December Rain/Reflection

Once upon a time she used to dream of fairy tales; of vast, gorgeous kingdoms surrounded by enchanting green natural forests and countless flourishing rivers that would extend thousands of miles away into the bright, vivid horizon.

Of a land religiously protected by a mighty and honorable king bequeathed with the respect and admiration of his loyal followers; and a wise, benevolent queen who was loved by all the peoples who inhabited it.

And their fantastic fortress, their beloved home, would stand breathtakingly as a tall, magical castle made of the finest limestone. A structure fully assembled and carved by the most talented architects to travel the lands, where they would harbor colorful, elegant and pristine ballrooms and wide, well-decorated alcoves for magnificent dances and ceremonies to be held.

And their daughter, a beautiful, lively princess with a tender heart, a little timid and a little shy, who sheltered dreams of growing up with a strength that resembled her father's and even half the kindness of her mother, would someday become a woman worthy of her name and who would one day be the undisputed pride of her family.

She used to dream of a shining, valiant knight with eyes as blue as the very skies, with an honest soul and affectionate smile that would manage to steal her heart away, a righteous man who would care for her as much as she would care for him.

She used to dream of abundant happiness and gentle love, of warm kisses to her little pink forehead, and heavy pats on the top of her head. She used to dream of opal eyes, and silky hair, and slender arms, and easy smiles, and fragrant smells, and light, pleasant melodies. She used to dream a lovely dream, of a world that was truly, unequivocally wonderful.

But reality was a cruel mistress, and her world died on a dry sterile room, lying rigid in a white rumpled bed one long dark, rainy night in mid-December.

And the mighty and honorable king, in all his sadness and his mourning, abandoned his crown in the ashes of his beloved and gentle queen. Never again did he smile, never again did he laugh, for his heart was no longer one but one-half living and one-half dead.

And their fortress, their tall, extravagant castle and their beloved home, once bright and colorful and welcoming and warm, turned an ugly, insipid white, hauntingly hollow in its perfection.

And their daughter, a beautiful, lively princess, a little timid and a little shy, discovered the tragic reality, that the fairy tales she used to dream of, the fairy tales she so loved, were but a sublime mirage, hauntingly fragile in its perfection.

The world, the real world, was red. Like the splattered blood her uncle bled the day he was mercilessly executed for valiantly rescuing her. Like her tears, mingling with the red of her wounds as she lied against the cold, unforgiving ground, with bleeding palms and heartbreaking frustration flowing agonizingly through her veins. Like Neji's strong bandaged hands, gentle and deadly as he viciously punctured her heart without hesitation.

It was white. Like her eyes that saw it all, but saw nothing at all. Like the thousands of gazes that followed her around in the mansion forever frozen in time, where once a loving, radiant light had brought along with her endless joy.

It was black. Like the sudden bouts of unconsciousness she would experience in her constant struggle to become a worthy ninja, to bring pride to her clan and to bring the happiness back to her beloved father. Like the sky, as it poured in mourning the life of the third, who with astounding courage and bravery, selflessly sacrificed his own life for the people of their village.

The world was a painful red, and sorrowful white and frightening black. Like seeing the man she loved being ruthlessly pinned to the floor waiting helplessly to be slaughtered. Like the agony of being stabbed by a vindictive god as her home was reduced to nothing but grainy rubble. Like the world falling furiously to senseless war, burning ragingly to cinders as it took away countless lives, over, and over, and over, and over again. Like an innocent, caged bird, who only in death could he escape his bindings, when it could finally find freedom. It was unfair, and harsh, and so unimaginably painful.

And yet, she had refused turn away, to abandon the precious light that had been given to her by her mother, to discard the strength she had gradually cultivated with her beloved cousin, to surrender the boundless love she felt for her little sister, to let her teammates and friends carry the heavy burden by themselves. She had fearlessly walked forward with great resolve. The world was unfair, and harsh, and so unimaginably painful, but in her hands rested the power to heal away its wounds, to bring even an ounce more of happiness, to piece even a little bit of it back together.

It had been amid that grueling, laborious road, one long, rainy night in mid-December, that the world turned on its axis, and she learned how much more captivating than any fairy tale, the colors of reality could be.

The first few months following the war she had spent working tirelessly, actively aiding in the reconstruction of the war torn village, repairing houses, locating resources, and healing wounded any time she had the chance. It had been slow, daunting progress, with numerous and difficult obstacles along the way.

The bittersweet memory of her dear cousin had often been assaulting her mind, driving her, pushing her, filling her with the lionhearted strength required to keep moving forward despite her insecurities and disappointments.

And shortly after, she had finally started to dissect the ancient problem of the deep-rooted evil within her own clan, the malevolent caged bird sealing, and the source of unimaginable agony that had long plagued her clansmen.

If nothing else, she had decided to rid the world of such heinous mark, to never again let an innocent soul be branded by such revolting hatred. It had been the last gift she could possibly offer to her savior, to the man who had made the ultimate sacrifice for her sake.

Nevertheless, sealing arts were inconceivably more complex than she had initially anticipated. She had poured hours upon hours to study writings, and patterns, and glyphs, and symbols, all frenetically desiring to reach an inkling of a solution. She had vigorously read hundreds of books written by famous and obscure sealing masters, researched thousands of ancient notes from her clan's libraries, and yet, little progress had been made. It had been so unbelievably frustrating.

She had unknowingly adopted the unhealthy habit of wandering away from home to libraries and tea shops to continue her research for hours upon hours, regardless of the well-meaning advice her sister and her teacher kurenai had been constantly giving her.

During the day or night, despite the pouring rain and gelid wind, she would dutifully arrive to a humble tea shop not many people would know about, gently greet the kind old man behind the counter with a grateful smile and order a warm cup of Jasmin tea before taking a seat close to the well-decorated wall.

And she would read and she would study, for hours upon hours, with relentless determination despite her many, many failures. And the old man behind the counter would watch concerned but also proud, because he knew how much effort that beautiful, delicate girl would put into her work in order to help others. And he would watch with his own warm cup of earl grey tea held tightly in his wrinkled, tired hands, until the soft, dim light of early morning would quietly arrive.

She would leave then, but not for long, her unrelenting opal eyes would tell with undisputed certainty, that she would be back the following day or night, despite the pouring rain and gelid wind, and she would read and study, for hours upon hours.

It had been a night not unlike that, that she met…Him.

The Monday night of the 15th, to be more accurate.

She had arrived early that morning, determined to make even the smallest bit of progress on her research. Kiba had been softly reprimanding her, concerned after she had accidentally gotten sick the previous weekend. He and Shino had visited the day before, bringing fruit and Akamaru to cheer her up and make her company.

She had been sincerely grateful, and she had clearly seen the depth of their worry for her. The war had had a powerful impact on many in several different ways, and not everyone had been managing healthily.

But she couldn't allow herself to pause, the goal she had been pursuing, the freedom she could bring the innocent children of her clan, the cleansing of that tragic mark of slavery had been simply too important to remain static.

And she had gone to that same teashop located on the third corner of the 20th ward that lead to the main residential sector, several old scrolls and worn down books safely tucked inside her bags as she stepped inside the humble-looking place.

It had been a day like any day, a cup on warm Jasmin tea resting still against the wooden table on her right, her opal eyes ingrained to extremely advance texts on ancient sealing. So focused was she, time had passed quickly by with her being non the wiser.

Soon enough night had arrived in the company of the pouring rain, heavy droplets colliding ferociously with the old rustic cypress walls. And by midnight the intensity had only increased, the water creating loud echoes around the small establishment.

A fluttering sound near the entrance of the store accompanied by the light jingles of the bells above announced the arrival of another less conventional visitor.

A single opal eye partially hidden by long, silky indigo hair had lifted momentarily to gaze at the new occupant in the room.

Short, damp inky hair, straightened out by the traveling water from the rain had descended softly down his head, long dark bangs framing the sides of a handsome-looking face and full thick locks of obsidian resting plastered between his eyes.

A visage that was vaguely familiar had advanced silently as a trail of water had shallowly formed behind him. Growing slightly curious she had allowed herself to briefly study him.

He had had a pair of sharp, intelligent ebony eyes, a perfect veil of indifference concealing any emotion that could have been considered human. A thin straight nose rested softly and elegantly between symmetrically aristocratic cheekbones and was shielded by the most lustrous marble skin her pearly eyes had ever laid on. His thinly lips and strong jaw held a masculine quality that was ethereally alluring.

He had undoubtedly been a gorgeous man, possessing perhaps the most beautiful face she had ever seen, holding reminiscence to the breathtaking marble statues of the great artists of old.

Indeed, his heavenly looking features would have been recognizable anywhere.

He had been the boy trapped in time, with eyes that relieved the past, with eyes that breached the future. He had been a phantom, neither dead nor alive, simply haunting the lands in miserable eternity, forever silent and unequivocally alone.

It had been his name, the main source of his infamy, the cursed blood running through his dirty veins that damned him in the eyes of the righteous. Or so is what they'd said.

Rumors had been abundant then, his name falling whisperingly from disdainful lips like a malediction. The root of all evil they would say. A leashed war-dog they would gleefully call him. And they would revel, acclaiming the name of the child of the prophecy while simultaneously tarnishing the defeated boy of the demon clan.

She had only heard fragments of such rumors sparingly, finding little interest in the badmouthing of people regardless of their identity.

But what little she had heard, had filled her with heart with burning indignation. She had seen the looks of her sky eyed love and the beautiful cherry-blossom when such comments were uttered in their presence.

If nothing else, it had hurt to see them endure the venomous treatment towards a beloved teammate and friend. And yet she had known it was not her place to meddle.

Having him there with her, inside that cozy, humble tea shop had been fairly surprising.

She had resolved to avoid bothering him and return to the indecipherable puzzle resting untidily when the boy spoke.

A deep, velvety voice lacking emotional inflection had left his thin, seductive lips with a statement more than a request "One black tea"

She had been rather surprised by the serene smoothness of his voice, never having had crossed greetings with the boy of legend in the past.

A paused silence had followed his words, and she had turned curious as to the reason behind it.

The old man Mr. Shiroe, had been holding a severe gaze on the recently arrived boy, a tale of fury and disdain written behind chestnut colored eyes.

Faint displeasure and disappointment had filled her heart at witnessing the kind, fatherly old man who had been so attentive and generous with her show such treatment to someone so unfairly.

Her all seeing eyes had not missed the slight tremble in the old man's form, nor his tight grip of his wrinkled hands.

And the boy knew, she had realized. He could see just as clearly as she had, how unwelcome his presence was to the owner of the little humble tea shop.

"We do not serve your kind here, Demon" the old man had muttered venomously, an irate frown forming in his features even as he trembled in fear and apprehension.

And her heart broke when the lone boy did not outwardly react, because she had realized, how common of an instance it was for him. His hollow eyes did not reflect the anger of a virulent monster, and his teeth did not grow sharp like a frenzied beast. He had just been a boy looking for shelter from the rain, and a cup of warm, well-prepared tea to fight the low temperatures outside.

The boy had stood impassively and she had known somehow, that he would walk away into the rain, that that night would simply be just another night for him, that nothing at all would change.

He was Sasuke Uchiha, the ninja turned traitor, who abandoned his comrades in pursuit of power and allowed himself to succumb to mindless vengeance, he had been the perfect villain to that tragic fairy tale.

Her heart had tightened in her chest, and the lessons and teachings her mother had deeply left with her took rein.

The wooden chair she had been sitting on had scrapped backwards against the stone floor as she had stood, her gentle opal eyes traveling to rest on the old man's surprised visage, her soft melodious voice leaving her mouth in thinly-veiled disappointment "Mr. Shiroe. That was very rude of you!"

A surprised gasp had left his mouth at her sudden intervention "L-lady Hinata!"

She had gracefully approached the counter where they had stood on before turning pleadingly at his chestnut colored eyes "it is not right to be so disrespectful of others" she had said, stealing a glance at the boy by her side holding an indecipherable expression, before turning back to master of the store "He is a person, just like you and me. I know you are better than this Mr. Shiroe" she had whispered so yearningly, to save the man from the agony of hatred, and the ugliness of disdain. To bring back the kind and fatherly old man who had been so attentive and generous with her.

His features had deflated, and his ashamed factions had rested quietly on her pleading face. He had inadvertently shown her an ugly side of him, one he had desperately hoped never to show again. With a partial bow he had taken the money offered by the dark boy and retired to prepare another pot of his delicious tea.

A joyful smile had taken possession of her pretty lips when she had realized her feelings had reached the man behind the wooden counter, when she had caught a tiny glimpse of forgiveness and mending in that much needed world.

"I did not require your assistance" an apathetic velvety voice had drawn her from her thoughts, and she had turned her pearly gaze to the inky haired boy.

She had offered him a candid smile unable to regret her words "I apologize if my involvement was unnecessary. I just did what I thought was right" she had gently said.

It had been a peculiar feeling of undying happiness, of a closer connection to her mother than she had experienced in years, what assaulted her then. Doing the right thing, and being rewarded with other's smiles, it couldn't have possibly been wrong.

She had invited him to share his tea with her as they waited out the rain, and much to her pleasant surprise he had just as easily agreed.

Their meetings had begun from that day onwards, intermittently at first due to the unfamiliarity with one another, but slowly, gradually becoming more recurrent.

And he was so…peculiar. She had often found herself thinking about all the kinds of things he did and said around her.

He was intelligent, more so than she could have possibly imagined. Often times she would present a book for him to read she had previously found interesting and he would comment with insight she never imagined to look for.

He was grumpy, often pretending he wasn't troubled when she had to cancel one of their outings when she was called to the hospital for an emergency.

And he was reckless, fearlessly sneaking past security in her compound to surprise her by her window looking to drag her to a new shop she had been exited about.

And he was funny, in a way he probably wasn't aware of, as he would converse with stray cats when she'd be busy buying groceries.

And he was endearing, with an innocence that only escaped fleetingly from his factions as he would light his fingers with a small flame while reminiscing, when the name of his mother would flow lovingly from his mouth.

Sasuke Uchiha was kind, and strong, and gentle, and passionate, a bookworm, a little socially awkward, an introvert, a little overprotective, and so, so wonderful of a person.

Without meaning to, she had quickly and completely fallen in love with him.

The feelings she had held for the valiant knight with eyes as blue as the very skies had been thoroughly stolen by that dark intense passionate gaze that made her feel as if nothing but her existed before his eyes.

And he, he loved her more than words could express. His crimson gaze had effortlessly severed the chains that were afflicting her people. For her, he would have moved land and see, for her happiness he would have done anything.

And when the seal finally broke, she couldn't hold the elated sobs as she rested on his strong chest. It was gratitude, and love what he inspired in her.

That was the second time she had kissed him, and just like the first time, the sky and starts, and trees and rivers, the sun and moon, and the people around them, everything else but him and her had seemed to vanish far way.

The world was them.

And it was red. Like his beautiful crimson eyes, that would unconsciously alight anytime they rested lovingly on her. Like the paper fan on his back that he had finally worn again, forever proud and honorable. Like the marks of his lips on her skin as he owned all of her and she all of him.

And it was white. Like her all seeing eyes that beheld the dream her dear cousin had so longed for. And it was his skin as she would trace it with her fingers lovingly against the early rays of the morning. Like the innocence in his face that only surfaced when he slept, the tiny glimpses of a broken youth that even then was simply radiant.

And it was black. Like his silky and eternally spiky hair. Like the sound sleep they would experience only in each others arms. Like the black diamond ring he had offered her when he had finally asked her to marry him.

The world was passionate red, and blinding white, and comforting black. It was his warm kisses in the early mornings, his strong arms lovingly caressing her creamy skin. It was his confidence, so overwhelming it made it seem as if nothing was ever unreachable. It was his passion, burning stronger than any flame, inextinguishable like the power beholden to his eyes. It was his voice, whispering eternity in her ears as he would watch her sleep, a promise of forever engraved deeply in his heart. It was the way in which he talked about her, with reverence and gratefulness, and a love so heavy it was difficult to understand. The world was bright, and forgiving, and so indescribably wonderful.

Now seven years later, as she rested softly on her silky bed, with her pride and joy safely tucked in her arms, she kissed her baby's little head and she knew, with complete certainty, the world was her.

Her opal eyes traveled softly to the space beside her, to the figure of the man she had loved for years with as much intensity as back then, if not more.

It had been one long, rainy night in mid-December when the world brought him into her life, when she had promised to love him, to care for him, to support him, every minute of every day for as long as she could draw breath.

Once upon a time she used to dream of fairy tales: but he came along and showed her that fairy tales could never hold a candle to the colors of reality.