Pride

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Pride [prahyd]

noun

a high or inordinate opinion of one's own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.

the state or feeling of being proud.

a becoming or dignified sense of what is due to oneself or one's position or character; self-respect; self-esteem.

pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself

something that causes a person or persons to be proud

the best of a group, class, society, etc.

Kuchiki Byakuya had gone to great lengths to protect his pride and over the decades the form of that pride had changed. At one time it had been a feeling of grandness, something to be put on display for the citizens of Seireitei; it was his duty to stand as an example for those of the lower classes. In an effort to prove himself to be the highest representation of all that was acceptable Kuchiki Byakuya had cast aside childish emotions and desires to become the head of the Kuchiki clan and captain of the sixth division. He'd been known for his unparalleled attention to deal, his extraordinarily high expectations and exceptionally attractive physical structure.

When Kuchiki Byakuya seemingly tossed his known nature to the wind for a woman called Hisana all had been shocked. His determination to have her love had led him to marry the black-haired female despite the conflicting views of his clan, her inferior rank and all that he had ever said and done to prove himself worthy of admiration.

He took her as his wife and loved her as he had never loved another. She had stolen his heart and mind in the very moment his gaze rested upon her during a tour of Rukongai. There could be no other for him. Hisana became his pride, his joy and for a brief shinning moment she was his everything.

But that moment ended far too soon for Byakuya. After a short five years the love of his existence left him for a place that he could not follow her to. Hisana, soft and quiet as she was, found herself unable to live under the constant stress place upon her by the disapproval of the clan and succumbed to an illness that had long been with her. Deep depression, self-hate and guilt had been her constant companions and even the unmatched affection of her husband could not undo what had been done.

In her final moments she had apologized to him for never being able to love him the way he loved her. She had thanked him for his kindness and asked, again with apology, for one last promise. Please, she'd asked, find her sister, the one whom she'd abandoned so long ago. Please take her in. Please care for her. Please do for her what she, Hisana, had not been able to do.

Rukia, the sister of Hisana, had been found with little effort on his part.

The resemblance was impossible to ignore. So similar was her visage to that of his love, and yet so very different was her personality, that he had never been able to fulfill his duty. Though he had committed to becoming a family with the girl it seemed unachievable; he could hardly stand to look at her.

He knew, had always known, that he was a poor brother. Rukia attempted to be pleasing, but the harder she tried the further away he pushed her. Her face was like Hisana's. She stature was like Hisana's. It was physically painful to be in her presence. His feigned indifference harmed her, yet he could find no other shield for his wounded heart.

Once again he focused his pride inward. He worked and did little else. The honor of the Kuchiki clan was all he allowed himself to care for.

Decades passed. Events unfolded. He made the worst decision of his life:

He nearly allowed Rukia to be killed.

There could be no forgiving himself for this almost tragedy. Blinded by his vow to uphold the law he had cast away his promise to Hisana, standing aside, prepared to turn his eyes when the blade fell.

Saving her after the fact made no difference. Telling her the truth about the circumstances surrounding her adoption made no difference. Knowing that she had long ago forgiven him, understood his reasoning and placed no blame on his shoulders made it worse.

Yet, even so, the days following had slowly become bearable, more so than they had ever been before.

She remained cautious of him, though he noted that fear was no longer visible in her eyes should he happen to glace in her direction, and occupied herself with suitable employments. She remained devoted to upholding the Kuchiki name and did not allow herself to be burdensome.

She retained her unrefined tendencies, though she kept them well hidden in his presence and even when a slip occurred he felt little compulsion to admonish or correct. Rukia was Rukia. She was not delicate in mind or body and he had learned to accept this as a blessing.

Despite his unwillingness to acquiesce, and her unbound naivety concerning the matter, Rukia had endeared herself to him.

Rukia became Byakuya's pride.