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 house 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 it 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…"
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, "Of course. 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."
"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'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."
Hashirama made no move to stop Yuna when she stood up and began to leave. 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 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.
Yuna wasn't an idiot, and she took 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.
Yuna could do basic repairs to any stab and burn wound. 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.
The Uchiha didn't attempt to contact her, not even once. 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.
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.
Business was blooming and the elitism of clans was 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 phrase for kids.
For years, people hadn't felt carefree enough to let down their guard and enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
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. 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 offered him.
"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 take my spot."
Hashirama nodded curtly before he left through the window. 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.
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, on the head of the nine-tailed fox, clad in armour and red Sharingan blazing as if he were a king. He was carrying his trademark fan with the Uchiha crest. The nine-tails' back was hunched and his teeth bared, ready to tear flesh and kill.
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.
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. Immediately she sprung out of the bath, slipping and landing on her stomach.
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!
She felt the first 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.
It sounded like the two were tearing up mountains, trying to reach the core of earth.
She swallowed down her fears and ran, because the fear of finding the crushed remains of Madara surpassed her life. 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 breathe normally.
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.
She moved forward soundlessly towards the biggest crater. Water was falling down from the top, forming a small waterfall. Yuna felt two traces of chakra at the bottom. Her hands were shaking as she advanced slowly, too afraid to peer over the edge.
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. She slid down the edge of the valley to the bottom where she saw the rivals. Hashirama looked nearly as weak as Madara, as both had exhausted their chakra reserves and were now just hanging.
A pool of blood was forming around Madara. Yuna ran down, her anger welling up. She tried to stop the images in her head but they kept coming like a massive river.
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 decaying flesh. Yuna wanted to burn him, scrape off small amounts of flesh so he would die after days of excruciating pain. 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, when she heard a whisper.
"Don't. Leave him."
Madara looked up to her from the strands of his hair with a 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.
"This was for Konoha," said Hashirama. He didn't sound cruel, but it was obvious that he didn't regret his actions. Even while weakened his determination didn't waver.
"LEAVE! Before I actually kill you!" Yuna screamed at him. She couldn't remember the last time she was this angry with someone. Hashirama offered a look of condolence, turned around and walked away, and this was his biggest mistake. 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.
"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.
"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 rapidly. With the help of Yuna, Madara was turned on his back so he could breathe better. 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.
The next moment he sat up and wiped away the tear.
"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 taste 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…Cursed..." he paused and sighed, "but not today. Even the amount of chakra I sealed in the stone would 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."
Hashirama ruined everything… Madara thought bitterly, my clan, Izuna and now even Yuna...
The curse of hatred was never going to leave him alone.
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 ha 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 memory! 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.
Today is the last time you may cry.
"Everything is 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…I haven't heard of a worse wedding gift before…"
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.
"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." 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.
A woman in her late thirties was picking cherries in her garden, quietly humming a melody to herself. She had two large baskets next to her that were overflowing. This summer, for some reason, she had harvested considerably more.
The wind blew, causing her light blue dress to whip around her ankles. She sighed and turned around sharply, with a cunning grin to find a boy, no older than five behind her with his pockets filled with cherries. The boy shrieked and tried to run away but the woman was faster and she lifted the boy up.
"Now, Daisuke Ono, give me a good reason why I shouldn't go and tell your mother about this? Didn't I teach you something about stealing things?"
The boy looked down sadly and mumbled something inaudible.
"What?" asked the woman playfully, "Speak up I can't make out a thing you're saying!"
"Yes Yuriko-san. You told me that stealing is very bad…"
A smile crossed on her lips and she put the boy down and crouched down to her level. Small traces of early wrinkles were already etching into her skin. Any random onlooker could tell that in her youth she was a beautiful woman.
"Daisuke, if you want cherries then you have to ask first. I am not a very envious woman…But now as a punishment, you have to help me pick the rest. If you do that, then I won't tell your mommy what you did and I'll give you one basket as a reward!"
The little boy peered into Yuriko's blue eyes, trying to see if she was tricking him again, "You really mean that?"
She smiled widely and ruffled his hair, "Of course. Don't climb very high or you will fall. Only pick the berries that are lower and let me deal with everything else."
Daisuke emptied his pockets with pink cheeks, "Yuriko-san, why don't you have any kids? You are way better than my mommy who is always just nagging on me…"
Yuriko pushed her hair away from her face, "Your mommy does that because she wants you to become a better man in the future. I don't have any kids because my husband died in war before we could have any. All I have left from him is this," she said and showed the boy a silver necklace with a red, tear-shaped stone. It was hid under her clothes earlier because the colours didn't match.
His eyes went wide as he stared at it, "It's so pretty Yuriko-san! It looks like a cherry!"
The nostalgic look from her eyes vanished before she straightened up, "Back to work now, before I change my mind!"
The two worked the entire day, filling two and a half more baskets before Yuriko called a break during late afternoon. Together they had a cold drink and ate some inarizushi. It was something that Yuriko could make very skilfully. Truthfully, her cooking skills were pretty limited because she only had herself to feed, unless Daisuke was sent to her every now and then when his parents had to leave for town.
The couple had moved there from Konoha years ago after Uchiha Madara fought the first Hokage and lost his life, claiming that the city life is still no place to raise a small child.
They finished the light meal and Yuriko cleaned up while Daisuke looked around her house. There was still enough left for the evening.
He picked up random books, trying to find pictures in them.
"Yuriko-san your books are boring! There are no pictures…"
She looked over her shoulder before giggling, "How about you draw some pictures and we can stick 'em between the pages, so it's almost like a picture book!"
Yuriko finished the washing-up quickly before motioning Daisuke to follow her.
"Let's go home. Your mom will be worried otherwise." She picked up one of the baskets and together they walked down the road toward Daisuke's house. Here in the countryside they only had farmers who all traded with each other. So no one had to worry about money there. Yuriko could give away a basket of cherries for a bag of rice and cotton and she grew some vegetables in her yard as well.
Because they walked slowly, it took them about forty minutes to reach Ono's farm. Daisuke ran ahead of Yuriko, opening the door wildly while shouting about cherries.
Her mother came out and they exchanged some pleasantries and news before Daisuke's mother smacked her forehead, "I almost forgot, your friend is coming to visit tonight right? I'll give you some vegetables. We're drowning in them!"
Before Yuriko could protest that she already finished cooking a huge bag filled with tomatoes, carrots, zucchini and what not else. She thanked her before heading back home. Soon the sun would start to set and her friend would arrive.
He came once every year, during her birthday. They met at that time through a frightening chance. He came stumbling to her door, body covered with wounds, asking for her to allow him to stay a night. Yuriko was too afraid of him to refuse and offered her to bandage him up.
They talked that evening and became friends and he promised to come again next year.
He never missed a year, for nearly fifteen years he came and they always stayed up talking.
Yuriko got home and stared at the other three cases of cherries that needed to be carried away. She bent down to pick one up when a pair of gloved hands beat her to it.
Yuriko straightened up and smiled to the masked man. He never took off the orange mask with one hole, claiming that he had some bad burn wounds and it was easier to move around like this, without everyone pointing at him.
"Women shouldn't carry such heavy things," he said and picked up another one, leaving the lightest one to Yuriko.
"You're early this year. I was just about to fix something up for you." She shifted the vegetable bag to her left side and picked up the basket and followed Tobi inside.
"Walk to the end of the corridor and turn left," she instructed him. After everything was set away Yuriko began working at the kitchen while Tobi sat down on the sofa, stretching his muscles.
"Do you want your brown dumplings now or later?"
Tobi stifled a laugh, "It's still called sushi and I'll have them later with you."
He picked up a book that Daisuke had left on the table, while listening to the rhythmic chopping.
The Complete Biography of Uchiha Madara, by Oohashi Haruki
"I didn't know you were interested in history!" he exclaimed, skimming through the book until he reached the chapter for Kunisada massacre.
…his wife died there, while loyally fighting by his side. She suffered multiple stab wounds and died the same day. Unlike the rest of the casualties her grave isn't found because the Uchiha couldn't bury her to their graveyards, so her body was incinerated and her ashes were scattered into a nearby forest. After the glorious victory…
Yuriko looked up for a second to see what he was reading before she shrugged, "Well not really, but the man seemed interesting. I heard that they call him the ultimate shinobi, irreplaceable, but the book seems a little biased. The writer isn't a loyal Uchiha, since they wouldn't share their secrets so openly, but this book is written on a very personal level. Unless he actually was there next to Madara I would say that the Uchiha clan ratted him out pretty bad."
Tobi muttered something before putting the book back into the shelf and sitting back down.
"How about we go on a trip this year? You probably have never been out of the countryside…"
Yuriko laughed, "You silly man! I can't just run off like this. Maybe for a month this December? I'd really like to see the snow. We don't get it here… Tobi have you seen snow?!"
She could already tell when he smiled under that mask, "Where I grew up it snowed sometimes. Only a little bit though."
"Well it's settled then! Come pick me up on the first of December and we can get drunk on New Year celebrations together."
He kept coming every year. While Yuriko grew older he never wavered and remained youthful as always. Every year the wrinkles spread further around her face like spider webs and her hair went whiter. The only thing that didn't change were her eyes.
Tobi took her away for a month every December, always to a new place. She saw snow, the wide deserts of Suna and the mountains of Cloud.
On their last December together, when Yuriko was nearing eighty five Tobi took her to some place less extreme. Together they visited the Valley of the End. He patiently helped her climb down the steep falls, after she stubbornly refused to be carried, "Don't treat me like any old hag!" she said and began walking down.
"Beneath this waterfall Madara and the first Hokage Hashirama exchanged their final blow. You probably read that he was stabbed to the chest."
Yuriko wasn't listening to him. She was peering at the stern statue of Uchiha Madara with utmost surprise. Tobi glanced at her carefully, "Yuriko?" he asked before the old woman began to laugh.
"You sound like I'm dying! I'm just looking at this beautiful man…pity he had to die at such a young age…At least he got to see his wife again in the afterlife."
"Yes…he did," Tobi mumbled quietly in front of him.
He began visiting Yuriko more often when age began catching up to her. He helped around the house when the elderly lady couldn't move around as much anymore because of her heart. She kept trying to tell him to go and enjoy his everlasting youth instead of 'taking care of this sack of flour like me'.
That year they didn't go anywhere in December, because Yuriko was down with a high fever that showed no signs of going down. Tobi stayed by her side the entire month, constantly checking her pulse and temperature. He sometimes went away for an hour or two and then came back as suddenly as he left.
"It's like you teleport yourself," joked Yuriko.
Tobi shook his head, "Silly Yuri, save your strength instead of talking to me."
The fever went on until the night of the twenty fourth of December.
"I guess this is the end for me…" muttered Yuriko. The red necklace on her neck was growing hot. She took in a sharp breath before a single tear slipped down her cheek.
"Madara…" she whispered before a knowing smile crossed her face and she closed her eyes.
Tobi wiped away the tear on her cheek and tucked her in properly. He then removed his mask and placed a final kiss on her forehead before he left her side on the bed. The Ono family discovered her body two days later and Tobi never returned.
Three years, and after promising you so many times that I will finish this properly I did. You have been the coolest readers ever, providing me with simple joy when I felt down and now we're finished.
It's a little silly but when I finished typing I got all teary because...well this story is three years of my life after all. I thank you all with a very deep bow for sticking through this and..hopefully you will enjoy what I write in the future (:
To those future readers who don't know, Tobi is Madara in this story because when I started it, I planned this ending. When it was revealed that Madara is still Madara then I didn't want to twist the ending, so it bears the tag of AU now :D
THANK YOU ALL !