40.

Yuna sat on the wooden chair and her hands were laid on the table. All she could currently think about was that annoying chair. It was hard and uncomfortable and barely qualified to be usable. Day after Madara and Izuna left she was brought in for a 'talk' they called it, but Yuna preferred to refer it to as an 'interrogation'.

The Uchiha would've gladly killed her by now, most likely, but as they now belonged under the government of Konoha; such judgments belonged to the Hokage.

She waited patiently, playing out different scenarios in her head. Maybe they were going to play bad-good interrogator? The bright red stone looked like blood against her pale skin, but it felt warm. When she closed her eyes, it felt as if Madara was standing behind her, watchful and vigilant as always with that annoying scowl on his face as if a dead rat was in front of him.

Yuna didn't dare to actually look behind her, because then she could see that it was only her in this ugly room with an atrocity they called a chair.

Finally, the door opened and, for her utter shock, Hashirama entered. Her surprise didn't go unnoticed and she was about to stand up to offer some respect out of habit, but he shook his head and sat down opposite of her.

"Wow…didn't expect for you to be my interrogator…"

He tilted his head innocently, "So you are saying that there might be a reason to interrogate you?"

Hashirama was the complete opposite of Madara; sweet, honest and gentle. He didn't try to intimidate someone to submission.

"On the contrary, I'm trying to figure out what right do you have to hold me in this room. I haven't stolen anything and haven't laid a finger on anyone."

He took off the Hokage hat and placed it neatly on the table. Hashirama's brown hair was neatly tied, obviously by a woman.

"You were the second closest person to Madara, now that both he and Izuna disappeared…Then there is the sudden burning of the Kunisada mansion…"

Yuna's face stayed blank, but she pulled her hands to her lap to hide them from view, "What I do with my own legacy is my business. I was thinking about a change of scenery, thought about renting a place in the outskirts…"

Hashirama leaned back in his chair, "So you decided to burn your birthplace to the ground?"

Her mouth twitched to a sneer, "Hokage-sama," she began slowly, as if speaking to a child, "that home reminded me of all the clansmen I killed in the name of loyalty and duty. Why would I want to live in that cursed house all alone? The bills would be gigantic…"

"Did you not find it a bit impulsive?"

"Without a doubt, I heard Madara was into impulsive women so I was hoping that he'd come back to me!"

Hashirama chuckled, "Still joking in this situation, you're just like him. Haven't you thought about following Madara? Do you know where he went?"

Yuna stared at him for a moment before she giggled, an innocent twinkle appearing in her eye, "Here I thought that you're an intellectually developed man. Even if I knew where he went, I wouldn't go after him. No one can follow Madara."

"Funny," Hashirama mused, "he said something very similar to me yesterday."

"I bet he did."

He sighed and buried his face in his hand, "…I can't believe it. You entered his life so recently while I was a childhood friend, yet you understand his motives better than me!" For that fleeting moment, Yuna saw a young man, who looked as weary and tired as Madara, with the difference of vigour and will.

She smiled, flashing her white teeth, "The Madara in the past has little to do with his present self. Times change, but if you're here to discuss Madara then we might as well move to a café."

"Hardly…The Uchiha seem reluctant about letting you leave."

"No wonder, they'd blame the apocalypse on me if possible."

He laughed, "I wouldn't call them that bad…"

"It is your word against theirs. I have no plans of causing havoc and Madara left without saying anything to me. My business with the Uchiha is done."

Shock crossed Hashirama's face, "That's it? You want pardon for…what?"

Yuna shook her head, "Simply telling them to leave me alone would be enough. I just want to live out the rest of my life uneventfully."

"No other demands? Monetary compensation for…emotional distress or something? I don't know much about law…"

Yuna couldn't help but to laugh, "No other demands, I'll make your first day on the job a bit easier."

Hashirama sighed, "We haven't even signed a formal constitution yet, it's easier to bend rules when they don't exist yet."

This man…she had to admit he wasn't bad for Konoha. He will be fumbling for the first few weeks maybe, but it seemed that he had developed a nice support system for himself. She couldn't help but to warm up to him a little bit.

She stood up suddenly, "I'm meeting with someone today to discuss renting a house in the woods so if you would, I'd gladly leave you to your own business. Being a Hokage must be tedious. I can imagine the cramps in your hand from writing your name on paper."

"You jest, but it is a real issue!"

Hashirama made no move to stop Yuna's departure.

At the last moment his hand reached out and gripped her wrist, "Can you persuade him?"

Yuna twisted her hand out of his grasp before offering him a smile, "Hokage-sama, you can't persuade Madara to do anything. Do you even know the first thing about him?"

Hashirama looked bewildered, and confused. Yuna chuckled, "Thought as much. It was a pleasure talking with you. For what it's worth, I think that you will do fine on the job."


For the next two months, Yuna locked herself up into the wooden house outside the village. It wasn't a lonesome solitude, for she bought enough rice to survive a three-year apocalypse and the previous owner of the house left behind his books.

She didn't know what sort of dark magic Hashirama had used, but the Uchiha hadn't bothered her, not even once.

Yuna wasn't an idiot, and she had taken enough money, clothes and other valuables from the Kunisada mansion before igniting it.

She burned every clan secret beforehand just in case the hidden shrines are left untouched. She just prayed that no one would build another piece of property on that disgusting land.

For now she was training, meticulously in the dark and sleeping during day time and…waiting.

Waiting for what?

She couldn't shake off the feeling that something big was coming.

Madara had left no note or sent any messages, but she knew that her idiot of a husband was going to battle Hashirama. The question was when. Where didn't pose a problem anymore since Hashirama couldn't leave the village.

She had seen Madara's powers and knew that Hashirama had to be at least as powerful, if not even stronger.

They'll have to re-draw every map at this rate… she thought bitterly of all the destruction the land was going to suffer because of the two.

So with all of her spare time she began brushing up on medical ninjutsu. A teacher was out of the question so she studied everything from the books and practiced on herself.

Day after day she would injure herself repeatedly and then heal the gashes until her limbs were covered with scars.

Yuna could do basic repairs to any stab and burn wound, enough to get him to a real medic. Her body wasn't thankful, but her mind was prepared for the worst.

Slowly she started practicing a simple mantra

Madara might die and I might not be able to do anything about it.

Yuna was hoping that Izuna would drop by because his mind remained an enigma for her. Where did he go, why and when were too complicated to answer. She had hoped that he might get in touch with her, but the younger brother was far-far beyond her reach.

Sadly, Yuna never saw the biography that Izuna was writing.


The evening in Konoha was pleasant as always. The summer nights were a precious reward for enduring the long sultry days of Konoha.

The city had expanded even more and around the world, other groups were mimicking Konoha's structure and new villages were popping up. For the people, life couldn't have been better for Hashirama was a gentle man with admirable combat skills and a knack for boosting the economy.

Business was blooming and the elitism of clans had somewhat lessened. Kids were trained in special academies instead of their watchful parents and the fighting wasn't for leadership in the clan but for the Hokage title. That was every kid's dream.

"I want to be the Hokage when I grow up!" was the most common catchphrase for kids.

For years, people hadn't felt carefree enough to let down their guard and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Old rivalries were hard to root out, but the younger generation seemed to enjoy their newly found freedom.


Hashirama was the first one to feel a change in the wind. His brother Tobirama was by his side in an instant and they exchanged glances between each other. It was the scent of decay.

There were traces of evil chakra in the air, barely detectable and still very far away. There was only one man in the entire world who would consider attacking Konoha after it was declared the 'safest place'.

Tobirama didn't offer him words of encouragement or good luck.

Hashirama still clearly remembered the cold 'encouragement' Tobirama had offered him weeks ago.

"Crush him, Hashirama. Cast aside your personal feelings, because he is a threat to the village."

What if I die Tobi? Are those your last words?

"If I don't come back then you will become the Hokage, promise me that."

Hashirama offered his brother a curt nod before leaving the confinements of the Hokage tower. He couldn't see Madara yet, but the chakra surges that were coming from him were monstrous. An idea began to form in his head to explain this and it wasn't pretty.

All he could think about was keeping the village safe. He had to meet Madara before he gets closer, otherwise the villagers would be harmed during their blows.

This would be his first serious trial as the Hokage. Tobirama was right to some extent – he had to cast aside these foolish feelings. It was his friend or the entire village.

Both had placed their trust in him.

He ran like never before. A mile, two, three and maybe even ten before he saw Madara clearly.

Hashirama, for the first time in his life, was afraid. Afraid for the village, afraid for Madara and afraid for everyone he held dear.

There he stood, clad in armour and red Sharingan blazing as if he were a king. He was carrying his trademark fan with the Uchiha crest.

He coldly looked over Hashirama before his face twisted to a snarl. There was no room for talking or negotiating. His chakra said everything, Madara was out to kill.

With a heavy heart, Hashirama realised that there was no more room for doubts.

So it will end, my best friend.


A series of curses escaped Yuna. She was in the middle of a bath when she felt the familiar waves of chakra reach her.

Immediately she sprung out of the bath, slipping and landing on her stomach.

She nearly cried, remembering the day she first met Madara. At that day she had stepped on a bar of soap and lost her footing, not unlike today.

It wasn't enough to cause her more damage than a small shortness of breath. It passed quickly enough.

She scrambled up and ran out of the bathroom to her bedroom. It took her less than five minutes to fetch all her gear and clothes before she tied her wet, dripping hair into a low ponytail.

She sprinted out of her house, leaving the door open and lights on. All that mattered for her was to reach Madara before it's too late. Both shinobi are likely to use flamboyant, ridiculously chakra-consuming jutsus so the fight can't drag on for too long. Normally, Madara would drag on a good fight, but his mind wasn't the same any more.

Please stay alive. Please stay alive. You don't get to die on me!

What would she even do, once there? Beg him to listen to reason? The distraction itself might be enough to get her killed.

She felt the shock waves and heard the first thundering noise of destruction. Fear weakened her senses for a brief second. This was a battle between monsters, gods even. Someone like her could never survive an outright battle like this.

What was Yuna doing? This was way out of her league, but she couldn't leave now.

She couldn't abandon him now. If the choice was to live out her days in that cottage, with no meaning or purpose, then she rather faced whatever fate threw at her face that day.

It sounded like the two were tearing up mountains, trying to reach the core of earth.

Well, it seems like she wasn't wrong about redrawing maps.

She swallowed down her fears and ran, because the trepidation of finding the crushed remains of Madara surpassed her will to live. The mere thought of seeing that legendary shinobi crushed into a wet pulp was unacceptable. He mustn't go down in history as the legend who lost.

Yuna ran and ran until she was so close that the ground beneath her was shifting. It caused her to trip and stumble, but she suppressed her chakra as she got closer and kept pushing forward, trying to keep her breathing steady.

The tiny seeds of hate that were planted in her heart grew rapidly like bamboo. Konoha, the village that Madara loved and Uchiha, the clan that Madara adored abandoned him, exiled him and forced him to give in to hate.

They ruined him.

They will suffer like him.

As Yuna got closer, hear breath hitched.

There was nothing left any more. This wasn't Konoha, it was a wasteland. Trees were ripped out with their roots and cast aside and the once beautiful greenery was reduced to a mass of craters and debris.

It was quiet. Too quiet for her liking.

The battle was over…

She moved forward soundlessly towards the biggest crater. No, it could easily be called a cliff.

Water was falling down from the top, forming a waterfall. Yuna felt two traces of chakra at the bottom. Her hands were shaking as she advanced slowly, too scared of what she might face there.

Yuna flinched when she heard the nauseating cracks of a sword piercing a body, and from the chakra patterns, she could tell that Madara was hit.

She didn't even try to hide herself anymore and ran out from hiding. She slid down the edge of the valley to the bottom where she saw the rivals.

Best friends.

Brothers.

Hashirama looked nearly as emaciated as Madara, both had exhausted their chakra reserves and were now just hanging on to life.

A pool of blood was forming around Madara. Yuna ran down, her anger welling up when she caught the glimmer of crimson.

Idiotic Madara, why wasn't he using the crystal? She tried to stop the images in her head but they kept appearing, as if someone had released a dam.

All she wanted to do was to bash Hashirama's head against the wall until his face was flat, shapeless and pieces of flesh would fall from hit.

She wanted to rip off his nails, skin him alive and let him rot slowly, so he could feel the pain of decay. She wanted to open up his stomach and pull out his intestines while he was awake so he could witness his insides being turned out.

More and more plots for murder were beginning to for in her head. She considered carrying them out, terrified that such ideas could even seem acceptable to her, when she heard a whisper.

"Don't. Leave him."

Madara looked up to her from the strands of his hair with an uncharacteristically gentle look. Hashirama couldn't see it from that far away.

Madara's face was covered with dirt and blood. Whose blood it was, remained unclear.

For now, her revenge had to be postponed.

"This was for Konoha," said Hashirama, balancing himself against the cliff.

There was no cruelty in his voice, no gloating, but it was obvious that he didn't regret his actions. Even while weakened his determination didn't waver.

This was the right thing to do, from his point of view.

"Leave!" she growled, "Before I actually kill you. We can't have Konoha losing both of their most valuable shinobi in one day."

She couldn't remember the last time she had been this angry with someone. Not since Madara…

Hashirama offered a look of condolence, turned around and limped away, and this was his biggest mistake. His soft heart that wished to give Yuna the dignity to grieve in peace. He didn't live long enough to find out about it, sadly.

Yuna knelt down next to Madara, her hands trembling.

"Okay, shut up, you are not going to die…" she mumbled. Green light surrounded her fingers as she focused on stopping the blood loss. Madara's eyes never left her face during her measly attempts of saving his life.

"Why didn't you use the crystal, you prick? You must have years' worth of chakra stored inside that thing!"

The blood flow was slowing down, at the very least.

"You…suck at this…" he managed to say. He lifted his hand, causing Yuna to halt her healing. The main bleeders were fixed for now, they would hold until she figured a way to get him to…

To where? A hospital? As if Konoha would admit them.

"Shut up…" she mumbled.

He kept lifting it higher and higher until Madara's hand reached her neck.

His fingers curled around the red stone and Yuna felt his chakra levels raise restore themselves.

The sound of the red crystal shattering around his neck was enough.

With the help of Yuna, Madara was turned on his back so he could breathe better. Why replenish his chakra levels now? He didn't know more about healing arts than she did!

A single tear slipped down her cheek. Madara closed his eyes, and when he opened them, again the Sharingan was blazing in them.

Yuna wasn't afraid to look at the blood red eyes. This was the first time that she had seen it up close.

The next moment he sat up and wiped away the tear, opening up one of the gashes on his stomach.

"Silly woman, you don't get to cry now," he said with a gentle smile. Yuna took his trembling hand between hers.

"I will…I will find a way to end his life. He can't just get away-." Madara silenced Yuna with a kiss.

She closed her eyes, savouring the familiar taste, tainted with iron, and softness. He pulled away and Yuna chocked back the rest of the tears that were threatening to fall.

"You are as stupid as usual…Konoha can't have you…That village will be burnt down by black flames…" he paused and sighed, "But not today. Even the amount of chakra I sealed in the stone wouldn't be enough. I knew you'd turn up with it whether I wanted to or not…but this chakra was given for you to hold for an entirely different reason. The same reason why I didn't use my own crystal until now."

Hashirama ruined everything… Madara thought bitterly, my clan, Izuna and now even Yuna...

The curse of hatred was never going to leave him alone, and it seemed to have set its roots in Yuna's mind as well. He couldn't have that.

Yuna shook her head, "Fix your wounds already, you idiot! I can't have you die."

Madara shook his head, "Are you so blinded by grief and hatred that you still haven't noticed?"

Yuna looked around, oblivious until she realized...How could he move around so freely?

"You…ass…you son of a bitch cast a genjutsu on me?! Why?"

"In the real world, only a few seconds have passed. I wanted to explain things to you first, because when you wake up, you won't remember me any more…not as your lover at least. I will be replaced by a different face and name."

He watched patiently as the news dawned to Yuna. She slapped his hand away, "What…you don't have the right to fuck with my memories! Madara you're the only thing I have! You can't do this to me! I don't want this!" Her voice was trembling as a myriad amount of tears began to fall from her eyes.

Madara remained patient with her, this time not scolding her for crying.

The crystal against her neck, it seemed to have enough reserves to sustain the illusion for decades, possibly.

Today is the last time you may cry.

"This is all for you, Yuna. Konoha won't take you away from me as well, and I know that you can't continue living on with this hatred in your heart. You, of all people, deserve a normal life."

"Madara! I can't have this be the last time I see you, and I won't even remember it!"

He smiled and motioned her to come closer. Yuna did so, although hesitantly because her anger was still too fresh.

"This isn't the last time. I will come and visit you a lot…before you die the jutsu will release itself and you will remember everything. Us, my visits, your real life. Everything, and I will be there when that happens. This is my wedding gift for you."

She couldn't suppress the humourless laugh, "You really are a shitty husband…This has got to be the worst wedding gift I've ever heard…"

Madara's hand curled around her waist and the other caressed her cheek as he kissed her for the last time. It was in a genjutsu, but he clearly remembered her salty tears, sweet taste, trembling hands and the curve of her slim waist.

Yuna pulled around, trying not to hyperventilate. He smiled widely, for the first and last time.

"Don't give me an ugly name, alright? And don't you dare skip our wedding anniversaries!"

"You will always remain here," he placed her hand on his chest, right across his wound where his heart used to be, "I will never forget you, remember that."

She could detect only a faint heartbeat.

"I love you," she whispered, pressing her forehead against his. Strands of his long hair fell on her face,

"Sleep now, my dearest,"

The last thing Yuna saw were Madara's onyx eyes.

He never managed to say those three words.

That was her last thought as Kunisada Yuna, but…he was so damn close.