.-.-.-.

THE ONLY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MARTYRDOM AND SUICIDE IS PRESS COVERAGE

.-.-.-.

"She's done WHAT?"

The messenger cringed beneath his mask as Yamanaka Tenten twirled the kunai knife around her finger faster and faster in her fury. The First Princess of Mizu was not known for patience, virtue or not. She had a quick temper and an even quicker throw, and said messenger knew this.

"Ten--Tenten-sama?"

She didn't move, and that kunai looked like it was going to fly off her index finger any second. Sadly, he was in no position to dodge.

"Tenten-sama..."

"Shut up," she snapped angrily. "Go get my father."

"Ye-yes, Tenten-sama!"

He darted off without another word. Staying around Tenten any longer might just cost him his eye; that is, if he was lucky.

As he dashed from her quarters, a loud crashing sound was heard. The messenger cringed again, before racing off, attempting to put as much distance between himself and the raging royal as quickly as possible.

.-.-.-.

King Yamanaka Inoichi of Mizu sighed and put a hand to his forehead as his elder daughter stomped around the room, raging, shouting, and breaking things that were so blatantly expensive that he almost felt compelled to stop her. (King Inoichi was not a stupid man, no matter what the press said about him. He also very much liked all his limbs.)

"Tenten."

"Tou-san, I'm not going! I'm not going, I'm not going, I am not going!!"

"I didn't say you had to go--"

"Ridiculous girl! How dare she not tell me?! I'm her sister! Her SISTER!!"

"Tenten, I am fully aware that Ino is your sister--"

"She deserted me! She abandoned me! She left me to rot here while she goes gallivanting off with that lazy ass moron of a captain who probably doesn't even feel anything for her! She's a fool! A FOOL!!"

"Nara-taichou is a very skilled and virtuous young man, Tenten, I'm sure--"

"SHUT UP, TOU-SAN!! I'm not DONE!!"

Tenten turned angrily, eyes snapping as she shrieked, the throbbing veins in her forehead dangerously close to popping.

"Eh..."

Inoichi gave up. He sat himself down in the armchair beside his daughter's desk and attempted to wait the rant out, trying at the same time to solve at the massive stinking diplomatic blowup staring him right in the face.

His younger daughter, Ino, had been engaged to be married to the younger prince of Honoo, Uchiha Sasuke. She had been chosen because a) Tenten was a year older than the young man, b) Tenten had attempted to abdicate her position as ruler of Honoo the second she turned sixteen, and c) to put it frankly, Tenten's thick chestnut hair and chocolate eyes inherited from her mother were no match for the golden locks and sparkling blue orbs that Ino got from him. And now, suddenly, he had found out that Ino had absolutely no interest in even meeting the prince. And instead of coming to him and trusting him to find another solution, she had gone and run off with one of his best ANBU squadron captains, Nara Shikamaru.

Worst still, the marriage was the only thing preventing a war between their small nation and the rich, allied countries of Suna and Honoo, whose queens were sisters. The only thing saving them was the offer of Ino, and a joint rule of Honoo and Mizu, which in the first place was something utterly unthought-of.

He wondered how many ninja they would have to sacrifice before they surrendered.

He wondered if there was any way he could find someone of his blood to marry off before the end of the week.

He wondered when Tenten would stop screeching so he could go through his family tree properly.

"I'm not going! I'm not going, I'm not going, I'm not going!!"

Aaaannnd we're back. He rubbed his temples and prepared his lungs.

"TENTEN!!"

The brunette paused mid-smashing a porcelain vase and turned to look at her father with an annoyed look on her face.

"What, tou-san?"

"You don't have to go. You CAN'T go. They don't want you."

She blinked.

"Oh."

"So get your ANBU team into the library and help me find a replacement for Ino."

"Hai."

"And you're going to pay for all this."

Tenten looked around the room as Inoichi calmly and quickly left her quarters.

Silence.

Silence.

"NANI!?"

.-.-.-.

Haruno Sakura woke up to the sound of voices coming from her parents' quarters. She got up immediately.

Visitors were uncommon; nobody came to the manor on their duchy. The tenants of their land took orders from the lords, who took orders from the duke, who took orders from her father, who never received visitors at the manor.

Dressing in a red cheongsam robe and pinning her slightly curled, bed-head hair from her face with a few pins, she rapidly splashed water on her face, brushed her teeth, and removed all signs of sleep from her eyes. Then, fixing her general appearance so she didn't look like she just rolled out of bed ten minutes ago (which, of course, she had), she raced towards the largest set of rooms in the manor.

She stopped by the door, hiding herself behind the dark green curtains that hung as a second entrance behind the doors. Her mother and a blond man were talking quietly on the balcony.

Her mother's pale face was determined, rust-colored eyebrows scrunched together in frustration. Her flaming red curls were scooped up and placed to cascade on the top of her head, and the simple white dress she wore rippled a little in the light wind of morning. Her blue eyes were angry, matching the pleading ones of the man next to her.

He had long hair as well, straight and molten yellow and tied in a topknot high on the back of his head. He dressed simply, black pants and a loose navy shift tied at the waist. A long dark gi was worn over it, and he would have looked quite common but for the blue sapphire he wore on a silver chain, and the regal way he carried himself. His large hands clutched at the silver rail of the balcony, knuckles tight and white. He was arguing something forcefully, and, from what Sakura could see, her mother was steadfastly refusing whatever he was offering.

Quietly, Sakura slipped from her hiding place to dart quickly behind the dresser, then underneath the desk beside the doors of the balcony.

"--not have my daughter treated like a mere replacement for yours, Inoichi!"

The blond man shook his head furiously.

"Nadeshiko, you don't understand. We are on the brink of war!"

"No! Find someone else. What about the older one? Tenten?"

"She won't do. She's at least a year older than the Uchiha boy."

"I cannot let you have my child like this. You, her uncle, should understand!"

Sakura buried her face in her knees. Her uncle? This man was her uncle?

Her uncle wanted to sell her away?

She leaned towards the doors as far as possible without falling over or revealing herself.

"Nadeshiko, listen to reason. She would be well cared for. He's a prince! You know how powerful the Uchiha are. If Ino had not decided to abandon us so suddenly, I would be glad to know she was there."

"Nii-san, please." Nadeshiko's big blue eyes widened, and her uncle faltered. "She's my little girl. She's my only child. My baby. You can't make me do this, even for the sake of the country. She's so young, she's never even met him."

Inoichi shook his head again.

"She's seventeen, Nadeshiko. That's old enough to choose for herself."

Nadeshiko sighed.

"Then let her choose for herself, nii-san."

Sakura choked and fell. There was a dull thudding noise, and she squeezed her eyes shut as both adults whirled around on her.

"Sakura!"

Her mother walked towards her as Sakura picked herself up. She looked ready to reprimand her for eavesdropping, but the blond man put a hand on her shoulder. She stopped, and her eyes softened.

"Sakura," she said gently, "There's a matter I have to discuss with you. This is your uncle, Inoichi. He wants to take you away."

.-.-.-.

Inoichi explained the situation as calmly as possible. But as the words came out of his mouth, he found it harder and harder to try and force his niece, his sister's baby girl, to agree. It was like he just realized he had lost his own daughter that morning.

Sakura, however, remained passive, with a few nods every few minutes.

"I remember Ino-chan," she said when he finished, "She was really nice."

Her mother produced a faint smile that wavered.

"What do you say, Sakura?"

Sakura was silent as she contemplated the issue. When she didn't speak for several minutes, Inoichi stood up.

"Forget it, Sakura-chan. I'll find someone else." He turned to leave, and smiled at Nadeshiko. "Thank you for permitting her to consider this. I'm sorry for not visiting you for so long."

Nadeshiko cocked her head and smiled sadly.

"I am terribly sorry, Inoichi. If there's anything else I can do--"

"I'll go."

Both, again, whirled on the pink-haired girl. Nadeshiko's face twisted in despair, and she wrung her hands desperately as she moved to stand before her child.

"Sakura...you don't have to, you know, honey? No one's trying to make you go."

Sakura smiled.

"I know, mama. But I think it's time I went places, you know?"

Nadeshiko's attempted smile faded completely as her eyes began tearing.

"We can take you places, too, darling."

"I know," Sakura replied simply. Nadeshiko shook her head, the flaming curls whipping behind her and almost smacking Inoichi across the face.

"Sweetie, you're going to be married."

"I know," Sakura replied simply, "But, mama, you know that you and papa can't shelter me forever."

There was silence as Sakura's mother put her face in her hands and began to sob. Inoichi reached forward to hug his sister. Sakura turned to him.

"I'm ready, uncle," she said with a dazzling grin.

Inoichi smiled.

.-.-.-.

Barely an hour later, the newspapers began to run like mad. The headlines were big and bold; the paperboys screeching with all their might.

"Princess Sakura returns!"

"Princess Sakura resurfaces!"

"Princess Sakura engaged!"

At her window, Tenten turned away and buried her face in her knees.


Click that pretty button down there and REVIEW!!


GLOSSARY

Honoo : Fire. I'm not using Konoha, because Ino and Sakura and Sasuke are all from Konoha, and I need them in two different countries. This is the country the Uchiha rule, because if Sasuke can use his awesome little fire tricks, he has to be in Honoo.

Mizu : Water. This is the country the Yamanaka rule.

Suna : Sand. This is the country Gaara rules.

gi – a sort of Japanese overcoat

FUTURE CHAPTERS

Haku : White. This is the country the Hyuuga rule.

Kusa : Grass. This is the country Naruto (will) rule(s).

Oto : Sound. This is the country Orochimaru rules.

CHARACTER GUIDE (Ch 1) in order of appearance or mention

Yamanaka Tenten – First Princess of Mizu

Yamanaka Inoichi – King/Kage of Mizu

Yamanaka Ino – Second Princess of Mizu

Uchiha Sasuke – Second Prince of Honoo

Haruno Sakura – Niece to Inoichi

Haruno Nadeshiko – Sister to Inoichi

FAMILY RELATIONS (current)

Yamanakas

Yamanaka Inoshi and Konohagure Midori had Inoichi and Nadeshiko.

Yamanaka Inoichi marries Toudou Amara and has Tenten. Two years later, they have Ino.

Yamanaka Nadeshiko marries Haruno Ryoma two years after Inoichi married Amara, a lord. She becomes Haruno Nadeshiko and has Sakura a year later.

Uchihas (and the Suna)

Uchiha Fugaku marries Yumida Mikoto and has Itachi. A year later they have a girl, Sakura, but she dies at age five. Two years after the birth of Uchiha Sakura, they have Sasuke. So Uchiha Sakura died when Sasuke was three.

Yumida Mikoto is the sister of Yumida Hikaru, who marries the Fourth Kazekage, Sabaku no Zabato. They have Temari. One year later, they have Kankurou, and two years after that, they have Gaara. Hikaru dies in childbirth, and Zabato's brother, Yashamaru, takes care of them.

AGES (all)

Tenten - 19

Ino - 17

Sakura - 17

Sasuke - 18

Itachi - 21

Temari - 20

Kankuro - 19

Gaara - 17

Neji - 19

Hinata - 17

Hanabi - 12

Naruto - 18

Kiba – 20

Lee - 20

Shino - 19