Summary: Geisha do not love. They are forbidden to find it. But one of them thinks that whoever thought of THAT was just a great big fool. KakaSaku.
Cherry Blossom Memories
--No one would have thought so, but I wasn't originally from Konoha.
I was born in a village far north of Konoha. I don't quite remember what the name of the little town was. Everyone, even the villagers always called it White Village. The nickname came from the constant blanket of snow it was always buried in. I may not remember the formal name of the place I was birthed in, but I did know one thing:
I had been happy.
My father had only been around for a few years during my short childhood in White Village. My mother told me that when I was about three years old, he had died from an unknown illness. Even though she called in numerous doctors to try to treat him, no one knew the cure. No one could save him.
One of my last memories of Otou-san was seeing him in his and our mother's bed, lying flat on his back, weak as a crushed butterfly. When I had crawled up to him though, he had raised one eyelid, revealing a beautiful dark green eye, to gaze at me, and summoned his energy one last time to touch my hair as a gesture of fatherly affection. He died the next week, sleeping. My mother seemed to know when it was going to happen, as she sat in a stiff chair next to him, crying. As I look back now, I realized that to his death day, my father had loved me, despite the fact that most of the time our lives had clashed, he was deathly ill.
Two years passed after his death, and my mother and I lived on together with my aunt, my Auntie, my mother's sister. Okaa-san had moved in with her sister to find comfort from losing her husband. She and her sister had been best friends growing up, and they still were.
But even Auntie couldn't help the pain that she was going through.
Another year passed, at that time I was six, and my mother finally was worn away from grief and illness. We thought had something wrong with her heart.
My Aunt had sobbed out to me after the funeral that it had been broken.
Now, at six years old, it was only me and Auntie left. She became like a mother to me. Once again, I was content and happy. I still had my Auntie, after all, and I had lots of playmates in the village. I had started school the year before, and I could now read and write simple characters, do easy mathematics, and I knew the history of the village and of our country. Most of that history has leaked out of my mind now though…all being erased and replaced with Konoha memories.
Of course, in a world where each country has an army of ninja to keep power, there is always war. White Village was the most peaceful place in all of the Rain Country though, I thought–we all thought–that nothing that was related to war or battle would happen here.
Three years later, I was nine years old; there was an ambush on our village by Cloud, some distant land to me. Apparently, our country had been plotting against them. They decided to nip the war in the bud and send a warning to us by attacking four villages in the Rain Country.
Auntie was killed in the attack. A kunai knife had been embedded in her throat by the raid leader himself. She had been protecting me, refusing to let the other's touch me or hurt me.
I had already gotten use to the feeling of loss, but I couldn't help but break down and cry again.
After all, happiness only lasted three years for me.
When I was three, my father had died, cracking and crumbling of my mother's perfect world, therefore nicking mine as well.
When I was six, my mother's world had finally shattered from grief and angst. My world was significantly scathed, for I was technically an orphan now, but Auntie took me in.
And now, at nine years old, my Auntie died. My world was spider-webbed with cracks now.
Because right now, I was really alone.
So, after Auntie's funeral, I sat in the cemetery for a long time, as if being near my family's bodies would be enough to have a family again. I remembered a conversation with Okaa-san, not long before she passed away.
"Mama, I'm bored," I had said that day, sulking while plopping myself down onto the wooden floor of the kitchen.
The pretty woman that was my mother smiled at me from the high kitchen counter, where she was making dinner. "Why don't you go find one of your friends to go play with?" she asked as she chopped carrots for stew. She handed me a chunk of raw carrot to nibble on.
"They're all visiting their families in other villages for the holidays," I answered, biting into the sweet orange vegetable. "Why don't we have family that we can go see?" I questioned, frowning once again.
Okaa-san looked down at me in surprise. "We have Auntie," she reminded me gently.
"I mean MORE family!"
My mama then put down the dull knife she was using and stooped down to straighten out my hair that had been in disarray from running outside a while ago. "Sweetie, be glad that you have me and your Auntie…because if we die, you'll be that last of our clan."
That had really made me feel special back then.
As I kneeled on the snow covered ground, I couldn't help but cry.
I cried for my Auntie, who had died protecting me till the very end.
I cried for my Okaa-san, who had spent every moment of her life with me trying to be happy, but had had to live through such a terrible loss.
I cried for my father, who had loved everything in his life to the day he died, and who had left without a struggle.
But mostly, I cried for myself. I gazed through blurry tears at the three simple gray tombstones that marked my family's graves.
Kyou, my father. Setsuna, my mother. And finally, Sumomo, my aunt.
But here I was, the last one. Me.
I was the survivor.
I lived on my own the whole next year. Villagers had been kind to me, so I had survived.
But one day, it all changed.
A magnificent horse and buggy clomped through White Village. The pure white of the stallion made even the snow look dirty. The black wooden carriage, although it was simple and not decorated at all, seemed to be fantastically glamorous. It was certainly something exquisite. Everyone in our tiny town walked. No one even owned a horse, except for the leader of the town who had an old, worn down pony, hardly able to compare to the pure white horse.
It made me even happier when Isuzu, the beauty of the village, told me with a smile that the wonderful carriage was for me. She held my hand and led me up to the driver. He introduced himself and laughed when he saw my thrill to get into the back of the carriage.
Before leaving, the driver handed a small, red velvet bag to Isuzu. It clinked as it was transferred from person to person. I realized that it was filled with coins.
Isuzu smiled at me once more before the glamorous carriage took off again.
I hated that smile. Years later, it still flashed vividly through my mind.
She was wicked.
In the back of the carriage I rode in silence until nightfall, where the driver led me out to an unfamiliar place. Unlike White Village where everything was quiet after dark, this town was bustling with nighttime activity. Lanterns hung to illuminate the place with brightly colored lights, the paper of each lamp being a different color, from plain white to blue, green, pink, orange, and even purple.
I didn't know back then, but I had been taken to Konoha, the famous city located in the heart of the Fire Country.
The driver stopped in front of a large, traditional house, completed with sliding paper doors and the outside hallway. It was at least three times larger than the small cottage I had lived in before.
"This little girl took a long time to get, Granny. I expect a lot of money for her," a driver said, pushing me forward onto my knees into a makeshift bow. He was talking to an old lady in front of him.
The old woman nodded, making the wrinkles on her face flap. She pulled out a small bunch of cash from a pocket in her robe. Counting out several bills, she handed them over to him. "She looks like she could be worth it," the woman said in an old, decrepit voice. I cringed at the sound of it.
"She's a pretty one. You could make a lot of money off of her." The man turned to leave and raised a hand in goodbye.
Granny laughed. "I intend on it," she assured him, while she prodded my back with her cane. "Get up, you," she told me. I scrambled to my feet, wincing as I stepped on a sharp rock. I didn't have any shoes on. We had been too poor for shoes before at home.
The main door slid open; the silhouette of a short woman was visible from in front of the bright light from inside. Someone cracked a spark above her back and she turned to leave.
This was the first time I encountered Anko.
I tried not to stare as she passed me. From the glances I managed to get of her, I saw that she had on an intricate kimono. From the looks of it, it had been a soft, light gray that had been carefully embroidered with gold thread. The string had been woven together to create the pattern of a fierce dragon and beautiful phoenix, both soaring in the sky and trailing sparks behind them. Her obi, the large strip of fabric tied around her waist was a bright lavender color, and sealed the kimono together with a neat box knot. Her plum colored hair was pulled up and twisted into an intricate pattern, and hair ornaments dangling from the soft looking hair. On her face, I could see that it had been painted a pure white, and her lips were marked a dark, rich, red. She glanced down at me with hard gray eyes.
"Granny, don't drag trash into the okiya," she said airily as she passed, lifting her head up high as she walked past us.
I fought down a comeback as I felt the cane at my back again and followed the old lady inside.
After I entered the house, I was told by Granny to go directly to a woman's office. The old woman called her "Mother."
Mother wasn't terribly old, in fact she was probably in her late forties, but she was certainly frightening. She had blank eyes that were a pale blue, almost completely white, that seemed to follow everyone's movements. Her black hair was tied in a tight, sharp knot at the top of her head, and although she wasn't bulky or fat (in reality, she was thin and twig-like), she seemed like a giant to me at the time.
After answering questions like what my name was, where I lived previously, and how old I was, the hawk-like lady came to a conclusion. She told me to call her Mother as well.
"Ok, if you behave, you will be sent to school," Mother told me in her office. She sent me away when she was done. "Put on this new robe, throw your old filthy clothes away, and wait for Hinata by the stairs. You're her maid now."
I obeyed, even though I still had no idea where I was or if I would ever get a chance to go back home.
Later that night, I was told that I was in this place called an 'okiya' by a girl my age. Her name was Yamanaka Ino.
"What's your name?" she asked, smiling faintly at me. "I'm Yamanaka Ino." Ino had long blonde hair that was pulled up into a smooth ponytail and bright blue eyes. I learned later that everyone in the okiya thought that she was particularly pretty, and I understood why.
"I'm Sakura…Haruno Sakura," I answered quietly, averting my eyes so I wouldn't be rude by staring. "Where am I?" I couldn't resist blurting out.
Ino's smile widened. "You're at the Hyuuga Okiya, Sakura-chan!" she chirped happily. "I'm glad to see that they've found another girl my age at last! I like your hair. It's pretty!"
I returned the smile, though it was probably riddled with confusion. "Thank you Ino-chan…but, what's an okiya?" I fiddled my hair, trying to flatten it out. It was pink, the color of cherry blossoms, hence my name.
"An okiya is a geisha house. Maids like us train to be geisha. After a certain amount of time working here, if Mother decides that you're worthy, you get sent to school to learn how to become a geisha," the blonde girl answered. "You saw Anko, right? She's a geisha."
I thought the arrogant woman who had called me garbage as she walked past me. Of course I remembered her.
"Oh! Sakura-chan, get down and bow!" Ino hissed suddenly. She hastily got down to a bowing position on her knees, pushing me down with her. After the person had turned the corner, we got up.
"That lady was Mother," Ino explained. "She runs the okiya, along with Granny. You must always pay respect towards them."
Mother was what we called the owner, or manager of the okiya. Granny was the most senior woman of the okiya and had even more authority than Mother did.
"I met her before," I said quietly. "She reminds me of a hawk circling its prey–she's always watching."
Ino nodded vigorously. She opened her mouth to start saying something, but was cut off by the quiet, but noticeable sound of a tinkling bell. "Oh, I'd love to stay and chat Sakura-chan, but that's Granny's bell. I must go see what she needs!" and with that she sped off towards a set of stairs, leaving me all along in the cold entrance hall.
"Are you the new maid?" a soft voice asked me, shaking me out of my thoughts, and making me jump slightly. I looked up from my seated position on the hardwood floor against the stairs. I was tucked in the corner between a side table with a telephone on it and its intersection with the stairs, feeling quite safe and secure.
The person who had interrupted my thinking was about my age too. But unlike Ino and I, she wasn't dressed in a simple cotton maids' robe, but instead a higher quality silk robe that signaled that she had some place in the house hold. She had dark, ebony hair, but it shined more purple than black. Her eyes were a delicate lavender color, and I thought she was quite lovely as well.
"Yes…" I answered quietly. "Are you…Hinata-san?" I dared to ask.
Hinata nodded. "Yes. My name is Hyuuga Hinata, and Mother said that you were to be my maid." Her voice remained extremely soft and gentle, a total contrast to how Mother spoke. I liked her a lot already. She seemed friendly and easy to get along with.
"Ok. I'm Haruno Sakura," I answered respectfully. "Hinata-san, can you tell me what has happened today?" I asked, hoping that I wasn't pleading. "Ino-chan tried to explain to me, but I'm still confused." I looked down at the smooth floors, hoping that I wasn't too bold.
Hinata nodded. "I will explain to you what's happening, but first, let us leave the entrance hall. We can talk in my room instead."
It turned out that Hinata's room was on the third floor, the top floor of the okiya. On our way up, she gave me a quick tour of the house first though, showing me the maids' quarters on the first floor (a large room with many mats on the floor, obviously for sleeping), the kitchen (where I'd often be fetching food or drink for Hinata and other family members from the cook), and the shoe rack where shoes for the maids could be found.
On the second floor, there were only two doors in the spacious hall after we traveled upwards on the staircase I was at before. She pointed at a large sliding paper door on the left. "That's Anko's room. There used to be other geisha there, but right now, she's the only one left," she murmured to me, as if Anko might pop out of the door any moment, even though she wasn't even in the okiya. "Never go into her room without permission."
Pointing to the other door on the right side of the hallway, she showed more closed doors to me, "That's the apprentice geisha room. Geisha that are still under 18 sleep there. But no one is in there either." I followed as Hinata walked in that special, elegant way up the stairs.
On the third floor, the hallway was quite cramped, seeing how there were many rooms.
"That's Mother's office," Hinata said, "And that's Granny's room. Mother's room is right next to it…" she gestured towards each of the rooms with small movements. Hinata stopped at the end of the small common area. "And this is my room."
She slid open the door to reveal a small, but still lovely bedroom. There was one bed and a futon, each in their own respective corners. A mirror and make-up stand was pushed into the corner, but with the exception of a few combs, it was bare and empty. However, the walls were lined with soft, lavender silk. I couldn't help but stare at that time, thinking that it was the most lavishly decorated room ever.
"You can sleep on the futon, instead of the maids' quarters since you're my maid," Hinata told me with the smallest hint of a grin. "Don't worry, I'll…I'll try not to work you to death like most of the maids are," she said with a determined voice. "I don't want to end up cruel and sour like Mother and Granny," Hinata whispered to me.
I giggled a little bit. "Hinata-san, can you please explain to me what's happening now?" I requested after I had suppressed most of my laughter.
"Mm," she nodded. "Sakura-san…when you left your home today and got onto that carriage, it means that you have been sold to our geisha house."
I was shocked. "Sold?" I whispered. "Buy who?" Wasn't it illegal to sell people? I saw an image of Isuzu's beautiful, chilling smile. Isuzu. She had sold me into this. She had sold the worthless village girl to this…place for her own selfish needs.
Hinata shook her head. "I don't know, but Mother buys girls who are either brought or sent here. She only chooses those who she thinks may have the potential to become a successful geisha. Basically, it means that the girl has to be attractive and somewhat clever."
She paused before starting again, perhaps to let it sink in for me.
"After she buys the new girl, the girl is put to work as a maid. If the maid proves herself worthy, she is allowed to go to school. This school is special though–it's a school that teaches girls the arts that are needed to become a geisha. However, if you aren't worthy enough, you will remain a maid forever."
I was starting to understand what was happening. I had to be good in order to have any good future at all.
"After you finish your basic schooling, an older geisha will usually offer to become your "older sister" to teach you more about being a geisha firsthand. At this point, you become an apprentice geisha after your debut. Finally, when you turn eighteen, you become a true geisha," Hinata finished with a small smile. "Are you still confused?"
I nodded. "Hinata-san…what exactly is a geisha?" I asked.
"A geisha is an entertainer. She learns how to perform tea ceremonies, sing, dance, play the shamisen, and so forth. The longer amount of time she entertains at a party, and the more popular she is, the more money she earns. The more money and popularity, the more success. Anko is a geisha. She's very successful too, and brings in good money to our okiya."
"And…" I hesitated, not wanting to know the answer.
"Hinata-san," I tucked a lose strand of pink hair behind my ear. "Will I ever get to go home?" I asked timidly, afraid of the answer. "Am I allowed to leave?" I already missed White Village immensely.
Hinata tried to smile kindly, but failed.
"I'm sorry, Sakura-san…," she tried to say as gently as possible, "but no."
My face fell. It had probably dropped down to the Earth's core with what I was feeling. I was trapped here…forever.
So...this is my first actually posted Naruto fic. This story was greatly inspired by the book and movie "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden.
Ok, well this chapter is going to be the only chapter from Sakura's point of view. Also...this story WILL NOT be following the same plot as Memoirs of a Geisha. Several of my reviewers seemed to not know this, even though I wrote it in the author's note before. Yeah, I edited this, by the way, if anyone cares.
And...special thanks to tsukiko7 for reading this to tell me if it stinked and betaing it. Thank you, Kas-san!