An Unknown Engagement

Chapter 1

Spoilers - DO NOT READ IF YOU HAVEN'T REACHED SHIPPUDEN!!! Or you can just skip paragraph 1, I guess.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

The Kazekage's advisors had had their hands full with their current Kazekage. With him - the Godaime Kazekage, there were many obstacles for them to deal with - the fact that he was appointed at 15 and was therefore severely inexperienced in the political arena (after all his father had never groomed him to be his successor - thank Goodness), his abduction and the loss of his Biju (and by default - a great deal of his power which after years of hard, hard, hard training, he'd managed to regain) as well as the unorthodox methods that he began developing as time went by.

However as the years rolled on Gaara grew into an extraordinary, if often stern leader who had brought the Village Hidden in the Sand back from the dredges that they had fallen into and had grown to be respected and even loved by his people. The one problem that persisted however with the young Kazekage was his (as they saw it) refusal to get married. They'd begun dropping hints when he turned 18, at 21 the hints had become requests and now at 24 they were practically begging him to tie the knot. Gaara's councillors never ceased to remind him that he needed an heir. Temari's wedding four years earlier as well as the birth of her son, Shikachu only a few months ago had only served to make them more anxious.

Gaara's councillors always managed to annoy him to no end but their insistence that he get married aggravated him more than anything. It wasn't as though Gaara didn't want to get married. He really did - he certainly didn't want to be alone for the rest of his life but he just hadn't found the right person. Kankurou had helped him a lot in the relationship area - explaining things he didn't understand, helping him find potential friends and even encouraging Gaara to go on a few dates. Temari had helped as well - he was always able to turn to her for advice when Kankurou was at a loss or when he was too embarassed to talk to his brother. However despite his siblings' help, Gaara was still unable to hold down a serious romantic relationship. Being Kazekage was a difficult and time - consuming job and he usually didn't get home until after 11 at night which certainly didn't leave much time for him to date. This however was just one of the many obstacles that stood in the way of his finding a wife.

This was why, when the ruling Raikage - the leader of the Village Hidden in the Clouds had approached him with a proposal to solidify their newly formed alliance by marrying his daughter to Gaara, he had seriously contemplated it and eventually consented. Needless to say that Gaara's councillors were over-joyed - soon their reclusive leader would be wed and hopefully the wedding would be followed by the birth of a strong son. Kankurou, shocked and more than a little concerned, had approached (read: cornered) Gaara for an explanation.

"Gaara, what's going on? I thought you hated the idea of an arranged marriage. Why are you consenting now?"

Gaara had cited the political ramifications of his decision.

Kankurou sighed and shook his head, "Gaara that's not what I'm talking about. I know all that. I'm talking about you personally. I thought you wanted to find your wife on your own. Why are you now suddenly willing to marry a girl you don't even know?!"

Gaara's eyes darkened as his thoughts did the same, 'I had hoped that the woman I married would be someone who would love me completely. Someone who I too had fallen in love with. Someone who I would care for more than anyone else. But it seems as though that is not to be.'

However all he said to his brother was, "I know that it is difficult to find love in an arranged marriage but I have to face the possibility that I am just not meant to find that kind of love. Regardless this is something that I must do."

Kankurou had studied him closely and realizing that Gaara had made his decision, he promised himself there that he would do whatever it took to help Gaara make this arranged marriage work. "Don't say that Gaara. Difficult isn't impossible after all."

Gaara hadn't smiled but the sides of his mouth turned up slightly. His brother's short words had managed to placate him at the time but now that she was almost here, his nerves were acting up. Of course if you looked at the handsome 24 year old you wouldn't know that. Although he had learned to express his emotions better, his impassive facade was always in place when the occasion called for it (like in his council meetings or right now as he was about to meet the woman he was set to marry.)

There was another reason that Gaara was anxious - the Raikage had insisted on one condition concerning the marriage. He wanted his daughter to come to Suna and live with Gaara so that she could get to know him before the wedding. He said that he couldn't bear to have his daughter marry a stranger. He wanted her to be happy on her wedding day. This action had caused Gaara to respect the Raikage more than ever - his love for his daughter was obvious and Gaara felt honoured that the Raikage felt that he was suitable enough to marry his daughter.

The part of the condition that worried Gaara however was the Raikage's insistence that the marriage be kept a secret from his daughter until she returned to the Lightning Country after her indefinite stay with the Kazekage to get acquainted. The Raikage had been unwilling to reveal why he didn't want his daughter to know but Gaara had dismissed this because he had more important things to worry about...Like the blonde girl now walking towards the Suna walls.

Since she was the daughter of the Raikage (not to mention his future wife) Gaara had gone to meet her himself. Kankurou was there as well (for moral support he said) as well as Gaara's chief advisor Koumno (who was grinning from ear to ear). The time had arrived - she was walking up to the entrance to Sunagakure, right where he was standing. Gaara had to admit that he was more than a little nervous now that it was crunch time. But he was sure that he'd made the right decision, not only for himself but also for his country.

Yumi Saionji would never forget the first time she saw the Kazekage. She was nearing the end of one of the longest journeys she'd ever been on and she was dirty, hot and tired and wanted nothing more than to greet the Kazekage, go to her bed and pass out.

It didn't help that her father had sent two escorts (read: body-guards) with her (as if she needed those - she was a kunoichi for Goodness sake! And a darn good one too) who'd been harassing her for the whole trip.

Things only got worse when she got to the Village Hidden in the Leaves (with which her father had also recently initiated an alliance) where she had been assigned another escort who turned out to be the Kazekage's sister. Temari, to Yumi, was an enigma - although she was friendly to her, Yumi couldn't help feeling that Temari didn't like her - she didn't know what it was but there was something in her demeanor that told her that it would be a long time before Temari's kindness to her would be truly genuine. When she heard that Temari had volunteered to be her escort, Yumi wondered if perhaps her brother had put her up to it - to find out about her. But just as quickly she had dismissed the thought, after all why would the Kazekage care about her? Yes she was the Raikage's daughter but she was just going to Suna as an ambassador of sorts. She was supposed to teach at their newly opened Academy and she was staying there indefinitely. So she was extremely surprised when she, Temari and her other escorts had walked up to the tremendous stone walls surrounding Sunagakure and the Kazekage himself was standing there waiting to meet her.

Yumi had never before met the Kazekage and all she had to go on was what she had heard from others (as well as a picture that Temari had shown her of her with her two brothers taken some years before) so when she saw him standing there resplendent in his blue and white Kage robes (with matching hat!), all she could think was that that picture definitely didn't do him justice. She had known that he was her age and she had heard that he was handsome but when she reached up to him and he looked down at her (because she was at least half a head shorter than he) revealing his ruby red hair and piercing, aquamarine eyes which were surprisingly stll ringed with black, she couldn't help the little gasp that escaped her lips. She didn't know it was possible for someone to be quite so good looking. Next to her, Temari smirked.

However she was a kunoichi and they were trained to keep their composure so she bowed deeply before him and his advisors and said, "Greetings Kazekage-sama. It is a pleasure to finally make your acquaintance - I am deeply honoured that you met me personally. That really was not necessary."

Gaara nodded, inclining his head in a slight bow and thereby revealing more of his features to Yumi, (What is that on his forehead? A scar? Of the symbol for love? Wow.) "Greetings. It is a pleasure to meet you as well Saionji - san. I formally invite you as a guest into my village."

Yumi bowed again, "I am very grateful for your hospitality Kazekage - sama. In exchange I offer you my services as a kunoichi and I bring you sincere greetings from my father, the Raikage."

Gaara nodded and turned to his advisor, "See to their arrangements," he said gesturing to the other Cloud nin. Yumi watched as the body - guards followed Koumno into the village and then turned her attention back to the siblings.

She saw that Gaara had turned to Temari who was in the middle of a deep bow, "Hello Kazekage-sama."

She had expected Gaara's expression to soften but it remained neutral as ever, "It's good to see you again, Temari." Although Temari was still a liasion between Konoha and Suna, ever since her marriage to Shikamaru Nara, she didn't travel between the two countries quite as often (at least not often enough in her brothers' opinion).

To outsiders (and therefore to Yumi) this behaviour seemed strange - whenever she saw her brother, regardless of who was around, she launched herself at him usually nearly throwing him down in the process but here were these two, acting as formal as ever. If she had known them well, Yumi would have known that that behaviour was caused solely by her presence - Temari had always been adamant that she and Kankurou treat Gaara as his station expected in public (Kankurou, for his part, usually ignored that). Gaara understood her reasoning and therefore always obliged - treating them as though they were any other ninja.

Yumi was glad therefore when Kankurou broke the tension by saying, "So what? You're not gonna greet me?! I mean I can understand her, but my own sister! Come on Temari!"

Temari, stony composure gone, rolled her eyes before replying, "Sorry idiot. It's nice to see you too."

"Oh yeah - that's real nice. Is that how you greet your darling brother who you haven't seen in months?"

"Darling brother?! Ha - that's funny..." Gaara smiled slightly as his siblings began bickering as usual and then turned his gaze back to his future wife. She had medium - length blonde hair that was currently in two braids and striking, midnight blue eyes. Her clothes were simple - she was obviously dressed for combat but they fit her well and she managed to look graceful in them despite the fact that they were covered in sand and had slight tears where the desert winds had gotten to them.

Gaara frowned - for someone like her who was so unused to the desert climate, those clothes would not do and he made a mental note to have her given a new set by the next day. She was currently suppressing her laughter at his siblings' argument and he noted the way that her eyes were shining from her concealed amusement.

Feeling his eyes on her, she turned to him and her expression changed to one of surprise as she noted the intensity of his gaze. He saw this and turned away, saying as he did, "Saionji - san, you must be exhausted from your journey. I will inform you about the details of your stay here and then you will be allowed to relax for the evening. You will not begin your duties until tomorrow. Please follow me." With that, he turned and led the way into his city.

Yumi breathed a sigh of relief, grateful to be given time to recuperate and followed Gaara into Sunagakure. They were followed by Temari and Kankurou who brought up the rear, still quarrelling about who-knows-what.

A/N: Hiya! Well here's my Gaara/OC story. I hope you like it. I don't love this chapter, I feel that it could be a lot better but this will have to do for now. CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM IS WELCOME (Flames are not.) so PLEASE REVIEW!!! It's definitely gonna be a bit more dramatic and longer than my Kankurou story, Portrait. I don't think I'll be updating this one as fast either - I'm sorry in advance. Btw, for all of you who read Portrait, Scene 8 is the end for sure but I will try to incorporate some MichickoxKankurou accion in this story. I don't think you have to read Portrait to understand it though but if you want to read Portrait by all means please do! Thanks for reading.