Two Years Later–>>
I stood in line with my peers, waiting for my name to be called. My palm were sweaty, and I was growing more nervous with every passing second. Tomorrow we would have the coming of age, or comensment ceremony. I wasn’t looking forward to it.
I wanted to skip this, as I had already passed my exams, but my father insisted. I really wanted to just stay in bed, because my head was killing me.
We managed to win the championships the other day. But I had to fight this guy named Bartolomeo. He hit hard, and it took even I a good fifty plus hits to wear him out a little. I had a black eye and harshly bruised cheek from it. I didn’t want my picture taken like that.
“Ceerie Le Roux.” Principal Garp growled.
I took a deep breath and walked across the stage to him and Sakazuki-sensie. He shook my hand, as did sensie, and handed me my diploma.
I walked the rest of the way across and stood with all of my other peers.
I thought about how much we’ve all changed over these two years. Kidd didn’t hate me as much, he always would because of our families, but instead he grew a little more from each of our brawls. Bonney stopped trying to push my buttons all the time when she realized I wouldn’t respond. But I think I changed the most.
I had cut my long hair, so it fell only about half way down my neck, got myself some bangs, and put black streaks in my hair. I got my ears pierced in multiple places. I’ve also taken a liking to skirts, and gothic Lolita. I grew a lot closer to Hawkins, Law, and Killer over the past two years as well. They haven’t changed that much though.
The time came and we all threw our hats off. I was glad school was over with. I could use all the time I spent in the class room and doing homework helping my father.
I was congratulated by everyone before Daddan practically ripped off my graduation gown revealing my black, lacey, mini skirt, and red and black long sleeved shirt that covered half of my skirt.
“Let’s go, Ceerie-hime.” Makino said in her sweet voice.
I nodded holding back my groan. She said she was going to take me shopping after my graduation for new cloths. Apparently she and Daddan had noticed the high levels of black I was wearing and insisted I start to add some colour.
“Yasopp.” I heard my father say as we left.
The said man walked with us, and came int the stores. Now we couldn’t be too careful. I was graduated, and ready to take over. I was an open target.
The sun was starting to set as when the four of us got back to the mansion.
“Successful shopping trip, I take it?” My father asked when we came in with a gazillion bags.
“Mostly.” Makino told him.
“Ceerie-hime continued to pull out black.” Daddan added.
“I refuse t wear pink.” I told her, “It clashes.”
“You could always go with lighter colours.” She told me, “You always choose the darkest of shades! You might as well wear black all the time!”
“With our line of work, Daddan.” My father told her, “Black it better than all other colours.”
She sighed giving up and took the better half of the bags upstairs to my room.
“Arigoto for the help, Yasopp.” I said and bowed to him.
“Don’t mention it Ceerie.” He said and rubbed his neck, “If I may sir, I’d like a word.”
My father nodded and they left. I helped Makino take the rest of the bags up to my room. When we got there Daddan was already putting them away.
I sat on my bed and watched them, they had ordered me not to help.
“Neh?” I asked them out of the blue, “Why are you guys so adamant of me wearing lighter colours?”
“So men will see you as a girl and not feel threatened to approach you.” Daddan told me bluntly.
“Daddan.” Makino scowled, “What she means is, sometimes a man will over-look a woman if she appears too serious. And a lot of black all the time, Ceerie-hime, is series.”
I shrugged, “If I get married he’ll understand who I am, and appreciate my clothing style.”
They chuckled lightly at what I said. It was the truth though. If I was dating a man and he tried to change me, I would be done with him. My love should love me as I am.
There was a knock at the doors and I opened it. Law was there, with Hawkins at his side. Both held a large parsle.
“These just came in.” Law said handing his to me, Hawkins did the same thing, “You father wanted us to bring them up to you. He said you had to wear them tomorrow.
I sighed knowing exactly what they were. And nodded.
“Arigoto.” I said and bowed to them, they bowed back and left. I shut the door and layed them on my bed.
“Oh, they came.” Makino smiled to herself.
I nodded and began to open them. In the first one was a snow white kimono, this was the underlayer. In the other was a black kimono with rich, red flowers, beautiful rivers of blue, breath-taking yellows of gold, and deep purples that put the night sky to shame.
“It’s beautiful.” I said absent-mindedly.
“It was cut just for you.” Makino told me sitting on the bed next to me, she and Daddan had finished putting everything away, “It’s a graduation gift from Lord Spandam in the mountain kingdom. He requested you wear it to your coming of age commencement ceremony.”
I nodded, “This isn’t a rouse for another marriage proposal, is it?” I asked her.
She shrugged, “Only he knows.” She told me.
I nodded and sighed again.
“What do you have against marriage anyway?” Daddan demanded, “You are a young, beautiful woman who’s full of potential! Why won’t you accept a husband?”
“Because I don’t love any of the men that have asked me to be their bride.” I told her, “That’s what I want to marry for. I’ve talked to all of the suitors, but non are to my liking. I think it would be easier if my father had chosen a husband for me, but he’s dead set on me finding love myself.”
“You’ll find it Ceerie-hime.” Makino told me, “You just need to look a little deeper than the skin.”
I couldn’t help but agree with her. But it still didn’t stop me from thinking. Exactly why did all these men actually want me?
I was awake before Makino came in my room to wake me up. The usual shower, dressing gown, sit-still-as-I-do-your-hair routine that I have become so familiar with over the years.
After I ate, I was dressed into the kimono by Daddan and Makino. Daddan tied it tighter than last time, but not tight enough to kill me.
I was once again helped into the carried cart and we were taken to the temple. I took a deep breath as I was helped out. Unlike the showing ceremony, this was going to be broadcasted all over the world. And each of us had a speech to say. They tried to get me to write one down, but I told them all I was going to say would be in my head, and I would tell it without a stupid cheat sheet or memorization.
We all bowed to each other before we went up the steps of the temple. But did not go inside. We stood on the wrap around balcony/platform of the temple and waited.
The elder emerged, and stood in between two families, sperating us into two’s.
“These children before will one day lead a family, and in doing so everyone in said family must know their intentions!” Dragon boomed, “Each of them will deliver you a speech. That speech is their vow! That vow is to you! You who are under them, be it in status, ability, or protection! They are your future leaders, from the bottom up their pledges to you!”
It started with the very last in Black beard’s family, then Big Mama’s, then Kiado’s, then Hawkins gave his speech/pledge.
The next gave their speeches, in the same order. And I knew I was going to be the last one to do so.
Second in commands went next, and all too soon next to be’s were up. And because Black beard didn’t have a successor, they skipped him. Bonney was done in record time, and Urouge didn’t have much to say in his.
I took a deep breath and walked across the platform to where the denden mushi attached to the loud speakers were. I knelt down and placed my hand on my heart.
“I accepted the role of Boss of the Red family, two years ago.” I began, “And when the time comes I will be ready and willing to take that position. But when that time comes, there is something I want everyone under the Red family to know.” I paused again and looked out to the people, “You do not serve me. I am not the ruler of all of you. But in fact I serve you.” Whispers could be heard all around. “I swear I will do everything I can to protect each of you, make sure your save and well. I will not bring any of you into danger, or something I do not believe will better the greater good. I will not tell you to do something for me. But I will ask. And each of you will have the option to decline. Your families will be safe, as will your lives if you do decline. But I will not forgive anyone who betrays me. And that is my one request.”
A moment of silence came over the entire crowd, before a fit of cheers came from them. I took a deep breath and stood bowing to them before resuming my original position.
Dragon went back up to the denden and raised it to his level. He raised a hand and crowd quieted down instantly.
“Each of these children deserve their spot up here.” He told them, “They are your future leaders! And they will carry out their vows to each of you when they take over their positions. And if they do not keep them, it is their descrase.”
We walked down the stairs and instead of going to our carages, we went to the people of our sectors. We must familiarize ourselves with them, other wise we wouldn’t be very good leaders.
“Ceerie-sama!” I heard people call all over. I was slightly over whelmed, but my father took my hand and lead me to the crowd.
I shook hand with so many and got to hold a few babies.
“You will keep us safe, right?” I heard a small voice asked. I turned around and saw it was a small boy, who was covered in dirt.
“Don’t be so rude to, Ceerie-sama!” A woman scolded.
I crouched down to his level and got a better look at him.
“What’s your name?” I asked him.
“Onion.” He told me.
I smiled, “Onion, I promise you I will do everything I can to make sure that you and your family and friends are safe for as long as I live.” I told him, “If I go back on that promise, I would like you to hit me. Okay?”
He looked at me astonished, as did the rest of the crowd in ear shot. Whispers came around, “A kid she doesn’t know hit her if doesn’t keep her promise?”, “The kid won’t do it, he’ll be too afraid.”, “Is she that dedicated to her cause?”
Onion nodded, “Okay.” He smiled at me, “I just hope I don’t have to hit you.”
I giggled, “I hope so too.” I told him, “I’m sure you’d probably knock me out if you did.”
He laughed too, “I wouldn’t hit you that hard!” He laughed, “You’re too pretty to do that too!”
I stopped and stared at him, “Even with my bruises?” I asked him.
He stopped and stared at me this time, before he smiled, “I think it gives you character.”
I smiled at him, “You’ll be a real ladies man when you grow up, Onion.” I told him.
“Arigoto.” He said.
“Ceerie.” My father called, “Come. There’s someone I’d like you to meet.”
I nodded, “Please excuse me.”
He nodded and went over to my father.
“Ceerie, this is Rayleigh, and Shakky.” He told me, “This is my baby girl.”
I smiled and bowed, “It’s nice to meet you two.” I told them, “My father has told me so much about both of you.”
Rayleigh smiled at me, “It’s good to know you put your people above all else, Ceerie-san.” He told me, “It’s hard to find that now.”
“I wouldn’t call her your baby girl anymore, Shanks.” Shakky told him, “Not only is she eight-teen, but she has more bruises than you did at that age.”
“Fist fighting championships.” I told her rubbing the back of my head, “My opponent was really heavy hitter.”
She giggled, and Rayleigh chuckled.
“She’s just like you.” He told him.
My father smiled, “Awh, but she got her looks from her mother.”
I smiled at the sight before me.
“Ceerie!” I heard and turned around. Nami, Nojiko, and Robin were coming over to us.
“Yo.” I greeted.
“Long time no see.” Nami commented.
“Gomena,” I apologised, “There’s been a lot to do lately.”
“Don’t apologise, Ceerie.” Nojiko told me, “We understand, but we miss you sometimes.”
I smiled sheepishly, “I know.” I told her, “I miss you guys a lot too. But there’s not a whole lot I can do right now.”
We were all at the dinner table. It was tradition that after ceremonies like this we all meet in the mansion and have a feast.
“Quite a speech, Ceerie.” Killer told me as we waited for the first course to come out.
“Arigoto.” I thanked, “But I was just saying the truth.”
“I wish I thought of that when I was your age.” My father called to me across the table, “It was utterly brilliant.”
I shrugged and sunk back in my seat, not really wanting to talk about it anymore.
Just then, Benn came rushing into the room with Law in toe.
“Guess what.” Benn told us.
“Nani?” I asked.
He grinned at me, “We got the wine factory for a steal!”
Everyone else kinda cheered. I grinned.
“How much?” I asked leaning forward wanting to know.
“Thirty million.” Law answered taking his seat, “We had planned not to go over one hundred million, because that’s what we got over the past two years from the oil factory.”
“And you guys were against it.” I smirked.
They were about to come up with some kind of comment when the doors to the kitchen opened. And instead of trays and trays of food, Makino hurried out with only a letter in hand.
“This is from Lord Spandam.” She said handing the letter to my father, “It was send urgent.”
He nodded and dismissed her.
He broke the wax seal and unfolded the paper. He sighed and rubbed his temple as he read it.
“This should have been addressed to you.” He said, layed the paper on the table and flicked it down all the way to me. I stopped it with the palm of my hand and unfolded it to read the contents.
After skimming it over for the second time, and I sighed and layed it face down pinching the bridge of my nose.
“What is it?” Law asked.
“This basically said, he loved the way I looked in the kimono and was hoping I would now consider him as an eledgable suitor.” I told him rubbing my unhurt cheek, “Apparently he was also turned on by the fact I went world-wide with bruises on my face and not care.”
The rest of the room sighed.
“I’m getting really tired of these.” I muttered balling up the paper and tossing into the garbage can.
“Make a public announcement that you aren’t interested in a suitor right now.” Yasopp stated.
“If not for the after effects of it, I probably would.” I told him.
“After effects?” Law asked, “You’re merely stating you aren’t interested in marriage right now.”
I nodded, “Then everyone is going to wonder why?” I told them, “They’ll try and find out what dark secret I have for refusing a suitor, and start with wild stories about me not being into men, or being pregnant, or maybe my father’s keeping me unwed for his own purposes.”
“The wrong kind of glamor.” Benn put it in a nut shell.
“If you don’t mind me asking, why haven’t you accepted any of the suitors yet, Ceerie?” Killer questioned.
I shook my head, “I’m given the rare chance of choosing whom I spend the rest of my life with.” I told him, “I actually want to marry for love and not power.”
And for the second time the kitchen doors flew open, this time dishes and dishes of mouth watering food came out with Makino and Daddan and the other kitchen help.
It was three days after the commencement ceremony. All of us were in the meeting room. Not only had I received another four proposals, but we had also received a wedding invitation for Black beard and Bonney.
“Your plan, Ceerie.” My father told me as I looked over the invitation, “What do we do?”
I looked up at him from the letter where I stood. With the exception of Hawkins, no one was sitting around the table. I myself was leaning against the wall right next to the window.
“You and Benn go to the wedding and you give your blessing.” I told him.
Both men looked at me strangely.
“Day before Lucky tells everyone in the specialty unit that you gave me the power for this.” I told them, “Once the ceremony starts, most if not all the power on Black Beard’s side is going to be around the temple to stop any and all disruptions of the ceremony. When that happens the specialty unit will move forward and take as much of Black beard’s territory as they can, pushing in back pretty much to Big Mama’s lines.”
“And how do you suppose we get the territory?” Law asked raising an eyebrow.
“I didn’t just give my speech to promise our people that.” I told them, “But to let everyone know, I’ll accept those who wish to be protected.”
Killer chuckled, “And we all know Black beard isn’t the most gentle with his people.”
I nodded, “I’ve already talked to a few on his side, and they want to convert, but they’re afraid of what might happen.”
“So how do we protect them?” Benn asked me.
“Round the clock patrols.” I said, “Keep Black beard back for as long as we can.”
“And how long do you think we can?” Hawkins asked.
“About two years.” I said honestly, “But I have another plan to move him even further back, along with Big mama.”
“I wanna hear that one.” My father told me.
“Once we push Black beard as for back as we can,” I started, “We make a meeting with, Kaido. We give him 10% of the territory that we took from Black beard.”
“As a temporary truce?” Benn asked.
I shook my head, “We’ll tell him both our families are at disadvantages with the marriage.” I told them, “We’ll tell him we need to focus our forces against Big Mama and Black beard for now, and when their far enough out of the picture that they couldn’t hope to retaliate. We’ll discuss what we think is better for both families.”
“What if he doesn’t listen?” Killer asked.
“He’ll listen.” I told him, “Weather any of us like it or not, a marriage changes that game, and it makes nothing but trouble for the opposing families. He’ll have no choice but to take the territory and help us out a little in destroying them.”
“Ceerie, you’re evil.” My father said almost scared, but his shocked expression quickly turned to a smirk as he continued, “I raised you well.”
“Keep your friends close, and enemies closer.” I told him, “We can’t actually trust ,Kaido, but we can make him believe we do.”