A Woman whose name is Fate
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or any of its characters.
A/N: Story is set 2 years before the start of the series.
Her Inescapable Grasp
A Hyūga's destiny runs deep; bonded by prejudice and fueled with pride.
Shinobi could not dream. They had no time to dream…there were too many risks involved when one was in that state of mind. Dreams provided a false sense of reality where many Shinobi often run to whenever their minds were in turmoil. One could not defend themselves in such a state.
But…It had been so long since he had last indulged in such an anomaly. He knew he should not because his position was one of many dangers, but as the rain began to fall rhythmically overhead, he felt his body relax slightly and his mind beginning to wander as he drifted off into a deep state of sleep.
He was, for a lack of better word, bored. His duties as a clan leader had already been completed and his futile assessment of his daughter had been completed which, by the way, turned out to be a rather large disappointment. The girl possessed no talent whatsoever. He needed some way to pass the time as he mulled over the future choices that had to be made.
That was when he found her in the Main Branch's study being attended to by a few of the assistants assigned to her.
"Beloved, have you not thought of any good names yet?" She asked in a sweet, soft voice so filled with happiness. She bowed politely to her assistants who were tending to her during her final weeks of arduous laboring, silently dismissing them to grant the couple a moment's privacy. She sat up a bit in her large chair and passed a caring hand over the bulge in her abdomen which carried the aftereffect from one night's passionate love making.
The man in question walked slowly towards her and kneeled to copy his lady's hand movements on her tired body. "We shall name him 'Hyou', for hopes that he would possess the cold, unmoving will necessary of a strong Hyūga." He responded, not noticing the stare he received from her.
The lady sighed. "Yes, we surely cannot all be as 'warm and fuzzy' as you beloved." His eye twitched for a few moments causing her to bring the back of her small hand to her lips in order to stifle an oncoming giggle.
"I am the way I am only because of your intervention in my life. You are responsible."
She quirked one neatly trimmed eyebrow and gave him and inquisitive stare. "Oh?"
"Yes…" The clan head said simply as he rose from his kneeled position and began wandering the large study in search of something.
"How so?" She queried again. Her interest was beginning to reach its peak now as she watched him place a chair adjacent to hers to begin massaging her swollen ankles. It was not a task that someone of his stature and position would find themselves doing but somehow he felt compelled to do it.
"You…" He started, trying to find the words to best illustrate just what she had done for him. "You gave me warmth in an era where there was none." He paused to take a calming breath. Expressing feelings was still something he was rather unfamiliar with. "And…ever since that day, I couldn't help but find myself being continuously drawn towards that deep warmth that has held me firm throughout the years." He kept his head bowed as if trying to focus intensely on his task but she did not need to see his facial features to tell he was embarrassed.
A normally composed and overbearing man such as himself acting so reserved…it was cute really. What made her truly happy was that she knew he was never one to lie, he never needed to and his honor as a Hyūga would not allow it. She smiled and gently pried her feet from her husband's soothing ministrations, slowly finding her way to her feet.
"Is something the matter?" He asked skeptically with a hint of fear, standing to lend her assistance if need be. Truthfully he had thought the reason for her silence was because he had said something inappropriate and was now taking her leave of him. That train of thought was grounded to a halt however when she pressed two of her small hands to his chest and gently forced him back down onto his pallet.
"No…it's nothing beloved…" She started as she took his place across his lap. "I am merely taking responsibility for my actions." With that said, she cupped his face with her delicate hands before easing him into a kiss, one in which she poured the entirety of her very being into. She needed to let him know that she never once regretted that faithful day when she came across his brooding form in the Main Branch's central garden.
He received the message clearly and sent one of his own as he responded to her.
'I am grateful…'
Placing a few more chaste kisses onto his lips, she snuggled into the crook of his neck and he laced his arms around her body. The two stayed interlocked for sometime, neither noticing nor caring about the lingering stares they received from members of their clan.
He was the first one to stir from their embrace. "Beloved…"
"You are a big, strong Shinobi so stop complaining." She mumbled into his neck and he chuckled, the deep vibrations caused tickling her nose. She could not remember the last time he laughed and she had truly missed it.
He made a small smile in her long, luxurious hair as his arm continued to be assaulted by his unborn child. "Our son is upset apparently…" He said with a hint of amusement in his voice.
She placed her arm over his much larger one and smiled also, amused at the fact that he was so sure that the gender of his second offspring was in fact a male. She would indulge him if only to make him happy. "You just insulted his mother and you are surprised?"
"I do not recall ever saying anything." He said innocently.
"Your intentions were clear dear." She huffed, almost bursting into a fit of giggles when her child kicked in agreement. She watched his lips quirk into another small smile and she decided to press him again with possible names. "You have told me of your choice of a name for a male child but have you not thought of one for a female?" She asked him as she leaned backwards slightly to gain eye contact.
"I do not want to, as they say, 'jinx' myself." He responded honestly and she laughed in that heavenly voice he came to know and admire.
"I think you will have a greater chance of 'jinxing' yourself if you do not consider this child as a possible girl. Please think about it…its time is drawing near."
"I will…It should not be too hard to find a suitable choice." He resigned reluctantly.
She gave him one last kiss before removing herself from his lap without his assistance knowing full well he would have helped her if his legs were not 'asleep' due to the lack of circulation for so long. "I will go and check on Hinata then…shall I send someone to call you for dinner?"
"There is no need. I shall accompany you." He said simply as he rose to meet her.
She smiled and linked her arm with his, resting her head on his shoulder. "Are you sure? Don't you have clan related affairs to take care of Hiashi-kun?"
"They can wait as my current affairs take precedence to those of the clan, Hana."
She accepted his help and they walked arm in arm throughout the halls of the Hyūga Main Branch. Yes…those were peaceful times indeed.
He turned in his sleep, his thin smile disappearing as little beads of sweat began to form on his brow as the rain had picked up into a terrible downpour.
Dark clouds hovered over Konohagakure as they released their pent up frustration over the heads of the village's inhabitants but it felt as if they were being especially unforgiving on the rooftops adorning the manors of the mighty Hyūga estate. As the lightning flashed and the thunder rolled above their heads, one could only say that it fit the current mood of the compound's inhabitants.
Hana had fallen ill, a full 7 days she had been experiencing this unknown illness that plagued her body and medics were already unsure of whether she would make it through the rest of the pregnancy. The illness apparently made her Keirakukei (The network of energy lines through which chakra flows) shut down steadily and it was close to that point already.
If that was not the cause for the foreboding atmosphere, then it was because she had gone into labor…
One month before the expected date…
He stood uneasily outside of the room where the pregnancy was occurring, listening to the head medic barking orders at her fellow medics and the screams of his beloved calling out to him. It tore at his heart strings to hear his wife in so much pain.
He wanted to go to her, to answer her call and relieve her of that heart-wrenching pain she was experiencing but he found he could not. For the first time in his life, Hiashi was truly afraid. He would not know what to expect from himself when he entered that room. He would see her dying; his beloved's face would be contorted in so much pain that he would be forced to his knees in an instant.
"Hiashi-kun!" She called out to him again before letting out another strangled cry.
He was by the door now with his hand over the sliding door's handle trembling in frustration at his own cowardice. The medic that was outside standing guard was begging, no, pleading with him to be patient with the procedures, reassuring him that it would be over with soon. She had just switched places with another before her and had seen his wife's condition, honestly believing that no woman would want their man to see them in such a state.
His resolve wavered again as he processed what he had just been told. He would wait a while until it was over and…
"Otousan…" Her small voice called out to him over the cries of pain as she tugged on his yukata, her escort a good ways behind her.
He could feel the question on the tip of her fearful tongue as her mother's screams could probably be heard from across the compound.
"Is Okaasan okay?" She asked with small tears in her large pale eyes.
"I…" That's right…he was not the only one. His daughter could also hear the cries, the screams of pain. She was undoubtedly scared and yet she was here, checking on the welfare of her mother. He placed a firm but gentle hand upon her head and rubbed it soothingly and hoped against all odds that she could not feel his hand shaking, and then he kneeled to her level to assume his role as a father.
"She is going through a great trial right now Hinata but she will be fine. Return to your room for the moment and I will be with you shortly after I attend to your mother."
"Hai Otousan…" She said softly with a faint smile on her face as she blinked away her tears. She has no reason to doubt him. In her mind her father was the strongest being on the planet and was always true to his word. She turned around and trudged back down the hallway with her escort, praying for her mother's safety.
After she disappeared from view into the darkness of the dimly lit halls, he turned to face the medic standing guard once more. He was still trembling slightly but the conviction in his eyes was clear.
It was now time for him to assume his role as a husband.
Bowing slightly, she stepped aside and allowed him entry into the glowing abyss where his love was locked in turmoil.
The room went silent for a moment as he stepped inside, the shock clearly evident on everyone's faces. The head medic, a person whom he had known since childhood snapped out of her shock first and ran up to oppose him.
"Please Hiashi-sama, you should not be here! The lady is in no condition to see you right now!" She whispered harshly to him with arms outstretched to prevent him passage. She was a close friend of theirs and knew of their deep love. She did not want him to witness her in such a state and he understood this as well.
He nodded and was about to turn and take his leave when he heard a tired voice calling out to him from across the now quiet room.
"Hiashi-kun…you came." She called out weakly with her arm reaching out towards him.
He looked to the head medic for permission and when she sighed and lowered her arms, albeit reluctantly, the Hyūga head bowed his head in thanks.
"Thank you, Aika."
She nodded silently. She could never refuse him for she too also had a place in her heart for him and it pained her to see him look so desperate.
Hiashi moved slowly up to his beloved's side and grasped his wife's pale hand gently as he took in his wife's appearance. Her hair was mangled and laced with sweat which was why it was stuck to her equally pale face in so many different places which meant she refused help from the medics. He would have found it amusing were it not for their current predicament. "Yes…I have come." He finally said after some time. He freed his hand from hers and reached for the cloth and the bowl of water by the bedside and wringed it out, intending to care for her regardless of if she refused or not.
Hana looked over to see what it was that he was doing and spoke again. "I thought you were not going to come, I was afraid." She said truthfully and tried to gauge his reaction. She knew he was afraid to see her…it had been the same when it was Hinata's birth which was why she dialed up her screams a few notches. She was in immense pain of course but she had to make sure he knew how much or he would never have come. She watched him squeeze out the rag once more before applying it to her forehead.
"Hinata was worried so I attended to her for a few moments before coming here. I'm sorry…" He responded. It was technically true as his daughter did come to seek him out of worry but from the way she was eyeing him at the moment, he knew that she knew what the true reason was.
He began to care for her, wiping the sweat from her forehead despite her struggles and complaining about how cold it was, and removed the stray strands of hair from her face.
"I must look terrible to you…" She said softly and he didn't respond, instead choosing to focus on his task at hand. When he finished he replaced the rag within the bowl and stared at her intently causing her to avert his gaze. "Hiashi-kun…don't…"
He cut her off by placing his hand under the side of her face and returning her gaze to his. "Do not refuse me." He said sternly.
The medics who had moved to the far side of the room to allow them privacy had all gasped, some cooing about how beautiful and romantic it was. Only those who had been around Hiashi long enough to know his ways would be able to decipher its true meaning:
"You are beautiful so let me show you…"
Hana smiled softly, allowing a tear to escape the confinement of her eyes and nodded slowly. He descended upon her and she closed her eyes, allowing him to show her the love he promised to her. It was the first time he initiated a kiss and she was going to enjoy it for however long it lasted.
He broke the kiss after a few moments, letting her regain her stolen breath and he stared at her with a little sorrow in his lavender eyes. "I will be nearby…" He said softly and the medics took that as their cue to continue. As he begun to move away from her however, she held onto his hand firmly letting him know that she needed him and he nodded, staying by her side as the delivery commenced.
And then it resumed; the screams, the grunts, the cries coming from his beloved's tender lips that he could not bear to listen to. He closed his eyes and forced himself into a meditative trance, making sure to keep his hold on his wife's hand firm throughout.
His wife's grip on his hand slackened and he sprung awake, ignoring the now constant wailing of his newborn to focus intently of his wife's condition. She was still breathing but it was coming out in shallow, shuddering breaths unlike those from simple exhaustion.
"Hiashi-sama, it's a girl. Her Keirakukei is a little underdeveloped but she is fine otherwise." One of the medics said as they gave the child's body a once over with their active Byakugan.
Hiashi digested the information critically. An underdeveloped chakra system meant that she would undoubtedly have great pains trying to control her bloodline and he stared at her for a few moments, then at Hana to see if she had heard. When he saw no indication to her awareness he shook her slightly.
"Hana…" He brushed a gentle hand over her face to remove some strands that had managed to get loose again. Imagine his surprise when he felt her snuggle into his palm.
"Your hands are so soft and warm…" She whispered serenely as she held his hand to her face for a few more moments. His hands lacked the usual callousness that would be natural of a Juuken master. "Is it over?" She asked weakly as she brought herself out of her grogginess. It seemed she had passed out immediately after the procedure. He nodded in response and begun to help the pale woman up despite her condition.
"Yes…we have another daughter."
She laughed lightly at that. "I told you that you should have decided on a name for her."
"That you did…" He trailed off as he looked from the child to his rapidly tiring wife before finishing in a softer tone. "I wish for you to name her instead."
Hana stared at him for a few moments. "You want me to name her…" When she saw his solemn nod it confirmed her suspicions. He was trying to leave a memory of her for her child…it was why he had her hold the baby even in her weakened state. The lady of the Hyūga clan smiled softly and looked back down to the crying female. "My choice will be yours beloved."
"You…you have no problems with the name 'Hanabi'?"
"It is a beautiful name…I'm glad." She managed to get out as the last of her strength began to wane. The Hiashi promptly received the child from her and to everyone's astonishment the child went silent. Hana giggled softly. "You always had that kind of effect on a woman…the ability to sway a lady with your elegance…and beauty." The other women could attest truthfully to her words, even if they would be too afraid to admit.
"Those are traits commonly found amongst the Hyūga…I am no different from others." He stated simply, not understanding fully her meaning.
She shook her head defiantly. "No…you're…certainly…different…Hiashi-kun" Her lungs were beginning to fail her if the deep breaths between words were any indication. He gave his newborn to the nearest medic, failing to notice that its breathing was off also, and moved back to the bedside to return Hana to a lying position.
"I am sorry…" He began, watching as her life force steadily drained away from her lithe body.
"Don't be…my beloved…" She turned to face him. "I am thankful…for meeting you…" Her hand rose slowly to rest against his tense jaw line. "For sharing…this life with you…" She was now tracing small circles on his cheek with her thumb. "I have…no regrets." She was about to pull back but was met with some resistance when his hand met and held hers in place. She gazed up into those wonderfully pale eyes that held so much sorrow for her and she smiled. "Are you going to shed a tear for me Hiashi-kun?"
He opened and closed his mouth for a few moments, unsure of what exactly he should say until he averted his eyes and his face grew pensive. "No…" He started as he returned his gaze to hers. "Being strong means…"
"To never…show…your weakness…in any form….This is why…the Hyūga are…the strongest." She finished for him, remembering his favorite rule from all those years ago. "I'm so happy…. I want…our daughters to…grow up strong…just like…the man…I fell in love with."
As Hiashi watched her finish up, he could only stare baffled. She had to be in so much pain and yet she was just lying there, smiling to him as if she was merely preparing for a short rest.
She drew in her last breath and held it as she held no strength to draw another. Her hand reached out desperately to snake around the back of his neck and she pulled him down slightly to bring him closer, rising to meet him halfway and just as her body was about to give up, he held her firm by the small of her back to help her up towards him.
"Thank you…my beloved…" She whispered as she brought her quivering lips to his one last time before going limp in his arms.
Hiashi's eyes opened suddenly, staring up to the ceiling with the dull passiveness belonging only to the strongest clan of Konohagakure. "It has been ages since I have dreamt of those times…" He said to himself wistfully as he sat up slowly. Thunder rolled in the distance as the rain assaulted his home and as he stared out through the lone window adorning his far wall, he realized that it had been raining fiercely that day also.
He had found it amusing on some level, the way fate worked that week. Hana's mysterious life-threatening illness, her premature birthing of Hanabi, her untimely death and Hanabi's onset of symptoms which resembled those of the illness that presented in her mother. He had been cursed (or 'plagued' as some would think) four times in the span of seven days and after that, his life had begun to slowly return to those times before he had found her.
Was he being punished? It was a thought that had crossed his mind countless times before but it was inconceivable. He was the model Hyūga inside of his clan's boundaries and the model citizen outside of them and he had not done anything remotely dishonorable in his life before so that could not have been possible.
He checked the clock over by his bedside and sighed inwardly to himself, throwing his feet over the side of his large, luxurious bed and slipping them into his bed slippers. He could no longer sleep and it was still a few hours before dawn. The ruffling of his yukata was the only occasional sound as he made his way to his dresser to procure his brush to straighten out any loose ends.
"A Hyūga's appearance should be maintained at all times as we are the standards set for society to follow." A mantra he chanted to himself as he went about his task. It was one of the few 'absolute' rules of the Hyūga that had to be followed and it was ingrained into a child's being from young. Satisfied with what the mirror was showing him, he slipped on another robe over his yukata and stepped lightly towards the sliding door and slid it open in one smooth movement, completely surprising the guard posted there.
The guard checked her watch curiously and bowed deeply. "Forgive me Hiashi-sama, I was not expecting you at this hour."
"It's fine as I was not expecting myself to be up at this hour also." He started with a small smile which made the guard relax slightly and give a smile of her own. "I will be gone for sometime and I request that no-one enter my room in my absence."
"As you wish, Hiashi-sama."
Hiashi gave the guard a small bow and continued on his way, returning to his thoughts.
The Hyūga were blessed by the gods, gifted with the abilities of the 'all seeing eye'. They were strong, terribly so, and all were forced to be left behind in their wake, forever cast into the depths of their shadows. All who came into the line were one with the 'eye' from birth, none sold short of its immense power but because of this, measures had to be put in place to control exactly where their eyes ended up.
Not just anyone could possess the Byakugan as their minds had to be willing to accept all truth shown to them by the eyes they were granted, and their bodies fit for the swift maneuvers required of their style. The founders strongly encouraged unions between clan members to strengthen the future generations, however, outside alliances were also allowed. Those with blood from both sides were considered to be true descendants or true heirs to the line whereas those forged from the consummation with an outsider were considered as 'less talented' and were looked down upon harshly by the true heirs.
The true heirs and the families that possessed half-bred Hyūga were soon considered to be two separate divisions altogether, which caused severe prejudice to spark between clan members and in some cases, amongst even kin.
This was the harsh reality of the Hyūga where those who found themselves delved deep within realized there was no escape.
From there, the true heirs decided that there should be a way to distinguish the two groups as they grew disgusted with the idea of even sharing the same space with those who were clearly inferior and thus, the creation of the Caged Bird seal.
The seal had only one true intention, the complete control over those who possessed its mark. Placed on the forehead, once activated it alters the direction in which chakra flows throughout the entire Keirakukei and brings it to a focus to the network of lines within the forebrain. The chakra then overloads the pain receptors found there, causing the victim to experience unimaginable pain. Also, the person under effect loses control of muscle movements and their sense of sight is lost to them temporarily meaning the abilities of the Hyūga bloodline were shut down as long as the seal was in effect.
In addition, the Caged Bird seal possessed another function which acted as a fail safe of sorts. It acts as a reservoir, storing chakra from the victim continuously regardless of the person's will. When the moment that person should lose control over their flow of chakra, the seal would automatically release all the chakra stored, destroying the nerves within the forebrain. If the victim isn't dead when this occurs, then the shock from the pain would surely seal their fate and their eyes would be totally destroyed. Although the ethics of this method can be questioned severely, it ensures that should a less talented Hyūga fall in battle, the secrets of their eyes would follow them to the afterlife.
It was a first class torture device and it was administered to all Hyūga clan members who had not been true heirs to the line. In turn, it spurred the creation of the division of the Hyūga clan known as the Cadet Branch who were slaves within their own family and were forced to obey the whim of any true heirs who were taught to know how to activate the seal at will.
Hiashi was now outside of the Hyūga living quarters of the Main Branch and was headed towards their rather large infirmary. He groaned slightly when the wind blew violently through the passageway and soaked his robe rather thoroughly. He truly detested nights resembling this one. Continuing his train of thought, he realized that creating the Cadet Branch alone had not curbed the number of Hyūga running around freely with their Kekkei Genkai.
A union with someone who had not possessed the Kekkei Genkai had become 'taboo' for the true heirs for fear of their offspring being branded. Because of this, there was suddenly a huge influx of Main Branch members where all could not be guaranteed protection or service by those of the Cadet Branch. As a result, the Elders of that time created one final rule.
The last born of every Hyūga household must be branded with the Caged Bird seal.
The destiny of a Hyūga was now totally inescapable.
"And now…" He opened the door to a private recovery room used by Main Branch members and gazed upon the forms of his ill-stricken form of her youngest daughter and the head medic that were softly illuminated by the bedside lamp.
His five-year-old daughter Hanabi who had been born on that rainy night had been plagued with a weak Keirakukei ever since her birth. She could not activate her Byakugan (a Hyūga's worst nightmare), she could not perform her clan's specialized techniques or forms (a Hyūga's second worst nightmare), and she could not even channel chakra without fear of going into respiratory failure. Also, because chakra, the substance which sustains all life is always active and flowing throughout the Keirakukei, the girl was always in a weakened state of body.
Her fate was to be branded with the Cadet Branch's cursed emblem because she was the last of his offspring.
They were merely waiting for her health to improve before they placed the seal on her, despite the fact that it would just worsen her condition. The seal drew on chakra constantly for its fail safe…her Keirakukei would be stressed unnecessarily. Also…If she was to be punished for neglecting her duties as a Cadet Branch by a more 'unforgiving' member of the Main House…
She may very well die…
He wouldn't allow it…He couldn't allow it…
He was interrupted from his thoughts when the medic tending to his child begun to acknowledge him.
She looked up from her novel, finally noticing his presence in the room and she stood, giving his a small bow. "Hiashi-sama…"
He stepped lightly into the room so as to not disturb his sleeping daughter. "I am relieved to see you taking such good care of Hanabi, Aika-san." He said evenly as he focused his gaze on her.
"You don't have to address me so formally Hiashi-sama…" She smiled. "We have been friends for a long time after all."
"If I remember correctly, it was around the same time I met Hana. She introduced you to me did she not?"
"Yes…I had been too shy to approach you, then and she forced me into coming along." She said truthfully with a small blush.
"I was hardly as intimidating then as I am now." He said in that even tone he was notoriously known for.
Aika giggled at that. At least he knew just how down right terrifying he could be at times. Her laughter died down however when she caught a glimpse of the now pensive stare he held.
"How is she?"
"Hanabi…is a little stressed due to the harsh weather. She should get better after the storm passes."
"I see…" He sighed as he closed his eyes in contemplation. "You may take your leave now…I will watch over her." The mood was too light in here…he needed to get rid of it.
She read his intentions and she would have none of it. "Wouldn't it be better if one such as I, who possesses medical knowledge and techniques, be here in case of an emergency Hiashi-sama?"
He had forgotten himself for a moment. He knew nothing of medical procedures and protocols and he would be useless in a situation required of them. "Yes…you are correct."
There was a deep silence that followed as they took their places on either side of the bed Hanabi was resting in. He stared at her pale form that was trembling slightly and he reached out with a gentle hand to brush some bangs from her forehead. He was satisfied when it had the effect of calming the shivering child somewhat.
Hanabi opened her eyes slowly and settled them on the figure that was attending to her. When she saw who it was she smiled and closed her eyes. "Otousama…" She called out softly as she snuggled into the soothing warmth his hand was presenting. "Your hand feels so warm…"
The way she nuzzled his hand just now hit a little too close home. It was almost exactly like…
Yes…she resembled her mother terribly when she was in her final moments. He had not been able to help her in her time of need, but he was not going to let someone who had yet to take a step outside the manor be resigned to the same abysmal fate. He had decided to try to defy the very thing that had always been an absolute constant, to take back control before he lost his final memory of her.
But first things first…
"Hanabi, are you awake?" He called out softly to the small, fragile girl lying before him which made Aika look up from her novel in question. They watched as she shifted in her thick bed spread for a few moments before answering.
"Yes Otousama…" She whispered, bearing her large, lavender eyes to him.
"I wish to tell you a story…will you listen?" He said with a rare smile and her face brightened considerably. She nodded briskly with excitement despite her condition which caused her to cough a few times but he didn't mind.
He was going to get her better first…they could not accomplish anything if she did not possess the will to move forward.
He could feel the tightness of Fate's grip on his soul begin to loosen as he begun his tale…His beloved's story.
A/N: As always, thank you for taking time to read my story and I look forward to your reviews and comments.