Some beginning-of-story notes that may help with immersion:
The Eyes takes place in an AU where Konoha is an extremely large and isolated town/country that has many serious issues with the negligent Uchiha royal family as the core of each and every one.
Similarly to the Naruto Shippuden anime, Konoha has an odd mixture of modern and outdated technology and architecture.
It’s uncommon for women to wear shorts or pants, instead wearing more modern versions of a mashup between Victorian and Romantic Era dresses.
Men often wear expensive suits and tuxedos if they can afford them.
Konoha is split into three very distinguishable classes: the wealthy upper class, the desperate middle class, and the struggling lower class that makes up nearly half of the entire population of the town.
The members of the upper class were almost all born into their wealth, only a lucky handful catching a break somewhere in their middle-class lives and bettering the lives of their families exponentially.
The middle class is made up of those who are either distant relatives of the upper class members or were once lower class citizens who worked their entire lives to move out of the slums.
Most of the middle class is made up of older people because of this.
The lower class is where Sakura and her family reside, but luckily they are much closer to the middle class neighborhood than most.
The streets are often filled with crime and trash because the Militia (The law enforcement officers of Konoha) tend to ignore crime unless it directly affects the royal family or money is involved.
Crimes involving the Uchiha family are considered more serious than most and always have the most severe punishments.
The Uchiha family resides in a magnificent castle behind a large wall that surrounds the entirety of the upper class district.
The wall itself is made up of the most colorful jewels and stones, attracting many travelers from afar that eventually end up stuck in the town, just adding to the over-populated lower class district.
The royal family themselves haven’t been seen by the public for at least fifty years and their lack of physical appearance is almost as bad as their lack of compassion for anyone on the wrong side of their towering wall.
Many civilians hold anger in their hearts toward the family that is supposed to govern Konoha since they’ve let the class system get so terribly unequal.
Sakura and Naruto both feel this way quite seriously and that fact may help you understand their characters’ decisions throughout the story.
I hope these details help!
The difference between upper class and lower class can be defined solely by a person’s eyes. I can tell, I really can. My mom says I have a screw loose, but I know she believes me deep down inside. She tells me to keep quiet when we’re out in public in fear the militia will take something I say as treachery and punish us all for treason. I try to do as she wishes just so she’ll leave me alone.
This town is a dinner table of people’s lives. At the head with a knife and fork is the royal family Uchiha. Only a select few citizens outside of the upper class have ever seen a member of the family in person. Their flamboyant castle, surrounded by a number of upperclassmen’s family homes, lay arrogantly behind the wall. The wall stands over fifty feet tall and is made of only the most colorful stone.
When a visitor of our town, Konoha, sees the wall for the first time, they undoubtedly notice the way it sparkles when the light hits it’s vibrant surface. When I look at it all I see is the way the starving members of the lower-class hang their heads in shame of their lives. My family, the Harunos, are lucky enough to have a home. While we often struggle to put food on the table, at least we have a roof over our heads and the ability to get even the most basic of educations.
Our home is located a mere walk from the alleyways that hold hundreds of homeless families and animals. Theft, murder, and violence in general are common in this area. For a family full of girls, it can get intimidating at times. Mom says if we pray for safety, God will provide. I think she’s full of it.
The Uchihas are to blame for everything. They care little for the people of their town, never bothering to put effort into fixing the constantly growing list of issues. I’m sure they are just waiting until we all die of starvation and disease so they can build a bigger castle to fill with their endless supply of gold and food.
“Wipe that glare off your face and pray, Sakura, ” My mom’s threatening whisper pulled me from my impassioned thoughts. I rolled my eyes before squeezing them shut and bowing to rest my head on the pew in front of me to look as though I were praying. God has done little for me my whole life. I was done praying for a miracle.
A few members of the church shushed my mother which caused Ino, my sister, snickered. Ino and I are complete opposites. She enjoys flirting with boys and pretending to be of a higher class. She’s a seamstress and makes her own clothes to look much more expensive than they really are. More often than not, she does a great job of fooling those who don’t know the truth. She openly cares little for books or cooking, fixating instead on finding a rich husband to “save her” from this life and nothing else. Her looks are profound, with hair that’s long, blond, and shiny, curling down and around her shoulders with ease. Her eyes are a royal cobalt blue.
I, on the other hand, am nothing like that. My interests are reading, cooking, and fighting. I have no idea how to fight, which is probably a critical mistake given our living conditions, but I’ve always wanted to learn. It’s always been against against my beliefs to just wait for a man, or anyone for that matter, to save me. I’ll save myself from this life. My eyes are a cloudy green and my hair’s a long mess of pale pink, always falling into my face.
My mother, Mebuki, has short dark blond hair and green eyes that’re slightly darker than my own. Our father died of illness when Ino and I were just toddlers, when a shock of influenza had swept through Konoha and devastated those who couldn’t afford the necessary vaccinations. Dad had made sure that his three girls were taken care of, but couldn’t afford the fourth vaccine for himself. As a result, Mom was forced to raise us alone, becoming very strict and scathing along the way. A part of me has always thought that she blamed Ino and I for her beloved’s early demise, as though we had any say in it as two-year-olds.
Soon, praying was finished and we sat back down in our pew and at least pretended to pay attention to the pastor’s sermon. Ino was passing notes back and forth with the Inuzuka boy who sat behind us and my mother was far too riveted by our pastor’s words to pay any attention to her teenage daughters. I felt a poke on my arm and glanced over to see a wadded up ball of paper the size of a marble fall to the floor. I looked up to see who had thrown it only to make eye contact with Naruto, my best friend, across the aisle. He gave me a mischievous smile before a small wave. I smiled back at him and covertly waved back.
Naruto and I had grown up together. He lives next door to us and has a huge crush on Ino despite her refusing to give him the time of day. She thinks of him as an idiot, but Naruto and I know it’s only because he doesn’t have any money. His family runs a bakery out of their home and often trades some of their food for Ino’s clothing.
Ino’s the main source of income for our house since Mom started losing it. She’s revered by the majority of others in town as a crazy woman and no one wants to employ her because of it. It all started about five years ago, when Ino and I had just turned twelve. Mom had been fired from the Uzumaki bakery for being rude to customers.
It’s not that my mother was that mean, back then anyway, it’s just that she’s insanely religious to the point that if someone commits what she considers a sin in front of her, she’ll absolutely lose her sense of appropriation. She’d apparently lost it one too many times with customers and Kushina had had no choice but to let her go. She offered to let me and Ino work there, but Mom refused to let our family have any ties to them anymore.
So, basically, Naruto and I’s friendship has been a secret for five years now. I have had trouble finding work, meaning absolutely zero luck at all, solely because of my appearance. People assume my hair’s dyed and think that any lower-class person with the brazenness to dye their hair pink has to be a troublemaker. It’s not my fault that the gene is recessive and Ino was lucky enough to dodge it. Given that our father was originally from another country, one that Mom wouldn’t give us any information about, no one else has the same hair color and I don’t have any backstory to use when trying to argue my case. This fact alone does wonders to make me feel terrible for not helping provide for my family.
After the church service ended, we all greeted and mingled with the other members of the church, as we were accustomed to before finally filing out of the hot building and starting our trek back home on foot. We lowered our heads each time we passed a member of the militia, armed soldiers that paroled the town all hours of the day. I glared at the ground with tight fists.
This town has to change. We shouldn’t have to live in fear of being beaten every time we go outdoors just because some soldier has a wild hair up their arse one day. No sooner than we’d stepped foot inside our humble home did Mom wack me on the side of my head. Anger slid into my muscles, gritting my teeth together to hold my tongue.
“Are you thick, girl?! Those guards were staring at you for glaring. Do you want to get beaten? Haven’t I raised you better than this? And at church! How dare you disrespect the lord in his own house? You’ll have no dinner tonight as punishment.” I spun on my heel, for my stomach had been rumbling since morning, “Mother, please! I haven’t eaten since yesterday morning.” I hid my anger behind desperation. My stomach was thinking louder than my brain.
She gave the side of my head another wack, “Do not talk back to your mother, girl. Now head to do your chores so I don’t take away tomorrow’s food as well.” Tears welled up in my eyes, but I turned my back to her and indignantly left the room to do as told. I can’t just keep crying every time something like this happens. I need to do something. I need to make a change. Tears fell to mix in with the dirt in the pile I was sweeping up as I continued to do exactly as I always did: chicken out.
Later that evening, I sat on my cot while reading one of my many books when a small pebble came through the open window at my side and landed on my lap. I glanced over to see Naruto smiling not a foot away from me. I dog-eared my page and sat it down on my pillow, whispering, “What’s up?” He motioned for me to come outside, “I have a surprise for you!”
I looked at the sliver of sky that showed between the roofs of Naruto’s house and my own. It was already sunset. The streets would become significantly more dangerous once night fell. I gave him a look, “It’s almost dark, Naruto. I don’t know...” He shook his head with a laugh before pulling a pocket knife from his dirty pant’s pocket, “Don’t worry, Saku. We’ll be alright.”
I felt a little nervous that Naruto had stolen his father’s knife, but ultimately decided to climb out the window and join him. Once I was steadily on my feet outside, he patted my shoulder gently and we started walking. “You’re looking a little pale, Sakura. Have you eaten?” I glanced at him and the mental weight of being a burden to others slam down on my shoulders, “Yeah, I’m just feeling a little tired is all.”
He shrugged and continued walking for nearly ten minutes until we turned down an alleyway further into the ghetto area. He looked around for anyone else and when he saw that the coast was clear, he turned to face the brick wall in front of us. He smiled at my confused face before pulling out one of the bricks to reveal a hide-away hole with a small brown sack sitting inside. I had trouble seeing clearly with the lack of sunlight, but it was clear that the bag itself was of a quality above what Naruto and I were used to.
He snatched it out of the wall and replaced the brick before sliding down to the ground and patting the ground next to him for me to sit. I smoothed out my skirt before doing so and watched with curious eyes as he untied the bag. He soon turned it on it’s side and onto his waiting palm fell a small stack of gold coins. I didn’t need much light to see their obvious value.
I leaned forward on my palms to get a closer look, trying to keep my voice down as much as possible despite my surprise, “Naruto! Where did you get those!” I glanced down the alleyway to recheck that no one was around. The militia often confiscated items they felt were stolen. If two raggedy teenagers like us started walking around with money like that, we’d easily be apprehended.
He split the small stack of coins in two and handed me half, “I found this hole yesterday and this was inside. Here, we’ll each take half.” The coins felt heavy in my palm. I picked up one with my other hand and flipped it over to see the Uchiha insignia shine up at me. These were real gold coins.
With this amount of money, I could buy us a house in the middle class area and keep food on the table for a few months. With a shake of my head, I reluctantly held the money away from me, “Naruto, if we get caught-” He shushed me with an alarmed look on his face. There was a loud commotion behind me.
I turned to look over my shoulder, shoving the coins into my skirt’s pocket so they wouldn’t be seen, to see a man forcing a small woman against a wall. She was crying and trying to push him away. That familiar anger filled me and that same thought passed through my mind again.
Something has to change.
Without thinking, I snatched Naruto’s pocketknife from his unsuspecting hand and sprinted over to shove the large man away from the young woman. The man stumbled back a few steps and I stood in front of his prey with the knife in both of my shaking hands. Every inch of his skin was covered with cloth, his face covered with a mask, even. “Sakura, what are you doing!” I heard Naruto run up to stand next to me with his hands up in defense.
He addressed the masked man before us, “Look, man, I’m sorry. She’s been sick with fever and-” I cut of his attempt to excuse ourselves, “No I haven’t.” My hands still shaking, I took a step towards the man, “If you don’t leave right now, I’ll kill you.” My voice was shaky, but the stranger seemed to take me seriously because he slowly turned and sprinted off into the dark.
As soon as I was sure he was gone, the knife slid through my fingers and I fell to my knees. Relief flooded through me as I panted for breath. I did it! I did something! “U-Um.. Thank you!”
I was pulled from my euphoria. Oh yeah, the girl! Naruto picked his knife up and folded up to put back in his pocket before helping me up. We simultaneously turned to see a young woman of obviously better class than us. She had thick black hair and lavender eyes set against porcelain skin. Her clothes were dark to blend in with the alleys, but were of such high quality that I could probably pay my rent for a year with the cost of them.
Naruto and I were silent, obviously stunned, so the girl bowed to us, “T-Thank you for saving me..um..what is your name?” She was talking to me. I bowed back, “Sakura Haruno, ma’am.” It was clear that she was a noble and I didn’t want to receive punishment for addressing her incorrectly. Naruto quickly mirrored my actions, “A-And I’m Naruto Uzumaki!” I glanced over at him and noticed a bright red tinge on his cheeks.
We rose together. The girl spoke again, “I-I’m terribly sorry for inconveniencing you, Sakura and Naruto. My n-name is Hinata. I was, um..” Despite her stutter, I could tell just by looking into her eyes that she was rich. Remember, I said I can always tell.
I could also tell that she was like me in some ways. I cut her off, more at ease, “You were running away from home, weren’t you?” There was the same look in her eyes that I often saw in my own when I’d catch my reflection in a window or mirror. The look of melancholy that came with incessant self-resentment. She looked guilty for a moment before motioning the way we’d come from, “I’d hidden some money for myself and got attacked by that man on my way to retrieve it.”
I glanced at Naruto and he glanced back at me. We both sighed and pulled what we now knew was her money from our pockets to offer back to it’s original owner. She looked shocked before putting two and two together as to why we were in the alleyway. Hinata let out a small laugh that sounded like bells twinkling, “P-Please keep it as a token of my gratitude.”
Her small smile quickly disappeared and she poked her two index fingers together, “Could I a-ask just one more favor?” Naruto answered before I could, “Of course! Anything!” Her face turned a matching shade of red as his, “Is there anyway y-you two could help me back to the wall without b-being noticed by the m-m-militia? My family, they don’t know that I-I left and after this, ” she gestured to the alleyway, obviously meaning the man that attacked her, “I don’t think I-I’m ready to l-l-leave home just yet.”
That melancholic look returned to her face and my heart ached for her. She was going back to the same thing she always did, just like I always would. Regardless of my sentiments, I agreed with Naruto to help her get back to the wall. She was gifting us a hefty amount for helping her so it’d be stupid, not to mention poor manners, not to assist. After replacing her hood onto her head so she wouldn’t be noticed, Naruto and I guided her through the dark alleys for what felt like hours.
You could tell when we were leaving the ghetto area and by the quality of the houses we were passing and the sounds of fighting getting quieter and quieter as we walked. Any time a member of the militia was near, we’d rush into the closest alley or shadow to hide. By the time we’d finally reached the wall, we were all three out of breath and it was nearly morning. Naruto and I did live a few miles from the wall so it took a long time to get there. Hinata must’ve either left very early in the day or had help getting to where she was when we found her.
We didn’t ask her or even talk much as we traveled in fear that the militia would hear us and come to inspect. Naruto lay a hand on the brightly colored wall with a wistful look before glancing over at Hinata and I. Hinata held his gaze for a moment before letting a sad look fill her features if only for a moment before bowing to us again, “T-Thank you again for all of your help. I won’t forget this, Sakura Haruno and Naruto Uzumaki.” With that, she turned and started walking the length of the wall towards the gate that was a few minutes away.
We watched her walk away in silence until her small form could no longer be seen in the shadows. Naruto let out a sigh, “Man, she was the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.” We started the long walk back towards our homes. I let out a laugh, “Even more than Ino?” His face was still red. He walked with his hands laced behind his head and his eyes up on the bright moon in the sky, “Even more than Ino.”
My laughing stopped and I looked at him with a small frown. I felt sorry for him. He was obviously smitten with her, but there was no way they could be together. Even if she did return his feelings, they were from two very different classes and everyone knew that it was forbidden to jump classes like that. A lower class could marry and middle class and a middle class could marry a high class, but a high class could never marry a lower class. It was unheard of.
I felt the weight of the coins I’d been given slapping against my leg as we walked and lay a hand over the cloth that held it. Hinata wasn’t like the other nobles I’d met. She had a kind heart. I sighed and quickened my pace so I’d be able to get an hour or two of sleep before Mom would force me out of bed. The next morning, I was awoken by a shrill shriek.
I shot out of bed and sprinted out of my room with a broom in my hand ready to hit whatever was attacking. The broom dropped from my hand and it’s clatter on the floor rang through my ears like an echo. Our home was demolished. Every piece of furniture was smashed to pieces. Each appliance was destroyed and the refrigerator and cabinets had been ransacked.
Ino and Mom were standing in the kitchen with tears in their eyes. We’d been robbed. With a gasp, I ran to my bedroom and threw open the lid of the trunk at the end of my bed. The money was gone! Whoever had done this had done it in the length of an hour or two and had done it so skillfully and silently that none of us had been woken up. Had the man I’d chased off of Hinata followed me home? It had to be the doing of more than one person, though.
Tears fell from my eyes and I fell to my knees. I looked up at the ceiling and imagined looking through it and up into the heavens to fall upon God’s face. Was this his way of punishing me for actually standing up and acting last night? A broken question left my lips, “Why?”
“My fabric is missing!” Ino’s yell from her work room just weighed even further on my heart. I couldn’t stay there any longer and quickly climbed out of my bedroom window, falling hastily to my knees on the mud that lay on the ground. After shakily rising to my feet, I started sprinting in a random direction and didn’t stop until I hit something hard. Breathless, starving, and in hysterics, I didn’t even get back up when I was knocked back onto my bottom. A rough hand wrapped completely around my arm and yanked me to my feet.
The air was knocked out of me and I finally looked up to see that the hard thing I’d run into was none other than a member of the militia, surrounded by three of his co-militants. Hostility filled my every vessel and I tried to yank my arm free, only further bruising it in the man’s tight grip. These men were supposed to prevent things like what happened at my house from happening, but all they really did was beat up people who spoke out against the Uchihas and steal any bit of wealth from the poor.
That though stuck in my brain and I couldn’t stop my anger from lifting my hands and shoving against the now bewildered man. “Do you realize you’ve just assaulted a member of the militia? What do you have to say for yourself?” His voice was deep and booming, but did little to stifle my hysteria. “Screw you and screw the Uchihas!” The words slipped past my lips before I could stop them.
I was thrown to the ground. The four men stood over me with obvious intent to intimidate. Without a care in the world, I climbed to my knees and pointed at the man who’d thrown me, “You are all so greedy! You don’t care about us! You and the Uchihas should just go die!” There was a silence before I was slammed against the ground, arms behind my back, “You’re under arrest for threatening the life of militia officers and the royal Uchiha family!”