Chapter 28 Notes

Chapter 28 – The Stolen Child, Part 1

Author’s notes

Another two part chapter again. Sorry, but I wanted to post something sooner rather than later, and this is a good break. And yes, this is all happening with Katsuro’s dream. The flashbacks, the dreams-within-a-dream and the occasional change of pov. It’s a flashback chapter wrapped in a dream, we all know it. I just gave up trying to make it be all misty and dreamlike. Next chapter will focus on Katsuro’s life on the run with Itachi.

Gorgeous art by anonaruto!! Check out her beautiful pictures of Naruto from a scene in Chapter 26. He’s lovely and serious and looks just how I’d imagine him to be!

Omitted scene alert — I took out a scene from this chapter because it was fully from Itachi’s pov. See a few posts below

Thanks so much to everyone’s reviews! I can’t tell you how much they mean to me! I wish I’d been able to reply to each one personally, but I just couldn’t this chapter. So please know that I so appreciate each and every one of them. It’s been a hectic fall, and in the middle of it I took a break for National Novel Writing Month in November. So I wrote 1600 words a day, everyday, to end the month with a 50,000+ word novel! And I made it! Yay! The down-side (or upside if you like to read) is that my only progress on the fanfic was to write little scenes here and there but never really finishing. This pushed my ff word-count higher, which is what led me to break it in two. I’m really trying to write more succinctly, and unfortunately with this chapter I did the opposite! 🙂 Oh well, it just means there’s more to read. Anyway, hope you enjoy!

Chapter notes

Hope this chapter wasn’t too hopeless. I wanted it to feel authentic, like you really wanted Naruto to leave. Not just that he half-heartedly did. But I intentionally kept the pain themes to a minimum: no abuse, just neglect, but which I think can be just as heartbreaking. Anyway, the tone picks up and I hope it ended on a good note. Next chapter he truly becomes Katsuro and learns much more about the kyuubi.

• “The Stolen Child” — references W.B. Yeats poem of the same name. It is a lovely, gripping poem about fairies who enchant a young boy to “come away” with them, promising all the delights that only a boy could want. The twist is the boy won’t know until its far too late that he cannot return to the life he once knew. It is so beautiful and perfect to think of Itachi enticing young Naruto to “come away” with the promise of a life of adventure. See accompanying analysis for more.

• “The Dragonfly Chaser — a haiku by Chiyo (and yes, I’d be willing to bet that’s where Kishimoto drew his inspiration for his Chiyo), one of Japan’s best known female haiku poets. It is written from the pov of the mother, wondering where her child has gotten off too. It reflects that heartbreaking moment where, in the stillness of a home after the loss of her son, the mother wonders, as she is so used to doing, where the little boy has gotten off to. In the very next instant, after the poem’s end, she realizes he’s gone. (Sort of like waking from a dream and not knowing for a fraction-of-a-second which is real – the dream life or the real life. ) So, in a single poem it ties together both instances, both realities: For that moment, he was still alive to her, and just off playing in another field. At the same time the lines affirm that yes, he is still chasing dragonflies, but it is another place where she cannot go. I thought this was appropriate for this chapter because this is the little window into Naruto’s life before he leaves the village. He doesn’t die, but he will never be that same child again. And the playful, sweet boy will never grow up in those fields, but will move on to run and play in other ones.

• So Naruto’s backstory here is a variation on the manga — What if Naruto found out before he was in the academy that he was a demon-child? What if he found out when he was still innocent and seeking attention, before he had turned to pranking to get negative attention? What if he runs into Mizuki and learns that everyone else knows something he doesn’t, maybe even all the way up to the Hokage? And what if the villains really were villainous, and went after Naruto when the village didn’t care about him?

• So this chapter is a steady building of Naruto’s neglected experiences until Itachi comes along. My hope is that when you read it you feel like Naruto does, that Itachi is offering him a better life than he ever has had in Konoha. It’s not that Itachi forcibly persuades him, it’s that he figures out the right thing to say. Which is his specialty anyway. Remember Itachi saying that catching Konoha’s jinchurriki was one of the easiest things he’d ever done? This was what he was talking about. Just a simple promise. So it reinforces his mantra of finding out what a person wants and then you’ll have them in the palm of their hands.

• The dust puffed and swirled, and for a moment, everything was lost behind it’s yellow haze. Only the steady thrum remained. Then, slowly, the cloud lifted. — The opening starts with a pounding sound:  it’s Katsuro’s heartbeat on the hillside; it’s the memory and foreshadow of the kyuubi’s heartbeat; and it’s the steady pounding of the approaching shinobi footsteps, bearing the news that will change him forever. So all of that is mixed in with the sound that replays through this chapter.

The teachers often supplemented their normal rations with some little sweets. Yet no matter how hard he tried, Naruto never seemed to be able to push to the front in time. The bag of candy was forever running out. And hopeful child that he was, he never once thought it was intentional. — This is why it was important for Sakura to give him candy. And then to keep bringing it just for him. It’s another little thing that helps weave them together.

And in that moment of blinking uncertainty, when his face stung and his eyes burned and he didn’t know whether he was standing or falling…something crackled to life within him. — So the rest that follows is about the kyuubi. And I really tried to write the experiences and Naruto’s reactions as frightening. And submerging. Like hearing a heartbeat pound in your ears and wondering if it’s yours, or a demon’s, or both. So in my story, the idea of the kyuubi is frightening to Naruto. In the manga he just sort of accepts it. And it’s responding here to its host being threatened. So it awakens the first time when Naruto gets slapped by a teacher. (One instance of abuse under the guise of corporal punishment.)

• Naruto’s dream of the cell — so I changed this up too. What if Naruto stumbled upon the cell out of order than in the manga, going there instead when he had very little knowledge of the kyuubi? And to up the tension, little Naruto thinks he’s been locked in with the demon. So again, the sensory overload of being around the demon, with darkness, and heat and water that feels like it’s sucking you under. And of course, the steady pounding of the heartbeat that opened the chapter.

• The scent of food wafted in the shifting air, and his stomach suddenly growled. Strangely, that made him feel more like himself again. One thing he did know, he was always hungry. — he has more chakra, burns more energy and is therefore always hungry. It is something that makes up the human side of him. So feeling hungry and the thought of doing something that makes him feel full and better is a very reassuring thing to him at that moment. Helps remind him who he is.

In this way his days and weeks blurred together. The days of numbed silence would end with him balled at the top of his bed, just wishing that the world would sweep over him, forgetting he was there. — This is the same as Sakura the last night in the temple. When she curled up into a ball under her blanket and Katsuro decided he didn’t want to be the one to make her feel bad. This was what he was remembering.

• At just the right angle, a ribbon of golden light clung to the edge of a building. — golden ribbon, golden light. Little theme here. 😉 Ribbon of road through the forest, the painting in the temple, the shimmery haze of the genjutsu and the golden barley fields. All these places hold a transformation for the main characters. So this marks the beginning of Naruto’s transformation as well.

But this little blue-black world was all his. Naruto liked to imagine that he could tumble down between those inky walls and disappear into that golden light at the end. — So the Katsuro from chapters previous pretty much resides in shadows. His whole life is shadowy. Sakura is the one part that isn’t. So this is a little foreshadow of the life he’s going to embark on. And it’s something that he wants.

• He wanted to see more. Just a little more. He wanted to claim more of that shimmering golden light for himself. — This speaks specifically about the part of him that seeks out Sakura. He always wants more and can’t let her go. He doesn’t want to let her go. So the part of him that sets out, that leaves the orphanage and goes toward the light is also the part that’s drawn to her.

• Looking up, Naruto saw bats flitting up the great expanse, twisting and turning, then soaring over the top and disappearing. — Naruto first watched spiders carried off on their silks from the ‘quiet room.’ Then he watches bats going over the wall. Both critters evoke the same feeling, just that it’s a different wall. Naruto is still locked away, wishing to be free.

In the dim light Naruto couldn’t make out much. But where the bandage had been was now a broad scar, cutting across his cheeks and nose. — It’s Iruka, of course.

“Go home,” he said kindly. He reached out and ruffled the boy’s hair. “I won’t turn you in this time, but don’t try it again.” — Iruka ruffles Naruto’s hair, just like Sakura ruffled the boy’s hair on her mission. So it’s a little mark of kindness.

Across the road, a figure melted back into the shadows. — Itachi, of course. See the website for a this scene from his pov.

• Sprawled on top of a picnic table, staring up at the leaves in the dark tree, he just laid there and waited. Sooner or later they were going to come and haul him off. — The opposite of looking into Sakura’s eyes which remind him of the canopy of a tree with the light behind them. Small but intentional.

The lean man had cleared the fence without a sound and now was calmly, silently walking straight toward him. — Mizuki’s approach is silent. Iruka’s approach is silent. And finally, Itachi’s approach is silent. So these are all the hallmark of the ninja which he will aspire to be. And Sakura says that Katsuro is stealthy, so it’s a little bit of a before-and-after.

• He jammed his trembling hands under his legs and sat as still as he could, hoping, praying, the man wouldn’t notice him. — Parallels Sakura’s reaction when she first saw Itachi.

Looking away from the approaching man, Naruto stared hard at a stray leaf on the ground. A long shadow stretched out in front of him, drawing closer until it engulfed the leaf. — Yeah, the stray leaf is Naruto.

• The shinobi was silent for a moment before sitting forward, dropping his elbows to his knees and steepling his fingers comfortably in front of him. Naruto dragged his gaze back to the leaf, unable to bear the silence. — Itachi has been moving his fingers, planning a genjutsu. The steepling of fingers is his tell, but really any finger movement will do so that’s why he was waving his hand around a little bit. But Naruto kept looking away! 🙂 Also, Katsuro told Sakura never to look at his hands. That’s why.

The shinobi seemed to rethink something. He dropped his steepled fingers, propped his hands back on the table and leaned back. “So…you want to be a ninja?” — Itachi decides not to use the genjutsu when he realizes he can persuade Naruto to leave Konoha with a simple promise to make him a shinobi. Later Itachi mentions that catching the jinchurikki is one of the easiest things he’s ever done. This is why.

• “Let them keep your things,” Itachi said over his shoulder, still smiling. “A shinobi like you will have no use for orphanage rags.” Then he took a step and disappeared in a wisp of smoke. — For your listening enjoyment: Peter Gabriel’s “Solsbury Hil.” 🙂 It’s very much in the same vein of ‘get-up-and-go’ that I was trying to capture here.


• Naruto is plucky, fighting when there is an injustice, but more desperate for love and attention. He is too young to be the prankster he is in the manga, so that part of his character never has the chance to surface here. Although it shows up when he’s with Sakura.

• Notice there’s no mention of Sasuke or Sakura, or anyone else in the village. It’s intentional. For Naruto, he’s alone. He might as well be on the moon. This isn’t a good-vibes manga chapter, just-hang-in-there-it’ll-get-better. I’m trying to be more realistic so that it helps shed light on why Naruto is determined to stay with his life as a rogue. So that the motives and backstory match the young man he becomes and that we are already acquainted with.

• So I’ve tried to write Naruto’s childhood experience as being one of neglect. It’s not always outright hatred. But if he scratches the surface, he finds it. Lots of stories give him a back story of phsyical abuse. But I think neglect is the greater crime. And in the manga, he’s never shown as being hit or hurt. But he’s clearly neglected. Also, I wanted to make sure there were no real bad characters, just misinformed, small-minded people whom he doesn’t know personally. This helps cement his future hatred for the village of Konoha, not individuals. Mizuki is mean, and rightfully gets blamed for the demon just because he spitefully told Naruto about it. However Itachi is kind and manipulative. The only truly kind character is Iruka.

• What if the teacher knew what the ninja knew. What if everyone else did too. They knew there was something wrong with him. All this time. And he was the only one who didn’t. — Just realized that Naruto’s anxiety about the fact that everyone knew something and he didn’t is mentioned a few times. It isn’t delved into in the manga, but I think that would prey on Naruto.

• The injustice of it burned within him. He wouldn’t accept the words of the ninja. He wasn’t any different. He was just like all the rest. He wanted to scream it at the others, at the teacher. — Injustice is the thing that drives his anger. He tries to ignore it, tries to bury his feelings, but again and again the injustices bring it to the surface. So again, setting up for the young man he is going to become…the one that recognizes himself in Sakura.

Hair swaying gently in the breeze from the swing, he felt like he got a breath of fresh air when he saw the little scrap of light. — I didn’t write it here, but the feeling hearkens to the temple, when he says the it is like Sakura threw open a window on him as well as the room. So, in all of his darkness, there is always a way out.

But this little blue-black world was all his. Naruto liked to imagine that he could tumble down between those inky walls and disappear into that golden light at the end. It disappeared during the day, but at night it shone like a gateway. Naruto thought if he could just slip through that crack, he would keep running and no one would ever stop him, ever find him. He’d be free. — foreshadowing. Naruto will come back to this spot one day, years later. So even though it didn’t turn out like he hoped just then, it will all come full circle for him in the end.

“Go home,” he said kindly. He reached out and ruffled the boy’s hair. “I won’t turn you in this time, but don’t try it again.” — Iruka ruffles Naruto’s hair, just like Sakura ruffled the boy’s hair on her mission. It’s a little kindness, a gentle touch for both boys who are really neglected in their lives. Much later, Naruto will remember this kindness when he returns to Konoha.