Author's Note: Woooow... my first fanfiction. I've read TONS of wonderful fiction on this site (check out my favorite stories), but this is the first time I've had a clear enough idea for a story to actually be able to write anything. I'm pretty good with spelling, but my grammar I'm much less sure about. Please feel free to correct me if you see anything wrong

If anyone who's better than me at both spelling and grammar would like to be a beta reader/ editor, that would be wonderful. Please send me an email.

I think there's some sort of custom concerning standard disclaimers... so... » insert standard disclaimer here «

Concerning the story - I've read several arranged marriage stories with Gaara and Sakura, but while I've enjoyed a few, none of them seemed to take the situation quite as seriously as I had desired. Arranging a marriage between the two for political purposes would be a huge deal for the politics of the countries, plus Gaara and Sakura seem to fall together too easily for my tastes. These are both strong individuals who would be giving up their private lives for the sake of their countries. Asking someone to go on a mission, take a job, is a league away from asking them to give up their freedom and future dreams for the sake of their homeland. I'm not very experienced in developing a storyline, but I hope that this story can avoid those pitfalls

I also hope in future chapters to avoid the huge amount of political exposition that is serving to set up my backstory in this chapter. I LOOOVE humor and fluff, and I want to get to the good stuff, just not in a hurried manner. This story is a slight alternate reality (AR) - Shukaku is still sealed within Gaara, Sakura's parents died in a battle with the Land of Earth many years ago and Tsunade adopted her into her own clan and family at the end of the timeskip (eg 3 years after she began training with her.) Gaara is 20 and Sakura's 19, and Sasuke is still (and perhaps forever?) MIA.

So let's begin...

Soft rays of light poured in through open café windows, illuminating two people conversing in quiet tones over a simple morning coffee.

"So… What is it that this mere medic can do for you Ambassador? And why did you request this meeting in such an… informal… location?" Shizune leaned back and quietly sipped her coffee to stifle a yawn, curious why the man would call her at such an ungodly hour simply to request a meeting.

Taking time to phrase his answers in the most polite way, the older gentleman responded slowly, "In Suna, our population rises well before dawn to start the day, then breaks when the heat becomes overly oppressive, only to resume as the sun enters its last quarter of the sky. I am sorry for the short notice, but this quiet shop is, as you can see, quite empty this early in the morning. Yet two people can sit and converse here without seeming out of place at all.

'Great, he's saying the entire population of Suna are morning people… if I lived there I think I might die…' Shizune frowned, "Yes, it is quite early. In fact, I didn't believe this time of day had ever existed before. Thank you for helping me make such a wonderful discovery." Sarcasm biting her tone, she endeavored to reign in her annoyance at his predawn request to meet her. Setting down her coffee and closing her eyes for a moment, she opened them and addressed the man with more respect, "Seeing a beautiful sunrise with the respected Ambassador of Suna is not a great effort, please tell me what it is I might help you with."

The ambassador leaned forward a little, and took on a more direct tone, "Suna knows of Konoha's struggles with the Lands of Sound and Earth. Suna also knows of the growing alliance between those lands, and that Konoha is facing an increasingly strong enemy who desires your abundant rice fields and wooded forests for themselves. Were they to ally fully against you, Konoha, despite your impressive array of talent, might be overwhelmed by sheer numbers. Suna has its own share of troubles with the Land of Earth, but they do not covet our sandy expanses a fraction as much as your wooded forests.

Pausing here for a moment, the ambassador continued more quietly, "Suna has more internal troubles than external, and they revolve around two issues that we think Konoha might be able to assist with. In return for your assistance we would bind our alliance tighter than any two hidden villages have ever before, to present a united front against the Lands of Sound and Earth. Our united strength would be more than enough to keep the fractious Sound and Earth at bay in both our lands, and increased trade would enrich us as well."

Shizune was taken aback by the speech and sudden directness of the older man, and stared at him in confusion. Her coffee now forgotten and feeling fully awake, she blurted out, "But why in the world would you want to speak to me about such things? I'm not a diplomat in any way, there are many whom you know in our government to discuss such things with – I'm just a doctor and sometimes assistant!

Propping his elbow on the table and holding his hand out as if to say 'Exactly', he softly intoned, "It is because of your close relationship with the Hokage that I wished to ask your advice on our proposal. I cannot approach anyone in an official capacity with this proposition because of its radical nature, it would cause too much embarrassment to both parties were it to be discussed openly at this time." He shifted slightly in his seat, looking to the side uncomfortably for a moment before turning back to her, "It has not been... officially approved... by our Lord Kazekage..."

"Then I think you had better tell me what those two issues you think Konoha can help with are. I'll do the best I can, but I can't guarantee I won't mess up and embarrass everyone anyway… I'm a doctor, not a diplomat…" Shizune grumbled

The ambassador leaned back for a moment, taking a long drink from his coffee to gather his thoughts before continuing. Setting his cup down and clearing his throat, he straightened and laced his fingers together on the table in a businesslike manner, saying, "This is not easy for me to discuss with outsiders, the people of Suna are more private than the boisterous people of Konoha, but... It concerns our Daimyo lord, and our Kazekage, Gaara.

"Our Daimyo has been sending his business to other villages, Konoha being one, and losing our revenue to competing villages is both embarrassing and destructive. Our Daimyo must see that Suna is the strongest village to address his needs, and if Konoha would turn down business from him he would be left with fewer choices as well. Perhaps the Daimyo is purposefully trying to weaken our village to remove some perceived threat to himself, perhaps he has just lost faith in Suna shinobi abilities, we do not know

"One thing we do know however is he sees our Kazekage as unstable and unfit to rule, though Gaara-sama is anything but. Assuaging his fears of the Kazekage would go a long way toward rebuilding ties between the Daimyo and Sunagakure. But how to do so?

"You must understand that, unlike your Hokage, who is chosen by a committee of elders, the title of Kazekage passes by heredity. Gaara-sama inherited the title of Kazekage not only because he is one of the most powerful shinobi Suna has ever had, but because he is the legitimate son of the Fourth Kazekage. His elder siblings both turned down the title in favor of Gaara-sama, and thus was he acceptable by Suna's own committee of elders to become the Fifth Kazekage

"Now Gaara-sama himself is 20 years old and unmarried, with no prospect of being so engaged in the future. Neither sibling has shown any interest in settling down as well, and having already turned down the title of Kazekage, if Gaara-sama were to perish there would be no one of suitable lineage or strength to take his place. There would be civil war as factions of shinobi fought to assume control of Sunagakure, and Suna might perish under the harsh desert winds."

The ambassador fixed her with a look that burned of determination, stating without even speaking that he would do anything to prevent that from happening. Quietly but intensely he finally asked, "What I need to know from you is this. Would the Hokage be open to a dialogue in which her own adopted daughter, Haruno Sakura, were to be married to the Kazekage of Suna, to cement our alliance for your strength and to ensure the lineage of the Kazekage line?