Yeah...the ItaSaku muse is at it again....slave driver...
I tried writing this piece in a slightly different style than what I usually use, hopefully it turned out okay. This is also supposed to be a short-ish chapter fic because I'm trying to wrap it up in 3-5 chapters as opposed to the...uh...12-20 I envision for Belonging or Gift. Please review if you liked it ^^ Gah I'm late to school...
Disclaimer: No I don't own Naruto...
Summary: A young Itachi pledges his loyalty for the princess he has fallen in love with at first sight, and visits her unseen at night to talk to her and keep her company. She has never seen him and has no idea who he is, only that he is her friend...set in feudal Japan.
Chapter 1: Lullaby
The first time he saw her she was five and he was seven, and even at that age he knew that he was pledged to her.
A tiny vision of spring in midwinter, she floated more than walked beside her mother and brother through the thoroughfare. He was captivated; to him they were two stones in the flowing stream of temple goers, he observing and she merely being observed. She was unconscious to his regard for her, but it was that quality perhaps that drew him, her bright laughter sounding over the chatter as clear as a bell.
"Okaa-sama, who is that girl?"
His mother glanced to him, beautiful, serene dark eyes sparkling with a glimmer of surprise at her eldest's forthright question. Childish, innocent, and bold, it was almost nothing like his usual speech, and she scanned the temple walkway in search of what had made her son talk so.
Bright kimono shone like butterflies; her breath stalled in her lungs.
"A fortunate omen, I hope," she breathed, her features softening as she caught sight of the endearing view. "It is great good luck to have seen Konoha's heir, Naruto, and the little hime-sama, Sakura, on new years' day. Hopefully it will mean our standing at court will change soon…."
The seven-year-old grew silent, lowering his eyes from the joyfully childish face of the realm's princess. The Uchiha family's disgrace would keep him far from the tiny princess; he wouldn't even have a chance of passing her in the palace halls for they were housed at either end of the vast compound that was the royal residence.
"Who, nii-san? Who are you looking at?" his little brother asked, impetuously tugging on his haori sleeve.
Itachi hoisted his brother's five-year-old weight in his arms, squirming to catch a glimpse of the girl who tugged her blond brother's arm and laughed as she pointed to the ravens flying above the temple gateway.
"The pink-haired girl, nii-san?"
"She's really pretty."
A softness filled Itachi's eyes as he let his brother down, the expression hidden in Sasuke's dark sable hair.
"Aa, she is…"
He was seven and she was five and without having even exchanged a word, he had vowed to serve her. Her status as Konoha's young hime-sama, his family's disgrace in court, he wouldn't let either stand between his loyalty for the girl who drifted through the streets like a petal of her namesake on the wind.
She shone in the window, haloed with a corona of candlelight, whispering quietly as her mother pulled a brush gently through her shoulder-length pink hair. There was a downcast tint to her verdant eyes that she hid with quiet chatter, leaning into the brush strokes with catlike enjoyment.
He was frozen outside her window, hidden behind a maple besides the opening, cloaked by darkness.
He'd willfully lost his way in the compound that night, hoping for this very situation, and as the girl kissed her mother goodnight, he found himself without words as he watched her.
Her quiet, melancholy sigh broke the still night, constricting his throat.
"Are you unhappy, hime-sama?"
She gasped; he could hear the rustle of her silk yukata, and see the surprise that flittered over her face from his perch within the maple branches where he had somehow migrated to in an effort not to be seen.
"Who are you? Show yourself!" she demanded, glaring as fiercely as a five-year-old could, into the moonlit gloom outside her window.
"I…I would rather not," he replied, angry with himself at his little slip. He hadn't meant to speak.
She seemed to ponder this a moment before she spoke again, "Are you a ghost then? I will try not to be frightened…"
"I am not a ghost, just a…friend."
"A friend without a name?"
"U-Heiwa," he corrected quickly. The thought that his hime might feel less willing to speak to him knowing he was an Uchiha was enough to give him reason to speak a false name, though he disliked deceiving her.
"Heiwa? Peace?" she asked, wrinkling her nose in curiosity.
It was his favorite word, something to hope for within the turmoil of the clan's disgrace at court.
The girlish face dimpled in a smile. "I like it."
Even in the cold of a winter night he felt warm at her words.
"This is…fun," she whispered, so quietly that he almost didn't hear it. "Much better than being lonely…"
"Are you lonely, hime-sama?"
A pink blush deepened her pale cheeks, making her look quite rosy in her cream-hued yukata. She scooted closer to the window as she lowered her voice until it was a conspiratorial whisper. "Sakura is going to be going to bed by herself starting tonight," she told the chilly darkness. "I'm a big girl, and Okaa-sama is visiting Otou-sama at night but…" The blush deepened. "It's still a little scary." She giggled. "Not as much because you're here to talk to me."
"I am happy to have helped," he answered, heart pounding from her earnest words.
She gave a little laugh, the sweetest he'd ever heard, and yawned. "Will you sing me a lullaby?" she asked, silken fabric rustling as she got to her feet and padded over the tatami mats to her futon.
"I…I d-don't know any," Itachi stammered, embarrassed. Sitting hidden in the branches of the maple by her window, he had forgotten the imperative to be quiet during their conversation. Her suggestion reminded him of it clearly now.
He caved. He couldn't have denied the girl anything.
M-my okaa-sama taught me one…when I was little," he confessed. "But I don't know all the words…."
"S'okay," she told him sleepily. "We can make up as we go…"
Trying to remember the soft words his mother had whispered as he drifted off to sleep when he was younger, Itachi let his gentle, boyish soprano fill the quiet night.
In the midst of winter,
Under cold and snow,
Lives the heart of springtime
That soon begins to grow.
As the sun grows warmer,
As the days grow long,
Know that I remember,
How you sang to me this song.
When it comes the springtime,
Itachi swallowed a gasp; she was singing, her soft voice molding with his as the solo became a duet.
All is lovely green,
My thoughts of you turn dearer
And I'll wonder where you've been.
As the sun grows warmer,
As the days grow long,
Know that I remember
How much you loved this song.
There was more, at least two more seasons' worth, but Itachi couldn't remember them, the words only vague sounds in his mother's voice floating through his mind.
"Sorry Heiwa-kun, I don't know any more…."
"I'm sorry too, hime-sama, I wish I could remember the rest for you."
"But it's o-okay," the girl mumbled, stammering on a yawn. "I'm sleepy and not scared…"
"Aa, sleep, Yuuki-hime," he said quietly, trying not to disturb her.
"Yuuki? As in courage?"
"Aa, because my hime is a brave girl to sleep by herself."
Her little chuckle was steeped in sleepiness. "I've never had a special name like that," she murmured, almost asleep. "It'll be our secret…"
As he crept away from his icy perch, it was as if he couldn't feel the winter cold, though he was numb and aching with it. His only thought was that he would visit her again, soon.
Yup, I did it again ^^ I used "heiwa" Itachi's favorite word, to represent him in some way =P it's seriously getting to be a favorite of mine too.
Sorry if the lullaby didn't suit you ^^; I'm not much of a song writer...and it wasn't my best poem. Keep in mind, it IS a lullaby for little kids. It isn't the whole thing though and I'll be posting up the rest of the song in a later chapter.
Now...I'm late for school and am gonna run, but I hope you liked it and please make the ItaSaku muse happy by giving the authoress review cookies with comments ^^