The orange glow of the fire hissed gently.
Zoro blearily blinked his eyes open and pushed himself upwards only to groan in pain. His muscles throbbed, reminding him that he was still injured. Taking a deep breath, Zoro managed to pull himself up into a sitting position and scan the room.
The window to his left indicated that it was already night time. Though what time in the night, was unclear to Zoro. He assumes, however, that it was late in the night as the stars shone brightly and the moon appeared in a large full moon, no clouds in sight.
Zoro then looked downwards and was a bit startled to find Toko sound asleep. Her head was resting on his left thigh, pink hair messily sprawled underneath. Her wide grin was still present, even in her sleep, and Zoro wondered if it was a result from a traumatic experience or the girl just simply loved to grin. He knew that Luffy always smiled, and often grinned as well, but not on the same level as this pink haired child.
He continued to scan the room. Everything seemed to be in order from when before he had passed out (he seemed to be doing it a lot these past couple of days. Perhaps it was from the fish he had eaten and the water he had drank from the river. He wasn’t a doctor like Chopper or Tra-o but he knew enough that poisoned water can weaken even the strongest of men. He sighed at his carelessness) and was suspicious to find Komu- No, Hiyori, she said her name was Hiyori and was Momonosuke’s younger (older?) sister. Zoro had contemplated telling her the whereabouts of her brother, who was still a child, and about all of the adventures that they’ve shared. But, knowing that he wasn’t the most emotionally intelligent person amongst the Strawhats, Zoro opted to remain silent. Least he wanted Hiyori to freak out and burst through the door and out into the snow looking for her brother - nowhere in sight.
Gently lifting Toko’s head so as to not wake her, he placed it delicately (as delicately as Swordsmen can be) on the futon. Zoro then went to search for the brightly green haired woman.
The hut they were in wasn’t small nor big. It was a one story hut with three rooms. The room Zoro just stepped out from was, he assumed, the bedroom. He went to the first room on his right to find that it was the kitchen. Scanning the area, he failed to spot Hiyori and was also disappointed at the lack of food and supplies in the kitchen. He bet that Luffy would be even more disappointed and would wail and whine for hours until he was fed. Muffling his chuckle, Zoro stepped out and went to the next room.
The last room he stepped into was another bedroom. It was smaller and there were no fire nor candles lit, only the full moon being the source of light. And in it was the green haired woman. She had her back to him and didn’t seem to notice Zoro’s presence. Zoro carefully took a step forward - his arm stretched out to lay on her shoulder and her name on his lips, when his ears were greeted by sorrowful yet calming music.
Now, Zoro wasn’t educated in music so he didn’t know a lot of musical instruments. But, he was certain that he had heard this kind of tool when he first arrived in Wano and a mother had informed her son that it was called a flute. It was high pitched and almost sounded like a little girl’s wail. Zoro wasn’t sure how that kind of instrument could be entertaining but hearing the melody coming from the woman before him, he lowered his hand and rested his back against the wall and watched her.
The glow of the moonlight illuminated Hiyori, making her skin sparkle in a way that was brighter than any of the diamonds Nami owns. Her hair, which was usually a bright green color, had a light blue hue surrounding it. Her back was straight though Zoro could tell that her muscles were relaxed.
He was unfamiliar with the musical piece that she was playing but he quickly began to notice its effect on him. He, too, found his muscles relax and his posture slouch downwards. Normally, Zoro would be on high alert and would be hyper aware of his surroundings, ready to fight in case an enemy had found him. However, Zoro couldn’t sense any threatening aura and allowed for himself to be engulfed by the tranquility of the flute.
The green haired Swordsman noticed that Hiyori had played the same musical piece, his eyes furrowed as he paid attention to what the music sounded like.
As mentioned, Zoro wasn’t emotionally intelligent but he could tell when someone’s crying for their loved ones. It was as if Hiyori was calling out for her brother, hoping that the musical piece she was playing would somehow guide him to where they were hiding. And a pang of guilt strongly punched Zoro in the stomach for keeping the whereabouts of her brother a secret. Though, he had to. It was important that they carried out with their plan of a rebellion without any distractions. Zoro was uncertain of how helpful Hiyori could be. Now, he wasn’t the kind of man to judge people based on appearances but it didn’t seem like Hiyori could fight. Unlike Okiku.
Hiyori was...delicate. Though, something in her azure eyes told Zoro that she had suffered, a lot. She had suffered, fought and had survived. Perhaps not in the similar manner as Zoro and his crew but enough for Hiyori to be considered strong. A sudden and intense urge to teach her how to wield a sword and learn how to fight suffocated Zoro. Remembering the look of fear she had as she ran away for her and Toko’s lives filled his head and he felt his blood boil. He wasn’t going to be stuck in Wano forever and he knew that if they win against Kaido, nothing terrible would come in Hiyori and Toko’s way. But Zoro knew that wouldn’t last long either and Hiyori needed to defend herself and fight for her and Toko’s safety if need be.
The soft opening of the musical piece pulled Zoro from his thoughts and he focused on Hiyori.
She was beautiful, he couldn’t deny that.
Her beauty was the kind of beauty that would force anyone in her way to pay attention to her. Though, that didn’t make her a narcissist nor cold hearted. She was kind and humble. She even housed Zoro and cooked for him even though he was a stranger. Sure, it was a trade for her protection but people weren’t normally as kind. He couldn’t find such kindness unless he was with his Strawhat family. His heart strangely fluttered at the idea of having Hiyori join the Strawhats, though for what, he was uncertain.
Having had enough of his own thoughts, Zoro straightened up and pushed himself away from the wall and intentionally made his footsteps loud and his presence known.
Hiyori didn’t startle like he thought she would. Instead, she merely glanced over her shoulder, tilted her head in greeting and returned to stare out the window.
Taking a few steps forward, Zoro sat down next to Hiyori and listened to her prayers to the moon.
Zoro didn’t know how many hours had gone by as he sat on the cold wooden floor listening to Hiyori play but the sky was beginning to turn into paler shades of indigo and he assumed it was dusk. He was both baffled and amazed by Hiyori’s ability to continue playing without taking any breaks or drink water. Finally, when she was done with her prayers, she detached her lips from the instrument. Zoro’s eyes watching the movement.
“Thank you.” Was all she said as she smiled up at him.
And Zoro was drowning in the overwhelming urge to cup her cheek in his large hand and kiss her naturally pouty lips. Shocked by his own thoughts, Zoro quickly sat up and turned his back to the still sitting woman, who blinked at him curiously.
“You should drink some water.” His words came out in a rush as he marched towards the door, “Goodnight.”
Had Zoro turned, he would’ve seen the way Hiyori’s lips turned upwards in an amused smile and her eyes twinkle with mirth. But instead, he continued on his way and laid back down on the futon with Toko laying face front on his stomach. Closing his eyes, Zoro ignored his rapidly beating heart and the rush of heat to his ears.