Disclaimer: Neither the prompts, nor the characters, belong to me.
Dedication:
To my beloved Dragon Jadefire. She's the bestest!
notes: editing, editing...

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Every life is like a story. Mine just happens to be stranger then most.

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A ribbon. That's all that is left.

It is red, the colour of blood and anger and love and fire and ice-cold Sharingan on a snowy day. And when I see it, I stop, and I take the time to remember him. He was… my very best friend during my childhood. Of course he was; we were on the same Genin team, and we were rarely apart.

I met in him a field of flowers, poppies, as red as the satin ribbon that I now stare at. I was five, and it was spring, just after rain storm.

And I was not happy to meet this strange, dark-haired boy with lines on his face. I didn't know him, nor did I want to know him.

After all, he was everything I was not. He was clean and neat and dark, his hair pulled back at the nape of his neck, and he just watched me play in the mud, my hair loose and wild, with dirt smudges across my face, something distinctly disapproving in his six-year-old gaze.

I remember laughing at him, and then throwing some wet, sticky muck at him. It was the first, and the only, time I ever would manage to pull one on him.

He had glared at me, walked straight over to where I was sitting, sat down next to me, and then, to my great, innocent surprise, picked up some mud, and smeared it in my hair. I screeched, of course. It didn't bother me, but he winced, and I got a childish sense of pride as he did.

"Sorry," he whispered, and tried to help me get the mud out of my wild brown pigtails. I just pushed him into the mud, laughed, and ran away from that field of red poppies, hoping that I'd have to see him again, sometime.

But that was only the beginning.

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The next time I saw him, I was eight, and it was a funeral. I don't remember whose; I was too busy trying to keep my younger brother quiet. He was three, and he didn't understand that at a funeral, one stays quiet.

And it was raining, that day. It was so hot and humid and it was raining, and my little brother just wouldn't stay quiet. The air felt sticky, and the umbrella I was holding felt heavy. My ten-year-old mind was annoyed.

The boy from my five-year-old memory walked back into my life, hair tied back, black clothes, and all. He was holding an umbrella the colour of the night over his head, to stop the thick droplets from mussing his appearance.

I blinked at him. I thought I knew him, I just couldn't place him. While I squinted at him, trying to figure out where I knew him from, he was looking down at my little brother.

And my little brother went quiet.

I remember looking at them both, back and forth, very quickly. My younger brother, even when he was that young, had never been one to shut up when he was told to shut up.

"Uh, thanks," I said, unsure of how to react to this very dark person. He just stared at me, his black eyes unfathomable, and then he walked away.

I shook my head, tucked a stray hair back into place, and got a firmer grip on my younger brother's hand, and pulled him a little closer to me. My mother wouldn't be too pleased if he got wet.

I tilted my head back, and the umbrella too, just enough to see the sky. The clouds were thick and grey, and they looked as weighed down by the thickness of the air as I felt.

I sighed, and closed my eyes.

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The third time I saw him, I was eating dango under a tree with green leaves, the day before we were placed on our Genin teams. I was nine.

He came and sat down next to me, and I silently offered him a stick of dango. I had plenty, and I'd always loved to share.

And this time, I knew who he was. He was Uchiha Itachi, the prodigy that everyone was always raving about. He was also the one every single girl in my class was in love with. Whatever, I thought.

He just looked like an ordinary kid, to me. More then that, he looked like an ordinary, withdrawn no-friends-to-lean-on, really lonely kid. And so I offered him my dango, and I offered him a smile.

He took it out of my hand, his fingers long and grown-up, but the look on his face was one of childish wonder.

We sat there together for a long time, never saying a word.

And then he took this red satin ribbon out of his hair, and handed it to me. It was the first time I'd ever seen him with his hair down. He got up, nodded to me once, and then he started to walk away.

I decided that I kind of liked his hair down. As he walked away, I tucked the ribbon into my pocket, and zipped it up tight. Something in my chest told me not to lose it.

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And now I stand here, and I stare down at this old, insignificant piece of ribbon.

Part of me, the larger part, in fact, is screaming and howling at me to throw it away, and to forget that he ever existed.

But the small, innocent part of my heart that still considers him the greatest gift I was ever given, it rebels against the thought of losing this small memory. I stare at it for another moment, before I tuck it back into my pocket, and for one, single second, I feel like a nine-year-old, again.

I blink, and I suddenly feel like eating some dango again. If only for old time's sake.

So I do.

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fin.