Author's Note & Dedication:This is dedicated to the deviantArt member Justine-Bowder, who won first place in Dark Knight's (first and only) contest! :D It's late, I know, but at least it's done now, right? ^^;
Hinata had been thinking. A lot of it had to do with Deidara, and Sasori, and the Akatsuki in general. No, this wasn't her relationship with any of them--thank god; she didn't need more strife and drama--this was actually her pondering one of the silliest things she had yet in her life.
Where Uchiha Itachi fit in her fairytale.
She would ask Deidara, but knowing how he felt about Itachi, that probably wouldn't be the best idea. He would refuse to include him, or give him some horrible, inappropriate part. Sasori, too, probably wouldn't get the facts straight, and Neji knew next to nothing of the fairytale.
That means it's up to me, she had decided.
There were only so many parts in a fairytale, after all. And there could be multiples; Sasori had proven that when he took on the role of a secondary dragon so unassumingly. Then again, the entire Akatsuki were really dragons…no, Konan was a princess, too…and Itachi was a special case, anyway. Actually, she probably should change most of her view on that. Deidara and Sasori were the special cases; the rest of them couldn't just be dragons. That would dilute the two artists' roles in her fairytale. And that was not good. After all, it was Deidara who started the entire thing.
Okay, so Konan-senpai is the other princess, and Deidara-kun and Sasori-san are both the dragons. That works, she told herself. If Konan-senpai is a princess… Does that make Leader-sama her knight? The mere thought of Pein being chivalrous made her giggle.
"Finding something more humorous than the Utakata jutsu?" Itachi interrupted smoothly. Hinata blanched, jarred back into her current situation. Right, it was genjutsu lesson time with Itachi! Her favorite time of day, of course…
"N-No!" Nowadays, he was the only one that could bring her stutter back so regularly. That had to count for something in a fairytale, right? "But…"
"…But?" he prompted flatly. Hinata could tell that he was not in the mood for such silliness, so she hastily ducked her head and apologized. The lesson went on as planned. (The Utakata really was a useful genjutsu, anyway. She was lucky he was putting up with her enough to teach it to her.)
But, just a few days later, Hinata found her mind wandering again towards that topic. She had nailed down a few other Akatsuki member's roles in the fairytale, too; Pein was, indeed, Konan's knight, and Hidan was a priest (they had those in fairytales, didn't they?) whereas Kakuzu was the crotchety, greedy old man. That title, was, of course, courtesy of Deidara and Sasori, who found it utterly amusing. Hinata was a bit lost, until they took turns explaining an old fable of a man who let his greed get the better of him, and eventually accidentally sold his soul to a demon, but she didn't get that, either. That wasn't her fairytale… But she could think of nothing better for Kakuzu, so he was stuck as that. Poor guy.
Kisame's role was very much tied in with Itachi's, so Hinata was again stuck after that.
What would Itachi-senpai be, if we were all in a fairytale…? she asked herself repeatedly. Yet again, it got in the way of her concentration, so yet again, Itachi lost patience with her.
"What is on your mind that you're not trembling when I mention the Tsukuyomi?" he asked, almost exasperated. As if Uchiha Itachi could feel such an emotion. Hinata gave a start, though mostly because she hadn't realized he was talking about her most-hated technique.
"You're distracted. Take a moment to work it out, or drop it now," he said flatly. She stared at him, and he stared evenly back with black eyes, for which she was thankful. Plus, that eye color meant he wasn't really angry with her, at least not yet.
"I-I can't work it out… Not on my own. S-Sorry, Itachi-senpai." Hinata lowered her gaze to her lap. "I'll try to concentrate more n-now…"
"What is it you're so bent on figuring out?" Her head snapped back up, staring at him incredulously. It wasn't as if he looked particularly interested, or curious. Itachi looked thoroughly disinterested, in fact. He probably was just trying to speed along the interruption, but the fact that he would fake some small amount of concern for her problem was…mind-boggling.
"Um…" It took her a moment to really even register what he'd said. And now, when she had to say it out loud, it just sounded stupid…
"…Yes?" Itachi said, narrowing his eyes a bit. She paled and tried to come up with something to cover herself with. And fast.
"…Um…" That probably wasn't the best method of stalling, but Hinata wasn't particularly creative under pressure.
Itachi sighed at that point, and Hinata would have bet anything that he had rolled his eyes. Rolled his eyes. Oh damn, she was farther along to her doom than she'd initially thought. He stood up, brushing invisible particles of dirt off of his uniform. Hinata did all she could to not duck and cower. But instead of a blow or horrid genjutsu, like she was expecting, she just heard the clicking of his heels on the floor below. Hesitantly, she peeked up through her fingers, unimaginably relieved to find that he was only pacing.
"This problem of yours," he said without preamble, "Is becoming a problem of mine. You can't concentrate properly, which is a stretch for you on a good day, and now it's just giving me a headache to try to teach you some sense and basic genjutsu."
Hinata had a few choice things to say to that. The first on her list was that she could concentrate properly if he wasn't so freaky all of the time, and that was followed closely by the fact that what he was attempting to teach her was not 'basic' by anyone's standards. Not even the Akatsuki's. But she kept silent, because it was quite apparent that Itachi was not one to be interrupted at this point.
He tilted his head back, glaring at the ceiling as if it had wronged him. "Knowing you as much as I do, I can only hazard a guess that this has to do with one of three things. Your love life, Deidara, or that ridiculous fairytale of yours. Of course, the lines are very blurry between those, and I could be entirely wrong and you might have just found the second talking cat I had tailing you--"
"What?!" Hinata shrieked, jaw dropping. Kisho was bad enough--but a second spy? He had once made the mistake of saying that with some speed training and the element of surprise, she could take even an Uchiha in genjutsu, and now was as good of a time as any to test that theory.
But then, Hinata realized that Itachi had stopped his pacing to face her. And he was, in fact, smirking.
"…" Had that last statement been a…joke? No--it couldn't be. This is Itachi, after all. Was he just seeing if I was paying attention? she thought, watching him through narrowed eyes. Through her lashes and with that slight, evil smile, she couldn't help but notice the strong family resemblance he shared with Sasuke.
"Is the problem pertaining to your love life?" he asked, voice completely at odds with the expression on his face. In fact, Hinata now doubted whether or not it was a smirk at all; it could easily be a trick of the light.
"No," she muttered, scowling as hard as she dare in his general direction. As if her love life was any of his business, anyway… She wasn't some lovesick kunoichi who let her infatuations get the better of her all the time. …Not all of the time, anyway, she amended.
"Your asinine fairytale?"
"Slightly." Hinata looked away, crossing her arms over her chest. Neji she could forgive, but she'd be in trouble if Itachi could start reading her that easily… Though maybe it would mean she'd never have to talk in his presence again. That could be a plus. Making up a rather lame lie on the spot, she added, "Deidara-kun and I were discussing where you would fit in, Itachi-senpai…"
"You are being distracted because of that?" It was hard to miss the disdain dripping from the last word.
Sullenly and rebelliously, she nodded.
Itachi plopped back down on the cushion opposite her. But no--Uchiha Itachi never plopped, because everything he and his entire clan did was graceful. Even if Hinata had never seen him move so lazily, she knew he couldn't be compared to regular mortals' movements like that. Should he be some deity? she asked herself, only half-joking. No; he'd probably like that title too much…
"…I thought the entire Akatsuki were assigned the title of 'dragon'," he said politely, titling his head a bit to one side.
"Konan-senpai's a princess, too…" Hinata admitted.
"Does that make Leader-sama her knight?"
How come he thought of that right away? I just thought of that the other day…she thought, mentally hanging her head. Even her genjutsu teacher had more creativity with the fairytale than she did. "More or less."
"What roles are still open?" he inquired.
"I…don't know. There was never really any set roles." Hinata averted her eyes from his polite stare, wishing she had a clock to know when it would be easiest to bow out of this embarrassing situation. Here she was, in the middle of Amegakure and the Akatsuki, talking about fairytales with Uchiha Itachi! Even she had her limits. Abuse and passive-aggressiveness she could handle; having a civil conversation with him she could not. It was as if Sasori had suddenly become kind, or Deidara suddenly being hostile towards her. It just didn't happen.
"…What is Sasuke, then?"
Hinata snapped back to attention. That was the first time she could remember him ever mentioning his brother, let alone the fact that he alluded to her past connection with him. But this was a vain hope for him, as she had never assigned Sasuke a role, either… "I-I don't know. Deidara-kun and I never really…"
Itachi set his chin in his hand, looking at the floor in thought. He didn't say anything for the longest time. In fact, Hinata had honestly been wondering if he had fallen asleep with his eyes open when he finally spoke. "…In that case, I would like to be the evil sorcerer."
It took several moments for his words to fully sink in. And when it did, Hinata blinked, and then burst out laughing. "A-Are you playing along?"
"I am completely serious."
That only made it more funny. It was nearly five full minutes later before she could even look at him again, and even so, she was still grinning and choking back giggles. "Wh-Why would you want to be a-a sorcerer, Itachi-senpai…?"
"I believe I put the 'evil' title in front of it. Isn't that how you view me?" She abruptly stopped grinning and flushed.
"I-I wouldn't call you e-evil--"
"Regardless, it seems a fitting adjective for my current standing in the world." He cut across her smoothly, and Hinata bowed her head and let him speak. It was wiser to back down when it came to any of the Akatsuki members; they, as a rule, didn't like to be interrupted. "And I do like the 'sorcerer' label as well. They're usually one of the more powerful characters, often with unique skills, and there are more similarities that come to mind now that I think of it…" As he trailed off, she took it as a sign to speak once more.
"Um… Like what?"
He turned to her with a blank expression. "Similarities?"
Itachi looked down for a brief moment, before looking at her once more. "I do not claim to be any sort of expert on fairytales, but… Sorcerers are usually the ones who are most misunderstood, and are also usually the first to switch sides if they feel that their interests are threatened."
Hinata bit off the first response that came to mind, since it concerned the Uchiha massacre. Obviously, that was what he was referring to; what else could he be? "Does… Does that make Sasuke a sorcerer, too?" He had mentioned Sasuke first, so she considered him fair game.
"It could. Does anyone who possess the Sharingan immediately become one?" he challenged, sounding almost amused. She was a bit taken aback by this. He sure was expressive that day!
"…Sure?" She didn't know what else to say. It wasn't as if she had any other roles for Sasuke in mind…though Deidara had once requested that the youngest Uchiha become the 'fag vampire'… She didn't think Itachi would find as much humor in that as Deidara did, however.
She was so lost in her thoughts that she almost didn't hear him. "Ex-Excuse me?"
"The Copy-nin. He isn't an Uchiha, but he still has the Sharingan in one eye. Would he be a sorcerer as well?" Itachi asked seriously.
Hinata smiled uncertainly, trying to keep up with him. Why was he suddenly so interested in the fairytale? Just because he was included? She hadn't meant to include so many people in it, after all, and she barely knew Kakashi! It was originally just a dragon, a knight, and a princess. Just like that, though, a sudden thought struck her. "Oh! Itachi-senpai, I know a different role you could play!"
"…Hm?" He didn't sound overly interested, though whether this was because he actually wasn't interested or because he'd gotten attached to the idea of him being a sorcerer, she didn't know.
"I-If I'm a princess, and I'm the Hyuuga heir, then since you're the Uchiha heir, you could be the prince!"
He wasn't amused by this, if his flat look was anything to go by. "…The prince," he repeated dully.
"Um… Y-Yes… It seemed like it made sense at the time…"
"Wouldn't Sasuke fit that role better? He's younger." He seemed to be trying to get rid of the potential title switch, but she wouldn't get rid of her own reasons just for him.
"I'm the older sister in my family, but I'm still the heir; I thought that was how it worked… Weren't you the heir before…you…left?" She didn't know how else to phrase it, and she thought she had done a fair job of avoiding the word 'massacre'.
"…I was the heir," Itachi admitted, seeming reluctant, "But that changed with the death of my clan. I'm fairly certain that Sasuke has taken up the title of 'heir' now."
"…Fine, then," she replied, finally relenting. "Sasuke can be the prince, and you'll stick with your sorcerer title." For good measure, Hinata stuck her tongue out at him. He gave her a small, smug smile in return.
"I prefer it. It has a connotation of strength."
"And misunderstanding," she added under her breath.
He seemed to hear her, however, and just had to get in the final word on the subject. "Yes, and misunderstanding. Now, as the evil sorcerer, I automatically have permission to be cruel to the princess in order to teach her some sense. Get up; you're still not done learning how to hit someone when in a genjutsu."
The lesson continued, even if Hinata and Itachi continued to call each other 'princess' and 'sorcerer', just to be spiteful.
Later that week, Hinata took out her camera. She decided that her fairytale had gone on far enough without a proper record of it; it was getting rather confusing. She found each of the members in her fairytale and took a picture, writing on the back of each which role they filled. Sasuke was the only one not to get one, but that was easily explained, since she couldn't very well go hunting him down for a simple photo.
Most of the members ended up getting multiple pictures. After the initial, spontaneous picture, they demanded an explanation, and then ordered her to take a better one. Konan was quite amused by this, especially when she got to try to pose both herself and Pein in 'princess-y' and 'knight-y' poses. Hidan was likewise pleased with his role, but Kakuzu was not. Hinata actually had to run to Sasori for protection, and hastily blamed the nickname on the redhead. Sasori wasn't amused with this, but it allowed her to get a clean getaway.
"What does this make Kisame?" Itachi asked, after getting caught unawares by her camera.
Hinata started to reply, and then promptly blanched when she realized that she didn't have a title for the Kiri-nin yet. Itachi turned and walked away, triumphantly escaping with only one photo taken of him. And Hinata spent the next week and a half trying to figure out the rest of the Akatsuki's fairytale roles.
It only got progressively worse after that; just when she thought she was done, Sasori calmly asked her, "What about Kabuto? Has he gotten a proper title? I noticed you gave the Copy-nin one, and you can't very well have him without Kabuto."
She didn't know what that meant, but Hinata knew when to give up. "That's it! I quit. This fairytale is staying exactly as it is from now until forever; no more additions! Deidara-kun and Sasori-san are dragons, Konan-senpai is the other princess, Leader-sama is her knight, Neji-niisan is my knight, Itachi-senpai is the evil sorcerer, and everyone else can decide their own damned roles!"
"I thought Kabuto had been a dragon, too, yeah," Deidara remarked, unfazed by her outburst. "You also forgot the little Uchiha and the rest of the Akatsuki, Bya-chan."
"Bah! You work on that, then! You're the author of that fairytale, anyway!"
"You're doing a good job of it, though." He grinned at her, trying (and failing) to seem apologetic.
Sasori, beside him, nodded. "I thought you got most of the titles down quite well. Itachi's particularly."
"Well, he not only is the 'sorcerer', showing just how manipulative and underhanded he is--genjutsu and personality both--but you pegged him as the 'evil sorcerer'. It was pretty clever to name him that, especially as he managed to get you this flustered with a simple conversation."
It took a few moments for the Suna-nin's words to sink in, but when they did, Hinata was not a happy kunoichi. "He-He did this on purpose!" Spluttering and fuming, she stomped off to find her genjutsu teacher.
Deidara, frowning, turned to his partner. "Sometimes, I wonder just how much you collaborate with the Uchiha bastard on this, yeah."
"I hardly ever speak to him. We just have similar tastes in liking to mess with your princess' head. The only difference is that my reasons are much more spiteful than his." Sasori shrugged innocently. "Even stoic Akatsuki members such as us have to get our amusement from somewhere."