Disclaimer: I do not, in any way, shape, or form, own Naruto... so please, please PLEASE dun rat me out! I dun wanna get sued!

Prologue

Times were rough. It seemed like evey other day warriors were sent to fight some unseen enemy. Farmers were slowly giving away more and more of their crops. Merchants made little to no money as most of the travelers didn't dare come to visit, and all the tradesmen were working directly under the Lord. It was times like these that Ino wished she had come from a rich family.

Her mother had owned a flower shop before she had passed away, but her father had to shut down business just a few years prior so that they could still make enough money; no body wanted to buy flowers in a war zone. And so he used his daughter's talents as a seamstress (her mother had taught her when she was still very young) and his own basic knowledge of leather work, and together the two of them stitched and repaired and made clothes and hats and gloves, and occasionally a pair of boots. Once a month the Lord himself would come and have something tailored, dropping three gold coins in her father's hand as Ino peered at them from the back of the shop.

Lord Sasuke, Ino would think to herself dreamily, imagining herself and him in white wedding clothes at an alter... it was a silly dream, but it always seemed plausible whenever he stepped into the treshold of the Yamanaka Shop.

But for now, the young blond was walking down the morning-idle streets, a basket balanced against her hip as she made her way back home; her father had sent her to the Inuzuka's to get meat and hides; the butcher's son hunted animals, bringing them home whole so that him and his father could skin them and sell the hides to anyone who wanted them. It was convenient for Ino and her father, \and the two families regularly did business.

She's choosen two large pelts, the furs dark brown and soft, and a few large slabs of meat. The cost had been a new coat for Kiba, the butcher's son, but she could worry about making it later. Humming to herself, she slowly petted the soft fur and carried on her way...

And that was when a dark figure dropped in front of her.

Ino screamed. Loudly. So loud that a moment later people were poking their heads out their windows to see what the commotion was about. So extremely loud that the person who had so disgracefully fallen face-first in front of her twitched, his head slowly turning to glare up at her.

He was a filthy man, his dirty black hair falling around his shoulders and sticking out awkwardly in front of his eyes; the small parts of his skin that weren't dirty looked to be tanned, and his dull eyes looked so tired; but it was his clothes that repulsed her the most. They were tattered and torn, barely offering any warmth to the man. And his gloves (she didn't know why she noticed his gloves, but she did) were absolutely useless, thin material with the fingers torn out.

"Be quiet," he muttered, sitting up slowly. "You almost woke me up."

"You just fell in the street!" she yelled at him. Almost woke him up? Who is this idiot? "That fall alone should've woken you up!"

"I fell..?" He blinked, looking to his right and up a wall. "Right... I was sitting up there before... oh well."

"Oh well!" Ino huffed, but reminded herself that she had to return home with the meat and the hides, and decided to ignore the strange man. Picking up her skirts she walked around him, and continued on her way.