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Blessed

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The Hatake clan Blessings are hunted, not made. Kakashi’s father had given his mother a wolf-pelt cloak for their wedding, thick and warm, and though Kakashi doesn’t remember her, he remembers creeping into his father’s room to sink his hands into the sleek-soft-warmth of that cloak. He’d stroke and pet it for as long as he dared before wrapping it up again in paper and sliding it under the other winter clothes inside his father’s closet.

Remembers the fur that his father wore always, tucked safely beneath his flak jacket.

Kakashi had never learned how to hunt from his father, never learned to take the forest’s permission and how to bless a kill so that the wolf’s warrior spirit would defend the wearer from harm. There was a war going on and Kakashi was young. And later, after his father kills himself, Kakashi doesn’t even regret not having learned.

Clearly his family Blessings couldn’t save anyone.

 

The Namikaze, however, use needlework. Gold and silver metallic thread, forming seals of care and protection around collars and cuffs, with words of temperance and sensibility lining pockets.

Kakashi; twelve, and alone, is foisted on an eighteen-year-old genius-jounin who has absolutely no need of him. The very first time Kakashi is chakra-drained and useless and sulking about it, he is sat down with a needle and embroidery hoop with the character for think sketched in lightly with ink. He never pricks his finger, but he also takes three tries to make one that Minato-sensei approves of. Kakashi tucks it into his kunai pouch, and it is weeks before he notices that Minato had swapped it for another one, one that read safe-strong-peace-stay.

(It will be more than a decade until Kakashi will be self-aware enough to understand why Minato had added stay, as he frantically but meticulously embroiders the character for one of his own students.

It’s not enough to make Sasuke stay.)

 

Minato-sensei finds himself an Uzumaki girlfriend, and Kakashi learns that the Uzumaki use ink and brushes, painting Blessings into cloth in washes of colour, sometimes layered over and over so that the cloth is obscured by the sheer quantity of invocations they bear. Kushina catches onto how Minato punishes Kakashi for endangering himself and the next time he’s discharged from the hospital with instructions to take it easy and stay off that foot if you know what’s good for you, he finds himself tucked into her couch with a lap-desk, paper, and paint, and the order to “Just make something that you think looks nice, kid.”

He paints vague shapes and blurs, frowning when some of the colours mix together to make brown but he can hear Minato-sensei and Kushina san laughing in the kitchen, and then they come join him and it’s warm and safe and he falls asleep holding his brush. He wakes up the next morning to a dry water-colour that looks like a two-year old had made it, except for a tiny character, curled into the bold curve of a dark blue swipe, that reads Joy.

(The threads on Kushina’s clothes are black and charred, when she dies, and Minato-sensei’s robes faint and colourless. Kakashi learns that even the strength of a hundred careful blessings can be tossed aside by a rampaging demon. Kakashi loses heart, but he tucks Minato’s little protection charm into baby Naruto’s tiny fist before Sarutobi takes him away.)

 

The Uchiha use beads, thousands upon thousands of tiny glass beads that they draw and wind themselves from molten glass. Each colour has a meaning, and though Obito was as behind on glass-making and bead-weaving as he was at the Grand Fireball Jutsu, he knew enough to offer Kakashi and Rin a simple string of orange and violet beads each. The beads are uneven, aspherical. It’s for luck and protection, just wear it, Bakashi. Neither of you have any protections at all. Kakashi doesn’t mention the cloth tucked into his kunai pouch, but he does tuck Obito’s beads in beside them.

(Obito is dead, and his eye is burning in Kakashi’s throbbing skull, and he’s not going to die and that’s more agonizing than death. Minato-sensei tells him quietly that the Uchiha are fighting over what to do with him. Uchiha Mikoto, turns up at his bedside with a bead-weave bracelet. “You can wear this for now, Hatake. When you can see straight, come find me, I’ll teach you how to make your own.”

Kakashi never finds out that Fugaku had come to see him when he was sleeping a few days later. The man had glanced at the colours on his wrist, smiled softly, and walked away, never even acknowledging Minato’s defensive presence.)

(“Why do you have that?” Sasuke asks Naruto, when they’re at the academy. He can’t believe that he’s actually addressing Naruto, but the Dead-Last has been fingering an Uchiha bead-weave. Had someone been stealing from his clan’s compound? It doesn’t look like a knock-off.

“It’s my protection charm, bastard! Iruka sensei says it’s okay that I don’t have to hide it, and that someone wants me to be safe.”)

(“I’m sorry Sasuke, I never learned how to make the beads, just how to thread and stitch them,” Kakashi tells Sasuke when the boy tentatively asks about the blessing that Kakashi had stuffed in his pack before the Wave Mission. He thinks that’ll be the end of it but two months later finds Sasuke on his doorstep with a pouch of multicoloured glass beads and Kakashi remembers Mikoto’s gentle instructions as he teaches her son how to weave protections.

He finds out later, that Sasuke was trying to pay Naruto and Sakura back for loading him up with as many protective charms as they could after they’d been scared into thinking he was dead.)

(Sasuke leaves Kakashi the third Uchiha beaded bracelet he’s ever made before he leaves Konoha for good.)

 

They give Kakashi the hat, even though he all but begs them to choose someone else. There’s barely anyone else left, after all, or he wouldn’t be the most qualified for the job.

When they hand him the robes though, he freezes.

Because they’re not like Minato’s robes, which had Konoha’s flames painted on; with red-orange prayers of safety and strength. These robes have the same, but they’re edged with thousands of tiny red-orange-blue beads, like the flickering blue hearts of the hottest fires, and gold and silken thread wraps more blessings around them.

Kakashi’s heart squeezes in his chest, because he - alive still against all odds - doesn’t deserve such an honour. But he can’t help but reach out. It’s…it’s beautiful. Intricate. He can see the careful, deliberate work of three no-longer-children close to his heart.

The Blessings have never worked before, he knows. Too many people have died wearing them for Kakashi to still believe in the practice. But when he pulls on the robe he can feel the magic settle, the fierceness of their desire to keep him safe, made material and bared for all to see.

It is nothing like his mother’s cloak, sleek and plush and warm, and yet somehow it is exactly like hers, as he runs his fingers over the careful embroidery and tiny beads over the ink-dyed cloth. Kakashi is certain that he doesn’t deserve this. Yet unbelievably, impossibly

It is still his to keep.

 

Chapter Text

The Umino don’t craft protection charms like most families in Konoha, they say them. Whisper them into the ears of sleeping children, say them every time they meet and when they part. Iruka’s mother had told him it was special because spoken blessings could never be stolen, only forgotten. Then they’re gone, and Iruka whispers them to himself quietly, brokenly, sustained by a childish desire not to lose this one last piece of his parents. He keeps them to himself until he finds himself teaching a class full of wide-eyed little children who are going to be thrown off the deep end, and then he says them loud, as often as he can.

(He’s never regretted his clan’s tradition until he realizes that Naruto, desperately alone probably has nothing of his own, and Iruka doesn’t have anything to give him but words he’s not sure the child even listens to. He asks Naruto about it, and realizes the child has never even heard of blessing charms. “Like these?” he asks though, pulling out a beaded bracelet and a folded cloth embroidered with metallic thread. Iruka wants to cry, because someone at least has been trying to keep this child safe.

He still gives Naruto his own forehead protector, later. Naruto can use something to remind him of Iruka’s words.)

(When Iruka finds Naruto rocking his tiny yellow-haired infant and saying some of Iruka’s blessings in a sing-song voice, he cries. Naruto offers him a soft, teasing smile and asks if he’s remembered the words that badly.)