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Severus Snape could not handle what he said to Lily so he shattered and I took his place. I was panicking when faced with the prospect of killing the Dark Lord when I created something truly marvelous. https://www.patreon.com/IHaveHidden for more chapters

IHaveHidden · Anime & Comics
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Time passes quickly when one tries not to think about things. To lose yourself in various activities, so your own thoughts don't haunt you. That was a tactic that I was fairly familiar with. Even if I wish that I was not.

So the year long journey has not felt that slow. Well more accurately, it has been about a year and a half since we have been trapped in this game. I expected our presence to change things massively. To be fair it has, but the timeline is relatively in the same condition. We have only reached floor sixty after all. It is an accomplishment with how quickly we're doing it but it's still fit within the SAO timeline.

I assumed that the united front that we had would have expedited things. Perhaps we were far too careful with every boss raid we took. The pace that we were going at was exhilarating for everyone else after all. So there was no need to rush anything as we were making massive progress.

Floor after floor boss after boss. Those victories piled up and everyone was so happy with it. A small part of me was equally happy about the outcome of all of this. I needed time to be better. This whole world provided me with that. I was no longer that bundle of unresolved issues. Those issues were of course still unresolved, but I was no longer on a hair trigger. I could contemplate my thoughts and feelings and work through them. Instead of flailing needlessly, as I tried to grasp on to some sort of rationality.

I wanted to desperately clear all of these goals, but not for me. Ashley was hurting and I thought that bringing her back to what she loved would be for the best. So I no longer had to feel guilt over my own weakness. So that she could be happy. Instead of breaking down like I did. Those were my reasons, but there was another truth in that. I did not want to face my own thoughts and feelings in regard to her.

It felt like a lie. To like someone again, let alone love them. I did not want to face what her smile did to me. I did not want to acknowledge the lust that bubbled in my gut. I could not fathom that I trusted her far more than I ever wanted to. I could not concede to the fact that her presence brought me peace. Thoughts and feelings like that ruined me.

Those feelings were capable of shredding my rationality to pieces. I was stable. Perhaps not happy, but the stability was enough. To throw that away so I could drown once more was ridiculous. I should not and would not love like that again. Even if I knew that to be a lie as well.

To feel for her was a doomed endeavor. I knew that to be true. This was not like Lily where I could pretend to not see the signs. Ashley loved her brother desperately and obsessively. So the affection I'm seeing is but a lie. The touches, the talks and everything in between did not matter. Even as she bared her heart towards me, it was not mine to take.

That moment that we shared should be gone and buried. It was just so hard to forget with the way she acted. There was hesitancy in all of her actions, but she still did them. Just as clingy, just as close, just as intoxicating. The way she would look at me sometimes would have me hoping for some sort of lie.

So that particular issue is not something. I want to be facing right now. My ridiculous feelings aside. There have been other things going on.

A rather interesting player has popped up on the lower floors. Apparently, she spent months of time bringing up people's spirits in song. I would have written it off as people coping with the situation they found themselves in. Then I heard a rather interesting rumor. By doing what she did that girl unlocked a unique skill. The ability to buff people with song.

Once, I knew that I quickly collected the girl and threw her at Kirito. That boy was reliable in a way no one else was. So having him take time out of his schedule to train the girl was worth it. She was just so valuable with an ability like that. It was not like leveling her up properly and teaching her tactics was going to take too long. It was just worth the effort, even if Ashley and I were only here for another 15 floors.

This Yuna was well worth the delay it would take to get her into working shape. There were other ways of buffing the raid group but she would offer a buff that would mesh with those methods. We just had to make sure that she would not die from doing something stupid. God, knows the lower floors had no idea how to operate properly. If she tried to level there she was bound to die because not understanding agro or something else asinine.

The beast tamer Silica was an interesting character. She was also found on the lower floor but she was not as interesting. Too young and too naive to have the grit to face the coming foes. Her pet dragon was good if only for the heals but she was not needed. I knew that she was a named character but I don't think she played a very large role in the story. Other than being another girl who falls for Kirito's limited charms.

I seem to recall that the plot surrounding her had something to do with Orange Players. That did not seem to happen in this world. We had long since taken care of those criminals after all. I suppose it still could have happened and Kirito just never bothered to tell me. That was possible as I was rather preoccupied lately.

Speaking of Orange Players. Laughing Coffin has not made an appearance at all. It was rather shocking as I thought that their whole gig was rather important story wise. I figured we eliminated enough of the cannon fodder that the guild never had a chance to take off. That was further reinforced when I checked the butcher knife I got from that guy.

I handed the thing off to Ashley ages ago but she never used it. Even as a cooking implement it was too large to use and as a weapon it was too small. It really was a strange weapon and I wondered why he was using the thing. Then I saw the stat screen on the item and I was shocked.

The fucking thing had absurd stats but a rather interesting mechanic. If you killed monsters with the thing it would slowly start to degrade. If you used it to kill Players than it would become stronger and stronger. The fucking thing screemed of Kayaba meddling. This was a weapon that fit perfectly in the hands of the person I found it on. I suspected that they were a high level player from Laughing Coffin but I could not really tell.

Ultimately it was useless in my hands as murdering every other Player would not help my goals. Ashley might have gotten a kick from it but she already had her spear. Not to mention she was fairly mellow lately. 

Still, an item like this made no sense to me as it screamed test to me. The same as the spear but this one offered no way of growth without Player blood. It did not fit my view of the man Kayaba was. So I decided to keep killing monsters with it. Sure it supposedly degraded with every monster I killed but that had a limit. Once it reaches zero something interesting should happen.

I was right as the unwieldy kitchen knife morphed into a katana after I degraded it a shit ton. The thing did not have the same absurd stats the knife previously had but it was still top tier. It no longer grew or degraded which sucked but it was better than what I was using. I could use One Handed Mastery on it but I knew that there was a unique skill for Katana's. Of course there was this game was made by the Japanese they had to have OP katanas.

I could aim for the thing but I already had a fucking unique skill. It was not something I expected to get but it really made sense. The unique skills were given to Players that did something unique. When I hit ten thousand critical hits I unlocked my skill. It offered a massive boost in crit chance and crit damage. I could give less of a shit about the crit chance but the crit damage was massively helpful. 

Hell even Ashley managed to get a unique skill as she mastered her spear mastery. The absurd combos she was now capable of pulling off made me jealous. I did not get any fancy moves I just hit like a roided out polar bear. I wonder if Kirito already had the dual wield skill. He had not tried to show that shit off yet. Not that he really needed to as the raids were not really pushing every one.

Another change that had me slightly worried was that Healthclif had not popped up. I knew that Kayaba used the avatar to lead the Players for some reason. I just had no idea what it was but he has not tried yet. I don't know if it is because we were doing just that well or because of other factors. Fortuna should be making his life a living hell so he could be busy. It would make sense as he had not tried to nerf my luck. Or I don't think he has.

We did not really need the guy to have everyone united in a guild. We already had that locked in. It took a lot of meetings and placating but the Clearer Guild was established. Sure it was not the greatest name but it got the point across. We funneled resources, manpower, and land to where it needed to go. I had no idea where that would be I was just the blacksmith. All that complicated shit was handled by Dialbel and Argo.

I managed to get Argo to join as I played on her good nature. That and I gave her a literal mountain of Cor. I am sure one of those things was more important than the other. Ashley and her still had whispered conversations. For some reason she was rather frustrated with me but for the life of me I could not figure out why.

I was contemplating what needed to be done when Ashley announced that dinner was ready. The things she could cook now have dwarfed what the house elves could provide. I am sure if the elves knew I thought such things they would kill themselves. 

Those little buggers really took pride in doing the best in housework. It made sense as their whole identity was based off of being the best servant. To have someone better would devastate them. To be fair to them Ashley was cheating. She was using truly absurd ingredients and was not actually cooking. It was a numbers game and she was winning because her number was the best.

I walked towards the dining table and saw the meal. It literally glowed in such a radiant way. The smell was just as heavenly but that was to be expected.

Ashley wore a soft proud smile on her face. She then walked towards me with a teasing smile and ushered me down to eat. The hesitancy in physical contact had long since faded. No, I had to deal with her not saying something she desperately wanted to. I was not in a rush to find out what that was as I feared what it could be.

We ate and chatted about whatever crossed our minds. We were almost finished when I apparently brought up the wrong topic.

"Just another fifteen floors and we can go back." I spoke out softly with a small smile on my face. This whole thing may have been good for me but that did not mean I loved this world. I honestly missed my own world a fair bit. Call it nostalgia but I wanted to go back soon. 

I had so many ideas I wanted to work through. I also missed talking to one of my only friends. I may have had to deal with a fair amount of smugness here but Narcissa was a different brand of that. I did regret my actions before leaving. I kind of just flipped the board and cared little for what was to come. It was arrogant and frankly an absurd thing but I was not really thinking then. I was just acting.

I did not regret saying what I said to Lily. She really deserved everything I said to her. I feel better now but she still shredded my heart raw. I was not sure what I would do when I saw her again. Or even if I wanted to see the girl again.

I lost my self in my own thoughts so I did not notice as the room was silent. So silent that the clanking of my utensils was the only noise. I did notice eventually so I looked up at Ashley. She was pale and her eyes were filled with the same anger and sadness I had seen before. She looked vulnerable and I was tempted to go hug her again. I killed that thought as things like that were not helping me avoid feeling for her.

She stood up suddenly and walked toward my side of the table. She hovered over me staring at me with conflict on her face. Ashley was a relatively small girl but as she stood over me she looked towering. 

"Ashley?" I had no idea what she was feeling but it did not stop my curiosity. She should be happy about what I said. Fifteen more floors and she could get back to being by her brother's side. Fifteen more floors and we would go back to what we were before. That was what was for the best. The outcome everyone wanted.

The conflict on her face faded and she faced me with that strange emotion filling her eyes. She looked me dead in the eye with a level of seriousness I was not prepared for.

"This last year has been great Prince." She let out softly. She bit her lip and looked at a loss for words.

"It has been." I echoed her statement. This year had been exactly what I needed. Even if it led me to want something I should not.

I stood up as having her tower over me was making me nervous. Now I was towering over her but that was just our natural height.

"You care about me." Her eyes started to glow at her words. I could not tell you why that was but I was sure that they did. She was not asking a question with her words she was stating a fact.

"I do." I knew it was not a question but I felt like she needed to hear it nonetheless. As it had never been something that was brought up between us. Just something both of us knew to be true. I cared about her more than I really should.

My words seemed to ignite something else in her. The determination and intensity in her eyes were still there. It was just combined with the same hesitancy I was used to seeing.

She gripped onto my shirt and looked up with rising emotions. She then pulled my head down so we were face to face. The look on her face was hungry.

"I want that." It was a simple statement from her but it held so much desire. I knew she desperately craved affection it was hard not to notice. She had it so I had no idea what she was doing right now. I was showering her with my limited affections already.

As if spitting on what ever thoughts I had she kissed me. It was quick and desperate. Her mouth was on mine in the blink of an eye. Her lips were soft and seemed to melt into my own at the heat it produced between us. Her kiss was hungry as she seemed to devour me. For a moment I could only stand there dumbly.

I then kissed her back. My kiss was just as desperate and hungry. She tasted so sweet but with a hint of blood. That taste did not deter me and it certainly did not deter her. I was losing my self in the moment. All my thoughts and rationality were drowning as we devoured each other.

It felt like ages before we parted and I could think once more. She was panting as she looked back at me with those hungry desperate eyes.

"I want you." She spoke out between heavy breaths. That statement caused ripples to spread throughout my being.

This should not be happening. She had someone she loved. She should not be showing me these hungry eyes. She could not want me. That was not something that was possible. Yet here she stands defying fate once more. I did not know how to handle this.

I care for her that was obvious. I felt for her beyond anyone else at the moment. I certainly lusted after her I knew that as well. She was such a beautiful thing it was hard not to. I liked who she was as a being truly. I enjoyed just being by her side. That searing kiss certainly told me I enjoyed more than her personality.

Yet I could not tell her I loved her. I did not know if I had it in me to feel like that again. Love ruined me and led to my obliteration. The crazy desperate love was not something I felt for her. Could this shattered heart of mine feel like that again? Would it be a lie to pursue her when I could not feel like that again? It would be cruel to lead her with a promise of love when I could not provide. I knew something like that left scars.

As I looked at her eyes that shined with so much I lost my self. I was making excuses. The truth was I was afraid.

I was afraid that this too was a lie. That she did not want me. That she could not want me. That the feelings she was showering me with would fade. What then? I would be left empty once more and I could not even blame her for it. I was the one stepping in to the abyss expecting something positive.

I was afraid that accepting someone into my heart again would lead to more ruin. I was afraid of an outcome I was not even sure would come. I was afraid to take that chance. I was afraid of this girl with desperate eyes because she wanted me.

I was a coward. I had always been. Running from my problems, from my issues, from my own emotions, from the world around me. I was afraid of accepting love because I could end up hurting all over again.

When I saw this girl defying fate and throwing her spear at that god I hated my self. I could not be that guy. I ran and that was all I did. I wanted that to change. To not be this coward. To be like this girl. So I can't run away from my own feelings because it might hurt.

That was not something I wanted. That should not be what anyone wanted. 

So I grasped her head and gave her my own searing kiss. I held her close and our bodies melted together. I was no longer thinking about my fears or anything else. The only thing on my mind was her and the taste of her bloodied lips


For those who want to read ahead.

I have committed true heresy

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