A/N: Back with another ByakuHisa fic! In honor of the release of the third Bleach movie, Fade to Black, which I celebrate for the return of Hisana! Kinda based off of Chapter 6 of 'Unforgetable Memories', with the Kuchiki Elders and their evil, messed up minds. Enjoy~!
Disclaimer: I do not own BLEACH. If, by some amazing twist of fate I DID, Hisana would have come back to life (or death, technically) and be living happily ever after with Byakuya while the elders rot in the deepest depth of Hueco Mundo.
Chapter I: Suspicions
The long hallways of the Kuchiki mansion were eerily quiet as his sandaled feet padded along the wooden floors, the soft thumps of cloth against wood echoing softly off the panelled walls. His calm grey eyes surveyed the simply furnished hall, taking note of any irregularities that he would tell his head of housekeeping to fix later. He had not ventured into this area of the house for quite a while now, for he was rarely home these days, between supervising the reconstruction of the Seireitei after the Winter War, and dropping in on the human world occasionally to check on Rukia.
Now that the War with Aizen was over, ending with Soul Society's victory, peace was finally begin to settle down, in Seireitei and the world of the living. After the final battle, where Rukia had come dangerously close to death once again, in a overly done hostage situation by a rather desperate Aizen, the Kurosaki boy had finally realized his feelings for the petite shinigami.
Byakuya had given his blessing, albeit reluctantly, knowing that Rukia would be in good hands. He had wished them happiness, then retreated off to his manor visit his wife's shrine, and inform her of his decision. He knew she would have been happy, to see Rukia with the orange-haired shinigami.
A week ago, Kurosaki had finally obtained the courage to ask for Rukia's hand, and in a tension wrought, nerve-wracking meeting, Byakuya had given his consent to the marriage, knowing that Rukia would have gone ahead and married him regardless of what he said. He did, however, have one condition. Byakuya insisted the wedding beheld on the Kuchiki estate, and he would make all the required arrangements, in a true Kuchiki manor – it would be the wedding of the millennium.
Rukia had approached him soon after, with a request. He knew he would not have been able to deny her anything at that point, with her departure from his family so soon in the horizon, and her large doe-like eyes that reminded him so much of his wife.
"Nii-sama, I would be greatly honoured, if you could lend me Hisana-sama's wedding kimono."
Byakuya had froze, his eyes widening in shock in a very rare display of emotion. Dozens of images of ivory silk and pink cherry blossoms from his own wedding had flashed through his mind, along with the sparkling eyes that had haunted him for the past fifty years.
"I'm- I'm sorry, Nii-sama," Rukia was quick to apologize, after glimpsing the clear look of pain in her brother's eyes, "I didn't mean-"
"It's quite alright Rukia, I'd be happy to lend it to you for your wedding," Byakuya said, swallowing the lump in his throat, "I'm sure Hisana would have been delighted."
Rukia's eyes, eyes so like Hisana's, Byakuya thought miserably, lit up with happiness, the same way Hisana's did, and she threw her arms around the older noble.
"Oh thank you, Nii-sama, thank you."
Byakuya had not seen the kimono in years – all Hisana's clothes and belongings had been packed away after her death; it pained him too much to open his closet every morning and be reminded of the clothes that she used to wear. But in his mind's eye, he knew exactly where the kimono was, even after half a century's worth of neglect.
He entered the storage room, which was spotless due to the constant housekeeping, with heavy heart and tired eyes. He wasn't sure his heart was ready for such close proximity to her garments, even after all this time. Even so, he knew Rukia would be happy, and he made his way to the neatly sacked lacquered boxes in the corner of the room.
The largest box in the pile was also the most ornately decorated, with pearl cherry blossoms encrusted onto the onyx surface, and small diamonds twinkling in the fading evening light. He reached over to undo the clasp; his fingers were trembling. The first second after it was opened, Byakuya was hit with a wave of nostalgia, her perfume – cherry blossoms with a tint of honey – had been preserved flawlessly within the silk, and for a second, it was almost as if she was right by his side again.
Maybe it was still too early for this. He wasn't ready in the least.
Rukia. He would do this, for Rukia's sake.
His shaking hands lifted the bundle of carefully folded silk from the satin-lined case, and unfurled the robe before him – it was exactly as he remembered it. The same ivory silk with the pearl-like sheen, woven with the same design of blossoms in the same silver thread. The heavy silk obi was still in the box, with the ties and binding that held the kimono together folded neatly and placed on top. A smaller, though just as richly decorated box sat nested in the corner. Byakuya knew what it was, but he reached for it anyway.
An ivory pin was nestled in the plush lining, with silk blossoms neatly arranged and diamonds embedded in the center, and sparkling jewels dangled off fine silver chains. It had contrasted so nicely with her midnight locks – he couldn't take his eyes off her the entire ceremony.
The noble closed his eyes in reminiscence, and visions of a white-clad goddess – his goddess – calling his name over and over entered his mind, holding a hand out and smiling up at him with the small little smile that had made him fall in love with her.
Lost in his thoughts, Byakuya allowed the tiniest curve of his lips to break free from his solemn mask, as he brought himself back to a time where he had been happiest...
A sudden slamming of a fist on a table jolted him out of his pleasant memories. His eyes shot opened. There shouldn't have been anyone in this wing of the manor, nobody ever came here anymore – were there intruders? Byakuya almost pitied the poor soul that would even try to steal from the House of Kuchiki, but seeing as his private security force did not usually patrol this area of his estate, he decided to check himself.
Reiatsu masked, Byakuya shunpo-ed to the faint reiatsu he could sense, and concluded that this intruder must not be very powerful, given the rather weak sliver of spiritual pressure. As he drew nearer, his ears picked up on the faint sound of many voices murmuring – rather elderly voices, in fact.
"...candidates...we need an heir soon..."
Byakuya relaxed slightly. It was only the elders, in another one of their pointless meetings to discuss the future of the clan, and attempt to produce new schemes to try and get him to remarry, despite his constant objections. He could never replace Hisana.
Nobody could every replace Hisana.
Byakuya turned to leave, not really wanting to listen to the boring, monotonous thoughts of the elder's meeting.
"We got rid of that wench before, it's time we got a proper lady in the house."
Byakuya froze. His chest tightened. He had always had a sinking suspicion, a tiny little portion of his mind had always nagged at his brain, but he had never really given it much thought. Could they have really...?
He turned on his heel and strained his ears to pick up any noises emitted on the other side of the thin shoji screen. It would have been a sight to behold, the dignified Kuchiki head eavesdropping like a child, but Byakuya, at this point, could have cared less where Hisana was involved.
"Silence! Takeharu, we can never be to careful. Servants may overhear us. You know how they were all so fond of her. They might rat us out to Byakuya-sama."
Byakuya clenched his fists, drawing on his strongest will to not storm in there and kill them all slowly one by one. The rational part of his mind took over; he had no proof yet; maybe he was just jumping to conclusions. They could be talking about anybody.
A sinking feeling in his chest told him he already knew the truth of that.
"Nonsense, I've told all the servants to stay away from this area for today. Byakuya-sama is away on business in the human world. There is no one but us."
'If only you knew,' Byakuya thought.
"Have you burned the letters? And the instructions? The...emergency dose? We have no need of them now that the girl will be marrying out soon; she can no longer become head."
Rukia? They were going to hurt Rukia? His heart thumped in his chest, and the protective side of him vowed revenge against anyone, anyone, who hurt Rukia. Perhaps it had started out as just a promise, but Rukia now meant so much more.
"I was planning on doing so today after this meeting, I have already packaged them to be burnt. After today, all evidence of Lady Kuchiki's," the elder sneered, "death will be erased. Permanently."
"Excellent." The head elder, Hideyoshi nodded approvingly. "And the dosage? Surely you cannot plan to burn that."
"They are with the rest of the letters in the bottom drawer of my cabinet, beneath a false bottom. I will have it removed far from the estate."
"Good." Another nod. "Now, let us continue with the agenda – finances. The Seireitei has recently approved..."
Byakuya had stopped listening. His mind was a mess, a jumble of incoherent thoughts and feelings. His most dreaded suspicion regarding the strange details of Hisana's death had just been confirmed. Hisana...had not died because of some mythical illness so rare that it was beyond Unohana-taicho's capabilities to cure; she was poisoned.
By members of her own household. And were ready to poison Rukia too, if Byakuya had decided to name her his heir.
Hisana had been taken away from him because of the elders. Because they had been afraid of the next clan leader descending from a mere commoner. It was because of them that Hisana never got to meet Rukia, never was able to live peacefully, had died plagued with guilt and sorrow, full of hurt and sadness and regret.
It was all because of them.
Byakuya turned on his heel and fled the hall.
He had to find those letters.