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Toriel let out a soft sigh as she straightened her back against the tall, violet-hued doors. She attempted to don a serious, unwavering expression as she stared down at the defiant human child in front of her. Her paws heated up as fire magic radiated through them. The child, on the other hand, stood before her with some wounds battered on their body. They were gasping in heavy breaths. Despite that, they stood their ground just as firmly as the goat monster. The battle had lasted for only two minutes. Yet, it felt like it was dragged on for hours on end.

 

My child… Toriel thought, a lump forming in her throat. As she continues to watch the human child, she felt her eyes heat up for a split second, tears threatening to pour. Even though she knew the child for only a mere day, or perhaps less than so, she found herself quickly bonding with them as a mother would with their own children. She had seen a future with them. A future she had wanted. A future she had craved. 

 

A future she had needed.  

 

Toriel desperately wants to call the battle out. She wanted to scoop the child up in her arms, feed them more of her butterscotch-cinnamon pie, and read them a bedtime story of snails. She wanted to put all these events behind them, forget that it even happened. Heck, she didn’t even want to spar with the human, in the first place. She was only going to do what was right for the human child, and perhaps for the other humans that would fall in the future: to destroy the exit of the ruins. 

 

Flashbacks now chimed in Toriel’s head. She remembered encountering each and every other human kid in the same spot she met this child: lying atop a field of golden buttercups. She had watched numerous of those other children leave the ruins through the very same door she was currently barricading. Some of those kids were just a few years older than this child, while others were a couple of years younger. When they left the ruins, they all essentially left Toriel; all of them were brutally murdered by Asgore - or another monster - for their precious human souls. 

 

Whenever she heard the news of the slaughtered innocent children, she would sob and lament over them for days on. Her heart would twinge even more when some of those children would promise to come back and visit her; it meant that she would never see their smiling, youthful faces again. She would never get a chance to bake them her pie, to educate them, to take them bug-hunting, or even simply hug them. 

 

They are forever gone.

 

This child in front of her - whom Toriel learned their name was Frisk - was no different than those other children. They were just as youthful, cheery, and innocent as those children. Frisk was eager to learn, to explore, and to please. Toriel could tell that the child wanted to improve themselves, and was even passionate about talking to each and every monster they encountered.

 

However, the child was also no different in the fact that they wanted to leave the ruins. They thought that they’d be able to merely talk their way through the rest of the underground. 

 

Even up to now, the child was adhering to this principle. Toriel watched - in an admittedly fond manner - as the human child attempted to speak to her through the battle. Although the child’s words would often falter due to a lack of ideas on what to converse, they kept on trying. Among those words, Toriel heard them whisper “I don’t want to fight. I don’t want to fight.”

 

Even when we’re against each other, they still bother to use my teachings to this battle… Toriel thought. Earlier, she had taught Frisk to always avoid violence, and instead talk to their enemies in order to avoid further conflict. Not only that, but she also taught them the acts of sparing, and even fleeing if necessary. Just like the other human children, Frisk instantly enhanced and even embraced those acts of kindness, to Toriel’s delight. She is glad her teaching did not go to waste. 

 

Toriel continued to stare at the child. She winced inwardly as the child was now clutching their left arm, while trying to balance a brown satchel that she gave them on their dainty right shoulder. Their chest sagged and heaved as they continued to take in heavy breaths. She immediately felt bad for hurting the child. But it was the only way for the child to prove themselves; to prove that they can survive the rest of the monster underground. She was teaching them how dangerous some monsters truly are, even if it went against her past teachings of creating harmony and balance between the monsters. She shuddered at the thought of those vicious monsters; it pained her that not all monsters wanted a peaceful bond with the human, even if it was just a child.

 

Toriel then glanced at the child’s eyes. They were brimming with intense willpower. She then remembered one specific factor that made Frisk stand out from the other children she encountered. All the other children had some sort of willpower. However, Toriel had noticed that Frisk was practically oozing with courage and willpower, from the moment she met them. She felt their determination behind her as they had followed her into the basement. 

 

In other words, Frisk radiated determination.

 

It can’t be… Toriel thought to herself. Does this human... perhaps have the soul of determination? 

 

Toriel is aware that each human’s soul carries a varying degree of determination. Still, it would often be more of a characteristic of a person, rather than the embodiment of a soul. Thus, there were souls that were purely made of determination. Those souls were extremely rare to find. It was one of the main reasons why the monster race was locked underground for decades, and why they are so desperate to obtain a human soul comprised of determination. It was the only kind of soul they needed.

 

If they found out about this child’s soul, they’ll... Toriel couldn’t even finish her thought, as images of desperate monsters filled her mind. Remembering the visual brutality that they inflicted on those other children made her furred fists clench. Flames spiked up from her paws, illuminating the basement. Toriel noticed Frisk tensing up from the sudden flames. Beads of sweat formed on their forehead - whether from the intense heat of the flames, fatigue, fear, or even all three of those factors.

 

In a remote, authoritative voice, Toriel stated, “ I am doing this for your own good. Now be a good child and go upstairs.

 

Frisk uncompromisingly shook their head, refusing to flee. Toriel saw Frisks’s eyes shine tenaciously. Their body stiffened up for whatever blow Toriel had left.

 

They had flames of determination within them.

 

Toriel let out another sigh. “Very well.” 

 

She coldly scanned the child and the area around them. She had to admit, it has been a while since she last used her fire magic for combat. In fact, she avoided using her magic for violence ever since she moved in the ruins. She mainly used her magic for daily needs - such as for cooking and lighting her fireplace. As a result, she found her current combat skills to be quite lacking. She was especially realizing this now, as they faced the human child. She tried to hold back on her power, using as minimal amount of it as she could; utilizing her magic in long-ranged attacks required a rather immense of magic power. The battered-down child in front of her proved this, which again pained her.

 

She gathered up more magic in her paws. The warmth of the magic increased each second as the rich, tangerine-colored flames spiraled within her paws. She then held out a right paw, sending out multiple balls of flame. Toriel watched as they scattered across the room in a spiraling pattern, and then dispersing in various areas. As they dispersed, they made tiny explosions. The loud crackling sounds grew louder as more of them exploded. They were similar to the fireworks she saw when she was living on the surface. 

 

Despite being crucially wounded, the child had managed to nimbly dodge them. Toriel watched as they sidestepped each one of them. She had to admit, she was pretty relieved at seeing them hold their ground up to now, even if it is just barely. She was even impressed, considering the fact that she never taught the child anything about fighting or defense. 

 

Maybe they are able to face danger in the rest of this area… Toriel thought to herself. If anything, that knock-knock joking monster can help defend them. He did make a promise to me, after all. To defend any humans that-

 

Suddenly, an ear-splitting scream filled Toriel’s floppy ears. Toriel’s eyes widened as she saw what happened in front of her.

 

One of her fireballs managed to hit Frisk directly at their wounded left arm. The child’s face was extremely scrunched up, showing how much pain they are in. 

 

The fireball then exploded due to contact from their arm. The explosion was a bright orange color, similar to a glistening sunset from the surface. It swallowed the child’s top arm for a brief second. When the explosion died off, Toriel saw that the entire sleeve of the child’s left was practically torn off, exposing their arm, along with the wound. The impact caused the child to be tossed away to their right. 

 

Oh no… Toriel thought as she saw the child’s body blow to the right. Then, she noticed another fireball, spiraling directly towards the child. Toriel was about to shout at the child to move away. 

 

But it was too late. 

 

Toriel watched in despair as her own attack collided straight into the child’s chest. Frisk let out another screech of pain. Only this time, it was much louder and shriller, especially since they were hit in such a vulnerable spot. 

 

The attack then exploded, engulfing the child’s entire torso. Toriel covered her mouth with both paws in anguish and nausea, muffling a screech. Her scarlet-colored eyes were still as wide as saucers as tears again threatening to pour. She was eerily reminded of why she avoided violence through all those years in the ruins. But she especially felt a wave of regret forming as she realized what she just did, along with what was happening.

 

What did I just do!? She frantically thought.

 

Time seemed to have slowed down, yet at the same time speed up. She had the urge to dash towards the child, and possibly protect them from any further harm. But at the same time, Toriel felt completely frozen and helpless as she watched the child practically suffer in front of her. It felt as if her furred feet were glued to the basement floor. 

 

As soon as the explosions died off, Toriel was able to get a view of the child. Although their shirt wasn’t completely torn off, there were numerous tears on it. Blood was leaking through the shirt, along with the shreds of the shirt. Their eyes, for the most part, were closed. They have seemingly lost control of balance, as they were about to fall forward.

 

My child! ” Toriel let herself screech as she unmuffled herself. She was able to move around, after what felt like a while. She darted towards the lowering child without hesitation. Toriel managed to seize the child right before their knees crashed to the ground. Once she caught them in her arms, she lowered herself gently. She ended up on her own knees. She frantically - yet carefully - laid Frisk on her lap.

 

“My child!?” Toriel repeated, in a softer, but still anxious, voice. However, she still sounded frightened. She cradled the child’s head and shoulder with her right arm. She then removed the brown satchel from the child’s right shoulder and placed it on the ground next to them. A choked gasp sputtered out of her mouth as she was able to take a closer view of the human’s face. 

 

The child’s face had a few scrapes, bruises, and burn marks across various parts of their face. One of the deepest cuts were on their right cheek. Thin droplets of blood trickled down to Toriel’s paw, tainting her white wool with scarlet-red. But Toriel didn’t care. She practically didn’t notice, in fact; her wide-opened eyes were stuck to the human child’s face. She saw their eyes partially open. However, it looked devoid and nearly glassy. Sweat clung onto their forehead and parts of their cheeks. 

 

I need to get them something to eat… Toriel thought. Anything!

 

She realized that she had yet to look at the rest of the child’s body. As soon as she did, however, her heart nearly stopped. 

 

The child was littered in burns and scrapes, bleeding or not. The child did not look in a good enough state to simply eat. And Toriel did not have kind of healing bandages; unlike humans, monsters did not bleed.

 

Her eyes then widened as she noticed that the child’s chest was not heaving. She noted the lack of sound from the child. A screech escaped her mouth as she realized that the human child wasn’t breathing.

 

Frisk wasn’t breathing.

 

Toriel’s whole body trembled - from the coldness, and especially from the apprehension that she was currently cradling a dead child.

 

Please, please, please… Toriel mentally begged as she placed a gentle back finger on the child’s neck. Their neck felt clammy and chilled; it lacked the warmth that all humans have. But most important, Toriel did not feel any heart pulse. 

 

A single tear managed to pour down her cheek as Toriel moved her paw to the child’s chest. She still felt no heart pulse, nor did the child’s chest moved against her paw. The child was totally still and cold. 

 

They were lifeless in Toriel’s arm.

 

“No…” Toriel softly sobbed. She looked at the child’s eyes. They were slightly opened, but their pupils were murky and cloudy. They were not blinking nor moving. Toriel sniffled, “You c-can’t… You can’t die like that. Please…. Please no…”

 

To Toriel’s horror, the human child remained still and inert. They weren’t breathing. Their eyes weren’t blinking back at Toriel’s teary, forlorn eyes. Their body wasn’t making any kind of movement. They really were dead in the goat monster’s arms. 

 

And it was all her fault.

 

The dam within Toriel completely broke, as streams of tears gushed out of her eyes. The droplets fell on the child’s bruised face. Toriel didn’t even bother to hold back her tears. She could try to deny it all she wants. But in the end, Frisk truly was dead. Despite never being closely exposed to a dead human until now, she still knew well enough how humans are when they’re dead. She heard enough of those from stories of how the other human children were slain.

 

It was her very first time staring at a human corpse close-up, aside from seeing her adopted child’s body. Heck, it was her first time cradling a corpse. She was used to seeing dying monsters fade away into dust; seeing her own kind vanish away in front of her eyes was eerie enough. But holding a corpse was now a different degree of creepiness to the goat monster. 

 

As she was crying, she placed a shaky paw atop of the child’s slightly opened eyes. She slowly and gently closed them. When she lifted her paw away from the child’s face, she saw how oddly relaxed the child looked with their eyes closed, aside from their visible injuries. 

 

“I’m sorry, my child…” she whimpered into the child’s dark hair. It felt matte underneath her chin and nose. She gently stroked the child’s cheek with a thumb; it felt clammy and cold under her furred touch. Despite that, Toriel made sure she didn’t further taint the child’s face with her claws. Toriel continued to whimper, “I didn’t w-wanted to do this. I only wanted you…” A giant sniffle interrupted her train of words. “I only wanted you to be safe…”

 

That was all she wished for the human children that had left her: safety. She never agreed with the idea of letting them go past the ruins. They were all so open and vulnerable to the hundreds of savage monsters within the rest of the underground. Some of the humans did not even possess a slimmer of a chance of surviving through those bloodthirsty creatures . Despite that, Toriel looked past all their flaws; instead, she saw a shimmer of hope and potential in each of those humans. She truly thought each of them had a chance in peacefully and positively swaying the monsters’ opinions on humans. For some of those leaving humans, she even prepared them for their journey, by packing them various kits. Among the items in the kits were clothing that Toriel embedded with defensive magic. Toriel distinctly remembered the items she gave to each passing child.

 

She gave a thirteen-year-old girl who was always patient and prepared a Faded Ribbon; she even remembered the joy both the girl and her felt when they saw how perfectly the ribbon had fit in the girl’s thick curls, after minutes of continually adjusting it. She knew this girl since she fell in the ruins at the tender age of seven. 

 

She gave a twelve-year-old boy who was supportive and brave beyond his age a Manly Bandana. That item was definitely the right representation of his headstrong nature.

 

She gave an eight-year-old girl who was kind, down to earth and adored cooking an apron. It was stained from the day they baked a pie together before she left. But the girl did not mind the slightest. Toriel was even convinced that she was made of sugar - as she had a sweet personality, a sweet tooth, and a “sweet skill in cooking.” Toriel gave the Stained Apron an extra boost of magic by implementing healing magic.

 

She gave a ten-year-old boy who was clever, preserving, and extremely positive, a new pair of glasses. She sincerely hoped the boy would, this time, keep his glasses clean, or else they’d end up being cloudy and murky like his last pair of glasses. 

 

She gave another boy - fourteen years of age - who had an astonishing sense of justice, along with a dash of luck, a Cowboy Hat. The gift was so quirky, yet the boy had wholeheartedly accepted it. Admittingly, Toriel had the most faith in this boy for changing the monster world underground due to his keen sense of justice, which often made him vocal. 

 

Lastly, Toriel gave a rather musically “in-tuned” girl with a strong sense of integrity a tutu. She regretted not owning a pair of ballet shoes, out of the endless amount of children’s shoes she owned in a giant box. But she hoped that the girl would be able to obtain some ballet shoes of her own one day.

 

Toriel had genuinely thought that the combination of those magical items and the overflowing personalities of each of those unique humans would be enough for the monsters to cease their violence against those humans. Despite her nagging doubts and desires of sheltering those children, she still let them go with a warm smile and a wish of luck. She forced herself to swallow down her worries and to have faith in them. She even attempted to convince herself that the humans would be fine. Yet, her heart would shatter - over and over - whenever she heard the news of each human child’s death. She was continually proven that no - her items and the humans together were not enough - and yes - she should have sheltered those humans. It wasn’t until the very last human death before Frisk - the fall of that kind-hearted eight-year-old girl - that made her truly realize that there was no end to the monsters’ cruelty and desperation; no human was safe if they brutally killed the sweetest little girl without any regrets. It was then that Toriel had decided that she’s had enough; she would shelter the next incoming human instead of preparing them to a journey of death. She would provide them definite safety in the ruins.

 

Although her wish for the human’s safety was wholeheartedly and without a doubt true, it wasn’t entirely true. And Toriel was more than aware of this. She was aware that a sliver of her wish was part of her own desire.

 

My expectations… My loneliness… My fears… Toriel thought as she continued to sniffle and tear up. She cradled the child’s body closer to her torso. I really miss having a family.

 

She sometimes missed having a husband, yes. But she missed having children even more. She didn’t just miss Asriel and Chara, but she missed having children of her own in general. Her own children gave her joy. And the past human children had given her the same joy as her own children, even if it was only for a brief moment. They would distract her from her loneliness. But once they all left, her loneliness would come back with a vengeance. 

 

She missed having children to bake pies and cakes with. She missed teaching them. She missed sharing stories with them. She missed their innocence, their energy, and their joy and laughter. She missed having children so much that she even kept all of her old children’s toys and clothing. She hoped that one day, she would be able to share all she has with another child. 

 

When she saw Frisk for the first time, her heart leaped in surprise, especially since it was months a human had tumbled down the ruins. She thought that this human could be her new child. Maybe this child would actually stay with her, and they would fill her void of emptiness and loneliness. But when the child showed a desire to leave her place, she felt like her dream was being disrupted. 

 

Toriel definitely fought the child as a learning experience for them; to teach them the dangers of the underground, and how merciless the monsters are. Even if she didn’t want to fight the child, and it went against everything else she taught them early on, she still initiated the fight. But she was aware that deep down, she also started the brawl slightly because she felt her dream was intruded. She felt her expectations shatter, while her fears and loneliness invaded her feelings once again. She wanted to keep the child back, both for her sake and the child’s sake. 

 

Unfortunately, Toriel worsened the situation. 

 

I went too far with them, haven’t I? Toriel kept looking down at the now-dead child in her arms. Her scarlet eyes were practically glued to the human child. I should have put my feelings aside instead of forcing them upon a human child like this. 

 

Toriel tried to let out a sigh through her tears. Instead, a loud, shaky and short wail came out, her chest heaving rather violently.  She thought shamefully, I guess in the end, I’m just a silly, sad old woman chasing after other children that aren’t even mine. I really haven’t changed at all. 

 

She again stroked the child’s face. This time, she rubbed away the beads of sweat on their forehead with her thumb. Chills ran down her spine as she was reminded of how clammy yet frigid the child’s skin was. She was definitely going to get nightmares about this child. She had no doubt that she was going to be constantly reminded that she murdered an innocent child through them. They were definitely going to be worse than the vague nightmares she got of the other taken children. They were even going to be worst than the ones she already got of Asriel and Chara. 

 

And Toriel thought those nightmares were horrible enough.

 

She questioned her sanity at this point. She lost nine children. Nine little children. Even though she only knew most of those kids for a mere couple of days or weeks - excluding the thirteen-year-old she had known for years - she still held them close to her heart as if they were her own children. Tears still ran down her face like a never-ending waterfall as she mentally asked herself, “ How am I able to live through this?” 

 

As soon as that question popped up, she immediately thought of her former husband, Asgore Dreemur. When she first heard that her thirteen-year-old human was murdered by the monster king for soul-harvesting, the same question had echoed in her head over and over. However, the question was directed towards him instead of herself: “How are you able to live through this!?” Words could not express the negative mix of emotions Toriel felt when she found that he actually murdered the girl, and robbed her of her precious soul. She felt livid, grief-stricken, and even horrified at Asgore. She was especially disgusted enough at the brash and barbarous declaration of war he made against the humans when they were both grieving over the loss of their two children. Even when she suggested an idea that she considered being better than his, he still bitterly went with his own idea. Toriel was disgusted at the fact that he extended his brutality towards such a young, innocent creature. She never thought that he had it in him to commit such an act; he always seemed to adore the youths, similar to Toriel. Her flame of hatred towards him only worsened as she found out that he killed more and more children. How he had morally stooped down so low, Toriel would never be able to fathom. She was only glad that she moved far away from him to the ruins; she just can’t bring herself to even glance at his bearded face.

 

Dreemur… ” Toriel managed to scoff within her tears. Despite still crying, her voice was not shaky, and noticeably full of malice. Hearing her own voice sound so resentful and bitter made her shudder in the darkness of her own basement. Lately, she rarely expressed her remorseful feelings regarding the king aloud, especially around other monsters. It felt weird stating aloud her true feelings, even in the comfort of her own house.

 

Did he had the decency to get to know them, at least? She continued through her thoughts. She unconsciously held onto Frisk a little tighter. Did he ask for their names and ages? Their favorite foods? Their favorite colors? Did he listen to their hopes and dreams before taking their lives?

 

Toriel sniffled as she then questioned, Did he at least gave them a proper burial?

 

She only heard a few rumors and speculations regarding the aftermath of the dead humans’ bodies. She heard that they may have had coffins dedicated to them, stored in a special room within the castle. Each coffin had a lid that specified the soul types, and the humans were placed in them accordingly. Asgore was rumored to have planned to bury those coffins somewhere in his garden in the future. 

 

But they were still rumors. Toriel had heard other rumors that stated otherwise. At this point, she didn’t know who or what to believe; all she knows is that the gentle king she was once married to was now gone.

 

Toriel looked down at the child. They were still as motionless as a doll on her lap. A strand of their chocolate-brown hair fell in front of their literally worn-out face.

 

Don’t worry, my child… Toriel thought as she brushed aside the stray strand of hair with her left paw. She tucked it behind their ear. I’ll give you a proper burial. It’s the least I could do to make... this up…

 

All of a sudden, the human child’s chest started to glow a bright scarlet color. 

 

“Augh!” Toriel screeched as the abrupt glare of light stung her eyes momentarily. She squeezed her eyes shut in pain as she raised her left arm to shield them from the light. She felt a short, but rather powerful, a burst of wind blow back from the source of the light. It felt surprisingly warm against her, akin to her fireplace. She then heard some swirling sound of sorts through her clenched, covered eyes. 

 

Once the commotion resoundingly died down, Toriel slowly lowered her left arm. She then opened her at the same sluggish pace. A gasp escaped her gaping mouth at the first sight she saw. 

 

The violet walls of her basement were illuminated with the same red light that sabotaged her vision for a few seconds. It looked rather murky and soft from afar. The clashing colors of red and purple made the overall room seem hazy.

 

Where’s all this red light coming from? Toriel mentally questioned. Her eyes drifted to the source of the light, where it shone the brightest. Upon seeing it, Toriel's eyes widened in slight denial and surprise.

 

No… she gawked, her streaming tears finally coming to a pause. It can’t be...

 

Levitating just above the human child’s chest was a glowing red heart. It gently floated up and down, much akin to a human breathing. It radiated an abundance of warmth, saving Toriel from the chilly atmosphere of the basement. 

 

It was the human child’s soul.

 

But it wasn’t just the soul that shocked Toriel.

 

It was the fact that their soul was red.

 

This child has the soul of determination… Toriel mentally confirmed. Oh my goodness… 

 

She nervously gulped at the unfortunate fact that she was right all along. She remembered the intense look in the child’s eyes, and their adamant demeanor towards everything - from just walking around the ruins behind her, to figuring out and striving towards their goals. Just glimpsing at the way the child would stand and walk made them seem like they brimmed with total perseverance and conviction. Her past thoughts of the child now echoed in her head: “Does this human... perhaps have the soul of determination?” It was eerie how she got the answer so soon, right in front of her, in such an unfortunate manner. 

 

I had a nagging feeling that you possessed such a soul… Toriel thought as she continued to stare at the floating soul. To think that you actually did possess the key to breaking the barrier.

 

She slowly reached out her left paw towards the soul. Her furred paw was shaking, as she was still filled with various emotions. Part of them was from her grief of the fallen human. Another part was from fear of potentially disturbing or ruining the soul. It was her very first time dealing with a human soul on her own. She attempted to swallow down her emotions to stop her trembling paw. It didn’t have much effect, but her paw was at least not trembling as harsh as before. She was able to feel its warmth radiated against her paw. Surprisingly, she was even able to feel the heat seep through her thick fur.

 

Her hand was now just a couple of inches close to the floating soul. Although the soul slightly bulged away from it at first, it eventually stayed still. Toriel sighed softly to herself; the soul felt warm and inviting near her, just like the human child. It instantly reminded her of them so much, she was about to scoop the soul in her arms as to embrace it. Yet, she also like she was intruding on the very presence of the soul as if she was committing a forbidden taboo of sitting near it. To Toriel, it made sense; the soul belongs to someone else, after all.

 

Toriel continued to stare at the soul of determination. She asked the question aloud, as if the child was still alive, “Oh, my child. What am I to do with you?”

 

Do I really want to give the soul to them? She shuddered at the thought of the idea, despite being right next to the radiating soul. A large part of her refused to surrender the human child’s soul to monster-kind. Far too many of those children were slaughtered by them. The thought of using yet another child to break the barrier made her stomach churn. Toriel’s pride, along with her broken heart, did not want her to contribute to them at all. She did not want to sink so low with Asgore, especially.

 

Toriel shifted the lying child’s corpse around with her right arm. As she did so, she caught a glimpse of her right hand. She almost didn’t recognize her own hand at first; a huge chunk of her pure white-colored hand was now tainted with blood as red as the human’s soul. Some of their blood even managed to trickle down to her lavender-colored sleeves. There was no doubt that both of them would require an overly decent amount of scrubbing. 

 

Toriel let out a dark, bitter chuckle upon seeing the blood on her hand. She thought, Look at you, thinking that you’re above and better than Dreemur and those others. Yet here I am, hands just as dirty as him . I’m now no different than him.

 

Toriel shook her head, her floppy ears flapping from one direction to another. Tears once again formed in her eyes. This time, she put no effort in holding them back; as a result, they immediately spilled down her face

 

You silly old hag… she thought.

 

Suddenly, she heard something. No, she heard someone. She heard someone whispering. The voice caught Toriel off guard.

 

Someone is here? She questioned. Blurry-eyed, she examined the basement room, her head shifting in multiple directions. She covered the soul with her left hand in a defensive matter. So far, she saw no monster. 

 

Who would dare trespass, at all times? She kept hearing whispering sounds as if someone was right next to her. Toriel felt her body tremble a bit; she did not want to explain to anyone about a dead human child. She especially did not want to explain to anyone about said human that basically possessed the key to freedom . God forbid, Napstablook or one of the Froggits were lurking around; they were the ones that have warmed up the most to the human child. She especially couldn’t bring herself to explain to the Froggits about all of this. They were surprisingly the most talkative and helpful towards the human child, to her relief. 

 

She continued to search through the basement area. She saw no one. Despite that, she still heard nearby whispering. 

 

Are my ears deceiving me with tricks? She asked herself.

 

She glanced back at the giant, closed doors behind her. She was about to place an ear behind the door to get a better sense of hearing. But she then realized that she wouldn’t have been able to hear the whispering, as the doors were thick. She remembered how she would sometimes have issues hearing that jokester monster when he would make a pun. His baritone-like voice would occasionally not mesh well through the thick, sturdy doors. If she could barely hear his voice, then a whisper won’t even suffice. 

 

The whispering then got stronger. Toriel’s floppy ears twitched; she was now able to pinpoint the source of it. Her confused expression morphed into that of sheer shock as her eyes drifted to the area of the whispering. 

 

It was coming from Frisk’s soul. Their soul was whispering to Toriel.

 

Toriel was now staring at the soul in disbelief. Until now, she did not know that human souls were capable of speech. Numerous questions were swirling in her head like the batter of her signature pie.

 

Did those other fallen souls speak to those that slaughtered them? Did Dreemur had the dignity to hear them out before storing them in God-knows-where? Or are only humans with the soul of determination able to emit speech? Perhaps-

 

The soul’s whispering interrupted Toriel’s internal ramblings. Toriel was now able to understand the whispers, as she recognized the words, “ I-I-I don’t want to…

 

Toriel felt her entire body stiffened as she froze into place. She could’ve sworn, she felt her eyes once again tearing up. She recognized those words.

 

“Those very same words…” she managed to rasp out, “Those were some of my child’s last words.”

 

Chills ran down her spine, causing her to momentarily shiver. It was as if the warm soul wasn’t even next to her anymore, leaving her all alone in the empty basement. 

 

The soul continued to weakly whisper to Toriel, instantly reminding her that she technically was not alone. It kept on repeating “ I don’t want to… ” over and over for a few seconds, with some stuttering in between. The voice sounded no different from the human child. Toriel could practically envision the child defiantly, yet kindly, standing in front of her. They would be taking in deep breaths and clutching onto their wounded arm. Despite that, they would stand with a strong sense of resolution, making them seem unstoppable. Their dark eyes would gaze at her with a mix of resilience and cordiality. 

 

Then, the soul managed to complete their sentences. Toriel could only listen as she heard the soul mumble, “ I don’t want to fight.”

 

Toriel closed her eyes, bowed her head down, and shook her head pitifully. She remembered how the child struggled to relay that message towards her. Even when they were now reduced to a soul, they still toiled by telling her their wishes. Although the human child was compromised with a soul of pure determination, their heart was still wavering through the situation. It was only now that Toriel truly realized that. 

 

“Oh, my child…” Toriel muttered as she nuzzled the human child’s head. She continued to mutter in their hair, “I should have taken your feelings more into consideration.” 

 

She held the human child closer to her with her cradling arm. She then used her spare left hand to gingerly press the soul towards her chest, as if to embrace it. 

 

Toriel was still unsure of what to do with the human soul. But for now, she did not want to deal with the mere thought of it. Right now, she wants to hold the child and their essence close to her. She wants to cherish what is left of them as much as she could. She wants to figure out a way to make up for the innocent human child, and perhaps for all the other lost human children. 

 

Right now, she wants to indulge in her heartache, before she mends it and return stronger.