Sending you forget me nots
To help me to remember
Baby please forget me not
I want you to remember
Forget me nots - Patrice Rushen
There are wounds that mark us, that leave visible and terrible scars. There are others that just exist deep within us, wounds that we keep in the depth of our hearts, wounds easy to hide that always come back to us unconsciously.
Some call them memories.
For Izuku, the memory comes in the spring, when the buds open and the fields are painted with yellow, red, blue, green and lilac colors… The view is beautiful, filled with color, life and an everlasting hope. However, it takes just one look at them for him to feel the weight of the memory come back at full strength.
Every spring, when the flowers rise once again, Izuku sits down to gaze at them—he closes his eyes and inhales the aroma, trying to recognize every piece separately. At the beginning he cried, the sight of the flowers was enough for Izuku to run in the opposite direction until he collapsed on the ground and broke into uncontrollable sobs. With the pass of time, he taught himself how to suppress that first reaction and managed to gather sufficient strength to sit in the fields, surrounded by flowers and memories.
He just needed to breath in the scent of the forest to remember his parents.
The white heliotropes were born on his mother’s left ankle and climbed upwards until they hid beneath her dress. When Izuku was a child he used to sit at her feet to count the flowers, to slide his baby fingers down the impossible stretch of green stems and tiny petals. They were illustrated in a bright white color, the symbol of purity and care.
And it was absolutely wonderful that his father also possessed a white flower in his right hand. It was a beautiful magnolia, with raindrop shaped petals and a tiny yellow center that highlighted the flower’s soft whiteness. From there, the row of green branches filled with small white magnolias were spread through his forearm and ended on his elbow, none as splendorous and magnificent as the one that shone on the back of his hand.
They were the village’s healers. They had a room next to their house where they treated colds, falls, wounds, bites, births and all the ailments every inhabitant of their town could possibly have.
Izuku could sit for hours in a corner of the room while his father diagnosed flus and treated wounds. He could spend whole afternoons with his mother grinding plants and seeds to replenish their shelves. He learned to identify the plants by their leaves, by the color of their flowers. For him, it was like a game to sit at the end of his parent’s feet, blindfolded while trying to recognize the concoctions only by the aroma.
He will always remember the day he wished he could be like them, the day he wished to save the world–he was four years old and his best friend Katsuki fell from a tree, breaking his arm in the process. Izuku remembers that it was him who cried all the way back while the blond, pale as a magnolia, clenched his teeth and grumbled lowly.
His parents did not utter a single scream, nor did they panic; his mother hurried to bring bandages, water and medicine and his father lifted Katsuki from the ground muttering words of encouragement and calmness. Izuku approached the work table, and although he did not dare to take hold of his friend’s hand, he approached as much as possible hoping to offer comfort.
That day, Izuku dreamt of receiving a white flower. That day, Izuku dreamt of being capable enough to heal everyone, to save everyone.
Izuku does not need to try too hard to evoke the scent of lily and honeysuckle. He just needs to inhale deeply so that all the aromas of the forest would infiltrate through his nostrils and flood his body with freshness, bringing back the delicate scent of his old home.
He stays there for a long time, thinking and remembering that time is diluted between his fingers. By the time he comes back to his senses the sun had already begun its descent. The wind blows softly, preserving the warmth of the day, but it will not take long before it starts gusting with cold violence, so Izuku sighs and gets up.
When he returns home Tokoyami had already finished lighting the fire and was amusing himself by cleaning the rabbits that will become their dinner. Izuku is about to apologize for his lateness when he sees them—a bouquet of red shafts protruding from a bunch of other flowers.
Something inside Izuku cracks.
“I brought more,” Tokoyami says, pointing to the pile of flowers. “You’re running out of lotion.”
Izuku smiles, although from the way Tokoyami’s eyebrows frown he thinks his face gesture might be closer to tears than anything else.
“Is something wrong—?”
“No!” Izuku shouts without letting him finish. “No,” he repeats more calmly, approaching with uncertain steps. “Thanks.”
Mitsuki Bakugou wore a red sarashi that allowed her to exhibit the flowers, of a cherry red color, that extended by all her back and nape.
She had won the title as the best fighter for five years in a row. She knew how to fight, she sailed, and she had an amazing ability with knives. She was blonde and fierce, tall and noisy; Izuku loved to sit and watch her while teaching defense classes for the young alpha.
“Stop drooling over my mother, Deku.” Katsuki used to say when he saw his face of adoration.
“Kacchan, your mother is amazing.”
His friend’s answer was a pinch. “I’d be even more.” He grunted between his teeth as he turned to leave.
Izuku followed him trying to apologize. He knew Katsuki did not stand comparisons. He did not like to be a diminutive version of anyone, not even his own mother.
Izuku turns away from the flowers and ends up helping with dinner. They sat down to eat in an unusual silence, because after all, the boy does not have the strength to talk about his day, nor does he feel like asking questions.
“Midoriya,” Tokoyami’s voice wakes him up from his trance and Izuku redirects his gaze to him.
The bird-faced boy looks at him for a long moment. Izuku smells the questions that are hidden under the silence, yet he is careful not to say anything and limits himself to studying the soft surface of the black feathers and the way the firelight dances on his beak. Finally, the boy sighs and murmurs:
“It’s getting late, I’d better go. Do you need anything else?”
Izuku smiles without making any movement to get up.
“I’m fine, thanks.” He says softly. “Will you come tomorrow?”
“Thanks for everything, Tokoyami.”
“See you later, Midoriya.”
Tokoyami gets up and Izuku turns his attention back to his bowl. He pretends to eat while listening to the other boy picking up his stuff; he hears him walking away, his sturdy footsteps fade until the only sound he catches are the crackles of the fire. Only then, Izuku looks back at the flowers.
A gentle breeze shakes the red petals. If you squint your eyes, the flowers lose definition and become a blur of scarlet. A long, slender blur—like a sword.
Nobody got surprised when the noisy son of the village’s best warrior proudly showed the flower of a red gladioli that had bloomed just above the bone that joins the arm to the chest.
The small flower was just about the size of his mother’s thumb, yet it possessed a crimson hue that was inevitably associated with strength, passion and perseverance. The gladiolus was also one of the most beautiful flowers—it represented vanity, strength of character, honor and fidelity. They were the absolute symbol of victory, because once they started to grow they would soon acquire the shape of a sword, long and red.
The complete set undoubtedly made Katsuki Bakugou an alpha.
Izuku remembers with perfect clarity the day he saw the red flower on his friend’s chest. He remembers the bright color and the small dark lines that sprouted just from the center. They were red like the eyes of his owner, red as the sky at dawn. The scarlet color it possessed was extremely radiant.
Izuku remembers the touch, soft and firm, he recalls the delicate smoothness of the skin in contrast to the firm bone that was underneath. He remembers that he spent days dreaming of red petals on a background of alabaster skin.
The sound of an owl wakes Izuku from his trance, only then is when he notices his half-empty bowl with the remains of rabbit cooked in the bottom.
He picks up the remains of his food and buries them, then he cleans the bowls. Instead of going to his bed, the boy goes to his bag where he keeps the last notebook in his collection. He sits by the fire and tries to sketch the shape of the flowers.
He is not surprised when his first drawing turns out to be a gladiolus flower and not a baladre flower, but it bothers him that his sketch lacks life. He spends hours drawing, trying to capture the faint and almost hypnotic movement of the leaves. Dissatisfied, he takes the paintings from his bag and tries to make his drawing possess the ferocity of that red, the strength, the brilliance that he remembers.
Frustrated, Izuku tears the page, wrinkles it and throws it away. As far as he can. He feels anger and frustration intensely on his pulse. To fight them, he sits next to the flower bouquet and begins to defoliate each of them, separating the petals in different bowls, but his anger fades when he sees the handful of flowers he has in his hands. It just takes to look at them to feel he can see them all again: heliotropes, magnolias, gardenias, roses, daisies, blood red gladioli… all of them and more dancing around him, showing the strength and beauty of their owners.
Izuku takes a breath, his hands full of broken flowers; he would laugh at the irony but the idea is too painful.
“You’ve done this before,” he tells himself, trying to resume the task.
But it is useless. He cannot stop thinking about heliotropes, magnolias and gladioli. He cannot stop seeing them broken and destroyed. All the flowers are gone, and he does not even have a flower on his body to console himself with.
All the children of his age received their flowers almost at the same time. All with the exception of Izuku.
Izuku spent weeks studying his body with attention, waiting for the flower that would define his life, but when it came, it was not what he had been waiting for. It passed while he was bathing. There was another group of children with him and it was one of them who shouted “Omega” loudly.
Izuku turned around looking for the source of the noise and when he saw the finger pointing in his direction he turned around expecting to find someone behind him. There was no one and it was then that he understood. He covered his belly with his hands and ran to his house.
He did not even care that he left his clothes behind.
He arrived breathless. With his body still wet, he dove inside the consulting room where his father attended to his patients. Both were stunned to see him naked, but his mother immediately recognized his scent and ran towards him with a blanket in her arms. Izuku clung to her with his heart pounding in his throat.
That night, his mother held a mirror in front of him so that he could appreciate his mark. To the right of his hip were three thin and elongated leaves—there were no flowers and only those leaves of intense green color. The two at the ends were extremely thin, like fine needles, and the one in the center was a little thicker with a circle; no bigger than a fingernail, dark green at the tip.
“And the flower?” Izuku asked slightly disenchanted with the lack of color on his skin.
“They will appear soon.” His mother said, moving away the mirror and preparing the bandages for him. “Sometimes they take time to bloom.”
“But what flower is it?”
Izuku looked at his mother with a frown.
“That is not a flower. It’s a medical plant,” murmurs the six-year-old boy, trying to contain the panic. He does not even protest when his mother starts wrapping his hips with the bandages.
“The fennel is a plant that is used in medicine and it is also used in the kitchen as a flavoring. It grows in countless places and is resistant to many climates. It is a good plant for an omega.”
“The fennel isn’t a flower.” Izuku stubbornly repeats, feeling small and useless.
“The fennel has a yellow flower. It is small and adorable, but it takes time to appear. It will eventually come, it’s not something you should worry about. Now pay attention, have you seen how I just put on you the bandages? Because now you will have to do it on your own."
Izuku muttered a protest.
“Why do I have to use bandages if I don’t have a flower?”
It was well known that although alphas and betas could display their flowers with pride, omegas used to cover their bellies and stomachs, to prevent anyone other than their partner from seeing them.
“The flower will come, Izuku, stop worrying about it. Now I’m going to take off the bandages and it will be your turn to try, okay?”
While his mother was dealing with the jumble of bandages, Izuku took the mirror and stared at his brand again. He was six years old and could not stand the bright green vision without flowers of any kind, so he took the bandages that his mother tended and wrapped his hips and stomach. The first time they were loose, the second one he squeezed them too much, on the third the knot broke while walking, but Izuku continued again and again until the bandages stayed in place. He was not willing to let anyone see his leaves without flowers.
Who would love a flowerless?
“Everything will be fine, Izuku.” His mother murmured as she smelled his anguish.
Izuku embraced her and let himself be cooed by her sweet and warm words. He tried not to think that he would have preferred to be a beta, like his father, or an alpha, like his best friend. Someone who could have a gorgeous and dazzling flower to brag about.
Izuku leaves the flowers, unable to continue touching them, and gets up to pick up the piece of paper with a grunt of anger. He lights his oil lamp and makes sure to put out the fire before entering the cave. He takes off the bandages that cover his stomach and tries to not look at the web of green leaves that spread across his belly while he turns off the light. In the dark, he wraps himself in the blanket with his eyes open—in his mind he does not stop seeing the image of flowers shattered between his fingers.
Izuku does not cry, he has long since run out of tears, but the lament that grows inside him threatens to explode all the walls he has built carefully over time. He concentrates on his breathing, gropes for the ball of paper he dropped near his pillow, and as soon as he grabs it he clings to it and closes his eyes trying to sleep.
At some point he dreams; or rather, recalls.
Izuku shook the water from his face and moved away from the river, into the forest. As soon as the rest of the children’s voices become a distant buzz, Izuku lowers his bag and began to unwrap his wet bandages.
“Why don’t you bathe with the other omegas?”
Izuku jumped and turned around with his heart pounding in his throat.
“Kacchan!” He screamed when he saw the blond standing behind him, as he struggled to redo the knot in his hip. “What are you doing?”
“Why don’t you bathe with the other omegas?”
Izuku clenched his mouth tight. There was a private pond that the omegas used to bathe without worrying about other people’s looks. Children and adults would bathe in the river, in the lake, or on the beach, always wearing their bandages; but on the pond they could undress completely and enjoy a bath in relative peace. Izuku has already had his mark for a year and a half, yet he had never gone to the pond with the other omegas.
“It’s none of your business!” Izuku shouted, feeling miserable. “Now go away!”
“What is your problem?!” Katsuki approached and extended his hand to the knot at his waist, “Do you perhaps have a flower so ugly that you don’t want anyone to see it?”
Izuku reacted with anger. He slapped the hand away from the knot vigorously and backed away, he felt the tears burning in his eyes.
“You cannot see it!”
“Haah? Why not?!”
“Your alpha is going to see it.”
“But you are not them!”
Izuku spun around and ran; behind him he heard Katsuki scream.
“Hey, Deku! Come back here!”
But Izuku kept running, he could not bear to think what his friend would say if he discovered that there was no flower on his body.
All the spring festivals were held at the capital, five days away. That, together with the fall feast, were the two most significant events that brought together all the inhabitants of the island. The villages sent their best warriors to participate in the tournaments, the artisans sold the works done during the winter, the different couples of newlyweds could request the blessing of the priestess… The activities were as varied as they were extravagant.
Izuku was eight years old when his mother agreed to let him attend the festival.
“Don’t stay away from your group,” his mother repeated for the umpteenth time while Izuku finished putting sandwiches in his travel bag.
“Remember to take a change of bandages,” his father advised, as he handed him a wineskin filled with water along with another set of bandages.
The adults embraced and kissed their son until it was he who moved away from them to stand next to Katsuki.
“He will be fine,” said Mitsuki Bakugou, smiling confidently. “Masaru will come with us and he will take care of the children.”
Izuku said his goodbyes to them and joined the travel caravan. That day, he refused to get on one of the carts and preferred to walk with Mitsuki, asking all kinds of questions. The woman answered each of them with a smile, and at no time seemed to get fed up with him.
At night, Izuku tried to put his blanket next to Katsuki’s, but his friend got up and began to fold his blanket.
“My mother is there,” the blond muttered as he pointed to his parents’ little tent. “You can sleep next to her bed.”
Izuku gaped at him while he carried his things to the other side of the campfire, he saw him settle while turning his back on him. Feeling abandoned, Izuku bit his lip and looked around. Most couples, such as Mitsuki and Masaru, had retreated to their tents. Young people and children slept by the fire, all of them under the care of the sentinels stationed around the perimeter. With nowhere else to go, Izuku curled up and tried to sleep.
He woke up at some point of the night because of the howl of an animal. He stood still, expecting to hear movement or voices, but there was no noise and the absence of it aroused his uneasiness. He knew that the sentinels were taking care of the camp and he also knew he was safe, but he could not stifle the feeling of fear that was beginning to grow in him. Not wanting to attract anyone’s attention, Izuku circled the campfire and approached Katsuki.
“Kacchan.” He shook him slowly, murmuring his name next to his ear. “Kacchan, wake up.”
The blond boy shook himself and turned to him, alert and on guard; as soon as his senses caught the aroma of Izuku, his body relaxed.
“What do you want, Deku?”
“Can I sleep with you?”
“What? No, if you are afraid go with my mother. Haven’t you spent all day jumping and smiling for her?”
He tried to imprint on his voice all the urgency and fear that he felt at that moment, and it seemed to have worked, because Katsuki wrinkled his nose and took his blanket to place it next to him.
“Stop crying—and control that scent or you will wake everyone up.”
Izuku settled down next to him, wrapped himself in his blanket and arranged his head so that his forehead was as close as possible to Katsuki’s shoulder. He then inhaled the scent of peace and safety emanating from him, and was rocked with the sound of his breathing; he was almost asleep when he heard the soft whisper of his voice.
“You aren’t going to marry my mother.”
Izuku smiled with his eyes closed, “I don’t want to marry your mother.”
“Then why are you always drooling for her?”
“Because she’s wonderful.”
Silence spread through his body and Izuku let himself be carried away by the warmth and calm of the moment. The dream was there, so close he would have been able to touch it if he stretched his hands, and just before crossing the threshold into unconsciousness, he was able to hear Katsuki clearly.
“More than me?”
With his last flash of consciousness, Izuku muttered. “No one is better than Kacchan.”
“What are you doing?”
Izuku looked up from his sketchbook and watched as Katsuki sat next to him.
“Have you finished training, Kacchan?”
“Why else would I be here then? …You didn’t come to see the training today; my mother asked about you.”
“Really? Oh, I should apologize to her tomorrow.”
“Don’t do it!” Katsuki leans towards him and looks at the object that Izuku held in his lap. “What’s that?”
Izuku smiles and shows it to him.
“My father has gifted me a notebook.”
“He told me that I can start registering the plants I already know. I can draw them and write down their properties and qualities, the uses they have and their benefits.”
“But he already has books on that.”
“Those are his, this one will be mine. I have just started it. It has no color because the paintings are only sold in the capital, but it does not matter. I will fill it with all the plants I know and then, if I can, I will paint them.”
“What are you going to need them for?”
“I want to be a healer.”
“The omegas are not healers.”
Izuku shrugged and continued to sketch the plant in front of him.
“Anume is an omega and has a boat to fish.”
“Anume lost his alpha in a storm, he uses the boat to feed his pups.”
“Even doesn't have an alpha and in spring she won the archery tournament.”
“Even is a rarity… Is that what you want, to not have an alpha?”
“No alpha is ever going to love me.” Izuku murmured, thinking of his green leaves without flowers. He preferred to stay alone and avoid the humiliation of someone else seeing his brand.
“And if someone asks you?” Asked the blond after a moment of hesitation.
“Well, they’ll have to accept that I’m going to be a healer.” He did not say it with presumption or bravado. It was a simple statement, like when someone says that the sky is blue.
He wasn’t able to hear what Katsuki said, he watched him move his lips, but the words did not reach his ears. He remembers they have been squatting next to each other, he remembers the pressure of his shoulder against his, he remembers the scent of his body, he remembers having gazed at the red gladioli flowers on his shoulder.
He remembers the surprise when the man appeared in front of them. He emerged from the bushes and stopped short at the sight of them.
Izuku had never seen before a man with purple skin, there was no one like him in his village. He was big and stocky, he wore loose clothing in light colors and his hair was the color of snow.
The man smiled and immediately fear spread through Izuku’s body. His fear floated like a dense and bitter incense, to which Katsuki responded by standing in the way of the stranger. The growl he made was not a sound that Izuku remembered hearing before, but it awoke in him a sense of urgency.
Izuku stood up just as two other strangers appeared next to the first. One had the head of a lynx and the body of a man, and the second of them had giant eyes and horns the size of his arm.
“Run!” Katsuki reacted first, turned around and pushed him to move. Izuku obeyed, managed to take three steps when something got tangled with his leg and made him fall.
He fell to the ground with his hands in front of him and spun around in time to see Katsuki jump over the man with the whip. The blond was nimble and fierce, but he could do nothing against the combined strength of three grown men. Izuku shouted when the boy fell to the ground.
Izuku remembers to have moved in impulse, remembers to have crawled to him just to see the blood flowing from his head.
“Kacchan, Kacchan!” He had called desperately, extending his hand to him, but was never able to touch him; the blackness falling over his body like a giant mallet.
Still unconscious, he kept shouting his name, again and again, in the middle of the endless darkness.
Izuku woke up filled with fear and anguish. He stirred in his bed, breathing quickly and without rhythm. He stood still, sniffing the world, expecting to feel the gentle movement of the waves and the scent of salt, but instead he breathed in the fragrance of the earth, and felt the scent of the cold morning. He felt the dry tears on his cheeks, and wiped them away without stopping to think.
He straightened on his bed and hugged himself with the blanket. He struggled to control his breathing while counting to a hundred and then up to a thousand. Little by little, his eyes adapted to the darkness and he managed to visualize the outline of the lamp and the shadow of the clothes near his bed.
He dressed up in silence, placing his bandages almost automatically. He sheathed on his gray pants and put his blanket over his chemise. When he came out of the cave the world was a dirty grey, and when he inhaled deeply, the warmth of his body rose up in white spirals.
Izuku took a moment to recover. The memory still felt too close and if he was not careful he was going to sink into it. No self-pity, he told himself harshly, shook his head decisively and went to work. He did it with determination, without hesitating.
He did not allow himself to ponder.
Fire, he told himself and moved the stacked wood inside the cave to the remains of his nocturnal fire. Water, he took his two largest pots and walked the long stretch to the nearest stream to fill them. Lotion, he took a big breath of air and ended up defoliating the flowers, moved a handful of each in containers with lids, then proceeded to work each of them with different methods. Breakfast, he used some of the water he had left to prepare tea and wrapped himself by the fire while nibbling on his wheat cracker.
The sky was beginning to clear and Izuku just looked at the heavens full of amazing colors. The red protruding from the rest.
He closed his eyes.
Each festival was the same and different at the same time. Although it was not the first festival he attended, Izuku could not help himself when he stopped at each post to appreciate the beauty of the necklaces, bracelets, knives and an infinity of other products. So much was the variety and perfection of each piece that he had not been able to decide on any specific one to buy.
“What’s wrong with you?” Katsuki asked him that night when he saw him sulking by the fire. Izuku told him about his predicament and the boy laughed. “Only someone like you would spend the night worrying about not having bought anything.”
“Take it,” Katsuki dropped a small and long package unceremoniously on his lap. It was about the size of his hand.
“What is it?”
“You will not know if you don’t open it.”
When he opened it, he found a box with six little jars of blue, red, green, yellow, white and black paint.
“Oh!” Izuku murmured with surprise and delight. He turned to Katsuki. “For what—?”
“What’s the use of paint for, eh? To paint! …Do you want your plant books to be boring?”
Izuku blinked and recalled their conversation of months ago. He smiled and laughed in pure happiness.
“Kacchan, thank you!” He hugged him with the pain box still in hand and breathed in the familiar aroma of wood and smoke. For the first time since he was six years old he did not mind at all his lack of flowers.
“I’m going to get out of here,” Izuku told himself for the umpteenth time, opening his eyes. He repeated it every day, sometimes five or six times to gather strength. “I’m going to find you, Kacchan.”