Here is the new version for this story! I have changed the title, and I also changed the idea of the original fanfic. I decided to do a story that had all my ideas from my past ones merged together.
So yes, this is a geisha fic, but the story will have a few hints of my old stories and my original ones.
The Preface is sort of boring, but it's essential that you read it, or you won't get the storyline at all.
Hope you enjoy!
(Note: The flower in front of every divider tells you what POV it is changing to. The white flower: ❀ is Sakura's POV, while the black flower: ✿ is Sasuke's.)
Reflections of a Mirror
The Sun Line is one of the oldest continuous lines of Japan's monarchies. Kyoto was ruled by the Emperors of the Sun Line, who are said to be descended from the sun goddess, Amaterasu-Omikami.
The Uchiha family, the ones who started the Kyoto Imperial Dynasty, was bestowed with the sun goddess's powers. With those powers, they became one of the most powerful rulers in all of Japan.
With their money and power, they built the Kyoto Gosho, otherwise known as the Heavenly Palace. They also built the Gion, the part of Kyoto where the geisha lived.
For a few years, Kyoto and its neighboring city, Osaka was at war. To stop the battle, the current Emperors betrothed their grandchildren, the Crown Princess of Osaka and the Crown Prince of Kyoto as a peace treaty. When they were of age, Crown Princess Sakura-no-miya, and Crown Prince Seichi-no-miya were to be married, therefore, uniting the two most powerful cities together as one.
But before Emperor Fugaku was in power, his older brother Emperor Meiji was on the throne. At that time, Emperor Meiji's son, Seichi-no-miya, was the Crown Prince, and the fiancé of the Crown Princess of Osaka.
But later on, when Emperor Meiji was said to be died of a disease, his brother, Prince Fugaku ascended the throne. His wife and his son became Empress Mikoto and Crown Prince Sasuke-no-miya. He also had another son, Prince Itachi, who was actually older than Prince Sasuke, but because Prince Itachi's mother was only a mere concubine, he wasn't permitted to become the Crown Prince.
And also, because of the change of rank, the betrothal to Crown Princess Sakura-no-miya was changed to Crown Prince Sasuke-no-miya.
The deceased Emperor's wife, Empress Ichijo, was stripped from her title and position, and was imprisoned in an old summer villa called Katsura, as a one of the tsubone. Prince Seichi-no-miya was also stripped from his title and was living in the court as the son of the deceased Emperor. This angered Dowager Empress Ichijo, and vowed to renew the throne back to her son.
Meanwhile, in Osaka, the Crown Princess Sakura-no-miya was sent away because the palace was rumoured that a poisoning conspiracy was planned by the enemy. They removed her memories of her real identity, and sent her away to an okiya. They had planned to find her and set her up back to her original position as Crown Princess when she got older and when the palace was safe.
When Crown Prince Sasuke-no-miya was eighteen as well as the Crown Princess, the Emperor Fugaku decided to hold a birthday banquet for his son in honour of his coming-of-age. He called on an old friend, Kurenai Yuuhi, who was the mistress of a famous okiya named after Gion, to bring all her geisha to the feast to entertain the royals. What he didn't know was that the Crown Princess, now a geisha in that very same okiya, was called by no other than her father-in-law, to entertain her fiancé.
That's how it all began.
Some flowers fall like empty dreams
But the way they scatter
Makes up for it
The Time when Rotten Weeds turn to Fireflies
Fumizuki July 18, 1864--❀-❀✿❀-かがみ-❀✿❀-❀--
"Sakura, Ino, what are you doing on the floor?" Kurenai-sensei barked at us. We stopped at mid-fight as she stormed over to us angrily. Ino dropped my hand, which held the obi we were fighting for. I let the silk cloth slip out of my hands.
"What is this?" She asked shrilly as she picked up the obi from the floor. "Were you two fighting over this like mere beggars?"
We bowed our heads in apology. Kurenai-sensei tsked at us.
"You are one of the most celebrated geisha of the Gion okiya and ochaya, and in five days you will be performing in front of the Kyoto gosho. What will the Imperial household say if they see you acting like immature children, squabbling over something stupid like peasants?" She scolded us, rapping our heads sharply with her ivory fan.
She swept away the dust from the ornate silk obi, and shoved it into Ino's hands.
"You already know the plan," Kurenai-sensei hissed. "All you must do is choose the right choices, take the right paths in order to succeed. Fail to do so, and it won't only affect you, but others as well."
"Yes, Kurenai-sensei," Ino and I mumbled. Kurenai-sensei nodded, and swept away without a word.
Ino waited until she was out of earshot.
"Can I...use this?" Ino asked tentatively as she timidly showed me the obi in her hands.
I sighed. "Take it," I muttered. I knew I was going to succumb to her lovely blue puppy-eyes anyway.
"Thank you, thank you!" Ino squealed as she jumped in the most undignified way ever. Sometimes, I wondered whether if she was a real geisha or not.
"Just settle down and I'll help you put it on," I said, taking the obi from her hands.
Ino obeyed and stopped squealing. She turned around, her back towards me.
I smiled deviously when I made sure she wasn't looking. I had a change of heart.
Instead of being a dignified geisha like I was supposed to be by tying the obi for her...
"Thanks for the gift, Ino-pig!" I stuck out my tongue as I started to run away with the silk cloth.
"You Forehead-girl!" Ino shrieked, trying to grab the sleeve of my kimono. "Give me back my obi!"
"Too bad," I teased, dangling the obi in front of her face. She tried to snatch it back, only to meet thin air.
I laughed as I saw her off-balanced position. Her hands were in mid-air, as if trying to grope something. One leg was up as high as the kimono allowed her, and one leg was on tiptoe. Predictably, Ino fell face-flat on the old tatami matted floor.
I only stopped laughing when I had to break it with a cough when a cloud of dust emerged when Ino tumbled with a thud.
I bent down to help her up, being the friend I am.
Ino huffed angrily as I smirked at her in triumph, teasingly waving the ornamented silk sash.
"It wouldn't match my kimono, anyway," Ino grumbled, pouting.
Fumizuki July 20, 1864--❀-❀✿❀-かがみ-❀✿❀-❀--
"Miyuri, did I not tell you to pay attention!" Kurenai-sensei snapped, waking my drowsiness. It took me a while to realize she was talking to me. Not as Sakura, but as Miyuri, the famous geisha of the Gion okiya.
"Forgive me, Kurenai-sensei," I tried to make my yawns inaudible as possible. From the corner of my eye, I saw other girls that were also geisha stifling their yawns of exhaustion. They too, felt the same way about this late meeting as I did.
"Kurenai, I think they all need to rest," Anko-sensei spoke up. "Look at them, they're dropping with exhaustion-"
"I know you're all tired and exhausted," Kurenai-sensei sighed wearily, rubbing her temples. "But this is an emergency. We are performing in front of the most powerful people in our land in less than three days. We need to train and practice as much as we can in our time limit." She gazed at us with her amber-red eyes.
"If we do well in our performance overall, you can bring more honour and success to our okiya. If some individuals do especially well, they may be able to snatch a good danna perhaps from the high-ranking nobles, or even the princes."
That piece of information transformed some of the yawning, half-asleep geisha be the opposite of what they were only seconds ago. Indeed, it was amazing that a single sentence can make one wake all of their senses.
"You mean the Imperial Prince?" One geisha named Ami squealed. I winced, partly in disgust and partly the fact how high-pitched Ami could get.
I always hated Ami, ever since the day I met her on the first day in the okiya, when we were still in the shikomi stage. Even now, welcoming as ever, she still occasionally accidentally-on-purpose spills drinks or even worse, dirty water that came from mopping the floors, on either an expensive new obi or a new kimono, depending on her mood. And funny as it seems, she usually chooses the kimono. Looks like her mood hardly changes.
Of course, that wasn't the only reason I hated her. She was the co-president of the Society of the Uchiha Princes Fanclub, or in more accurate terms, a group that would jump at a chance to rape their idols at whatever cost.
More like the Society of the Shameless Whores to me. I thought as I watched the girls giggle and redden when they were thinking inappropriate thoughts.
"Imagine becoming a nyogo or even a wife to him," another girl sighed dreamily.
"Yeah, it would just be like a dream if one of us becomes like Cinderella by becoming a Crown Princess," the geisha next to her piped up.
"Keep dreaming," a voice behind me scoffed. I whipped my head around at the source of the voice. It was Tenten, one of my friends and thankfully, one of the few non-fangirls of the Imperial Prince.
"You know, I always hated Cinderella," Tenten continued, a look of dislike on her face. "The fairy tale itself was really stupid and filled with meaningless love that was only created by a fraud that claimed to be a fairy godmother."
"Tenten, don't be such a reality-leech," Ino said, poking her in the arm lightly in a teasing manner. "You're so stuck to real-life, and yet, you avoid all the dreams and fantasies as if they are nothing but poisoned blood!"
"There is nothing I can do in dreams and fantasies," Tenten said coolly, smoothing her kimono's folds down. "Reality and verity are things meant by Kami-sama. Dreams and fantasies are the illusions that stenches our lives. Surely our lives are meant to be run by karma and the Gods?"
"Sayomi is right," Kurenai used Tenten's geisha name. "We must not waste our time on foolish dreams and start focusing on reality --can't you see that this is a gift from Kami-sama? He just gave us an opportunity to live a full and the deserved life like we were supposed to live. The chance to show others that geisha are not meant to be scorned and trampled on by people who are blind to the truth."
We were silent as we listened to Kurenai talk. Although I didn't know what the others were thinking of at that moment, but I certainly knew what thoughts were going through my head.
At that time, I was replaying a memory--a memory that gave me mixed feelings about it everytime I thought about it.
The memory took place when I was still a maiko, and when I was still with my mentor and older sister Shungiko Of course, the term older sister comes from geisha expression, which means the geisha who acts as a mentor and teacher to a young maiko that was just promoted from minarai to apprentice geisha. But even though Shungiko and I are only a three-year difference in age and not even related, we were as close as real sisters.
I was considered lucky to have Shungiko as my older sister and mentor. You see, Shungiko was a prodigy geisha, people say, one of the most famous geisha known around Konoha. She was promoted to maiko at a younger age than most girls.
Shungiko was said to have been maiko since she was fourteen, and that was when I was still in minarai, at age eleven. Her danna was also rumoured to be a member of the Imperial court, or perhaps even from the reigning Uchiha family themselves.
The job of an older sister includes taking around her "younger sister" or protégé around the teahouses in various hanamachis to get her acquainted with the mistresses and customers of the teahouses. That way, the maiko would be well known and would get to be popular in many hanamachis.
And right in the forgotten memory, that was exactly what Shungiko was doing, after four months of training to be her apprentice.
She was introducing me to a teahouse called the Akegata,which rivaled the Gion teahouse in being famous for having almost as many customers. It was in a nearby hanamachi, which was only a few kilometres away from the hanamachi that the Gion was in.
After meeting the mistress of the Akegata and observing Shungiko's every move when she was entertaining a few guests, we departed with a smile. But our smiles faded as fast as it appeared.
For right when we were leaving the Akegata, we overheard two women whispering about us.
"Isn't that the oiran Fujikage Shungiko?" A woman pointed at Shungiko rudely. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Shungiko turn slightly red under her rice powder--from anger or summer heat, I don't know. But I'm sure that she felt anger. And why shouldn't she? Even though the terrible insult wasn't aimed at me, I was shocked--and appalled.
I knew that many women were jealous of Shungiko--with her well-known beauty and success, but I didn't think they would go as far as this.
"She pretends to be a geisha, but I heard that she actually works for a whorehouse in Osaka," her female companion said in a stage whisper loud enough for us to hear. "I wonder how many men she brought to her sleeping chambers."
"Only Kami-sama knows. But from what I heard that she slept with half of the royal court, and also dozens of other men." The horrible woman said scornfully.
"But isn't that treason?" The other woman gasped, her hand on her mouth in disbelief. "That whore of a bitch ought to be executed!"
Shungiko's hand gripped my arm. I winced as her fingers pinched my arm in a pincer-like way.
"And who is that girl who's with her?" The women turned their dirty gossip towards me.
"I bet she's her daughter from one of her affairs," the other woman snickered. Now I felt as angry as Shungiko must have been. How dare they talk about us in such a dirty manner?
"And since that whore's filthy blood flows within that girl's veins," the woman said softly. "That bastard child will become just like her defiled mother of a bitch."
"And look how hideous she looks!" The gossipy woman laughed. "I bet Kami-sama is punishing her for coming into the world shamefully from such unworthy people."
I felt my eyes fill up with tears--dangerously about to fall right then. I tried to move away, but I was frozen to the spot.
"Let's go," Shungiko said quietly, pulling me gently, yet firmly away from the people who caused me to cry.
I obeyed, inwardly glad that I didn't have to hear the horrible gossip.
When we were back in Shungiko's chambers in her okiya, she turned to me with the most serious expression.
"Miyuri," she began. "Did I ever tell you the story of your name?"
I shook my head.
"Have you ever wondered why I picked that name? Do you know why I didn't name you according to tradition?"
Not even waiting for an answer, she continued.
"Contrary to the geisha's popular tradition, which was to adapt the new name of the promoted maiko from the older sister's, I always thought that the tradition was foolish. My name, which was given to me by my older sister's, was already passed on through many years. Because the fact that I knew that already three people shared my name, I hated it. I always thought that names were important. So important that it made part of the existence of the person who held it.
"I believed that if I was to choose a name for my younger sister, I wouldn't have chosen Shungmiyo or Shungimi. That name would have never been yours, for other people in the past held it before you. It's almost like putting a hawk's giant wings to a small fragile nightingale. It wouldn't fit you like it should be.
"The moment I saw you, I knew you would have great potential. You had unusual, but pretty features that I knew would catch anyone's attention. By the time I watched you write and read a particularly difficult text for the test I set you on the first day I met you, I knew that you were special--different from the other girls.
"So when it came to choosing your name, I consulted the astrologers at the Kennin-ji Shrine. We decided that your new name should have a character in between that has a meaning for your astrologic signs. Mi wasfor your beauty. Yu was for gentleness; it was for taming the fire within you, seeing that you were born in the year of the Fire Horse, the zodiac which Fire governed the most. And lastly, ri was for your intelligence. Your name "Miyuri" has the meaning beauty, gentleness, and cleverness, all three characteristics a geisha should have.
I was silent. I still didn't understand why this had anything to do with what happened before.
"And every name should fit you and who you are." Shungiko added, as if reading my mind. "There is a saying that your name can reveal your future--and if your name has beauty, gentleness, and cleverness, don't you think your future is big?"
"But there are many people just like who you saw a while ago," a bitter smile curved into her lips. "That trample on your future like, let's say--like a sparrow who wipes their muddy feet on fallen cherry blossoms. If you listen to what the wicked sparrow says, more and more of your cherry blossoms will be ruined. But if you follow your own path and find a safe passage away from sparrows, a new cherry tree will be born and will be invulnerable to sparrows."
From that day on, I never thought about what others thought or said about me. Shungiko taught me a lesson I would never forget--although I wanted to forget about that horrible memory I just mentioned before...
But I had to admit, this opportunity was like a gift from the Gods. By using this chance cleverly and shrewdly, we could start a new beginning--a new life, which included no more scorning or dirty talk from peers.
We could show them that geisha aren't what others think they are.
"Now, since that you all don't look tired anymore," Kurenai smiled slyly. "Let's have another practice round of the dance!"
Now, you're all probably wondering what happened to Shungiko, right? Where is she now? Is she still my older sister and a geisha?
The answer is no, she isn't a geisha anymore.
Actually, most people don't even know where she is.
And what a pity, a talented geisha prodigy like her just disappeared off the face of the earth; everyone said the same thing when they heard the news. What made her give up her job?
Now, this answer is simple. It was love.
Love in the geisha world was considered taboo and foreign. Geisha weren't allowed to love, nor marry. If a geisha were to fall in love, she must give up her profession.
Shungiko told me only a year after the incident that she fell in love with a court noble named Prince Arisugawa. Because Prince Arisugawa's mother didn't approve, they planned to marry secretly, and then elope into the countryside.
Before she left, she told me that she and I would meet again sometime in the future. I'm still waiting.
Of course, I'm also still waiting for the day I will fall.
Fumizuki July 22, 1864--❀-❀✿❀-かがみ-❀✿❀-❀--
"Wow," Ino gasped as she did an once-over glance at the room. "Wow."
"You can repeat that for me," Tenten said as she sat down on her futon. She ran a hand across the light, soft material.
"This is so awesome!" Ino squealed as she fell on her futon with a flump. Tenten rolled her eyes at Ino's antics.
"Ino, stop being immature," she said as she helped Ino up. I smirked; Ino was always managing to fall or stumble over something at least once a day, accident or not. Pray that she wouldn't do that at the banquet tomorrow.
"You better not do that in front of the Emperor," I warned, thinking about the look on Kurenai-sensei's face if it happened.
"Of course not, I would get murdered," Ino said calmly, waving an airy hand as if to pass all her worries away.
"Better dead in Kurenai-sensei's hands than in this palace's," Tenten remarked grimly. "Are we even allowed to go out? I might die of boredom in here."
"You just came here, and you're already bored?" Ino said incredulously at Tenten, who stretched on the futon like a cat.
"I want to do something interesting," she replied, propping her head on one arm. "No geisha stuff that we have to do everyday. Something different."
"Let's scope out handsome nobles!" Ino said giddily. Tenten and I exchanged significant looks.
"Let's not," Tenten flicked a loose strand of hair out of her eye.
Ino pouted. "But I heard that-"
"Yeah, and risk our heads being cut off by their evil wives," I cut in.
Ino thought for a moment, and then sighed. "Fine," Ino said dejectedly. "Then what?"
"The performance rehearsal is at the mid-hour of the dog," I said, glancing at the sky through the window behind Tenten. "And we just heard four rings from the Kennin-ji temple for the first hour of the monkey. So we have about four hours left."
Tenten got up from her futon. "Let's take a tour of the place. We were shunted into this room the moment we stepped into the palace. I want to see how big this whole place is."
"It'll probably take more than four hours if we want to see the whole palace," Ino ran a comb through her silvery blonde hair idly. Like her perfect hair needs any brushing!
"Then let's just see half," Tenten replied sharply.
"Wait, just let me put on my rice powder-"
"Forget about the rice powder, let's just go," Tenten said impatiently.
"What if Kurenai-sensei sees us without our make-up on?" Ino argued. "We'll probably get another-"
"Then we'll make sure that she won't see us," Tenten said simply, sliding open the shoji screens. She picked up her wooden clogs--the shortest ones that were only a few centimeters tall.
I knew Kurenai-sensei would make a huge fit if she saw us in this state: with no make-up or proper clothing. If she saw us, I knew we would have to sleep that night on our stomachs rather than on the side or back.
We stood in front of what it looked like a vast courtyard imitated like a private forest-- with the exception of the wooden posts that was lined up on the grass. I saw a few arrows and other strange-looking weapons that were imbedded in the small red dot in the centers of the posts. It was obvious that the person who threw those was an expert or master at it.
A few yards away, I glimpsed at two people practicing their sword fighting. Just by looking at the builds of their shadows, I could tell they were men. Perhaps they were guards or even-
"I bet this is the training grounds," Tenten said as she glanced at our surroundings. Her glossy brown hair had become loose from her low bun and rippled in the soft summer breeze. The only odd one out, Tenten looked the most normal out of all three of us. Like most Japanese women, who had usually black or brown hair, she had long dark chestnut hair. The only different feature was her eyes, which had flecks of hazel and gold mixed in with the background of coffee brown.
Ino had the Western look that usually caught many men's eyes when she walked into a teahouse. Silvery blonde hair, ice blue eyes--many people considered her beautiful. Many women envied her, and even I admit that I was at one point, jealous of her beauty. She was pretty in an exotic, elfin way, while Tenten was just pretty in the features that many women share in our land.
As for me, I don't know whether I am beautiful or not...in anyone's eyes, for that matter. Shungiko was the only one who told me how I looked in her eyes. I knew my looks were different from others; my pink hair was far from normal, and my emerald eyes were unusual--the kind which people have mixed opinions about them. Some would say they were beautiful, while some would say they were strange.
"What if they see us?" Ino pointed at the unknown people that were still sparring.
"They're probably just guards," Tenten shrugged, unworried.
But I had a feeling that those men weren't guards...
Tenten pulled one of the strange-looking weapons off of the nearest post. The weapon she held in her right hand resembled a cross between a small dagger and a spear. She twirled the dagger/spear on her index finger.
"Tenten, be careful with those!" Ino said shrilly, eyeing the blade wearily.
Tenten laughed. "Don't worry, I may be a geisha, but that doesn't mean I can't defend myself."
Ino's eyes bugged out. "You mean you've touched those--things a few times?" She said the word "things" as if they were garbage.
"Yes, I like these "things" better than ivory fans," Tenten did air quotes around the word just to tease Ino. "They're called kunais, Ino."
"Well, don't try to kill us with those," Ino said gruffly.
"I'll try," Tenten said in mock determination. I laughed.
As we watched Tenten practice with the kunais, or whatever she said it was, Ino finally started whining about something.
"This stupid wind is messing up my hair," Ino complained as she tried to stop her perfect hair from getting mussed by the breeze.
"Your hair's fine," I said sharply, rolling my eyes.
"No it isn't, look at how messy it-"
Ino stopped mid-sentence that was cut off with her scream, as a kunai--sharp and gleaming in the sun--was headed towards us.
Almost like it was an automatic move--like a puppeteer was manipulating his or her puppet--I stopped the blade with my left hand.
I don't even know how my hand just--almost casually--catch a flying weapon. Perhaps it was luck...
"Oi, teme, look what you did!" One of the men shouted, running towards me. When he got closer, I could make out that he had blonde hair, cerulean blue eyes, and tanned skin.
"Hn." The man beside him said. His face was cast in the tree's shadow. All I could see was raven hair and a muscular body.
"Are you okay?" The blond asked me in a concerned voice. "Sorry, my stupid friend here was being too careless."
"She was in the way," his friend replied, shrugging. Apparently, he was aiming at the post behind me.
"Sasuke-teme, aren't you going to apologize?" The blond demanded.
Hearing the man's name, Ino let out a squeak of surprise, and Tenten let a gasp. My eyes widened.
The person who just almost sent me to death was the next ruler of our land.
For the first time, I admit, Ami and the rest of the fanclub were right about their idol. He was handsome.
Actually, he wasn't. He was more than that.
I now understood why so many women lusted after him.
Aristocrat features--high cheekbones, straight nose, and perfect lips...god-like body...captivating eyes...the intimidating air around him...
But I didn't change my mind about him. He was still a stuck-up jerk.
He didn't even apologize for almost killing me! He just went all, whoops, I almost killed you. My bad.
Of course, he didn't say those exact words, but the unconcerned look on his perfect face said it all.
Instead, he demanded, "Who are you?"
Because of my shock and anger, I forgot all the etiquette I learned from Kurenai-sensei on how to speak or behave to royalty.
"Didn't your father tell you that geisha were coming to your palace?" I replied.
Ino and Tenten gasped again at my blunt statement. I ignored it. That royal jerk deserved it.
"Didn't you learn how to speak to a prince?" He raised an elegantly arched eyebrow.
"Too bad I don't think you as one," I shot back. I saw Naruto grin and give me a thumbs-up. Behind the Royal Jerk, Ino buried her face in her hands and Tenten continued smacking herself repeatedly in the head.
He suddenly drew closer to me. Now, his face was inches away from mine. I admit, it was pretty hard to stare him down.
"Is that a way to talk to your future Emperor?" His hot breath fanned my face.
"I don't know, you tell me," I replied boldly. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Tenten closing her eyes and silently praying to Kami-sama.
"Just shut your mouth if you know what's good for you."
"Make me." I knew my reply was childish and immature of me, but who cares?
And the next thing I knew, I felt his surprisingly soft lips upon mine. I went into a state of numb shock, and I didn't move. I couldn't even push him away.
It took me more than a few seconds to realize what the Crown Prince just did: he just kissed me--in front of my friends and his friend.
Indeed, he really did shut my mouth successfully.
The only thing I regretted was not shutting my mouth when I had the chance.
Fumizuki July 23, 1864--❀-❀✿❀-かがみ-❀✿❀-❀--
Memories of the Fateful Day
I was a fool. A huge one.
Why did I make that stupid mistake? I still ask myself. Why didn't I shut my mouth like an obedient girl?
I could still feel the touch of his lips when they met mine.
His smug smirk as I did what he wanted.
His cold, boring obsidian eyes as they stared into mine.
And while I think, I wait. For our performance. In front of the most powerful people in the land.
Tenten was already waiting outside, and Ino, finished with her preparations, flounced over to me.
"How do I look?" Ino asked as she twirled around in the new kimono. It was an Irosode with hand-painted water lilies over a background of hues of misty greens and blues in sheer silk. Her light blonde hair was up in an elegant taka Shimada chignon.
"Great," I replied dully.
"Sakura, what's wrong?" She asked as she noticed the tone of my voice. She sat down next to me on the silken cushions.
"Nothing," I lied. To avoid Ino's sharp gaze, I glanced down at my fingers. I noticed that they were slightly bleeding from my nervous picking.
"Are you still frustrated over Prince Sasuke-no-miya?" Ino asked gently. Her voice had a slight tease in it.
I didn't say anything. I just merely stared at the wall.
"You know, a lot of girls would kill to be in your place yesterday," she said thoughtfully. "Don't you realize who just kissed you yesterday? He's next in line for the throne!"
"No." I cut her off, already knowing what she was thinking.
Ino frowned. "Then just forget about it."
I raised my head. "Don't you get it?" I said exasperatedly. "I can't forget it! As much as I want to, I can't!"
She made an "O" with her mouth. "Eh, then you have a problem."
"I noticed," I said dryly.
"Wait-" Ino gasped. "Are you-are you in love with him?"
"No!" My sullen mood was replaced with disbelief. "How could you think that?"
"If a woman thinks about a man or his touch, I call it love," Ino explained, a coy smile spreading across her face.
"I don't. I call it a why-am-I-so-stupid inner embarrassment," I snapped.
"It's time to go," Tenten called, poking her head into our room.
"Let's go," Ino dragged me up by the sleeve of my kimono, which was in the same style as Ino's, except with waterfalls and kingfishers, rather than water lilies.
For some reason, when I thought about the performance, an image of Prince Sasuke smirking at me came into my mind.
Fumizuki July 25, 1864--❀-❀✿❀-かがみ-❀✿❀-❀--
A Person in His Heart
The performance went okay--except I caught an old man in his seventies that was apparently a wealthy noble snoring through it--but other than that, all things went smoothly...
...other than the fact Ami screwed up and tripped over something completely random and made all of us embarrassed, and the fact that at one point, my gaze locked with the Crown Prince's and caused me to almost drop my fan, everything was great.
But we were lucky that no one really noticed Ami screwing up, because most of their eyes were on me, for being well-known as the apprentice of one of the most famous geisha that ever lived.
Here's my story:
The banquet was held for the Royal Jerk, in honour for his eighteenth birthday. But I think that even if his age went to eighty, he won't mature at all.
Too bad his good looks don't match his heart.
So as we walked into the Great Hall which was connected to the moon-viewing pavilion, we couldn't help but stare at the people around us.
All around us, we saw nobles and daimyos with expensive-looking silk robes and their wives in beautiful kimonos much more prettier than ours clutching their arms, and shooting us evil looks as their husbands gawked at us. Now you see why geisha are scorned by many people--especially women.
The court may have a glamorous and luxurious appearance, but I knew that in reality, it was not. There was more scandals and lies in this beautiful, seemingly perfect place than in any other place. And to know that every single flawless-looking rice powder mask and red smile had an outrageous secret behind it was terrifying.
A smile usually portrays friendliness and warmth--while in this place, it was the exact opposite. Indeed, every single smile hid a snarl in hatred for us geisha, who they thought were prostitutes.
Of course, not everyone was smiling. In fact, the birthday boy himself had the expression that was more appropriate for a friend's deathbed.
The Emperor always held that serious, cold expression that I've seen in countless newspapers, while his wife, the Empress Mikoto was always smiling vivaciously, as if she never heard of hardship and sadness in life. How could two people that are so different from each other marry?
But there is, of course, such thing as political marriages. While money was important and crucial to nobles and daimyos, love was out of the question. In some rare cases, a political marriage can cause love between the husband and wife, but it's usually invalid. Only lucky people fall in love in an arranged marriage.
Life in court wasn't any different from a geisha's. Love is scorned, while wealth and power is serenaded.
At one point during the banquet, nobles and daimyos were permitted to choose a private geisha for them. Like usual, many servants of daimyos flocked to where we were sitting--seeing how we're famous as the more successful geisha in the whole okiya--to ask for acceptance. But the only request I had to accept--choice was out of the question--was...
"Lady Miyuri, the Crown Prince Sasuke-no-miya requests your presence," a servant said after the first hour of eating. You couldn't imagine my surprise.
I choked on my tea when I heard it. I actually went into a stream of coughs before I could recollect myself.
"What?" I managed to croak out.
The servant looked slight irritated. "The Crown Prince requests your presence," he repeated, gesturing to the table where the birthday boy sat, ignoring all the lustful gazes from his fanclub.
I wasn't sure of what to do. I couldn't disobey a prince's orders...and it was just too awkward to meet him again after that incident...
I sighed heavily, but followed the servant to his master's table. I could almost feel the burns of the fangirls' glares at the back of my kimono.
"Oh, it's Pinky," the Royal Jerk made a crooked smirk.
"Oh, it's Chicken Ass," I shot back, not caring whether people were eavesdropping.
The servant looked at his master, then back at me in a nervous way, as if he was thinking that it was my last day on earth. Well, technically, it could've been.
He scurried off without a word.
"What do you want?" I demanded in low tones after sitting down next to him.
"Didn't that--incident--teach you a lesson?" His dangerously beautiful eyes danced with malice.
I didn't answer. I was busy trying to stop the blush from showing under my mask of rice powder.
"Apparently, not," the Royal Jerk sighed, running his hand through his dark locks of hair. He leaned closer to me, which just reminded me of that fateful day.
"Should I teach it to you again?" His voice dropped to a low and husky tone. "In front of all these people?"
I opened my mouth to reply, but I closed it immediately after realizing that he was being serious. He could cause a scandal and let the matter blamed on me. After all, he was the Crown Prince, and I would be a peasant if I wasn't a geisha. He could change the facts and have fake witnesses in his favor with one flick of his finger.
"Looks like the lesson wasn't wasted after all," he said smugly, lifting my chin up with one finger. Out of the corner of my eye, I looked to see if anyone was watching. I sighed with relief when I saw that everyone was too preoccupied with doing something else to notice what was happening between a geisha and a prince.
I stared back into his eyes.
"Don't go on thinking that I have--what do you call it--feelings about you," Prince Sasuke continued, in a rather cold voice. "I already have someone--and it's not you."
"Like I care," I hissed through gritted teeth.
But how come my heart felt like it was sinking?
I'm going to skip the details of the dance, because it really isn't worth remarking on.
After the banquet was finished, we were excused to leave the banquet hall to retire for the night. I was just glad that I didn't have to see his face anymore. If you know who I mean.
I told Tenten and Ino about what happened.
"Whoa, that guy is the definition of playboy," Ino said after I finished my story.
"So he's telling you that he likes--or loves--somebody else?" Tenten asked as she pulled out the beautiful pins that were decorated with gemed flowers out of her hair.
I shrugged. "I guess so."
"Don't you think that he's trying to make you jealous?" Tenten said thoughtfully, setting the pins on the table.
"Oh Kami, we have to find out who it is!" Ino squealed, excited.
"And how are we going to do that?" I raised an eyebrow.
"Easy, ask his friend--um, Naruto, was it?"
"And what if he doesn't tell us?" Tenten asked.
"Then we follow Prince Sasuke-no-miya until we see him with the girl," Ino answered, a devious smile forming on her lips.
"You mean stalking," I translated in a half-skeptical, half-amused voice.
"You can call it that," she replied. "But I call it a stake-out."
"Or a stalk-out," Tenten said grimly.
"Come on, it'll be fun," Ino pleaded. "Let's see how ugly she is!"
"And what if she's not? What if she's prettier than you?" Tenten teased. I covered my mouth with my hand when I saw Ino's smile disappear in the candlelight.
Ino thought for a moment. "Then we bash her pretty face in and make it ugly," she decided in a determined voice.
I had to laugh at that.
Fumizuki July 26, 1864--❀-❀✿❀-かがみ-❀✿❀-❀--
A Scandal Witnessed
We didn't have to stalk the Royal Jerk (to my enormous relief). In fact, Naruto--or Prince Narutomi, as his royal name--was happy (and clueless enough) to inform us who the lucky girl was.
Well, actually, just Ino. I was too embarrassed to face Naruto again--you know, after that incident. So I forced Ino to ask alone.
After finding out where Naruto was staying, Ino charged into Naruto's sleeping chambers (rather rudely; she knocked aside two maids and a chamberlain) and demanded who the girl was.
"I think her name was Rurimi...and she's an artist, from what I heard," Naruto told Ino. "Why do you want to know?"
"Oh, nothing," Ino said innocently. And she ran out.
Breathlessly, Ino began to tell us who it was.
"She's probably in the kyoku no edakumi," Tenten said, trying to remember where it was. "I think it's in the North side of the Palace..."
"It was next to the gardens," I answered for her. "Let's go!"
And sure enough, when we peeked through a hole in the sliding shoji screens to the gardens...
We saw the Royal Jerk sitting on a rock (I almost laughed at that) talking to a girl about our age, with long shiny black hair, her back to us.
So this is the girl who captured the ice prince's heart.
We leaned closer, trying to hear their conversation. I admit, it would've been a sight to see three geisha, all sprawled on the floor, pushing and shoving each other to have a turn to see through a hole the size of a plum.
"Rurimi, I don't care what my parents think," Sasuke was saying in a serious voice. "We can escape to Edo--and forget about them."
"Sasuke-kun," Rurimi said in a soft musical voice that a nightingale would envy. "You are the Crown Prince of this land--the next ruler for Kyoto--but I'm not even of royal blood or born in a prestigious family..."
"How long will it take for you to realize that I don't care about any of that stuff?" He roughly seized her hands and entwined them into hers. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that Ino's eyes became as wide as coins. Tenten covered her mouth in shock.
"Sasuke-kun...stop...what if someone sees us?" Rurimi asked in a worried voice, trying to push Sasuke's hands away. Too bad she didn't realize sooner.
"Let them see," Sasuke said impatiently. "Who cares?"
"You'll be in serious trouble if your father finds out," Rurimi said quietly.
"I don't care about my father," he replied coolly.
"Look, Sasuke-kun, just forget about it," Rurimi said firmly. "You and I will be in great trouble if any of this goes out into the newspapers. Think of all the rumours and gossip that will fly around Kyoto. What will the people think if they see their Prince with a girl like me?"
"Just don't," Rurimi got up, and turned her back to him. For the first time, I saw her face.
She had a pretty face framed with long black hair, like I've mentioned before. But what surprised me was that she had green eyes--almost the exact shade as mine. Her name suited her perfectly--which meant beauty of an emerald.
Rurimi was heading our way, right to the shoji screens which led back into the art department. So we had to hide behind a bookshelf until she left.
"I get to bash her pretty face in first," Ino whispered.
I could hear my heartbeats hammering as I breathed in and out. I was in the shocked, excited state, in which that I couldn't slow down my heart.
Ino and Tenten's ragged breathing was audible to my ears. I hoped that Rurimi didn't hear. She didn't. She was probably lost in her own thoughts. I mean, who wouldn't? The Crown Prince just told her that he loved her!
After we made sure she left, we decided to go into separate directions, so that it wouldn't look so suspicious.
I decided to hang a little longer, while Ino and Tenten scampered away.
I felt a hand touch my shoulder lightly. I jumped.
"Why are you so surprised?" A smooth masculine voice asked in an amused voice.
I turned around to face...
I almost stopped breathing right there and then.
But I noticed...
It wasn't him. Just a person that looked freakishly just like him.
Well, except for the hairstyle part. While Sasuke's hair was cut like a chicken's ass, like I mentioned a while ago, this boy's hair was short.
But he had the same pale skin, dark hair, onyx eyes, and similar build, except that he was wearing artist robes instead of the expensive robes that Sasuke wore, with the Imperial crest on them.
"Who are you?" I asked, relieved that it wasn't him.
"I could ask you that myself," the Sasuke-look-alike said.
"Are you related to the Crown Prince?" I blurted out.
He laughed. "I'm his cousin."
"No wonder you look alike," I muttered. "Are you a prince or a noble?"
The Sasuke-look-alike looked defeated. "I am, but I despise living in the court. I sometimes sneak away and disguise myself as an artist. Not that I'm not," he added. "I have a talent as an artist, and my cousin--the Crown Prince--helps me keep my identity a secret."
"But why are you telling me this?" I raised an eyebrow.
"You asked, didn't you?" He replied.
"So no one really catches on that you look really similar to the Crown Prince at all?"
"Nope, they just think I'm a good-looking, talented artist," he said smugly. "So, who are you? I think I haven't seen you around the palace. And besides, you don't look like a noble lady at all."
"I'm a geisha." I supplied for him.
"You? A geisha?" He looked genuinely surprised. "I thought geisha were supposed to be pretty."
"Haha, very funny," I said sarcastically. "And I thought princes weren't allowed to pose as an artist."
"You know, we know some facts about each other, but we didn't even share our names." He said thoughtfully, ignoring the last comment.
It was true.
"Well then, I'm-" I hesitated to say my real name. Should I? I pondered. I might as well. "I'm Sakura, otherwise known as the geisha Miyuri."
"I'm Sai, otherwise known as Prince Seichi, the former Crown Prince."
What I didn't know at that time, was how Prince Seichi--or Sai--was more connected to me than I ever knew or imagined.
And at that time, I never knew my true identity.
Fumizuki July 27, 1864--❀-❀✿❀-かがみ-❀✿❀-❀--
Facts and Secrets
After Sai told me that he was the former Crown Prince, I became interested with politics and the Imperial Lines. I just had to find out why he wasn't the Crown Prince anymore.
You see, as a geisha, I didn't really study or learn about these things. All the requirements for a geisha were only in the arts and charm. There was no politics or protocol in the exams to become a full-fledged geisha.
When I told Ino and Tenten about it, their reactions were very different.
"Sakura, why do you want to learn about boring stuff?" She said, yawning. I rolled my eyes. Typical Ino.
On the other hand, Tenten seemed a little interested, to my happiness.
"Politics, eh?" She said thoughtfully, putting down her calligraphy brush she was practicing with.
"Why not?" I said, trying to convince her. "It's the perfect place for information. What better place is there than here to look for books on politics and the palace laws?"
"No, it's just that..." She trailed off. "We only have a week left until we go back into the Gion. How can we dig the whole Imperial library in a week?"
"We'll just make the best of it," I replied.
Tenten slowly nodded, agreeing to my words.
"So, are you in, or not?" I pushed.
"I guess," Tenten said with a shrug.
"I'm not," Ino said in a bored voice. She flopped down on her futon.
"Suit yourself." I already knew she was going to do this. But I was going to make her go anyways. "You'll be alone...for a week...with nobody to talk to..."
That changed her mind.
"Fine, fine, I'll go!" Ino said grumpily. Tenten and I exchanged triumphant looks when she wasn't looking.
"Oi, teme," my annoying friend said. "Why do you look more depressed than usual?"
I snapped my gaze to Naruto, and gave him my deadliest glare. Unfortunately, it didn't faze him or his idiotism.
Naruto continued grinning like an idiot. "I bet Rurimi rejected you."
I guess he does have a brain after all.
"Shut. Up." I growled.
"I told you, Rurimi is a hard girl to like," the blond idiot said, ignoring my anger pulsating in my voice. "Why don't you pick one of the girls that-"
"I told you, I don't like them," I said through gritted teeth.
"But what's that girl's name again--the girl with the pink hair--oh yeah, I heard her friend call her Sakura..." Naruto scratched his head. "Well anyways, I thought she was pretty."
I momentarily broke my anger to snort at that comment. Pretty? Who was he kidding?
I guess I have to concede that she isn't horribly disfigured. But pretty?
"And you two did look pretty close a few days ago," Naruto continued with a lecherous smirk on his face. "She is the first girl to ever insulted you, the Mighty Uchiha, the Crown Prince-"
"I don't call that an accomplishment," I cut in.
"I do," Naruto argued. "She's the first person, let alone a girl, who could ever stand up to you." He paused. "Other than me, of course."
"So?" I said bluntly.
"Never mind," Naruto gave up on matchmaking. "You're too stubborn to like another girl other than Rurimi."
I didn't answer. He was probably right. For once.
"Aren't you going to marry at all teme?" Naruto asked yet another annoying question. "As the Crown Prince and the future Emperor, you need lots and lots of little Uchiha heirs running around. So who are you going to impregnate?"
"You're not even married." I pointed out, choosing to ignore the last question.
"I'm engaged, mind you," Naruto replied. "Your girlfriend rejected you, and you won't like any other girl other than your girlfriend." He snickered. "Isn't that a bit pathetic for a guy like you?"
I glared at him again.
"You're probably going to die a single Emperor of eighty," Naruto went on with his rant. "And your father is probably going to curse you to his grave for ending the Mighty Uchiha Line, or whatever it is."
"It's called The Imperial Sun Line, moron."
"Well, who cares what it's called? You'll end it anyway!" Naruto cackled.
I hit him in the head. Hard. So that some sense can be knocked into him.
If it was possible.
When I entered the room, Father nodded and gestured me to sit down. My mother smiled at me, like usual.
I sat down directly across my father.
My father cleared his throat. "Sasuke, the reason we called you today is-"
"-To tell you about the arranged marriage between Kyoto and Osaka," my mother finished for him.
"Arranged marriage?" I repeated.
"Yes. Now that you are eighteen, you must get married to continue our ancient line," my father said in a firm voice. "You're next in line for the throne. In order for you to keep your position, you must create an heir before I die."
"Sasuke, your grandfather made a promise to the Emperor of Osaka in his day that their grandchildren, the Crown Prince of Kyoto and Crown Princess of Osaka would be married when they were of age." Mother explained. "And that promise must be kept in order for Kyoto and Osaka's peace treaty to be preserved."
"So I have to marry this princess," I traced back into their words. "In order for the peace treaty between the two cities to be kept?"
"Yes, that is correct." My father signaled for the servants to bring in a roll of rice paper. When they unrolled it, it revealed to have a painted family portrait of three people: a man, a woman, and a little girl.
"The Imperial family of Osaka are from the ancient Haruno Line, who are descended from Wakahiru-MeThe Emperor and Empress,Mother pointed at the two adults wearing Imperial robes similar to ours, except with the crest of their Imperial family emblazoned on them. The crest spelled Haruno, in Hiragana kanjis.
"And lastly, the Crown Princess of Osaka, Sakura-no-miya," she pointed at the little girl in front of her parents.
Wait a minute... Did she just say what I thought she just said?
It took a whole twenty seconds to let everything clunk into place.
The girl that was supposed to be a geisha.
The girl who doesn't know her true identity.
I stared at the girl in the family portrait. Pink hair. Green eyes. Soft peach skin. Cheerful smile on her face.
It was her.
The girl I almost killed...the girl I kissed...the girl...
Was my fiancée.
When I meant to marry someone, I never imagined it to be her.
Who knew that a geisha could turn out to be a princess who doesn't even know she is one?
All I knew was fate was playing games.
"Do you know the real reason now, Sasuke?" Father broke my trance. "Do you know why that I called on the Gion okiya for your birthday?"
That's when I realized.
Calling the Gion okiya wasn't just a coincidence.
It was something they were planning for years.
It wasn't just a geisha-fetching.
It was a bride-fetching.
More specifically, a Crown Princess fetching.
So they knew. They knew who Sakura was all along.
Only me. Only I didn't know who she was. Only me, the fiancé.
"So you knew where she was, all along?" I said slowly.
"And you never told me this because?"
"We've been planning to tell you on your coming-of-age," Mother said in a slightly apologetic voice. "Sakura-no-miya doesn't know either, so it's your responsibility to break it to her."
"You mean tell her that she's the Crown Princess of Osaka, and that she's betrothed and will be married to me in a year or so?" I said bluntly.
"Except for the year or so part," Father said gruffly. "You might get married next month."
"Next month?" I repeated, my eyebrows raised.
"You're both of age, and we need you married as soon as possible," Mother said patiently. "We need to consult the astrologers at the Kennin-ji about this, choosing a date for the wedding has to be on a day that is harmonious with both of their astrologic signs." Mother told her maid, Sumiko, who was standing next to her.
I rolled my eyes when my parents weren't looking.
"I'll send word to the Kennin-ji at once," Sumiko bowed and rushed out of the room.
"So after you tell her, your only job now, Sasuke, is to-" Father paused to make a small smile. "-make many heirs for the throne."
That'll be the highlight of my life.
Fumizuki July 28, 1864--✿-❀✿❀-かがみ-❀✿❀-✿--
Spilling the Truth
Looking for her wasn't as easy as I thought it'll be. After getting information on where she was staying, I went straight to her room, just to find it empty.
So I spent the rest of the day just searching for her. To my surprise, I found her in the room where I'd least expect her to be in.
The Imperial library.
I spotted her blonde friend--the one who made eyes at me--sleeping against the bookshelf (to my relief). Then, I saw the brunette girl slumped against the shoji screen.
I walked over to the table, where I found Sakura sleeping on a book, with her pink hair streaming down her back like a waterfall.
For a few minutes, I actually just watched her sleep.
Her head was on her arms, on its side. Her eyes were closed, peacefully like a child's, and her plump red lips were parted for breathing. I don't know what compelled me to do this, but I reached out and brushed away a strand of pink hair that fell over her heart-shaped face.
As I watched her peaceful sleeping form, for some reason, she wasn't that annoying as she was when she was awake.
I lightly nudged her.
"Oi, wake up, Pinky." I said as loudly as I could without waking up her friends as well.
"Ino...Pig...just ten...more minutes," she groaned. Her head turned to the other side.
I frowned. "Wake up, Pinky."
"I told you, just-" Her eyes snapped open, revealing her jaded orbs. Her expression seemed surprised for a moment, and then changed it into an irritated look. "Chicken Ass, what are you doing here?" She demanded, sitting up.
"We need to talk. Now." I said curtly, pulling her up.
"About what?" She asked confusedly.
"Just follow me," I commanded. I heard her grumble a string of colourful language as she grudgingly followed me into the gardens.
"What?" I said with disbelief.
"Believe or not, you're the Crown Princess of Osaka, my fiancée, and the future Empress." Sasuke repeated in a slightly annoyed tone of voice. I stared at him, to see if he was joking or not. He stared back, but his eyes were serious.
But then again, he was such a good actor, and this could all be an act...
"Do I look like I'm joking?" He interrupted. "Would I really joke to you about something as serious as this?"
I didn't answer. I just stood there, sort of frozen.
"Just be prepared," he said coldly.
"The wedding." Sasuke replied coolly. "It may take place next month."
"WHAT?" I said in a shrill voice, so high that birds out of a nearby tree flew away in alarm. "Next month?"
"Aa," he said, as if trying to recover from his exploded eardrums.
"What kind of word is that?" I asked with a frown on my face.
"Hn." He merely replied.
So I'm stuck with a fiancé who clearly has a socializing problem, who has a secret girlfriend who just dumped him, and if other people find out, he'll be deposed from his title.
Oh yeah, and did I mention that I was marrying a stranger next month, and then expected to be impregnated by him with lovely Uchiha heirs?
-- --❀✿--かがみ--❀✿-- --
It's almost forty pages on MW! I just broke my record of having the most pages for one chapter. Hope you enjoyed it, and I'll try to type and update as fast as I can! Please review your feedback, comments, constructive criticism, etc. But please, no flames. Just push that little button...
It's almost forty pages on MW! I just broke my record of having the most pages for one chapter. Hope you enjoyed it, and I'll try to type and update as fast as I can!
Please review your feedback, comments, constructive criticism, etc. But please, no flames. Just push that little button...
Anyway, thanks for reading!
Glossary of Words:
Glossary of Words:
Akegata- means dawn
danna- a patron; a wealthy man who pays the fees of a geisha, in return for private entertainment
Gion okiya and teahouse- named after the Gion, which means the Floating World
hanamachis- flower towns; the part where okiyas and teahouses are located
kyoku no edakumi- the art department
maiko- apprentice geisha, not fully developed
minarai- the second stage of geisha training
nyogo- a mistress or concubine
oiran- courtesans that are often mistaken as geisha
shikomi- the first stage in geisha training
taka Shimada- a high chignon that is worn by young geisha
shoji screens- doors made of thin rice paper
tsubone- the lower-class noble ladies