Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

xXx

Every day, Uzumaki Kushina added one more reason to be happy to her list.

It was a habit she had had since she was a small child, when her mother had wrapped her still-chubby fingers around a brush, guiding the jerky movements with her long, graceful hand.

Once she had mastered some semblance of writing, her mother presented her with a large scroll. Kushina, her mother had said, every day you should write down something that made you happy.

Kushina, young as she was, had no shortage of things that made her glad. Thus, the top of the list is cluttered with the scribbling of a child whose world is bright and new every day.

Today I petted Namakori-san's dog and he liked me.

Nariko-chan said she'd be my friend.

I threw mud at Gatatsu-sensei.

As Kushina grew older, and her hand slightly more steady, the list became a record of her victories, large and small. Her world was growing, but she was still at its center.

I'm second in my class.

I snuck up on Gatatsu-sensei today and made him spill his tea.

Namikaze's going to be limping for a week.

After graduation, Kushina was thrown into the war, and she struggled for something to write down. Her friends were dying around her in a war she didn't fully understand. And at the end of the day, sometimes she would stare at the scroll for hours before picking up a brush and stubbornly writing,

I'm still alive.

However, even during that hell, sometimes the entry was easy to come up with. There were times that happiness poured out of her, until she cried because she couldn't contain it all.

Sensei's going to recover.

My mother baked a carrot cake for my birthday and hid it in my pack.

I kissed Haru-kun today.

One of Kushina's favorite entries came at the end of that dark time. She bought special ink for the occasion, and mixed some gold glitter into it. The result was lumpy and awkward,and it ruined the brush, but that was all right. She knew that the words shone brightly.

The war's over and I'm alive.

After that, the entries seem to pick up. Kushina had so many new things to be glad about, and suddenly, the world was new once more.

We are able to import tea again. My mother tried to show me the tea ceremony, but we both started laughing and we couldn't stop.

The clerk at the grocery store told me I was beautiful.

I ran into Nariko at the market. She's pregnant!

And another entry, written almost hesitantly, as if acknowledgment would make it vanish.

I think he smiled at me today.

Time passes, and Kushina is pleased to find that they are wrong, that the treaty will hold, and she will never be bored of peace or laughter or common, everyday things like wondering if she had enough flour to make cookies.

I asked Mother about my father. It was a hard story for her to tell, but she said it anyway, because she loved me.

It rained today and I jumped in puddles.

I talked with him today and he told me he liked my smile. Then he asked me to dinner.

The scroll becamefilled with little joys, walks in the park, late night conversations, and the gentle teasing of friends. It was not long before Kushina again assembled her odd, bulky glitter-ink and ruinedanother brush to pen an announcement.

I'm in love.

Her days were gifts, and she treasured them with the fervor her mother had long encouraged. But such things are never eternal.

The doctors say that Mother will get better soon.

Mother had a good day today and we looked through the photo album and she showed me a picture I had never seen before.

It was not long before a different, more elegant brush—her mother's— is set to the scroll.

Mother's passing was peaceful.

It was then that Kushina fully appreciated the scroll her mother told her to keep. It was nice to read her joys now, for some days they didn'tcome so easily.

Afterwards, she forgot the scroll , setting it onto a shelf and moving on. But one day she pulled it down again, and ruinedanother brush.

I'm pregnant.

After that the scroll was alive once more, and Kushina cannot believe her happiness, so she wrote down to save it forever.

ANBU painted the nursery for me, and Dog spilled paint down his front.

Mikototold me about Jiraiya-sama's "research." I commented to Minato that Jiraiya had asked me to help with his new book, and I don't think Jiraiya will try his "research" in Konoha for a while yet.

I had a nightmare that I miscarried, and Minato held me until I fell asleep.

But it is now that Kushina tries to find her joy. The Kyuubi's fire rages around her, and she had almost made it out of the house before it collapsed. She is pinned on the threshold, a beam crushing her back. She is reasonably sure that her hip has shattered, and the part of her mind that isn't screaming in pain realizes that she isn't going to make it.

She focuses on the sound near her ear. The sound that isn't the fire or the pain or the fierce pounding of her heart, but soft breathing . She brushes the fingers of her one free hand against the mottled new skin of her child and marvels. She more than half believes that it was her mother that told her to get up and run. The warning was just a little bit late. She supposes even the dead can make mistakes, though. And her son will be all right, hopefully.

She doesn't know exactly when it is that her husband is there, brushing her hair back with one hand as he cradles their son. He is saying something to her; she doesn't know what. But he has to leave, something in Kushina tells her this. So she gathers what strength she has and waves him away. In an instant, he is gone.

She fades.

Inside the house, her scroll has long burned to ash.

xXx

Many thanks to my beta, Widom. If you see any mistakes we missed, please let me know.

Comments and critiques are appreciated.