A/N: Hm… I kinda want to both brainstorm and write a ficlet for this prompt, because the idea is very lovely (as per usual, dona) but the brainstorm I have is different than the ficlet I want to write?
Like the ficlet is just a straight up narrative prose exploring the idea of some Nara children being changelings and why their clan are the exception, etc. etc. Whereas the brainstorm is a more expansive plotty thing about how having a changeling character would affect the story.
Hm, I guess they’re not necessarily exclusive to each other so let’s do both… ficlet first!
To say that the Shodaime Hokage created the forests around what would become the sight of Konohagakure is an exaggeration at best and an outright lie at worst.
It’s true that the Hashirama trees are the first type that villagers learn to identify as children–prevalent in most parks and training grounds, a protective ring around the walls–but the forest itself is far older than that; far greater.
Far less human.
Yoshino is in labor for a grueling forty six hours–more blood, sweat, and tears than even the worst battle–but she knows it’ll be worth it, prays to every god she can think of that it’ll be worth it.
When finally it’s done, that last exhausting push, she can barely catch her breath, barely stay awake, and yet she claws at consciousness desperately.
Why is there only one baby crying?
The Nara clan live close to the earth: their herds and their trees and theirs shadows upon the ground. They are intelligent, taking their own time and space, and for that they are looked upon fondly.
Most of the time, that’s a good thing.
There is a tree, deep within the Nara clan compound, old and gnarled and kept secret.
In that tree, there is a hollow, cleaned monthly but left empty.
Tonight, with Kasuga and Sembei at his back, Shikaku places the small, shrouded bundle inside.
It has been a long time since the Nara clan were given a gift from the other side.
An honor and risk, both.
The rest of the village has no idea what they’re in for.
OKAY! So, now it’s brainstorm time.
I made it vague because I wasn’t sure if, because you specified Shikamaru, you wanted him to be the changeling or if you wanted his POV of changeling!Shikako… or, I guess, now that I think of it, if you even wanted DoS? Whoops.
Anyway! The ficlet above would be the prequel basically laying down the groundwork of your prompt for a much larger story. What that story is, I’m not entirely sure…
Actually, I’m thinking something like Danzo has somehow gotten to the other side and that’s where a lot of his ROOT soldiers are from–changeling children that weren’t so blessed to be placed with the Nara clan, which sort of explains the affinity Shikako has with Sai, etc. etc–and the Fae kind of point Shikako in that direction and just, go wild, dispense our wrath…
… but I’m worried I’m focusing too much on Danzo as the big bad. I mean, the Fae could also be GREATLY DISPLEASED with the giant evil bijuu eating statue and that’s another task the whispers in Shikako’s mind point her towards.
I do like the idea that while the Nara are the only ones who get changeling children as a sort of active, deliberate exchange, there are other places (including outside of Konoha) where changeling children appear where there isn’t any established and known protocols for it. And so, like how Naruto has his not-so-secret society of jinchuuriki, Shikako has a slightly-more-secret society of changelings.
Sai is one, definitely. I’m thinking also Juugo? And maaybe Isaribi to incorporate her more into the story… I don’t think there’d be any overlaps in changelings and jinchuuriki (the only exception might be Sora at the Fire Temple who is only a partial jinchuuriki or something like that?)
I mean, this would be in Shikamaru’s POV so as to match your prompt and also him as an outsider but close observer of this phenomenon would lend itself well into the whole–changelings LOOK human, but they aren’t, kind of thing. Yes, they’re mostly taught how to interact in a socially acceptable way, but they’re still Other.
Actually, now I wonder if even the bijuu are a little scared of the Fae (and, by association, the changelings) because chakra is a relatively new power in the world. The bijuu aren’t that old in comparison to the Fae. SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT FURTHER 😀
Awesome! A brainstorm AND a ficlet! I love this so much- I totally hadn’t thought about the ROOT thing. …Man, the Fae could be PISSED about that. And …not concerned, but irritated at the instruction of the Juno. Yes, irritated. (Your suggestion also now has me wondering about the au of this au, where Shikamaru finds out HE’s the changeling. Oooh.) But I love the Shikako-Sai connection you did there. And for some reason I am thinking about the logistics of hiding this from the hospital. (Either the Nara blatantly take over that wing of the hospital, or Tsunade is left affronted that the Nara never go to the hospital for childbirth. Which makes one wonder if other clans try to take over one aspect of village administration/services in order to conceal/uphold their dealings with the Fae.)
…Wow, imagine if BOTH twins were Fae. Brings the ‘and one looks like the mother and one looks like the father’ to a whole new creepy level, right? Some Fae thing they do so that the babies blend in- maybe it involves a blood sacrifice from the parents. Or- no. Just the little bundle at the root of the tree. That’s enough to work with.
I think it makes more sense if Shikako alone is the Fae, though. Does she even know it? Maybe not. She tries very hard to be ‘normal,’ for a chageling.
…I kind of wonder if Orochimaru was a changeling. And maybe that was what got Danzo interested in them.
Shikamaru as the changeling would be absolutely fascinating. Because Shikako is the “weird” one as compared to Shikamaru who is very traditionally Nara. But is he really? Or, rather, what is it to be Nara as compared to Fae?
After all, they do have the favor of the Fae, have had previously received changeling children as a gift. Perhaps it’s because they’re so similar?
There’s a post going around about how changeling children from the past were most likely autistic children which society at the time couldn’t put into any other words but having been swapped with a Fae child. And, well, the Nara are very… hm… the new Maori word for autism is “his or her own time and space” which I feel does describe the Nara clan as a whole.
They let their members grow as they feel, don’t push them to think one way or another, they’re very supportive when a member finds their calling, used to members switching between hyper-focus and scattered distraction. Cloud watching could very well be a way to reduce stimuli…
I think there are probably enough Nara who work in the hospital that whenever one is pregnant and giving birth, it’s not at all difficult to swap Nara nurses and medics into the delivery. Especially when it’s the clan head’s wife giving birth? It wouldn’t at all be suspicious for any Nara hospital staff to involve themselves in such a clan critical pregnancy, so then it wouldn’t be necessary to take over the maternity ward (just borrow it, for a little while).
Ooh, Orochimaru as a changeling… that makes a lot of sense, actually! Unfortunately for him, the Nara clan head at the time of his childhood hadn’t been as observant, or perhaps thought the stillborns for changelings swap was a myth, or was very clannish and didn’t consider it his responsibility to help. And it would, as you said, give an interesting spin on his relationship with Danzo and also his defection from Akatsuki. He’s definitely a Dark Fae, or a Fallen Fae, or whatever the terminology might be for a changeling that has broken so many Rules that the Fae no longer claim him as their own. Although maybe he redeems himself in their eyes (which explains better why he’s still walking around doing whatever he wants in Boruto)?
I’m a little hesitant about Gaara being a changeling as well as a jinchuuriki… maybe he’s of Fae descent? Like, Karura could’ve been a changeling… which explains why she died in childbirth (the bijuu chakra sealed into the as of yet unborn Gaara seeped into her own system, weakening her) but also how she was able to imbue her protection/love into his sand even after her death. And how cool would it be if that’s where Temari’s EXTREME WIND BADASSERY came from?
Shikaku is a very tolerant father, I feel like. Or, rather, accepting the fact that his clan has a weird trading system with the Fae means he’s just a very tolerant, not-easily-shaken man.
Adding a note or two: Fae are rather possessive. Which would explain some of Shikamaru’s actions/ thought process after the Gelel arc.
Also I don’t think Orochimaru actually broke the Rules of Fae
He may twist words and make the sky seem green but he doesn’t lie, even when he has a seal on his tongue keeping him from speaking truth. Even his experiments with the Jugo’s blood-limit (that Orochimaru benefits from but that’ could be seen him working towards what he said he would that’s fae to) he acts as his name and within his power, and he doesn’t try to mess with Fae courts (not established courts anyway) and the actions he takes are very much in the Human Realm.
He even takes in others that were in some ways abandoned or betrayed (Kimimaro being one example). Which fae are acknowledged to do
just thoughts to add
Even before the Gelel arc, Shikamaru’s concern over Shikako could read as fae-influenced possessiveness–though it is also just the whole “my sister is nearly dying on a monthly basis and then one time ACTUALLY dies” situation.
I think there’s a certain generalization that can be applied if Shikamaru is the changeling because his personality is notably VERY in line with Nara-typical personalities which means A LOT of Nara over the years have been changelings/are descended from those changelings. Whereas if Shikako is the changeling then her unusual determination for a Nara matches up with those rare enough (but memorable enough) Nara who make the “motivated Nara” quote a significantly prevalent saying.
I dunno, I’m kind of waffling back and forth on this matter. Because the idea that the Nara as a whole all have even some percentage of fae ancestry is kind of fun. But also the idea that it isn’t so common, and they’re still just Like That is also very fun. And, like, there’s a certain level of tolerance if the “second-born” non-heir is a changeling, but I feel like there might be some backlash if the heir is the changeling.
… Then again, the idea of Asuma having to deal with changeling Shikamaru is hilarious to me for some reason. Kakashi is already on a team with a bunch of weirdoes, he’s used to it. Asuma would just be staring at Shikamaru–who he has specifically been training to be team leader–in utter bewilderment as his genin follow the strangest (fae) whims. AAAAAHHHH I don’t know
… True, true. Orochimaru is one of those characters whose Watsonian motivations must be more complex and fascinating than the Doylist reasons behind his actions. So the idea that he’s beholden to laws that aren’t human is absolutely compelling. All of the partnerships/promises he makes then breaks does give off a very mercurial vibe, and the fact that he doesn’t seem to be majorly punished for any of them does kind of go with the idea that his sense of honor/justice is somehow beyond human reproach. And that would explain why he is walking around in Boruto if he’s “only” broken human laws and those don’t really apply to fae/changelings.
I loosely follow @blackkatmagic’s fanon that Orochimaru’s backstory is as tragic as Tsunade’s with some added deliberate manipulation from Danzo to ruin one of the potential Hokage candidates, so Orochimaru can’t be as completely evil as we see on the surface (although there’s definitely a point where his actions are nobody’s fault but his own, and he doesn’t get held accountable for those at all). I suppose if I were more ambitious I would try to do an Orochimaru centered fic about his progression to cold, but that’s a lot of nuance that I’m not sure I can do…