Prologue: Shattered Perfection

Title: Mirrors of the Past

Summary: In just one sentence...a sad, angst-filled account of the regal and confident Ayame Sohma's childhood.

Warnings: Just angsty stuff. It's just an introductory chapter, so there isn't too much action....

Disclaimer: I do not own Ayame, unfortunately, or Fruits Basket, for that matter. They belong to Natsuki Takaya.

Chapter Notes: Ayame Sohma is born. Unhappiness rears its ugly head.

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The peaceful atmosphere of the small house had been shattered into a million pieces. As loud, broken sobs echoed off the walls, the sound of a vase falling to the floor added to the turmoil that had invaded the couple's previously-perfect life. Blood-red rose petals, along with shards of pointed glass and crystal-clear water, lay scattered against the dark floor boards, unnoticed and uncared for as a man held the figure of a sobbing woman close to his chest.

"It can't be...it just can't be!" the woman wailed, her fingernails making crescent-shaped red marks in her palm as she clenched her fist tightly. "I don't want to carry the same burden as the others! I don't want to be like them!"

As he held his sobbing wife close, his dark brown eyes blankly stared at the wall in thought. Although two weeks had passed since the birth of their first child, neither of the two could believe the unspeakable truth that their son - the boy that they had expected to be so perfect - was possessed by a spirit of the Juunishi (Chinese Zodiac). The unwanted memories that had taken place on the day he was born remained as fresh as morning dew within their minds; it was impossible to forget, and the two of them knew this from the object of fate that had been thrust upon them. The afternoon had been a rainy and gloomy one, the perfect setting for the catastrophic events that had occurred on that day.

The dark-haired man blinked thoughtfully, flashbacks tumbling through his mind. He remembered that the day he and his wife had found out they were going to have a child, their ecstasy knew no bounds. However, their joy had dwindled into concern when they had received news that their baby was to be due two months early. This announcement worried them, for they had heard from their relatives who carried the burden of raising cursed children that premature birth was the sign that their son was to be possessed by a Juunishi spirit. But, pushing the unpleasant thought of parenting a possessed child aside, they began to believe that the early due date was most likely a defect that could be fixed.

They were wrong.

After a long and stressful day in the hospital, when the woman was allowed to hold her newborn son for the first time, she lovingly cradled the soft and adorable baby in her arms...for at least a second before a white cloud of smoke disrupted the moment. Seconds later, when the smoke had subsided, there was no longer a baby in her arms, but a small, fragile snake with silvery-white scales resting against her stomach.

The commotion that ensued was as stressful as the birth itself. The nurse had screamed and run out of the room to find a doctor as tears began to stream from the new mother's eyes. Hot tears had fallen upon the white sheets and the scales of the tiny serpent curled up in her lap…the tears of hate that she had never wanted to shed. As her husband entered the room, a shocked expression on his face when he sighted the snake, that was the moment in time his wife had snapped. She had gone completely mad, screaming and cursing and attempting to throw her transformed son off of her lap, for the sight of the little reptile repulsed her and she wanted nothing to do with him. In a vain attempt to calm her down, he immediately rushed over to his wife's bedside and grabbed her hands, grasping them lightly in an assuring gesture that seemed to put an end to her sudden rage.

But it didn't help. Tears had continued to flow from her eyes as the baby snake shoved his tiny head underneath his coils, irritated from all the noise. The feelings of happiness, love, and adoration she had possessed had been completely lost into a world of black and replaced by the bitterness of anger and loathing.

And it was these feelings that had caused her to once again burst into tears of shame and self-pity as her husband tried in vain to provide some comfort to her, for the pain of bearing a possessed child had become too much.

*****

In a small room on the other side of the house, a thick pile of sheets lay within a corner. On the pile rested a small baby that was sleeping peacefully, oblivious to the world and its wonders. He was small, but beautiful. Behind his closed eyelids rested a pair of golden eyes that shone like twin suns from underneath long sable eyelashes. His skin, which was as smooth as silk, was a pale cream color, and a full crown of short, soft silver-white hair already covered his head.

It was impossible to believe that this small, innocent child was the object of his mother's hatred. He was Ayame Sohma, the infant Snake of the Zodiac who was unaware of the unhappiness he had stirred within the Sohma household.