The Village Hidden in the Rain was quiet, calm, and peaceful.
Disturbingly so at times.
There was no life, no energy, no passion in anything or anyone. The citizens would walk in the seemingly eternal rain, dragging their feet with their eyes cast down and heads bowed, rain hats shielding their head and the same brown or grey heavy cloaks wrapped around their shoulders.
Days passed simply. Without trouble. Without incident. Without news. Every day was the same. Gloomy and dark. Wet and cloudy. The entire world had become a grey blob of still silence. The people didn't talk, didn't laugh, didn't have ambitions or goals or dreams.
They were servants to their almighty god, their master of shinobi, their reigning dictator, their beloved.
Sakura never saw him in person, maybe because she kept to herself in the strange city she knew nothing—and wanted nothing—of. It was a place she wanted to flee from with great haste, and never come near again. The Akatsuki Headquarters were large and ominous, an imposing, stark tower against the rest of the meek city. A dark palace amongst lowly commoners. Huts that had leaking roofs and men hiding in alleys with cardboard boxes over their heads. Everything else was made of steel. Warehouses, factories, power plants.
She mostly stayed inside, stayed with her children tucked safely on the landing that was reserved strictly for them in the Akatsuki mansion. Most nights, they all slept in the same room. Naru and Suke never left her sight, and Tsuna and Koto were too scared or too smart to leave her side for very long. Itachi once protested to her extreme protectiveness, saying that the city was secure, between the monstrous walls that surrounded them, their stockpiles of supplies, the Akatsuki members, the ninja—there was nothing to fear.
The argument had resolved in a matter of seconds.
Itachi never spoke a word of it again.
When she took her children outside, the few times she found the strength to, the strangest thing of all was the way the people regarded her. To them, the Akatsuki members were angels, the messengers and deliverers of their god. And Sakura was the lover of one of those angels. Kept safe in the rare comfort provided by command of their lord. They watched her—watched her and her children—as she got the fresh air she needed, visited the market, and tried to find normalcy beneath the discomfort of her new life. Whenever one spoke to her, it was formally, with a low bow. Sometimes, they even kneeled and put their forehead to the ground and wouldn't rise until she gave them permission. She was royalty to these people.
She hated it.
It frightened her. For all she'd done, for all the crimes she committed, it horrified that she was held in such high regard. It was beyond respect. Beyond honor. It was servitude and devotion, unwarranted and unjustified. She avoided the Rain people and all their twisted ways.
The children didn't like it, either. Tsuna never stopped asking when they would go home and in just months, Koto became so reclusive she nearly forgot the sound of his voice. Naru and Suke, still just babies, were a constant mess—even they could feel that there was something irrevocably wrong about this place.
The only light was Itachi. He and the rest of the members of Akatsuki were on a vacation. Itachi explained that Pain didn't need them as he stocked up on his chakra, prepared for his declaration of war. Akatsuki was to rest and stay within the village until the time was right.
It was a subject to be avoided, even when Sakura inquired about it, few times that she did. The beginning of the war still implied the tailed demons were sealed and ready to be unleashed at any moment. All of them. All nine. The Kyuubi. The war implied that Naruto was still dead.
Sakura knew he'd always be dead, but thinking about it still hurt more than anything she'd ever endured. That day had been her worst. She'd never felt her heart shatter quite like that. It had been the moment the world she'd known as a twelve-year-old girl—with all her hopes and dreams—had crumbled to dust. To absolute, finished nothing.
She'd ignored Itachi's existence for weeks. Maybe months. Time wasn't something she'd cared about. In fact, she'd ignored everything for a while. Her diet, her sleeping patterns, her exercise, her life.
She hated Itachi for Naruto's death. She didn't even try to think otherwise. It was still in her, that harbored and tightly controlled hatred and anger that would never fully go away. Briefly, once, the thought of revenge had crossed her mind. But she'd been too exhausted to contemplate the idea for more than a few seconds—seconds she had spent alone. And later, she looked back on the thought and scoffed. What an idea. What a cycle. She'd just wanted to die.
Until Koto was born.
That had brought her back.
Itachi had been there, miracle of all miracles. She hadn't known he'd been there. She still didn't know—if he'd been there all day and she'd just been ignoring him or if he'd appeared at the perfect moment. He caught her when she fell, startled by the intensity of the pain. Koto's birth had been a precious moment. It had reunited them. It brought them together again on common ground.
In the end, Sakura had acknowledged the sacrifice Itachi had made in trusting her with the knowledge of Naruto's death. He could have let her remain naïve. Kept her in the dark. Kept her ignorant. But he had not done so. He had given her closure, laid his sins in her hands.
And it was then that Sakura knew he loved her.
With that love, she could forgive him.
With that love, she could give him her own.
She still loved him, without a doubt. But there was always room for resentment, for irritation, for anger. She knew he was doing all he could to keep her safe and happy—but sometimes the two could not go hand and hand. She knew this was the best and only option they had left. And he knew that she loathed the Hidden Rain Village. Loathed it, its people, its ideals, its customs, its weather, its Akatsuki, its god.
She despised it.
Days passed like this.
And then Madara was born. The day Pain released the nine demons without warning or announcement, Sakura gave birth to her fifth child, her last. So still and quiet that child was born, the silence ringing in her ears, an echo against Sakura's previous screaming and the roars of chaos outside. That silence was so deathly, so eerie, Sakura feared the worst, feared her child would not live…
But no. She lived. Small, tiny, pink, with a dark patch of hair upon her head, breathing softly as she was placed in Sakura's anxious arms. She was so white…so pale, it made Sakura so afraid. So terribly afraid her daughter was not right…
And then those little eyes opened.
Blood red and spinning.
Hell is a place of demons, of the undefined and the terrible, the destroyers and the hated, the feared and the unsacred. Hell cannot be put into words with all its fire and darkness, the home of the worst. The place of sin and truth. Of destruction and rebirth. Of terror and light.
The light of flames that never end, of histories and cycles that never stop churning in the pits of society and raw human nature. Hatred, anger, revenge. They burn brightly in hearts and minds, passionate, fueling those who grow most powerful. They are the strongest of generators, the biggest of ambitions, the most terrifying of qualities. They never die, never sleep, are fanned by the few who refuse to give up.
Who refuse to let this hell be forgotten by the good of people, by the white, the heavenly, the angels.
Because every so often, one of these angels will be taken.
Will be consumed by such flames and in turn welcome the heat with open arms, will turn and become a demon, a monster, a twin of its creator. Will do as it pleases and forget its origin, will fight and destroy as it wishes, as they all wish.
Until by the fault of the demons, the leaders of darkness.
Create a mistake.
An angel bearing a keepsake at her throat, a legend in her name, and a sight none have ever held before. Born with powers of impossible magnitude. Born with a strength none had yet to possess. Born with a destiny far greater than her creators could anticipate.
Born an angel within the torrents of hell.
All done. Read the sequel. It's called Inferno Princess. It's some of my best work in my opinion. My inspiration for it stemmed from a strange combination of The Hunger Games, The Stranger (which is my favorite novel, by the way), and As I Lay Dying. I recommend all three books. And my sequel. :) Thank you all for re-reading (or if you're reading for the first time, I'm sorry I seem so crazy, haha.)