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The Beginning and the End

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Inhale.


 

Exhale.


 

A cough.


 

The battlefield is still like the space between heartbeats, the lingering pressure of the fox's miasma curling in the air like smoke.

She coughs into her sleeve, trying not to bleed on her son. She isnt sure how successful she is.

She's curled on the ground where she had thrown herself in front of him, her husband beside her.

She used the last of her strength to move her baby from under them, trusting the shinobi to obey their Hokage's order stay back until the chakra began to clear. It would be soon. Too late for her, but Naruto would be okay. She thinks she might be okay with that.

Minato was already gone, had been since the application of the seal, the Fox's form vanishing so quickly it popped her ears from the change in pressure.

She had one hand tangled lightly in his hair, the other laced with his on top of the bundle of baby between them. He's wet, from where they're both bleeding. Were bleeding.

She shivers.

He'll get cold she thinks, trying briefly to pull at her top, vision spotting at the movement. Instead, she pulls a corner of minato's jacket over him. It covers him completely, he's so small.

She uses the edge to clean his face where he's still fussing unhappily, blue eyes looking out at nothing.

"It's okay, nacchan," she whispers, "mama is here."

She sings to him quietly, the old whirlpool lullaby she'd endlessly practiced for him needing no effort to remember.

"May the spirits watch over you, warm in your cradle~" She warbles softly, pausing at times to rasp wetly and spit, almost mouthing the lyrics into his blankets.

Her thumb strokes his tiny face, and she feels one of his hands clutch it as he falls asleep. She mumbles the last bit, sleepy herself.

"May they bring you home safely to me~"

.

.

.

She sleeps.