Chapter Two: Home
By the time Sasuke had come back home, the sakura petals on the ground had withered and curled in on themselves, the edges tinted brown. If it weren’t for the fact that the scattering of petals was an annual occurrence and had seen them in their original color he would never assumed they came from pink flowers.
Sasuke laid back on the engawa and closed his eyes. The breeze rustled his hair gently and played through the chimes that his mother hung around the patio. A harris hawk cooed softly by his head.
His days were quiet, peaceful.
And utterly boring.
When he had first come home his mother had fussed over him and his father did that awkward thing where he looked at him, opened his mouth and then closed it, nodded his head, and then walked away.
There had been a lot of unwanted attention. The elders of the clan were in an uproar about his summoning.
“Something must be wrong within the family for it to happen twice. The younger one replaced the eldest as heir just to get dragged across the realms by a word weaver!”
Word weaver is what they called her. When Sasuke was younger he imagined witches using giant tapestry needles to enchant objects and cast their spells whenever there was a mention of one.
Sasuke had been curious as all kids were and wanted to ask his older brother all of his questions regarding witches but Itachi never had time for him. He was always with his witch and barely popped home for a visit before he was off again.
No one could imagine that the eldest son was so blind in his devotion to his witch that he would forsake his own family. That Itachi wouldn’t be able to recognize the loss of his freedom.
“Pitiful. All of that loyalty only to have his wings ripped off and abandoned, left for dead.”
Sasuke sighed, inhaling the sweet scent from his mother’s garden and the trees. The calming scents of home helped him ease his mind.
“Mother will get angry if she catches you napping outside again.”
Sasuke cracked an eye open. Itachi stood above him, long strands of his hair falling over his shoulder.
“You’re not still feeling lethargic are you? It’s been a few days since your full power has come back.”
Sasuke had assumed that he would feel energetic once his power was returned to him but instead he was thrown off of his axis and the swift increase in power had left him tired because it had been returned all at once.
And it doesn’t help that what I’m feeling isn’t just my own chakra.
Sasuke had fulfilled his part of the covenant by calling Sakura by her name. The surge of power he felt was immense.
This is me, Sasuke focused on sensing his own chakra, and it’s Sakura as well.
Witches didn’t call it chakra. Izumi had explained that the word they used was mana and that now that he was part of a covenant he shared his power with the witch that summoned him but in a properly balanced covenant he would feel his witch’s power as well.
Sakura was unguarded and open with him in their bond even if she didn’t express it to him verbally. She gave as much of herself as what was expected of him. Heat would crawl up his neck to his face when he thought too hard about how easily she trusted him with her energy.
She was leaving herself bare to him.
“I’m fine now. It’s just relaxing here.”
And it was. Although there was influence of the mundane on their realm because of travelers between the two and witches that migrated to live with their familiars in their world, it was a lot more quiet than the buzz of the mundane realm.
Sakura lived in a crowded city with lots of noise and smells and lights. Home for Sasuke was the quiet of the countryside, of the mountainous range where the Uchiha had always lived. The air was crisp and clean and he could soar the skies as he pleased.
But home was missing something.
“You need to stop hiding from mother.”
Sasuke sighed and looked below him from his perch on a tree. Itachi was at the base of the tree smiling up at him in the way he hated. It was like his brother knew what was on his mind.
It wasn’t that Sasuke didn’t want to be around his mother. He usually spent a majority of his time at home with her, but Shisui had let a comment slip when he came back home that had his mother asking him questions about his time in the realm of the mundane that he would prefer not to discuss.
“Everyone was so worried when you were nowhere to be found,” Mikoto rambled on as she gave her son another check. She spread her fingers along his markings, examining for any disturbances or scars.
Sasuke endured it all, knowing it was best to let her have a moment to check his wings than to deal with her moodiness or shrewd comments from his clan’s elders.
“And you missed hanami this year!”
“Oh, I wouldn’t say he did,” Shisui snickered, sneaking one of the snacks that Mikoto had prepared for Sasuke. “Sasuke had his own personal hanami.”
The back of Sasuke’s neck heated up and his ears flushed red. His mother had taken notice of that and she got a strange glint in her eye.
“What does that mean Sasuke?” Mikoto gripped his shoulders to impeded his possible escape. “The region you were in doesn’t celebrate hanami. At least it’s not part of the culture of the mundane in that region.”
Sasuke could kill Shisui for the comments he made. He was always ready to please Sasuke’s mother and answered her questions as best as she could.
“Pink hair. And named Sakura of all things.”
Mikoto’s eyes had widened in wonder and Sasuke was quick to make an escape. He knew his mother would want to know the identity of the witch that summoned him but Sasuke had wanted to keep it a secret for a bit longer.
He wasn’t ashamed of Sakura but he didn’t want his mother to make his time away something it wasn’t and didn’t want her to make any assumptions about his witch being a girl close to him in age.
Magical connection was what he and Sakura had, nothing more. And he wasn’t going to entertain any fantasies of his mother’s by feeding her any more information about the little witch that summoned him.
It was the third cauldron Sakura had blown up and Shizune had forbidden her from entering her workshop if she was planning on continuing to practice spells in such an enclosed area.
“That didn’t used to happen…”
“You have a mana boost from another source,” Kakashi explained from behind one of his books. He was supervising Sakura’s clean up to make sure she did it the mundane way but he wasn’t going to assist her. “You have great control but you’re used to working with only your own power. It’s time to adjust, kiddo.”
He eyed the ash that Sakura dusted up and threw into a bin.
“And it’s safe to assume that the little bocchama has an affinity for fire considering everything keeps bursting into flames if you’re not paying enough attention.” Kakashi stretched his arms above his head and then relaxed back into his armchair. “I hope there won’t be any other surprises.”
“We can check on that!” Sakura chirped excitedly and pulled blank pieces of parchment. She took out a piece of charcoal made from wood of an oak tree and copied down a few random glyphs.
“Are you sure that’s safe?”
“It’s perfectly safe.” Sakura glared at him before turning back to her sheets of paper and chanted a spell from a text on mana.
The sheets of paper levitated and circled around her.
“If you blow something up I wasn’t here.”
Ignoring him Sakura touched the sheet that had the rune for air and watched it dissolve. She moved onto the sheet with the rune for water and nodded to herself when it remained levitating. She had always been able to perform spells with ease for that element as it was her affinity.
“Hell yeah!” Sakura cheered when the sheet of paper with the rune for lightning remained floating. When she had first done the affinity test it was a sheet that had dissolved.
Unsurprisingly the fire parchment had also remained floating. Kakashi’s assumption was correct. What was surprising was the parchment that read “wood” remained floating as well. The first time she did the test the parchment had taken a while to dissolve giving her false hope but now it remained standing.
“Looks like whatever was blocking that affinity has opened up now that you have a familiar.”
Sakura beamed. This was exactly what she had hoped would happen for her as a witch once she completed the summoning ritual. More affinities made spells easier to cast without forming seals or using other resources.
“Remember to finish cleaning up,” Kakashi’s lazy tone shook her out of her excitement. He was slinking away in his cat form, leaving her behind.
He was there in lieu of her teacher, a supervisor, not to revel in her growth. He wasn’t her familiar and sometimes she forgot that what little attention he offered her was all he could muster to care to give.
Sakura kicked at the ground and pouted before sighing and grabbing the broom and dust pan.
I’m sure Papa will be excited.
The rustling of wings had Sasuke closing his eyes and wishing he could vanish into thin air. He was sure Sakura knew a spell that could assist with that.
“I was going to find you eventually you know.”
“Mother.” Sasuke bowed his head slightly as he greeted Mikoto.
Mikoto’s wings folded behind her and she tucked her skirt neatly underneath her as she took a seat by her son on his perch.
“It’s so quiet here.”
“Yes, that’s how it’s always been.”
Sasuke narrowed his eyes at the way his mother smiled at him. There was a knowing gleam in her eyes that he wasn’t fond of. It was the same look Itachi gave him.
“Our mountain has always been a relaxing and peaceful place.” Mikoto tucked a strand of his hair behind his ear. “But it’s a pretty lonely place when all you have around you are animals and old people.”
“You’re not old, mother.”
“I wasn’t speaking about me.”
His mother pinched his ear in reprimand but rubbed the area to soothe it before letting go. She ran her hand down his wings, brushing her fingers down them and picking out loose, stray feathers.
“It’s okay to miss her.”
“I don’t,” Sasuke said more sharply than he intended.
His denial was quick and his face heated up at the lack of reaction from his mother. She just kept smiling at him in the way he was starting to hate more and more.
“I wish you guys would stop looking at me like that.”
“Like you all know some secret about me,” Sasuke huffed, turning his back to his mother. He rested his head on the trunk of the tree and shut his eyes. No matter how much he tried to will her away with his mind, Mikoto wasn’t going anywhere.
“If it helps, your father seems to be oblivious.”
“When is he not?” Sasuke muttered. There was a smack to the back of his head and he knew he had upset his mother.
“You know he’s preoccupied. He has a clan to lead.”
No one had to remind Sasuke of how busy his father was. Before he was summoned he shadowed his father, learning the responsibilities of a clan head.
A role that was never meant for him but was his future ever since Itachi was stripped of his title of heir.
A role that felt like shackles.
“I didn’t come here to upset you, Sasuke.” Mikoto stroked his hair. “I just wanted to let you know that whatever decision you come to, that it’s okay. We’ll always be your family and we’ll always be home.”
Mikoto sighed and stood up. She spread out her wings, ready to take flight again.
“Even if home just got a little bigger for you.”
“Is it supposed to be like that?”
Sasuke watched as his older brother paused his brush strokes. Itachi looked up and looked outside to the courtyard where Shisui and Izumi were collecting herbs from the garden.
Shisui tucked a daisy behind Izumi’s ear and she giggled. He held up another flower and she nodded her head enthusiastically. Shisui grinned and waved over to Itachi, gesturing for him to join them.
“I don’t know.” Itachi set his brush aside and rose to his feet. “But it’s how I like it.”
Sasuke watched his brother as he joined Shisui and Izumi. Shisui had handed the flower he held previously to Izumi. Itachi bowed his head so that she could reach his ear, and she tucked the jasmine behind it.
When Itachi had been with his original word weaver, he had always looked gaunt and sick to Sasuke. His older brother had always been a quiet person but he was even more withdrawn.
But now when he looked at his brother he was always glowing and although he was still quiet he spoke to him a lot more frequently.
Amongst the tengu to be wingless was shameful, to be as low as the dirt you were forced to always stand on.
But on Itachi, to be wingless looked a lot like freedom.
Sakura woke with a start, dumping her science textbook and scrolls onto the floor. She had fallen asleep sometime in the middle of reading. Whenever she got new books or scrolls she always dove right into them immediately, forgetting everything else around her.
Sasuke was right, she groaned inwardly. I have a problem.
Sakura stretched her arms and legs out, dumping more scrolls on to the floor. She started to kick her duvet and sheets out from under her so she could go back to sleep when there was a soft thump from the room next door.
I swear to God, if Llewelyn is fucking with me again, I’ll stuff him in an unbreakable jar.
Her father’s familiar had a habit of moving furniture around and hiding her belongings in strange places when he got bored.
It would be crossing the line if he decided to mess with Sasuke’s room to prank her.
Even though Sasuke had gone back home, the Haruno family left the extra room where it was. Her parents referred to it as the guest room.
But to Sakura it would always be Sasuke’s room.
Just because all he wanted was to go back home, it doesn’t mean it’s not his room still, she reasoned to herself.
As quietly as possible in order to sneak up on Llewelyn she crept up to the bedroom door and yanked it open.
With one foot on the window sill and the other one ready to step into the bedroom, the winged figure couldn’t have been Llewelyn. And if it was she was going to lock him in a trunk and keep him there for the next year.
He looked just as surprised to see her as she did him but he cleared his throat and in a soft voice called out to her.