“Can you be any louder?
Juliet Marillier, Wildwood Dancing
“I said—- what is the matter? You seem out of it.”
“Sorry,” he muttered, setting his tea down. “I suppose I am just letting myself get lost in thought.”
Even though he had probably just been through something far worse than anything she could ever imagine, he was still worried about her own well-being. It stunned her for a brief moment, and she took advantage of the opportunity to clasp to him; a real, breathing, living him. For the time being, the sinking, b o i l i n g, rotten feeling deep within her when she had heard about his passage was still present; due to the shock of sudden realization. But, the overwhelming intensity of the excitement she felt upon his return was almost all but washed away. She allowed herself to bask in the happiness brought by this unexpected moment.
Her hands clasped tighter around him for the slightest second before releasing their clutch on him; only after her mind had determined that he would not leave again if she were to let go. She looked up to him, a gleam of sunshine and pure, intrinsic contentedness of his presence reflecting in her delicate eyes. Nonetheless, curiosity overcame her and she was almost forced by her own internal desires to ask what was on her mind.
”Wh-What happened, Neji-san?”
Outside of a few bodily pains, Neji felt little pain. The scars which bore throughout his body from the impact of the presumed fatal attack might claim otherwise currently, the elder did not think he had much to complain about. With every breath his lungs filled with life, and he defied the fate he had once fought so hard to alter. He had chosen his final actions to protect his beloved cousin, and comrade whom he knew would be a force that could stop the war. He did not choose to guard them because one was the heiress of their clan; she had already proven she would lay her life on the line if it meant that Naruto would be spared, and Neji would not have her die in such a fashion. She deserved to show she was stronger than anyone ever gave her credit for – Neji knew it was not her time to pass. As it was, fate seemed to have other ideas for him as well.
He could feel the emotion that was pouring from his cousin, and he did not have it within himself to dwindle it down as he might have before the war began. She was free to express herself however she wished, and Neji accepted it with a near timid smile upon his visage. He would hold her until he was released, his arms dropping back to his sides. Silence came following her question, he needing a moment to find an answer he thought would be appropriate. “Hard to say in actuality. I know I died… I even saw my parents, or rather, I suppose, projections of them. We were together… Then Kaa-sama kissed my forehead, and when I opened my eyes I was laying on the battlefield. Beyond that… I do not know what happened.”
A song for a heart so big,
god wouldn’t let it live.