Actions

Work Header

Re:Doom Flags

Chapter Text

It was after the end of the Celebrational Ceremony that it first happened. Maria, as well as the rest of her loved friends, swore to stay by her side. Katarina already felt the weight of the past 9 years leaving her shoulders.

She felt as if she breathed clearly for the first time since her other world death. By some miracle, she had managed to get the Friendship Ending! That was so much more than she could ever wish for!

She was enjoying the last bit of the day with her friends, chatting and eating some of the delicious sweets the school had provided. Mary and Maria were on each side of her, occasionally feeding the brunette some of their own favourites, as Sophia was gushing about a sequel of Sophia and the Emerald Princess the author was working on. Keith too was close, sometimes wiping her chin or lightly scolding her for her manners. Geordo, Nicol and Alan hung a little farther, debating over a new popular merchant that had just arrived in Sorcier, and whether he is worthy of a chance for an audience with the King.

Something, however, was missing.

Katarina had that feeling for a while, but now, seeing all her dear friends around her smiling and having a good time, she couldn't help but feel like the scene was...incomplete. That's when she realized that she could never exclude her dear maid from such a happy moment in her life. Katarina almost physically slapped herself for forgetting Anne like that.

"Hey, guys? I'll be right back, I want to go get Anne from her room!"

"I will accompany you sister. You might lose your way after all."

"Hey!... You know what, you're right Keith… Alright, we will be back before you all realized it! C'mon lil bro!"

"S-sister, stop pulling me!"

Katarina and Keith excused themselves from the party, starting to walk toward the servant rooms of the Academy. They are making small talk, Keith reminding her not to push Anne too much if she decides not to come with, Katarina reassuring him that she'd never do such a thing.

She turns to grin jokingly at her beloved brother, only to almost choke on the air.

Keith's eyes, his characteristics, his body language…

All of a sudden, they all changed.

He looked nothing like the boy she dearly adored. He just stared at her…. Eyed blazing with such hatred and fury, all of it directed at…

 

Her.

 

Before she could ask what was wrong, she felt the ground beneath her feet give away, as she fell into a pit she didnt realize she was standing on.

The room was so little, she breathed mud and dirt along with the limited air she could find.

Then, the ground shook.

The space shrinked by the second, along with Katarina's body. She felt the rocks around her move infuriatingly slow, as if trying to make her death as painful as possible.

The shock gave way to the intense feeling of her bones crushing, organs bursting inside her as blood made way up her throat, her choking on it, coughing up a whole lot of the damn red stuff. The scream died in her mouth at the sight of her dear brother smiling sinisterly, as he crushed the last bit of Katarina's body.

And the one thought in Katarina's head was:

'I'm sorry Keith...Whatever it is that I did… I'm sorry.'

Katarina Claes exhaled one last breath, before succumbing to the pain and darkness.

 

***************************************************

 

Katarina felt immense pain from her forehead.

She jolted upright, clutching at her head, breathing heavily.

Her body felt….foreign.

She tried to remember where she was, only to choke once more at the painful memory of Keith, who…

"Milady, you have awoken! Your parents were gravely worried Lady Claes, Prince Geordo too! How do you feel milady?"

"Ugh, Anne?... Where… where are we?"

"Oh dear. Have you no memory of your room Lady Claes?"

That's when Katarina took in the room around her, gaping at the sight.

She shakilly turned to the huge mirror she remembered having there, as the scream she held just seconds ago tore it's way out of her throat.

She fell off the bed, scrambling to get up in order to stand right in front of the mirror, pressing her fingers lightly over the glass.

She was staring at the horrified look crossing her eight year old face, the cloth doing little to cover the scar she knew all too well. Her other hand lightly brushed the covered bruise, as Anne broke out of her trance.

"L-Lady Katarina! D-does your head hurt that much?! Should I call for a doctor?!"

Anne turned the frightened 8 year old around, checking her for any other bruises, looking worried. But Katarina's mind could not process any more information.

Not after Keith had-.

And certainly not after staring at her now much younger self.

She passed out.

She couldn't move for a a few days, the pain of her body being crushed a memory in her head, yet still so fresh, as if it was happening to her every few seconds.

Withdrawal symptoms, every doctor stated.

What had she withdrawn from? A mystery to everyone around her.

But she…

Oh she had a pretty good guess.

Her life.

She was withdrawn from her own life.

Yet again.

It wasn't only her body that was broken.

Her spirit had taken the mightiest blow.

Every day she spent on her bed, she either cried, grieved, or just laid there staring at the ceiling, too tired to do anything.

At some point, she even developed high fever. She passed the worst of it now, the doctors reassured her parents.

But she knew, she knew too damn well, that this was a beginning to something horrible.

 

She couldn't have been more right.

 

***************************************************

 

'Keith… Keith looked at me so-. And now I'm back. Back to where it all started for me… Was Maria secretly in his route all along? But that can't be right, neither of them were known for lying. And they had all stated that they were just fine being friends!'

' I… I can't let this happen again. For whatever reason Keith did this, I am responsible… Maybe I didn't love him enough… Yes, yes, that must be it.'

'I promise I will do better brother.'

'I promise I will be better.'

'I need to be better.'

 

'Better.'

 

***************************************************

 

Katarina didn't manage to persuade Geordo not to get engaged again this time.

He smiled at her and proclaimed that he needed to take responsibility like the man he was.

Katarina didn't like that smile. It was too bright, too teethy, too fake.

That was not Geordo's smile.

That was the one he gave her before becoming friends.

Katarina felt her little 8 year old heart crack for the first time.

Keith came again.

She made sure to become his friend right away. She didn't force him to use magic, instead slowly coaxing him into showing her a little bit every day, until he had a better hold of it.

She made sure her mother knew that he was not a bastard, made sure that her relationship between her, father and Keith was picturesque.

And maybe, at some point, she missed her mother's attention.

Maybe, she missed that little glint in her eye when she would do anything reckless.

But she knew better.

And if that little longing was all it took for Keith to feel more loved than ever, then so be it.

 

***************************************************

 

The ceremony day came once again.

The previous life scene replayed, just this time Anne was there too.

Katarina made sure to shower her brother with love once again. Everything seemed to be fine.

She really wished she wouldn't have to be killed by her dear brother again.

Now that she thought about it, she should have prayed not to be killed in general.

Geordo asked her to dance with him. She smiled, taking his hand and after sparing a glance to her brother, who needed good-willingly, she let herself be guided to the dance floor.

Geordo was an excellent lead and she was having fun dancing with him.

One second she was laughing at one sarcastic joke he made.

Next thing she knows, a sword is plunged on her left breast, right where her heart was formerly beating.

The metal slashed right through her frame, then retracted.

She stared at the hole on her chest.

The wound bled quickly, blood gushing like a flowing river, red and thick…..

Deadly….

Another flash of pain on her right shoulder now.

She felt extreme pain on her arm…

Then she couldn't feel it all together.

She heard the thud of it, hitting the ground.

Watched it as it rolled off, away from her, as if it never was hers to begin with.

She could hear someone screaming.

Mary, she thinks.

She isn't sure.

She is too much in shock, in pain, falling on the floor, her blood turning the white marble red.

Last thing she remembers is Geordo's cold, ice blue eyes scarring her soul, a flame of hatred the only visible emotion in his eyes.

 

Katarina Claes dies screaming again, weeping for another stolen life.

 

***************************************************

 

She wakes again.

The same burning feeling on her forehead.

Screaming.

Anne running to her side.

Asking whether her forehead or anything else hurts.

Her ignoring the maid.

Too much pain.

Too much sorrow.

'What did I do wrong?'

'Was I not supposed to laugh at that little snarky joke he made?'

'Oh God, I did it again.'

'I caused someone I love misery. Again.'

'This time I will do better.'

'I can't lose time now.'

'I will be better.'

'Better.'

'...better.'

 

Stand up.

 

S t a n d  u p .

 

 

D o  B e t t e r.

 

***************************************************

 

Katarina wipes her tears away.

She reassures Anne that everything is fine.

She escorts Geordo in. This time, her parents are there too.

After checking on her, they stand back to watch the young prince's actions. Geordo, for the 3rd time in her lives, kneels by her bed, asking for her hand in marriage.

He smiled that all too perfect- it's fake, just like his feelings for me - smile, waiting for her approval, him and everyone around him, cause hey, what kind of idiot would reject a proposal from an attractive prince?

That's her alright.

So, she puts on her own smile.

But hers is real.

Hers is the pain of losing 2 lifetimes worth of family and friends on this world and another one on the other world.

Hers is the sorrow of looking at her dear friend, kneeled and charming, offering a place by his side that he will regret later.

So Katarina wants to protect him.

She needs to protect him from her.

She smiles.

"I'm sorry your highness, but I shall politely refuse. Please hold that place for the one your heart yearns for."

She can hear her mother's fan dropping, a soft gasp draws from her father's lips and Geordo is looking at her shell shocked. She continues to smile, trying to reassure them.

"But… No, my lady, it is all my fault that you fell and I intend-"

Her smile widens.

"It would seem that we remember this differently. I tripped as I tried to come near you, resulting in me falling down ungracefully, as you tried to help me. So you have no responsibility at all. And please, don't just offer up that position by your side to anyone. They may not be worthy the trouble."

Her parents excuse themselves from the room, as does Geordo, if only somewhat reluctantly.

"Milady?... Are you quite fine? Do you need anything? Anything at all?"

She smiles again.

"I am completely fine Anne. Please, don't trouble yourself with me."

She will protect them.

All of them.

So she smiles and stands up.

 

***************************************************

 

Next thing in the morning, she goes right to her father. She begs him to let her pick up martial arts and swordmanship.

Begs him like her life depended on that.

Cause it did.

The lives of her friends did.

Luigi stared at his daughter for the longest of times. His eyes betrayed the uneasiness and worry he was feeling.

But the resolve in Katarina's?

It was steel. Cold, sturdy, sharp steel.

(Just like the sword that pierced her right th-)

"Darling… Why would you want to do this? Is there anyone bothering you? Should we hire you guards?"

"Father, no. I want to be the one to protect others. I just want to be stronger, and since my magic is so weak, the only thing I can train is my body."

"Katarin-"

"Father please."

Perhaps it was his doting nature. Or his love for his daughter. Maybe even the crack of her voice when she begged, the steel in her eyes wavering and the fire dying down.

But, in the end, he complied.

Several masters of different martial arts were summoned in the Claes manor. They all knew of the Duke's family, so they were extremely confused about exactly who they'd be teaching, that required so many of them too.

Katarina introduced herself to the teachers, then started explaining as her parents watched over her, the smallest of pain visible in their eyes.

"Welcome to the Claes manor. I am Katarina Claes, Duke Claes daughter, and the one that requested your presence here today. The one you will be tutoring is me. I only have 2 conditions."

Katarina stares at the dumbfounded teachers, who gape at the small 8 year old.

"One. You are to train me like any other person, no going easy on me because of my gender, age or title."

"Two. You are to treat me as such too. During training, I'm nothing but a student and you my tutors. Not a Duke's daughter, not a girl, just Katarina. I expect constant chastising, and penalties if I behave unbecomingly."

Katarina squares her shoulders, bows deeply and keeps her head down, as she finishes her speech.

"It is an honour to be taught by all of you. Thank you for being here today, I promise I will be an excellent student."

She stands back up, takes one look at the still shocked masters, and leaves to change.

'I will get stronger. I have to. For them. For everyone.'

 

***************************************************

 

Katarina trains.

She trains and fights until her bones are cracking with the strain.

Till her body goes from burning pain to numb, numb to the hard training.

Numb to the mental strain.

Her tutors are as harsh as they can be, impressed by the 8 year old's drive and determination. Whatever they demonstrated, Katarina did with precision, focusing on one move at the time, perfecting it.

Keith comes again.

She divides her time equally, spending time with family, then going back to training. She meets Mary, Alan, Sophia, Nicol and spends as much time as she can with Geordo, promising to always respect and help the blonde however she can.

By the age of 13, she has mastered every single different technique the tutors could teach her. She now focuses on sparring with them, and harder training.

She works hard to build up muscle.

To become physically indestructible.

She cuts down family time.

Her parents and Keith watch her drift away further into her training, unable to persuade her to take it easy. She remembers the hurt in Sophia and Mary's faces when she starts cancelling their usual get togethers. The betrayal in Alan's when she says that she doesn't have time to compete against him.

The most painful thing to watch however is Anne's crestfallen gaze while she watches the 13 year old act like a veteran soldier.

She is by her side whenever Katarina threatens to collapse, when her bruises are proving to be too much for her to dress, when she wakes up in the night sweating, crying, whimpering.

But she pushes through it all.

She endures it.

 

She has to.

 

 

***************************************************

 

The time comes to enter the Academy for the 3rd time.

This time she feels stronger.

Physically and mentally. Her body is as hard as rock, height increased, and spirit ready for anything that might happen to her.

She had been killed by Keith and Geordo before. And as far as she knows, in no other routes is she in danger of dying.

So she feels ready.

(She didn't know then, that she'd much rather die by their hand instead of what would actually happen.)

In the meantime, rumors had spread about her skills. Several times she was even called 'Thunder Beast', result of her quick and effective movements.

She befriends Maria again. The year passes quickly, her protecting everyone whenever she saw fit.

It wasn't even the day of the ceremony yet. It had been just another night. Just a normal night after a normal day with normal classes.

She was returning to her dorm room after another late night sparring session with the school's swordmanship teacher.

Anne was right by her side, of course. The two had grown even closer than ever before, as Anne was the only one Katarina allowed to watch her train.

They were making small talk. Well, more likely, Katarina was. No matter how much she'd try to get Anne to open up to her, and how much Anne tried to get used to the treatment Katarina provided her with, Anne would still hesitate to talk to her as openly as she'd like.

(Hell, she was being treated like a human being, how traumatized could she be for not realizing that she was a person?)

Then, she hears the air being torn apart by a thrown sharp object.

She was ready.

 

She was R E A D Y .

 

It's too late when she realises the knife isn't being thrown at her.

She tries, she really tries.

But she can't manage to grab the blade before it comes in contact with Anne's chest.

She can only catch her beloved maid as she falls right in her arms, bleeding heavily.

 

She tries to scream.

 

Tries to yell for help.

 

The words are foreign in her throat, as Anne reaches up to her face, eyes hauntingly blank.

"...please...Milady...don't cry...I...I love you...Lady Katarina….please, be happy in your life…"

And with that, her hand falls, eyes close, and Anne Shelley exhales her last breath.

Katarina can't breathe.

She can't exist.

She cries silently, clutching at the maid's limp body, refusing to believe that she has just lost her beloved, dear maid, who she can't even imagine living without.

… I can fix it.

I can fix this.

Katarina pulls the deadly blade out of Anne's chest, directing it to her throat.

I can bring Anne back.

I can bring her back.

Katarina takes a breath.

And she slashes.

 

***************************************************

 

She doesn't jolt.

Doesn't scream.

Doesn't feel anything but small, fragile hope, when she opens her eyes again.

First, she feels the soft mattress, blinking rapidly to recognize the room. Then, slowly, she begins to rise, feeling her soft, delicate, small 8 year old body, a stark contrast to her previous one. She looks around, not seeing anyone at first.

She stands up.

Her legs are wobbling, body shaking, heart racing almost as fast as the multiple thoughts crossing her mind.

She prays to every God that she's known of, both from this world and the other one, prays that, once she opens the door, she will see her again, alive and well and beautiful as always.

So, with little strength in her arms, she pushes the door open.

……..

"Ah! Lady Claes, why are you up?! Milady, please return to your bed right away, your injury has not healed yet!"

She-

She's here.

Anne.

Anne.

Katarina takes the few steps that separate her from Anne.

She stares at her, maybe because she was so used to life tricking her, that she thought that she might have been an illusion.

But, as her fingers lightly brush against the fabric of her dress, she exhales the breath she didn't realise she was holding.

Raising her arms up weakly, trembling, shaking right down to her very core, she lunges at Anne.