"Higanbana" (彼岸花) refers to the red spider lily, a flower that blooms near cemeteries, and because of that it is featured in sorrowful legends, as well as used in funerals. The name of the flower can also refer to 'the other shore'; its bright colours said to guide souls into the afterlife. An aspect that presumably explains its use at funerals.





Tobirama watched his students argue with outward apathetic stoicism. He'd expected this, honestly. They were still young, barely twenty-three (some not yet twenty-three). More so, Tobirama expected this of Danzō and Hiruzen. Sometimes their tentative friendship reminded him of his brother's friendship with Madara.

Their rivalry often had them at each others throats though. Hashirama and Madara had a common dream to bond over, Danzō and Hiruzen lacked that. Any other time he'd let them fight it out, making sure nothing went too far should it devolve into an all-out brawl, but now wasn't the time for their rivalry. It would be only minutes before the Kinkaku Force ambushed them; if they were going to act, they had to act now!

"I'll be the decoy..." Tobirama announced, cutting into their argument. "You are the bright flames who must protect the village."

"You can't! You're the Hokage!" Danzō yelled, shocked his leader would even suggest it. "There is no one greater than you in the village!"

Tobirama sighed. "Danzō, you and Saru have always been rivals in everything you do. But what we need now is unity. Don't bring your personal squabbles into this."

"At any rate, Danzō... Saru... there's no need to be hasty at your age. One day the time will come. Just stay alive, until then." Tobirama stood up, determined to succeed but with a grimly accepting expression. His squad could tell he fully accepted he would die.

"Saru," he began. "You must protect those who have faith in you and who love the village, and train up those to whom you can entrust the next generation... for tomorrow, you will be Hokage!"

Their eyes widen owlishly, none more so than Hiruzen and Danzō. They'd expected their sensei and squad leader to announce his successor, but they'd not expected it to be one of them. Oh, Danzō and Hiruzen had both hoped, but not thought either of them would be chosen given their young age. Shaking his shock, Hiruzen drops his head into a bow along with the others, and Danzō grinds his teeth but holds his tongue.

"Yes, sir," Hiruzen says.

Tree leaves rustle and fall around them as they plan, and unnoticed a snowy owl takes flight.




A midnight haired woman sat against the base of a tree, seemingly asleep. Black eyelashes fluttered open to reveal bright, jewel green eyes. Smiling softly, the woman raised her left arm to the sky. Seconds later an elegant white owl perched on her sleeved arm.

"Hello, Hedwig," she muttered, running a hand down one of the owls wings. "What did you learn?"

"It's as you sensed, princess," Hedwig spoke, which would have startled any civilian not used to summons. "The ninja ahead are from Konoha, but they're being pursued by Kumo's Kinkaku Force. In fact, I believe by now the Kinkaku Force is upon them, or at least the decoy."

"I see," Masaki murmured. "So they chose to sacrifice one of their own so the rest could escape..."

"Yes. But Masaki-hime, the man who chose to sacrifice himself..." Hedwig began, "I believe him to be Senju Tobirama, the Nidaime Hokage."

Masaki's green eyes shot over to connect with Hedwig's golden ones. She'd not expected that, but she wasn't surprised by the Nidaime's choice either. From what she'd heard of the Hokage, he was someone who would put the good of the village and his comrades above himself. It was hearsay, honestly, but she'd heard it often enough to take it as truth.

With the First Shinobi War happening, Masaki's parents had all but begged her to return home, or at least go to Konoha. Konoha was allied with her home village of Uzushiogakure, since she didn't wish to abandon her travels, Masaki chose to visit her cousin – Uzumaki Mito – in Konoha until the war was over.

Frankly, the war didn't bother her. She'd been through wars before, in her first life as Harriet Potter war had been her purpose up until she was nearly eighteen. Then she found out that being the Mistress of Death was more than a silly title. She stopped aging almost completely, and by the time she turned forty she started using charms to appear older than she looked. Magic made witches and wizards age slower and live well into their hundreds, but even for magical people she was aging too slow. The last thing she wanted was to be accused of practicing the dark arts.

She went through two more wars after Voldemort, and many dark witches and wizards who tried and failed to replace Voldemort with their own reign of terror. The first to succeed was thirty-five years after the Battle of Hogwarts. Admittedly, it was a short lived war, but the deaths had been numerous on both sides. It was a dark time for the wizarding world.

The second was more of a threat and the war had lasted much longer. She fought in the war, despite being well past her prime, and died at the age of one-hundred and twenty defending against the Dark Lady; taking her into death with her.

After which, the then named Hari Potter joined Death in the afterlife and began her duties after having time to visit with her family and friends in the pure-lands. She was something of a deity of death, a grim reaper of sorts who helped Death by ferrying souls into the afterlife. She never really saw the need to join in the cycle of rebirth, at least, not until recently.

Her parents decided to be reborn and some years later Death simply laid it down for her. She could be reborn the child of her parents reincarnations, awakening their past-life memories when she pleased, or she could go on as she was.

It was selfish, but Masaki wanted a second chance with her parents. Her hope was this time there would be no Voldemort to interfere and cut their time short. Despite the constant clan wars, Masaki got her wish, and not long after her birth her parents regained the memories of their past lives (by this time she was already Tōkō Masaki, and neither had the heart or desire to change it).

Upon seeing the lightning bolt birthmark upon their daughter's brow, Yuri and Jin knew she was the reincarnation of their past-life daughter. Even if she hadn't been, they'd still have loved her the same.

Although a lot of her power was sealed within her soul, as she was basically a demi-deity, deaths avatar, she still retained her magic; unlike her parents whose magical core was replaced with chakra. Masaki also had chakra, but it was considered rather minuscule compared to most of her mother's clan, even a half-blooded Uzumaki like herself. She was considered to have taken more after her father's clan, but even he had larger reserves; most of her clan did.

In truth, this was to regulate her magical energy and chakra so they could work together without slowly killing her. And as slim as those chances were, it was still possible without a perfect balance between her magical core and chakra. When she started doing magic the clan called it a new bloodline, possibly brought about by the merging of an Uzumaki and Tōkō (her father's clan, who while small, were distant cousins of the Uchiha).

The Tōkō clan always had a bit of mystery to it; to an outsiders point of view, at least. It was an accepted explanation since new bloodlines did pop up from time to time, so it didn't matter if it wasn't the first time an Uzumaki and Tōkō had married.

Masaki stood up and brushed off her kimono, which was made for battle. It came just past her knees and was off-white in color. The sleeves were long, brushing past her fingertips, aided by the fact the kimono bared her shoulders and a generous amount of cleavage to the world.

Tightly wound around her waist was a crimson obi with black details, and a slim breast plate enhanced with durability seals covered her torso. She also wore dark shinobi boots and crimson stockings. Weapons were strategically placed on her person. She'd been mistaken for a geisha more than a few times because of her choice of dress, but she cared not how others thought of her.

She had rather great respect for geisha in fact, having learned a few things about grace and dance from them during her travels. As a kunoichi she had no fear of using her body to her advantage, but neither was she someone to sleep with a guy for a mission – there were other ways to get information. She was no prude, but she had her compunctions.

"Masaki-hime?" Hedwig tilted her head in question, and Masaki smiled.

"If I Apparate I might get there before they can kill him," she said.

"You plan to interfere?"

The war had been going on for two years now, and this wasn't the first time she'd run into the middle of a battle field. But Hedwig had never seen her mistress interfere. Sometimes she would offer her medical aid after the battle was over, but she never joined in unless she had no choice. Which rarely happened.

"He's Mito's family. I may not remember much of cousin Mito, but I don't wish her to lose anyone close to her to war. If I recall, she lost her husband two years ago, just before the war began."

Hedwig nodded and flew onto one of the tree branches, watching as the girl she'd seen as a hatchling in both lifetimes sensed for Tobirama's chakra, before disappearing without a sound (unlike the usual Apparation, Masaki had long since learned to do it soundlessly).

"Good luck, Princess."




The moment she appeared, Masaki had to take in many things at once. One, there were fifteen shinobi dead or dying on the ground around them. Not bad, considering there were twenty-five originally. Two, she'd appeared between the Second Hokage and a large man delivering the final blow.

She would have taken the blow to the torso if not for her quick reflexes; she flicked her wrist up and wordlessly cast a shield charm. The charm was just powerful enough to stop the blade within inches from her chest. And Kinkaku (possibly the one the force was named for) stood there startled.

A woman had appeared out of nowhere, and somehow stopped his blade mid-strike. No matter the force he put behind his sword he couldn't move it forward an inch. At first, he thought the girl must be from Konoha, possibly an Uchiha by her looks alone. But her eyes ruined the image – instead of black they were a verdant green. Tobirama had noticed the same, though he'd yet to meet her eyes.

"H-how?" Kinkaku muttered.

Masaki tilted her head and smirked. "Expelliarmus," she said, watching as Kinkaku's sword goes flying out of his reach. Having to drop her shield seconds after uttering the disarming spell she moved back.

In an instant the remaining ninja were upon her. Kinkaku being the closest rushed her. He was easily stronger than her in brute strength, but she had speed and agility. He towered over her and his muscles made him even more intimidating. At least, he would be to someone else – she'd seen too much to let Kinkaku's appearance spook her.

"Conjunctivitis!" she cried out, and Kinkaku came to an abrupt stop. He began to panic immediately, holding his hands up to his eyes as he shouted like a mad man.

"My eyes! Uh, what did you do to them you..." He thrashes around wildly, but before he could gain his cool, Masaki had drawn her tantō from the back of her obi and sliced through Kinkaku's neck. Blood gushed, and having cut so deeply and severed every major artery she could, he fell dead within seconds.

She had only a few seconds to recognize the loss of life. Had it been centuries ago, Masaki would've been more distraught over killing someone, but she wasn't the same girl she'd been then. She'd seen too much to ever be that innocent again. This was hardly the first death she'd caused.

It was easy for her to see Kinkaku was the one leading the force. With him gone it left her with nine shocked and ruthless ninja, all of whom were highly trained. They'd been so caught off guard by her easy defeat of their leader, easily the strongest of them, they'd stopped their approach momentarily. But she could see rage replacing their shock, and Masaki knew she didn't have long to develop a plan.

Looking behind her she saw Tobirama was trying to stand, obviously wishing to help her fight. He held his side and stomach as if to keep his insides on the inside, and from all the blood she wouldn't be surprised if that was the case. He was much paler than he should be, and his wine-red eyes were unusually heavily lidded and blurry. He was in no shape too fight.

Tobirama knew he wasn't in any shape to fight, but he couldn't let this woman defend him herself. There were still nine highly trained Kumo-nin left to face, and after she'd killed their leader they'd not be kind to her. This also put her in a difficult situation when Kinkaku's brother found out his brother was dead. He'd been surprised to find Ginkaku wasn't with his brother for this mission. It had given him some hope he might make it back alive. But he'd underestimated them and he paid the price – not that he hadn't expected to die anyway.

The woman in front of him, protecting him for whatever reason she had as she was no Konoha ninja, was unusual. She was beautiful, and if one didn't know the signs to look for they'd assume she was a geisha before a Kunoichi. She was small, just barely five foot five, and slender but with plenty of curves she seemed unashamed to show off.

She moved with grace, always light on her feet – like a bird. He'd witnessed her defeat Kinkaku, who'd given him problems, without breaking a sweat. She spoke strange words, had no need for hand seals, and then quickly executed him by cutting his throat. She was highly trained and with what chakra he had left he could sense she was at least part Uzumaki.

That was a surprise since she only somewhat resembled the clan. From the angle he'd first seen her she looked like an Uchiha. The long midnight hair, though straight, was similar to the raven color of most Uchiha – even having a blue sheen to it when the light hit it. Her skin was fair, another common Uchiha trait. Her face was heart-shaped, with high cheekbones which were almost noble in appearance, but that was where the similarities ended.

Her chakra, while tinged with similar chakra, was so distant if she was related to them it was a few generations removed. Her eyes were too bright and brilliant of a green to be closely related to them, and he knew no Uchiha or Uzumaki who could get along long enough to create offspring. Her eyes were almond shaped with thick lashes, her nose straight and button-like, her lips neither too thin or too full.

He noticed this all in the few seconds she'd been looking at him, sizing him up to see if he was of any help to her. From her resigned sigh, Tobirama knew she'd realized he wouldn't be, and he clinched his other hand into a fist at his weakness.

"Stay put, you're in no shape to fight," she spoke, her voice soft and slightly husky. "I'll take care of this problem."

She flashed him a small reassuring smile, though he wasn't sure if it was for his benefit or her own. Masaki ducked down when the first ninja was on her, rushing her from the right. She got in close, stood and grabbed the ninja's still extended arm with her own and twisted. She was behind the ninja and using the kunoichi (or so she assumed, the armor left gender rather ambiguous) as a shield.

The one who'd come at her from the left didn't have time to move his sword, and it entered his comrades chest with a sickening sound of metal on flesh. She jumped back, kicking the ninja she'd used into the startled one. Her eyes flickering to Tobirama, Masaki noticed two ninja closing in on him and him fending off another, but barely. He had to fight one handed and it was obvious he was nearly dead on his feet.

"Protego Totalum!" she called out, flicking her hand towards Tobirama. Tobirama and the other ninja were surprised when attacks and people just bounced off an invisible shield once they got within a few paces of him. She ducked under a sword and when she stood her body twisted into a kick which impacted the ninja's chest and sent him into a nearby tree trunk.

The Kumo-nin realized if they wanted to kill the Hokage they'd have to take out Masaki, and suddenly all their attention was diverted back to the raven-haired woman. Masaki moved back, blocking and dodging and trading blows when she had no choice (avoiding lethal hits but still sustaining damage when she was too slow to react). Realizing her strategy so far wasn't putting enough distance between them, Masaki apparated across the field, closer to Tobirama.

"Yōton: Kōu Hanabi (Lava Release: Rainfall Fireworks)," Masaki finished her hand seals and gathering the needed chakra before she released molten rock into the sky, which rained down, similar to falling stars. It was impossible for the Kinkaku force to dodge all of it, as thousands of separate lava drops rained down. Some cried out in pain, others didn't really have time too make a sound; the result was the same, skin was melted away or burned harshly.

Her Lava Release had been inherited from her father, and while it might not be as powerful, it was more than a match for those without the Kekkei Genkai. She'd inherited an equal mix of power from her parents – the Healing Bite from the Uzumaki side, but the Lava Release from her father's family. Then there was her magic, her most powerful aspect.

It was considered a ninjutsu based Kekkei Genkai in Uzushio, both offensive and defensive. Most considered her a ninjutsu specialist, but she didn't know if that was a fair assessment knowing magic like she did. Noticing how Tobirama had fallen back to his knees and looked ready to keel over any moment, Masaki realized she needed to end this.

Drawing the remaining Kinkaku force toward her in a frontal assault, Masaki thrust her hand out, muttering, "Immobulus.", which stopped the ninja's approach completely, and "Stupefy.", stunning them. The remaining four ninja fell to the ground.

Masaki released the dome of protective magic around Tobirama and rushed over, kneeling down to check that the man was still alive. He was conscious, probably on will alone, but he'd become ashen and nearly unresponsive. Wrapping his arm around her shoulder she stood, ignoring the awkward position they were in because of the height difference. Closing her eyes she found Hedwig's signature, which was about twenty or more miles out from Konoha itself. Hopefully her familiar had found a nice isolated spot.

"Senju-sama, you need to listen to me. You have to be calm and not move suddenly. I'm going to be teleporting us closer to Konoha, so I can look at your injuries, but this can be dangerous if not done right." She didn't get an answer, just a small nod of his head.

Even if he wanted to question her, Tobirama didn't have the strength. Knowing time was of the essence, Masaki disappeared just as she'd appeared, this time with Tobirama alongside her.




When they appeared, it was to a small clearing in a thick forest – which was common place in the Land of Fire, especially the closer one got to Konoha. She spotted Hedwig perched on a high tree branch, before moving to one of the larger trees to lean Tobirama against it. Once she got him leaned up against the trunk, she turned and began muttering spells under her breath; the same spells Hermione had used to protect them during their hunt for Horcruxes.

Masaki had never forgotten them, not even in death.

It was finished quickly and she focused her attention back on Tobirama. For a man of his prestige and age (and she assumed he was a good decade her senior) he hardly looked past his prime. If she didn't know any better, she'd say he was no older than his late-twenties or mid-thirties. Yet his aura felt older and well lived – what little there was with him knocking on death's door.

Moving one of her sleeves up to reveal her arm, Masaki removed one of her opera-length black gloves. There was a handful of light bite-mark scars along it's length, but since she had other ways of healing she rarely resorted to her clans healing bite. Unlike a lot of Uzumaki who had this gift her scars were lighter, probably thanks to her sealed power leaking through to aid her healing. She took a hold of Tobirama's jaw and made him look at her. She had to use an enervate to wake him as he'd slipped into unconsciousness.

"Senju-sama, you need to bite my arm," she said, and she thought she saw recognition spark in his eyes. Slowly he opened his mouth and bit into the inside of her right arm, just above her wrist. She groaned at the odd sensation, but allowed her healing chakra to seep out and into the white-haired man.

At the same time she used multiple healing spells to heal the minor injuries and try jump starting the healing of his more grievous injuries, but without seeing them there wasn't much she could do. After a good five minutes she began to get tired, but Tobirama had been so close to death he needed every bit of the chakra she could spare if he was to recover.

Just after the five minute point, Tobirama came back to his senses and unclenched his jaw. Masaki sighed and pulled her arm away, feeling her drained chakra beginning to slowly return – it would be hours before it was back to the level it had been, though.

"Foolish girl," he muttered, seeing her exhaustion starting in.

Her eye twitched but she said nothing. Instead she reached to unclip his armor – or what was left of it. The entire time her green eyes stayed on his red ones, as if to calm any nerves he might have to someone undoing his armor. For someone like him, who'd seen the era of warring clans, being without his armor in the company of someone he didn't know the first thing about wasn't done. If the situation were any different he'd never have allowed it.

He nodded, showing the girl – woman really, as she was hardly a child – he allowed it. As she worked he inspected her, trying to figure out the enigma before him. He called her a girl before, but she looked to easily be twenty too twenty-five. Still quite a bit younger than him, not that age had ever been something ninja bothered themselves with. Only the strongest made it past their thirties.

He groaned when his armor fell away, pulling against dried blood, but it was nothing to when she had to remove his shirt. Some blood had already dried, gluing part of his shirt to his wound. A lesser ninja would have cried out, but Tobirama had been accustomed to pain since he was a child. Ninja either had high pain tolerances or developed them through battle.

"You're lucky I came along..."

"Luck had nothing to do with it," he said as she wiped away blood from his side and abdominal region. "Your ability to teleport; you'd have to know where you were going to do it properly. You said it yourself, it was dangerous, meaning if you didn't have something to latch onto than there would be consequences."

Masaki looked shocked he'd deduced that so quickly, and with such little information to go on. But he was the Nidaime Hokage, brother of the God of Shinobi. He probably likened it to his Hiraishin, a technique she'd only heard of as rumor since most didn't live to tell of it.

"Hmm, so you say." She pulled a scroll from the hidden pocket on her obi and unsealed a bag based off the one Hermione owned. The only difference was appearance since she'd created it to mirror the infamous beaded bag of her best friend. Reaching inside she pilfered around, trying to find the wooden box with her potions. At one point she'd reached in to her elbow, which got a raised brow from the Second Hokage.

She laughed at the stoic mans expression of surprise, before making a sound of triumph. Pulling her arm free she placed a wooden box on the ground. It was hand carved for her by her father when she was eleven, a present for missing the first time she turned eleven. It was a shame there had been no Hogwarts letter to celebrate as well. The box was deep enough for a good two handfuls of potion vials to be stored – though she had others stored in other scrolls.

"You're correct, Lord Second," she finally said as she sorted through the vials. She set aside a blood replenisher, a pepper-up to give the man enough energy to get to Konoha, and a few for healing. "I call it Apparation, and it allows me to get from one place to another. Distance usually doesn't matter, but I have to know where I'm going. Either by locking onto a chakra signature or by having been there before. Otherwise I could splinch myself or someone with me."

"Splinch?" he asked, confused by the odd use of words.

"Leave a piece of me behind. Like a chunk of my body, an arm, finger, or in the worse case even a head." It didn't happen often, dying from splinching, but enough that it hadn't been taught until students were nearly adults. Tobirama looked taken aback and she nodded. "It's rather unpleasant."

He didn't ask her how she knew. He honestly didn't want to know, he was more worried about the village and his squad. He could sense familiar chakra's within twenty miles of them, so they must be close to Konoha. Looking up to the sky he noticed the white wings and then body of a raptor – a snow owl.

"That's Hedwig," Masaki said, gaining his attention. "She's my summon. She's how I knew you would be in trouble. Here, drink these... the darker one first and then the lighter vial after a minute."

He eyed the two vials of liquid given to him, glancing at her with suspicion and she sighed, rolling her eyes.

"They're not poison," she said, taking them back and taking a sip from the darker vial, and after a minute she took some from the lighter vial. Handing them back to him he could tell they were lighter, meaning she had drank.

Seeing there wasn't anything happening to her, he downed the darker one, wrinkling his nose a bit at the taste, which got a smirk from the ravenette. "See, its fine. Here take another of the darker one, you lost a lot of blood so you'll need it."

She handed him another darker vial as he downed the lighter vial. He noticed little from the first liquid, but the second one had nearly immediate effects. It felt as if he'd drank the bitter coffee Mito liked so much and was on a caffeine high, but without the nasty side effects of coming down from it. If not for the pain in his side and stomach, he'd probably be able to reach Konoha before the sunset. Tobirama noticed she also looked better after just taking sips of the two potions.

"What was that?" he asked.

"The darker one was a blood replenisher. It'll help replace the blood you lost. The other was a pepper-up potion, meant to give burst of energy without harming your recovery," she replied, dropping three drops of something on each of the large wounds in his side and abdomen. They hissed and steamed and repaired itself, leaving only scarred flesh. His eyes visibly widened at this and he went to sit up only for a petite hand to force him back against the tree trunk. He sent her a glare and she laughed.

"It only sealed the wound, there is still internal damage I need to look at before you can start running around, Senju-sama," she said, smearing a cream between her hands and then over the wounds. He shivered, not from the cream but from her gentle hands. He was a rather paranoid man at times, something he'd not let go from the years of constant blood shed and lessons his father taught.

He trusted few this close to him, and though no stranger to the female touch (sexual or otherwise) he couldn't recall any this gentle. He'd seen her kill and defeat ten ninja rather brutally, spitting lava from her lips, and seemingly stopping time for five ninja before knocking them out and letting them drop like marionettes with severed strings. The latter all with a simple flick of her wrist.

It was mind boggling to see that and find the same woman with such a kind and gentle touch. Even when forcing him to lean back against the tree her hand was light against his chest, as if knowing he'd not fight her.

Tobirama sighed, shaking his head as he realized his distraction. It was unlike him, but this woman was a mystery which intrigued him. She was an Uzumaki, yet he'd never heard tale of an Uzumaki with black hair like a crows wings. Suddenly he realized he had no idea this woman's name.

"It seems you have me at a disadvantage," he began. "You know who I am, yet I don't know who you are."

She looked up from where she'd been healing his internal injuries with medical-ninjutsu, and her fair cheeks turned red. "Oh, sorry... I hadn't thought of it. My name is Tōkō Masaki."

"Flourishing tree," he murmured without a reason why, but his thoughts turned to what he knew of the name Tōkō.

She smiled and nodded. "My mother's family has a tradition of naming the girls after flowers or something nature related. My mom is Yuri, her mother was Momo, and my grandaunt was Kiku..."

Yuri, Momo, and Kiku, he thought, closing his eyes. Those names were familiar and it took him a few moments to realize where he'd heard them before. His eyes opened in realization – those were names of Mito's family. Kiku was her mother, but he wasn't sure about the other two... given Masaki's relation he assumed Momo was Kiku's sister, and Yuri must be Mito's cousin.

"You know we're in the middle of a war... so why are you traveling alone?" he asked. She looked up from wrapping his torso with bandages, a defiant look in her eyes.

"You sound like my parents," she muttered, shaking her head. "I like to travel and I'm capable of taking care of myself. They wanted me to return home to Uzushio..."

Ah, so she was part Uzumaki, meaning the names weren't coincidence. There were very few clans other than the Uzumaki in Uzushiogakure. One of the others was the Tōkō clan, but that was recent – within the last eighty years. The Tōkō clan were distant cousins of the Uchiha clan. About three centuries ago an Uchiha disagreed with his clan and left. Shinobi were sent after him, but he escaped somehow.

Eventually he settled down, found a woman who was one of the last of a small ninja clan, and the two fell in love. He took the Tōkō name for his own and had seven children with his wife. Those seven children helped repopulate the dying Tōkō clan until they were a small clan of around fifty members. They were nomadic until eighty years ago when the clan heiress married an Uzumaki and brought her clan to Uzushio. It wasn't uncommon today for the Tōkō clan members and Uzumaki clan members to marry.

Since Uchiha Masamune, the man who was credited with saving the Tōkō clan from extinction, and his children, it was almost unheard of for a Tōkō to awaken the Uchiha Sharingan – and if they did it was very rare and usually something kept within the clan. He only knew of one within the last fifty years. As far as Tobirama knew the Uchiha denied all relation to the Tōkō clan, unable to admit that Madara wasn't the first Uchiha to leave.

"You should, wars a dangerous time..."

"I know," she interrupted hotly. She sighed, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear as she tied the bandages off at his side. "I remember the clan wars well enough."

"Ah… I hadn't thought you were old enough to remember such times," he admitted.

"I'm half-Uzumaki, we tend to age more gracefully," she said with an amused smile. "You of all people should know that appearances are deceiving. You hardly look your age, which I'm guessing is well into your forties by now. That's not surprising, of course. The Senju are our cousin clan, so some traits are shared, even if on a lesser degree. Anyway, I'll be thirty-five the end of July."

"Fifty," he said, not bothering to elaborate. He figured if she was willing to share her age he might as well share his. His mother had once told him, you don't ask a woman for her age... fair was fair.

"Really," Masaki said, genuinely surprised. Even for a Senju of his power, to look a good ten to twenty years younger as he did was a feat to be marveled. It made her wounder if he had a recent Uzumaki ancestor in his past. Maybe a great-grandmother or the like.

Mito and Hashirama were hardly the first Uzumaki and Senju to marry, but they were the first to form an honest treaty between the two clans. She wouldn't call it a political marriage, as her mother always said Mito and Hashirama were honestly in love with one another, but it had bridged the growing gap between the clans.

If she'd had no idea who Tobirama was she'd say he was no older then his early thirties, around her age (though she barely looked twenty-five). Chakra was known to allow ninja to age more gracefully, even live a bit longer than civilians, but there was a reason the Uzumaki were known as the clan of longevity. Unless killed in battle or of illness they tended to live a good twenty to thirty years longer than the average person.

That was all beside the point. Frankly, age was but a number to Masaki. She'd lived so long everyone was technically younger than her. And she'd seen friendship and even love blossom between people no matter the age. Remus and Tonks being prime examples of love knowing no age. Tonks had been thirteen years younger than Remus, which was more accepted among wizards than Muggles. Of course there were cases were age was important, but with two consenting adults Masaki had never seen an issue, and was one of the first to support Remus and Tonks in their relationship.

"I was heading to Konoha. My parents wanted me to come home or go to Konoha for safety. Eventually I relented, but decided I wanted to see Konoha. I've heard of it, but never been there. I was hoping to see cousin Mito." she said, standing up after resealing her bag.

Tobirama nodded. Usually, no one was allowed to enter the village unless already citizens or ninja returning from missions; a safety measure to lower risk of infiltration during war time. Of course it didn't stop it completely, but it did lower the chances.

Masaki raised her left sleeve, allowing him to see the red fabric holding the metal plate with the Uzumaki spiral on it wrapped around her upper arm. A sign that Uzushio recognized her as one of its shinobi. The fact they let her travel unsupervised and without missions said a lot of her standing within the village. He would make an exception for his sister-in-law's cousin, but she'd be watched for a few days to be on the safe side.

"Well, I've done what I can for now." Masaki lowered her sleeve back to her finger-tips. "You might want to visit the medic's in Konoha when we arrive. If you'd like I could also have a look at it later."

"I'll see," he said, slowly getting back to his feet. His side and abdomen were sore and the scars hurt to stretch, but he could tell he was in no danger of dying anymore. As he flexed his hands he realized with shock he wasn't dead, he'd live to see another sunrise after all.

She hmm'd and pointed towards his torn shirt and armor. "Reparo."

Tobirama watched with amazement as the cloth and armor stitched themselves back together. It was like magic. "What is that exactly? How do you do it? You used no chakra or hand seals."

"It's a bloodline I was born with," she replied, picking up the shirt and armor and handing them to him. He could've done it himself, but Masaki didn't want him doing more than he had too right now, less he bust a scar open. "I call it Mahō." Which basically meant magic.

"So you have this... Mahō and Lava Release?" he asked, raising an eyebrow. It wasn't unheard of for someone to have two bloodlines, but it wasn't common either.

Dual bloodline holders were rather sought after by the more bloodline hungry villages – and he could see why Masaki's parents were wary of their daughter traveling alone. If someone saw what her Mahō could do and then saw her using the Lava Release, on top of being even just half Uzumaki, many villages would vie for her capture.

Masaki nodded. "You're probably thinking, why would I be traveling alone then, with the threat of ninja villages wanting my bloodlines? Simple – I wont live in fear. I want to explore the world, see it for myself. For the last two decades that's what I've done. Sure, there have been fights... but I've survived and gotten stronger because of them." She smiled, shrugging. "Who knows, maybe I'll settle down before I turn forty."

Tobirama's lips, usually kept in a straight line to match his stoic personality, lifted into a small smile.

Masaki sighed, looking up at the sky through squinted eyes and her hand acting as a visor from the sunlight. She turned to look back at the man and said, "We should stay here for the night..."

He opened his mouth to argue but she spoke up before he could. He had to respect her confidence, not many could argue with him.

"No, here me out. We're about twenty miles from Konoha. Your squad has a head start on us and has probably reached the end mark of their journey. We'd never make it by sundown in your condition, you need to rest. By morning you'll be able to run, and if we get an early start we'll reach the gates by noon. Maybe sooner." She ran a hand through her long hair. "No one will find us here thanks to some seals and wards I've erected around us. If an enemy gets too close, Hedwig will let me know."

He couldn't argue with her logic. As far as Konoha was concerned he was dead, one night wouldn't change anything, and in his condition they'd not make it before nightfall. He nodded, leaning back against the tree behind him.





AN: I've been working the idea of this story for a while now, but figured now was a good time to post it since I'd decided to turn it into a short chapter story instead of the one-shot it was supposed to be. It just got so long and still had so much I wanted to write for it that a one-shot didn't seem feasible anymore. Updates have been slow for a while now, but I do want to apologize since I'd planned to be updating a lot during October, as it's my first really free month since the year began. And I tend to slow down in November and December with the Holidays being some of my busiest months.

Unfortunately, I've gotten a late start on the chapters I wanted to finish this month. I usually don't like discussing personal matters; but I have four dogs – or I had four dogs. My oldest, Sebastian, recently passed of old age (he was over ten years old). So, you can imagine I wasn't feeling much like writing anything. But now I'm back to writing, so hopefully I'll have some new chapters out soon. I'm hoping to have the next chapter of The Roaring of the Sea out sometimes next weekend.

As for this story, it will be a short one. As I said, it was intended to be a one-shot, so I estimate no more than five or ten chapters to finish it. Like all my stories there is a page for it on my website, linked on my profile. I hope you guys enjoy this.