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Time Cast a Spell on You

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Candle light flickers, and the heavy aroma of incense permeates the room. 

He’s waited eleven years for this.

It’s hard to sit still when he’s being jabbed with needles over and over, but the price is worth it. His mom is in front of him, Hana in the corner, and Akamaru at his feet. A white hair floats in front of his face, and it takes all his will to keep his face relaxed. He can’t mess this up. The arm of the chair creaks underneath the pressure of his grip. 

“You’re almost done, kid,” comes from right in front of his face. The old lady has done this for every recognized clan member since his great-aunt. It’s a time-honored tradition to have one of her hands plastered over your face, stretching the skin of your cheek, while the other goes back and forth between the ink pot on the side table and the sketched triangles dragging down each side of the face. 

“Mmm-hmm.” He keeps his face as still as possible. She’ll cuff him if he messes up her lines. She may be old, but she’s kept her strength. 

It’s dark, but for the light of the candles, and the only sounds that he can hear are the breaths of himself, his family, and the dogs. Kuromaru shuffles at his mother’s feet, stirring up some of the loosely packed dirt from the floor. 

He sits there, trying to relax, for another half hour before the hand finally lifts off his face. A cloth drags across each of his cheeks, stinging a bit for the moments it’s there. Cool water, and then his face is wiped again. 

“Alright,” she breathes, “you just need to wash and then apply the salve twice a day for the first couple of weeks until they heal up.” 

“Kay.” 

“Don’t touch em. No roughhousing, no scratching, no rubbing.”

“Yes.”

“Okay. Now get out so I can clean up.” 

The mirror down the hall is calling out to him. It’s time to see the physical marks of his passage to finally, finally being who he wants to be.