A/N: Just another attempt at narrative. I know the concept this story concerns has been done to death, but it is something I wished to try my own hand at, and is hopefully better than my last sorry attempt.

Disclaimer: Ownership of Naruto is not mine.

"Do not praise the day before sunset." - Dutch proverb

Sunset's Glow

It is late afternoon in the village of Konohagakure. The day has been a beautiful sunny one, the weather unusually mild for this time of year. A young woman sits on the roof of her apartment building, enjoying a few peaceful moments before she needs to go back inside.

The red-haired woman gazes out across the bustling village, with people rushing to and fro. Joyful sounds of chatter and laughter drift up to her. She smiles at the sounds of life, resting her hands on her belly, swollen with her first pregnancy.

"So full of life and happiness, I can't wait to introduce my son to this place. He'll love this village as much as I and his father do."

As if in agreement with this thought, the unborn child kicks. She smiles again, and moves her gaze upwards, away from the streets of the village to the roofs of the surrounding building. Shinobi move across the tops of the buildings. There are more than usual today, and their movements seem tense, almost as if they are worried about something. The smile fades; she knows what they are worried about. Rumors have been flying around the shinobi ranks concerning some strange reports of a great beast rampaging through Hi no Kuni. She frowns, remembering the conversation she had with her fiancée during breakfast.

"Don't worry, chances are the beast won't head in this direction."

"But what if it does? I don't like to think of you going out there to face that creature. And if it comes here, you're going to have to."

"I won't be alone out there if it does. And we are taking precautions just in case. No shinobi above genin will be allowed to face the monster, nor will any administrative shinobi. They will be assisting in the evacuation."

"Evacuation? But why…? It is coming in this direction, isn't it?"

A sigh. "Yes, last reports said it was maybe two days away."

"I'm going out there with you, I am a shinobi of this village as well and it is as much my duty to protect it as it is yours."

"I know you are capable of fighting, but all reports we have received say it is a tailed beast, the Kyuubi, in fact. And with your pregnancy, it would not be wise to risk the child."

A moment of silence. "The Kyuubi…Will there be time to evacuate at all?"

She is scared. She wants to laugh at the notion; she is a kunoichi, and all she can feel at this moment is fear, fear for her fiancée, for her fellow shinobi, for her adopted village.

And he knows it. Speaking to her in a reassuring voice, he gives her an answer, although not to the question she asked.

"I have a plan just in case. You take care of our child, and I will take care of this village." The rest of the meal is eaten in silence. Afterwards, with a smile and a kiss, her blond lover leaves the house for the day. She clears the table, but can't shake the concern that has risen over what he didn't say.

The woman shakes herself, coming back to the present. All of a sudden, in spite of the warmth of the day, she feels a chill. To distract herself, she gazes out past the walls, towards the west.

"The sun is lower in the sky. No wonder I felt that chill." She thinks. But something is making her feel nervous. She cannot shake the feelings of foreboding that have haunted her since breakfast. In spite of the attempted reassurances, she is acutely aware that before too much longer, the life she hopes to introduce her child to may no longer exist.

She tries to ignore the niggling seeds of fear ("It won't come here, it can't, I'm just picturing disaster where it doesn't exist.") and focuses on the encroaching sunset.

The sunset is a gorgeous one, the sky is a beautiful shade of gold, with the wispy clouds in varying shades of orange and red, a perfect match for the changing colors of the forest beyond the walls. The forest itself is lovely, with its changing leaves in varying shades of oranges, yellows and reds. But predominantly red.

"Like fire."

Another chill runs up her spine.

The young woman rubs her arms as she rises to her feet. Her joyful, cheery mood of just a few minutes ago has completely vanished, and all that remains is an ominous sense of foreboding.

"Minato will be home soon. Maybe I can talk him into going out for dinner tonight. I can't stay here and being alone is making me crazy thinking like this. Maybe Ichiraku's…"

With that thought, Uzumaki Kushina gets up and heads inside. Reaching the door, she stops and turns around one last time to glimpse the setting sun.

"How can something that beautiful feel so dangerous somehow?"

As if in response, she seems to sense a cold, dark laughter, off somewhere in the distance. She freezes for a moment, then runs inside, slamming the door behind her. Something is telling her she will not sleep this night.

Outside, as the village quiets and the people return to their homes at the end of a long day, the sun slips lower, the colors of sky and forest becoming more blended together as the evening encroaches. Within an hour and a half, the sun falls below the horizon, leaving behind a bright red glow that seems to linger for a time before it fades.

The sun has finally set on this lovely day, this day of life and laughter.

The sun has set on the ninth of October.

"We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow"

John McCrae, "In Flanders Fields"