A/N: I really wanted to post this up in celebration of Itachi's birthday, but things got away from me... Well, whatever. I'm still on hiatus, but I really just wanted to finish the prologue before just leaving it. I would have put the author's note and dedications on the next chapter (a multiple of 5) but it's a little weird... So here we go!

Dedicated To: silverwolfigther00, angel897, Batang May Scolio, Infinite Nosferatu, Guest, and as always, Doujin-Maker! And of course, to all my other readers! I seriously love you guys :)

-See you in August!

Look towards the Dawn, for it shall illuminate the Earth, and we shall gaze upon the Sun.

Biting his thumb and drawing blood, ( because for things as powerful as this, a blood sacrifice was always needed ) Minato smashed his palm into the ground, summoning the ceremonial throne needed for the Eight Trigrams seal.

Kushina, exhausted by her part of the sealing, sank down to the ground and I hurried towards her.

My heart stuttered as the father ( the savior, the leader, the dead man walking ) placed his son ( the pariah, the sacrifice, the hated, the demon ) onto the sacrificial throne; the kyuubi, now half of its original size,was growing lighter, its chakra changing from the deep red it had been before.

For a moment the demon paused and looked straight at me, strangely, like it couldn't understand what I was doing there, like it knew that I was different, and I felt my soul shiver at its intensity.

And then Minato started the sealing process and I tore myself away from the all-too-knowing eyes to focus on Naruto. I forced myself to watch, ( because I owed him this much ) not daring to blink, my heart tearing in two as the seal appeared on his belly and the whisker-like marks ( what had marked him as different, as hated, as lonely, as a monster ) grew on his cheeks.

And then it was over, strangely enough. The space in front of us felt empty, devoid of the powerful life-force that had occupied it moments previously. The world seemed absolutely frozen, silent and still, like the world had stopped spinning and time had stopped (and maybe it had, just for a moment, pausing for a second to observe the momentous occasion that had shifted the wheels of fate, tangling the red threads of souls unrecognizable). And then the spell was broken and the earth once again spun, time once again sped on.

Kushina released the barrier as Naruto cried loudly, unsettled by the large amount of foreign chakra in his system. The Sandaime ( my heart skipped a beat to see him alive and well, and for a second I thought I had seen a ghost) came in a hurry, shinobi following behind him urgently.

Minato, holding the infant jinchuuriki, helped Kushina up. I stared blatantly at them, looking strangely at the surreal ( perfect ) picture- the orphan and his parents- and suddenly it all came crashing down on me ( because I was here, and they were alive, and I was in the past ) and I took a step back from the proof right in front of me ( because didn't belong here, not at all, and they knew it too, that I wasn't supposed to be here, that I marred the perfect picture ) and I slipped into black bliss as they came towards me.

Kushina cradled her arms protectively around her son, her eyes softening as she gazed upon his perfect, chubby little face.

Her hand slipped into Minato's, a soft and comforting anchor to the world around her.

They had all made it through the night alive and whole, thanks to the woman who was standing a little apart from the rest of the group, looking a little lost. Kushina knew it in her very soul that if she had not been there, she- and maybe Minato, too, would not be here right now.

Her eyes sharpened with determination and something else, something that wouldn't have been identified if anyone had seen it. It was settled, then.

She owed this woman a debt that she would never be able to repay.

Itachi sat on the porch, his young otouto being gently rocked to sleep in his arms.

He had sat there the whole night, listening to the roars of the nine-tails, praying for the safety of his parents and hoping to catch a glimpse of the Hokage that Shisui-san liked so much (though that might be hard, because Shisui-san said that he was the fastest person alive, and that if he ran right past you he was so fast that you wouldn't see him, and Shisui-san was generally right about this kind of stuff).

Eventually the roars and the tiny tremors had stopped, and Itachi had relaxed a little, because it didn't seem like Sasuke needed protecting from the monster anymore (though Sasuke always needed protecting from something, so Itachi would watch over him anyways).

His parents weren't here yet, so he would wait for them. He didn't mind, though, even if they were late.

Sasuke was cuddled up in his arms, and now everything was peaceful and calm. The sun was rising above the treetops, the light shining through the forest. A bird the same color as Kushina obasan's hair flew by, whistling.

And the sky was alive with colors, shades of blue and light purple, a deep orange, pale yellow, deep red, and a beautiful pink.

End of Prologue