“Pray she lives.”
For three days, the future of both clans hangs in the balance of those words. Hashirama’s missive, a proposed ceasefire, lies unanswered on the table of Madara’s study. The man himself has all but abandoned the room to keep his sister’s side.
On the third day, her fever breaks, the colour returns to her cheeks, and the wound through her side ceases festering and begins to heal.
“You cannot trust them, Madara.” She wants to get up, grab hold of his shoulders and shake him until he sees sense, but she’s not yet well enough to leave her futon. When she pushes herself to sit it’s impossible not to wince at the pull of her stitches. Madara is by her side in seconds, supporting her as she wraps white-knuckled fingers around the collar of his shirt. “Please, brother, you have to know better.”
“We have no choice,” his words are firm, but the tone that carries them pleads for her understanding.
Madara intends to sign the ceasefire and enter into formal peace talks with the Senju. Some part of Izuna wishes she’d allowed death to take her.
“You’re really so easily shaken?”
“Easy?” Madara repeats, incredulous. His hands leave her to run through his hair, especially wild, the result of anxious habits. “You think this has been easy?” He laughs, but there’s no humour behind his eyes.
“This war has taken everything from us. If it takes you, too, what will I have left? What will I have fought for?”
“Our clan,” she hisses back, “our honour.”
“Our clan is coming apart, Izuna, there’s dissension all through our ranks. People see the truth; we cannot win against the Senju. What will our honour be worth when the Uchiha are snuffed out? When we lose the war and there’s no one left to carry on the name?”
“What is it worth to carry on at all when we allow its meaning to become so diminished?” Pain flashes across his face, brief but clear, before his expression turns to stone.
“The peace talks begin tomorrow. You will not talk me out of the one thing that guarantees your safety.”
“You’re a fool if you believe that,” she spits.
“You must take my eyes.” His back is to her, he’s sat at the low desk he’s hauled into her room and placed across from her futon, and she sees his shoulders tense as he takes in what she’s said.
“Yes. You’re the leader of our clan and if you truly cannot be dissuaded, you can’t afford to be weak. My eyes still see far better than yours, take them, brother, please.”
Madara is silent and when he turns he stares at her with a heaviness that fills the room. To be without one’s eyesight, for an Uchiha, is worse than death. She’s willing to bear it, though. For her brother and her clan. He may not want to accept what she says, but he already has, the truth of it is written across his face.
“I’ll give you mine, at least,” he promises. “It’s a poor trade, you’ll be blind soon enough, but—” It’s something, they both know. It’s a little extra time. A little longer before the darkness swallows her whole.
Happy surprises are few and far between, and this is the best one they could ask for.
“Do you think it will fade?” Madara marvels, they face each other with more clarity than they’ve had since their eyes first manifested.
“It doesn’t feel like it,” Izuna breathes. No, this feels like—these eyes are something else. She feels them in her blood. In her soul. These eyes are theirs to keep.
The peace talks are going well. Izuna feels ill. The only thing missing, Madara gripes, is something solid, something tangible and real upon which the village can be built. Some sign of unity the people can witness for themselves.
No one has said it yet, but everyone knows what that means. What it always means, in arrangements like these.
The Senju have no eligible women of appropriate standing.
The Uchiha have Izuna.
“I won’t do it.” She struggles to hold herself upright and it drives her mad. She wants to scream, she wants to tear the room apart and force Madara to feel the depth of her revulsion.
“You must,” Madara replies, his tone is filled with remorse but it carries none of the lenience he usually shows her.
“You promised.” She sways when she steps towards him. She hasn’t yet recovered the strength to shove him as forcefully as she’d like to, but she’s able to smack his hands away when he reaches out to steady her. “You and father both. You always swore I would never marry beneath me, even if it meant never marrying at all. Father raised me to be capable so I would never be forced to settle, and now you tell me I must marry a Senju. What could be lower?”
“Izuna,” Madara snaps, it seems he’s finally reaching the edges of his patience, “like it or not, the Senju are our equals.” She hates him as he says it. “Like this, you’ll be safe, whatever happens to our clan—”
“Your clan.” She wants him to hear the fury that bellows behind her lungs. Wants him to feel the spite she feels. “It won’t be mine anymore.”
“It will always be yours. You will always belong to us, but you cannot ask me to watch you die knowing I could have prevented it.”
“Oh,” she laughs, cruel and sickly sweet, “how kind, how caring my brother is, to invite the Demon Senju to rape me so he might think to spare my life.”
“It is. No marriage is truly binding until consummated, and you’re not foolish enough to think I would go to his bed willingly.”
“Izuna, please try to understand,” his voice is beseeching, she can’t recall ever having heard him come so close to begging.
“You say you only care for my safety, how safe will I be when he plucks out my eyes while I sleep?” She spits the words in his face with as much vitriol as she can fit them with. “What about any children he forces on me? Uchiha children raised under a Senju roof, how safe will they be?” He recoils like he’s been slapped and sick satisfaction rolls in her stomach. “I would rather die than allow him to take what’s mine, what’s ours. I thought you understood that, Madara.”
“Izuna—” She gathers every ounce of strength she’s managed to recover and dives forward to swipe the kunai from his belt, plunging it into her chest. He throws himself at her and manages to stay her hands before it sinks deep enough to pierce her heart.
They fall to the floor in a heap. Above her, her brother cries her name, screams for a healer. She prays no one hears him.