Itachi woke up as the first birds started to sing. He had never been woken up by them to this day – their tweeting and twittering used to be far too gentle. But today he hadn't slept as deeply as usual, as today was a special day.

The raven black haired boy turned around to take a look at the small wooden clock on the shelf near his bed. Yeesh, it really was early in the morning! Itachi nestled to his pillow and closed his eyes, trying to go on sleeping, but he wasn't able to. He was just too excited.

Today would be the first day at the academy for him. It seemed as if he had left kindergarten ages ago. He had learned how to write, to add and subtract, and he also knew a lot about the history of his village yet – but from now on he would be taught the really interesting things, rather how to become a shinobi, like his father and most members of his clan were. Itachi's heart started beating faster at the thought that he would learn how to attack and defend and how to use chakra. Maybe they even would be allowed to try out some weapons. Of course there were still a lot of boring subjects – arts, for example, which he hated, and even basic subjects like math. It didn't bother him much, though, as he was a very intelligent boy who was able to comprehend things pretty quickly, but he longed to learn what was really important to him.

He let his eyes wander across the bedroom and stopped at a silver object that was shining brightly in the morning sun. It was his father's forehead protector, a long black headband with a metal plate, in which a leaf was carved, the symbol of his village, Konoha.

Itachi sighed. How long would it take him until he was allowed to wear one of those? Usually, a kid was supposed to spend about five years in the academy before becoming a genin and getting a Konoha forehead protector. He really wanted to have one. Not because it looked nice, but because then he would be acknowledged as a real shinobi. And he could impress his little brother, Sasuke.

Said boy was sleeping next to him, breathing evenly, sometimes slightly twitching when dreaming. He was three years old, about five years younger than Itachi was. His hair had the same color as Itachi's, and his eyes were as dark as his. Nobody could have denied that they were brothers. Both of them were calm characters, but as Sasuke was still very shy and anxious when he was with other people, Itachi had overcome his shyness some years ago and had become rather self-confident, even if suspicious of other people from time to time.

Itachi stretched out his hand and poked his little brother's side. Sasuke winced, then whined, but remained asleep. Itachi giggled but didn't tease him a second time. He wanted his little brother to wake up, but he didn't want to fight with him today. If he woke him up, Sasuke surely would be upset and whiny, and Itachi didn't want that at all. He wanted this day to be good.

No matter how hard he tried, Itachi couldn't manage to fall asleep again. There were too many questions in his head. How many kids would there be in his class? Would there be someone he already knew? What would the teachers be like? Would they be real shinobi? And most important: What would he be taught…?

A high voice suddenly startled him out of his thoughts: "Oi, neesan, you excited?" Itachi looked at his younger brother who was rubbing his eyes and yawned. Itachi wondered about how well Sasuke remembered what was going to happen today shortly after waking up.

"Excited", Itachi repeated, "yes, I think I am. And you?" Sasuke didn't really have to be, as this wasn't his first day at the academy, but Itachi knew that his brother would be nervous, too. He was a little child, everything that took place outside the family's house was exciting for him. "A little bit", Sasuke replied and, still under his covers, approached towards his older brother, snuggling against him. Itachi wrapped his arms around the little boy and hugged him. He didn't admit very often, but he did love his brother.

A few minutes later somebody knocked at the boys' bedroom door and opened it. "Oh, you two are awake already?", a familiar voice asked. It belonged to Mikoto, Itachi's and Sasuke's mother, a very pretty woman in her mid-twenties with long, black hair and dark eyes, like almost every member of the Uchiha clan had. She moved to the boys' bed and bent over Itachi in order to give him a small good-morning kiss on the forehead. When she did the same to Sasuke, the boy wrapped his arms around her neck tightly, so she had to pick him up. "You cuddly little thing", Mikoto smiled at her little boy who was nestling his head on her shoulder. Then she turned to her older son: "Had a good sleep, Itachi-san?" Itachi nodded. "Well then", Mikoto said, "I suggest you two get ready while I'm preparing breakfast. Can you help Sasuke-kun to get dressed?" "Of course, Mama!", Itachi replied. He had done many times before.

His mother smiled at him, proud of her son. He was so kind and helpful, and argued with his brother very rarely. Mikoto had heard from many other parents that their kids would fight every day, not only using words but also fists. Itachi seemed not to be interested in fights at all. He would rather wander off when his little brother bothered him. Sometimes it seemed as if Itachi even ignored his sibling, as if he wasn't interested in him at all. But then again, he really cared about him and wouldn't let anybody harm him. With these thoughts in mind, Mikoto put Sasuke back down and went to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for her family.

After his mother had left, Sasuke immediately ran to the closet and pulled out a huge pile of clothes. "What are you going to wear, Itachi-kun? I want to wear the same like you today!", Sasuke said. Itachi had got out of the bed by then, giving a quizzical look to his brother now. He hadn't thought about what he would wear today. Presumably the same clothes as he always did. Yes, today was a special day, but what had clothes to do with it? "Just a T-shirt and pants, I guess", he answered. Sasuke rolled his eyes, as if Itachi was too stupid to get the point. "Yeah, but what color?", he asked. "Black." Black was Itachi's favorite color. He didn't know why, but most of his T-shirts and other clothes in his closet were black. He didn't like prints on them, like a lot of other children did, just plain black. Sasuke smiled happily and searched the pile in front of him. Finally, he pulled out a black T-shirt and a pair of white shorts and held them out to Itachi. "Are these okay?", he asked, his big, dark eyes sparkling. "They're fine", Itachi laughed. His little brother seemed to be way more excited than him right now.

Sasuke held up his arms above his head. Itachi pulled off the white shirt his brother used to wear at night, then helped him to put on the black one, gently tickling his sides while giving the T-shirt a tug. Sasuke winced and giggled, then tried to tickle Itachi as well, but didn't succeed. At this very moment, Mikoto called out for them: "Five more minutes until breakfast! Hurry if you two aren't ready yet!" "Let's stop fooling around, little brother", Itachi said. He helped Sasuke to get dressed further, then flicked his forehead before he went to leave the room. "Itai!", Sasuke shouted, "why do you always do that?" Itachi didn't answer, but said: "Come on, Mama is waiting."

In the kitchen, Mikoto was already sitting at the table with her husband Fugaku, one of the leaders of the clan and a high-ranked ninja acknowledged and highly honored by most of the villagers. "Good morning, you two", he said when Itachi and Sasuke entered the room. "Good morning", Itachi replied, while Sasuke would run towards his father and wrap his arms around him, mumbling a "good morning". Fugaku hugged him quickly, then pushed him away gently, but either firmly. "Go seat yourself and eat something", he ordered. "Don't be so affectionate", he wanted to add, but remained silent. He didn't like it very much when Sasuke showed his feelings this clearly. Okay, he was a little kid, and kids usually wanted to be hugged, but in Fugaku's view, his son sometimes overdid things.

After having brushed his teeth and having packed some things, Itachi waited for his parents with his sibling in front of the door. Sasuke was struggling to put his shoes on, but this time Itachi wouldn't give him a hand. He was beginning to get a bit more nervous than he thought. What if he didn't fit in, what if he wasn't good enough to become a shinobi after all?

Finally, Mikoto showed up and asked: "Well then, Itachi-kun. Are you afraid?" Itachi startled. "Sh… should I?", he asked.

Mikoto laughed. "Not at all", she said, "I just imagined you could be somewhat nervous, but you don't seem to be at all."

Itachi smiled at her, thankful that she obviously hadn't noticed his hands slightly shaking. "I'm looking forward to this", he said bravely. A few seconds later, Fugaku joined them. Sasuke had finally managed to put his second shoe on and was now stretching out his arms to his mother. Mikoto bent down in order to give her son a piggy-back, and he climbed on her back, wrapping his arms tightly around her neck. Itachi watched them, then looked at his father. "You're a big boy now", Fugaku said, "I don't have to carry a future ninja, do I?" Itachi swallowed at first, but then shook his head firmly, suddenly feeling proud. His father gave him a look of satisfaction before they left.

Three words were etched on Itachi's memory:

A future ninja.