Disclaimer: Do I really have to say it again? I'm sure that everyone knows that I don't own Naruto or any of the characters. Damn…I said it anyways.
My name is Haruno Sakura, but that name means nothing to anybody but me and the few who know that name. With that name, I am practically invisible. However, when I put on my mask of white makeup and wear my elaborate costumes, I become Lady Shizuka, a well-known shirabyōshi in Heian.
Being well-known in the capital isn't as great as I thought it would be. Men find it amusing to harass you as you walk down the streets, asking you to meet them late at night to get to know each other better. Ha. Do they really think I'm that stupid? There are also the women who are outsiders to the profession that conveniently confuse what the duties of a shirabyōshi are. I've been called a whore, slut, mistress, and prostitute, whether it be to my face or in hushed voices as they walk by in huddled groups. The list doesn't stop there, though. These gossipers have become quite creative with the names they've been thinking up lately. They shouldn't be talking though. I'm not the one who is kissing the servant boy in the alley when I'm supposed to be at home with my future husband who is about fifty years old, wrinkly, and balding. Nope. Not me.
It is unfortunate that, like the geisha, we are misunderstood. Our purpose isn't for the pleasures of men, for we are performers. We have a variety of skills that must be perfected. We also must have a high understanding of social politics within high-class families. Our jobs are not so simple that we can simply put on makeup and tie our obis in front, like common prostitutes do. People can't even imagine how long it takes to get ready for just one performance. It takes three hours! Three damn hours for one damn performance.
However, I will admit that some shirabyōshi have become concubines with a shogun or lord they've entertained, but that is not what defines us, as I've said. What of me? Even if some of my fellow performers feel no shame in becoming mistresses, I've kept my dignity and plan to keep it. Life is already difficult enough. Why add the pressures of pleasing a man who is probably tired of his wife and just saying he loves you so you'll stay with him and be his toy a little longer? Why would you want to be used like that? Anyways, many of the nobles are quite old, and I can't imagine...
I'm starting to get a little sidetracked. As far as shirabyōshi go, I'm very…unique. Most have long black hair that reach past their hips and have brown eyes. However, I'm a little different. My hair is…pink. Nobody knows this except for my fellow dancers because how absurd is it for a Japanese woman have pink hair and green eyes. That's right. I have green eyes too. Just lock me up in a cage so all the normal Japanese people can point and laugh at the freak of nature, and they can call me names like "Pinky". Damn, I hate that name. When I was younger, everyone used to call me that, and I vaguely recall beating a few people up about it. Ah, I remember the times when I could beat someone up when someone said something to me I didn't like. Now, I have to just let them laugh at my expense. Great Buddha, it's tiring to have manners.
There's nothing really we can do to hide it, though. I keep my hair short so I can put on a black wig, but there is nothing I can do about the eyes that everyone loves to remind me about. I would like to remind them that I do have a mirror and can see my "unusual" eyes. The same goes for my friend, Yamanaka Ino. She is blonde-haired, blue-eyed, and a completely Japanese. At least, that is what her family says. Her mother might have had an affair with some European traveler, and Ino could very well be the love child.
Ino is one of many friends, and I have to say, she is quite interesting. She is loud, talkative, and self-centered, but she is a talented dancer. Oh, did I mention talkative? All day yesterday, she was blathering about the perfect attributes her beloved Shikamaru has. Nara Shikamaru is the son of a wealthy deer breeder who lives in Nara. It is an interesting profession, but they are renowned through out Japan for it. If you look past that, Shikamaru simply seems like a lazy noble who likes to sleep all the time.
Regardless, Shikamaru really seems to be the object of many girls' affection. Not only has he caught the eye of Ino, but of one of the noblewomen in Shiga. Her name is Sabaku Temari, and she also has two brothers, Kankuro, a man who wears interesting face makeup and plays with puppets, and Gaara, who has the kanji love on his forehead and appears to be an insomniac. Personally, I think all three of them are strange, and it would be nerve-wracking to have to perform for them. Thankfully, our group rarely performs in any cities in Shiga.
See? Didn't I tell you a shirabyōshi was well educated in the lives of the rich and famous? That sounded arrogant, but it is true nonetheless. Trust me, but if you think I'm arrogant, then you haven't met Hyuga Neji, who lives in Hyogo. His family may be one of the most well-respected and powerful in Kansai, but that gives him no right to be a bastard and treat Tenten like dirt! Who's Tenten? She's another shirabyōshi whose expertise lies in acting. She especially likes that because she can handle weapons when we do performances. Last time we performed for the Hyugas, we didn't act, so we didn't bring weapons along. If we do next time, that damn bastard better have a lot of body guards protecting him at night.
I'm getting ahead of myself though. There are other members of the Hyuga family that are more worth mentioning than Neji. His cousin, Hinata, is considerably kinder than Neji, but nothing is really expected of her. She is probably to be married off to some rich, old merchant and have many children together. In secret, she tells me that she wishes she could admit her true feelings to Uzumaki Naruto and run off with him. I'm not sure how that will work, considering the fact that she practically faints every time she sees him.
Uzumaki Naruto, on the other hand, is the adopted son of Lord Jiraiya. They live in Osaka and are the most untraditional nobles I've ever met. Naruto means well enough, but he's a complete idiot. He makes me wonder if he was dropped on his head when he was a child. He's loud and annoying, and like Ino, has abnormal blue eyes and spiky blonde hair. He likes to babble on about becoming the emperor of Japan or something ridiculous like that. That'll happen the day Neji forgets to do his hair. Lord Jiraiya…he's…well…he's an old pervert with too many concubines to count and drinks more than any lord I've ever seen. There are also some rumors that he is currently writing some risqué and erotic books, but I have no idea who would read them, let alone buy them. He is currently trying to catch the eye of Lady Tsunade, who is my idol. Good luck with that, you old pervert.
Lady Tsunade is one of the most infamous women in all Japan. Why infamous? She is one of the best doctors in all of Japan. Still unsure why she is infamous? Simply put, she is a woman in a man's profession and has made a name for herself without the help of a man or her family. She is living her own life the way she wants to and not caring about the opinions of others. Still, no matter how many people say that she is a disgrace to women, people travel far and wide to try and have her treat them.
Hmm…did I forget any one else? Ah, yeah, there is the son of the wealthy silk merchant, Aburame Shino of Mie, but he's creepy. So are the silk worms. He likes to keep to himself, so there really isn't any gossip surrounding that family. And…there is the Inuzuka Kiba from Wakayama. His family breeds matagi inu, which are used by matagi for hunting and sometimes for dog fighting by samurai.
Then, finally, there is Heian's very own Uchiha Yoshitsune. If I remember correctly, he is called by his childhood name, Sasuke, when not in public. If you ask me, I think that's a stupider name than Yoshitsune. Yet somehow, he has not only captured the hearts of the women in Heian with his cold and arrogant demeanor, but it seems almost every woman in Japan dreams of him. I honestly have no idea why. He seems like a total ass to me. I think it must run in the family because Uchiha Yoritomo, his older brother, is exactly the same. Well, almost, because he isn't as adored by the female population as his brother.
It makes me cringe every time I think of having to be in close contact with these pompous nobles. I don't know how many times I have wanted to slap one of those arrogant, high-class asses. Whenever I do want to, I just have to remind myself of Kurenai-sensei's unpleased stare with her blood-red eyes or Anko-sensei's wooden paddle. So, I just smile and keep doing my job, not being too friendly or too distant.
Kurenai-sensei and Anko-sensei are the only reason I'm able to be a shirabyōshi. Kurenai-sensei is the one who taught me everything I know about dancing, music, manners, literature and basically how to be a proper shirabyōshi. Anko-sensei is the opposite of Kurenai-sensei's collected and graceful nature. Anko-sensei is noisy and eccentric and is terrifying when she is angry. Don't get me wrong because Kurenai-sensei is scary when you make her mad but in a more quiet way. Anyway, Anko-sensei is the one who taught me how to act, use a sword, tell a good story, and even how to play cards.
With all these skills, I seem like I am one of those noblewomen I hate so much. In reality, it is mostly true. While I will never be on the same level as them, as a shirabyōshi, I'm considered a high class performer. So, in a manner of speaking, I hate my own kind. Well, I can pretend we are completely different, can't I? I can, however, promise myself one thing. I will never be a mistress to these arrogant and careless nobles, especially one like Uchiha Yoshitsune.
A/N: Okay, I know the chapter seems kind of pointless. I promise that if people actually like this, I will get into the plot. This is just setting everything up and giving people information. Please review and tell me what you think. Thanks.