Suiei Hanabi took in a deep breath and released it, her brush pausing and flowing in time with her lungs. Slowly, but surely, her last name grew beneath the fine hairs of the brush; 水泳. It was a simple last name, with no double meanings nor be tracked down to ancient times. It was relatively modern compared to the clan names dominating the Elemental Lands. All it meant was: water.
(Yet it meant so much more.)
There was a space below the two kanji, enough space for at least three characters. It was ready for a new name, but her name – 花火, fireworks, or, fire flower – was not the one to be written there. Hanabi didn't know what would be written there in a few hours. Only time would tell.
The reminder of this evening's oncoming events draws her attention to the baby resting in the corner of the room. She wasn't even thirty days old, and yet tomorrow she could be older than Hanabi herself. It was the rite of the Suiei Clan, and every baby had to attend it, on the next full moon after their birth.
It was the only "bloodline" the Suiei Clan had, but it had the potential to be more powerful than the Uchiha's Sharagin or the Hyuuga's Bakugan.
As the tradition of the rite, her baby wasn't named yet. When addressed, it was always "Hanabi's baby," or "your baby." Only after the full moon would the baby be crowned with their own name, hand-picked and chosen by the baby itself, as per the ritual.
The last half-an-hour before the sunset disappeared from the horizon Hanabi spent treating her baby like a baby should be treated. She let it grasp her fingers in a weak grip, she sat her up and bounced her baby on her knee. This could very well be the last time she could get away with this.
She wasn't a true sensor, but she could feel chakra just a little bit. Already her baby's mental chakra is larger than her physical, probably from centuries of ancestors with gigantic mental chakra.
The baby fell asleep, and so Hanabi was left to watch the orange, red and pink drain out of the sky until nothing was left except the deep blue of the night, speckled with tiny stars. Above, the great full moon glowed in between the clouds that were scattered across the sky.
The gong sounded twice. Once for each baby that was beginning their rite.
Silently, Hanabi rose, her baby carefully balanced in her arms and exited her house, wooden beams creaking as she strode across her veranda. The boat houses they had rented out for tonight were connected through an intricate system of jetties and piers. To combat the rising tide, all things wooden were attached to tall wooden poles so they could float up and down in time with the ocean.
Tonight, the sea was lapping at the boardwalk, and occasionally the sea slapped against the wood, sending a little spout of water up between the logs. Thankfully, even with the clouds dotting the sky, it wasn't raining. Hanabi knew that come hail or fire, her baby was going to go through the Suiei birth ritual.
Her clan mates silently exited their houses, trailing all around her, all walking with minimal talk, towards the house that was chosen to hold the ritual.
Despite the significance of the ritual, the clan head didn't demand every member to attend. Furthermore, only those of Suiei blood could be present when the ritual commenced. Those who were brought from the outside couldn't.
The house was packed, and yet Hanabi could move freely. She knew from past experiences that her mobility was only because of the baby she held in her arms. Finally, the crowd settled, a silence casting over the group, only broken by a few whispers.
The crowd had gathered around the circle of some twelve members, about half a metre behind them. In the centre of the circle – a circle that took up most of the house. There was a reason why this house was chosen, and it wasn't only because it had an open top – stood the clan head.
She was a demanding presence, despite the hijab covering most of her masculine face. Suiei Kiku stood proud and tall, wearing the clothes of the clan head with dignity. Her past wasn't really well known, but it was there to ask for those who wanted to know. Apparently, she was an Arabic prince, although that was only the rumours Hanabi, unfortunately, overheard from the younger members.
"Welcome to this year's fourth Full Moon ritual." The first words she spoke weren't formally part of the ritual, but the small conversations taking place around the room grounded to a halt. "For this April, we are welcoming two new members into our ranks." She turns to face Hanabi and the woman beside her.
"Hanabi, Asagao," Kiku nods, addressing them quietly. "Thank you for your brave journey of pregnancy. I know myself could never survive through it, and I thank you for your courage." The rest of the clan bowed at once. Mothers were honoured in the Suiei Clan for bringing life to the world. Hanabi took a deep breath and braced herself for the next step.
"Do you have a preference to who goes first?" Kiku asks, looking at the two mothers in the eye. Hanabi didn't really know the other women, only seeing her around occasionally. The Suiei clan wasn't large, but it wasn't small either.
"I would prefer to go last," the woman asks, dipping her head at the clan head. Kiku turns to Hanabi, the silent question reaching between them.
"I don't mind," Hanabi admits. She knew that this ritual was coming, and Hanabi had to face the truth; she wasn't suited to mothering. Maybe, ten months ago, she thought she could change her mind. But she knew how, after two weeks of babysitting, that it just wasn't in her bones.
"Thank you Hanabi," Kiku bows, and Hanabi's child (not anymore, she reminds herself) is gently taken from her arms to rest in Kiku's arms. Thankfully, the baby doesn't awaken. There had been too many times when the ritual had to be carried out with a screaming baby. It wasn't fun.
Hanabi retreats from the circle, joining the rest of the clan. The circle closes again once _ follows Hanabi through. Once she and the other women made themselves comfortable on the wooden floor (Hanabi was slightly thankful that the houses were always slightly higher than the ocean level, so no water could seep through the cracks) Kiku rises from the little cradle sitting in the middle of the circle.
Everyone in this room had been placed in that cradle when they went through the ritual. It was worn from years of use, but the seals that were carefully inked on nearly every surface had not faded with time. Kiku raises her head to stare at the full moon above them, everyone but the twelve helpers kept their heads down.
"Great Rabbit Goddess," Kiku addresses, and Hanabi swears, like all rituals she's attended, that it glows brighter with the three words. "Time has proceeded until it is that time again. We ask our same question, asked since you have taught us, thousands of years ago."
Here the twelve members that help with the ceremony start to gather their chakra, letting it gather around the cradle, the seals slowly gathering brilliance and power.
"It is our honour to accept your chakra and break the barrier." Here, Kiku rattles off several lines, all in different languages. Hanabi only could understand two sentences, one in Italian and the other in French. While it varied from language to language, it was all prayers towards the clan's goddess.
"May the great Kaguya bless this new child, and give them their old memories back."
Hanabi has attended this ritual since her own. She's seen it from every angle. She's even been one of the twelve pouring their chakra into the seals to contain the chakra to just the cradle. But it still happens.
The moon drips. It's only a small drop, barely seen, no larger than a normal rain drop, but it's still there. It lands on the baby's forehead – like it always does – and vanishes into the baby's soul.
Kiku forms a few hand seals, which was more of a formality than a true jutsu. The air is thick with chakra, but it shatters once the barrier is broken, and the baby recalls its past life.
(Hanabi can still recall her ritual. Waking up in a cradle with strangers and something humming in the air. She used to be named Kirsten then.)
There is a moment of silence for the baby – now mentally older than its body – to gain its bearing.
Finally, Kiku leans forward, just enough to catch the baby's attention.
"Welcome new one. You have been reborn, and this is your new clan." Kiku says in Japanese. It isn't the language of the land, but it resembles it to almost be called Japanese. Then, Kiku repeats it in English. In French. She marches through various languages, some that don't sound like a language, but a groan in the back of her throat. Apparently, it was an alien language.
"Do you understand me?" Kiku asks in Japanese. The baby nods. "That's a good place to start." It was mostly a hit and miss with the languages. There were still some people who knew languages that nobody else knew.
"It is my honour to meet you. I welcome you to the Suiei Clan, and hope that you find yourself at home." Kiku bows. "As is tradition, you are turning over a new leaf. You will be given a new name, to signify your new beginning. It is a custom that all names have 花, or something pertaining to flower. Hanabi, do you have any ideas?" Normally, Kiku wouldn't have asked this, but Hanabi was wedded to an outsider. The Suiei Clan was accepting towards their name suggestions, as long as they had 'hana' in it.
Hanabi took a deep breath and says the name the father has told her before he left. She watches as the baby twist its head slightly to her direction, no doubt wondering about the voice coming from the darkness.
"Do you wish to take this name?" Kiku asks the baby. It nods, little mouth working as it either trying to say something or trying out the name.
"Welcome to the clan." Kiku smiles and gently slides her hands under its shoulders, approaching the edge of the circle. "This is your caretaker until you can be independent. Hanabi is the one who gave life to your new form. Please treat her with the uttermost respect."
Hanabi takes her baby – no longer that, not since the Rabbit Goddess gave the blessing – and carefully sits it on her hip as she rises, taking it outside. Already her young body was yawning, great big mouth leaving wet patches against her shirt. She was already used to that from the two weeks since her birth, but she also remembered not being able to control their own body after the ritual and for many months.
Her mental chakra was skyrocketing as it compensated for the sudden increase of memories, wisdom, and intelligence beyond any baby should have. Already it was approaching the level Hanabi had herself when her memories had been unlocked.
Hanabi takes them back to the house that was set aside for them. Other members came outside to learn the baby's name and to welcome them. Those who were brought from the outside treat the baby like it was its physical age, despite the explanation of what the ritual did, handed to them upon their entrance to the clan.
Finally, Hanabi makes it back home, just in time to see the moon drip again, at that house far away. She couldn't see the drop, it was hard enough to see at the ritual, but she had seen it enough to predict it anyway. Hanabi lies the newest addition to her clan and her household into the little cradle in the corner of the room. It could take anywhere from a few months to a few years before newborns could leave their caretakers.
Hanabi returns to the scroll with the clan name neatly printed at the top. She brings out the brush and the ink, letting her relax in the preparation. Finally, she draws the last few kanji into the empty space. There was a reason why she left enough space for three kanji.
A little word... (A/N)
Hello! I'm Amy. Thanks for reading. I'm just popping in to say that I have another story I'm also writing. I'm hoping to update both of them once a month. Thanks for reading!
Question: Do you think that the summery is good?