03.02.2011

Hullo Readers.

I'm sorry the chapter's a tad late - I lost my memory stick and only found it today lol, and then had to do edits.

I hope its worth the wait.

Also, would you like the old chapters to remain, or would you prefer me to delete them?

Thanks,

Kyae


Once upon a time, in the Provence known from the days of old as Tokyo, located in the country of Japan, there lived a girl named Misaki Nadaka. She was a breathtakingly beautiful young woman, fresh out of collage, with looks many women would kill for, and the most dazzling aura of joy, one that seemed to spread out wherever she went. However, despite that, she was still a very humble person, her religious family staying close together, despite the problems of the world.

And that was what Osamu Sohma saw when he looked upon her for the first time, when he was 23, and she 19 – a woman with looks beyond compare, and with a mind just as sharp as his own – a woman who was after his heart, just as much as he wanted hers...

He had met her in her first week of work – she a designer, and he her wealthy client, who needed costumes to be made for the Juunishi feast – not that she knew the purpose of the clothing – and ever since that encounter, they had been inseparable...

They were simply a match made in heaven, and everyone who saw them, whether it be her bishop father, or his wealthy relatives, agreed.

They were married within a year of meeting – a fairytale wedding – and eight months later they were blessed with a son, a boy who they named 'Ayame', and he was the apple of his mother's eye, their wild, and confidant personalities gleaming when together, and, in each other's company they wasted hours creating clothes, and costumes, mother teaching son her trade, the passionate bonds between the two for their craft outstanding.

She was so besotted with her son that she didn't notice her husband's rather erratic behaviour that slowly, but surely became more and more obvious to her, until it was too late... She knew he often flirted with the younger women, but never thought he would actually choose them over her... never...

She realised that he had often shunned her, even more so after the birth of their son... especially once it had been revealed that the poor child was possessed with the Hebi, but she had never been fazed by her son's 'ailment' (as Osamu would often refer to it as), and as such she protected him as much as she could from the world's gossips, often allowing him to spend days with her parents and youngest brother, who was his age...

However, as soon as he was away safely with her family, or at school, or at his other best Hatori's house, she was a completely different woman, one who was haunted by the truth that was eating her away... At night she could barely even sleep as she lay next to the man, especially after the night she had found her husband sleeping with a much younger woman – a girl who was only 24, compared to his 36... Who had a child who was the same age as her Ayame... who even looked like Osamu... and then, that same night, for the first time in five years, he had tried to bed her too, the stench of drugs and alcohol still tingeing his scent as he tried to force himself into her...

Dark circles were concealed and terror-ridden nights hidden from view of the outside world, even... especially from her beloved brother, as she continued to struggle on, maintaining the facade in a futile attempt to protect her child.

Not even when she announced the conception of a second child, after a night of her husband's drunkenness did her condition with Osamu improve - in fact, he kept an even further distance from her, and as she became further and further along in her pregnancy, there was barely a night that she even saw the husband who had once been devoted to her...

She knew, deep inside, that he had left her in all but name a long, long time ago...

But even she hadn't anticipated the extent of his betrayal...

Not until the day she died.


Friday February 18th, 1994.

20:29


"Kaasan, Kaasan!" Misaki looked up from her knitting to see her exuberant son rushing into the room, his younger uncle following, grins plastered across their face as they rushed about.

Forcing a soft smile upon her face, she turned to face the two, her knitting now forgotten.

"You're ready to go and visit Hatori-kun now Ayame?" She asked, laughing at his excited nods... she had always wondered how he and the serious doctor's son had always got on, but yet, seeing them all together – Ayame, Hatori and Kai, her brother, they were the perfect group... The 'Mabudachi trio' one of the other kids had dubbed them, so she had been told.

"Yes Kaasan – I've packed my bag myself and everything!" The boy looked up at her with adoring eyes, and it broke her heart to know that his future was so uncertain...

"I'm ready too, Oneesan." The other added quietly, a shy smile gracing his lips as he stood next to his nephew, and best friend. Despite their blood relationship, the boys were inseparable, and she knew she could always rely on her family, if anything happened...

"Good, now, I trust you'll both go straight to Itsuki-sensei's?" She asked, putting on her 'mother' voice, as she walked the boys to the door. "I'll be there in ten minutes for my check up – okay? You'll remember to tell Itsuki-sensei?"

"Yes Kaasan/Oneesan!" The two chorused, waving as they ran down the drive, their backpacks clutched in their bands.

Waving back, Misaki closed the door softly, allowing the smile to trickle of her weary face as she sank to the floor, her legs turning to jelly.

Watching with horror as the water trickled from inside her – the instincts within her knowing her next child would be born, she feebly reached for the phone that Ayame had left on the sofa, and she rung the mobile number she knew off by heart, and yet had never called, too afraid that it wouldn't be her husband who answered.

"H-Hullo...?" She whispered hoarsely into the phone, straining to hear a distinct voice amongst the noises from the other side of the line ('A club...' She thought bitterly). "O-Osamu?"

"What do you want Misaki?" The impatient voice called from the other end of the line.

"I-It's time Osamu darling..." She replied softly, cajolingly. "My waters have broken..."

"Not now Bu-bu-chan – give me a minute." She heard him speak to another, a girl – that girl, and she felt her heart break.

He would never want her... the only man she could ever love – the one she had given her all too...

"What was that Misaki?"

"Nothing Osamu." She spoke harshly now, whilst internally forcing herself not to cry in mourning. "It's nothing that you would care about. Come back crawling once you've finished with that bitch."

She didn't even wait for him to answer – as a spasm of pain flooded her, she threw the phone across the room, effectively ending the call as it shattered against the brick wall, and she shakily stood up.

Walking out of the door, without even thinking to put on shoes, or a coat, despite the approaching storm, the haunted figure slipped down the paths, resting every few yards to catch her breath, before she finally could go no further, a mere hundred feet from the building where her son was...

As she slid to the ground, clutching to a bench for support, the broken woman could feel her eyes closing, and she struggled to keep them open as she tried futilely to make it into the warmth...


20:38, Itsuki's surgery


Itsuki Sohma was a very perceptive man, despite his logical nature, just like his father, and his father before him, and so when he saw the two young boys arrive at his house, their mother still at home, he had instantly begun to worry.

After all, being the family doctor, he heard mores of the rumours than most, and if anything those women were saying was true, then poor Misaki would be nearing a breakdown, especially at how her state of health had been rapidly deteriorating.

He knew just one wrong word could cause her to do something rash, and so, when he called for the first time, and the phone was engaged, and then, not two minutes later, and it was disconnected, the Doctor knew he needed to find the pregnant woman. Calling for his assistant, he put on his heavy-duty leather and made his way out into the blizzard, wondering where to go first.

It only took him thirty seconds to find the poor woman, and by then, it was too late.

Lips already tinged with blue, the pregnant woman was already delirious; her once alive eyes now broken and detached as she was told that she was ill.

"Misaki-chan... why didn't you call me?" The doctor implored, devastated at the state of her.

"I-I couldn't..." She whispered, her voice strained. "Not after he..."

As she spoke, suddenly another spasm of pain shot through her, and the woman almost collapsed form the pain.

"Okay, Misaki-chan – look at me." Itsuki lifted the other up, placing her on the bench as he moved her face to face his. "Hotaru-kun – get in contact with the Nadaka's."

"Yes Sensei." The young trainee doctor replied, as she rushed off.

"Misaki-chan – I need you to push now – we have to get the child out quickly, before we can move you, okay?" The doctor encouraged, as the to-be-mother heaved in pain...

Eventually, after half an hour of excruciating pain, the youngest Sohma was born.

There, amidst the blood of the womb was one of the most stunning young baby's the esteemed Doctor had ever seen. Still connected to her mother by the bond of love, the umbilical cord drenched with blood as the purple-eyed girl looked up at her mother, her eyes wide with concern as she reached out with longing to her mother.

Placing the child in her mother's arms, Itsuki watched as hazel and violent eyes connected for the first time, and the two generations embraced in the age-old expression of acceptance, despite the fact that it was painfully obvious that this new-born girl was also cursed, as Misaki's body faltered – the sign that her life was ending.

The doctor knew he should have gone and got the woman inside, however something inside him had known that if he had saved the mother, then the child would have never made it out of the womb alive...

And, just by looking at the mother holding her child, he knew Misaki would have wanted him to save the child first too...

"H-Hatsu..." She managed to whisper, her voice faint in death, as her lips, blue with frostbite, kissed her child on the forehead, as she tried to keep the child warm, whilst still being connected. "H-Her name is... Hatsuyuki..."

Those were the last words Misaki Sohma née Nadaka ever spoke, and, as her eyes closed for the last time, the only thing she would remember as she passed through the veil into the mystery of the next world were those hauntingly beautiful orbs of the child who was fated to be cursed, as the intelligent girl reached out for her mother's touch for the first, last – and only time...


That was the first memory that the young Nezumi had – the memory of her mother's death... And it stayed with her all her life, the only knowledge of her mother she had... and it made her resent her father even more in the years to come.


21:18, Itsuki's surgery


Less than an hour later, Itsuki was sitting in his office, leaning over the paperwork having just bid goodbye to the Nadaka elders. Sure, the Nadaka family wasn't nearly as prominent as the Sohma's, not working within business as much, and not as wealthy... however, there were two things that the Nadaka family were the best in – Religion, and Law.

The Nadaka family easily produced the best lawyers in the country, maybe even better than most in the 'west', and ever since the marriage between Osamu and Misaki, they had been working together for mutual benefit.

That was why Itsuki had contacted the head of the Nadaka clan – Misaki's father and allowed him to take her body before the Sohma's could place her in one of their temple gardens to be lost forever... It was bad enough the bad blood that was between the two families now...

Of course, when Akira had heard about the arrangements, he had warned the solid doctor that Osamu could take action against him...

That was before he had discovered that Osamu was indirectly responsible for the woman's death, and the estrangement from the Nadaka family. When the new-father came round from whatever he doing, there was pretty much a guarantee that a hangover wouldn't be the only thing he would be suffering from...

Naturally, Itsuki didn't sympathise with Osamu at all – he had made his own bed after all, however, without a mother-figure, the doctor began to worry about what would happen to the two cursed children, left alone.

Itsuki looked down at the child, wondering what deity had cursed the infant so.

After all, every member of the Sohma family prayed the same prayer when they were 'blessed' with the conception of a child, all hoping that their child wouldn't be chosen to carry on the curse.

And most of the time, their prayers were answered.

But for two Juunishi to be born to the same parents...

It was almost more than bad luck...

Turning back to his papers, Itsuki watched through bleary eyes as memories that had always lurked in the back of his mind began to resurface. He remembered fondly the day his own son, the young Hatori had been born... it had been such a day of happiness, despite the fact that he was cursed...

His Hatori had been born just two precious weeks before Misaki's first had arrived in the world, and yet the two births had been completely and utterly different...

And yet both were also utterly contrasting to the birth of the first Rat Juunishi in five generations...

It was such an occasion in the 'Juunishi' world that it was a wonder that the newest Kami, Akira's son Akito hadn't managed to get here yet, in all his toddler finery, demanding to see the young child...

And what a wondrous child the Nezumi seemed... Ever since the moment she had been taken from her mother's cold arms she hadn't uttered a sound – the child hadn't even whimpered... but her eyes had shown beyond comparison how the girl was feeling. Just looking at her now, watching her watching him, Itsuki could see so much expression in those violet orbs – so much hurt within them for such a child... It was almost unnatural... how could a baby of less than an hour experience such hurt?

And the worst thing about it was, even though he knew he could end her suffering immediately – simply by removing that one memory, he knew he wouldn't – couldn't even.

The child deserved that at least – the chance to know her first memory... and if she managed to suppress it herself, then that was her choice...

After all, Itsuki had heard the tales about the last rat, handed down through the doctor's line – his own grandfather had told him about it in fact, and it was clear that this child's life wouldn't be a happy one, despite the fact she was the Kami's favourite... No...

It was because she would be the Kami's favourite that she would suffer so.

'Because Kami could never live without his 'pet' rat with him...' The doctor thought bitterly to himself.

Tap... Tap...

Itsuki looked up at the door, in surprise. After all, the Nadaka's had already come to take away their child's body, and the only other person who would actually come without an appointment (Akira) he had spoken to earlier, and he had been fine... anyway, even if it had been Akira-san, or his son, they wouldn't have waited – father because of probable urgency, and son... well simply because he was a brat.

"Come in," He called out quietly, and he stood up as the door opened shyly, to reveal the eldest two members of the Juunishi – Hatori and Ayame – both standing there, an unusually serious expression on the pair's faces. "Ah, Ayame-kun, Hatori – what can I do for you?"

"S-Sensei... W-what's going on...?" The frightened snake asked shakily, his amber eyes darting around the room. "Obaa-san and Ojii-san came and took Kai-kun away, and they were putting something in the ambulance... h-has something happened to m-mother...? Has he done anything to her...?"

For a brief moment Itsuki was stunned at the venomous way the snake referred to his father, wondering what the father had done to his son to make the boy hate him so... then he realised that it was probably what the father had failed to do – save his mother.

"You may wish to sit down Ayame-kun..." Itsuki began softly, barely speaking over a whisper as he offered the other chair in the room – a kind of therapy chair that could recline – but Ayame seemed distracted. Following the Hebi's eye-line, Itsuki's eyes rested on the boy's sister, as the snake made his way to the young child, whose innocent face already mirrored their mother's, despite the fact it was so young, their undeniable perfectness reflected flawlessly...

"She... mothers... moved on... h-hasn't she...?" Ayame whispered hoarsely, still looking down at his baby sibling, who looked back at him, gold and purple – brother and sister – staring at each other for the first time.

"And so the Nezumi has been born..." A voice from next to the snake spoke, and the snake turned around to see his best friend standing there, his voice comforting. Hatori was the only person Ayame had chosen as a friend, other than his uncle, despite the offer from that other Juunishi boy who was their age – Shigure, or something like that.

Neither the snake nor the dragon would trust the boy, who had already shown himself as a bully to all those other Sohma's who weren't as well off.

And especially since he was so close to Akito, sucking up to the young toddler at every opportunity, despite the fact the Kami was only the tender of age of two... and yet he was incredibly advanced for her age.

"I won't let them hurt her you know." Ayame spoke up after a few minutes, reaching out his hand to touch Yuki's. "Not father and certainly not Akito."

Almost as if she had understood her brother's vow, the Nezumi's hand closed on the snakes, and she gurgled – the first sound that had come from her in hours, as if she were thanking her sibling...