This happens between chapter twelve and the epilogue, and, for reasons, is the intro to the sequel of this story.
There was a trail that led from the side of village's graveyard into the nearby woods. Most wouldn't be able to find it unless they were actively looking for it, but, in the man's opinion, it was better like this. If people already had the tendency to believe places of burial were gloomy, he could only imagine what they would think of the destiny the secluded path led to.
It was a small house, crumbling down thanks to years of being battered by rain and termites. Anyone would think the place was deserted, as it certainly didn't look like anyone could live there, but Katsuro knew better.
He approached the house and knocked on the wormy door. There was no reply, and so he figured he should enter. The silence could only mean that he wasn't entirely unwanted, or that the house's occupant had died. If the crone had dropped dead, he was the one responsible for arranging for her body to be buried – preferably outside of the cemetery's grounds – and so he thought he had all the right in the world to enter the house.
Pushing the door, he slid his body inside, trying to keep as much sunlight from getting in as possible. Sure as the day, an old woman sat by an irori, warming her hands in spite of the fact that it wasn't cold. It was her frozen heart that left her in this state, he believed.
The woman's dark eyes were fixated on him, watching his every move. She was tall and thin, her yellow skin stretched over her bones, giving her the appearance of a living skeleton. He knew her to have once been a 'fabled beauty' but the years and hard life she led had stripped her from any sort of good looks.
To reflect the ugliness inside, nothing more fitting.
"There he is." She grinned at him, exhibiting a row of yellow teeth "I knew you'd return soon enough."
Not answering, he walked up to her, laying the basket in his hands by her feet.
"What is in there?" She asked.
Grunting, she reached into the gift to pull out a bottle of saké, that she promptly brought to her lips.
"Lucky as always?" She inquired, and the irony didn't go unnoticed by him.
"The boys left." Katsuro replied, and she nodded.
"I knew you wouldn't be able to kill them." She spoke with conviction "The boys have the scent of death itself – what could a poor farmer like yourself do? Now, your father-"
"They are shinobi." He remarked coldly "They would have snapped his neck in seconds."
"Surely, but at least he knew how to think like them." The hag insisted, setting the bottle down "The smell of death. You used to smell like that, you know. Then you met that girl and started following her around everywhere, and you started smelling like flowers." She snorted "But it's funny how the ones with the strongest wills give their scent to others. Your precious apple blossom" The woman spat, as if the words caused her great disgust "for instance. I would've thought she was strong, but just a couple of days around those boys and she started stinking." And then she laughed, a coarse, dry laughter, that could only come from a throat that was unaccustomed to expressing joy. "I know you told her to be friendly, but just how friendly?"
The man's eyes narrowed dangerously, but other than that, he showed no reaction, choosing to turn around and examine the house.
"The older one's all over her." She continued "I didn't see them together but I could smell him in her. You should be careful, Katsuro. We don't want any more bastards, do we?"
His eyes landed on a branch resting against one of the corners of the room, and took it in his hands, examining it.
"Your walking stick?"
Nodding, he approached the woman once more, setting one of the ends of the object into the fire, before looking her in the eyes.
"You don't need to concern yourself with bastards. You have no business with my daughter, and I have taken time to educate her, as a decent parent ought to do." The flames licked up the staff, reducing its length as the man spoke, leaning closer and closer "You can rest assured that you'll be able to smell the scent she's always had soon enough. Or maybe not. Hopefully, you won't be around to see the sunrise next morning."
With expressionless eyes, the woman eyed the burning stick, before turning to the man "You wound me, son."
"Not nearly as much as you deserve." He retorted, letting the little that remained of the branch fall into the fire and standing up.
Just as he was about to touch the door handle to leave the house, the woman spoke, her voice reverberating in the nearly empty room.
"You may say that, but you always come back. I wonder if it's all guilt for having been born when nobody wanted you."
Katsuro pulled the door open and smashed it closed on his way out.
So yessss… I'm writing a sequel yay. Some people asked me to do it – even though they might rue the day they did so – so Imma do it. Compared the Apples, this story (that doesn't even have a name yet, and I refuse to call it something like Apples 2 or Apples: The Revenge) has a much less developed plot. I have an idea of how I want it to end and some events I want in between, but I have nothing that's definitive.
That's why I'm asking one thing: Is anyone interested in beta-reading this? I am not going to go from beta-reader to beta-reader to ask if they'd be interested in helping me with this story because I feel there is no need to – but if there is anyone who liked Apples and is interested in the sequel, then you are more welcome to help… Of course, assuming that this person can help me with my grammar and/or plot. I want people whose English skills are better than mine or someone who will see the story beyond the 'Romance' label. Of course, there should be snogging, but I'd love someone who can provide insight regarding character development, and if the events have a logical sequence. Again, the story is not entirely planned out, and everything is subject to change if said changes make sense and are compliant with the canon.
I'm not sure if the people who enjoyed my story are still around, and so, if this story does not amass any interest, I'll drop it, but if at least one person is interested in it, I plan on bringing this story to a conclusion. Also, I won't post the chapters in this story, but I'll write another one. I just figured it would be best to let the people who had followed/favourite the story aware of what is going on.
Honestly, with 51 comments, 46 favs, 34 follows and being added to three communities (one that has "The best Uchiha Madara's stories you could ever found!" as a description, I kid you not, that was flattering beyond belief) I figured that it would be offensive to not do something about.
I just hope I won't blow any respect you guys might have for me xD