their children were generally unaware. Law, Roma and Lamie all knew they were born with an illness, though only Law and Roma knew the disorder would kill them before they finished puberty. The concern only ever fleetingly crossed their minds because they believed their father would surely find a cure. That was what good doctors did, and their father was the best doctor in Flevance.
“Let’s go on that ride!” Lamie exclaimed, pointing to the Ferris wheel that stood proudly in the center of the festival. The three children quickly piled onto the ride while their parents waited down below.
“It’s so pretty. Right, Law-Nii?” Roma asked when they were about halfway up to the top of the ride. The eldest gave her a grin and nodded. Roma planted herself firmly in the seat, even as she stared at the scenery outside their pod on the ride. “I want to explore the world one day.” Her voice was soft and dream-like.
“You just said you like Flevance,” Law pointed out. Lamie remained ignorant of their discussion, instead focusing intently on trying to wave to their parents below.
“I do like Flevance. But if our city is so pretty, then think of how beautiful the rest of the world will be too. I want to go all around the world and see everything. And I’ll be the best doctor in the world. I’ll study and become even better than Papa.”
“Not if I become the best doctor in the world before you.” Law’s tone held a friendly challenge, leading Roma to beam brightly.
“You’re on, Law-Nii! Just don’t expect me to hold back because you’re my brother.” The pair shook hands to close the deal just as the ride came to a halt with them at the top. Lamie oohed and ahhed at how high they were, and her two older siblings laughed together at both her and the agreement they’d made.
“I want to go to this festival every year!” Lamie exclaimed as she bounced in her seat, causing the gondola to sway back and forth with her motions.
“Don’t rock the pod!” Roma chastised.
“If Mother and Father say we can, then we’ll do it again next year,” Law answered at the same time, which only made the pod rock more as Lamie squealed and kicked her legs in excitement. When the ride finally ended and the three siblings were safely on the ground, Lamie ran to their parents and begged them to be able to go to the festival every year.
“We aren’t even done with tonight,” their mother answered with a fond chuckle. “You should enjoy this one first before you plan for the next one.”
“Who was it that rocked the gondola up there?” their father asked jovially. “You look a little shaken, Roma.”
“I’m fine!” the middle child insisted, even as her hands continued to shake slightly. “But Lamie was the one shaking the ride. She wouldn’t stop bouncing.”
“Lamie, you know to listen to your sister.”
“But Nii-chan said we could come back to the festival next year if you say it’s okay. So please can we come again?” Lamie was bouncing on the balls of her feet with her little hands clasped together pleadingly. Their mother smiled softly, glanced at her husband, and nodded.
“Of course we can come back next year.” Lamie cheered again while Law and Roma grinned at their parents. Roma turned to her brother with a mischievous grin.
“Careful, Law-Nii, or this time next year I’m going to leave you in my dust on the way to be the best doctor ever,” she taunted. Law nudged her with his elbow, a lopsided smile on his lips.
“In your dreams, Roma!”
The screaming from outside the walls of the hospital made Roma’s head throb as she sat trembling beside her older brother. Lamie’s illness had developed faster than either of theirs, and it showed in the size of the white bruises that spread across her tiny form. Law had returned from outside only a short while before, though he wouldn’t tell Roma how bad it was. She didn’t need to hear it from him. She may have only been nine years old, but she was smart enough to know people were dying and there was nothing she or her brother could do about it. The World Government had started attacking their country full of innocent people because they believed the illness of their country would spread. Roma didn’t understand it, knowing from working with her parents and brother that the Amber Lead Sickness was not contagious.
“Sister Kanna is leaving with all the other children,” Law had said when he had returned. “I can’t leave Lamie and you here, so I’m staying. She says we can take the next evacuation ship.”
“I’ll only go when you do, Law-Nii,” Roma had answered without a second thought. More screams echoed from beyond the walls of the hospital and Roma could see the fire illuminating the night sky. Smoke clouded the air, preventing her from seeing the starlight above. Though she tried not to show it, she was terrified. All this bloodshed was the last thing she’d ever wanted to witness.
“The disease isn’t even contagious! Why won’t the government report this fact?!” Roma could hear her father screaming into a Den Den Mushi from the other room. The hospital was horribly understaffed, and their entire city was being attacked. The World Government wouldn’t do anything, and was even supporting the destruction of the country of Flevance. Roma decided she hated the World Government.
“Nii-chan… Nee-chan… My body hurts. It’s becoming white,” Lamie cried weakly from her hospital bed. Roma and Law were sitting by her side.
“Hang in there a little longer! Dad’s the best doctor in the country! I just know he’ll make you better!” Law insisted.
“Law-Nii’s right!” Roma added, trying to hide her fear from their younger sister. Lamie didn’t need anything else to frighten her now, not when she was already fighting a battle against her own body. “He’ll fix you up no problem! That’s what Papa does!”
“Why is it so noisy outside?” Lamie asked and Roma flinched. She couldn’t answer.
“That’s just another festival. You know Flevance is always lively!” Law lied with a bright smile on his face. He was putting on a brave front for his youngest sister, and Roma knew it well. The mention of a festival only reminded her of how the they had planned to go to the one being held the following week. It would have been a year since she and Law made their wager on who would become the best doctor in the world. Now Roma could only hope they would live through the night. Mere moments later, the sound of gunfire could be heard within the hospital, and both Law and Roma ran to investigate. What they found horrified them and brought tears to their eyes.
“Two infected… Exterminated,” a tinny voice sounded from a man in a suit designed to protect him from disease as he turned and walked away. He hadn’t seen the children and was long gone when they finally screamed and cried out for their now deceased parents. Roma fell to her knees beside them and shook her mother’s shoulder desperately.
“Momma! Momma, get up! Please!” she cried. When she received no response, Roma stood and turned to Law. Tears streaked down his cheeks just as they did hers as he stood completely still. His eyes were still wide with horror. “We have to find Sister Kanna. She can help us get Lamie out!” She grabbed Law’s hand and the two of them ran outside the hospital. Their feet pounded on the ground beneath them as they sprinted through the streets of their White City that was ablaze with crimson flames. Not once did Roma’s hand leave Law’s. They stumbled their way through town with Law at the lead to where he’d last seen their classmates. What found were small corpses strewn about the streets. Every single one of their classmates, and the nun who taught them had been mercilessly slaughtered. Blood stained the white ground beneath their bodies as Law fell to his knees at the sight. He cried out for their classmates, but Roma could only feel her throat start to clench. She assumed it was from the smoke.
“We have to save Lamie,” Law insisted as he tried to regain his composure. It wasn’t easy, given the current circumstances. “We have to get her ourselves. We’ll take her out of here.” He quickly sprang to his feet and grabbed Roma’s wrist, dragging her along as he ran back to the hospital. They just had to hurry. If they ran fast enough, they could save Lamie. He was certain of it. They ran and ran until they finally came upon the hospital, only to find it completely ablaze.
“The hospital,” Roma murmured. “But that means…” Her voice left her. It hurt for her to even attempt another word.
“Lamie!!!” Law cried. He screamed their youngest sister’s name over and over until his throat was hoarse, while Roma could only stare on in silence. Her voice had left her completely. She didn’t believe she could utter a word if she tried.
The sounds of crackling flames and gunfire echoed around her. She knew they could not remain there, even as Law screamed in pure, unadulterated agony. Without a word, she grabbed hold of her brother by the scruff of his shirt and dragged him with all her strength away from the burning hospital. Law exclaimed that they couldn’t leave Lamie behind, but Roma didn’t answer. She couldn’t. Tears streaked down her face while she ducked around corners away from the men exterminating their home. There would be no escaping Flevance without being caught. Men would be at the borders and would shoot them on the spot, especially once they saw the white marks that were slowly spreading on their bodies. Roma glanced fervently around until her eyes fell upon the carts that were already beginning to take corpses from the city. She knew it was their only means of escape, their only hope to survive. Without a word, she shoved Law into the nearest pile of corpses.
“Roma, what are you-” His tearful demands were cut off when Roma pressed her hand against her brother’s mouth. When he stared into her eyes, he saw nothing. Her gaze was empty and hollow, as if she were running on the pure instinct to merely survive with no other thoughts. She made not a sound as she climbed into the mound of bodies alongside her brother and pulled on limbs to cover them both. She didn’t quite know or care how, but she would save the both of them. For nearly a day the two of them remained motionless in the mountains of corpses along the border of Flevance, until men came to load the bodies onto a cart. In just a few short hours, and they would be free of the White City. The horrors they had witnessed would be behind them, though they would forever leave their scars. Roma knew neither she nor Law would ever be the same, but they would survive. That was all that mattered to her in that moment as she gazed into her brother’s hateful stare.
Law and Roma’s escape from Flevance had felt like an eternity. The stench of death was burned into their memories from that point on, thanks to the mountains of corpses they’d hidden in. Once across the border, Roma had dragged her brother off the cart in the middle of the night, when all of the soldiers were sleeping. From there, they ran as long and as far as they could, until they found themselves in a small town nearly two miles from their home country.
“We have to be careful from now on,” Law said between his panting as he tried to catch his breath. “Nobody can know we’re siblings. If they do, they’ll use it against us.” Roma didn’t respond. She just continued to stare blankly at her brother while she panted as well. “Are you listening, Roma?!” Now the young girl’s gaze sharpened and she nodded curtly. She understood what her brother was saying. If someone knew they were siblings, then that person could use one of them to hurt the other. It was already bad enough they had the markings to prove they were from Flevance. The more people knew about them, the worse off they would be.
Roma glanced over her brother in earnest for the first time since their escape. She hadn’t given any thought beyond their survival before. Now, she could see a marked change in his demeanor. His face didn’t look capable of ever again giving her the warm smile she’d come to know all her life. Of course, she didn’t think she could smile again either. Her throat tightened at the very notion of speech, and she felt as though she wouldn’t be able to utter another word. Law’s gaze burned like the fires they’d just escaped, while hers were devoid of nearly all emotion. The only thing she could express at this moment was hatred. She didn’t even feel fear anymore.
“I’ll kill them,” Law vowed, earning his younger sister’s attention once again. “I’ll kill everyone. They’re going to pay for what they did to us. To Mother and Father… To Lamie. I’ll make them all pay.” Roma nodded and held out a hand to her brother. He shook it, and together they made the vow to avenge their fallen countrymen and family. Law then turned and looked around at the town they’d found themselves in.
“We can’t stay anywhere for long, but we’ll need to find somewhere to sleep for tonight.” Roma nodded and glanced around. Her stomach clenched from hunger, but she couldn’t be bothered with food at that point. The thought of it made her feel nauseous after all they’d witnessed. Law took Roma’s wrist and started walking along the back streets of the town, looking for some form of shelter for the both of them.
“Why won’t you say anything?” his tone sounded almost accusing. Roma shook her head and pulled her hand out of her older brother’s grasp. Law turned to face her, a deep frown set on his lips. Roma placed a hand to her throat and fought back against the way it clenched. She opened her mouth, but no sound would come forth. She shook her head again before glancing away. “You can’t anymore?” Roma shrugged indifferently. Law simply nodded, understanding what was going on. After what they’d been through, he couldn’t blame his sister for going into a state of shock that left her unable to speak. He’d read about it in their father’s books, though never in great detail. Roma urged Law forward, her blank gaze scanning the area around them. It was the early hours of the morning where the only people who were out were the ones who were looking for trouble. Dawn was still a few hours away, though Roma wasn’t sure she was ready for the light of day. In the dark, she couldn’t see the dirt and blood smeared across their small bodies. Once the sun rose, everything would be plain to see. Roma wasn’t sure she wanted to see it. It wasn’t long before they found a secluded corner between a tavern and a common goods store for them to hide while they tried to catch even the barest amount of sleep.
Hours later, Law felt as though he hadn’t gotten any rest, though he figured he must have fallen asleep at some point based on the way Roma was shaking his shoulder. As soon as his eyes peeked open, she shoved a newspaper in his face. Law pushed it away irritably, but Roma huffed and pointed at the article she’d found on the front page.
“What?” Law demanded as he snatched the paper from Roma’s hand and glanced over the article. “Why should I care about some stupid pirate?” Roma rolled her eyes and pointed more forcefully at a specific line on the paper. Now Law’s interest was piqued and he reread the article his sister had wanted to show him. The picture on the front page depicted a man with a very angular face, his eyes hidden behind an oddly shaped pair of sunglasses. The article itself described the exploits of the pirate, by the name of Donquixote Doflamingo, and his crew. Apparently, as Law read, he’d been able to evade the Marines once again through extravagant, destructive means. “He’s our best option. That’s how we’ll destroy as much as we can before we die.” Roma nodded and moved her finger. “Spider Miles? Where is that?” Roma pointed to the sun and held up five fingers. It would take five days to get to the port town where Donquixote Doflamingo was last spotted.
“What are the chances he’ll still be there when we go?” Roma shrugged her shoulders again. She didn’t know, nor did she particularly care. All she knew was that the strange-looking man in the paper was powerful, and power was what they needed if Law wanted to murder as many people as possible to get back at the World Government. “Then we should start going.” The moment he finished speaking, his stomach growled loudly, and he scowled at the sound. He didn’t want to eat. After all he and Roma had been through already, it didn’t seem right. But he also knew they wouldn’t make it to Spider Miles in five days without eating.
Law had been surprised how quickly he and Roma had been able to steal some food from the market vendors. All they’d had to do was keep quiet and sneak over while the vendor was distracted by a customer. In an hour, they’d managed to swindle enough to get them through three of the five-day journey they would be taking, and hurriedly made their way out of town before anybody could spot them. Roma dug through the sack they carried and pulled out an orange from the top. She still didn’t feel much like eating, but knew better than to starve herself. She and Law split the fruit in half while they walked together in near silence, barely nibbling on the orange slices as they went.
“I’ll take care of the both of us from now on,” Law stated. “I’ll make sure nobody will ever hurt us again.” Roma turned her head and gave him a quizzical look. She wasn’t sure what he meant. Law had already stated that he wanted to kill as many people as possible, but now he was talking about not letting anyone hurt them. She couldn’t make heads or tails of what was going through her brother’s mind. “I’m going to protect you, Roma. I couldn’t save Lamie… I’ll keep you safe.” Roma felt that if she could still smile, she might have at her brother’s words. Instead, she nodded and took his hand in hers.
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.
“What happened to your captain?” Law demanded of the two Donquixote Pirate executives. Roma stood silently beside him, her gaze as sharp and hate-filled as her brother’s. The two of them had arrived in Spider Miles that morning, and quickly found the waste processing plant the pirates were using as their latest base.
“Like Doffy’s gonna waste his time with a newbie,” the larger of the two men, Trebol, answered. “Hey, hey! We heard you two are gonna die! When? When are you gonna die?” Roma knew if it had been one week prior, she would have flinched at the question. Now, she didn’t so much as blink. Witnessing the deaths of everyone in her country had put her own mortality into perspective.
“Three years and two months for me. Four years and three months for her,” Law answered. Roma knew Law would not refer to her as his sister. As he’d said when they escaped Flevance, nobody could know they were related to each other. Never again would she call him ‘Law-Nii’.
“Did a doctor tell you that?” the other executive, Diamante, asked. He was a tall, lean man in comparison to his friend beside him.
“My dead parents were doctors. Look at my medical data. It’s plain as day.”
“What about her? How do you know about her?”
“My mother was treating her and I read her file.” Diamante laughed heartily.
“This brat’s got brains. Doesn’t look like the other one does, though. Don’t she talk?” Law shrugged his shoulders dismissively, giving off an air of indifference.
“I don’t know, and I don’t care,” he answered. “In the next three years, this girl and I want to kill as much as we can… destroy as much as we can!” Diamante only laughed again, and Roma scowled.
“These two have got a screw… or seven loose! I don’t got a problem with taking in kids, but the last one hundred people to try and join up with us have gone running back to their mommies in two days or less!” Law and Roma both knew that wouldn’t be happening. They didn’t have a mother or a home to run back to. Now a new voice spoke up from the window behind Roma.
“Lord Trebol! Lord Diamante! Cora-san is back!”
“Look. Those two are kids, but they survived, so to speak… Buffalo and Baby 5. And the guy who’s just come in is…” Diamante was cut off when the newcomer suddenly fell over less than a foot from where Law was standing. He was tall and lanky, wearing a large black-feathered jacket that seemed two or three sizes too large for him. His face was painted in a way that reminded Roma of a clown, with his lips and right eye adorned with bold red makeup. Buffalo and Baby 5 laughed from the window, making fun of how the man had fallen so clumsily. The moment the man was back on his feet, he struck the both of them. Law and Roma watched on in silence.
“Law, you said it was? And quiet girl is Roma? This guy’s an executive too. His name’s Corazon. He’s absent-minded and sort of stupid, but he lives up to his bloodline. He’s Captain Doffy’s little brother. Some time ago, some traumatic event caused him to go mute. Kind of like you, girl,” Diamante explained. “Also, he hates kids. You’ve been warned.” The moment he finished speaking Corazon clapped each hand on Roma and Law’s heads and threw them with an incredible force out the upper window of the waste processing plant. The two of them landed far below the plant, in a pile of scrap metal. Roma clutched at her bleeding shoulder while Law held his own head.
“I’ll kill that bastard!” Law yelled. Up above, they could see Corazon catching fire from a cigarette he’d lit against his feathered coat. Without a sound, Roma pulled Law’s hat from his head and looked over the bleeding wound. Law waved her off irritably. “We’ll take care of your arm first.”
A week brought Roma and Law back to the warehouse of the waste processing plant, standing before the captain of the Donquixote Pirates and a fair number of his crewmembers as they were gathered around a dining table. Neither child cared for the eyes staring down upon them, but did not give any response to them. Roma’s gaze carried the hatred she still felt since escaping Flevance. It was the only emotion she could show beyond the blank stare she always wore when alone with her brother. Law eyes matched her in intensity. Trebol was the first to say anything to them.
“Hey, hey! It’s Law and Roma! It’s been a week. You two homesick yet?” he asked around the pizza he was stuffing into his mouth. Roma scowled at the sight. “Corazon’s really done a number on the two of you!” Neither Roma nor Law moved. They didn’t need to look at themselves or each other to see the damage that had been done. Roma’s upper arm still had a piece of cloth wrapped around it to cover the wound that was still healing. Law had been able to remove the light bandaging they’d applied to his head soon after the blood had dried over it, but the area was still tender.
“Kids and adults alike split the first chance they get!” Diamante exclaimed. “We’re the select, powerful few that remained! I wonder how long a couple of powerless little shits like you two will last.”
“No matter what happens, you must remember the ‘edict of blood’,” another man, one wearing strange rabbit ears, told them. “An affront to an executive of the family is tantamount to an affront to the family itself!”
“Once I laughed at Lord Pica, and almost died during the torture they put me through afterwards!” Buffalo interjected, earning a giddy laugh from Baby 5, who was seated beside him.
“I ain’t afraid of him. I’ve seen hell itself,” Law answered. The captain, Donquixote Doflamingo, chuckled at the sight of the both of them.
“You’re free to bluff and blow hot air to your heart’s content, but remember this: Corazon is my precious little brother. I will personally bring death to anyone that so much as touches a hair on his head,” he explained. The tone of his voice was that of someone speaking of trivial matters, but the threat still made its way across.
“Those kids!” one of the men exclaimed. “Their skin is white!” This only caused the woman beside him to shriek in response.
“That’s the Amber Lead Sickness!” she screamed. “I don’t want to catch that!”
“What?! It’s contagious?! Gross!” Buffalo cried, spitting his pizza in the processes. “You two get out of here right now, dasuyan!” Law growled at the other boy, while Roma’s hateful stare hardened. She was certain these people were stupid to believe the illness was contagious. Any doctor should know that Amber Lead Sickness was not infectious, meaning it could not be spread from person to person, except through inheritance. Doflamingo slapped his hand on the table, forcing silence from his crewmates.
“Jora! Don’t repeat rumor as fact! It pisses me off!” the captain snapped. “Look, Buffalo’s gone and believed you. Amber Lead Sickness is a type of poisoning. It cannot be transmitted to others.” Buffalo made a show of telling Law and Roma to stay away from him, and that he didn’t wish to catch their illness. He was promptly ignored. Roma figured if he was too stupid to understand such a simple medical fact, then he wasn’t worth their time. After all, she had understood the difference between infectious diseases and contagious ones by the time she was six. That had been three years prior, back when they’d all still been happy. Back when she’d still had a family. She steeled her resolve and turned her gaze back to the Donquixote captain.
“Are there any other survivors in Flevance?” Doflamingo asked conversationally.
“I don’t know, nor do I care. The two of us barely managed to escape ourselves,” Law answered.
“How’d the two of you even manage to get out?”
“Hidden in the mountains of corpses, we both crossed the border. I found her while everything was being burned to the ground and she wouldn’t leave me alone since.” A man in goggles gagged from the imagery Law had presented.
“Hey! We’re eating here!” the man protested.
“Why doesn’t she speak for herself?” Doflamingo asked, ignoring what his crewmember had said.
“I’d imagine for similar reasons as your mute brother,” Law answered with a scowl. Doflamingo chuckled and leveled Law with a stare from behind his oddly shaped sunglasses.
“What is it that you resent so?”
“I no longer believe in anything. I ain’t even scared of dying. Corazon, you better not get carried away with yourself. I promise you. I will have my revenge.” At this, Baby 5 leapt forward and slapped Law in the back of the head, screaming about how he would bring the ‘edict of blood’ upon himself. Roma shoved her away forcefully while Law glared harshly at the young pirate, causing her to cower to one of the older crewmembers.
“Good luck with your revenge plot, Law. But know you will die the moment you make an attempt,” Doflamingo told him. Law scoffed and grabbed Roma by the wrist, pulling her behind as he stormed out of the warehouse. They made their way back to the scrapyard below the waste processing plant, where they could easily hide away from the citizens of Spider Miles while they remained within the city limits.
Law was silent as he sat atop a mountain of scrap metal, staring out into the ocean. The hatred in Roma’s gaze had faded after they’d left the Donquixote Pirates, and she now stared emotionlessly at her brother. She knew he was thinking of the hell they’d escaped only a week and a half prior. How could he not? It was all she thought of when she wasn’t focused on ensuring their continued survival. Roma carefully climbed her way up to the top of scrap metal Law had planted himself upon and sat beside him in silence. She took his hand in hers and gave it a tight squeeze. Law glanced at her and the rage behind his features lessened slightly. He took his hand from hers and draped that arm over her shoulders, pulling his younger sister close. Roma couldn’t cry, but she took comfort in knowing there was some part of the brother she knew still present.
“I’m going to kill him. I want you to stay here, Roma.” Law’s tone allowed for no arguments, not that Roma could articulate them if she tried. At that point, all she could do was nod and agree to obey whatever orders her older brother gave her.
A few short hours later, Law left Roma where she could watch the waves from the ocean lap against the shore while he went out to find and kill Corazon. It didn’t take long for him to find the clumsy pirate executive sitting alone in another part of the scrapyard with a newspaper in his hands. Law picked up a sword he’d managed to find while traveling and held it tightly. It enraged him to know that his entire family, sans Roma, had been mercilessly slaughtered while an idiot like Corazon was allowed to live. He knew he would have to remain as silent as Roma was now. Then nobody would know that he had killed Corazon, and he could escape with his sister before the Donquixote Pirates could think to track them down. With that in mind, he lunged forward, his sword pointed directly at Corazon’s back. With gravity as his guide, Law allowed himself to fall and the blade plunged into Corazon. Law was certain he was close to the older man’s heart, and that he would die, but he heard someone screaming from above.
Shit, I’ve been seen, he thought as he glanced over his shoulder to see Buffalo.
“He… He broke the edit of blood! It’s the skewer torture for him, dasuyan! I’m going to report this to the young master!” the larger boy yelled. Law released the sword and ran towards Buffalo.
“What will it take to get you to keep your mouth shut?” he demanded. Much as Law didn’t fear death, he knew he couldn’t leave Roma alone in this world. She was already mute from the loss of their friends and family. He didn’t want to think of what she would do if she lost him too.
“Get me an ice cream, dasuyan.” Law almost fell over from the sheer stupidity of the request.
“Whatever, as long as you don’t say anything!” With the few minutes he had to spare, Law stole an ice cream cone from a vendor near town and then ran back to the scrapyard. He would have to grab Roma and start running before anybody could catch him. When he found her in the same spot he’d left her, Law was more than relieved.
“Roma, let’s go!” he yelled, causing the girl to whirl around and quickly rise to her feet. She leapt down from the pile of scrap metal she’d been sitting on and fell in stride with her brother. He knew she wouldn’t bother to question him until they had made it to safety. They didn’t make it far before they were stopped by two members of the Donquixote family. The large man who found them, Machvise, grabbed both of Law’s arms and started dragging him away while Jora took hold of Roma and carried her effortlessly back to the waste processing plant. Both children struggled all the while, but were unable to break free. Law only hoped he hadn’t just signed his younger sister’s death warrant.
“Young master!” Jora called as she entered the waste processing plant warehouse with Machvise. “We’ve caught Law and Roma! It seems they’ve suddenly developed the urge to escape! They ran all the way to the harbor!” Roma still continued to struggle, but could do nothing in Jora’s grasp. Law glanced around the room and was dismayed to find Corazon still alive. Now he was certain he would die, and it would be for nothing.
“Law,” Doflamingo started. “I’ve called you and that girl here for one reason. I intend to make you a full-fledged member of the Donquixote family. This obviously extends to you as well, Roma. It’s clearly a package deal with you two.” Roma briefly wondered if Doflamingo had figured out she was Law’s sister, and hoped he hadn’t. Law had stated that nobody could know they were related, and she wanted it to stay that way. She stopped struggling in Jora’s grip and settled enough for the older woman to let her go. Roma stood in silence, waiting to hear what Doflamingo had to say. Machvise released Law as well.
“What?!” Law demanded with a scowl. He didn’t trust what he was being told. For all he knew, it could be a trap.
“The sort of terrible glare birthed in those that have faced the most horrible of experiences… You two have potential, though Law more so than Roma.”
“Ohohoho! You’ve been deemed worthy! Well done!” Jora congratulated the both of them, patting Law and Roma on the head. “The young master is the kind of person that can predict the future!” Law’s intense gaze never let up. How could Doflamingo not know about his attack against Corazon? Had the younger Donquixote brother not informed the captain? Just what the hell was going on here? After a moment’s thought, he figured it didn’t matter much.
“Worthy or not… I’m still going to die in three years. Roma in four,” he answered. Doflamingo chuckled again.
“That’s all up to your luck. My specialty is black market business. Among other things, I deal in Devil Fruits. The power of these fruits sometimes exceeds human knowledge. There may be a fruit out there that can heal even your illness!”
“Devil Fruits…” Law could only think of the possibility of healing both himself and Roma. He would accept any alternative.
“If you two have Lady Luck on your side, then, among the fruits that will come into my possession within the next three years, there is a possibility that one may be able to save you. You may even be fortunate enough in that the fruit will grant one of you the ability to save the other. Law, I will train you from here on out as the man who will be my right hand in ten years time!”
This caught Roma completely by surprise. Here she had thought they were going to be killed, and now Doflamingo wanted to Law to serve as his second in command once he’d grown older. Of course, that was entirely contingent upon them coming across a Devil Fruit that would allow Law to live to the age of twenty. Roma turned to her brother and nodded. She wanted him to take this opportunity presented to the both of them. It would be his best chance at accomplishing his goal of destroying as much as possible in the time they had left. Beyond that, it would provide Roma with the opportunity to help Law as she hadn’t before. Perhaps, she thought, he could change his way of thinking and make him want to live for more than destruction.
“What about Roma?” Law asked. “If I’m going to be your right hand, what are you going to do with her?”
“She’ll be a member of the family in her own right, and will be afforded the same protection as you. Don’t doubt that, Law. Once you are in my family, no one can harm either of you. If you’re so keen on her staying by your side as the only other survivor of your country, then I’ll ensure she is your direct subordinate. Will you agree to those terms?” Finally, Law nodded. With that, he and Roma were taken into the arms of the Donquixote family, where they would be able to gain the power to fight for themselves against nearly any adversary. But it still wouldn’t protect them from the one thing no man could escape: death. And theirs were fast approaching.
That evening, Roma had dragged Law to the infirmary to finally treat the wounds he’d sustained properly, though Law insisted he was fine and wanted Roma to clean the cut she still had in her upper arm. Roma had simply shaken her head and jabbed a finger into Law’s chest to emphasize her point that she would ensure his health first. When they’d arrived, Corazon was already there and Law gave the older man a harsh glare. Roma frowned slightly and pulled harder on her brother’s arm, forcing him through the threshold so she could rifle through the medical supplies. She glanced fleetingly at Corazon and noticed that he’d been dressing the wound Law had given him. She also took note of the multiple scars that littered his torso and briefly wondered what had caused all of them.
“I’ll take care of it, Roma,” Law growled. Roma leveled him with a stare and pushed him to sit down on a nearby bench. It was at that moment that Doflamingo passed by the infirmary and spotted his younger brother.
“Hmm? Corazon, what happened to you? What’s that wound from?” he asked. Corazon scribbled something on a piece of paper and Law briefly caught that he’d written ‘enemy’ on the note. “That looks pretty deep… Can I safely assume they got the worst of it?” Corazon scribbled something else that Law didn’t catch. “Ah, I see. Take care of yourself then.” Law watched the exchange in silence even as Roma applied antiseptic ointment to all of his cuts. He couldn’t believe that Corazon had covered for him, and wondered why. Before his thoughts could go far, Roma turned her brother’s head to face her while she worked at properly dressing all of his wounds. Staring into the empty eyes of his younger sister, Law realized it didn’t matter why Corazon hadn’t allowed him to die. All that mattered now was that he and his sister were still alive, and he could continue to carry out his promise to protect her. Law grabbed his sister’s wrists to prevent her from continuing.
“Sit down and deal with your arm, you idiot.” His words carried no bite for the first time since they’d left Flevance.
Their first few months with the Donquixote Pirates had involved much traveling and war plans. Law and Roma were always involved with trade routes and fighting other pirates. They were frequently followed by the Marines, and as such were forced to fend them off whenever possible. That had been how Law and Roma learned to operate a cannon for the first time. Law had very little trust in any of the crewmembers, and only ever spoke honestly to Roma. She still did not speak at all.
“I’m actually a little impressed by Roma,” Jora had commented offhandedly one day. “Even when she’s hurt, she doesn’t make a sound. How do you think she does it?”
“She’s sitting right here,” Law pointed out from where he was reading over the textbooks Doflamingo had given him to study. Roma was seated beside him with a pile of books of her own. Hers were a mix of medical textbooks and battle tactics, though most of the latter came from the pile of what Law had already studied. “It’s rude to talk about someone as though they aren’t here.” Jora waved off his comment.
“Well, she doesn’t protest.” Roma still hadn’t bothered to glance up from her books.
“Roma doesn’t speak because of what she witnessed in Flevance. You all know that already.”
“Then why aren’t you the same way?” Baby 5 asked. Law glared at her, and Roma absently nudged her brother’s leg with her foot. She didn’t want him lashing out at everyone he spoke to. It would do him no good to make enemies out of everyone. The action seemed to calm him enough to use his words.
“How the hell should I know?” he retorted.
“Well, you said your parents were doctors. Shouldn’t you know this stuff?”
“The only mute person I met in Flevance was someone who’d been born without a tongue.”
“How did you know Roma’s name if she doesn’t talk?”
“We went to school together.” That much wasn’t a lie. Roma and Law had both gone to school together. And they had been the only ones from the academy to see the world outside their country.
“So you knew each other before?” Jora asked and Roma nodded absently. “Did our little Law have a crush on Roma?” At this, Roma made the first facial expression since the destruction of Flevance that hadn’t been blank or full of anger. She mimed gagging on something disgusting while Law vocally denied the claim. The idea was disturbing to both of the siblings, though they knew Jora only brought it up because she didn’t know Roma was Law’s sister. “Then why do you two stay so close now, if you’re so repulsed by one another?”
“Roma was my classmate and the only person who survived the White City besides me,” Law answered. “It’d make sense she wouldn’t leave me alone after that.”
“Yet you understand her, even without her speaking.” This time it was Gladius who spoke and hummed in thought. Law tensed in his seat, but Roma didn’t show any change in demeanor. Instead, she grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled a note on it. It was the first time she communicated with anyone besides Law, and the first time she’d bothered to write out her thoughts.
‘Law-kun’s parents were the best doctors in our city, and they were treating me. Law-kun and I talked a lot together while I was in the hospital.’
Each of the members of the Donquixote Pirates gathered around the table leaned forward to read the neat little handwriting on the piece of paper as Roma slid it across the table for them. She turned her attention back to her books while the others cooed over how sweet it was for Law to talk to a sick girl in the hospital. Law, in return, scowled at all of them. It had taken nearly an hour for them to grow bored with their teasing and leave Law and Roma to their studies.
“Why’d you call me that?” Law asked after he was certain they’d all left. Roma took another piece of paper and wrote her answer. This thought was too complex for her to leave to interpretation.
‘I can’t call you my brother anymore. Let me have something to show you’re important to me.’ When Law looked up from the page, he could see tears finally forming in Roma’s eyes. He hadn’t seen her cry since they witnessed the slaughter of their friends and family so many months prior. Roma hadn’t wept in all that time, and he figured she was about due for it.
“Okay,” he answered as he tore the paper so nobody else could read it and pulled Roma into his arms. He held her and gently stroked her hair while she sobbed into his shoulder and finally mourned the losses they had experienced.
Roma curled into a ball next to her brother in the room they’d been sharing since they joined the Donquixote Pirates a year and a half ago. Roma had still never spoken a word, and only ever wrote down her thoughts when absolutely necessary. Law had grown used to her silence, though he still wanted his sister to start speaking again. He was beginning to think he’d forgotten what Roma’s voice sounded like in the first place. Law had come to understand almost everything she wanted him to know based upon the way she looked at him or carried herself. They’d gotten into a few arguments in the past year and a half that involved Law yelling at his younger sister, while she snapped her fingers and made wild gestures that nobody in the crew could understand but he knew every letter. Now, Law didn’t even need to look at Roma to know she was sad, so he draped and arm over her shoulders and pulled her to his side. Roma willingly leaned against him, but didn’t uncurl her legs away from her chest.
“I still miss them,” she whispered, her voice barely audible. After not hearing her speak for so long, Law almost didn’t recognize her voice. He turned and stared at her in stunned silence for a moment before finally giving an answer.
“I know,” he mumbled.
“I thought it would stop hurting after a while, but it doesn’t.”
“I know… I’m going to kill everyone in the World Government for what they did.”
“It won’t bring any of them back,” Roma murmured.
“No. It’ll make them feel the same pain we did.” Roma didn’t answer, but reached up and took her brother’s hand in hers.
Weeks later, after a particularly intense training session with Lao G in martial arts, Roma was tending to her bruises alone in the infirmary when Corazon happened to stop in. He seemed to be rifling through the various drawers and it didn’t take long for Roma to smell the smoldering feathers from his coat. It was obvious he’d been set on fire again, and she figured he was looking for an ointment for the burns.
“They’re here, Corazon,” she said, reaching into the cupboard nearest her and pulling out the ointment she assumed he needed. The executive turned to face her, an eyebrow cocked in amusement. It was the first time Roma had uttered so much as a single word to anyone besides her brother, though that had only been in private. Corazon was actually surprised she’d made use of her voice around him, of all people. After all, he’d thrown her out a window upon first meeting her. Roma held out the burn ointment, but Corazon shook his head. Instead he held out his left hand and Roma’s eyes widened to see the way his fingers bent at crooked angles. The bones had clearly been broken in a recent fight. “I can fix it.” This time, Corazon gave her a bemused expression, like he didn’t believe the child to have the knowledge.
Roma climbed on top of a bench and reached for the bandages and other supplies she would need to reset the bones in the executive’s hand. Once she had everything gathered, she gestured for Corazon to take a seat while she filled a syringe with a clear liquid. Corazon snapped his fingers to gain her attention and shook his head while pointing at the needle.
“This will numb your hand so it won’t hurt as much when I reset your bones. It won’t knock you out and I know the right amount for it to work. My parents taught me how to do this.” Corazon gave her a skeptical look. “Law-kun’s parents weren’t the only doctors in our city, you know.” Much to Roma’s surprise, Corazon still shook his head and refused to be injected with the numbing agent. He seemed to be fine with allowing Roma to reset the bones in his hand and fingers, but drew the line at numbing the flesh around them. Roma shrugged her shoulders. Who was she to argue with him? “If you say so, Corazon.”
Without another word, Roma set to work on placing Corazon’s bones back into their proper place, tightly wrapping them as she went along. Using a splint, she forced Corazon’s fingers to straighten and wrapped them so they would set properly. It wouldn’t be a perfect fix, as there were so many bones in the hand that could be moved out of place, but it would ensure he would be able to have full use of his hand once it healed. Roma wasn’t particularly surprised that Corazon didn’t make a sound of discomfort through the entire process. After all, she had never uttered so much as a whimper of pain in the year and a half that she remained unspeaking. While she worked, Corazon reached for a piece of paper and jotted down a note for her.
‘Finally speaking?’ it read and Roma gave a wry smile. Even after all this time, she still had not given a genuine smile, not even towards her brother.
“My silence won’t bring them back,” she answered quietly. “Nor will it help Law-kun. I don’t think I’m ready to talk to everyone yet, but I can talk to Law-kun. And I can talk to you, Corazon.” The Donquixote executive quirked an eyebrow again, and Roma could hear the question without needing a sound. “You’re mute too. My throat used to clench up when I wanted to talk, even to Law-kun. It still does most of the time, but it doesn’t clench around Law-kun, and it doesn’t do it with you either, obviously. I guess I feel safe with you, Corazon.”
The first time Roma spoke in front of the rest of her crewmembers wouldn’t have been of much note, if it hadn’t been for the way Jora had reacted. All Roma had done was ask for someone to slide over the next book she would be studying from. She’d forgotten that she hadn’t yet spoken to anyone besides Law and Corazon.
“Roma-chan’s talking!” Jora exclaimed loudly, causing the girl in question to cringe. That hadn’t been the reaction she’d wanted when she finally spoke to them. Roma would have much more preferred for people to continue acting as though nothing had changed.
“I’ve been speaking for almost a month now, Jora,” she answered as she reached forward and took the book she’d wanted in the first place. Roma knew the rest of the crew would be far too interested in her renewed speech than the request she had made with it.
“To who? I haven’t heard anyone mention you speaking again, and word spreads fast with us.” Roma shrugged her shoulders dismissively.
“First to Law-kun and then to Corazon. This shouldn’t be a big deal to any of you.”
“It makes sense that Corazon wouldn’t say anything. But why not you, Law?” Baby 5 asked, earning a glare from the boy in question.
“Because it’s none of your business,” he snapped. “What do you care if Roma started talking again anyway?” Baby 5 ran and hid behind Machvise’s legs. Roma elbowed her brother in the side and rolled her eyes.
“Stop picking fights, Law-kun,” she reprimanded dully, earning some snickering from Jora and Diamante. Across the room, Corazon remained silent as always, though he kept a watchful eye over the young girl with Amber Lead Sickness. She’d been speaking to him quite a bit as of late and seemed to hold him in high regard. Normally, Corazon tried to keep kids away from him, and was even cruel towards them in an attempt to make them leave the Donquixote Pirates. But this girl and the boy who came with her had piqued his interest. Knowing they came from the White City only made him feel indebted to help them.
In a secluded part of the ship, Roma sat alone with Corazon while she read over a book on effective battle strategies. It had been one that Law had already finished reading and had given to Roma so she could continue to learn. Even though she wasn’t being trained as Doflamingo’s future right hand, she wanted to be as useful as possible in a fight.
“Silent.” Roma looked up from her book to see who had spoken, but didn’t see anyone besides Corazon in the room.
“Did you hear that?” she asked.
“It was me,” Corazon answered and Roma’s eyes widened in shock. She’d never heard the Heart Executive speak before, and was fairly certain nobody else had besides Doflamingo. Even then, it seemed as though their captain hadn’t heard his younger brother’s voice in a very long time.
“Y-You can talk again?”
“I always could.”
“Then… Why didn’t you?” At this, Corazon smirked and lit a cigarette. Roma scrunched her nose at the stench, but didn’t say anything on the matter. At least Corazon was near a window for the smoke to waft out. She was actually more surprised that he hadn’t managed to set himself alight again.
“If everyone knew I could speak, they’d want me to all the time. I have nothing to say to any of them,” Corazon answered.
“I don’t understand. Aren’t they your nakama?” Roma asked.
“I don’t think of them as that. Do you?” Roma thought for a moment before shaking her head. No, she thought, she didn’t consider the crew she was part of as her nakama. They were members of the same crew, but she did not consider them to be true comrades or friends to her. She bore no love for any of them, with the exception of Law. Corazon was the only other member of the Donquixote Pirates that she felt any sort of connection to.
“No,” she admitted. “I don’t.”
“My duty, as Doflamingo’s younger brother, is to keep his madness at bay. I can best do that in the way I’ve chosen. I’m trusting you, Roma, to keep this secret for me.”
“Because I suspect you are in the same situation as I am, with your brother,” Corazon answered. Roma leapt up from her seat and lunged across the table to grab at the executive’s feathered coat.
“Who told you that?!” she demanded.
“I’m not as stupid as they all think. Don’t worry, kid. Nobody else knows. I only figured it out because of everything you’ve already told me about your home.” Roma stepped down and released the coat lapels.
“You can’t tell anyone. Law-kun said that nobody could know.”
“I don’t speak, and I’ve put a barrier around us so nobody can hear us either.” At this, Roma’s eyes widened again. She hadn’t expected Corazon to be a Devil Fruit user. He’d never given any indication that he was, prior to this night. Now, it suddenly made sense. She took her seat at the desk again and stared across at Corazon.
“You’re right, you know. Law-kun is my older brother and we escaped Flevance together. And ever since then, I’ve been trying to keep his hatred at bay. He wants to destroy everything. He swore he would. Back then, I made him a promise, and he thinks it was to help him kill everyone. But I know that won’t bring Momma, Papa, or Lamie back. I promised that I would save him, so he doesn’t become a monster.”
“That’ll be harder than you think, at this rate,” Corazon answered. “The more time he spends with Doffy, the harder it will be.”
“I don’t care, Cora-san. I’ll do everything I can to keep him sane.”
After spending two years with the Donquixote Pirates, Roma and Law felt no closer to finding a cure than they had the day they joined. Neither believed there even was a Devil Fruit that could grant them the life they should have had. The white patches on Law’s skin had spread even farther than Roma’s, and he knew his calculations had been an overestimation on his life. Roma’s skin also bore more white bruises, though her case of the poisoning didn’t seem quite as advanced. Law knew she would outlive him.
“Why don’t you tell us your names now?” Baby 5 suggested after a day walking through town. She, Buffalo, Roma and Law had been given the afternoon off after they had completing their training early that morning. As a result, Baby 5 and Buffalo had dragged the siblings along to terrorize some of the citizens of the current port town they were in.
“What does it matter?” Law asked in response to Baby 5’s suggestion.
“We told you guys our real names, didn’t we?!” Buffalo protested.
“Not like I really care either way.”
“You’re no fun! Boring!”
“It doesn’t matter if we’re fun or not. We’re both going to die soon anyway, me before Roma,” Law answered. Roma tried not to flinch at her brother’s words. Though she knew it to be true, she didn’t like the idea of her brother dying before her. She didn’t want to be alone. “It’s true though; we’ve been doing more and more fun things recently. I’ve got about a year left… My death might even come earlier than my calculations suggest.”
“You shouldn’t say things like that, Law-kun. It brings bad luck,” Roma told him.
“More importantly, if you’ve got real names, tell them to us, dasuyan! Otherwise I’m going to rat Law out to Doffy about what happened two years ago!” Buffalo whined, earning a harsh glare from Roma. She didn’t use it often, but a threat against her brother would always bring out her ire.
“Don’t you dare, Buffalo,” she growled
“My name is Trafalgar D. Water Law,” her brother answered. “I’m actually not supposed to tell people about it.” Roma stared at her brother with wide eyes. Why was he telling them his full name? Their parents had always explicitly stated that they should never mention their middle initial, and that Law couldn’t tell anyone his taboo name. “And it isn’t a codename like your guys’ names, so I can’t just change it. ‘D’ is a secret name, and ‘Water’ is taboo. My family has, over generations-” He was interrupted by a scoff from Baby 5
“It ain’t even cool!” the girl whined, her tone sounding very bored.
“You’re the ones who were pestering me for it!”
“What about you, Roma?” Buffalo asked. Before she had the chance to think of a clever lie, she felt a hand grab her from behind and hurriedly carry her away. She looked up to see that Corazon had been the one to grab her. Law was in his other hand, struggling violently.
“Hey! Let go!” the boy snapped. “What is it? Corazon! What do you want?” When Corazon finally dropped the both of them, they were in a back alley of the town. Nobody from the Donquixote Pirates was anywhere nearby.
“What’s going on, Cora-san?” Roma asked. Law wasn’t quite so polite, still having a vendetta against the older man.
“What’s your deal, Corazon?!” he demanded. “You want a piece of me?!”
“Was what you said back there true?!” Roma stared on in silence. This was the first time she’d heard of Corazon speaking in front of anyone other than her. And even that had always been a rare occurrence. Law seemed to not know who was speaking, as he glanced around asking who was there. “The secret name of ‘D’. If that really is your name, then both of you need to leave immediately. Get far away from Doffy.
“Cora-san, what are you talking about?” Roma asked, taking a step forward. “We can’t just leave.” Corazon turned around and grabbed both Roma and Law by the shoulder.
“Listen, you two! You of all people must not be near Doflamingo!” Law seemed more than a little startled to be hearing Corazon speak, but Roma was more concerned with the fact that he wanted the both of them to leave the Donquixote family. Law pried Corazon’s hands off his shoulder and pushed the executive back. Corazon willingly released Roma as well and planted himself on the back steps of a building, lighting a cigarette as he did so.
“Why? How long have you been able to talk?” Law demanded. “And why are you talking like Roma’s got the same name as me?”
“Since always,” Corazon answered. “And I know you’re siblings. If you’ve got the name of ‘D.’, then so does she.”
“How do you even know that?!”
“I told him,” Roma murmured.
“What?! Roma, I told you-”
“Cora-san figured it out anyway. I just confirmed it. Nobody else knows.” Law scowled, but knew there was nothing to be done at this point. There would be no making Corazon forget what he knew about the Trafalgar siblings. He turned his anger back to the other matter at hand.
“So you’ve been lying to Doflamingo this whole time?” he asked.
“I never told him that I became unable to speak. He came to that conclusion on his own,” Corazon answered.
“That’s the same thing as you lying to him, isn’t it?!” Law’s voice carried over the sounds of passersby, earning stares. Roma grabbed ahold of her brother and covered his mouth. He was drawing too much attention to them, and she knew that would only lead to problems. Corazon, in response, snapped his fingers and set up a silent barrier, like he always did when he would talk to Roma. In an instant, all of the sounds of the city disappeared and they were left in complete silence. It was only broken by their own sounds from within the barrier.
“You should calm down, Law-kun,” Roma told him as she released him and uncovered his mouth.
“What’s going on?” he asked. “Everyone’s definitely talking, but I don’t hear anything.”
“You were making a scene, so I put up a wall,” Corazon answered. “A ‘soundproof’ wall. From here, we can’t hear any sounds happening outside, right? And those on the outside won’t be able to hear our voices in here, either. I am a silent human from the Nagi Nagi no Mi.”
“You’re a Devil Fruit user?!” Law then took note of how his sister didn’t seem surprised by any of this information. “You knew, Roma? And you didn’t tell me!”
“I promised Cora-san I wouldn’t tell anyone if he didn’t tell about you being my brother,” Roma answered calmly and unapologetically. She had made a deal with Corazon, and she wasn’t going to go back on that, especially if it meant keeping her brother safe. As long as she didn’t breathe a word of Corazon’s Devil Fruit ability, he would not reveal their secret. Thus far, both had held up their end of the bargain. Law growled and looked back at Corazon.
“Don’t tell me that you stumbling around like an idiot-” Corazon chuckled in a way not unlike his elder brother.
“Yeah… but of course,” he answered. “It’s all been an act.” Even as he said this, his black-feathered coat caught fire from the lit cigarette in his hand.
“Liar!” Law roared. “Your damn shoulder is on fire!”
“Well, I’ve never been able to get over being clumsy. I’ve always been a klutz.”
“Shut up about that already! But the other part is true?! Why did you hide all this to your friends and comrades?!”
“I don’t think of them as comrades,” Corazon answered. Roma knew this much already from her own conversations with the Heart Executive. “My duty as his younger brother is to keep my brother Doffy’s ‘madness’ at bay. From such a kind-hearted mother and father… how they could have given birth to such a monster, I’ll never know… He’s not human…” At this, Roma shivered. She hadn’t heard Corazon speak of his brother in this way before. All he’d ever mentioned was his duty as a younger sibling, which was the same as hers. Corazon seemed to be lost in thought for a moment, and both children knew he was remembering some horrible event from his past. It was the same expression they each had when they thought back to Flevance. Roma shuddered and glanced at her brother. “That’s the way he was born, pure evil, knowing fear of nothing! The only ones who know of Doffy’s true nature… his madness… are we four of his inner circle and the former Corazon, Vergo.”
“Vergo?” Law and Roma asked in unison. This was a name neither of them had heard in the past.
“He’s an extremely skilled person who’s currently away from the family on a top secret mission. Even those close to him in the mission are unaware of the specific details. Regardless, he has absolutely nothing to do with the two of you. Don’t become a monster like my brother, Law. Get away from here.”
“There’s no way I’m leaving!” Law protested. “I want to become like him!”
“Don’t put your sister through that!” Corazon snapped and Roma flinched. She glanced at her brother again and reached for his hand. She wanted to calm him down and keep him from doing anything reckless. “The secret name of ‘D.’ There’s no doubt about it… you two are members of the fated family of D. In the society I come from, the children are all told that bad kids will be eaten by ‘D.’ And every time someone with the name of ‘D’ begins to make a name for themselves in the world, all the elders groan and mumble that ‘D’ will surely bring with them another storm.”
“What the hell are you trying to say?! That we’re some kind of monsters or something?!”
“We don’t know what the D means,” Roma insisted. “Our parents never told us!”
“I know,” Corazon answered easily. “It’s a name that people have secretly been inheriting throughout history all across the world. There is a land where they refer to the ‘Family of D’ as this: God’s Natural Enemy.”
“God?” Roma repeated incredulously. “What does some being that probably doesn’t even exist have to do with us, or our name?”
“If, for example, you consider ‘God’ to be the Tenryuubito, then perhaps your people’s objective might very well be to destroy this world. But instead, Doffy is after the complete opposite of that. ‘D’ is supposed to be the antithesis of ‘God’,” Corazon tried to explain. It still wasn’t making any sense to Roma, and only served to infuriate Law.
“I don’t understand a damn word you’re saying!” he snapped, pulling his hand out of his sister’s grasp. “I became part of this family so that I’d be able to kill the people I need to kill! And so I could keep Roma safe after what we went through in Flevance! I didn’t become your subordinate! I became Doflamingo’s! And besides, I’m going to die in one year anyways. Roma will be gone the year after, so what do you expect us to do?!”
“Leave this place and search for a cure!”
“It doesn’t exist!” Law yelled as he turned to run off, wrenching his hand out of his sister’s as he went.
“Law-kun, stop!” Roma called after him.
“I’m going to tell Doflamingo about all of this! That you can speak, and about your power!”
“Don’t!” Corazon yelled.
“I’ll bet he’s gonna do a whole lot more to you than just kick you out!” Corazon flew to his feet and chased after Law. Roma followed after him with the hopes of catching her brother and making him see reason. Corazon moved to kick Law to the ground, but the smaller boy managed to duck out of the way and grab him by the knee. Using what he’d learned from sparring with Lao G, Law turned and threw Corazon into a nearby dumpster. Roma slowed her pace and stopped beside the dumpster so she could help Corazon out.
“He’s stronger now than he was two years ago,” the Heart Executive grumbled as he climbed out on his own.
“We both have grown,” Roma answered. “Cora-san, I don’t want to leave either.”
“Why not? Roma, Doffy will-”
“I like being with you, Cora-san. And I don’t want to go anywhere that Law-kun isn’t. He needs me.” Corazon didn’t answer, nor did he have time to because that had been when Roma turned and ran after her older brother. He swore under his breath, knowing he would have to find some way to get the both of them away from Doflamingo. Their captain would kill them the moment he learned they carried the Will of D. Even worse, if Law went ahead and told Doflamingo what he had learned, Corazon would surely die for his treachery. He cursed his luck, and his decision to ever speak to either child from the White City.
When Roma finally caught up to her brother, she was surprised to find that he had not gone directly to their captain. Instead, he was sitting on the deck of the ship with a smirk on his lips. She ran up to him and immediately took his hand in hers, like a lifeline.
“I decided not to tell Doflamingo, since Corazon didn’t tell about when I stabbed him two years ago. And because he didn’t tell anyone about you and me,” Law answered without her even having to ask. “Some Marines found us again, so Doflamingo is ordering for us to disembark once Corazon gets back.”
“You’re not going to tell, though, right?” Roma asked, turning her gaze to her brother. He glanced away.
“If he doesn’t tell anyone our secret, then I won’t tell his.” A short while later, Corazon returned to the ship and Law told him the same thing he’d told Roma, about how they were even now from two years prior.
While the rest of the Donquixote Pirates prepared to disembark and move their ship away from the Marines that would be coming for them shortly, Corazon made preparations of his own. He knew that if there were any chance of getting the Trafalgar siblings away from Doflamingo, he would have to take them himself. Law and Roma had been tying down the small rafts together when they were both suddenly knocked unconscious.
Roma finally awoke when she felt someone thrashing against her back and heard the very vocal protests from her older brother. Her eyes fluttered open and she looked down to see herself bound with rope. It didn’t take much for her to rationalize that she had been tied to her brother and they had been taken from the Donquixote Pirate ship. Sitting across from the both of them was Corazon, who was guiding the rudder of the small rescue boat they were in.
“This is kidnapping!” Law screamed, though Roma was certain nobody would hear him. After all, it had been Corazon who had taken them from the ship. She could only assume he was using his Devil Fruit so as not to attract attention, even at sea on the rescue boat he had clearly stolen. The distinctive sound of a Den Den Mushi ringing started suddenly, drawing both hers and Law’s attention. “It’s Doflamingo calling, isn’t it? Let me talk to him! Answer it! Doflamingo! Save us!”
“Law-kun, stop screaming. It won’t do any good,” Roma told him. “Why did you take us, Cora-san?”
“I’m going to heal your illness. We’ll go around to every hospital there is.”
“I told you, there is no cure!” Law retorted.
“He’s right,” Roma added. “Our parents tried to find a cure, but couldn’t. There was no way to get the poison out of us, especially since it passed from them to us when we were born.” Corazon didn’t say anything as the Den Den Mushi started ringing again. He answered it in a way that confused Roma, because he seemed to be talking about a type of cracker. Somehow, the person on the other end seemed to understand exactly who he was by that response.
“Ahh, Rosinante,” the voice from the Den Den Mushi said and Roma’s brow furrowed in thought. Was that Corazon’s real name: Donquixote Rosinante? If that was the case, then who was the man speaking on the other end of the call? How did he know Corazon’s real name, when nobody else seemed to?
“I need to step away from my mission post for a bit,” Corazon answered.
“Did you run into some trouble?”
“Just something I need to take care of.”
“I see, very well… How are those kids? Even with you picking on them, they won’t leave?”
“No matter what I do, they just won’t budge.”
“That family has already become rather infamous. Be careful.”
“Understood.” When Corazon finished speaking with the man, he closed the connection and turned back to Law and Roma. Both children were suddenly very suspicious of him.
“Where did you just call?!” Law demanded “You were saying something about a mission. Don’t even tell me you’re a Marine!”
“Do you hate the Marines?” Corazon asked.
“I hate them all,” Roma answered instead of her brother. “Everyone connected to the World Government… I hate them all for what they’ve done.” Her voice was quieter than Law’s but carried all the venom and more. Corazon could see the hatred in their eyes, and he couldn’t stand it. He’d seen more than enough of it from his brother as children.
“I’m not a Marine.” Even as Corazon spoke, he did not look at either child in the boat with him. Roma wasn’t sure she wanted to know the reason behind that. She had grown to trust him over time, and didn’t want to think of the option that he may have been working for the same people who destroyed her life.
“Will you at least untie us?” Law asked with an exaggerated huff.
“Not until I know you’re not going to try and run off.”
When the small rescue boat Corazon had stolen finally landed on an island, Roma was more than a little surprised to have the ropes removed from both her and her brother. She was less surprised when he grabbed them both in much the same way as he had when he learned of their middle initial. Roma didn’t even bother to fight it, while her brother struggled all the while. Corazon ignored Law’s thrashing as he walked through the town towards a large hospital that Roma was certain was larger than the one her parents had worked in. He also seemed to be ignoring the odd stares he was gaining from the passersby.
“Hey! I don’t want to go to the hospital!” Law protested. It would have been funny how much Law sounded like a child if it had not been for what they knew. They would not find the miracle cure Corazon wanted for them. They would sooner die.
“Don’t start whining all of a sudden. You’ll sound like an ordinary kid. Just look at this huge hospital. They’ve got to be able to heal you both,” Corazon answered. Roma stared ahead blankly.
“No they won’t,” she murmured. “They’ll turn us away as soon as they see our skin. They will either have no cure, or they’ll be incompetent and think we are contagious.”
“You won’t know that until we get in there. Both of you brats are so pessimistic.” Once inside the hospital, Corazon brought both Law and Roma to be seen by a doctor at the same time, posing as their guardian.
“What seems to be the problem, children?” the doctor had asked, not even looking up from his desk as he jotted down notes.
“Amber Lead Sickness,” Corazon answered when neither Law nor Roma would speak.
“Did you just say Amber Lead Sickness?!” The doctor and nurse beside him were now wide-eyed and fearful.
“It’s been around for some time now. Has a medicine been discovered for it yet, doctor?”
“I… I’m sorry, but where are you from?”
“Flevance,” Law answered dully, his eyes to the floor. Roma didn’t even respond, wearing the same blank mask she’d had when she and her brother had joined the Donquixote Pirates two years prior. The nurse screamed in response to Law’s answer.
“They’re gonna infect us!” she shrieked. The doctor whispered for her to find gas masks and contact the World Government, presumably to come exterminate the two of them as the last survivors of their country.
“Enough!” Law growled, his hands balling into fists at the hem of his shorts. Tears burned his eyes and Roma reached over to hold his hand. Law shook his head, ripped his hand away from her, and started running off.
“Law!” Corazon called.
“Just look! We’re not even human anymore!” Law ran out of the room and down the hall, but Roma didn’t so much as flinch as the doctor put on a gas mask and pointed at her. Corazon stared after Law sympathetically. If Roma had been looking at him, she would have seen the obvious pain he felt on their behalf.
“White monster!” the doctor screeched. “Please, just go back to where you came from!” He turned his attention to Corazon. “Hey, you! You’ve got some nerve bringing those kinds of kids around here! Do you have any idea how many hundreds of patients we have here?!”
From behind her, Roma could hear Corazon growl in anger. She didn’t even give an emotional response. She had shut down back to when she had been escaping Flevance, where the only thing on her mind was Law’s and her ongoing survival. The only difference was that now she had the skills and strength to fight on their behalf. While Corazon lunged over her and landed a powerful right hook to the doctor, Roma whipped out two throwing knives and flung them at the nurse. One landed in near her heart, and the other between the woman’s eyes. The moment the nurse fell to the ground, Roma ran forward and ripped both blades from her body and ran out of the room. Corazon was close behind and grabbed her by the shirt. He quickly caught up with Law and scooped him up as well, carrying both children from the hospital. Roma wiped her knives with the sleeve of her shirt and replaced them on her belt.
“That hospital was the worst!” Corazon exclaimed hotly once they were on their way back to the boat. “I’m sorry. Did that make you think of the past?” Roma still hadn’t spoken. She suspected it would be a few hours before she would be able to speak again, given the way her throat was clenching slightly at the thought of answering Corazon.
“This is why I said I didn’t want to go to the hospital!” Law screamed. Tears continued to fall from his eyes and his demeanor reminded Roma of how he was when Flevance burned to the ground. It was as though they both had been brought back to that state of mind, even after two years had passed.
“We’ll find a capable doctor next time!”
“Just forget it!”
Much to Corazon’s frustration, and Roma and Law’s ongoing torture, every hospital they went to would refuse to so much as look at the children with Amber Lead Sickness. They all cried out at how anyone from the White City could possibly have survived the extermination. Each hospital brought back a new wave of memories that left Law in tears and Roma in complete silence. She only spoke again once they’d be at sea for an hour, and even that would come incrementally. Six months passed in this manner, and they still had not found a cure for the Amber Lead Sickness. Law and Roma had always known they wouldn’t. Corazon set up camp for them one evening on a bluff that overlooked the ocean and the dock where he’d tied off their boat. The sun had only just begun to set beyond the horizon and Roma had taken a seat at the edge of the bluff to watch it. Law busied himself with a campfire while Corazon joined Roma with a bottle of rum in his hand.
“You gonna talk yet, Roma?” he asked offhandedly. He knew she would only speak once her nerves had settled from their last excursion to a hospital. He would have found it odd how her frayed nerves translated into stoic silence if he hadn’t known from his own experiences where she was coming from. Every person had a different way of handling the horrors they witnessed. Silence was just Roma’s way.
“I don’t know why you keep doing this, Cora-san,” the girl murmured. “None of these doctors are competent.” Her tiny, white-bruised hands curled into fists around her knees as she drew them close to her chest. Her gaze never turned away from the sea. “None of them are even smart enough to know that our illness isn’t contagious. I’m only twelve, and I know that!”
“I know, kid. But I’m not just gonna let the two of you die.”
“Law-kun and I are better doctors than the ones you’ve been taking us to. Our parents were the best doctors in Flevance. They taught us everything we knew before joining Doflamingo. Law-kun and I were going to see which of us would be the best doctor in the world.”
“We’ll find a cure, and you two can still do that,” Corazon answered, but Roma simply shook her head.
“No. He doesn’t care about that anymore. Not like he used to. Now Law-kun just wants to kill everyone associated with the World Government.”
“Don’t you? You said you hated them.”
“I do hate them, but I don’t care about killing them as much as he does. I just want my brother back.” Corazon sighed and took a swig of his rum before plopping a hand onto Roma’s head and ruffling her hair. It would be almost affectionate if he weren’t so inexperienced with children.
“Go help your brother before he lights himself on fire.” Roma barked out a laugh, the first one Corazon had heard since he took them on this search for a cure.
“That sounds more like you, Cora-san,” she answered with a crooked smile, but went to help her brother anyway.
That night, when Law and Roma fell asleep by the campfire, Corazon watched over the both of them. Roma had, as usual, curled into her older brother’s side while she slept and held tightly to one of his hands. Corazon had long since figured out that it was her way of grounding Law to the present and to keep him from dwelling too long in his memories. He had an action with a similar purpose, Corazon had noticed, and that was to drape an arm over his sister’s shoulders. It was a shitty hug, Corazon figured, but it seemed to snap her out of her dazes most of the time. Now, the two Trafalgar siblings were sound asleep on a single mat, with a blanket barely covering either of them. It had clearly been kicked off at some point after they had both fallen asleep. Corazon sighed heavily at the sight of them and took a long drink from his rum.
“What am I doing to these kids who were born in that tragic town?” he asked himself. “All I’m doing is making them remember all of that tragedy without being able to help them in the slightest. Is it for the sake of ‘D’?” He mused the thought for a moment. “No… I don’t care about that anymore.” He stood and walked over to where Law and Roma were still sleeping soundly. Without a second thought, he reached for the blanket at their feet and drew it over them. “Just feel sorry for them. I know back then, Law, you stabbed me, but… it didn’t even hurt. You were the one that was hurting, so all I could feel was compassion for you.” Now Corazon was openly weeping, and the sounds were enough to awaken Law. The Heart Executive turned away and scrubbed at his eyes, but Law had already heard all he needed to bring tears to his own eyes. He curled into his sister and tried to hide his quiet sobs.
Morning came, waking Law as the sun slowly rose and brought light over his eyes. He carefully pried Roma’s hand from his and got up to tend to the camp, making sure not to make too much noise. He would let Roma and Corazon sleep later this time. Law packed up their supplies in relative silence, only interrupted by the sounds of the woods nearby. Rustling in the bushes gave way to small woodland animals, often chasing after each other while songbirds sang overhead. It would have been a much nicer experience if he didn’t feel so dizzy. Law knew his condition had been growing worse over the past six months that he and his sister were traveling with Corazon. He was certain he didn’t have much longer to live, likely a few months at best. Soon, he would be left weak and in levels of pain that would leave him immobile. Law looked over to his sleeping sister’s figure. The white marks were spreading across her body as well, and a few wisps of her hair had turned completely white. She would last up to a year after he died, but Law didn’t want to put her through seeing him fall apart from their shared disease. He didn’t want her to watch him die. He was drawn from his thoughts at the sound of the Den Den Mushi ringing. Law immediately ran over to Corazon and started shaking his shoulder.
“Hey, Cora-san! Cora-san, wake up!” he yelled in an attempt to rouse the executive officer. Roma, having heard the commotion, stirred and looked up at her brother at the same moment Corazon sat up with a shocked expression on his face. It looked almost comical, thanks to the clown-like makeup he wore. “What’s with that face?!”
“You just called me ‘Cora-san’,” the man answered and Roma smiled. It would appear her brother had finally taken a liking to the man who was trying to cure the both of them. It made her happy in a way that she did not fully understand. Perhaps it was because she had come to see Corazon as a parental figure to take the place of the ones she and Law had lost.
“Whatever! Just answer the Den Den Mushi already!” Roma couldn’t help but giggle softly at the sight of her brother. She climbed out from under the blanket and started rolling up the mat she and Law had slept on while Corazon tapped the transponder snail to answer it. Roma hadn’t been expecting the voice that came through it.
“It’s me, Corazon.” It was Doflamingo. Roma turned and stared at the Den Den Mushi with wide eyes. She hadn’t heard Doflamingo’s voice since they left the ship with Corazon six months prior, and she was certain he would be livid. “Corazon, it’s you isn’t it?” Much to Roma’s surprised, their captain sounded almost conversational. Corazon tapped on the transponder snail, responding to his brother in Morse code.
“It’s been half a year since you took off. Are you with Law and Roma?” Corazon answered with more tapping. “Well, I’m glad the three of your are safe. Did you find any good doctors?” Two more taps. “I thought so. Bring Law and Roma with you and come back to the ship. I might be able to cure their sickness.” At this, both children’s face’s lit up with surprise. Roma scrambled to her brother’s side and tugged on his hand excitedly. She couldn’t help the hopefulness that was rising in her chest. Roma felt like bouncing on the balls of her feet, much like Lamie had always done back home in Flevance. “I’ve acquired some information regarding the Ope Ope no Mi.” Now even Corazon looked shocked. Roma waited patiently in silence alongside her brother. They would wait until the call ended before they asked the flurry of questions going through their minds. Doflamingo explained to his younger brother how the Marines had put a high price on the Devil Fruit in question and that he had every intention of stealing it. On top of all that, Doflamingo stated that he wanted Corazon to eat the Ope Ope no Mi, and that with its power he would be able to cure the Amber Lead Sickness that both Law and Roma had inherited from their parents. Once he’d finished relaying that message, Doflamingo ceased the communication line and the Den Den Mushi fell back to sleep.
“Isn’t this great!” Corazon exclaimed as he lifted Law in the air. “Law cheer up! Look at how happy Roma is!” It was true. Roma was smiling genuinely for the first time in years, though it was still very small. She was finally hopeful that they would actually live beyond the age of thirteen, even if she didn’t know what this Devil Fruit was. All she needed to know is that it gave them a chance at life. “You’re both gonna live! To hell with those doctors! All we need is the Ope Ope no Mi!”
“What is the Ope Ope no Mi?” Law asked, still being held in the air by the celebrating Heart Executive.
“It has the ability to modify and restructure the human body. The power to perform miraculous operations and cure even completely unknown diseases.”
“There’s no way something as fake and magical as that could-”
“That’s right! But it’s not magic. It requires in-depth, working medical knowledge. That’s why either one of you would be suited to eat it!” Corazon finally set Law on the ground as he exclaimed his final notion.
“Us?” Roma asked. “But Doflamingo said he wanted you to eat it.”
“Anyone who eats two Devil Fruits will die. Doffy said what he did because he doesn’t know about my ability. None of us will ever go back to that family again.”
“Why not?!” Law demanded. Corazon turned away from the two of them as he answered, almost as though he were speaking more to himself than either child.
“Once I realized our journey would not be over quickly, I came to a decision. By now, Doffy should have come to the conclusion that I’m a traitor.” Law seemed to be surprised by this news, even though he and Roma both knew that Corazon had never considered the Donquixote Pirates his comrades. “There was another meaning behind Doffy telling me to eat the Ope Ope no Mi.” Now, Corazon turned back and knelt before Roma and Law. “Listen, you two! We’re going to turn it all around on Doffy! We’re going to steal the Ope Ope no Mi, and then one of you is going to eat it! After the sickness is cured in the both of you, the three of us will go into hiding somewhere!”
“Law-kun should have it!” Roma insisted, leaving no room for argument. “He’s older, so he should have it first. Then he can heal himself right away. I still have another year, so it’ll be okay if I’m not healed first. Besides, Law-kun was able to do more studying than me in the past two years. He knows more.” Before Law could respond, Corazon turned to the Den Den Mushi and started dialing a number.
“Whatever the case, prepare to set sail. No matter what happens, we’re gonna get our hands on the Ope Ope no Mi!” The person on the other end of the call answered in the strange way Roma remembered from when Corazon first took them with him six months prior, and he responded in the same manner.
“Rosinante!” the mysterious man exclaimed. “It’s been a long time! You had me worried! Dammit Garp! Get the hell out of here!”
Corazon spoke to the man about Doflamingo’s plan to steal the Ope Ope no Mi while it was being traded. The man on the other end of the connection explained that the trade was intended to take place in three weeks’ time, on the North Blue island of Rubeck. According to Corazon, the Donquixote Pirates would be meeting three days before the trade took place, on the island of Swallow. While the two of them spoke, Roma and Law had started cleaning up the camp. Roma couldn’t help the faint smile that was tugging at the corners of her lips. She wanted to believe Corazon could really save them after all. As the conversation on the transponder snail neared its end, Roma noticed her brother swaying slightly and looked over just in time to see him fall to the ground. Corazon hung up the call on the transponder snail just as Roma dropped to her knees beside her brother.
“Law-Nii!” she cried. Law had completely passed out and was breathing heavily. Roma wasted no time in checking his vital signs as best as she could. His skin was burning up from a fever and his heart was racing. It was just like it had been when Lamie’s case of the illness had started progressing into the final stages.
“Hey! Hang in there, Law!” Corazon yelled. “Just as we see the light as the end of the tunnel… It hasn’t even been three years yet! According to your own prediction, you should be able to fight this off for a bit longer, right?!”
“He said his calculations were an overestimation.” Roma scrubbed at the tears in her eyes with the back of her sleeve, trying to maintain the clinical professionalism her parents had taught her what felt like an eternity ago. Corazon felt Law’s forehead and Roma could see him begin to panic.
“Shit! He’s got a fever! And it’s not like we can bring him to any doctors. What should I do? Law, please! Just three more weeks… Just hang in there until then. Give me a fighting chance, dammit!”
“I can treat him,” Roma answered firmly, already digging into their pack for what little supplies she could use. “Momma and Papa treated a lot of people with Amber Lead Sickness, and I learned from them. We couldn’t cure anyone, but I can treat the symptoms at least. Law-kun will live long enough for you to steal the Devil Fruit for him.” At her words, Corazon seemed to calm down slightly. In his concern, he’d briefly forgotten that Law was not the only medically trained person with him. In fact, he wondered if perhaps Roma had lied when she said Law knew more than her. Corazon had seen her with a medical book in her hands far more often than Law, though that had only been because the latter was also being trained to work alongside Doflamingo. Whatever the case may have been, Corazon knew he could trust in Roma to take care of her brother. He stepped back and allowed her to do her work, and instead busied himself with preparing to set sail.
While at sea, Law’s condition improved enough for him to be mobile, though Roma still insisted that he remain cloaked in a blanket to protect him from the elements. She also intended for him to sweat out the worst of his fever. Law was still obviously weak from the illness taking its toll on him, but Roma was determined to keep him alive long enough to get the Ope Ope no Mi for him. Corazon controlled the direction of the ship while Roma continued to tend to her brother, despite the boy’s protests that he could deal with his illness himself. On their way to the island of Minion, which was nearby the two islands where the fruit trade and attack on Doflamingo were to take place, their tiny boat became caught in the middle of a typhoon.
“Shit! Now of all times!” Corazon cursed as he tried to keep the boat steady in the rough waters. He kept both Law and Roma close to him in an attempt to protect them both from the brunt of the rain and wind.
“Cora-san,” Law started. He sounded exhausted and Roma just wanted for him to be able to rest. “The government, despite knowing that we’d die, made us dig up the Amber Lead… all for the sake of profit. Our family, our city, the government killed them. So, if you’re an ally of theirs, a Marine or something… just tell us.” At her brother’s words, Roma bit her lip. She didn’t want to hear the answer if Corazon was actually working for the World Government. She didn’t think she could bear it. Roma was already certain that Corazon was a Marine, but she didn’t want to hear him say it. That would make it too real for her.
“You idiot!” Corazon snapped. “I ain’t no Marine!” Law beamed brightly in response and Roma wrapped her arms tightly around Corazon’s torso.
“I’m glad,” they both told him. Corazon choked back his emotions and returned to the task at hand.
“You two better understand this one fact well. By stealing the Ope Ope no Mi, Doflamingo, the Marines, and the government itself… We’ll be making enemies out of every last one of them! You best be prepared for the consequences of that!” At this, Roma set her resolve.
“I don’t care who is our enemy as long as we save Law-kun!”
And neither the angels in Heaven above
Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
Three days before the exchange of the Devil Fruit was set to take place, Corazon arrived on the island of Minion with Law and Roma. Law’s condition had, thankfully, not worsened in that time, but it had not improved either. Corazon and Roma both knew the boy would not last much longer. The Amber Lead Sickness was in its final stages, and would soon leave him unable to move on his own. Roma still had a year before she reached that stage, but seeing her brother experience it frightened her. Corazon tied their small boat off underneath a rock overhang from the island and used a rope to hoist the three of them up to land. Law and Roma clung to Corazon the whole time, each wrapped in a blanket to fight off the bitter cold. The former executive had received his orders from the mysterious man on the Den Den Mushi, and brought both children to the outskirts of a deserted town on Minion Island.
“I need the two of you to stay here,” Corazon instructed as he set Law on the ground behind what remained of a small brick wall. Roma hurriedly curled up to her brother’s side to share body heat. “I’ll steal the Ope Ope no Mi, and come back. Once we have it, we need to get the hell out of here.” Law and Roma both nodded in silence and watched as Corazon walked away with a soundproof barrier around him.
“He’ll be alright,” Roma whispered certainly. “Cora-san is definitely going to save you.” Law nodded, but said nothing in response. The two of them waited in silence for quite some time, hearing nothing but the howling wind as snow continued to fall around them. A short while later, an explosion ripped through the building at the top of the hill on the far side of town. Flames illuminated the night sky as smoke rose through the air, blocking out the stars from view directly above the building.
“That must be Cora-san,” Law murmured. Moments later, they heard a flurry of gunfire. Roma flinched at the sound and scooted even closer to her brother. They waited in silence again, neither daring to speak the concern on both their minds. Neither child wanted to think that Corazon had been shot and killed on his personal mission to save their lives. To their infinite relief, Corazon returned a short while later with a broad smile on his face. In his hands was a dark red, heart-shaped fruit with a strange swirling pattern all over it. It was certainly the strangest looking fruit either Law or Roma had seen in their lives.
“Cora-san!” the both exclaimed happily.
“Look! This here is the Ope Ope no Mi!” the man answered.
“T-That’s great. I’m glad you’re okay,” Law said between his chattering teeth from the cold. “We saw the houses burning, and then heard the gunshots. We were afraid something had happened to you…”
“Hey! Now’s not the time to talk about that! Be glad! What I have here is the Devil Fruit that will save your lives!”
“But it doesn’t mean our disease will be cured just by eating it.”
“Don’t talk nonsense! You will be healed. Eat it, quick!” Corazon all but force-fed the fruit to Law, despite the boy’s protests on the foul taste. “Come on! You need to eat the whole thing!” When Law had finally managed to force down the last of the Devil Fruit, he let out a heavy breath.
“Cora-san, I don’t feel ready to be a fruit user yet!” he yelled, just as Corazon collapsed to the ground.
“Cora-san, what happened?!” Roma demanded, running to the older man’s side.
“This is good,” Corazon murmured in between his heavy breathing. He sounded as though he were in a lot of pain. “Now you’ll be able to heal yours and your sister’s illness. We’ve managed to win this battle against Doflamingo.” He panted out another breath. “But even this is not enough to stop Doffy. I’m sorry, Law and Roma. Can I ask a favor of you both?”
“What’s wrong?” It was at that moment that both Law and Roma noticed the blood seeping into the snow from beneath the man who was trying to save their lives.
“Wait!” Law exclaimed as he and his younger sister both started to shift Corazon so he could lie on his back. “What’s wrong wi-” He was cut off by Roma’s shriek at the sight before them. Corazon’s entire body was littered with bullet wounds and he was bleeding heavily. He’d been hiding the wounds behind his jacket when he’d arrived, but now they were laid out in the open. “You’re covered in blood! You’ve been shot! Cora-san?!”
“Yeah,” Corazon groaned. “Old habits die hard.”
“What’s that supposed to mean? What were you doing, Cora-san?!”At that moment, Law seemed to remember the Devil Fruit he’d been given, and how it was supposed to perform miracles “Heal! Heal!” He held his hands over Corazon’s body. “Stop bleeding!” Corazon reached up and gently patted Law’s head and laughed. Roma was already trying to staunch the bleeding with what little fabric they had to cover Corazon.
“Silly boy,” the former executive said. “Didn’t I tell you that this ability isn’t magic?”
“Then what should we do?” Roma demanded. “You got hurt for our sake, right? Let us help you!”
“I’m fine. These wounds won’t kill me, but I need some time to stop the bleeding. So I need you two to do me a favor. There’s a Marine surveillance ship stationed on the west coast of this island. I know you’re really weak Law, but I need you to go with your sister and send this over to them.” Corazon held up a little tin cylinder with a tiny lock on it and placed it in Law’s hands. “The Marines will understand when they see this message tin… The information in this tiny tin will help to save a faraway country by the name of Dressrosa.”
“A country?” Law repeated. “To the Marines?”
“After you hand this to the Marines, leave this island immediately!”
“But what about you?”
“Let’s go, Law-kun,” Roma ordered. She wasn’t stupid, nor was she in denial about their situation. Law was still hoping for a chance at the three of them escaping together. Part of it may have been due to his fatigue from the progression of his illness while another part may have been from his strong desire to remain with Corazon, but Roma had no such hope. She understood what Corazon was telling them. They were not going to be able to all escape together like they wanted. Corazon had lost a lot of blood, and even if the bleeding wouldn’t kill him, which Roma wasn’t entirely sure it wouldn’t, he was still an enemy to both Doflamingo and the Marines. Telling them to leave meant Corazon was willing to be left behind to die on this island. All for their sake. Roma wasn’t going to let that go to waste. She would ensure that they succeeded in their task and then left the island so they could continue to live. It was what she’d done in Flevance, and she would repeat the action now. Corazon shifted so that he could lean against the wall while sitting up, and Roma threw her arms around his neck with little regard for the blood that now stained her clothing.
“I love you, Cora-san,” she whispered before pulling away and grabbing her brother by the wrist. She dragged Law away from Corazon, despite his protests, and began on the way west to find the Marines to deliver the message in the tin. Corazon watched them leave with wide eyes, having been completely surprised by Roma’s words and actions. He hadn’t expected either of the children who hated the World Government and everything it stood for to learn to love him, of all people. Corazon rested a hand over his face, wiping away the tears that were stinging his eyes. The Trafalgar siblings made their way across the frozen island, and soon saw white sails with the symbol for the Marines. Troops of men were running out from the ship, on the search for the Ope Ope no Mi, the children could only assume. Hiding behind the rubble from what they could only assume had once been a building, Law and Roma waited for one of the Marines to be alone. The last thing they wanted was to be shot on the spot by a large number of them. Finally, a single Marine happened to walk near the area they were hiding, unaccompanied by anybody else. He was a tall man with bulbous black hair, and wore shades to cover his eyes. A musket was strapped to his back and he wore a uniform that seemed to imply he was of a higher rank than most of the others.
“Hey!” Law yelled as he and Roma ran from behind the rubble, holding out the message in the tin Corazon had given him. “This is for you!”
“Hmmm? Oh, a message tin!” the man acknowledged. He knelt down before the children and took the tin in his hand. From this close, they could see a piece of food stuck to his cheek. The man rested a hand on Law’s head. “Did someone ask you to pass this to us? Thank you. I’ll be keeping this safe then. But child, what’s wrong? You sound very sick.”
“Can I trust you?” Law asked, and Roma tensed.
“Hey, what are you-” she started.
“Of course,” the Marine answered, though Roma didn’t believe him. She never trusted the World Government after the destruction of Flevance. Even after figuring out that Corazon was working for them, Roma had only made an exception for him. “I’ll make sure this tin gets to-”
“Can you please help me save somebody?!” Law’s voice was frantic and tears were welling in his eyes. “He’s been shot many times and may die!”
“No, we can’t!” Roma insisted, reaching to tug on his arm and drag him away, but Law shoved her hands off of him.
“Please save him! I want him to survive! It’s all our fault that he’s like this!”
“Of course,” the Marine answered and turned so that Law could climb onto his back. “You don’t sound well. Let me carry you, boy. Are you well enough to walk, girl?” Roma nodded but did not utter a word. Her gaze had hardened once again as the Marine carried Law on their way back to where Corazon had last been seen. She still didn’t trust this man, but she would not leave Law alone with him. When Corazon finally came into view, Law waved wildly.
“Cora-san! This man is here to help you!” Both Corazon and the Marine carrying Law seemed to recognize each other, though neither looked particularly pleased to see the other. Roma immediately picked up on the tension and looked up to where her brother was still on the strange man’s shoulders. She didn’t like that the Marine was holding Law, now. If Corazon didn’t trust him, she wasn’t about to.
“Vergo!” Corazon shouted, surprising Roma. It was the first time she’d heard him speak to anyone besides herself, her brother, and the strange man on the Den Den Mushi.
“Corazon! What are you doing here? And you’re so badly hurt!” the Marine exclaimed, before stopping for a moment. “Did you just speak?!” He released Law, who fell to the ground with a soft thud, thanks to the snow, and Roma hurried to her brother’s side.
“Huh? You know each other?” Law asked. “Vergo…” Suddenly, he and Roma remembered at the same moment exactly who this man was. Corazon had mentioned him almost seven months prior, back when he first discovered that the two of them carried the Will of D. He was the former Corazon, from before Law and Roma had joined the Donquixote Pirates, that had been on a top-secret mission. That assignment must have been to infiltrate the Marines at Doflamingo’s behest. At Vergo’s realization of Corazon’s capability of speech, he opened the tin Law had given him and opened it to extract the message from inside.
“Stop!” Corazon yelled. “That message!” But it as too late; Vergo was already reading the contents of the letter Corazon had written.
“I get it now, Rosinante,” he growled with an intense glare. Before either Law or Roma could figure out what he was doing, Vergo had aimed a powerful kick straight into Corazon’s face. Law cried out for their savior and threw himself at Vergo.
“Law-kun!” Roma called after her brother, but she had been unable to hold him back.
“Stop it! You’re that Vergo guy!” The Marine, who was now revealed to be a member of the Donquixote Pirates, grabbed Law by the throat and held him at arms length.
“That Vergo guy?” he repeated. “So, you must be Law, that brat from the White City. Which means that girl must be the little Roma. I heard you three went missing. So this is where you’ve been hiding! And since you know I’m a senior in the family, then you should address me as Vergo-san!” He threw Law with all his strength to the ground, causing the boy to bounce multiple times off of the rubble and debris around them. Roma called out to her brother and immediately ran towards him, but Vergo grabbed her by the collar of her shirt and threw her into the wall Corazon had been leaning against. “And you, Rosinante, for writing such a report! If this really reaches the Marines, then our whole family and Young Master’s plans will all be ruined! To think there’s such a huge mole in our family! The second generation Corazon!” He landed another powerful kick to Corazon and Roma scrambled away as quickly as she could. This time, she made it to her brother and tried to check over his injuries. She knew she couldn’t stop Vergo from attacking Corazon, but she could at least try to save her older brother.
“Stop it! You’ll kill Cora-san!” Law cried, even as Vergo continued to beat the man who had fought so hard to save their lives. This only brought Vergo’s attention back to him. Roma threw her body over her brother’s to try and shield him, but that did nothing to stop Vergo from attacking. His first kick forced her off of Law’s body, throwing her a few feet away. From there, he beat Law within an inch of his life.
“Vergo-san, please don’t kill Law-kun! H-He tricked us! Corazon told us he was going to cure our sickness! He took us to a bunch of hospitals. We didn’t know he was a Marine!” At this point, Roma no longer cared that she was telling blatant lies about how much she knew. It was all so she and Law could survive. That was what Corazon had wanted. That was why she had been fighting for over two and a half years. Sadly, Roma’s pleas were left unanswered as Vergo landed a well-placed blow to the head that left her unconscious. When she finally came to, she realized that Corazon had been mobile enough to escape with both her and Law. She groggily turned her head to see her brother was still out cold with multiple injuries. Corazon was looking up to the sky at something, but Roma couldn’t be bothered to try and figure out what it was. All she could tell was that it looked kind of like a birdcage, though she couldn’t tell why Corazon looked so perturbed by the sight of it.
“Cora-san,” Roma whispered as she tried to sit up. “I’m sorry for what I said to that Vergo bastard.” Corazon turned towards her with a faint smile, even though it was obvious how much pain he was in.
“Don’t worry about it Roma,” he answered. “You were just doing what I told you to, and that’s survive.”
“We won’t die here, right? Not after everything we’ve already done.”
“No. There has to be a way to save you two, but there’s no hope for me. Even after I die, don’t forget me, alright?” Roma could feel tears burning in her eyes and she quickly scrubbed them away and nodded. She knew she would never forget Corazon for as long as she lived. “Good. Let’s wake up your brother.” Roma leaned over and shook Law’s shoulder, trying to rouse him. She glanced over at Corazon as he leaned over her brother and put on a wide grin for the both of them. It made her sad to see how hard he was working to save them, only to know he wouldn’t survive. Roma was certain she and Law would someday find a way to repay Corazon for all he’d done for them. When Law finally awoke, he yelled out in surprise at seeing Corazon’s face.
“We’ve gotta go, Law-kun,” Roma insisted, making sure not to allow her voice to betray any of the internal pain she felt. She could cry later. Now was the time for survival.
And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
“Cora-san, where are we going to go? How do we get past Doflamingo’s cage?” Roma asked as she held on tightly to the man as he carried both her and Law on his back. She had initially tried to refused that he carry her on the grounds of the injuries he had received, but Corazon had insisted they could move faster if he carried the both of them.
“I have a plan to get you both out of here safely,” he answered and soon came upon a pile of wooden chests. “Listen up, you two. Pirates have this habit of taking their loot to their ships when they find it.”
“We know that already, Cora-san. We’re pirates too, you know.” The former executive chuckled as he set the both of them into a large, only partially full wooden chest.
“What I mean is that if you are in here, you’ll definitely get the chance to escape. So don’t miss it!”
“But what about you?” Law asked.
“Silly boy. Doffy’s target is you and your Ope Ope no Mi powers. And he’d use Roma to get to you, whether or not he knows you’re siblings, so she has to go with you. I’m still his brother by blood. Sure, he’ll get mad, but he won’t kill me.” Corazon rested a hand on each of their heads and uttered a single word to create a barrier of silence around them. “That’ll cancel out all the noise you two might make. Alright, let’s meet at the next town.” Law was smiling as he patted his hand against the edged of the wooden chest and no sound came forth. Roma still wasn’t entirely sure if Corazon was lying or not. After all, he’d told them repeatedly that he wasn’t a Marine, but they weren’t stupid enough to believe that. Not after all they’d witnessed. She was afraid Doflamingo would actually kill him.
“Hey, Law and Roma,” Corazon said, drawing their attention once more. He gave them a wide smile, just like he had when he’d awoken Law, and held up two fingers in a sign of victory. “I love you both.” Now Roma felt tears welling in her eyes, but before she or her brother could respond, the lid to the chest fell shut, leaving them both in complete darkness. Roma could feel Law shaking in laughter beside her and she quickly scrubbed at her eyes. The last thing she wanted was to worry him. They would have to save their tears for later. The two of them sat in silence for a long while, but eventually Law grew impatient with waiting and stood to try and open the chest.
“It won’t move,” he whispered. “It’s like there’s something on top.”
“Probably another chest,” Roma answered just as quietly, even though they still had the silent barrier to protect them. Soon, from outside, they could hear the sound of two gunshots, startling them both.
“Corazon went that way!” a voice yelled, and they immediately recognized it as Diamante.
“Corazon, why did you pretend to be mute?!” another voice demanded. This time it was Gladius.
“I don’t have anything to say to you people,” Corazon answered, his voice muffled through the wood blocking Law and Roma’s sight. They could hear the sounds of him being beaten by Gladius, and Law started trembling. Roma’s hand immediately reached for his and held on tightly.
“How dare you mock the young master?!”
“That’s enough, Gladius,” Diamante ordered. “He’ll die before the young master gets here if you keep that up.” Gladius laughed in response.
“It doesn’t matter! This one led all of us here so that we’d have an all-out war with the Marines!” More sounds of Corazon being beaten followed. “A sinful one, he is!” At that point, Law tried to push against the lid of the chest again, but to no avail. Roma sat completely still, listening in on the conversations being had. It pained her to hear what was happening to Corazon, and to know that he’d chosen this for their sake.
“Hey, the young master is here!” Diamante yelled.
“It’s been half a year, Corazon,” Doflamingo stated and Roma felt a shiver run up her spine. She could hear Corazon choke out a few coughs before he spoke. She heard some kind of a click, almost like a gun being cocked and hoped it wasn’t one being aimed at him.
“Marine Code 01746, Marine Base Commander Rosinante… Doflamingo, captain of the Donquixote Pirates, I infiltrated to stop the tragedy that you were about to cause. I am a Marine!” There was a loud thud on the chest and Roma and Law could tell that Corazon had leaned back to rest his head against the wooden barrier between them. Now, his voice was soft, so only the two of them would hear him. “I’m sorry I lied. I didn’t want you to hate me.”
“What are you talking about?! We knew all along!” Law yelled, though his voice wouldn’t reach the man who had saved their lives.
“Enough with the boring stuff!” Doflamingo yelled. “Answer two questions for me! Where is the Ope Ope no Mi? And were are Law and Roma?”
“I made Law eat the Ope Ope no Mi,” Corazon answered. “He’s an ability user now. And the two of them made it out of the cage already. They’re probably under protection now on a spy ship belonging to the Navy Base. There’s nothing you can do!”
“Young Master, it’s true!” Buffalo yelled. His voice sounded high above where Law and Roma were hiding. They figured he must have been flying with Baby 5 on his back, as was their usual method in battle. “We heard it just a while back that they’ve got someone, a boy!”
“Why didn’t you say that earlier?!” Doflamingo ordered.
“We didn’t think it’d be Law!”
“Which means Roma must be with him. Get it checked out immediately! I’ll undo the cage! Prepare the ship for sailing! If it’s true, then we’re sneaking onboard the Navy ship! We’ve got to take Law back!”
“Stop!” Corazon yelled. “What are you going to do after you’ve got them back?”
“What am I gonna do, you say? I’ll kill Roma for being as treacherous as you, dear brother. And now that he ate the Ope Ope no Mi, I think I’ll have to educate Law on the importance of dying for me!” Roma’s hand reached for her brother’s again while the both of them trembled. “Look at all this extra work you’ve given me. Why do you get in my way, Corazon? Why do you force me to kill my own blood-relative all over again?!”
“Cora-san… Will you really be alright?” Law asked, though he knew his words wouldn’t be heard.
“You won’t shoot me. You’re a lot like Father,” Doflamingo growled. Law started pounding against the wooden wall of the chest, but to no avail. He would not be heard, and he would not be able to save Corazon. From outside, Roma could hear Corazon shuffling to his feet.
“Law won’t listen to you, Doffy. ‘The boy who was destined to die in three years time’ has won! He’s no longer the Law who has lost himself, the boy who joined the ‘Crazy Pirates’. And neither is Roma. There is nothing they can gain from a sinner like you. Just let them go! They are free!” From within the chest, tears were beginning to fall from Law’s eyes and Roma was rubbing at her own face with the sleeve of her shirt. Suddenly, they heard the sound of a gun being fired once. Twice. Then three more times after that. Each shot shook Roma to the core while Law screamed and pounded on the interior of the wooden chest they were still hiding in. Corazon’s body slumped against the chest with a dull thud, and Roma felt her heart break all over again. She reached for Law as he continued to pound against the wood, and pulled him away from it.
“We have to escape, Law-Nii,” she whispered. She knew this would be the last time she truly could call him brother, the last time that nobody would ever be able to hear. “Cora-san wants us to live. We have to.”
A few short minutes later, they could feel the chest they were in being lifted. With the lid freed from whatever was holding it down before, the both of them snuck out before the chest could be brought onto Doflamingo’s ship. They walked through the snow-laden landscape, Law’s cries unable to be heard by the others as they ran. They both knew when the ‘spell’ Corazon had placed on them had worn off when they could hear Law’s wailing echoing off the destroyed buildings. At that point, Roma knew Corazon was dead, and they hadn’t been able to save him. He had died for their sake, and she was determined to continue to live, along with her brother. She wasn’t going to let Corazon’s sacrifice go in vain.
Roma leaned against the edge of the small ship she and her brother had managed to acquire in their time at sea together. It wasn’t much, but it had been a step up from the rescue boat they’d been using two years prior. Besides, they would not have been able to maintain a larger ship until they had gathered more crewmembers to help them. As it was, their current ship was well enough for the two of them.
“Roma, where are we at for supplies?” Law asked, and Roma fished into the pockets of her jeans to pull out a small black notebook that she kept all of her records in. Flipping through the pages, she quickly found her most recent entry.
“We’re doing alright on medical supplies, though we can never have too many bandages and disinfectants. Besides, that, we just need to get some food to restock the kitchen. Are you thinking of stopping by that island we saw on the map? It’s not much farther, right?” Law nodded in response and glanced over the notes his younger sister had written in her book. She smiled brightly at him, and for a moment it reminded Law of how things had been when they were children. Neither of them had ever been expected to live beyond the age of thirteen, but thus far they had lived to fifteen and fourteen, respectively. It was all thanks to Corazon. Law would never have been able to cure them of the Amber Lead Sickness without the Ope Ope no Mi that had been stolen and forced onto him. Since beginning her travels with her brother, Roma had taken to wearing a yellow half-sleeve shirt with an elaborate heart pattern stitched into it, in honor of Corazon.
“Once we land, I want you to go into town. You know exactly what we need.”
“Maybe I’ll be able to find us a stray while I’m at it,” Roma joked.
Upon landing on the small island in the North Blue, Roma left the ship to Law’s care and made her way into town with an empty sack thrown over her shoulder. She felt as though so much in her life had changed in her past two years at sea with her brother, and she knew she had Donquixote Rosinante, now that she knew that was actually his name, to thank for it. Her skin had completely lost the white patches that had been spread across her body since she was born, and she now had the even, tanned skin tone that she and Law had inherited from their father. Her hair had also lost the white wisps that had developed while traveling with the Donquixote Pirates, leaving her with a full head of dark hair that carried faint blue highlights in the sunlight. The most incredible thing of it all, however, was simply the fact that she was alive. Prior to Rosinante saving them, Roma was expected to die a year ago. Instead, she was walking proudly and very much alive, traveling alongside her older brother. It hadn’t been exactly what they had planned when they were children growing up in Flevance, but it was better than they had originally hoped for.
“H-Hey! Get back here!” someone screamed as two figures ran past Roma. She was more than a little surprised when the first, a very large man of clearly commendable strength, turned and punched his pursuer square in the stomach. The smaller of the two men collapsed to the ground while the first continued on his mad dash away with something that glittered in the sunlight hanging from one of his hands. Roma glanced over the man who had been hit, gauging whether or not she was needed. She quickly realized that he was not so much a man as he was a boy, perhaps right around her age, with a lanky form and messy red hair that reached his shoulders. An oversized blue casquette hat with a red brim covered much of that hair. The boy wobbled to his feet, holding his stomach in pain and glanced around for the man he’d been pursuing. “Dammit!”
“You shouldn’t fight someone bigger than you like that,” Roma said nonchalantly with a shrug of her shoulders. “If you don’t think you can defeat someone, or find a clever way to undermine them, then you’re wasting your time.”
“You don’t understand!” the boy protested. “He took something that belonged to my mother!”
“So? Replace it. It’s a thing, not a person.”
“It is all my family has left of her.” Now Roma felt a bit guilty for what she’d said. She could understand that kind of sentimentality. It was the reason why Law still wore his white, spotted hat. It was all either of them had left from their childhood before the White City was burned. She said nothing in response. “What do you care anyway?”
“I don’t,” Roma answered immediately. “Or, well, I didn’t. You want to get back whatever that guy stole, right?”
“Of course I do!”
“Well, you can’t fight him by yourself. You’ll have to outsmart him.”
“Are you saying you’ll help me? Thanks! My name is Shachi!”
“I’m Roma,” she answered with a smile. “But I never said I’d help you.” At the boy’s crestfallen expression, Roma broke into a full-on grin and lightly punched his shoulder. “You look like a lost-puppy. Fine, I’ll help. But I’m not kicking anyone’s ass for you. If we get found out, you’ll have to do that. You sure you’re up for that, Shachi-kun?” The boy in question stood up straight, and Roma could see a fire in his eyes. It had actually surprised her to see how serious he was about this. Roma was willing to fight if it came down to it, though she hoped it wouldn’t. She didn’t want to dirty her hands in something that wasn’t really any of her business. It would only irritate her brother.
“I’ll do whatever it takes!” Shachi declared and Roma couldn’t help the smirk that fell across her lips. The teenager before her seemed to have a strong resolve, at least in this moment. Perhaps he could be the stray she’d joked about finding.
“Let me finish what Captain-kun sent me to do, and I’ll help.”
“Captain? Are you a pirate?” Roma winked playfully.
“Maybe,” she answered with a wink. “Hope that’s not a problem. If it is, too bad. I’m in on this now.” Roma turned and began walking towards the various shops set up around town. Shachi was pensive as he walked alongside her. Roma conducted her business as though he weren’t there, with the exception of the occasional glance to see if he was still with her. On the way back to the ship, he finally spoke up.
“Not that I don’t appreciate it, but why do you care? You’re a pirate. What do you care about some guy on an island you’re passing through?” he asked. Roma shrugged her shoulders. She wasn’t in any mood to explain her history to a complete stranger. In fact, she was certain she would never speak of Flevance again except with her brother.
“I never told you for certain that I’m a pirate. I was a member of a pirate crew, though. You said whatever that guy stole was important to you, right? It’s your treasure?” Shachi nodded. “Pirates steal treasure.”
“Y-You can’t keep it!”
“You’ll have to convince me not to. It looked pretty shiny. Bet I could make some money from selling it.”
“I won’t let you!”
“No.” Roma rolled her eyes at her brother’s firm response upon seeing Shachi follow her back to the ship. She hadn’t even been able to explain why he was following her in the first place.
“Captain-kun, don’t be such a stick in the mud,” she answered cheekily. “At least let me tell you what’s going on.”
“Why is he here?”
“Because he’s trying to steal something that was taken from him, and I decided to help.”
“We don’t need anybody who can’t fight for themselves.”
“I didn’t ask for help,” Shachi interjected at this point, unhappy with how he was being spoken about as if he weren’t there. “Roma-chan offered and I’m not stupid enough to turn down someone who wants to help.” Law’s eyes narrowed at the affectionate name already being used on his sister from this complete stranger, and he huffed out a sigh.
“I’m not getting involved, and we’re setting sail at dawn. Roma, you had better be back by then, with or without your new friend.” Roma beamed brightly at her older brother and gave him an affectionate nudge with her elbow.
“Cheer up, Captain-kun. You can count on me.” With that, Law went back below deck to leave his sister and Shachi to their planning.
“Is he always like that?” Shachi asked once he was out of sight and Roma chuckled.
“Only on a good day,” she teased. “Now let’s get started on planning your counter attack.”
The setting of the sun provided the cover Shachi and Roma would need to sneak into the tavern the bandit would often go to gloat over his victories. Shachi had told Roma that the man’s name was Kalen, and that he was well known on the island for his thievery, and his brute strength. He was also infamous for his insatiable thirst, especially after he had success in stealing something of great value. It was highly likely that he would still be drinking and boasting about his skill, though all he’d really done was catch a grieving teenage boy off-guard. That had been enough for Roma to decide Kalen wouldn’t be much of a threat. Nor would he be someone she would consider for her crew.
Once night fell, Roma and Shachi made their way to the back of the local tavern, where Roma hoisted Shachi up so he could climb to the roof. He pulled her up behind him. The upper part of the tavern was easy enough to climb into, thanks to a few windows that had been situated high up for ventilation purposes. Roma and Shachi balanced their way over the rafters, high above where anybody would think to look, and where the shadows could still hide them. Shachi easily spotted Kalen down below, guffawing loudly in between mugs of alcohol. The scent of it made Roma’s nose pinch in disgust. She’d never much cared for the smell of grog. Surrounding Kalen were a handful of men, each congratulating him on his newfound treasure, a very valuable-looking necklace made of gold and decorated with what appeared to have been rubies. Had she not needed to remain silent, Roma would have given a low whistle at the sight of it. It certainly would have been worth quite a large sum of money. Perhaps she and Law would have been able to purchase a better ship with it.
From the high vantage point, Roma could see everything in the tavern and easily direct Shachi on the best way to reach his stolen treasure. While all the patrons were too drunk to notice, and all the staff too busy to care, Shachi lowered himself down from the rafters behind the cover of a large banner. Roma had briefly scanned it to see that it was commemorating some holiday on the island. It didn’t really matter to her except for the fact that it was useful. Retrieving the trinket had actually been a far simpler task than Roma had expected, seeing as how easily Shachi blended himself in with the crowd. Nobody noticed him as he snuck up to the table behind Kalen, stole the necklace back, and snuck back behind the banner where he climbed back up to the rafters. From there, the two of them retraced their steps outside again and walked leisurely down the main road of the village. Shachi had stuffed the necklace into the pocket of his sweatshirt, where it was safely out of sight. He was wearing a wide, bright grin on his face, and it made Roma smile.
“You look happy to have your mother’s necklace back,” she stated, tucking her hands into the pockets of her jeans. “You’re lucky I wasn’t the one to go grab it. You might not have gotten it back.”
“You wouldn’t have done that,” Shachi answered easily. “If you were going to take it from me in the first place, you would have insisted on going down there to steal it.”
“How do you know I wasn’t just making you do my dirty work? I was a pirate, after all. I could probably swindle that off you before you would even notice.”
“But you won’t.” Now Roma raised an eyebrow as she looked over at the boy her age.
“What makes you so certain?” she asked, to which he smiled brighter.
“I can just tell.” Roma smiled softly at Shachi’s trust in her, but before she could open her mouth to respond, something solid hit her in the back of the head, pitching her forward. She fell to the ground with a grunt, and Shachi whirled around to see that Kalen had found the both of them. “Uh-oh.”
“Thought you little shits could get away, huh?” Kalen demanded as he cracked his knuckles. Roma glanced around and saw the large rock he had clearly thrown at the back of her head a moment prior. “Looks like I’ll have to show you what happens to people who steal from me.” Roma growled and scrambled to her feet.
“Shachi-kun! Get out of here, now!” Instead of heeding her words, Shachi stood in front of Roma in a starting position that she recognized from all her training with Lao G. It appeared as though Shachi had had at least some training in martial arts, though the question then became how adept he was at it.
“You said I’d have to fight for myself, Roma-chan. I won’t let you do it for me,” he answered firmly, only for Kalen to laugh in his face.
“You think a pipsqueak like you can fight me off by yourself?” Even as the brute asked this, three more men came from behind the nearby buildings. Roma recognized all of them as being around Kalen while he was boasting in the tavern. Roma immediately reached for her throwing knives, wishing to end this brawl as quickly as possible. She’d promised her brother to return by dawn and knew that would not happen if these men managed to kill or capture her and Shachi.
Kalen took that moment to lunge towards Shachi, and the younger of the two reached back to push Roma out of the way while he narrowly dodged the attack. From that point, the other three men leapt forward to join in the fray, two of them going after Shachi while the third aimed straight for Roma. She thought it was a cowardly act, to gang up on one boy with three fully grown men. Roma dug one of her blades into the shoulder of the man reaching for her and kicked him away without much thought before turning to help Shachi.
“No!” the teenaged boy yelled, even as one of the men landed a solid punch to the side of his face. Shachi stumbled, but managed to remain on his feet. “I can do this myself! I won’t make you fight my battles for me!” Roma scoffed and jumped in to fend off one of his attackers anyway.
“There’s no shame in accepting the help that is offered to you, Shachi-kun. You even said you weren’t stupid enough not to,” she answered as she drew out two more throwing knives and flung them into the skin of another man. In the follow-through, Kalen swung his arm and knocked Roma to the ground for a second time. She gasped for breath from having the wind knocked out of her and struggled to rise. Before she could get off her hands and knees, a boot pressed firmly on her spine and forced her back into the dirt.
“Stay out of this, girl,” Kalen spat. “This is a man’s fight.” Fuck that was the first thought to cross Roma’s mind as she tried to push back against the boot weighing heavily on top of her. It was to no avail and Roma could only watch as Shachi fought alone against two men while Kalen kept her pinned to the ground. One of the men she’d hit with her knives had been able to stand back up and continue fighting, much to her chagrin. The fighting continued in much the same manner, with Shachi struggling to hold his own against two men twice his size, and Roma fighting simply to breathe underneath the oversized man standing on her back. Shachi wavered on his feet, and Roma wasn’t sure how much longer he would last, despite his will to fight for not only his mother’s necklace, but for Roma’s sake. Every chance he had, he tried to lunge for Kalen, only to be stopped by one of his men.
“Room.” The single word surprised Roma for a moment, as she hadn’t been expecting a rescuer to come for them, but she immediately broke out into a grin.
“Captain-kun, I’m surprised,” she called out despite the weight bearing on her lungs.
“This is why I told you not to get involved,” Law answered as he walked into view. He had an amused smirk on his lips and Roma knew he wasn’t particularly cross with her. With a flick of Law’s wrist and the utterance of a single word, Kalen suddenly switched places with Shachi just as one of his men was throwing another punch. Shachi, in return, fell backwards onto the ground, his eyes wide in shock, while Roma finally stood.
“Captain-kun will take care of them now, so you don’t have to worry, Shachi-kun.” The boy, in return, scrambled back to his feet and pointed an accusing finger at Law.
“This is my fight!” he declared, surprising both Law and Roma. She could see the blood trickling down the side of his head, and had seen how many times he had been hit in the course of the fight. Why was he so insistent on doing this on his own? Had it really been her words from when she agreed to help him? “I don’t care if you want to take out the other two, but leave Kalen to me!”
“Join my crew,” Law answered. “If you do that, then I’ll let you take their leader.” At this, Roma turned to stare wide-eyed at her brother while Shachi nodded enthusiastically. She hadn’t expected her brother to have a change of heart about taking on a new crewmember. Clearly he had seen something in Shachi now that he had not before. “Roma take down the other two. Leave the leader to our new crewmate.”
“With pleasure, Captain-kun.”
In the two years that followed since recruiting Shachi to their fledgling crew, Law and Roma had managed to accumulate a fair number of crewmembers. Most notable amongst those were Penguin and Bepo. Penguin was a young man, perhaps only a year or so older than Law, whom they had found on an island that specialized in slave trade. He’d been one of the few who had managed to escape the labor camps and had been surviving on his own. Law and Roma had liberated the entire slave population, and given them the option of joining their crew. Penguin had been the first to step forward, as well as two others from the island. The rest had simply wished to live in peace now that the slave traders had been taken out. Bepo, on the other hand, had met the crew when he followed Law back to the ship one day after he’d been exploring a frozen wasteland of an island in the North Blue. Roma had been more than a little surprised to see a young, talking polar bear follow her brother, but Bepo was quickly welcomed into their crew and became one of the most prominent members. After acquiring so many crewmates, the Law and Roma gathered the resources for a new ship, of Law’s own design. It was a large yellow submarine, the first of it’s kind in that it could travel underneath the water without the use of a resin coating from the Sabaody Archipelago. The new ship was large enough to accommodate the whole crew, with room to spare, and housed an operating room of considerable size. Despite Law’s insistence that their ship didn’t need a name, Roma had decided to call it Kintsukuroi. She had named it after a foreign word she’d heard in their travels, meaning ‘golden repair’. Roma had thought it rather fitting, given the color of the ship and the fact that it was owned by two skilled, albeit young, doctors.
After traveling with her brother two years after finding their first crewmember in Shachi, Roma was sixteen years old and vice-captain to her brother’s ship, though they did not call themselves by any given name at this point. For the time being, Law and Roma were simply survivors, fleeing from Doflamingo for as long as they could. They were not pirates in their own right, not yet. Law had explained to Roma that it would be some time before they would declare themselves as such. For now, they were travelers, and Roma was perfectly content with that.
Roma was interrupted in her work maintaining the ship one day by her brother approaching her with one hand behind his back. She glanced him over with an upraised eyebrow and tried to side step around him to see what he was hiding. Law, in response, shifted to keep whatever object he had hidden behind his back.
“Don’t be unfair, Law-kun,” Roma pouted playfully. “You can’t approach me with something hidden and then refuse to let me see what it is.”
“You’re so childish at times,” her brother answered with a laid-back grin as he finally removed his hand from behind his back to reveal what he’d brought to show her. Roma’s eyes widened at the sight of an oddly shaped, dark red fruit in his hands. It bore a strange swirling pattern that was familiar to Roma. It was a Devil Fruit.
“Law-kun… where did you get that?”
“I stole it from a few pirates who were in my way. According to them, it’s worth a lot of money. They called it the Doki Doki no Mi.”
“And you’re giving it to me?”
“I can’t eat it, and I know you can use it. It was the same fruit eaten by Bloody Anne of the Whitebeard Pirates, who died in battle last year.”
“She had complete control over her blood, and was even able to weaponize it. She was considered to be one of the most powerful women in the Whitebeard Crew.”
“She didn’t have the medical knowledge you do. You’ll be able to do more.” Roma took the fruit from her brother’s hands and smiled brightly at him.
“Thank you, Law-kun. You didn’t have to do that.”
With that, she bit into the horribly bitter fruit. It took a fair amount of her willpower not to gag on the first bite. After a few minutes, she finally managed to eat the entire thing. She waited for a moment, but didn’t feel any different than she had before and thought it was all very anticlimactic. She waited in silence for a moment while her brother leaned against the wall, waiting patiently for her to speak. After another moment, she gasped at a new sensation.
“Well?” Law asked.
“I can feel my blood flowing,” Roma murmured in response. “Not just my pulse like normal. I can actually feel the blood flowing through my veins. I think, with enough practice, I could even alter the direction of the blood flow. It wouldn’t be a wise decision unless I were in a state of near-dying, but I think I could do it.” At this, Law smirked.
“You’ll do well with that Devil Fruit ability.”
In the first month that followed after eating the Doki Doki no Mi, Roma had discovered the inevitable drawbacks that came with a Devil Fruit that allowed her to manipulate her blood. She was left far more susceptible to diseases, due to her blood coming into contact with the various contaminants of the world outside her body whenever she made use of it. Roma was fortunate that both she and her brother were well versed in their medical knowledge and that any disease she could not extract from her blood, Law could. It had also not taken very long for Roma to learn that she could become fatigued more easily after using her ability, even after drawing the all of the blood she used back into her body. They learned very quickly that Roma’s alcohol tolerance drastically decreased from the moment she ate her Devil Fruit, and they could only speculate it was because her blood was no longer suited to allow her to absorb alcohol at a normal rate. The greatest surprise by far, however, came over a month after Roma had eaten the Doki Doki no Mi and gained its power.
“The papers never mentioned this,” Roma said to her brother as she sat in their share office. The walls were lined with bookshelves filled with medical textbooks that the two of them had accumulated over the years and studied from. She was staring down at a calendar, checking the dates for a third time to be sure she had not made a mistake in her calculations.
“What’s that?” Law asked, his tone largely disinterested as he reached for the next volume in their library.
“I won’t menstruate anymore.” Law’s hand froze on the spine of a book as he glanced at his younger sister.
“Care to repeat that.”
“I’m not menstruating. I was supposed to two weeks ago, and I’m obviously not pregnant.” Roma had the passing thought that if this conversation were with anyone else, she would not have been comfortable having it. But both she and her brother were doctors, and this was a medical discussion.
“And there isn’t a chance you’ve simply missed one?”
“There’s a slim chance,” Roma answered. “I’ll let you know if it persists, but if I’m right, I may be left sterile.”
“That wasn’t a side effect I had predicted. I’m sorry.” Roma shrugged her shoulders with a lazy smile and leaned back in her chair. She stretched, her spine popping as she realigned the bones.
“It doesn’t particularly bother me. It was unexpected, but I’m still fine with the outcome. The inability to conceive doesn’t outweigh the benefits of my Devil Fruit abilities.” At this point, she winked playfully. “It just means that if anyone else is to carry our name, and the secret Will, it will have to be from you. I’d love to be an aunt.” At this, Law frowned and turned back to the book he’d been reaching for.
“Don’t hold your breath.”
By the time Law had reached the age of twenty-four, and Roma twenty-three, the crew they had amassed from ragtag survivors had come to be known as the Heart Pirates and made a name for themselves. They had only been named as pirates for a year at that point, but they were at the center of a major attack against the Marines. It had been enough to land their captain with a bounty of two hundred million beri and earn him the epithet “Surgeon of Death”. Roma, in the same respect, had been slapped with a bounty of eighty-five million beri. The epithet “Bleeding Heart” was what the Marines had taken to calling her, though she detested it. Roma could frequently be heard complaining at the unoriginality of her title. Eventually, the time came for them to head towards the New World on the opposite side of the Red Line. This led the Heart Pirates to the Sabaody Archipelago, where they came upon other rookie pirates with bounties of over one hundred million beri. It hadn’t taken much exploring among the groves for Law and Roma to find themselves intrigued by the brawling of two of the so-called Supernovas. They recognized the two fighters as Urouge, captain of the Monks of Destruction Pirates, and Killer, a member of the Kid Pirates.
“I’d put money on Killer,” Roma commented offhandedly as she leaned with one arm against her brother’s shoulder as he sat atop a wooden crate. Shachi, Penguin, Bepo and a few other members of their crew stood around them, watching on wordlessly. The fun was put to an end when another Supernova, Captain X Drake of the Drake Pirates, forced the other two apart.
“If you want to do this, wait until you are in the New World!” he ordered the both of them.
“That was a pretty good show,” Law stated, speaking for the first time since he’d sat down to watch the fight. “But Drake, how many men have you killed?” The captain of the Drake Pirates scowled and turned away without a word. Roma chuckled as she watched him go.
“Looks like you got under his skin, Captain-kun.”
After the exchange with the other Supernovas, Law and Roma had ordered the majority of their crew to return to the ship, bringing only those with the strongest will with them. Shachi, Penguin and Bepo had proven time and again in the past that their willpower was beyond that of the average human, making them the best fit to accompany their captain and vice-captain through the Archipelago. The last thing they wanted was to encounter someone who had the ability to use that rare brand of haki that left those with a weak constitution unconscious. Their wandering eventually brought them to the Human Auction House, and the thought of it made Roma want to throw up. She could see the way Penguin tensed as they neared the building, but he remained silent. She knew it must have brought back horrific memories from before he’d joined them. At Penguin’s mild hesitation upon entering the building, Roma rested a hand on his shoulder. The gesture seemed to calm him, because Penguin let out a slow breath and gave his vice-captain faint smile.
“This is owned by Joker, isn’t it?” Roma asked her brother as they crossed the threshold. Law nodded and gestured towards a few seats in the rear of the large auditorium. The auction house consisted of a single stage far in front of them, and the rest of the building was designed to seat as many bidders as possible. Roma sat beside her brother in one of the benches, while Shachi, Penguin and Bepo seated themselves behind the siblings.
“This place gives me the creeps,” Shachi commented lowly, leaning forward so he wouldn’t be overheard by too many people.
“Perhaps we can buy the freedom of another crewmember.” Roma’s tone was flippant, but the look she gave Penguin spoke volumes. She knew he was uncomfortable here, but was determined to assure him that there would be nothing to take him away from their crew. Shortly before the auction was set to take place, Roma overheard a voice from somewhere behind them.
“There’s a familiar face.” She glanced over her shoulder to see Eustass Kid, captain of the Kid Pirates, with three members of his crew. One was Killer, whom Roma recognized from the earlier fight. The other two weren’t particularly well known like their captain or Killer, but were easily recognizable. One resembled a voodoo doll in many ways, given the tattoos that made him look stitched together, particularly at the lips. The other man was the tallest of the present Kid Pirates, standing nearly a meter taller than their captain and wearing an attire that Roma would not have expected, considering he had fishnet stockings on his legs. “North Blue’s two hundred million bounty. Trafalgar Law… I’ve heard some pretty bad rumors about you.” Law paid him no mind. “Your manners are lacking too.” To this, Roma rolled her eyes while her brother flipped Kid off with little regard.
“We don’t need to pick a fight here, Law-kun,” Roma muttered.
The auction soon came to a start, and Roma suddenly wished they hadn’t come in the first place. The leading man, Disco, paraded each person across the stage and worked to get the highest bid possible. It disgusted her to watch it, even more so when she saw the people who were making wagers. They were members of the Tenryuubito, the proverbial gods on land. She remembered Corazon telling her and Law about them when they were young, and how those with the Will of D were considered to be enemies of God. She sincerely hoped he had been correct and that she would be given the opportunity to destroy the pedestals the Tenryuubito placed themselves upon. Disco brought out another young beauty, a dancer by the name of Pashia, and prattled on about her merits as entertainment. Roma felt the bile rise in her throat at the man’s words, and she was brought back to the time Doflamingo had told her and Law about how he dealt in the black market. His name was all over this, and she wondered what would have become of her if they hadn’t managed to escape from his grasp. Doflamingo had said he would have killed Roma for her treachery, but somehow she thought being sold as a slave to be a worse fate, and exactly the sort of punishment he would use on her. The mere thought of Doflamingo sent her mind flying into the past, even before they had joined the Donquixote Pirates and the horrors they had born witness to as children. Her hands grew cold and her breathing shallow while her arms hugged her own torso.
“Roma,” Law murmured sternly, draping an arm over her shoulders and pulling her near. The sound of his voice and his familiar scent acted as her anchor as she brought herself back to the here and now. Roma took a deep breath through her nose and exhaled slowly.
“I’m sorry, Law-kun,” she whispered. “I was lost in thought for a moment.”
“Stay focused. None of that will happen here.” Roma knew her brother didn’t even need to ask where her mind had wandered. They’d experienced the same things, and he had learned to understand her without words. “Don’t fall silent again.” Roma did her best to give a carefree smirk.
“You’ll never get me to shut up, Captain-kun.”
During the course of the auction, Roma’s attention was caught by a Tenryuubito man who entered late. He seemed to be the son of the noble family that had come to attend the auction. Roma thought he was a disgusting man, with the way he stood with snot dripping from his nose and how he picked at it through the bubble-like helmet that all of the Tenryuubito wore to separate themselves from the air ‘commoners’ breathed. She clenched her jaw as he kicked the slave he’d ridden in on and demanded the person be sold away arbitrarily. Law’s expression had set into one of disdain as well, though neither of them would act. Now was not the time, much as they would have liked to. A former pirate captain by the name of Rakyuba was taken to the stage in chains, just like all the other people for sale, and Disco prattled aimlessly on his uses. Roma could see the way Rakyuba swayed on his feet and saw the blood trickling from his lips before anybody else took notice. He’d bitten his own tongue and collapsed in mere moments. Roma took what little solace she could in the knowledge that he’d still been able to die a pirate, rather than a slave. Disco lied his way through the removal of the body, stating that Rakyuba had suffered from an intense nosebleed, while a large object covered in a white sheet was wheeled forward.
“I thought they only sold people here,” Roma whispered. “Who are they hiding under that sheet?” A light shone brightly through the sheet, giving off the silhouette of a mermaid and Roma’s jaw dropped. Disco finally removed the tarp to reveal that there was, indeed, a young female mermaid chained inside a large bowl filled with water.
“All the way from Fishman Island, Camie the mermaid!” he exclaimed, earning thunderous cheering from the crowd. Before anybody could make a single move, the World Noble who had arrived late stood up.
“I’ll pay five hundred million beri!” he shouted and the room fell silent as everyone realized they could never outbid or defy a member of the Tenryuubito. As the bidding came to an official close, the sudden sound of someone yelling from outside could be heard. Suddenly, the main doors to the auction house were blown in, and were followed very quickly by the captain of the Strawhat Pirates, Monkey D. Luffy. Law and Roma had read in the papers how wild he was, but they soon realized that they really didn’t have a clue how unpredictable the young pirate was. With him was the other Supernova from his crew, Roronoa Zoro, and a man who was unrecognizable. Law assumed he was not a pirate, or at least not one of any merit.
Strawhat Luffy ran forward to save the mermaid, presumably a friend of his, and a fishman who resembled an octopus made an attempt to stop him. Luffy, of course, broke free and continued his sprinting down the staircase while everyone watched on in either fear or curiosity. Workers in the action house tried to stop him, but they didn’t make much headway until the sound of gunfire could be heard. Roma’s gaze turned away from the wild young pirate and back to the fishman who was now on the ground, bleeding from his chest. Standing over him with a smoking gun was the World Noble Charloss who had wanted to buy Camie. Catburglar Nami of the Strawhat Pirates cried out for the octopus-like man, Hachi, while Camie cried below and banged her fists against the glass of her prison. Not a sound could be heard beyond the giant fish bowl.
“Father, look!” Charloss exclaimed. “I caught him so he’s free, right? Take him away! I got a fishman slave for free!” Roma gritted her teeth at the man’s words and the way he leapt happily around Hachi on the stairs. She noticed Luffy walking forward, his hands balled into fists and her eyes widened. Surely he wouldn’t make an attempt to fight against Charloss, she thought. Everyone was too afraid to go against the Tenryuubito, and those who weren’t simply didn’t want to deal with having the Marines hunt them down at every turn. Hachi reached up and grabbed Luffy by the wrist.
“Wait, Strawhat,” he insisted, though his breath was wheezing. He would need medical attention soon, Roma knew. She could only assume the bullet had pierced his lung. “You can’t. Don’t get mad. It was my fault. You promised that even if someone were shot before your eyes, you wouldn’t go against the Tenryuubito. I’m a pirate anyway. I’ve done bad things. This is my punishment.” More haggard breathing came from the fishman on the floor. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for this to happen.” He continued with his apologies for any and all of the things he had done in the past.
“You damn fish! I shot you but you’re still talking! You piss me off!” At this point, Luffy’s attention turned back to the World Noble and he began ascending the stairs again. Another of his friends screamed for him to stop, but he paid them no heed.
“He’s actually going to do it?” Penguin whispered from behind them. It had been the first time he’d spoken since they’d arrived at the auction house, and he sounded more than a little hopeful. Roma couldn’t help but smile.
“You piss me off too!” Luffy yelled as he punched Charloss square in the jaw, sending the World Noble flying backwards. In his path, he destroyed a number of the empty benches in the back of the auditorium. The vast majority of the crowd stared on in shock, but all Roma could do was beam brightly. She’d longed to see one of those bastards get what was coming to them, and only wished she’d been the one to do it first.
“I’ll assume we can’t join in on this yet,” she said to her brother, who couldn’t hide the amusement from his face at the sight of a Tenryuubito getting what he deserved.
“Not yet. It’s too early for us to let the world know our Will,” her brother answered. “Let Strawhat-ya take the limelight for now.”
“Sorry guys,” Luffy said as he adjusted his signature hat. “I heard if they hit that guy, they’d call in a Marine Admiral.”
“Thanks to you sending him flying, I couldn’t cut him myself,” Zoro answered, his hand on the hilt of one of his swords. Roma couldn’t help the laughter that, and didn’t care who stared at her. She was absolutely certain that the Strawhat Pirates were every bit as crazy as the newspapers had suggested, if not more, and she loved it. They simply did not care what the world had defined as standard action and clearly did whatever they pleased. Theirs was truly the pirate way. While the rest of the Strawhats worked on following through with rescuing their mermaid friend, the father of Charloss stood atop the benches and started firing his pistol wildly.
“How dare you commoners touch my son?!” he demanded. “We are the descendants of the creator of this world! Do you know what will happen because you attacked us?!” Before he could fire another shot, Blackleg Sanji had managed to get in close enough to kick the pistol from his hands. While he created a distraction, a few other members of the Strawhat crew ran to try and free Camie. A fight broke out between the pirates and the guards in the room, while all of the other patrons of the auction house fled the building. More Strawhat Pirates fell through the ceiling, one landing on top of Charloss’ father and knocking him unconscious. Luffy called for his nakama to hurry and free Camie because the Marines would be coming now that they’d attacked the Tenryuubito and Roma barked out another laugh.
“The Marines are already here, Strawhat-ya,” Law told him from where he and the rest of his crewmembers were still seated.
“Who are you? And what’s with the bear?” Luffy asked when he turned to see them.
“The Marines have been here since the auction started. They’ve surrounded the auction house. After all, they have a headquarters right here on this archipelago. I don’t know who they wanted to catch, but I’m sure they never dreamed that someone would actually attack a Tenryuubito.”
“Though I can’t say I’m disappointed that you did,” Roma added with a lopsided grin.
“You’re Trafalgar Law,” Nico Robin, another Strawhat, stated as she recognized the captain. “And his first mate, Roma. Luffy, those two are pirates.” Law chuckled in response.
“You’ve shown me something interesting, Strawhats,” he said.
In all the commotion, a loud scream was heard and Roma turned her attention back to the stage where Princess Shalulia, the last Tenryuubito in the auction house, was pointing her pistol at the mermaid Camie. At some point, the top of the mermaid’s glass prison must have been sliced open so her voice could carry. Each of the Strawhats was immediately poised to strike, but none had the chance as the female noble. collapsed to the ground while and old man walked onto the stage. A giant appeared behind him, ripping the banner at the back of the stage as he came into view. The guards quickly began barking orders to lock the both of them up again. The old man, seeming to know Hachi, quickly gathered what had taken place and glanced around the auction house. In the next instant, Roma felt a wave wash over her that she knew was a powerful haki. It was Haoshoku Haki, based upon the way nearly everybody in the auction house fell unconscious and collapsed to the ground while foaming at the mouth. Roma glanced behind her to ensure that the other three members of her crew were still awake, and was pleased to see them all standing at this point.
“I’ve been waiting to meet you, Monkey D. Luffy,” the old man said. Roma took a closer look at him and her eyes widened as she realized who he was. His name was Silvers Rayleigh, and he had once been the vice-captain to the infamous Gold Roger.
“Th-That was close,” Shachi mumbled from where he was. “I blacked out for a minute there.”
“If you withstood that so easily, then you guys aren’t lightweights either.”
“I never thought I’d meet someone like you in a place like this,” Law answered the old man. That much was absolutely true. Nobody would have thought to see Silvers Rayleigh standing in an auction house, about to be sold as one of the slaves. He was a man who was far too strong for that, and he’d already admitted to only wishing to steal money for his gambling habit. Roma had smirked at that. Once a pirate, always a pirate.
“The Lord of the Underworld, Silvers Rayleigh,” Eustass Kid started. “There’s no mistaking it. Why is a legendary man like you here?”
“On this island, I just own a coating shop,” Rayleigh answered. “And here, I’m called Ray. Don’t just go around calling me by that name. I’m an old man now, and would like to live a peaceful life.” From outside, they could suddenly hear the loudspeakers from the Marines calling out to them.
“Attention criminals! Release the Roswald family at once! Soon, an admiral will arrive! I suggest you surrender now! Otherwise, who knows what will happen to you, you rookies!”
“Looks like we’re involved now,” Law stated. “They totally think we’re accomplices.”
“I got to see just how crazy Strawhat Luffy is. No complaints here,” Kid answered. “But I’ll pass on taking on an admiral.”
“Ah, I won’t be using that power any more, so I’ll leave this to you guys,” Rayleigh said, his voice echoing in the emptied auction house. “It’ll just make my life harder if the Marines figure out who I really am.”
“The longer we wait, the more soldiers there are. I’ll be leaving first. We’ll even lend you guys a hand. We’ll clean up out front so you guys can rest easy.” Kid waved as he and his crew walked out, though he knew the kind of challenge his words would bring. Both Law and Luffy scowled darkly at the taunt as Kid retreated towards the exit of the auction house.
“You stay here. Roma, treat the fishman for his wounds. I’ll take care of this,” Law ordered as he rose to his feet and followed after Kid. Luffy was right alongside by the time the three of them left.
“They’re like children sometimes, I swear,” Roma said with a giggle before leaping over the benches and running towards the fishman who was still lying on the stairs. The Strawhat Pirates around him didn’t look quite so pleased for her to be approaching. “I’m a doctor. I’ll tend to his wounds.”
“How do we know you won’t harm him?” Catburglar Nami demanded.
“I’m as much against the World Government as you are. Your captain just punched out a Tenryuubito and I was grinning like a fool, if you didn’t see. I’d say we have similar goals, at least in this matter. Shachi-kun, I know you’re carrying some medical supplies. Bring them here, would you?”
“Yes, Roma-chan!” he answered and ran towards her, pulling out a small container of supplies that he’d been storing in his boiler suit that had become the standard uniform for the Heart Pirates, with the exception of Law and Roma.
“We need to get Hachi out of here and back to my workshop in Grove Three,” Rayleigh insisted. “We don’t have time.”
“He may not make it that far. I’ve been studying fishman anatomy, and I know that his wound needs treatment sooner rather than later. At least allow me to patch him up before you take him.”
“Only if you make it quick.” While Roma set to work, the other would-be slaves took the opportunity to escape out a back route from the auction house. It made her glad to know that they would be able to remain free men and women. Roma hurriedly dressed the wound in Hachi’s chest as the sound of mortars exploded from outside.
“Those won’t work on Captain,” Bepo murmured from where he was still standing with Penguin.
“You’re right, Bepo-kun. They won’t,” Roma answered with a chuckle. Even as she spoke, she finished wrapping Hachi well enough for transportation. “I’ll leave him to you, Old Man Silvers.”
“Old man?” Rayleigh repeated, but Roma ignored him completely as she turned back to her crew.
“Let’s go see how Captain-kun is doing. I want to get in on the action too!” Roma turned towards the main entrance of the auction house and made her way outside with the three members of her crew. Three members of the Strawhat crew joined them and they came upon the other three members of the Kid pirates as they neared the doorway. What they saw when they made it outside caused Shachi to let out a deep sigh.
“You went a little overboard, Captain.”
“Commodore! It looks like they’ve all come out! They’re trying to escape! Don’t look down on us, you little brats! Reinforcements are on the way!”
“We’ve secured the hostages at the rear entrance! Aim the mortars at the pirates without Devil Fruits!”
“Gun squad, to the back!”
“All soldiers attack at once! Take down those pirates!”
Every word coming from the Marines’ mouths infuriated Roma more and more. Her jaw clenched tightly while her lips curled into a scowl. She vaguely heard Penguin comment on the redness in her face, but couldn’t be bothered to care. Shachi came up beside her and moved to place a hand on her shoulder, but stopped when he saw the dark expression in her eyes.
“Vice-captain-chan?” he tried.
“I hate those who prey upon the weak. You boys do what you want, but I’m going to kill them.” Even as she spoke, Roma nicked her fingertips on the knife at her hip, drawing the blood from her body. A thin stream of the red liquid encircled her body while Marines warned each other to watch out for her. Shachi tensed, unused to seeing such a serious side to their vice-captain, but knew what course of action he would be taking. All of the Heart Pirates present would take part in the fight, and they would accept no less than victory. They all leapt into battle at the same moment that Law turned away from the fray and walked towards a very large man who was chained to the ground outside the auction house. Roma gave only the most fleeting of glances, knowing her brother was more than capable of handling himself, and noticed that the man he was approaching was the former pirate Captain Jean Bart. After only a brief discussion, Roma heard the sound of shackles falling.
“If you’ll free me from the Tenryuubito, I’ll gladly serve under you!” Jean Bart yelled as he knocked three more Marines away from Law. From that point, it took very little time for the combined power of the three pirate crews to take out all of the Marines in the immediate area and escape their grasp. From there, each crew went their separate ways, and Roma fell in line with her brother while Shachi, Penguin and Bepo followed behind with their newest crewmember.
“You killed twenty of them,” Law commented to his younger sister as they ran across the opposite end of the bridge Jean Bart had destroyed to keep the Marines off their trail.
“Only twenty?” Roma asked. “I had hoped it was more.”
“Save your bloodlust for our real targets.”
“Our real targets aren’t here, Law-kun, save for those Tenryuubito bastards. And we can’t touch them yet. Let me have this.” Shachi ran ahead to scout for them, since he was fastest, and he soon called out to them.
“Captain!” he yelled, pointing up ahead where smoke was clearing. “It’s Eustass and…” Shachi trailed off as the rest of them caught up to where he was, standing on an upraised tree root from the battlefield a short distance below. There, as Shachi had said, they saw the Kid Pirates fighting against a large man with a rigid face who wore attire that was covered in bear prints. He was none other than the Pirate Warlord Bartholomew Kuma.
“Why is a Shichibukai in a place like this?!” Law demanded when he laid eyes upon the man who must have had giant’s blood in running through his veins.
“Trafalgar Law,” was all Kuma said.
“You know my name, huh?” Rather than respond, Kuma opened his mouth and fired a beam of energy at the whole crew. Roma shoved back Shachi and Penguin while Law went in the opposite direction. Bepo and Jean Bart had been far enough back that they weren’t caught in the fire. Bepo called out for the captain, who appeared below as the smoke cleared.
“Marines are coming from behind!” Shachi exclaimed.
“It’s just bad luck that this guy is here,” Kid growled. “Trafalgar, you’re in the way!”
“Do you want to die?” Law asked the redheaded pirate captain. “I thought I told you not to order me around. Looks like today’s a day for meeting unexpected big names, and I don’t want to add an admiral on top of that. You’re going to let us pass, Bartholomew Kuma!”
The Kid Pirates launched into the attack first with a man wearing a helmet-like mask leaping forward and trying to attack with the pair of sickles attached to his wrist guards. Roma knew him as Killer, the second Supernova of the Kid Pirates. Kuma easily blocked the attacks with his large arms, seeming to take no damage from the hits. Another member of the Kid Pirates, the one who resembled a voodoo doll in many ways, ran forward and breathed fire on the warlord.
“How do you like that?” Killer yelled.” He’s burned to a crisp!” Much to their surprise, Kuma extinguished the fire engulfing his body with little effort.
“Back off, Kid Pirates!” Bepo ordered as he, Shachi and Penguin leapt forward and began attacking. Kuma knocked Shachi and Penguin away with ease, but Bepo was able to land more than a few blows. A powerful kick to Kuma’s leg however, left Bepo falling to the ground in pain. It appeared as though he had struck some kind of armor, though Kuma didn’t appear to be wearing any.
“Room.” Roma glanced at her brother and watched as the operating room came into existence around them. Just as Kuma was about to drive his fist into Bepo, Law used his Shambles technique to switch the polar bear with Jean Bart.
“Get up, Bepo-kun,” Roma ordered. “I’ll need your help shortly.” Jean Bart grappled with Kuma a short distance away, but Eustass Kid was growing impatient and said as much. With his Devil Fruit ability, he drew a large amount of metal to him, creating massive arms out of the scrap, and threw it at Kuma. Jean Bart only narrowly escaped by leaping back to where his new captain and vice-captain were standing.
“Wasting my time,” Kid said as he started to walk away from the scene of the fight.
“It’s not over yet, Eustass-ya,” Law told him. Even as he spoke, Kuma stood back up directly behind Kid.
“Guess that wasn’t enough, huh?” the other pirate captain began drawing more metal than before to his body, but Kuma simply removed one of his gloves and aimed his hand towards him. In the next instant, he realized a powerful laser beam not unlike the one he’d aimed from his mouth at Law a few moments prior. It created a devastating blast that all of the pirates only narrowly managed to escape.
“We can’t waste anymore time on him,” Roma said, all of the perkiness in her voice nearly gone at this point. “Bepo-kun.”
“Aye, aye!” the bear answered and leapt into the air as her brother created another Room for them to work in. While Bepo was still in the air, Roma sliced open her hand again and drew the blood forth. This time, however, she changed the consistency of it to be comprised mainly of the iron within her body, making a small, thin dagger that could not be broken. As soon as Bepo was close enough, Law switched the positions of the bear and his sister, allowing Roma to drive her dagger into Kuma’s eye. As she kicked off of him, the warlord swung his arm and threw Roma to the side. She landed a short distance from the rest of her crew, her back slamming into a tree before she hit the ground, and hefted herself back to her feet.
“You and your crew are in my way! Get lost already, Trafalgar,” Kid ordered hotly as Kuma stared down at him. “I’ll take care of this guy.”
“You’re the one that’s in the way, Eustass-ya,” Law answered. Kuma released another beam of energy from his mouth, but both pirate captains easily evaded it. Law positioned himself behind Kuma, on top of a hill. He created another operating room with his ability, but before it could finish expanding, Kuma shot a laser from his palm backwards. This forced Law to leap away to escape the blast.
“Can’t he do anything but lasers?” Roma asked irritably as she made her way back towards the rest of her crew. At that moment, the Marines that had been following them came of the horizon, calling for the captains of the two pirate crews.
“Dammit! Now even the Marines have arrived!” Penguin complained. “We can’t let them hold us off here forever!” All of the members of both the Heart and Kid Pirates made full-frontal attacks from that point. Roma leapt back into the fray, drawing upon her ability to attack Kuma with a whip made from her blood, but it didn’t seem to have any effect on the warlord. More explosions littered the battlefield while they fought against Bartholomew Kuma. The Marines quickly managed to catch up as well, leaving the pirates to fight from all sides against their enemies. It didn’t take long for all of them to feel the effects of the battle, Roma more so than the rest.
“Captain-kun,” she gasped out. “I’m at my limit. We need to get out of here.”
“I know, Roma!” Law snapped.
“If someone can get a good hit in, I can attack him from the inside.”
“You haven’t perfected that. Don’t use it here!” Before Roma could protest, Eustass Kid taunted the pirate warlord to look in his direction and used his ability to repel a large arm made of scrap metal. The attack sent Kuma flying into the air, only to fall headfirst to the ground, where he did not move.
“There’s no way he’d be able to get back up after being hit by an attack like that,” Kid said as he neared the body. He laughed heartily and threw his fist into the air. “We trashed one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea!”
“Bartholomew Kuma wasn’t any stronger than this?” Law wondered aloud. Roma wavered on her feet, her eyes body growing heavy. The fatigue was catching up to her, and she wasn’t sure how much longer she would remain conscious. Much to the pirates’ dismay, Kuma stood again. Only now, with the wounds delivered by Kid, they could all see mechanical parts from within his body.
“What the hell? This guy is an artificial human?!” Kid asked incredulously. Kuma aimed another laser from his hand at Kid, but Roma and Law leapt into action, Law with his nodachi and Roma with another dagger made from her blood. The Heart Pirate Captain teleported the both of them within the Room he created in that instant to land on top of Kuma. While Law shoved his sword into the wound that would be over the heart of the replica warlord, Roma dug her blade into the gash that was opened on the other side of its chest. She sent her blood flying into the mechanics, effectively short-circuiting them, before drawing the blood back into her body. The Bartholomew Kuma robot fell stiffly to the ground, and finally stopped moving.
“Finally,” Roma murmured. At this point, the fatigue from the battle finally caught up with her and she collapsed on the spot. Law shifted where he was standing so he could catch his sister before she hit the ground and settled her on his back to carry her.
“Why’d you interfere?!” Kid demanded. “Clearly your vice-captain couldn’t handle it.”
“You overestimated your own ability, Eustass-ya,” Law answered, ignoring the quip about his sister. It was obvious Kid didn’t know what he was talking about.
“Did you really think this guy was a Warlord?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“We’ve got some more company. We’ll talk afterwards.” At this point, the Marines charged forward, but Jean Bart had already begun to make quick work of them. Kid and Law began walking away from the scene of the battle together, Law carrying Roma on his back still. Once the Marines were disposed of, the rest of their crewmembers followed behind.
“Hey, Trafalgar!” Kid started once they had gotten a fair distance from where they had been fighting. “About what we were talking about earlier… What did you mean by that guy wasn’t a Warlord?” Before Law could answer, a large figure landed in front of them, bringing up a cloud of dust in its wake. “What now?!” As the dust cleared, the robotic Kuma leapt forward to attack again. The attack left Law and Kid both flying back, and Roma landed limply on the ground. Law knew his sister would not be fighting this battle.
“Shachi! Take her back to the ship! We’ll deal with him!” he ordered and his redheaded crewmember hurriedly ran to pick Roma off the ground. Before Kuma could launch another attack to stop him, Shachi attempted to run away from the scene with Roma in his arms and towards their ship. He didn’t make it far before a beam of energy knocked him backwards again.
Roma finally awoke nearly two hour later in her bed on the ship. Her head was pounding from having passed out on the battlefield and she cursed her luck. She hadn’t lost consciousness from fighting in quite some time, not since her first few times fighting with her Devil Fruit. She glanced around and saw Law sitting in the far corner, near the door, with a newspaper in one hand.
“What happened after I passed out?” Roma asked, her voice still slightly slurred from sleep. She pushed herself up into a sitting position in bed and realized someone had already wrapped the cuts on her hand. She could only assume it had been her brother, given how neatly the bandages were bound.
“The false Kuma attacked again. I ordered Shachi to take you back to the ship while the rest of us dealt with it. The robot stopped him, and Eustass-ya’s crewmate, Killer, brought you back instead.” Roma knew better than to ask how he had managed to defeat the artificial human. All that mattered was that he had and their crew was safe. One thing confused her about what her brother had said, though.
“I’m surprised Killer brought me back to our ship. Shachi-kun is agile enough.” Roma stared at her brother and noticed something more than exhaustion in his features. “You seem pensive, Law-kun.”
“You didn’t see the paper before. They’re going to execute Portgas D. Ace.”
When Roma had finally managed to convince her crew she was well enough to walk around the grove on her own, the first thing she had done was go shop for supplies. She had expected to have to keep out of sight of the Marines, given their antics the day before. What she hadn’t expected was to happen upon a member of a rival crew while she was out, least of all one of the Kid Pirates she had fought alongside when fighting the robotic warlord.
“Fancy seeing you here, Killer,” she greeted brightly, causing the man to turn and look at her. His head was still encased in that helmet-like mask, though Roma hadn’t expected anything less. From what she’d been able to tell from the newspapers, Killer was never seen without his mask.
“The friendly act is unnecessary here, Heart vice-captain, and unappreciated,” Killer answered and Roma laughed softly.
“No acting here, Killer. I’d like to speak with you, though. Walk with me?”
“I’m here on business.”
“As am I. This won’t take long.” The two pirates fell into stride as they walked through the open market of that particular grove in the Sabaody Archipelago. Roma hadn’t wanted to stray far from the ship, in the event that they needed a quick escape.
“What do you want, Bleeding Heart?” Roma grimaced.
“Ugh! Please don’t use that awful epithet the Marines gave me. It’s completely unoriginal and makes me sound entirely incompetent. Feel free to call me by name.”
“You still haven’t answered my question.”
“Because I don’t want anything from you. I’m sure that must sound strange, coming from the vice-captain of one of your captain’s rivals. But I have no interest in learning your business here, about your crew, or your captain. None of those things interest me, and I only pursue what interests me.”
“Then what are you after?” Roma could tell the man walking beside her was growing impatient and would likely walk off if she didn’t get to the point.
“Why did you carry me back to my ship?” she asked, getting to her purpose for speaking with the Massacre Soldier. Killer continued walking, but didn’t answer at first.
“Your crewmember was attacked by the robot.”
“But Shachi-kun is agile, and nobody in my crew is weak. He could have gotten me out well enough.”
“I was faster.”
“Did your captain order you to help me?”
“Then I’ll ask again. Why did you carry me back to my ship?” Killer was silent again for a moment before he finally gave his answer.
“It would be a shame if a good fighter like you died before I could go against you.”
Roma glanced up from the newspaper in her hands, and at the screens being projected by the Visual Den Den Mushi. Only a few days had passed since her crew had fought alongside the Kid Pirates against the robotic Bartholomew Kuma. Since then, the Marines had decided to publicize the execution of Fire Fist Portgas D. Ace, Second Division Commander of the Whitebeard Pirates. It was a stupid idea, Roma thought. Whitebeard would not allow for a member of his crew, his children, to be executed to prove a point. It didn’t matter that Ace was the biological son of Gol D. Roger. A massive, all-out war was taking place at Marineford. Whitebeard’s crew and his allies were all fighting to save the flame-user, along with Luffy and a collection of Impel Down inmates he had somehow freed. The battle at Marineford would surely have many deaths on both sides, as had already been evidenced from what Roma had seen on the screens above. The landscape had been all but destroyed and she wondered how much longer it would be before it sank into the ocean completely. Roma looked over to her brother, who was watching with a stern expression on his face. Suddenly, the video feet was cut, leaving the screens black while the collected crowd yelled out about how they wanted to see more.
“Jean Bart, prepare the ship,” Law ordered as he stood and turned towards the submarine. Roma dropped her newspaper and followed quickly behind him.
“We’re actually getting involved?” Roma asked quietly as she walked alongside her brother. “I thought you said it was too soon.”
“We’ll be needed.”
A few hours’ travel later, the Kintsukuroi resurfaced in the climax of the war. Law, Jean Bart and Bepo ran up to the main deck of the ship, while Roma remained below in the operating room. While she prepared the room for the horrific injuries she and her brother would surely be treating, he was calling out to the pirate Buggy as the clown-like pirate captain floated above with both Strawhat Luffy and Knight of the Sea Jinbei, a fishman known for his exceptional martial arts skill.
“Bring Strawhat over here!” Law yelled over the sounds of war around them.
“The Strawhat? Who are you, you brat?” Buggy demanded as he hovered overhead.
“Strawhat might be an enemy of mine, but we still share a bond. It’ll only be boring if he dies here! We’ll get him out of here! Leave him to me! I’m a doctor!”
Down below deck, Roma was busy hollering out orders to the crewmembers that had remained in the operating room with her. Given the extensive injuries they would no doubt be treating, Roma wanted to ensure they had everything they needed. She tied her hair back with a clip and covered it with a yellow bandana before running to wash her hands before her brother returned. Mere moments later, she felt the ship lurch beneath her as they made their descent back into the depths of the sea and Roma knew her brother would be returning shortly.
“Get the door! Don’t leave anything in Captain-kun’s way!” she ordered. Almost as soon as she had finished speaking, Jean Bart and Bepo burst into the room, each carrying a heavily wounded patient. One was Luffy, as Roma had expected, and the other was the fishman Jinbei. “Get them on the operating tables!” Shortly following them was Law, who walked in calmly with Luffy’s signature straw hat in his hands. After setting the hat into Penguin’s hands, Law quickly washed his hands and put on a pair of gloves.
“Roma, take the Knight of the Sea. He was pierced through his chest and is near death. I’ll handle Strawhat-ya, though the worst of his injuries may be deeper than I can reach.” Law ordered as he called upon his Devil Fruit ability to create the operating room in which they would work.
“Do they need anesthesia?” Penguin asked.
“No,” Roma answered. “Their bodies are far too injured to feel any pain at this point.”
“They couldn’t protest even if they wanted to,” Law added, a twisted smile falling across his lips. “This will be a fun surgery.”
Roma wasn’t sure how much time had passed, but it easily had to have been at least a few hours. She and her brother had each worked on their patients, though Roma had to take advantage of Law’s ‘Room’ ability in order to mend every wound Jinbei had sustained. This was especially true with the case of the large hole that had formed in his stomach, charred at the edges. He had clearly been severely burned in the fight, which meant she had to not only treat the wounds that were bleeding, but also carefully remove the charred, decayed flesh from his body. When she and Law finally finished tending to their patients and set them in separate rooms to heal, the ship had already emerged from beneath the sea.
“That was the most difficult operation we’ve had in a long time,” Roma murmured as she followed her brother up the stairs to the deck. There, they found a member of the Shichibukai, Pirate Empress Boa Hancock, as she was scolding Bepo. She appeared to have arrived on a stolen Marine ship, with all of the crew turned to stone by the ability granted her boy her Devil Fruit.
“Captain! Vice-captain-chan!” Bepo exclaimed when he saw the two of them. Law was still holding a rag, wiping the blood from his hands. Roma felt exhausted from such an extensive surgery with the fishman.
“How is Luffy?” Hancock asked. Roma leaned against the wall and slid down to the wooden boards of the deck while Law reclined against the doorway. The both of them were exhausted from the extensive procedures they had performed.
“I’ve done all I can,” Law answered. “The effectiveness of the operation is tied to his condition. He’s taken an impossible amount of damage. I can’t guarantee he’ll survive.”
“Though I doubt you care, Jinbei-kun’s condition is much the same,” Roma added tiredly.
“Of course!” a voice yelled from above and the Heart Pirates all looked up to see a person whom they couldn’t be sure was male or female. The person had the build of a man, but dressed effeminately. Law and Roma immediately recognized him as the Okama King Emporio Ivankov himself. “Strawhat-boy tried his hardest! We were able to escape prison thanks to him!”
“Prisoners from Impel Down,” Hancock explained. “It looks like they’re Luffy’s allies. They snuck onto the battle ship.” The escaped prisoners above cheered about how they would be heading to the Kingdom of Kammabakka, where those who followed the okama way called home. Ivankov leapt off the Marine ship and landed on deck of the Kintsukuroi.
“The Strawhat-boy was already injured so badly he couldn’t stand at Impel Down! It’s amazing he managed to do anything in that condition!” he exclaimed. “And that was all so he could rescue his brother, Ace! That brother he tried so hard to save died before his eyes… No God or Buddha would have caused that! It wouldn’t be surprising if his spirit was broken!”
“That’s why I don’t believe in a god,” Roma muttered. She could imagine the amount of pain Luffy must have been going through. After all, she and Law had lost their youngest sister when the hospital had been burned to the ground. Roma couldn’t imagine what she would do if she lost Law as well.
“How tragic,” Hancock said, her tone making her sound as though she might start crying. “If I could, I’d suffer in his place. I feel so bad for you, Luffy.”
“By the way,” Ivankov started as he turned to Law and Roma. “Are you Strawhat-boy’s friends?”
“No,” Law answered. “I had no obligation to help him. But if you’re uncomfortable with my kindness, shall I make something up?” Roma chuckled under her breath at her brother’s words. They may not have been friends, but they were connected. After all, Luffy carried the same ‘D.’ name that they did. For better or worse, their fates were entwined.
“No, that’s fine. There are times when instinct rules your body.”
“Wait!” a voice called from behind and Roma whirled around where she was sitting to see her patient on his feet.
“What are you doing up?!” she demanded, jumping to her feet. “You should still be unconscious. Go lie back down before you reopen your wounds!” Jinbei turned to look at both her and her brother.
“You’re Trafalgar Law, from North Blue, right? And you’re his vice-captain, Roma? You both have my thanks for saving my life.”
“If you don’t sleep, you’ll die,” Law answered matter-of-factly.
“My heart won’t calm down… it’s futile. What I’ve lost this time was too important to me. And compared to that, Luffy-kun’s loss was even deeper… When he lost consciousness, it must have been a defense mechanism to prevent him from losing his life. I’m more worried about what happens when he awakes.”
“You, beast! Do you have a Den Den Mushi?” Hancock demanded of Bepo.
“Yes, we do,” Roma answered. “And his name is Bepo-kun.” She was far too tired to behave in her usual light-hearted manner, especially towards someone who was treating her crew as inferior in some way.
“If we call the Kuja Pirate ship, we can pull this submarine across the Calm Belt. If the government learns that Luffy’s alive, they’ll definitely come after him. We’ll hide him on the Isle of Women. And if I’m still one of the Shichibukai, he can safely recover there.” It took only a short amount of time for Boa Hancock to call upon her pirate crew consisting of all women, and the Heart Pirates were soon greeted by her ship. At that point, Ivankov decided it was his time to depart.
“My duty to protect Strawhat-boy ends here! Can you take care of things from here, Jinbei?” he asked.
“Yes, I still can’t swim at my best, so at the very least, I’ll watch over Luffy until he recovers. Though I don’t know how much help I’ll be.” From there, Ivankov boarded the Marine ship and left with the rest of his ‘Newkamas’, as he called them. Each and every one of them hollered out well wishes for Luffy and a speedy recovery on his part. It made Roma smile to see how the Strawhat captain inspired so much love from the people he met. It was similar to the way she and Law inspired great love and loyalty in their own crew.
Upon reaching Amazon Lily, home of Boa Hancock and all of her Kuja Pirates, the two ships entered through a large gate that allowed access to the island. The Heart Pirates all stood on deck of the Kintsukuroi and listened as every woman on the island greeted their empress happily.
“Look! There are only women!” one of the Heart Pirates exclaimed.
“It’s true that it’s a female-only island!” another answered.
“Hey, you guys,” Law said, interrupting all of the men who were going into a daze. “You have to go back into the ship, otherwise you’ll die.” The instant he finished speaking, he cocked his head to the side, only narrowly avoiding being struck by the arrow that embedded itself into the wall behind him. More arrows rained down, but they were stopped by Hancock and her pirates.
“People, stop!” the empress ordered. “They’re not our enemy! Luffy is on that ship. He suffered greatly, mentally and physically, during the battle at Marineford and he is hanging between life and death now. Ladies, carry Luffy to Kuja Castle as soon as possible! I’m gonna look after Luffy!”
“Wait a minute, Snake Princess!” an old woman shouted from off to the side. Hancock called out to her as ‘Granny Nyon’. “It’s fine if it’s just Luffy, but we can’t allow those men on that strange ship to step foot onto the Maiden Island. It’s against our country’s policy!”
“Then just allow the female doctor to come with him.”
“Luffy-kun’s wounds are too extensive for me to treat without Law-kun’s ability. We’d only be able to properly treat him if we work together,” Roma answered.
“We can’t allow any men onto the island, even if he is a doctor,” Granny Nyon answered. “We have so many good doctors on this island!”
“I don’t care either way,” Law stated, “but do you have the same medical equipment and technology as my ship? If his wound opens up, he’s going to die. Take Strawhat-ya if you don’t care about it.” Roma chuckled and leaned towards her brother.
“You’re being rather insistent for someone who doesn’t care, Captain-kun,” she whispered, but Law only shrugged his shoulders.
“Luffy’s gonna die?!” Hancock exclaimed. “If that happens by any chance, oh, I’ll… I’ll…”
“It’s obvious that we can’t save Luffy-kun without this man, even if we had just his vice-captain,” Jinbei said as he stepped forward. “If he can’t come in, then we have no other choice. We must go somewhere else.”
“Impossible! We’d be attacked by the Sea Kings!” Hancock was, of course, referring to the giant sea monsters that littered the Calm Belt and destroyed every ship that came into contact with them. The Kuja Pirates had always been an exception, though Roma did not know their secret. “Even if we get away from them, the Marines could find us at any time! What should we do?”
“Oh well…” Granny Nyon muttered loudly with a heavy sigh. “We only do this as an exception, but you can stay in the area of the bay. The Sea Kings won’t attack you there.”
“Then I’ll stay with them to look after Luffy!”
“Well, that settles it, I’d say,” Roma said with a light laugh. “I’ll go tell the boys to move the ship.” With that, Roma left and the Heart Pirates relocated their ship to the bay on the East side of the island. From there, a large canvas had been set up to prevent the men from entering any other part of the island, and to keep the women of Amazon Lily from being tempted to meet with the strangers. For the duration of their stay, Roma, being the only female in the Heart Pirates, would act as a liaison to gather supplies for the crew.
Two weeks after their arrival on Amazon Lily, the Heart Pirates were suddenly thrown into a frenzy when Luffy finally awoke. He had started screaming for Fire Fist Ace and expelled himself from the ship with the power of his Devil Fruit that made him a rubber man. Much of the crew ran after him, calling for him to stop, but he ran into the deeper parts of Amazon Lily, past the canvas that had been set up to separate the men from the island.
“What’ll happen if we just leave him like that?” Jinbei asked and Roma shook her head with a sigh.
“Well, that’s simple,” Law answered. “If he reopens his wounds, he might really die this time.” Roma rose to her feet and turned towards the torn canvas.
“I should gather our crew so the Amazons don’t kill them for trespassing. I’m sure they will know Luffy is awake very soon, based on his wild screaming.”
“You don’t seem very concerned,” Jinbei noted and Roma gave a wry smile.
“We all deal with loss differently. Either he’ll cope, or he won’t. Either way, there is nothing Law-kun or I can do about it.” At this point, Law looked up to his younger sister from where he was still sitting. He knew she was referring to their shared history, and the way he’d behaved at the loss of both their country and Corazon. He’d fallen apart, devolving into a screaming mass of hysteria, just like Luffy did now. Law knew his sister’s words were truth and that there really was nothing either of them could do to improve the Strawhat captain’s condition. His coping depended entirely upon himself.
Some time after Roma had gone and returned with her crewmembers, they could still hear Luffy screaming somewhere in the forest. Based on the other sounds they heard, it was clear he was destroying anything in his way. It was at that point that a few of the Heart Pirates noticed the disappearance of a certain fishman.
“Where’d Jinbei go?” Penguin asked.
“Likely to search for Luffy-kun,” Roma answered easily. “Don’t go searching after him. Miss Empress and the old woman made it very clear that men were not allowed on the island, and I don’t want to lose any of you.”
“Aye, aye, Vice-captain-chan!” the entirety of the Heart Pirates yelled and she giggled at the sight. They were all so enthusiastic and lively, and in many ways her crew reminded her of Corazon. Perhaps that had been why Law had taken them in back when they were still traveling alone together. Roma looked over to her brother again, and saw that he was still holding Luffy’s signature hat in his hands. Plopping herself next to him, she grinned and took the hat from him.
“You’re fixated on this, Law-kun,” she teased.
“Not at all,” he answered sternly, leading his sister to stick her tongue out at him. “Quit being so childish.”
“Don’t ruin my fun. So why are you still holding onto this? Why not leave it on the ship?”
“It’s none of your concern.” Now Roma looked at her brother with wide eyes. She understood her brother, even if he still liked to exude a stern exterior.
“It’s not often you do things without knowing your own reasoning, Law-kun.” She handed the hat back to him and looked over to the crew. Penguin had a pair of binoculars in his hands, gazing out into the ocean with an awestruck expression.
“Take a look at that!” he exclaimed to Shachi, who was standing beside him. “It’s a gigantic Sea King!”
“What’s going on?” Shachi asked. “Is it fighting with something?”
“It’s dead! Something just killed that thing!”
“A monster of that size?”
“I couldn’t see what it was fighting… This is one terrifying ocean.” Roma frowned at their exclamations, wondering what could have killed a great sea monster such as that. She could only assume it was another, even greater, monster and that it would not attack their ship. A few short minutes later, someone emerged from the water below them and onto a rock near the Kintsukuroi. Law and Roma both looked over the edge of the cliff and were surprised to see Silvers Rayleigh standing down below.
“Ah, I know you people,” he stated upon seeing the Heart Pirates. “We met on the Sabaody Archipelago.”
“Dark King Rayleigh!” Penguin exclaimed, disbelieving what he was seeing.
“How did you get all the way out here?” Roma asked, her head tilted to one side curiously.
“Well, you see, I ran into a nasty storm out at sea. My boat sank, so I had to swim the rest of the way. My body doesn’t move the way it used to. I really am getting old,” Rayleigh answered with a jovial laugh.
“A storm?!” Penguin repeated incredulously. “There are no storms in the calm belt! Which means your boat sank outside the calm belt and you swam all the way here?!” At this point, Rayleigh had made it up to the level the rest of the Heart Pirates were standing on, and was wringing out the water from his clothes. “Then… the one who was fighting that Sea King… Was that you as well?!” The Dark King didn’t answer, and only turned to look to Law and Roma.
“I’m guessing that Luffy-kun is somewhere to be found on this island?” he asked.
“Jinbei is with him right now,” Roma answered. “He wasn’t taking the loss of the Fire Fist very well.”
“I would imagine not. How was his physical condition when he awoke?”
“He needs rest. If he doesn’t, his wounds will reopen and he will die.”
“Then we better hope he’s calmed down.” Law passed the straw hat he was holding over to Rayleigh, with a remark that Luffy would likely want it back.
“We’ll be taking our leave now,” he said once the hat was in Rayleigh’s hands. “Strawhat-ya doesn’t need us anymore.”
“Jean Bart, prepare the ship!” Roma called out with a smile. “We’re heading out soon!”
“But we didn’t get to see the Amazons again!” one of the men complained, to which Roma rolled her eyes dramatically and placed her hands on her hips.
“They wouldn’t have spoken to you anyway, just like they’ve been instructed. Let’s get going, boys!” Not long after, the Kintsukuroi was far away from Amazon Lily and out of the Calm Belt. Under Law’s orders, they were on their way back to the Sabaody Archipeligo.
“It’s such a shame, after going all that way,” Penguin lamented with a heavy sigh.
“It would have been great to go inside the Land of Women,” Shachi agreed. Bepo piped in with his own lamentations, only to have Penguin and Shachi both yell at him for the absurdity of his request that there be a female polar bear for him to meet. Roma giggled at the sight of them and looked to her brother, who was reclining in one of the chairs in the common room of the ship.
“You seem pensive, Captain-kun,” she commented.
“I wonder the Dark King’s up to… The ‘D’ will always bring a storm without fail,” Law answered with a chuckle, and Roma couldn’t help but smile. That much was absolutely true, and Roma couldn’t wait to see what storm they would all bring together.
During the two years that passed since the Heart Pirates left Amazon Lily, Law made quite the name for himself in the pirate world. The Heart Pirates became infamous for an event that came to be known simply as the “Rocky Port Incident”, and a short time after that, Law collected the hearts of one hundred pirates and turned them in to the Marines. Those hearts had all been perfectly preserved using the Mes ability that Law had perfected in the time that had passed. That technique physically removed the heart from the body and held it within a flexible, glass-like cube while the owners still walked freely. Upon delivering the hearts to the Marines, Law was named a member of the Pirate Warlords, giving his crew protection from being hunted by the World Government.
In that time, Roma had started a relationship with Killer of the Kid Pirates, which usually involved meeting together whenever they happened to be on the same island. It had all started from a strange kind of mutual trust that had come about soon after the Heart Pirates had entered the New World. From there, Roma and Killer had agreed to meet when their paths happened to cross, though the romantic aspect of their relationship developed some time after the physical.
Roma felt as though things had shifted after one night with Killer on a balmy, autumn-weathered island. She had not expected to run into the Kid Pirates that day, but had been pleasantly surprised when she happened upon Killer while walking through town. Each informed their captain of their absence for that night and met at an inn in a quiet part of the town.
“You still haven’t told your captain about me, have you?” Roma asked cheekily as she sat on the edge of the bed in the room they’d rented for the night. Killer reclined in an old, overly padded armchair.
“Have you told yours?” he countered, leaving Roma to laugh in response.
“He’ll disapprove. He’s so overprotective.”
“Then you have no room to talk.”
“Would you like me to tell Law-kun about you?”
“Why do you call him that?”
“It’s what I call everyone.”
“Not me. You’ve never used a suffix for my name.” Roma shrugged her shoulders dismissively.
“It never seemed like something that fit you.”
“But it fits the Surgeon of Death?”
“Would you like me to start calling you Killer-kun?” she teased.
“No.” Roma was quiet for a few minutes after that, while Killer continued to sit in the armchair across from her, only a few short feet away. The two of them had been meeting like this for some time now. Their meetings had largely consisted of talking in between the occasional round of sex, though never about the movements of their respective crews. The trust they had formed hadn’t extended quite that far yet. And while Roma was certain Killer had developed some kind of romantic interest in her some time ago, she had only recently felt those similar stirrings. Romance was not a common occurrence for her, and seemed to only form after first establishing a strong emotional connection that did not revolve around the largely foreign feelings of love. All love she had felt up until then had been purely familial.
“Can I see your face?” Roma asked after she had had enough of the silence. Killer looked up at her and, though she could not see his face, Roma could sense apprehension in the way he carried himself.
“Why do you want to?” he inquired.
“Isn’t it a normal thing to ask? It’s difficult to kiss a man in a mask.”
“It never bothered you before.”
“It never crossed my mind before tonight.” She could see his fingers twitching, though he tried to hide it by picking at the cheap furniture. Roma could only imagine why he must have been so apprehensive about showing his face to her, or anybody. Was his true identity even more high profile than his current one as the Massacre Soldier? Had he been born with some kind of deformity? No matter the case, Roma wanted to know. She wanted to see the face of the man she was suddenly developing romantic feelings for.
“You won’t like what you see.”
“Allow me to be the judge of that.” Roma stood from the bed and positioned herself to stand in front of Killer, his knees on either side of her legs. She leaned forward slightly and placed her hands on the blue and white striped helmet, feeling for the clasps that would hold it together. He seemed to notice her struggle as he reached up to take her hands in his.
“Here,” Killer said roughly as he guided Roma’s hands to the clasps. With a couple quick flicks, the helmet loosened and Roma was able to remove it from his head. She tried not to laugh when she saw the mop of blond hair that fell over his face. It had always been exceedingly long, to the point where Roma wondered how he managed to deal with it while fighting. Now, to see his hair falling in front of his face like a thick veil, it was almost comical.
“Doesn’t all this get in your way?” she asked with a smile as she set the helmet on the table beside Killer. Using her fingers, Roma brushed his bangs from his face and froze at what she saw. The man from the Kid Pirate crew bore multiple scars across his face. They appeared to have been caused by blades and were obviously very old. If Roma had to take a guess, she would say that Killer had obtained those scars when he was a child. Over his left eye were two particularly deep scars that left Roma wondering how he had managed to retain his sight. Another passed through the corner of his lips, giving him a permanent scowl on the right side of his face, while still another stretched from his left temple, over his eye and down to the tip of his nose. His eyes bore no expression, though Roma did note that they were the most beautiful shade of stormy blue she had ever seen.
“I told you,” Killer stated, drawing Roma from her thoughts. She frowned and tugged more forcefully on his hair, tilting his head back as she pressed a firm kiss to his lips.
“I have yet to see something I don’t like,” Roma murmured as she pulled away and stared into his wide eyes. Even behind the scars, Roma could see the well-defined facial structure of a handsome man. With the scars, she could see a man who had endured a great deal and only became stronger as a result. “One day, I want to hear the story behind them.” Now it was Killer’s turn to shrug as Roma released his hair and sat back on the bed.
“There’s not much of a story to tell. My mother was a madwoman. She did this to me when I was young. Once I was strong enough, I killed her.” A frown tugged at Roma’s lips again as Killer spoke so distantly about the incident.
“Why would she cut such a beautiful face?” At this, Killer sneered.
“For resembling my father.”
“Then I hope you won’t take offense when I say your mother was a crazy bitch.” This time, Killer laughed.
“Alright, you know my scars. Now yours,” he told her.
“You already know these are from my Devil Fruit,” Roma answered flippantly as she held up one of her palms for him to see. She pointed to a particularly prominent one across her palm. “Though this one came from the first time I tried to use my ability and I made a miscalculation in how much blood I could draw out at once. Law-kun scolded me for that one.”
“That’s not what I meant and you know it. But now that you bring it up, how long have you been traveling with your captain?” Killer asked. Roma rolled her eyes in response.
“That’s a boring conversation piece that everyone likes to ask.”
“You’ve asked me how long Kid’s been my captain before. Only fair, Bleeding Heart.” Roma made a face.
“I’ll tell you if you promise never to call me that again. Law-kun and I have been together since we were children.”
“That long?” Roma shrugged her shoulders dismissively and scooted back on the bed so that she could recline comfortably. Killer still remained in the armchair. Roma figured the physical aspect of their relationship would be on hold for the night.
“We came from the same city and went to school together. Once we escaped, we stuck together.”
“Escaped? From your city?” Killer asked and Roma held back a flinch as she realized she had not yet told Killer that part of her history. She’d mentioned her time with the Donquixote Pirates in passing, but never the time before that. Roma was surprised when the thought of her escape from Flevance wasn’t accompanied by panic. The harsh memories were still there, but they felt less powerful in Killer’s presence. Perhaps, this one time, she could tell part of her story without falling into a panic attack.
“From our country. Have you ever heard of Flevance?” she asked.
“The White City? I thought the World Government killed everyone from there because of an epidemic.” Roma scowled, but tried not to direct it at him.
“There was no epidemic. It was poison from the Amber Lead that was mined there. Even most doctors now are too stupid to realize the World Government was lying about that. But they did kill everyone, with the exception of Law-kun and me.”
“Were you sick as well?”
“Everyone was. Law-kun and I weren’t expected to live to see puberty. Law-kun ate the Ope Ope no Mi and cured us both. The rest is history.”
“I’m sorry for asking.” Roma shrugged again.
“You asked to know about my scars. I wasn’t stupid enough to think you were speaking literally.”
“What happened to not needing an act?”
“I have a reputation to uphold,” Roma answered with a cheeky grin.
Just as Roma predicted, Law had vocalized his disapproval of the relationship, but she had assured him that Killer would learn nothing of their movements, or anything that Kid could potentially use against them in battle. Law had only stopped protesting Roma’s meetings with Killer when she asked for her brother to simply trust her judgment in the same way he had for years.
Just over a year and a half after the death of Whitebeard and the start of a new age of pirating, the Heart Pirates found themselves at an island that was blocked off by the Marines. Half of the island was engulfed in a scorching heat, while the other half was a frozen wasteland, and it was simply known as Punk Hazard. That was the point at which Law decided he would be sending the rest of the crew ahead while he remained there. He was, as he expected, met by opposition by his crew.
“Captain, you can’t stay here!” Penguin protested. “What will you even do?!”
“Don’t question me, Penguin,” Law answered. “I have business here.”
“Business with whom?” Roma asked, her arms crossed over her chest. By this point in time, Law had stopped wearing the old fuzzy hat he had had since childhood, and traded it for one very similar with a thick bill instead of the fur trim. Roma had instead taken to wearing the old hat, since it was all they had of their original home in Flevance. She had also traded her yellow shirt for a black tank top that bared her midriff and a yellow open-front sweatshirt. Likewise, Law had taken to wearing darker clothing than he had in the past, with his signature sweatshirt being replaced by a dark purple one with their jolly roger in yellow. Standing on the frozen side of Punk Hazard, the entire crew had taken to wearing heavy coats over themselves in an attempt to ward off the cold.
“Someone working for Joker.” At his words, Roma slowly nodded. She knew Joker was one of the many aliases of Doflamingo, and knew that whatever Law was doing had to do with taking that man down. She could only trust that he would use the same caution that he had since their escape from the Donquixote Pirates to ensure he would be safe while he undertook this personal mission. “Roma, give me your Vivre Card.” Roma dug into her pocket and pulled out the card they’d had made for her. It would always point to her, no matter the circumstances, and Roma knew that was exactly why Law wanted a piece of it. This special card would also be able to indicate the status of the person it was made for, burning if they were near death. She ripped the paper in half.
“R-Roma-chan!” Penguin exclaimed in protest.
“I’ll give you this,” Roma said, holding the paper tightly in her hands, “only if you give me your Vivre Card as well.”
“Yeah!” Shachi agreed. “Then we’ll know that Captain is well! It’s not fair if only Captain has Roma-chan’s Vivre Card. We’re worried about Captain too!”
“No,” Law answered and Roma crossed her arms over her chest again, still holding her own card tightly.
“Then I won’t give you mine, Law-kun,” she told him firmly. “You may be our Captain-kun, but I won’t risk losing you.”
“Hand it over, Roma.”
“No. I won’t. Not until you give me a piece of your Vivre Card too.”
“I already told you, no!” This was the first time Law had been so vocally against something Roma had suggested; normally they were on the same page. Roma wasn’t going to give in here, not for something so important. She and Law had never been apart for any substantial amount of time before. She didn’t want to part without having some way of knowing he would be okay. Roma had the crew on her side in this matter, anyway.
“Captain,” Penguin urged. “You’ve been pushing yourself too much lately.” Roma certainly hadn’t expected those words to come from their crewmate’s mouth. “When you became one of the Pirate Warlords, you went through so much risk to collect those one hundred hearts. Is this all… for that person?” Both Law and Roma froze on the spot. They had only mentioned Corazon in passing, though never by name, in front of the crew. They rarely even talked about him in private.
“Penguin-kun, that’s enough,” Roma ordered, but he shook his head.
“We understand that person is important to Captain… and to Roma-chan. And we know that person helped you to come all this way but… right now, you are our Captain! I just hope you won’t forget that.” Law huffed out the barest of laughs and reached into his pocket.
“I could never forget that,” he answered as he held out his Vivre Card to Roma. She traded torn pieces with him, a smile on her lips. “You can have my Vivre Card, but no matter what happens to this card, you are not allowed to come after me.” Now Roma’s eyes widened and she moved to protest.
“But Law-kun-” she started.
“Those are my conditions, Roma. I can’t have you rushing into danger for my sake. I’ll take care of myself.” While Shachi and Bepo tried to protest more against this, Roma and Penguin remained quiet and eventually Roma gave her brother a slow nod.
“I understand, Captain-kun.”
“Roma-chan!” Shachi exclaimed.
“That’s enough, Shachi-kun. We have to trust Captain-kun’s judgment. What are your orders in your absence, Captain-kun?”
“Use the Eternal Pose we stole to go to Zo. I want you to remain there until I return.”
“Aye, aye!” Roma threw her arms around her brother and held him tightly one last time before departing with their crew. She made sure the next words she said would be covered by the raging, frigid winds around them so only Law could hear her. “Be careful. I love you.” Law returned the embrace with only one arm and then released her so she could lead their crew. He knew he could trust in her to take care of them. In the meantime, he would do whatever he could to destroy the SAD production being done on Punk Hazard and effectively cripple one of Doflamingo’s main products.
Three months after Roma and the Heart Pirates had arrived on the summery island of Zo, the vice-captain still hadn’t heard from her brother. She knew they wouldn’t receive any word from him, but it still had her on edge. Roma and her brother had never been apart for any length of time. It was a foreign feeling for her, and Roma often found herself standing on the deck of the Kintsukuroi, facing in the direction Law’s Vivre Card pulled. Thanks to that card, she knew he was alive and well, but that was it. Roma couldn’t see him, nor could she speak to him. Even with their entire crew with her, Roma felt more than a little lonely at times. She could only imagine what it must have been like for her brother.
“Roma-chan, you’ve been out here all day,” Shachi noted as he walked up from behind her, a bowl in his hands. “Penguin said you hadn’t eaten today.” Roma turned her gaze away from the sea and gave her first crewmate a smile.
“I must have just lost track of time,” she answered easily, taking the bowl of miso soup from Shachi’s hands. “Thank you for bringing me lunch, though.”
“It’s dinner.” That made Roma stop for a second. Had she really been standing on the deck of her ship for that long, just staring out into the sea? “Are you worried about Captain?”
“Aren't you, Shachi-kun?”
“We all are, but Vice-captain-chan seems more worried than the rest of us.” Roma shrugged her shoulders dismissively as she lowered herself to sit on the deck of the ship so she could comfortably eat her meal. Shachi took a seat beside her. “You’ve known Captain longest, right? How long have you two been traveling together.”
“Since we were children. We lived in the same city when we were younger.”
“When did you decide to start traveling?” Roma’s mind leapt back to when she was only nine years old, hiding in a mountain of corpses as she and her brother snuck outside of Flevance together in silence. She shuddered, shaking herself of the memory before she lingered too long. Law wasn’t there to draw her out anymore. She couldn’t allow herself to get lost in her own mind, not when she had the whole crew to take care of. Telling part of her history to Killer for the first time had helped her, but she could feel the barest inklings of panic when Shachi had asked. For whatever reason, she just wasn't ready to talk about Flevance with him.
“Shachi-kun, you know Law-kun and I don’t like talking about our pasts. Neither is particularly pleasant.”
“I’m sorry, Roma-chan. But… can I at least ask who that person the two of you fight for is?” Roma stiffened where she was sitting and stared down into her soup. She wasn’t sure if she wanted to talk about Corazon. It felt to her as though he were a precious memory that she should hold onto for dear life. He’d been the one to teach her how to be happy again, after the destruction of Flevance. Corazon had taken her and Law in, and Roma had followed his example in loving her crew like Corazon loved them. She could feel tears welling in her eyes at the memory of him, and she scrubbed them away with the back of her hand.
“His name was…” She cleared her throat. “We called him Cora-san, and we loved him very much.” This time Roma gave a shaky chuckle. “Well, Law-kun didn’t at first. But, by the end, we both did. He took care of us for a while when we were younger, and died so that we could keep living. We owe him our lives.” Shachi was quiet for a moment before he gave his simple answer.
“No, you don’t.” Now Roma’s eyes narrowed as she turned them towards her red-haired crewmember. Before she could bark out a sharp-tongued response about how he knew nothing, Shachi held up a hand to stop her. “You don’t owe your life to anyone. Roma-chan’s life is hers. And Captain’s life is his.” Roma sat silent for a moment, mulling over Shachi’s words. She chewed on her lip, until she finally broke into a soft laughter.
“You’re right, Shachi-kun,” she answered with a bright smile. “But that won’t stop Law-kun and me from being thankful for what Cora-san did for us.” Shachi returned the grin.
“I never said it should, Roma-chan.”
The time spent working alone on Punk Hazard had left Law missing the liveliness of his crew more than he had initially expected. He had thought he’d welcome the silence and solitude, interrupted only by Caesar Clown’s unusual, high-pitched, taunting laughter or Monet’s pestering to deal with the many children on the island. Law didn’t even know what those children were on the island for. They all stated that they had been sick, and their parents had sent them to stay with Caesar and Monet to treat their illness. Law could only assume that they were more than likely there for Caesar’s testing. If that was the case, then he knew that they were tied to Doflamingo, whom Caesar only ever referred to as Joker. Law had chosen to stay on the island for the time being as a way to undermine Doflamingo, under the condition that nobody know he was there. Caesar and Monet would not reveal his presence, and only his crew knew he was staying behind. Law had already ordered his crew not to breathe a word of his whereabouts to anyone.
“Mr. Doctor, I don’t feel good,” one of the giant children murmured as he passed by the playroom where they were all kept. Even from where he was standing, Law could see the redness of the child’s cheeks and the glossy look in her eyes. He didn’t need to feel her forehead to know she likely had a fever. She was tugging at one of her ears pitifully.
“Laney, go back and play with your friends,” Monet suggested sweetly, emerging from the playroom. Law knew that much was mostly an act. He wouldn’t consider the artificial harpy to be motherly in any sense of the word.
“She has a fever,” Law stated and Monet gave him a smile that only he could perceive as twisted. It was far more forced than he was used to. How long had it been since he’d seen Roma’s smile? Or his crew’s?
“Then you should treat her, Mr. Doctor. That’s why you’re here, right?”
Much to Law’s irritation, he’d somehow been drawn into the lie that Caesar had created for these children and had become the resident doctor for all of them. Normally it wasn’t an issue and left Law able to continue with his own work as he pleased, but having to stop to deal with the common cold was not what he’d signed up for. Law looked again at the child who was already beginning to sway on her feet and, with a sigh, led her down the hall to the room he was using as a medical office. A short exam later, and he determined that Laney had a simple ear infection.
“Did you feel sick before your ear started hurting?” Law asked.
“No. My throat hurt really bad last week, though. But I didn’t feel sniffly or anything,” the little girl answered. Law nodded and jotted down the note that her ear infection had been brought upon by bacteria from a sore throat and added it to her file. He then reached behind him for the antibiotics that were stocked within the facility. With the same motion, he pressed a call button to have Monet come and take Laney off his hands.
“How’s the patient doing?” the harpy asked when she finally arrived. Law handed her a piece of paper with the information about Laney’s treatment written on it.
“Give her that antibiotic once a day for ten days. It’ll clear up. She can have a mild pain killer if she needs it.” With that, Law brushed past Monet and continued on in the direction he’d been intending to go in the first place. He’d been up for hours trying to figure out what was going on in the facility, and was in desperate need of sleep. If it hadn’t had to do with the upkeep of his façade for being there, he probably would have turned Laney away.
Then again, he thought, maybe not. The little girl with the ear infection had reminded him a bit of his youngest sister, with her round face and bright smile. Lamie had always had the biggest grin out of the three of them, to the point where everyone she met would feel compelled to smile along with her. Law was fairly certain that since the death of Corazon, Roma had been the only one to give a genuine smile in any situation. As Law returned to his quarters, he thought not for the first time that he would be glad to leave this place behind and rejoin his crew. He just had to wait for the right moment, after he had completely destroyed the SAD serum that Caesar was working on for Doflamingo. Then, he could finally return to his crew on Zo and continue with the rest of their plans. After all, Roma had always insisted that after they avenge Corazon, the two of them should do as they please with their lives. Law wasn’t averse to that idea. He had every ambition to be the greatest pirate and find Gol D. Roger’s treasure. Falling back onto his bed, Law’s last thoughts before sleep drifted to his crew.
He knew they missed him. They were practically helpless without him. Well, he reasoned, that wasn’t entirely true. They were a lively crew; a bit immature at times, but he’d taken them in as crewmembers and given them the kind of freedom that they had not been able to have before leaving their homes. They all looked up to him and Roma. And he knew his sister had been looking up to him since they were children. Their first time separated had left him with a strange feeling he hadn’t expected. It only made Law all the more eager to go back to his crew once his work here was done. He’d make sure to let Roma know how much he missed her, even if he wouldn’t say it outright.
For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
More months passed with Roma and the rest of the Heart Pirates remaining on Zo. During all that time, they had no idea what their captain was up to. That was, up until the point he made an alliance with the Strawhat Pirates. When the paper had arrived that morning, Roma and the rest of the crew had been utterly surprised by that news. Even more surprising was the headline in the paper the very next day, stating that Doflamingo had stepped down from the throne of Dressrosa and as a member of the Pirate Warlords. He revoked that claim in the newspaper later that day. Roma had wondered what her brother was thinking. She believed he was acting too recklessly, taking on Doflamingo head-on in the way that he was. She feared he would be left fighting alone against the Donquixote Pirate captain. Her fears were not lessened in the least when, in the evening, the Thousand Sunny arrived off the shore of Zo. The Strawhat’s pirate ship only carried six people, and none of them were her brother. Four of the people who left the ship, Roma recognized from either the auction house or from the news. Catburglar Nami, Blackleg Sanji, the human-like reindeer Tony Tony Chopper, and the “Soul King” Brook were members of the Strawhat crew that Roma recognized. The other two were a child wearing traditional samurai clothing and a topknot in his hair, and a woman who looked around Roma’s age with black hair shorter than her brother’s. The woman bore the sigil for the Whitebeard Pirates on her right shoulder, and carried a foldable metal staff on her hip. She had the eyes and expression of someone who had experienced great hardships, much like Roma and her brother. It didn’t take much more than a glance for Roma to realize she was looking at the Iron Maid Hotaru, from the Second Division of the Whitebeard Pirates.
“Wh-Where is he?” Roma asked, her eyes glancing wildly among the battered newcomers. They looked as though they’d come from a fight themselves. “Where is Captain-kun?”
“Your captain stayed behind to help us escape,” Nami answered. “He told us to follow the Vivre Card to lead us here.”
“That’s mine. Captain-kun wanted it so he could find us again.”
“He still has a piece.” Roma dug into her pocket and pulled out the Vivre Card her brother had given her before departing from the crew on Punk Hazard. To her horror, the edges of the paper were beginning to singe. It wasn’t burning yet, but the blackened edges meant her brother was in grave danger.
“Why did you leave him behind?” Roma’s tone was now terse as she spoke to the Strawhat’s navigator.
“Because he told us to escape from Doflamingo.” This time it was Sanji who answered. His response shocked Roma enough that she collapsed to the ground with wide eyes. Her fingers tightened around the Vivre Card in her hand.
“Ah! Roma-chan!” Shachi yelled as he knelt beside her.
“Wh-what?” Roma asked softly. She shook her head, regaining her composure, and rose to her feet again. Now her hands were clenched into fists. “Why would you leave him there?! Doflamingo will kill him. Law-kun promised he would come back! Why did he stay and fight?!”
“You should have more faith in your captain,” the Iron Maid of the Whitebeard Pirates stated. “He’s not some pushover.”
“You may have traveled with Whitebeard, but you don’t know Doflamingo. You don’t know what he does, what he has done. If Law-kun isn’t careful, he could die. He’ll be reckless for that one person’s sake.”
“As far as Luffy is concerned, your captain is still in an alliance with us, which means he won’t let anything happen. Torao-guy will be back,” Nami answered reassuringly.
“In the meantime,” Hotaru interjected, “I believe we should be acquainted. My name is Hotaru. I’m traveling with Luffy to hunt down Marshall D. Teach, in Ace’s stead.” From there, the newcomers and the Heart Pirates all formally introduced themselves to each other, and Roma learned that the child was named Momonosuke, and was the son of a samurai who was still fighting on Dressrosa. The Heart Pirates welcomed them to their camp, and Roma offered to treat the any injuries they had sustained from their fights, though it had appeared as though Chopper had taken care of most of them.
“I’ve read about you in the papers,” Hotaru said to Roma after some time, when both women were a fair distance from the rest of the pirates around the campsite. “Your knowledge of your ability is extraordinary.”
“Were you a member of Whitebeard’s crew at the time of Bloody Anne?” Roma asked. “You must have been young at that time. I was only fifteen when she died on the battlefield, and sixteen when I ate the fruit.”
“I was thirteen when she died, and yes. She was my mother.” Roma blinked a few times in surprise, processing what she’d heard.
“She had children?” At this, Hotaru gave a light chuckle.
“No, she never did. She and Marco all but adopted me when I was a child. That was how I joined the crew. Anne was the Second Division Commander at the time.”
“I’m sorry for the losses you have endured.”
“I’m sure you’ve had just as bad, if not worse. You’ve got the look of a survivor, like Marco.” The ‘and me’ was not said, but Roma understood it perfectly. She could tell that the Whitebeard Pirate traveling with the Strawhats had survived quite a bit, and could sympathize with the loss of loved ones, particularly those who acted as parental figures.
“Earlier you spoke about Captain-kun, and how you knew how strong he was. Did you see him fighting?”
“I fought alongside him against Vergo, back on Punk Hazard,” Hotaru answered with a shrug and Roma’s eyes widened again.
“Vergo was there?!”
“Yeah. I had to work with a Marine of all people. Vergo had Law’s heart and kept squeezing it. That Vice Admiral, Smoker, provided the cover for me while I stole your captain’s heart back and returned it to him. It’s a strange thing, holding a man’s heart in your hands.”
“What happened on Punk Hazard and Dressrosa?”
From there, Hotaru called upon the Strawhats present to help her tell the Heart Pirates about their adventures since leaving the underwater Fishman Island. They explained the events on Punk Hazard, of having their bodies switched by Law, and fighting against Caesar Clown. They explained the tests being performed on abducted children, which Law had seemed to be unaware of until recently, and how he’d healed them of their true illness from the drugged candy they’d been fed. After escaping Punk Hazard, Law had made a deal with Doflamingo where the condition was that he’d return the captured Caesar Clown in exchange for the Donquixote Captain stepping down from his throne in Dressrosa and revoking his title of Shichibukai. That had taken place in the morning, but Doflamingo had immediately revoked it once he’d had Caesar in his country. Clearly, it had all been a trap for Law and the Strawhat Pirates. From there, Law had fought against Doflamingo and a Marine Admiral, and sent the Thousand Sunny ahead to Zo.
“What should we do, Roma-chan?” Penguin asked once the story had been told. By now, night had fallen and the stars were glittering high above them all. Roma gazed into the campfire they’d made and didn’t answer for a moment. She dug into her pocket and pulled out her brother’s Vivre Card again. The singeing along the edges had advanced, indicating that he had suffered more damage that could be a threat to his life, but it did not continue to burn. As far as Roma knew, her brother’s condition had not worsened from that point. It did little to console her.
“How much faith do you have in your captain?” she inquired of the Strawhats, glancing up from the Vivre Card.
“He won’t lose,” Nami answered, and she sounded completely confident. Roma nodded slowly. If the Strawhat Pirates believed in their captain, then she would put her faith in him as well.
“Then we wait. Captain-kun ordered us not to go after him, no matter what happened. We have to trust him to return to us.”
“But Vice-captain-chan!” Shachi exclaimed.
“If he isn’t back in another day, we follow the Vivre Card and take Captain-kun back by force. I promise you, I will not let him die.”
Much to the infinite relief of the Heart Pirates, a small ship arrived the next evening with Strawhat Luffy waving wildly once the island was in his sight. Roma was happy simply to see her brother sitting on the ship as well, though she could tell at a glance how exhausted he must have been. When they landed, the extent of his injuries were more noticeable, but Roma couldn’t help herself as she ran forward and threw her arms around him. Law fell backwards onto the ground, and he made a show of grumbling over how childish she was behaving, but Roma knew he was just as happy to see her as she was to see him. This was evidenced by the fact that Law actually returned her embrace, though only briefly. That was when Roma had noticed what Law had lost in the fight.
“Welcome back, Captain-kun!” she cheered, despite the uneasy feeling in her gut, once she had stood back up and helped her brother to his feet. She glanced over the wounds he had sustained and frowned at the sight. Her gaze fell immediately to his right shoulder, which he kept hidden within his coat. Roma had felt the difference when she had hugged him. Law’s right arm was gone from the shoulder down. Her voice was low when she spoke again. “You didn’t treat yourself.”
“I hardly had time before we escaped,” Law answered.
“I want to see it sooner than later. I’ll do whatever I can.”
“What happened, Captain?” Penguin asked. “The others told us everything up until you sent them away with their ship. What happened after that?” Law shook his head and moved to sit on one of the crates set around the campsite. The rest of the crew glanced amongst themselves as they all noticed the difference in their captain. Nobody spoke of the arm he’d lost. Nobody dared ask.
“I’ll go over the details later.”
“Is Doflamingo dead?” Roma asked, and Law turned his gaze to the ground.
“No. We weren’t able to kill him, but we destroyed the factory. He won’t be producing Smiles anymore.”
“The Yonko Kaido will be cross over that. I assume that was your plan, to get an Emperor to kill a Warlord for us.” While Roma spoke with her brother, she could hear the jubilant sounds of the Strawhat crew reuniting. She knew she owed her brother’s safe return to them, particularly their captain. Roma turned around where she stood to face Luffy and gave him a bright smile.
“Thank you for bringing Captain-kun back to us safely.”
The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
Went envying her and me—
Once the Heart Pirates had returned to the open seas, Roma felt much more at ease. She’d enjoyed the short time she’d spent with the Strawhats and their guests, but she preferred to be moving. This was especially the case now that she knew Doflamingo would be searching for her brother. The former Tenryuubito, as Roma had learned of his status from Law, was not one to relinquish hold on his prey easily. It was for that reason that the Kintsukuroi remained underwater for much of the time they were traveling. They were fortunate that Bepo was happy enough simply to have their captain back that he didn’t complain about the heat that was generated from being submerged for long periods of time. Law had finally been able to tend to the wounds he’d sustained on Dressrosa, but Roma had known the fighting had taken its toll on him. He had overexerted his ability, leaving him with very little he could do for a few days. Roma had had to tend to the worst of his injuries on their first day back at sea, including the three gunshot wounds he had received. There had been very little she could do for what remained of his upper arm, besides properly cleanse and wrap the area while they waited for Law to be able to handle the rest. Even with his miraculous ability, he would no longer have his dominant hand since he and Luffy had been unable to salvage the limb from battle. They both knew there would be an adjustment period while Law learned how to use his left hand with the same dexterity he’d once had.
“You’ve finally healed the last of your wounds?” Roma asked after they’d been at sea for a few days. “It shouldn’t have taken you so long to get your energy back. You really exhausted yourself on Dressrosa.”
“I didn’t have any other choice,” Law answered, reclining lazily in the chair in their shared medical office. Roma was at her desk, updating the records they had on the crew. She would be doing the majority of the writing, until Law became more dexterous with his left hand. It would be some time before that happened, though he worked at it every day. Law was fortunate in that he’d always had better coordination with his left hand than most did, but it still wasn’t nearly as good as he was used to.
“Cora-san would be happy. You freed that country.”
“Doflamingo is still out there.”
“Killing him was never Cora-san’s objective, and you know that. That may be the only way we can stop his madness, but we don’t have to do that yet. For now, it’s enough that Doflamingo no longer has control of Dressrosa. We’ll do the rest later.”
“With any luck, Kaido will take out Doflamingo first and we won’t have to face him head-on. It’s not easy to kill a Shichibukai in that manner.”
“Speaking of, you aren’t one of the Warlords anymore. We’ll have to keep an eye out for the Marines again as well.”
“I apologize for that,” Law answered. “But I knew Strawhat-ya would be useful in my plans.” Roma shrugged her shoulders and gave her brother a smile.
“We were just surprised by it, that’s all. We all trust your judgment. You should know that by now, Captain-kun. Are we still allies with them?”
“I don’t think there would be any convincing Strawhat-ya that we aren’t.” Roma couldn’t help but laugh aloud at that. She figured as much, based on the way Luffy had behaved when they were on Zo for that short period of time together. He acted as though the Heart Pirates, particularly Law, were members of his own crew. Nami had had to explain that was how his mind worked and it was easiest to just accept it for what it was. Roma knew that being in an alliance with the Strawhat Pirates would not necessarily be a bad thing, especially since their captain also carried the Will of D. Whatever their secret name meant, she knew their fates were intertwined. It only made sense for them to remain as allies simply based upon that.
“And what do you think about the other Pirate Alliance, between the Kid, Hawkins and On Air Pirates? Their goal seems to be to take down a Yonko, like you wanted to do with Luffy-kun.”
“We’re going to cripple Kaido simply by destroying the Smiles Factory. From there, we will be better equipped to fight him when the time comes. I don’t know which of the Yonko they intend to take down, but it won’t be easy.”
“Big Mom, Kaido and Shanks are the three Emperors that remain after Whitebeard’s death. None of them will be an easy match. What do you intend to do, Captain-kun?”
“For the time being, we need to stay out of Doflamingo’s sight,” Law answered. “He’ll be hunting us down for a while. Observe the other pirate crews and keep track of their movements. It’s too early for us to fight Kaido just yet. With any luck, Strawhat-ya will keep away from him until our crew is prepared to join in that fight as well.”
“How well did Luffy-kun follow your plans before?” Roma asked, only to see a dark expression fall over her brother’s eyes. She couldn’t help but burst into laughter as she realized the experience had been nothing short of a chaotic nightmare for Law. Just from the way his facial expression had changed, she could tell that Strawhat Luffy had not listened to a single word Law had said while they worked together, meaning he must have thrown a wrench into every plan her brother had made.
“He’s going to get us all killed.”
“Actually, Law-kun, from what you’ve told me about the events on Dressrosa, I’d say you owe him your thanks. It sounded like he’s the reason Doflamingo didn’t kill you.” Law grumbled something in reply and Roma chuckled at him. Much as Law usually would give credit where credit was due, he was not particularly keen on admitting to flaws in his planning.
Nearly a month had passed since Law’s escape from Dressrosa without so much as a word of Doflamingo. His movements were not in the newspapers, though it was clear that he was not looked upon favorably by the Marines. Law had explained to Roma that the only reason he was able to remain one of the Pirate Warlords was because he was a former Tenryuubito with knowledge of some secret of great importance. Roma couldn’t begin to imagine what that secret could have been, though she suspected it had to do with the Poneglyphs that were said to hold the True History of the world. The Heart Pirates had managed to evade all Marines during their time after the battles at Dressrosa, though they had come across the Kid Pirates at one point on one of the islands they stopped at.
“Be careful,” Law had warned her when she left that evening to meet with Killer, as he had done many times in the past. “Keep your eyes open in case Doflamingo happens to be here.”
“You’ve finally stopped worrying about Killer when it comes to me?” Roma asked teasingly and Law gave her a level stare.
“He’s less of a threat to you at this point.” Roma chuckled and figured she would take that how she pleased. Law had been robbed of his chance to be a typical protective older brother when their home had been destroyed and they’d lost Lamie. Roma had never considered romance until she had built the strange mutual trust that had formed between herself and Killer. She knew that Law’s statement meant that he finally accepted that Killer wouldn’t be the one to harm his younger sister. Roma left the Kintsukuroi and wandered into the port town of the island they had stopped at for the night. It hadn’t taken long before she found Killer leaning against a tavern with a newspaper in his hands.
“I’m surprised your captain is letting you out, given everyone after your crew lately,” the masked man stated as Roma neared him, not even looking up from the paper.
“Maybe he figures two strong vice-captains will be able to handle themselves in any situation that we may come across.” Killer didn’t make a sound and even though Roma couldn’t see his face, she could read his body language to see that he was skeptical of what she had said. “If you want his exact words, he said you’re less of a threat.”
“Color me surprised. I didn’t think he’d ever be so trusting.”
“You haven’t given either of us reason not to trust you, at least not where you and I are involved.” Killer finally threw out the newspaper he’d been holding and stepped aside to let Roma enter the tavern with him. The two of them found a table near the back, where few people would bother them. Most of the patrons noticed their presence right away, though they seemed too frightened to make any move towards either pirate. The Kid Pirates and Heart Pirates had certainly made names for themselves over the years.
“I should hope not,” he said as they sat and ordered drinks. Roma stuck to water, as she always did after learning of her low tolerance to alcohol thanks to her Devil Fruit. “Just what was your captain doing on Punk Hazard anyway?”
“Taking care of some business,” Roma answered easily.
“You weren’t there.”
“You’re correct. My crew and I went ahead, per his orders. Captain-kun had some business to attend to involving someone from our past. And that’s all you’re getting out of me concerning his plans.” Killer gave a shrug as he reclined in his seat. He hadn’t had any intention of gathering information as a rival. His questions had been purely out of curiosity. “And what about you, Killer? Your captain went and formed a three-way alliance, after all.” This time, Killer audibly sighed.
“That almost didn’t occur,” he admitted. “Scratchmen and Kid tried to fight each other and Hawkins nearly walked out until I told them why Kid had called for them in the first place.” Roma couldn’t help but burst into laughter as Killer continued to explain the course of events. It sounded just like Eustass Kid to pick a fight after Scratchmen blew a hole in the wall. It also sounded exactly like Hawkins to grow sick of the petty squabbling and try to leave almost immediately. Roma considered Eustass Kid lucky to have Killer on his crew to be the levelheaded one, or else nothing would have been accomplished that day.
“Well, it certainly sounds like your alliance will be a lively one.”
“I could say the same for the one between your crew and the Strawhats.” They settled into a comfortable silence before Killer spoke up again. “How is your captain doing, after Dressrosa? I read the reports.” Roma sighed and picked at the splintering wood on the table. She still wasn’t used to seeing her brother without an arm. They were working on making a functional prosthetic for him, but nothing yet had met his standards of finesse. That hadn’t particularly surprised Roma. Law was a surgeon, and he needed the utmost precision for his work.
“He’s doing well, considering the circumstances. It’s been an adjustment period.”
“You sound as though it were your arm that was lost.” Roma shrugged.
“Might as well have been." Killer tilted his head at her statement, since she wouldn’t have been able to see his confusion otherwise.
“What do you mean by that?”
“Law-kun and I always work together. You know that, Killer. The whole ordeal has been difficult for us both.” They were both silent for another few moments, until the Kid Pirate vice-captain spoke up again.
“Captain Kid could probably make a replacement,” he noted.
“With what? The metal he magnetizes to himself? Even if that could work, and I’m not saying it would, he could never come up with something that would work for Law-kun. Precision is key. My captain is a surgeon after all.”
“My captain is a genius with metalwork.”
“The metallic arm he’s taken to using is a doctor’s nightmare, Killer. It doesn’t look like it’s good for much more than smashing things.”
“Then you design it.” Roma stopped and stared at the man across the table from her. She mulled the prospect over, chewing on her lower lip all the while. The idea of her brother being able to have a prosthetic arm he could use was almost too good to be true. And that was why Roma didn’t want to get her hopes up concerning the matter.
“Is there any guarantee it would be functional?” she asked cautiously. “Law-kun won’t agree to anything that’s purely for aesthetics.”
“Between Captain Kid’s skill, your in-depth knowledge, and your captain’s ability, it should function well enough. He may have to use his ability to make it function, but it will move.”
“That sounds like a waste of his energy, which he can’t afford in larger battles. But it’s better than the current situation. Who is to say your captain will even agree to it, though?”
“Let me take care of that. It won’t take much convincing,” Killer answered. “After all, Captain Kid still wants to get a good fight in with him.” Roma couldn’t help the smile that broke across her features at the impossible hope that she could help her brother.
“Then let’s give it a shot,” she answered.
“Hmmm? Captain, where is Roma-chan?” Penguin asked as he passed by Law in the common room of the ship. The captain had a large textbook balanced on his knee as he sat idly in solitude.
“In town,” he answered, never glancing from the book as he turned the page.
“Isn’t that dangerous? What if the Marines spot her alone? Or worse, Doflamingo?”
“Doflamingo isn’t anywhere near here, and has no reason to suspect we would be. Besides, it’s a cloudless night, so he wouldn’t be able to travel by air even if he wanted to. The Marines pose no threat, either. Roma can handle herself, and she’s with Killer.”
“You don’t sound as irritated as you normally would, Captain,” Penguin noted with an amused grin. “Are you finally accepting that Killer is important to Vice-captain-chan?” At this, Law glanced up from his book and Penguin froze in his spot. The grin fell from his lips as his captain stared him down and he worried he may have said the wrong thing. Penguin knew that Law didn’t like talking about Roma’s relationship with Killer, primarily based on the fact that the latter belonged to a rival crew.
Of course, Penguin was completely unaware of Law’s own relation to Roma, and that his motivations for disliking his sister’s romantic interest went beyond his role as a captain. Roma was his only living relative, and his younger sister at that. Though he would never outwardly admit it, he couldn’t help but feel as though it was his duty to protect her in any way he could. This was especially the case given how Roma had kept him alive so many times when they were children. In a way, Law felt as though he owed Roma for that, and that his best way to repay her was to keep her alive and happy. Penguin’s statement had simply forced Law to, once again, think of Roma’s happiness in a light that extended beyond their crew. He shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly, allowing Penguin to breathe a sigh of relief.
“Maybe I am,” he answered.
Yes!—That is the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
Nearly three months passed since Law and Luffy freed the country of Dressrosa from Doflamingo’s grasp, and the former Tenryuubito had been all but completely absent from the newspapers. Law had briefly read about him trying, and failing, to regain his throne, and that Doflamingo had last been seen on a small wintery island in the New World. He seemed to be more interested in regaining his footing with the Yonko Kaido than he was in any retaliation scheme. Law knew Doflamingo would eventually come for them, and had warned his crew as much, but felt confident that they had evaded the worst of his wrath for the time being. After all, Law and Roma had traveled the seas on their own after defecting from the Donquixote Pirates as children for over a decade before Doflamingo finally caught up with them. And even that had only been because Law had decided to take him on directly. For the time being, he was sure Doflamingo would be too busy keeping his head from Kaido to be concerned with the Heart Pirates.
“We’re low on supplies, Law-kun,” Roma murmured as she scribbled a list onto a sheet of paper. “Primarily in food, but also in our medical office. Do you want me to send a few of our nakama to get it?”
“I’ll go,” Law answered as he plucked the list from his sister’s hands. Roma looked up at him with an upraised eyebrow.
“You sure? You don’t usually go on supply runs.”
“I could use the fresh air.” Roma didn’t protest, only snatched her list back to add a couple of items she hadn’t been able to write before her brother had taken it from her. Once finished, she handed it back with a smile.
“If you say so. Don’t be gone too long. I think Shachi and Penguin are making that stew from the back home in the North Blue that you love for dinner.”
Law walked through the market of the latest port town in silence, Roma’s list buried deep into his pocket. He already had a good idea of what the ship would be needing before they set sail in the morning. As it was, the sun was slowly descending in the sky, painting everything in a faint orange light as it fell lower on the horizon. The clouds above took on a pinkish hue that spattered across the growing night sky. Law had not even considered them until he heard a familiar, dark chuckle from high above. Law turned his head skyward, his eyes wide and his left palm suddenly cold. He took a step back, his heart racing as he stared up at the tall, lean man in a pink feathered coat hovering overhead. Law hadn’t even seen him in the sky, thanks to the cloud cover and the way his coat blended in with the rest of the colors of dusk.
“You thought you could escape me forever, didn’t you, Law?” Doflamingo asked. His voice never rose higher than a conversational tone, but Law could sense the threat in his words. It was the way Doflamingo always spoke, unless truly incited. He knew he had two options: Kill Doflamingo or get out of there as quickly as possible. And he wasn’t sure if either option was plausible at that point in time. He was completely alone on the island, and had nearly died the last time he’d tried to fight Doflamingo on his own. Roma had been correct months ago when she’d said he owed Strawhat Luffy for keeping him alive while they were on Dressrosa. He was the only reason Law had survived immediately after losing his arm. His ally was the wildcard he needed now.
“How did you get here?” Law demanded. He hated the way his fingers twitched nervously at his side and he clenched the hilt of his nodachi to steady himself. He couldn’t show fear now. He’d been caught off-guard, but he would not allow Doflamingo to see him falter. The one thing Law could be thankful for was that he had given the order for the Heart Pirates to submerge the ship until he called for them on his Den Den Mushi. They would be out of sight for the time being, and less of a target. Doflamingo chuckled again.
“You should know how my Devil Fruit works by now.” Law scowled.
“Don’t screw with me! How did you find me?!”
“I admit, it wasn’t easy. Where is my little Roma?”
“I sent her ahead with the rest of my crew,” Law lied. He kept his tone steady, careful not to betray his thoughts. Doflamingo could not know that his ship was right off the coast of the island. The warlord’s laugh echoed off of the buildings again. All passersby who had been in the market had hurriedly left by now, leaving Law completely alone as he faced Doflamingo.
“Then I’ll just have to make you tell me where they are!” As he spoke, Doflamingo dove from the sky, and Law could feel invisible threads tying around his limbs. He knew this would not be an easy battle.
Roma frowned as she checked the timepiece on the wall of the common room. Law had been gone for hours on his venture to gather supplies for the ship. Even taking a leisurely stroll, which Roma doubted he would, it shouldn’t have taken him this long. She drummed her fingers on the armrest of her chair, unable to concentrate on anything but the clock as she glanced anxiously at it time and again. She couldn’t help but be concerned for her brother, especially given the fact that they still hadn’t managed to perfect a prosthetic arm for him. Roma’s had sent her designs with Killer for Kid to work from, but the process had been slow. Her instructions were deliberately precise because she knew her brother needed perfection. For the time being, Law only had the limited dexterity of his left arm. And that made Roma nervous. Finally, she could take it no longer and stood abruptly, causing Bepo to flail and fall backwards at her sudden movement.
“Vice-captain-chan, where are you going?” the polar bear asked as she hurried out of the room.
“I’m calling Captain-kun,” she answered sternly. “He should have been back by now.” Roma all but ran to the control room, where Shachi was sitting in front of the control panel, and grabbed the Den Den Mushi.
“Roma-chan,” he started, but the vice-captain was already dialing the code to contact the transponder snail her brother had been carrying. After a long few minutes of ringing, the snail clicked to life.
“Onigiri,” Law’s voice murmured through the snail and Roma released a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding. She tried not to release a giddy laugh along with it. It would only make Law chastise her for worrying needlessly over him.
“Donburi,” Roma answered, completing the answering system they had taken to using, modeled after the one Corazon had used when speaking to the mysterious Marine man when they were children. “Law-kun, what’s taking you so long?”
“Go home, Roma. I’m busy.” Now Roma noticed that Law’s words were lethargic and slurred, which immediately put her back on edge. He wasn’t making any sense.
“Have you been drinking?”
“No. Bleeding.” Roma turned to Shachi with wide eyes.
“Shachi-kun, bring us up now!” she ordered before turning her attention back to the Den Den Mushi. “Why are you bleeding?!”
“A lot.” Roma bit back a curse. Her brother wasn’t careless. He wouldn’t have normally offered such a nonsensical answer to her question.
“Law-kun, what happened?!”
“Doflamingo found me.” Roma’s blood now ran cold at her brother’s words. She gripped the receiver of the transponder snail so tightly her knuckles turned pale. Actually, she realized, her whole complexion had blanched as pure, unadulterated terror coursed through her veins. Given the way Law sounded, she could only assume he had lost far too much blood in whatever fight that may have transpired on the island.
“I’m coming, Law-kun. Just try to stay calm and wait until I get there. I’ll perform an on the spot transfusion and you’ll be fine.”
“You sound like our mother.” Shachi tensed and gaped at Roma, but she couldn’t be bothered to deal with his surprise in that moment. Besides, what did it matter if one of their most trusted crewmembers knew they were siblings? As far as Roma was concerned, the whole damn world could know so long as her brother stayed alive.
“That’s right, Law-Nii. And like Mama, I’m not going to give up. We’re almost at the surface. Can you tell me where you are?”
“On the ground.” Roma bit back the urge to swear again. He wasn’t thinking straight. “Tavern behind me.”
“That’s good. Can you see anything else?”
“I’m going to die.”
“No, you’re not!” she screamed, tears welling in her eyes. She didn’t bother to scrub at them. Her hands continued to tremble with the receiver clenched tightly between them. “I won’t let you die! We already lost Mama and Papa, and Lamie, and Cora-san! I won’t lose you too!” Roma was almost doubled over, screaming into the receiver with abandon. She didn’t care who heard her. Irrational as it was, if it kept Law alive, Roma would have kept screaming.
“I told him you weren’t here. Said you went on ahead, like Punk Hazard. He’s gone now.”
“I wouldn’t have cared if he was there, Law-Nii. I’m coming to save you. Just like before, when we were kids. I won’t let you die.”
“You’ll be fine. You don’t need me.” Law’s speech was growing slower and Roma’s eyes flashed to the meter reading their distance from the surface. She couldn’t even read it through her tears and could only hope they were as close to the surface as she wanted. Hell, she wanted to be on land now.
“Of course I need you. You’re my brother.”
“You have the crew. An’ Killer.”
“That doesn’t mean-”
“Love you, little sister.” Now Roma knew Law was in real trouble. He never spoke that way, even when they were children. He never just called her ‘little sister’. This was all wrong, and Roma wanted to scream.
“I won’t say goodbye! I won’t!” Law was silent and, for a moment, Roma feared he’d lost consciousness.
“Please, Roma… Let me have this.” His words struck her to the core. It was the same phrase Roma had used whenever she’d begged him for something important to her, like using the suffix on his name when she first began communicating after the fall of Flevance. Law had never denied her when she made that request, even when she had revealed her relationship with Killer to him. She couldn’t deny him now.
“I love you too, Law-Nii.” She received no response, though she could still hear the fast, shallow breaths of her brother on the other end of the Den Den Mushi. She still had time.
The instant the Kintsukuroi breached the water, Roma rushed to the island, where she knew her brother would be. Shachi, Penguin and Bepo were the only ones who followed her. The town had been almost completely destroyed, with entire buildings caved in on in flames. There was nobody around, and Roma figured that the civilians who had survived the brawl had run away in fear for their lives. She found her brother in the center of town, lying on the ground with his face towards the sky. His body was mangled, broken bones leaving his limbs in awkward angles, and he was littered with holes from Doflamingo’s strings. The side of his torso had been ripped open from those strings, which had resulted in the large pool of blood that had formed under her brother’s body. There was a bullet hole in his chest, right over his heart. Roma fell to her knees beside him and frantically felt for a pulse. She found none. Beyond all hope, she sliced into the palm of her hand and forced her own blood into her brother’s wounds.
“Wake up!” she screamed, pounding wildly on his chest. Tears rained down her cheeks. “You can’t die now! Wake up!” She screamed the order over and over again, until Shachi’s arms wrapped around her and he forcibly dragged her away from Law’s body. He held Roma’s hand tightly in his own to stop her blood from flowing into her brother any more than it already had in her fruitless endeavor to save him.
“Roma-chan, he’s gone!” Shachi yelled, even as he, Penguin and Bepo tried to hide their tears. “Captain’s gone. We’re too late!” Roma trembled and stared at her brother’s body, her knees giving out beneath her. Shachi guided her softly to the ground and only allowed her to return to Law’s side once he was certain she wouldn’t try to give all her blood in a pointless transfusion.
While her three crewmembers sat or stood behind her in silence, Roma doubled over with her forehead resting against her brother’s chest. She clutched blindly at the fabric of the shirt he’d been wearing; screaming in agony while terrible sobs wracked her body. For the first time in her life, grief had not turned her silent and she wailed until her throat was hoarse for her brother. And then she continued screaming anyway. Anything to make the gods she didn’t believe in hear her grief.
Roma sat before the freshly dug earth at the top of a hill, where she and her crew had placed a great stone memorial to their fallen captain. They had moved the body off of the island he’d been slain on and transported him to a beautiful island with a spring climate. It reminded Roma of everything she and Law had talked about seeing before they were forced to escape from Flevance. She liked to think he would have been pleased with this location, though it pained her to even think of her brother being gone. The Heart Pirates had held the funeral in the evening, as the sun was dipping towards the horizon. Perhaps it was tempting fate, Roma considered, but she found she didn’t care. If Doflamingo were to have the gall to attack her during Law’s burial, she would have done all she could to kill him. No questions asked.
Thankfully, the day had remained uneventful and, once the Heart Pirates had mourned together for nearly three hours atop the hill, many of them returned to the ship. Roma continued to sit cross-legged in front of the stone marker, until only Shachi and Penguin remained. Bepo had returned to the ship only at their behest.
“You shouldn’t stay out here too long,” Shachi offered.
“I want to be alone with him,” Roma answered, her voice despondent and lackluster. “I’ll return to the ship later tonight.”
“We’ll be awaiting your orders, Captain-chan,” Penguin told her firmly, and Roma flinched. She hadn’t wanted to be the captain of the Heart Pirates. That had always been her brother’s job. She didn’t want to replace him. She didn’t think she could replace him.
Penguin and Shachi left, though the latter only because the former dragged him off, leaving Roma alone with all that remained of her brother. Her chest ached, more so than it ever had before. Even more than when she’d lost her family or Corazon. Clutched between her fingers was the hat Law had worn as a child, that she had taken to wearing once he’d exchanged it for the Wool Skipper. That hat had been lost somewhere in the town, likely burned in one of the buildings at some point. Tears fell from Roma’ eyes, but she barely registered them. As a fresh wave of grief washed over her, Roma curled into herself, hiding her face in the hat as she fell into a fit of sobbing.
“Why did you have to die?” she demanded, though she knew she would not receive an answer. Even still, she lifted her face from the fuzzy hat and started screaming at the gravestone. “Why did you have to leave me here alone? What am I supposed to do now?! You were supposed to lead the way! You were our captain! Not me!” Her voice broke and she doubled over again, hiding her face in the hat. “Not me…” After a moment, Roma felt a large, rough hand rest between her shoulder blades and she flinched at the touch. “If you aren’t going to wake me from this nightmare, then go away.”
“I’m not capable of that, Bleeding Heart,” the owner of the hand answered, and Roma jolted upright to stare up at the muscular form of the Kid Pirates’ vice-captain. He stood over her, his head turned down to look at her and the grave before her. In his free hand was a large glass bottle that Roma could only assume was filled with alcohol.
“What are you doing here, Killer?” she asked, her voice barely audible thanks to her throat clenching from trying to hold back a sob.
“We heard about your captain. Our ship is on the other side of the island, so we don’t arouse too much attention while you mourn. Captain Kid is there, as pissed as you are sorrowful.”
“He has no right to be angry.”
“It’s his way.” Killer lowered himself to sit beside Roma, crossing his legs and setting the bottle in front of him. “I’m sorry for your loss. From what I could see, he was a good captain, and a strong man.”
“You don’t have any idea in the slightest,” Roma answered. She wiped the tears from her eyes and glanced at the pirate beside her. His face, hidden by the signature helmet, was turned towards the gravestone. Roma slowly leaned forward and placed the hat she’d been crying into on top of the piece of marble with her brother’s name engraved in it. She carefully affixed it so the wind would not blow it away, positioned just above the jolly roger that had been chiseled above Law’s full name: Trafalgar D. Water Law.
“I never knew he carried that name.”
“Nobody did, except me.” Killer draped an arm over Roma’s shoulders and slid the bottle towards her.
“You need a drink.”
“You know I don’t-”
“Because of your Devil Fruit, I know. I did my research on your abilities long ago. I’ll get you back to your ship safely. You need this.” This time, Roma let out a watery laugh.
“You’re drinking that with me, then,” she answered.
Hours later, Roma was too drunk to bother with coherent sentences while she lamented the loss of her brother, and Killer was likewise too drunk to be able remember much of anything she said come morning. She had gotten to that state after only a few mouthfuls of the rum Killer had brought, and he’d been the one to finish off the bottle. Roma rested with her stomach on the ground, her head turned towards Law’s gravestone with one hand splayed across the cool marble. Killer sat silently and let her murmur whatever came to mind. All Roma could think about, even in her drunkenness, was how she’d failed to save her brother when it counted most. Ever since they lost their home, Roma had striven to keep Law alive. She forced him to escape with her through the mountains of corpses. She’d pushed him to keep living, even when he wanted to simply die and destroy as much as he could when he went. She fought off the doctors that would have called the World Government to kill the both of them, and forced him to keep walking after Corazon died. All those times, Roma had been the one to keep Law alive, and he’d returned the favor by protecting her as they grew older. He never allowed her to come anywhere near death. He had ensured she had a safe place to be at all times, even at the risk of his own safety. Law had protected the entire crew from Doflamingo’s sight while he undermined the former Tenryuubito on Punk Hazard. But now, when it came down to the end, Roma was certain she had failed her brother. She couldn’t save him from Doflamingo.
“I’ll kill Doflamingo,” Roma slurred.
“Yes, you will,” Killer agreed, though he wasn’t entirely coherent enough to be making such promises.
“I don’t care if the rest of our enemies die. Just him. I just want him dead.” Killer rested a hand on Roma’s shoulder again, rather than answer. He wasn’t sure how much more he could speak before it became a garbled mess. Roma didn’t have a plan to kill Doflamingo yet, but that didn’t matter to her in that moment. All she knew was that she would find a way to take him down and avenge her brother. Everything in between could be decided upon in the morning. For now, Roma would continue to morn for the loss of her last remaining relative.
“I’ll avenge him for you,” she promised, her fingers tracing into Law’s name. “I’ll make sure he pays for all he’s done to you. To both of us.” Her voice dropped to a low whisper. “I love you, Law-Nii.” That was the last thing Roma remembered before the alcohol finally got to her and she fell into a deep sleep, lying in front of her brother’s grave with tears streaking from her eyes.
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling— my darling— my life and my bride,
In her sepulchre there by the sea—
In her tomb by the sounding sea.
Chapter 23: Epilogue
The sun was high in the sky, illuminating the world brightly as Roma stood before the grave of her fallen brother with a sad sort of smile on her lips. Resting before the marble stone was a lean metallic arm that had been constructed by Eustass Kid. Roma had designed it, down to the very last detail, so that it would be aesthetically pleasing and fully functional. It would have been perfect. The prosthetic had not been completed in time to save her brother, but Kid had seemed intent on finishing the project even after Law’s death. When asked, he never gave a reason. Nearly a full year had passed since Roma lost her brother and her promotion to captain of the Heart Pirates. In that time, Roma had finally been able to fulfill the promise she had made in her drunken stupor the night they buried her brother. Doflamingo was dead, though the feat had cost Roma one of her eyes and the mobility in her left hand. His strings had managed to irreparably damage the tendons in that arm. As far as Roma was concerned, it was all worth it. She had stopped Doflamingo’s madness, just like Corazon had wanted to all those years ago, and she had avenged her older brother. Standing behind her was the entirety of the Heart Pirates— she had been able to protect all of them, at least— as well as the Strawhat and Kid Pirate crews. Monkey D. Luffy and Eustass Kid stood on either side of her, and Roma was glad for it. She knew she would not have been able to dismantle the Donquixote Pirates without the help of those two and their crews.
Luffy had immediately agreed to help Roma the moment she had asked. He called Law a friend, more than merely an ally, and had been infuriated to learn of the former captain’s death. Hotaru had returned to her home with the Whitebeard Pirates after having fulfilled her mission in killing Marshal D. Teach, also known as Blackbeard, and therefore had not been present in the battle to take down Doflamingo. A short time after the fight had been reported, Roma had received a call on her Den Den Mushi from the Iron Maid, congratulating her on her victory and offering condolences for her loss. Kid had been slightly more reluctant than Luffy, but had eventually agreed to help take down Doflamingo. He had said it was because he was furious over having one of his rivals killed before he had a chance to do it himself. Roma suspected Killer had also convinced his captain on her behalf.
“Fucking Trafalgar shouldn’t have died then,” Kid grumbled. He had been saying much the same for the past year. Roma had gotten used to his complaints, mainly because she agreed with him entirely.
“No, he shouldn’t have,” she agreed. “But he would be happy that Doflamingo is finally dead. My brother can finally rest in peace.”
“Brother?!” Luffy repeated incredulously, and Roma realized she had never told her ally the truth. The thought had honestly never crossed her mind in the past year. She had been far more focused on avenging her brother than she had been on talking about her history. She never had before, and wasn’t particularly keen on it in the past year.
“You’re full of shit!” Kid spat.
“Trafalgar D. Roma is my full name. Law-Nii was a year older than me, and we had a younger sister named Lamie. He was the one who decided we should keep it a secret. He thought it would be used against us.”
“You have that name too? The D. initial?” Roma looked to Kid with a faint smile and nodded.
“If you had intended for Killer to play spy, he was a terrible one. Nobody knew, and my crew only discovered it after we buried my brother.”
“You and Torao-guy are like me, then,” Luffy commented.
“That’s right. We always knew our fates were entwined with yours from the moment we met on the Sabaody Archipelago. I think that was the reason why he saved your life after the battle at Marineford.” Roma rested her good hand on her brother’s grave, where the hat still rested neatly atop the marble. She traced her thumb over the jolly roger with a faint smile on her lips. She liked to think Law would be proud of her, and that he was watching over her from somewhere beyond. Perhaps he had found their family, and Corazon, she mused. Roma honestly hoped that was the case. She couldn’t stand the thought of Law being alone again. “Kid-kun, you’ve since broken your alliance with Scratchmen and Hawkins, right?”
“We took out Big Mom, so yes,” the red-haired pirate captain answered.
“And Luffy-kun, you’re still looking to defeat the Yonko Shanks?”
“I promised I would only return his hat when I became a great pirate, so that means I have to defeat him first,” Luffy responded with a grin.
“Then I think our three crews should form an alliance to take out the last of the Yonko. After that, we’ll see who is going to be King of the Pirates.” She turned around to see Luffy grinning widely, while Kid bore the wicked smirk of a man who wanted to make a deal. She knew the Strawhat captain would agree without hesitation. He was already her ally and, should it come down to a fight between them, she would be honored if he were the one she was forced to lose against.
“On one condition, Bleeding Heart. You tell us everything,” Kid told her, and Roma gave that sad sort of smile again. She could see that everyone present was interested in hearing the full story behind Trafalgar D. Water Law and his younger sister.
“Don’t call me that, but very well,” Roma answered. “You’ll all want to take a seat. This could take a while.”
I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love—
I and my Annabel Lee—