It had started out as a whim, true enough, but it had never been just a fleeting desire to know who this girl was. His king had asked him to take her especially, to reap her soul when her time had come, and that warranted raised eyebrows and investigation no matter the circumstances.

She had been so scared, those first few months, when he had lurked at the corners of her domain and never said the things he wanted to say. He liked the light in her eyes when she was frightened, he liked the way she would cry when he called her dumb or ugly or worthless. Heliked making her suffer.

But her soul—oh, that soul—was too entrancing to ignore, despite all the instincts in him screaming for him to run, he remained, he watched, and with time he learned that her soul glowed more brightly when she was at peace.

He traded in his snide comments for words of comfort, let her put his soul back where it belonged, and regained the emotions of humanity that he had long since forgotten. He let her become his purpose, his efforts all geared to make her soul shine brighter. He wanted her at peace, wanted her to always be happy, because anything less than a shining soul would do him no good.

He had greedy intentions at the start, there was no denying that, but then a change came over him. She came to him when she needed comfort one night, braving his shadows and snakes in order to ask him for a favor… And he had never been the same after that.

From then on he gave up his pretenses and let his human heart feel as it was made to do. He laughed with her, cried with her, let her dictate his emotions as she fit. He was a shadow, nothing more, and a shadow could make no movements of its own. A shadow merely mirrored the actions of the one it followed.

He went from tormentor to comforter in what felt to him like the blink of an eye, the transition so swift and simple it seemed like it had been his occupation from the start. He would look after her, look after her brilliant soul, and when her time came…

He tried not to think about that. She was scared of her mortality, scared of what it would mean to die, so he never spoke of it. He never told her about his home, where he had come from and where he would take her once her time was up. He did not speak of the hourglass on his dresser that was for her, or the way he could see the numbers emblazoned in a ring over her heart slowly tick downward, counting down to zero and her final breath. He does not talk about the afterlife, of how he wants to make a deal to save her, of how he wishes she could become a Reaper like him.

He stays quiet, unless bidden to speak. He keeps his hands to himself, unless requested to hold her fragile form against his own. He keeps his thoughts to himself, unless he is pressed for answers by another Resident. He hides his tears, because no one would understand his own heartache over the thought of losing her.

He remembers, through the haze of time and duty, the feeling of death. The cold grip of fingers on the back of his neck as he was held under the water, the burning of his lungs as he tried to breath, the panic of his fluttering heart as darkness finally took him and he was lost… He remembers waking in a strange graveyard, only to find that he cannot rest yet.

He waits, and watches, and keeps her safe because anything less would be negligence, and he refuses to let her soul fall into other hands. When the time comes, he will be the one to lay her to rest, to still her heart and close her eyes, to scoop up her soul and lead her onto eternity. He will be the one to watch over her, forever.

Itsumademo, sukoshi hato.” He whispers in his native tongue, the words almost foreign after so long a time. “I promise.”


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