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Caught in Silken Webs

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Captain Rogers asked her about James.

Strange, she had not known him as James. She had not known his name at all. She had called him Yasha and he smiled at her when she did, but he was not Yasha. She was not Natalia. It was the truth they knew, and the truth they could not escape. They were not people, they were weapons, and while he had trained her, he did not care for her. They would not let him.

She wondered, sometimes, if that was why he had died, if that was why he had been taken from her, because she had started to care. She did not think he had. He was not as weak as her, and he would never have been so foolish.

She had sworn she would never make another mistake like that again, but she had. She had allowed Hawkeye to live, and that would be her undoing. He would kill her, and even if he did not, she could no longer return home. She had failed. They would not accept what she had done.

She had not intended to become some martyr. Everyone seemed to want to believe that she and Hawkeye had both been injured by the man who had murdered the king, did not believe they had fought each other or that she had murdered her husband. It did not matter that he had tried to kill her. They did not see any of that truth. They rejected it for lies.

She was a queen now, and Hawkeye was unwilling to change it for reasons that she could not understand. Perhaps he meant to leave her to the wolves that would come. Rogers was only the first. If he sought her out looking for Yasha, then the others would come. They would follow those silken tendrils, thin leads, until they reached her. If not her own people, the ones who had sent her here, the others would find her.

They would catch her in the web she had trapped herself in. She was a queen, but she was a target. Accessible to all. They would send killers after her, some to avenge what she had done to them, to the ones they loved.

She was to leave no trace. They should not be able to find her, but then she was always in motion before, always leaving before she could be caught. She had not stopped to count the little signs she might have left behind or how many might recognize her, but more would come, following those invisible threads to her.

Hawkeye might kill her first. That would be a mercy.

She did not deserve it, but she thought he had enough honor to give it.