The Beast's Symbol

BY : Sasunarufan13
Category: Naruto > Yaoi - Male/Male > Naruto/Sasuke
Dragon prints: 503
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto nor make profit of it. Kishimoto owns it.

Author's note: Henceforth this year shall be known as the Year of Medievalish/Fairy Talish Settings in my writing. I am so sorry, but yes, here's another medievalish themed fic. Because my brain can't shut the hell up with this setting it seems. Many apologies for that. Have this one while I work on my other projects *throws hands up in the air*

Warnings: Dual pov, but Tsunade's for the most part; Alternate Universe; medievalish setting; established slash; referenced MPreg; teeny splash of implied mature content; illiteracy; courting

I hope you'll like this! (And that you're not getting tired of this theme ORL)


The Beast's Symbol

"Hasn't it only been five years since they last chose someone?" Shizune asked hushed as they stood gathered right outside the gates.

"Yes, it has," Sarutobi, their town leader, murmured, thoughtfully releasing the smoke from his pipe. "The pact never stated a particular time period, however."

"No, but only five years seems too short," Inoichi said sharply, crossing his arms. His blond hair glinted in the early morning light as he leant slightly forwards, as if the intensity of his gaze could obliterate the sign in front of them.

"What do you want to do? Draft a letter of complaint?" Tsunade scoffed derisively, cocking her right hip. "Do tell me how that will turn out for you."

He scowled at her before waving at the sign. "You think it's normal that we only got five years before losing somebody else?" he barked.

"What I think doesn't matter," she murmured. "It's your beloved first leader who created the pact with them. Complain at his grave if you don't agree with it."

His scowl deepened, but he turned away from her without further commentary. Not that much else could be said. They could argue and whine for as long as they wanted, rant about the injustice of it all, but it wouldn't change anything.

The creatures from the woods were coming for one of their own again and they wouldn't take no for an answer.

She cast one last look at the small fire, which burnt in a fan like pattern without ever going wild, and turned around, walking through the gates again; her assistant, Shizune, quickly following behind her. The others could deal with putting out the fire; she had patients to see.


Nobody knew how the creatures from the woods looked like or even what kind of creature they were exactly. The only one who might have caught a glimpse from them had been the town founder, Hashirama Senju, and he had taken that secret to the grave.

All they knew was that Hashirama had made a pact with the creatures: in exchange for them offering the town protection against enemies, the town would willingly give up one of their own should one of the creatures show interest in someone. They would alert the town to their intentions by lighting a fire right in front of the gates, the form never changing: a fan burning a bright golden red.

Once the fire appeared, everyone knew that a month from then someone from their town would be taken away, forever to disappear into the woods. The Intended weren't eaten, according to the pact at least, but seemed to fulfil the position of a romantic partner. They would never be seen again, however, and any attempts to seek them out in the woods were in vain, for nobody could ever manage to find the mysterious beings.

Some called them monsters, others called them gods, mystical beings of nature. Whatever they were, they were keen to keep themselves hidden and only ventured out to town in order to find someone to their liking.

In spite of the complete mystery clinging to these creatures and the fact that leaving with them meant never being able to return to their family, Tsunade knew that a lot of girls were secretly dreaming of being one of the chosen ones. Because whatever these unknown beings were, they had access to riches far beyond anyone's imagination. Tsunade could easily recall how five years ago the local artist, Deidara, had been gifted with a pure diamond necklace; the large, rectangular stone hanging down from a silver loop. That had been followed by a large container of fireworks, which had ensured that Deidara had become completely smitten with the being courting him.

Tsunade could even remember how many years ago – it had to be more than twenty years by now, if not longer - a sweet and shy woman named Mikoto had been given a large rug with the intricate patterns of the starry sky woven into it. Even the constellations visible from their town had been worked into it and for a woman fascinated by the night sky, that had been the perfect gift for her.

Whatever these beings were, they apparently took note of the interests of their Intended and ensured that all their presents were tailored to fit the needs and desires of the one they wanted to whisk away.

Just the thought of being able to live the rest of their lives in nothing but luxury had many girls hoping to be the next one to be chosen, though they all full well knew that being chosen meant having to say goodbye to their family and old life forever. Apparently the idea of all that wealth was more than enough to convince these girls to say goodbye to their families.

Throughout the years there had been votes cast, demanding to find a way to abolish the pact and ensure that nobody else from their town would be taken away. The fear of the unknown, however, of not knowing how the creatures would react, whether there would be any form of retaliation, kept the council from actually doing something to put an end to the pact.

And so the pact remained in place and each year went by with everyone wondering how long the creatures would leave them be this time.

Five years was the shortest period of reprieve they had had so far and Tsunade could understand why the council was upset about that. Unless they would find a way to abolish the pact, however, she didn't see the sense in bemoaning their fate. When you lived in this town, you accepted that you or someone else you knew could one day disappear. That was just how it was.

"Do you think it will be a man again this time or a woman?" Shizune mused aloud as she went through their stock of medicine, taking out the bottles which were nearly empty so she could refill them.

"Could go either way," Tsunade answered uninterested, finishing her notes of her latest patient. "Why, are you hoping to be chosen this time, Shizune?"

The younger woman instantly reddened and hastily waved her hands about. "Oh no, god no! No, I don't have any desire to be chosen by these creatures, no matter which luxury they would offer me. I was simply wondering about it, Tsunade-sama. I apologise if I bothered you with my inane question."

"You don't bother me with it," Tsunade sighed, closing her book and placing it into the second drawer of her desk. "I just don't see the point in wondering about it. The chances of being able to guess who'll be chosen is nihil either way. Last time they all thought that Yamanaka girl would be picked, remember?"

Inoichi's daughter had yet to turn twelve at that time, which had made the rumours all the more disturbing. The creatures seemed to be conscious about human age at least, because all the ones who'd been taken before had been adults or on the cusp of adulthood. They hadn't taken a mere child so far and Tsunade was hoping it would remain like that. She couldn't stomach the thought of a young child being turned into some creature's spouse.

"Oh yes," Shizune said and grimaced, echoing her mistress' disgust. "All because she inherited her mother's beauty. I'm glad for her sake that she wasn't chosen; a child that young …" She shuddered.

Tsunade nodded. "Exactly. So far everything seems to indicate that these beings are at least conscious of human ages, so I doubt we'll have to worry that they're choosing a child this time."

"I suppose," Shizune murmured and returned back to checking the vials. "I just feel sorry for the family who will have to say goodbye at the end of this month. When it comes to something like this, I often question whether it wouldn't be easier if these creatures only went after orphans instead. Less hearts would be broken that way, I think."

Tsunade glanced out of the window, watching a young blond boy hurrying down the street with a basket of berries. "Perhaps, though I believe at least one heart will always be broken."


As the days went by, it became clear rather quickly that something wasn't right. Even though the fire had been lit outside the gates, nobody seemed to be courted. By now the person in question should have received at least two gifts already, yet no one came forth to announce they were the Intended this time.

"Perhaps it was just a joke?" Shikaku suggested but the look on his face said he didn't believe his own words.

Sarutobi shook his head. "Not likely. Everyone in this town knows this is not something to joke around with. The fire was a clear sign that one of the creatures has its eye on one of the townspeople. The question remains why this person hasn't come forward yet."

Tsunade swallowed back the loud sigh which threatened to escape her. Had they really called a council meeting just because it was unknown so far who the person being courted was? She had more important things to do than to sit here and gossip like some old bitty about why someone was unwilling to give up their privacy.

"Maybe this person just isn't ready to shout from the rooftops that they're going to leave at the end of this month," Kakashi remarked lazily, leaning back in his chair with his arms crossed. "Can't really blame them considering how obsessed everyone suddenly is with this news."

"People want to know who they'll be saying goodbye to in a couple of weeks," Umino remarked wearily. The headmaster of their local school was seated right next to his husband and while Kakashi dipped his head in acknowledgement, his look of exasperation didn't change.

"As I said: perhaps if people stopped making such a huge ruckus about this, then this person would feel comfortable admitting to it," he said and from the look on Umino's face, this seemed to be an argument they had had before in the privacy of their own home.

The brown haired man huffed, but surprisingly remained silent. The current exam period must be hell for him if he couldn't even work up the energy to keep arguing with Kakashi as the couple was wont to do at times during council meetings.

It had made Tsunade wonder more than once how those two had ever ended up together, given that they were as different as night and day.

"But why keep it a secret?" Inoichi persisted, resting his elbows on the table. "The previous Intended didn't have issues with admitting he was being courted."

"Deidara mostly didn't mind that because he thought it was hilarious how angry some of the girls became," Sasori, the local pharmacist, pointed out dryly. "He had no trouble admitting he was being courted because he knew it would drive other people mad that they weren't chosen."

And yes, that did sound like the blond haired man Tsunade had occasionally treated in the past when he had become a bit too enthusiastic in developing his own fireworks. He hadn't been a spiteful person by any means, but he had been very mischievous and she could easily imagine him proudly showing off his gifts all because he knew it would make girls green with envy.

"Well, if this is everything that's on the agenda, might I suggest we wrap it up?" Tsunade said, barely supressing the bored tone in her voice. "We can spend hours speculating who is being courted, but we won't know for sure until he or she comes forward with it. Until that time, I suggest we spend our energy on more useful things."

"I definitely can think of a couple of things that require my energy more," Kakashi muttered; his eyes quickly darting towards Umino.

His seemingly innocent remark had him quickly flinching and hissing however as Umino apparently kicked him underneath the table, throwing him a warning glare.

"The meeting is adjourned for now," Sarutobi announced. "We'll meet again in a fortnight."

"As long as it isn't about the courting again," Tsunade muttered underneath her breath.

She went through the obligated motion of telling everyone goodnight and stepped outside; a chorus of chirping crickets greeting her. It was the middle of August and still fairly warm even this late at night. There was nary a breeze as she set off to her house, the stars twinkling faintly above her. Her house bordered on the edge of the forest and she stood still for a moment, watching the dark shadows of the trees hovering like an ominous cloud behind her home.

Pressing her lips together, she went inside so she could get ready to go to bed. Tomorrow was another day.


The end of the month neared, with only three more days to go until one of the creatures would show up to whisk their Intended away, and still no one had come forwards to announce they were being courted. More and more people started to think that someone had dared to make a joke after all, that the fire had been lit by one of their own, but if that was the case, the prankster was remarkably well at keeping his or her composure, for no one cracked and admitted it had all just been a joke.

The identity of the mysterious Intended was all the town could talk about, it seemed. Wherever Tsunade went, whether it was to the market to buy groceries, to a patient's house to heal them, to Sasori's pharmacy to receive a new shipment of medicine, all she heard was people gossiping about who could possibly being courted now and why did they not come forward?

Some girls had attempted to stake the claim of being the Intended, but their ruse was over the second someone demanded to see at least one gift. Tsunade didn't understand the town's obsession with this particular courtship. What did it matter who the Intended was? Were they working themselves up in a tizzy all because the Intended was refusing to announce themselves?

Honestly, she was disappointed in their lack of maturity. She had expected better from most people in town. That the young girls were gossiping about the courtship, fine, she didn't expect anything better from them, but adult women? Yes, she did have higher expectations of them, yet only encountered gossip whenever she spoke with them.

Even the men were not immune to the wondering and gossiping, nudging each other and grinning like buffoons as they questioned loudly who the "poor bastard or woman" was this time.

The ruckus and the gossiping had Tsunade feeling relieved every evening she could go home, lock the door, and revel in the soothing silence of her house. She couldn't wait until the month was over and the person had been taken away by the creature. She would feel sorry for the family, but by god if the gossiping wasn't getting on her nerves!

She had just settled in her bed with a cup of tea, ready to wind down after a long day of treating snotty brats and injured hands from accidents during the harvest, when someone knocked on the front door.

She placed her tea on the small nightstand and stilled, pinching the bridge of her nose. Perhaps if she didn't react, then they might leave her in peace. Obviously it wasn't anything urgent given that she couldn't hear any panicked voices or screams of pain.

There was another series of knocks and then a muffled voice calling out, "Tsunade-baa-chan, are you here? I need your help!"

That particular voice had her swinging her legs out of bed again and she hurriedly pulled on her robe, stuffing her feet in her slippers. Holding her robe closed, she hastened downstairs and unlocked her door.

"Are you hurt?" she demanded, giving the young boy in front of her a cursory look.

The blond boy blinked and appeared startled, looking down at his thin orange shirt and his threadbare shorts which had definitely seen better days. There was a smudge of a fading bruise right below his left knee and some faint scratches on his right arm, but he didn't appear like he was in need of immediate medical care.

"Oh no, but I need your help with this letter," Naruto replied and waved a folded piece of paper in the air. He shuffled with his feet and his cheeks reddened when he admitted shyly, "I, erm, I tried to read it but I can't really understand it." He ducked his head down, flushing even harder.

She stared at him, befuddled at the odd request.

Uzumaki Naruto was one of the few orphans in their town, having lost his parents to a house fire when he'd been only five years old. He'd wandered around the town after that, shepherded from one family to the other, but none of them had been eager to take care of him, all claiming to have their hands full with their own children. He had ended up with old man Aki, learning how to do some farming and growing flowers. The old man had passed away when Naruto had been fourteen and the blond had lived in the small house ever since, getting by with helping out during the harvest and other odd jobs.

He was about to turn seventeen this year, but with being shipped back and forth he had never had the opportunity to attend school and therefore had never learnt how to read or write either. She had offered to teach him when he had helped her out in the beginning of the year with keeping her home tidy after she'd been hit with a nasty bout of flu.

He'd accepted her offer eagerly but with her long days as the only doctor in town and him performing odd jobs to make ends meet, they hadn't managed to get far in their reading and writing lessons yet.

"The letter is for you?" she inquired curiously. She didn't mean for the question to sound offensive, but she had no idea who would write to Naruto when he didn't appear to have any close connections.

"Yes, see, it has my name on it," he said and pointed out the elegant writing at the front of the letter. "I know how to read my name even when it's written in this fancy handwriting," he added pleased.

She smiled at him indulgently and beckoned him inside. "All right, come in. I'll read it for you."

"Thank you!" he chirped and slipped past her, plopping down on the pillow when she gestured for him to take a seat at the table in the living room.

"Let me take a look," she murmured and opened the letter; curiosity flaring up in spite of herself.

What she read next had her staring at the letter in silence for a long time, wondering if she was somehow dreaming this scene instead. This had to be a dream of sorts, because there was no way this letter was saying what it was saying.

'My love,

For twenty-eight days I have been courting you and the end is drawing near. In three days' time I'll arrive at your doorstep with one question on my lips: will you be mine?

I dearly hope your answer will be favourable for I desire nothing but to make you happy for the rest of our lives together.

I will see you in three days' time when the moon is at her fullest.

Take care.

Love,

S.'

"Baa-chan?" Naruto leant across the low table, eyeing her curiously. "What does it say? Is it something bad?" A hint of worry crept in his voice.

"Bad …" she paused and folded the letter. Linking her hands together, she rested them on the paper and looked at him solemnly. "Naruto, have you been in regular contact with someone? Someone whose name starts with an S?"

He lit up immediately, a bright grin gracing his mouth. "Yeah! I met him when I was collecting berries in the woods at the beginning of this month! He's really nice to me and has given me several gifts! I can't tell you his name, though, because he says he doesn't want a stranger knowing it." He looked at her apologetically.

"That's fine, that doesn't matter to me," Tsunade said, waving off the apology. She had heard everything she needed to confirm her suspicion. "Naruto, do you know about the pact our town made long ago with the creatures from the woods?"

"A pact? What's that?" He wrinkled his nose.

He didn't know anything about it. Her heart felt heavy with the realisation. No wonder nobody in town knew who the Intended was this time: the person in question was an orphan very few people cared about and who had no idea what he had got himself into.

And even if he had known, would anyone have believed him? She reflected on that question and decided that no, most likely nobody would have believed him if he had announced he was being courted. All those gossipers had been wondering which one of the women or the men from well to do families had been chosen. None of them had ever stopped to consider that the Intended this time could be very well the same orphan they had chosen to ignore for years.

Now it fell on her to inform Naruto that he would be taken away in just three days.

"You know that our first town leader was a man named Senju Hashirama?"

He nodded in confirmation, cocking his head to the right a bit. Blue eyes flickered towards the letter for a moment as if wondering what their former town leader had to do with the letter he'd received.

"Well, in order to gain protection for our town against enemies that might arise, he made a promise with the creatures from the woods," she continued, her nails digging into the back of her hands. "Nobody knows how these creatures look like or what they even are. All we know is that in exchange for their protection, they are allowed to choose someone from our town as their romantic partner when they're ready to take one."

"Okay," he said slowly, clearly not connecting the dots yet.

"When they're ready to take a partner, they let us know by lighting up a fire in front of the gates," she went on and licked her lips. "The creature has one month to court the person they like. At the end of the month the creature appears and takes this person away with them. And – they're never seen again."

"Courting … What is that?"

"It means that the creature gives presents to the one they like," she answered softly and this time his eyes did light up in recognition.

"Oh, like he's doing now? He's courting me?" he asked awed, pointing at his chest.

"Yes, he is. And in this letter he says that in three days' time, he'll appear at your house and he'll ask you whether you'll – whether you'll be his partner," she said, pursing her lips. "He says he hopes your answer will be yes and that he'll take you with him then."

She hesitated, wondering if she should leave it at that, but then sighed and added, "He also says he wants to make you happy for the rest of your lives together – if you say yes to him."

"Oh." He looked down at the letter; a whole myriad of emotions flitting across his face. "So … if I say yes … that means I can't stay here?"

"No, Naruto, if you say yes, you'll leave with him and you can't ever return," she said quietly; something in her chest tugging at her own words.

He nibbled on his lower lip. "Is this the same place where Deidara-san went to a couple of years ago? Will I see him there?"

"I don't know how big their place is," she admitted. "Perhaps you'll see him there, perhaps you won't. As I said, we barely know anything about these creatures."

"Do you think I should say yes?" he asked after a pause, fiddling with his fingers. His eyes remained downcast, fixated on the letter.

She hesitated again, mulling over the question. A part of her wanted to tell him he should refuse; it was the part that rebelled at seeing him disappear forever, at losing him when he was finally starting to find his place in their town. It was the part that hated how much they relied on the creatures, that wanted nothing more than for them to finally leave the town alone and seek their partners elsewhere.

The other part in her, however, remembered all too well how difficult Naruto's life had been so far, how even after nearly seventeen years he was still struggling to find his place in their town. It reminded her that it would be better, perhaps, for Naruto to leave with someone who could really make him happy, to make a home in a place that hadn't spat him out the second he'd been thrown out of the window of his burning house by his mother, mere seconds before she would succumb to the flames.

It reminded her that it wasn't up to her to make life-changing decisions for the boy.

"I think," she said, "that you should decide whether you can be happy with him or not."


On a whim she stopped by Naruto's place on the first of September, early in the morning, feeling uncharacteristically restless.

Nobody was home.

She guessed he had made his decision last night. She cast one last look at the furnished home, devoid of the last owner it had had, and uttered a soft sigh.

"Wherever you are, Naruto, I hope you'll be happy."


Two years later

"Don't even know why she bothered pleading for an apprenticeship when her head is clearly filled with boys, rather than medical knowledge," Tsunade muttered darkly, wading through the thick bushes, searching for the herb she had ordered Haruno to get before her lesson would start.

She had arrived empty-handed and with a fierce blush staining her cheeks while admitting embarrassedly that she had lost track of time after talking with the painter's apprentice.

Two weeks ago it had been Hyuuga's cousin and the month before that a boy she'd met on a market in the next town over. Each and every time she became so distracted by them that she forgot to complete her assignments or forgot to bring specific herbs or plants Tsunade ordered her to collect.

The doctor had already decided that the pink haired girl was treading on very thin ice. One more mistake and she could say goodbye to her apprenticeship. Tsunade had no need for airheaded girls who were more interested in boys than in curing people.

"Where is it? I could have sworn it grew somewhere around here," she muttered annoyed, searching through the tall grass.

Something moved in the distance.

Surprised, she looked up, wondering who else from the town had wandered this far into the woods, and froze when she realised who it was.

As she stood there, heart thudding fast in her chest, brown eyes wide with both disbelief and wonder, she watched how a dark haired man, as pale as the snow covering the forest during the winter, helped a blond man step onto a couple of rocks to cross the brook.

The blond boy – no, a man now, it had been two years now, hadn't it? – was clutching onto the dark haired man's hands, looking down as he carefully stepped onto the first rock. His powder blue tunic did nothing to hide the obvious swelling of his stomach and she told herself that he must have been eating a lot to get that big, but then he cupped his stomach in a way she'd only seen expecting women do, and well, he was together with a creature, who knew what they were capable of?

He looked happy, though, even when gazing at him from afar, and that knowledge settled something in her even when at the same time, some tears escaped, drawing a hot trail down her cheeks.

She hadn't thought she would ever get to see him again, the creatures unwilling to let their partners return, but here he was, shuffling over rocks while grinning at something the creature said to him.

Then they were on the other side of the brook, the dark haired man resting a hand on Naruto's back and they started walking away, deeper into the woods.

Her breathing hitched when the creature suddenly turned his head around and for a brief moment, black eyes locked onto hers. She froze, afraid she had trespassed even though she hadn't intended to do that, but the creature slowly inclined his head in a nod, as if in gratitude.

Then the trees swallowed them up and the couple disappeared from view instantly.

And though she hadn't even got the chance to say something to Naruto, she nevertheless went back home happy.

Filled with a sense of peace at knowing that Naruto was happy after all.


"Is there something wrong?" his spouse inquired curiously; one hand clutched around his and the other one rubbing his rounded belly in which he'd been housing their first child for six months already.

Sasuke looked forwards again, allowing the forest to shield them from the woman's eyes. Normally neither he nor any of his family would allow a human to see them or their spouses, but this woman had been an exception for once.

He hadn't forgotten that it was partly due to her help that Naruto had said yes to him and while he hadn't gone out of his way to thank her, he figured showing her that Naruto was fine would show his gratitude all the same.

One glimpse was all she would get, though. He had no desire to have their place be trampled all over by noisy humans, so hopefully she would appreciate what she had seen.

"No, nothing's wrong," he smiled and kissed his mouth. "Just making sure you didn't drop your ring into the water again," he added teasingly.

Naruto blushed a beautiful pink instantly and huffed, squeezing Sasuke's hand. "That was one time!" he protested and lifted his hand bearing the aforementioned ring up in the air, letting the daylight catch onto the golden material. "And see! I didn't lose it!"

"No, you didn't; you're getting better at keeping it on," Sasuke smirked, changing into dark smoke briefly when Naruto went to punch him.

"Oh, that's cheating!" Naruto pouted.

"The only way I can be fast enough still to avoid your retaliation," Sasuke chuckled, taking on his regular form again.

"I am getting better, aren't I?" Naruto said pleased and his eyes glittered when he darted forwards to kiss Sasuke. "But that's because I've got a great teacher."

"Is that so?" Sasuke hummed and drew him closer by his hips. "Well, I'm glad you appreciate my teaching skills."

"Amongst other skills," Naruto grinned and then moaned softly when their mouths met again in a deep kiss.

Visiting his brother and his family could wait, he decided as he thrusted into Naruto's all too willing body, relishing in the loud moan he elicited in the process. He had a mate to please first.

They had all the time of the world now anyway.

The End


AN2: This grew out way longer than I thought it would. Hope it wasn't too bad!

Please leave your thoughts behind in a review; should you spot any mistakes, please point them out to me.

I hope to see you all back in my future stories! Please stay safe and take care of yourselves!

Cuddles

Melissa



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