If someone reads this (which I doubt):

AU: So, if someone's actually reading this (and I severely doubt that)

THANK-YOU FOR READING! ^^ (please review, I'd love to know what you think).

And thank-you to Saphire 644 and Akiko J. Suzuki who agreed to help me (Saphire's my friend and Akiko is my beta on )

The white flag was just a formality.

The waves of the plague-struck were already there before the flag, but we all just pretended the white flag was then beginning even though it was not. Plague victims were no longer so shy about their sickness, before the flag the sick had arrived hiding the tell tale symptoms of the plague, now everything was out in public. The river of blue tinted people had increased at first by double, then triple in number.

I spent my days and parts of my nights taking care of the worst struck, I discovered that the rooms I worked in weren t just for the really bad cases, they were for the ones that were very likely to die. Now I was lucky to even get six hours of sleep, four was my usual. I lived in a constant state of ranging from slight to severe magical exhaustion. Someone in my ward was always on the edge of dying, in fact it would be unusual if someone wasn t on the edge of death.

I think one of the healers in the room near mine commented that all of us look like death warmed up, it' s a pretty good description of the state of us staff.

No matter how skilled or experienced, we weren't all powerful and miracles were beyond our reach. People died, that was the sad reality. I think the count of the dead at that point was still in the hundreds. Honestly, I was already tired of telling family and friends that a person was dead, and I stopped faking sympathy. I let my voice revert to its original, uncaring monotone. Well, at least my co-worker, Shirei, took over the pleasantries in a fit of exasperation. Apparently the she thought my lack of pity towards them was my way of coping . I just looked at her weirdly, and went back to work.

When I was exhausted after using magic, I would down a mana potion. A joke between me and the other magical healers was that we drank more mana potions than water. It could ve even been true on some of the worser days.

As you gradually start losing mana faster and faster, and all the mana potions in the world can t help, you ll begin to exhausted to the point where it's suicidal to use more mana. The world will begin to blur, and you only have a small amount of time before you fall down from exhaustion. Thats when I stumble to my office, a room that used to be used for storing herbs, and fall on the futon that I never bother rolling up. A desk stocked with the bare necessities to live with and a warm cotton blanket is all I bother bringing in. I had abandoned my former lodgings in favour of my office, in the state I was at the end of the day, I would ve probably collapsed on the street. Food was barely there. Being a healer mean that you were guaranteed a bowl of soup from whatever they could scrounge up and two bowls of rice. Enough to see you through the day. Energy potions and nutrition potions were food for both the patients and us, what the patients didn t drink we drank because we needed all the help we could get to stay on our feet through the day.

Even though it was summer, we had to wear heavy robes instead of the light ones people usually wore. Those robes weighed about ten to twenty pounds, because of the all the semiprecious stones woven and embroidered on. The stones powered the enchantments on the robe that were to protect us from the disease, like a shield. The robes worked for the most part, but I wished whoever enchanted them had also made them lighter and added a cooling charm to them. Aoleum makes the victims cold, ice cold, so the room had to be blazing hot. Add in us poor healers in our robes and we were steaming like buns in a bun vendor s steamer.

I wake up again. When did I fall asleep? I think I had healed someone at maybe three in the morning? It was all so blurry to me. I think the days and nights are melting together for me, I haven t gone out even once. What s the date? I m not sure.

Does this scare me. Yes, but there are better things to be scared of, this isn t the thing I m scared of most. And its not even close.

Wake up. Heal. Stumble to office. Collapse from exhaustion. Repeat. Thats one of my days. Before, I think my days were clearer, and it took someone like me to be truly uncaring of the feelings of the victims and the ones close to them. I thought of them as people to treat and heal. Now, its easier to simply see life as a routine. I never liked routine. Funny how it is. Now my life is one.

Sometimes I find myself humming while I do something, and I can t remember the song. I feel like my memory s taken a break right now, so that I can t accurately remember what I m doing, so I don t have to try to be or feel like a person. Then its easier to be detached from the world. Why was I here? Gods, I wish I knew. I think I didn t really care whether I lived or not, I d already gotten my revenge by killing the witch, now all I had to do was meet my brother again. Maybe I was suicidal, maybe I just was losing that gradual will to live that most people had. Heal. Gulp down some potion to regain energy and mana. Heal. Gulp. Heal. Gulp. Heal. Checks self, and collapses from exhaustion on futon.

I think you can see that its not a very healthy way to live. My skin had turned pale, paler than before, a few shades off from a corpse. The skin was also dry, flaky and my hair was turning translucent at the tips. There were constant bags under my eyes, and my limbs would feel like lead most of the time. Sometimes I could feel the slight buzz in my fingertips, as if it was humming with magic, which may have been true. The sick underneath our care would also take the energy and replenishing potions, but they didn t take them for weeks and months like we did. Many of the others noticed symptoms of their own, from the stress, exhaustion and over consumption of magic.

But we couldn t stop. Our roles as healers, and the orders of our superiors and our superiors superiors (the nobility that remained, who holed themselves up in their castle, and with their powerful, ancient wards had managed to survive the plague) made us stay. There were no breaks, except for the one healer that died of over consumption of magic, stress and exhaustion. The death taught me a lesson: limit your potions. Don t just go use your magic without hesitation, limit yourself unless you want a burial or having your corpse burnt to ashes. It was maybe six months later, when the weather had cooled and the winds had returned, that one day I woke up, and did my usual routine.

There was a patient my room that I remember well; her name was Midori, and she reminded me of my brother. Her eyes that were this dark sapphire blue made me think of him, his eyes were the exact opposite of mine, together we were like fire and water, two opposites of a whole. She had stayed in my section longer than most of the others, I guess now that I may have cared a bit more and healed with more concern towards her than others. Call me biased, but I don t care what you call me since I ve been called much, much worse.

Midori was coughing, spewing really. I think the cough she was using to cover up the purple-
blue blood was stained this indigo colour like a combination between an iris and a grape hyacinth. She was in the final stages, I knew that. I think, from all the time Midori spent trying to recover in this room, that she knew too.

Midori would be lucky to survive to see the end of the week. I lean her into a sitting up position gently, taking care not to interfere with her coughing. Brushing a cool, wet cloth over her forehead, I hummed that tune that I didn t quite seem to remember. Midori gently smiled at me,

for what reason I did not know. Maybe she was thankful, maybe it was because she was tired of this half-life she spent coughing up blood that she, like others wanted to die already.

Pain makes people desperate, and desperation makes people illogical , its a quote from the handbook the hospital used to give to everyone that worked here.

However, I can see how someone would rather die now than live a few more days like that. Death, I guess, is more of a blessing that most would admit.

As I finished treating Midori, I turn and treat the person next to her. Then the next, and the next. Everyday was dominated by faces I would forget to time. I realized that early on and didn t bother even trying. They were just identified by how Aoleum had affected them and how to treat them. I barely noticed them, the people were just like bodies to me, objects really.

That was why I almost missed it. The glance of the brown eyes that shined slightly caught my eye, as it was almost dark. I peered closer, to take a look at the face. I was hesitant, because I wasn t sure if I knew the person. My veil that covered everything below the eyes, didn t make me stand out among the other healers and assistant healers that wore something like mine. The patient was Shirei.

I was sure, the shining brown eyes, the dark brown almost black, raggedly cut hair that she liked to hide by pinning it up. She still had that patience that she always had, Shirei used to specialize in healing children and difficult patients because of how patient and determined she was. I guess you could call her the ideal healer; gentle, caring, patient, determined and charming.

She didn t deserve a death by this sickness, but here she was, in my room where only the worst of the worst struck came.

How long have you been like this? I ask her, feeling the guilt that came into my heart at the realisation than I should ve paid attention to the fact she hadn t been here the last week or so (as my sense of time was so terrible I didn t even know the month).

Shirei was good enough that she seemed pretty clear headed to me, even with the heavy tint of blue she had all over her body. She managed to rasp what sounded like A week, give or take. I nodded, and gently used some of my magic to see how bad she was now.

Thinly spreading my magic through her body, I couldn't help shivering a bit, even with my robes and the hot, temperature in the room. The sickness was already winning, and I could probably only delay the inevitable.

I put a hand to her cheek, and tilted my face to her ear and told her in a whisper her fate.

Shirei didn t cry. Or question. She nodded and accepted her fate.

I wish I could have that kind of courage. Shirei died two weeks later.

I laid white flowers down on her ashes, her body had been burnt. The graves had overflowed and there was no other way to deal with the dead.

I think I cried. I don t really know. It was raining, when I laid those flowers.

But honestly, the rain doesn t taste salty and feel warm.

It was in deep winter when I was taught a different way to kill. As an apprentice, I had been taught dark, illegal curses that could be used to kill an enemy, and battle magic that would wipe out masses. This time, I was taught how to kill someone as a healer. A noble had finally fallen to the plague, and they spread it to a few others. That noble,demanded to have a room to themselves.

The hospital had agreed, they had no choice. The nobles commanded the city, and ensured we received food. My room was full of the ones who would die anyways, my superiors agreed, and so I was chosen as a tool for their means.

Killing someone with healing magic is different, it is not violent, painful or otherwise. It does not require spite, hate or malice. It needs a gentle, calm hand to kill someone as a healer.

I could easily pretend to be gentle and calm so I had no problems. First, you quiet mind, make it fall asleep and feel no pain. Then, you quiet the heart, make it

slowly stop. The last step is to make the person look peaceful, just to calm your guilt. Closing the eyes is a quick way to do it. I had killed someone. Someone innocent. Helping someone kill, is not the same as actually killing them yourself.

I had nightmares about the faces of the dead, and they were asking me, asking why I killed them. I saw Midori and my twin s face the most. I hated myself, I really did.

When I first saw the noble, I wanted to kill them. Curse them to suffer a slow, painful death. Strangle them slowly. Stick something sharp into their chest. Slash the wrists or the neck, or maybe the inside of the thighs, or the inside of their upper arms. I just wanted to kill that noble, for instigating the circumstances that forced me to kill.

I was angry at the noble, and I continued being. I hid it well though, I pretended my usual cold, precise manner towards the noble, and pretended to perceive her no different than the other patients.

I let the noble die. I pretended to try to heal her, I could' ve actually.

I just let the Aoleum take her. I may have helped the sickness a bit, but I never directly kill and tell. It was spring when the city gates opened. The hospital had seen three quarters of the people in the city die.

When the last patient with Aoleum died, the white flag was taken down and the gates were opened.

I left a few days after the gates were opened. I did'n t, couldn t be in Bellemeiress anymore. I guess I could say I started all over again.