My One In A Million

Chapter Twenty Four (Final):

Some loose-lipped woman with a voice too loud was chatting at the door to the apothecary about the miserable crazy boy who took a shovel to his parent's grave.

"He must have finally snapped," she'd said, "looking for the dead in the dirt. I saw him toss around the remains of their house like a crazy person, not like he'll find them buried there, the poor bastard."

"He's dangerous," her friend replied with nods of sympathy, "I don't know why they keep him around after last time, didn't he try to kill one of us?"

"The Hyuuga's daughter? First they say they were engaged then they were not, he kidnapped her and then he didn't, some people say they get along and sometimes they don't. It's all over the place, wonder what they're really hiding."

"I always thought he wasn't ready to fit into society, now you believe me!" someone chimed in, an old lady who couldn't tell the difference between thyme and lime.

"Poor girl," they agreed, "To be fed to the serpent like that, what a merciless era we live in."

"You don't even know what happened." Hinata told them as she accepted the bag of scented oils from the girl at the counter. "Maybe he saved her life."

"How would you know?"

"Look at her eyes, she's a Hyuuga, they see things, they know."

"Nobody knows! It's his word against all of us!"

"I go for the sound of reason, that kid can't be trusted either way."

"I agree. Better be safe than sorry."

"Do you know them?"

Hinata breathed a quiet exhale and excused herself. She knew the look on their faces: the expectant doe eyes of people who wanted to be told they're right. The conversation grew louder when she left the store, the clerk must have informed them of her name and now their wheel of gossip will turn once more.

It's been two weeks since they stamped their thumbprints onto the registration scroll, two weeks they've been married and still there were people in this village who don't believe it happened.

Most of them didn't even know her personally, they were just opposed to the idea of an outsider stealing away one of their own.

Even though technically he wasn't an outsider, and more importantly, people who didn't know her face had no right to have opinions on her life choices.

Hinata made her way down the snow-scraped road to the Hyuuga district with the intention of borrowing some supplies from storage. Today felt like a good day to make some fresh balm, Hanabi had scalded her wrist on the frying pan this morning and refused to use the sesame extract in the fridge because 'it was smelly'.

Aww, she must have found someone she liked, that girl only worried about her appearance when a boy was involved!

Hinata, unaware of the smile on her face, stopped at the frosted bushes of red and white blossoms to watch an Uchiha-crested man tear through them with a shovel.

The knocking of glass containers in her bag alarmed him to her presence, he stared at her for five seconds, then pointed a muddy finger at the bucket by her feet.

Sasuke accepted the load of gravel and poured it over the brown snow, filling the space between some uniformly-arranged bricks. They look like they've been picked out of the rubble with care, their shapes were similar and their colors varied. He knelt on hands and knees to level the pebbles down to fill the corners, making a nice flat rectangle shape that faced the street, and when he was satisfied with his handiwork he pushed to his feet and stood next to her to admire it.

Itachi's gravestone stood in bright sunlight amidst the Camelia blossoms that defied nature itself, evergreen and proud.

Hinata picked a delicate stick of incense from her bag and, after a quick breath from him, set it at the base.

Together, they offered a brief prayer for peace and forgiveness.

He picked up his shovel and let her carry her noisy purchases in the empty bucket. "It's my garden, I do what I want."

She giggled. "I didn't say anything."

"You thought it."

She brushed away a small sliver of wood that was stuck to his scarf before realizing that he was covered in them. Was he rolling around in shrapnel? "It looks nice."

His sigh was directed to the silent stone at their feet. "Not like anyone else will visit."

"I'll come."

"You'll get bored, eventually."

"I prayed for you every day." Her blush was because he looked at her like a lost puppy, and because it never occurred to her she'd be married to him the next time she prayed here.

Some branches he'd tossed aside to make room for the gravestone had small blossoms on them, too small to worry about, too pretty to throw in the bin. "Is it okay if I take some of these?"

"And plant them in the back yard?" He rolled his eyes.

She smiled. "No, I want to um… Well, sometimes I like to dry flowers and make them into bookmarks."

"Is that what they are?" To her surprise he wasn't demeaning about it, in fact he picked up a few clean branches and stuck them in the bucket. "I got in trouble for ripping one open once."

"You're not supposed to open them! They fall apart!"

"Or so I learned. It was a gift or something, mom was furious." He brushed away a clingy strand of hair from his eyes and refused to acknowledge the tingling in his cheeks. "So what have you got there?"

She followed him down the road in the opposite direction of the Hyuuga district. "A few things from the apothecary."

Sasuke made a face, "That awful place? The owner would rather eat her own foot than sell me something."

But the owner was a very nice lady who gave her gifts! "What do you need?"

"Nothing. I just remember going in to get something for muscle pain, you know how rehab works. I was this close to pinning her to the ceiling and leaving her there."

She tried not to laugh, it would be disrespectful to the woman and might encourage him to actually do it. "Menthol rub from the store works just as well!"

He hummed and shifted the shovel to the other shoulder so he could look at her. "Her loss. Why, did you plan to buy things for me in secret?"

"I would make them for you." The rattling bottles in the bucket couldn't make much on their own, but with some coconut oil and pure wax, she could do wonders.

He couldn't decide if he was impressed or annoyed. "And you just happen to know how to make medicine, too? Is there something else I need to know about, secret courses you attended in that secret Hyuuga school?"

"There's no such thing!" she laughed, he turned his smirk to his feet.

Two weeks in and he was still shy about showing her a smile, or maybe he didn't know how to smile just yet.

A glance back at the flowers hiding the newly installed gravestone sobered her up. This wasn't all about her, he was finally ready to move on, allowing himself some closure, accepting that he needed to go to the next stage of mourning sooner or later.

She wanted to be there for him if he would let her.

"Ne, will you be setting others up for your parents?"

The other side of his mouth curved up, "I like it when you say ne." and then realizing that he'd said it out loud, he scratched his head and answered more seriously. "Probably. Mother, at least." She didn't ask why, he was relieved. "I don't want to turn it into a graveyard, though. That's depressing."

She watched their footsteps on the irregular flat stones of the street, it was a nice slow pace to talk through in the fresh afternoon breeze. "What will you do?"

"Haven't decided yet, maybe build a complex or two, and a supermarket. I definitely want the main house to be here, big and intimidating." He pointed to the distance with the tip of the shovel. "The police station used to be over there before they canceled the whole payroll, of course by then most of the police force was gone…"

"We had police officers?!"

Her curios smile did a number on his pulse, he hid it well. "Yeah, of course. They had impressive uniforms and everything."

"Will you bring it back? We have peacemakers sent out but no one specific for little things inside the village."

"Probably not, it caused a lot of controversy."

She didn't bring herself to ask, everyone knew about the many issues the Uchiha had with the village's founding families, this must also be one of them. There was very little she can say without turning the peaceful conversation sour, so she trusted him to pick it up again if he still had more to say.

Slowly the reality of the situation settled in her gut like bad milk. He walked next to her, close enough to feel the warmth of his body and smell the scent of his soap, but his eyes were set on some distant point only he could see; lost in memories nobody else could recall.

It crushed her in many ways than one to have lost an uncle, horrified her on a fundamental level when she was old enough to recognize why he was executed, and guilty beyond repair for her father's grief over the loss of his only brother.

But Sasuke did not lose a brother, not a parent, not even two parents; he'd lost everyone.

Aunts and uncles and cousins and distant cousins and grandparents and children he'll never get to reminisce with.

He was completely, irreversibly alone, and no amount of wishing or hard work can change that.

Except, maybe…

Her arm curled around his, startling them both into searching the other's face for possible protests. When there was none, she finally spoke her mind. "Ne, I know it's too soon, but one day it won't be just you and me, ok?" Her cheeks heated up at the thought, her lips itched to be chewed when it looked like he didn't understand where she was going with it. "I know you feel all alone now but I'm getting better; my heart feels stronger. If I can, I want- I'd like to have a big family, you won't be alone with a lot of boys and girls, right? There could even be twins, it runs in the family!"

"Oh, that…" He relaxed, then stiffened again when it occurred to him what kind of jutsu he needed to learn to summon a baby. "Oooh… Well, I'm not in a hurry. Are you?"

"No, not at all!" She laughed and blushed and hid her cheek in his scratchy sleeve. A few steps ahead the buzzing in her mind quieted down to rational reality, "Will they be Uchiha or Hyuuga?"

"I don't care, as long as they're happy."

They stopped because Hinata dug her heels and clung to his arm. It seemed like she had something to say, or maybe she was working up the courage to do something more than blink her glossy eyes at him. "I'd like that."

"They might not even have the Sharingan." Sasuke noted when it seemed like the girl had phased out of this world and into her own. Women were strange like that. "As powerful as my Sharingan can get, the Byakugan might be more dominant, genetically speaking."

"Maybe they'll have both!"

"Or neither." He shrugged, "Now that I think about it, I don't think the Hyuuga and Uchiha have ever married before…"

Married… It tickled her on the inside to hear him say it. Up until now it almost felt like he wouldn't admit it all happened, or maybe he didn't know how to stop putting up airs. "No, I don't think anyone ever did. Grandfather was furious when he knew, he said the legends predict a great curse befalls a family that mixes dojutsu with a rivaling clan."

"Curse huh? That explains it." He leaned down and pressed a gentle kiss to the tip of her red nose, "You put me under a spell, didn't you?"

"Yes, that is what I did." All she had to do was tip her head up to land herself a kiss, he accepted it even if they both tasted the dirt afterwards.

"When?" He hummed somewhere between the third and fourth attempt at catching her lower lip in his teeth.

"I slipped it in your drink." Her voice shook with the effort to keep the laugh at bay. "A love potion, I poured it in your sake when you weren't looking."

He scoffed, amused. "You learned to make that in secret Hyuuga school, too?"

"Stop!" She laughed, he tried not to laugh; she wouldn't mind getting used to the crinkles around his eyes.

And then Naruto showed up.

He jogged up to join them with a grin so wide his eyes nearly shut. "Look at you, taking a walk together like a bunch of cuties!"

Sasuke wasn't happy with the interruption, or the daft comment that made the girl blush herself silly, even if it was admittedly cute. "Grave-digging cuties." He smacked him in the stomach with the blunt end of the shovel. "What's up?"

"Nyehehe! Nothing much! Just coming over to have one of the grandpas sign this, some boring Hyuuga council stuff."

"Why are you delivering it?" Sasuke's eyes narrowed in suspicion.

"I was bored! Grandma Tsunade is all over my ass with paperwork! I hadn't had ramen in six days! Can you believe it? ME!" He considered that with a grimace. "You know, Sakura chan was right! You do kinda bloat after eating it, I just never noticed cause I never stopped eating it every other day! Hahaha!"

"How are you, Naruto kun?"

If Naruto noticed how she edged an inch closer to Sasuke when he looked at her, he didn't comment on it. "I'm great! Looks like I'll be Hokage by the end of the year, I can't wait!"

"That's great news for all the homeless fans out there," The Uchiha scoffed, "Just celebrate everything all at once, your wedding, your inauguration, new years, Christmas; who needs money anyway."

"What are you saying," Naruto made a thumbs-up only to show them the fresh scab on his thumb. "Sakura and I got married just this morning."

Hinata stood like a statue, not because her first love got married, but because her real love was hugging him without reserve.

The shovel was on the ground, the boys clapped each other's backs with more force than necessary, Naruto even sniffled a little. "We wanted a fancy wedding and everything but looking at you going at it like it's nobody's business inspired us! We sign the official stuff now and plan the ceremony whenever! Her parents are alright with it, they're even helping her move in now that it's official hahah! Goddamnit I'm so happy!"

"Stop being pathetic, your nose is running." Sasuke flicked the boy's forehead not too gently and picked up his tools. "Congratulations. Don't screw it up."

"I won't! Geez..."

Hinata offered her congratulations as well, albeit less aggressively. "Congratulations, Naruto kun. I hope you'll be happy forever."

It seemed to mean a lot to him, even when she thought he didn't care anymore. He hugged her and laughed at the peep that escaped her throat; the gesture was brimming with gratitude and unspoken apologies.

Naruto set her down and wiped the corner of his eye stubbornly. "Umh! You be happy too, both of you, I mean it! If Sasuke makes you cry just tell me and I'll turn him to mince meat!"

"You'll become canned tuna if you keep saying that." Sasuke growled.

"Feeh! I'll drop what I got and I'll meet you at the mountain in ten minutes, then we'll see whose pulverizing who!"

"You're on." He set the shovel on Hinata's shoulder, "Just drop it at my door, I'll see you later."

Hinata watched them bicker as they walked away, exchanging jabs of elbows and impolite accusations. To an outsider they could only be enemies itching to end the other, to her who'd watched their backs –both of them- all her life; it was the friendliest sight.

Maybe she was wrong, maybe Sasuke wasn't all alone after all.

With overflowing glee, she followed after them to her father's house to get what she'd come for in the first place, and joined the conversation with confidence she never thought would ever muster.

Two weeks before the official ceremony she found him in her bed for the first time.

His nose was buried between her back and the mattress, his shirt dangled off the wrist he draped over her side, one of his knees dug into her leg and god knows what that part of his body against her butt was doing there.

It would have been okay if she had been decent, but she was in nothing but shorts and a flimsy tank top.

"Sasuke…?" She whispered, hoping that he was deep asleep so she could slip away to put something decent on.

If anything, her voice woke him up. Damn those sharp shinobi senses! "Hnn?" He groaned, sighed deep and slow, and rubbed his nose between her shoulders. "Why is it so hottt…"

The sound that escaped her throat was a half-laugh half-yelp. "The air conditioning is set to heating, I need to breathe warm air if I want my heart to get better!"

He didn't like that excuse, he didn't like the tangled covers around his ankles and he definitely didn't like her hair falling in ropes on his face every time she shifted. It took him a brooding five minutes to accept that there will be no more sleep to be had, so with groggy reluctance he propped his head on his fist and blinked down at her.

Thankfully, he didn't seem to notice his wrist had been touching her bottom when he pulled it away.

Her first thought was to cover herself with the blanket but it had gotten too tangled up to pull, she could only cover the span of her delicate fingers. "Why are you here?"

If she'd asked any less gently he would have assumed she didn't want him there. "I couldn't sleep."

"Is everything okay? Are they overworking you?"

"No." He'd just started working in intelligence, with her still in HR and busy with the family's constant need to consult her with everything concerning the wedding, they barely had the time to talk at leisure.

"Are you coming down with a cold?"

"Don't think so."

She smiled when it looked like he was going to fall back asleep in that position. "Are the kitties in your back yard being loud?"

He yawned a big yawn and shook his head no. "I had a bad dream. Go ahead and laugh, I don't care."

She didn't, if anything, he became dearer just for seeking her out for relief. "It's ok. I hope you slept well, at least."

His eyes opened a little wider, puffy lids blinked slowly the longer she continued to not mock him. His brows pulled just a tiny bit, his ears reddened just a touch, he kissed her bare shoulder and nodded. "Un."

She brushed back thick hair from his face, giggled when the hand on her hip moved against the more ticklish parts of her side, and covered his face with the heel of her palm when he made to lean in for a kiss. "Hanabi could be watching!"

"That's your main concern?" He mumbled against her palm, not at all upset.

"N- No! Just- well, I need to make breakfast!"

"What are you going to make?"

She squirmed when he started purposely tickling her and held that hand as well. "I don't know yet!"

"Am I invited?"

"Of course you are."

"Every day?"

Her grip on him relaxed, the eyes that peeked through her fingers were serious. "For the rest of your life."

His forehead was warm on her shoulder, his voice thick with sleep. "Good, I'm starting to hate supermarket packed lunches."

She ran her fingers through his hair because now she could, it made her cheeks hot and the tightness in his jaw loosen. "Is there anything specific you'd like to have?"

"Not really."

The tension in his shoulders relaxed the more she caressed his hair, she would have put him back to sleep if she hadn't spoken again. "What kinds of dishes did your mother make?"

A strange pause passed between them where her fingers hovered in the air nervously and he stared at the pores in her skin up close and personal, as if the answer would materialize out of that faded scar on her bicep. "Curry. She made great chicken curry."


"That's for dinner, though. Miso is alright for now."

"Mhmm." Before she knew it they were whispering, as if the secrets of their breakfast menu were far too important to speak about carelessly.

"And rice balls, she always wrapped them in nori after we got to the table so it's still crispy."

"I see." It was a surprise that a complicated man like him enjoyed simple food. One would assume he could only tolerate authentic pasta and fine wine, but no, all he wanted was generic soup and crispy seaweed sheets. "Are you okay with umeboshi for filling?"

"I don't mind it, but I'd rather have salted salmon." He pressed another soft kiss to her shoulder. "Thanks for not tiptoeing around the subject."

She shook her head dismissively and pushed aside his fringe when he finally looked at her. "All the white hairs have gone away."

"Yeah, I also need a haircut." He wrapped his arms around her, pressed his face to the back of her neck and inhaled her sweet scent. "I'm off today, don't wake me."

"Sleep tight!" she patted his arm reassuringly and wiggled her toes to find the edge of the blanket to pull over them. Gradually, his breath grew deeper and slower against her neck, the weight of his arm and the secure cocoon lulled her back to sleep. She didn't care that she would be late for work, she didn't mind that Hanabi might barge in and get the wrong idea. Too many nights she spent wondering if she'll ever be allowed to fall asleep in his arms and now she was here, no matter how much willpower she possessed or how selfless she was expected to be, she was still human.

The wedding was, despite great planning, short-lived.

It was supposed to be a gruesome and hectic day, but to Hinata it went by in a blur. Styling, dressing, walking to the shrine with the large entourage. Meeting him there, sharing a few sips from the same cup and receiving the blessings of the old monk.

And then it was over.

Getting ready spanned the whole day, but the celebration was over in a blink.

It seemed like everybody was disappointed when it was time for them to leave the hall, everybody except the actual bride and groom. Naruto and Kiba made wolf howls and whistled suggestively, Kurenai and Hanabi cried their mascara off, and Father finally found it in him to hug his eldest daughter in public.

She thought the day would be more stressful, was even prepared to have a meltdown at some point, overall it had been a strangely surreal experience. Sure her stomach tingled when she walked in and he was standing there in all his Uchiha glory, but that was all of it.

She was calm even after they made it back home, to his wide apartment littered with gifts and homemade snacks, even when he started helping her out of the many layers of the pure white kimono and the many strings that kept the outfit together.

She had been so mentally prepared for what's to come that it surprised her when at the last two layers he announced he would be taking a shower, and proceeded to leave her in the bedroom to ponder the confusing knots by herself.

Hinata smiled to her reflection and busied herself with the many ropes one by one, realizing that maybe she wasn't the only one anxious about tonight.

She settled for fresh pajamas and socks for now, and decided to visit the kitchen for some much-needed warm tea. By the time the leaves were steeping in the pot, her husband –now public as well as legal- joined her in the living room dressed in a warm sweater and comfortable pants.

"We're like old people who can't wait to change back into house wear." She offered him a cup with a giddy laugh and joined him at the table. He was quiet, almost too quiet. "Ne, how are you?"

"Good." He nodded to his tea, as an afterthought he added, "And you?"

"Good." Her toes curled and uncurled, the makeup she tried to wash off still lingered on her lips and between her lashes. "Are you nervous?"

"No." He answered instantly, earning himself a disbelieving smile. "Just a little tired. It's alright."

"We can just sleep." She whispered to the rim of her cup. "We're both free for the next thirty days."

"It's not gonna take thirty days!"

His bashfulness was cute, she wouldn't mind waiting all that time if he was going to show her this side of him for a little bit more. "It's not a race, I'm pretty nervous too, actually." His hand found hers over the table, she held on to it tightly.

At some point between the fourth sip of tea and the mother cat joining her kittens outside, in the peaceful silence that settled in the warm living room, Sasuke set his cup down and crawled around to her end of the table.

She kissed him first, because all day she wasn't allowed to see him and all she wanted was to make sure everything would be alright. Traditional weddings looked down on public shows of affection, and the only kiss they were allowed was an indirect one against the rim of a sake cup.

He kissed back, lightly at first and then sighed his restraint away when she settled in his lap. His lips were curled up because this was a first, she'd never been taller than him before and the curled ends of her fringe were tickling his chin.

"I thought we were just going to sleep." She let him kiss her cheek, her chin, her throat.

"Okay." His voice rumbled between their ribcages, she'd been leaning against him too heavily and he didn't complain. "I'll stop, then. Goodnight."

Her first reaction was surprise, and then she shrunk away to hide her face in his shoulder; he was just teasing her.

"Is it okay if I take this off?" He snickered against her ear, caught the lobe in his teeth after her shy nod and only parted away long enough to pull his shirt over his head.

She smiled against his mouth and allowed her hands to land on his bare shoulders. A timid voice in her head squeaked that she was going too fast, that she should at least pretend to dislike the whole situation in honor of her maidenly status. For the first time in her life she didn't care, she wasn't about to put up airs with the only person who didn't care about pretenses.

She was nervous, but she wasn't scared or disgusted, why pretend otherwise?

Besides, for someone who was forceful in every other aspect of his life, Sasuke was extremely delicate in the way he handled her, his hands, his mouth, even his words were kind.

It will be alright because it was him.

"Ne, I have a confession…"

"Hm?" his forehead was on the crook of her neck, maybe it was a bad idea to rub his back, he sounded like he was falling asleep!

"Well… It- maybe it won't be what you expect at first. I mean… Ah! It's not what you think! But I'm a kunoichi, you know, things happen. The gentle fist style doesn't discriminate between, you know, maybe it won't be…"

He stared at her for a good five minutes, slowly waking up from his sleepy daze. "I have no idea what you're trying to say."

She looked away in embarrassment, "I've never been touched, but you know, a fighter girl can lose it without realizing it! I just don't want you to be disappointed!"

The boy sighed, and not the bad kind of sigh; he was entertained. "Oh, that… Well, you only get disappointed if you have something to compare to."

Her nod stopped midway. "You…? Really?"

"Mm." He squeezed her sides and distracted her with a series of light kisses on the neck. "No one's been worthy enough until now."

All this time she'd convinced herself that she was the only virgin left in the village, and here he was, the boy who traveled everywhere and attracted everyone was just as oblivious.

It was a greater relief than she let on. "Please be gentle."

"Says the one who can kill a man with her pinky."

For a few kisses more it was playful and experimental and interrupted with more laughter than lust, he was warm and obviously trusted her with his life if he let her run her fingers down his chest. It would take a lot of time to have him relax completely to being touched, it's not easy to let down defenses one spent his whole life building.

Sasuke's hands were respectfully still on her arms when she came to realize it was getting undeniably hot in her shirt.

That wasn't what Kurenai said would happen, definitely not what the books said would occur in a haze. Then again this guy never conformed to publications or speculations anyway, why start now?

"Ne, is it okay if I take it off, too?"

It was hilarious how wide his eyes went, like he hadn't expected this to happen within this lifetime. "…Ok."

Red faced and bashful, she let him help her out of the shirt and sat there spitting stray hairs out of her mouth as he looked. She was still in a bra, not a very attractive one as those had uncomfortable wires and lace and too many distractions for a night so basic, so all he got to see was cleavage and a tummy she could never quite tone into rolling abs.

His gaze was fixated on her breasts for so long she had to cover them with her hands in regret, "Stop staring!"

"What is that?"

"It's an old scar…"

"How did you get it?"

Get it…

He asked her how she 'got' it, like a medal of honor or something. He could have asked how it happened like it was some unfortunate accident that caused itself. He could have said anything and it would have made her shy away. Yet, he somehow managed to say the right thing without trying.

"Chuunin exams. You were there, weren't you?"

"I left the hall pretty early." His voice dropped down a notch, the warmth of his hands covered her shaky ones to ease them off the discolored skin. "What happened?"

Maybe later, at a better time, she could elaborate. Not now. "Direct attack to the pressure points, it will never really go away."

"Hmm? I have ones on my neck from a senbon jutsu, I still feel the ache sometimes when it's really cold."

"Or when your clothes are too tight."

"Yeah, exactly! I can't stand shirts with tight collars."

"Or socks." She giggled, he pouted.

"That's just personal preference."

She let him look at the scar for as long as he wanted, he made it seem like it was worth admiring, like it was beautiful.

Like she was beautiful.

She felt beautiful.

Before this moment could pass, before this night turned awkward and uncertain again, Hinata decided to tell him now. "Ne~ I love you."

He heard, the dark eyes that stared straight into her soul confirmed it, instead his response was to take her hand from his forearm and press it to the dark line in the center of his chest, right on his racing heart.

"We match."

- The End

End Notes: They finally found their One In A Million, huh?

I hope this didn't feel too rushed, I know some reviewers noted that Hinata's view of the story was considerably shorter than Sasuke's in terms of chapter number, but that's the fun part. It wasn't just Sasuke's journey, all this time she was there too. That's how life works sometimes, too.

Well, hope you had a good time with this fic, if not, I'm sorry I couldn't make it any better, I'm only human. There are a few mistakes in character names here and there and a bunch of grammatical errors, not gonna pretend they're not there so maybe one day I'll have enough time to go back and fix them. Thanks for everyone who wrote me to point them out, I love it when you guys point these things out! I do all of my editing so sometimes i miss a thing or two or three or five ahahah...

One last thing: there was the occasional review who said something along the lines of: I'll never be as good as you (meaning me), and those kinds of responses to a free fan-made fictional story on the internet about two imaginary characters undo everything good I'm trying to achieve here.

Look, guys, I'm not great, i don't think i qualify as 'good' compared to actual writers out there. English isn't even my first language and I never use that as an excuse, I've never been to Japan to learn all these cultural things i just googled them (wearing kimonos, traditional weddings, ninja tools etc) and writing is something I do as a hobby on the sidelines of my real job as an illustrator. I wasn't born a writer, nobody ever is, but you can work at it if you enjoy doing it. I love writing, I love sitting down and imagining a hundred what-ifs to a single event, I enjoy learning new ways to say the same things, and I feel emotional writing some scenes just as much as you feel emotional reading them!

You can do it if you read a lot of literature to give yourself a solid foundation, read the good to learn from and the bad to know what not to do lol. Keep writing complex characters and don't think twice about chopping off a whole main segment of a story to replace it with something you think will work better. It's okay to make mistakes, I've made them countless times, making lots of mistakes is the only way you can learn to not make lots of mistakes!

Have fun, write anything and everything you want, doesn't matter if it got a hundred reviews or just one, you don't even have to publish it if you don't want to. Use all the online resources you can find, Wikipedia, google maps, youtube videos from other countries, random generators; the world is at your fingertips!

I hope one day we'll meet again in another fanfic or book, so until then, you're beautiful and I love you!