Title: Broken Cadence
Claim: Sakura Haruno and Neji Hyuga
Theme: # 27-Violin
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Summary: The end of all things should have come to a close under the prevailence of peace. However, history will forever repeat itself, and the ceaseless threat of war is continuously just over the horizon.
Chapter Eleven: To Much Paperwork
Sakura caught Neji in front of his dark stained door just before he slipped into his office. She frowned perusing his haggard appearance and said, "To bed, now."
He raised his brow and pursed his lips before speaking, "I have paper work waiting."
In a typical feminine move, Sakura stuck her hip out and put a warning hand on it. "It'll be waiting in the morning too," she said as she snagged one of his wrists and began leading him toward his room.
Neji tugged his wrist tiredly. He just wasn't able to put up too much of a fight; it had been too long of a day for that.
"Tell you what, Hyuga-san if you sleep tonight after my training tomorrow I will assist with anything you need me to," Sakura offered.
Nodding his head slowly, Neji reluctantly agreed. As much as he didn't want help he sorely needed it and Shikamaru was only an advisor and no matter how much he trusted him, traditionally it wasn't a good idea to have you're advisor help you do the actual paperwork. Besides Shikamaru was possibly the laziest elf in existence, so no matter what that wouldn't really do. Naruto, despite the fact that he would likely happily help, had his own affairs to deal with. Kakashi had been out of the position for many years and despite how good of a ruler he had been at one point he wasn't really trained in the minute and tedious aspect of the position since his parents had died so young. So really he would just have to entrust himself to Sakura who seemed to have a lot of knowledge about ruling a country despite being a female.
Laying in bed a few minutes later, Neji promised himself that he would inquire about the queer little woman who had taken up residence in his home. Shikamaru likely knew the whole story behind her or at the very least why he had never heard of her. For now though he needed some rest.
By the time Neji had woken up the next morning and eaten breakfast, Sakura had already finished her self-practice session. She wouldn't have a lesson with Kakashi until much later that afternoon. It was set for three o'clock, but Sakura knew it would be closer to five or six before her sensei even considered showing up.
So when Neji showed up at his office door, for the second time in less than twelve hours, Sakura was waiting for him. He took quiet steps toward the woman who has half turned away from him. The faraway look in her sea-foam green eyes and slight mar in the arch of her brow suggested that she was reminiscing, however if his sudden presence startled her at all, she gave no indication.
He nodded to her when her face lost its tension and her eyes riveted to his face. Neji opened the door and held it for her, politely waiting till she was all the way in the room before making his way to his stiff office chair. She sat opposite of him and gave him an expectant stare.
He looked at her appraisingly. She was wearing a simple muslin dress with sheer flowing sleeves. The only color adorning the dress was the ribbon tied just above her natural waist. It was colored her clan's vibrant red. She looked beautiful in it. He whipped his eyes back up to her face immediately. He wasn't allowed to think that way about actual nobility. She was completely off limits unless he wanted to marry her.
"How much do you know about trade agreements?" he asked.
"Quite a bit," she paused for a moment not wanting to sound like a braggart, "I was the reason the Haruno-Sabaku agreement was proposed last year."
Neji stared at her shock. That was a big deal. The Harunos had maneuvered the Sabaku clan into a free trade agreement that benefitted not only them but also several other minor clans. What was so significant about the agreement was that the Sabaku clan hadn't accepted any type of agreement in decades. They had been isolationists for nearly forty years. It wasn't just that, though the Harunos didn't have any true enemies, but there wasn't any love between them either. Traditionally they never agreed on anything. Any agreement was amazing, but one that didn't benefit only them had been genius. It had just enough minor concessions on both sides and surprisingly had gone through without a hitch.
"I'd say you were more than qualified to read though several of these agreements and give me an overview of them when you are done. So that I can make a decision on it," he said raising his left brow.
"Likely, yes," Sakura stated dryly.
Neji handed her over a thick stack of crisp paper. "Not that you will, but if you have any questions please ask," Neji asked as politely as possible since he didn't want to anger his volunteer. Sakura nodded solemnly she knew how important it was to be a competent ruler. One person's rule affected many people. For her even the thought of ruling and knowing that one day it would be entirely her responsibility to look after her people was a humbling thought.
For a while the only sound in the room was the sound of an occasional rustle of paper. Sakura was midway through the thirty page document when her eyes narrowed sharply. "Hyuga-san, you export iron and iron based ninja weapons right?"
A simple nod was all that was needed to make Sakura's scowl deepen. "Then this document is nothing but a scam to get the Underworld to lower their prices on those goods for the sake of Earth country; likely so that they can stab you in the back quite literately," she nearly growled the last part out.
"My guess is that they are preparing for some sort of conflict and are hoping that you don't have enough time to read through this entire document since the beginning starts out innocuously. It isn't till almost half-way through that their real intentions are carefully couched in terms of enabling more nations the ability to defend themselves," she said while showing him several key parts of the document.
"That was an utterly foolish thing for them to even consider. Why would anyone give their enemies more weapons while making less profit off of it?" Neji heatedly exclaimed. She agreed that would have been the height of stupidity.
"I think that they know you are using most of your resources on Sasuke and are hoping you will slip up. I also wouldn't put it past Earth country to be conspiring with him either," she warned.
"Thank you. I will keep that in mind." He took the document from her and handed her another of similar length.
"Can you read this one as well?"
Sakura didn't bother with a verbal response and instead grabbed the pro-offered document from his hand and began to read about potatoes, apples, and inflation.
It was late afternoon, four reasonable agreements and seven ridiculous proposals later that Sakura stood up and announced that she needed to go to her lesson with Kakashi. As she stood up she stretched tall and pushed her shoulders back. Neji's mouth went dry as he watched. His gaze was riveted to her as she stretched since it had the unintentional effect of pushing her chest out. He caught himself moments later as she opened her bright sea foam eyes. Being caught staring at the temperamental female was out of the question.
"Before you go," he said haltingly, "I would like your advice."
She turned fully toward him and waited for him to continue. She didn't know what this was about so she listened closely.
"Well I guess it is two issues I would like your opinion on," he continued unsure if this was a wise idea.
She seemed to know what she was talking about everywhere else and had done nothing to endanger his kingdom so far. He nodded giving himself a bit more confidence. This was the right decision to at the very least ask her opinion. "Do I give up this position to Hinata? She is the rightful heir. It would quiet down the rebellions protests that there wasn't a secondary heir."
Neji had sounded so unsure of his position that Sakura allowed the compassion that she felt leak into her voice as she answered, "I think you should ask Hinata what she wants first. She didn't answer last night and something tells me that she would be rather hesitant to take over the position. While she might make a wonderful ruler, if she doesn't want the position it would do no good to give it to her."
"It could stop the rebellion though," he commented.
"Well, it could, but that doesn't mean it will. Rebellions are not often about what they purport to be about. In this instance we know that the people themselves didn't think this up, but rather that it was Uchiha Sasuke that stirred up people and created a mob. Mob mentality once it is started is hard to appease, because it is a bunch of people convinced that their cause is true and unless you do exactly what they want you to do you will not diffuse them unless you take out their leader. However even if you do exactly what they want without taking out their leader it would be pretty hopeless, because these people are followers and will listen to the next idea their leader convinces them off and that could be an even more dangerous cause," Sakura said quickly so that she could get her point across without being interrupted or losing her procession of thoughts.
"Also, unless Hinata really does want this position then you might create instability where there was none before."
"You are right. I hadn't thought of it in that manner before. I will ask Hinata this evening what she thinks," Neji said more firmly than he thought he would have been able to considering he was talking about giving up his position.
"You might also consider asking Kakashi-sensei for his opinion about it," Sakura gently advised.
As Neji had entirely forgotten that he had such a valuable asset under his own roof he was glad she had brought up such an obvious resource of mob rule and unstable governments.
"And what was the second matter?" she asked.
"Well the council has demanded I take a wife so that I may have an heir and to quiet the rebellions. I was wondering if you thought I was being unreasonable in demanding that I wouldn't take a wife," he asked curious to know what she thought though he had an inkling from her wise words on rebellions already.
"Take a wife when you find someone who will be good for your kingdom. If that is now then that's good, but if not then in the long run your kingdom will be worse off. Do not give in just because of the rebellion, unless it becomes absolutely necessary and even then do so with caution. You will be letting someone have a lot of control over you and your domain," Sakura answered carefully. She had already given this issue a lot of thought for her own situation regarding ruling with a mate or without one. Granted she didn't have a madman specifically after her throne but she did have a couple of plotting relatives from both sides.
Besides she knew how well marriages of conveniences could fail like was the case with her own parent's distant alliance. She wouldn't even call it a marriage because, the only amount of affection that had ever happened between them was the night she was conceived. They weren't bitter enemies, but Sakura was often stuck between trying to please both of them; which was a rather difficult task when both of them were against each other on a regular basis.
"If that is all I should go before I am even later than Kakashi-sensei."
Neji nodded absently. He had enough to think about this afternoon.
Neji knew that Sakura had given him very sound advice, which was not something he would have expected of the girl when he had first met her. In fact, it was still weighing heavily on his mind that he had never even heard of her until she was dropped on his doorstep. She was an attractive young female and he hadn't heard so much of as a whisper about her from the other male lords who liked to gossip only slightly less than Yamanaka Ino.
He stood up and walked the short distance to the door. There should be a servant nearby, the head housekeeper liked to send at least one to hover around him just in case he unexpectantly needed something. He immediately saw one of his servants a few doors down and asked that Shikamaru be brought to his study. Neji knew that it would probably take at least a half hour for Shikamaru to arrive so, he sat back down, sighed and got back to work.
Absorbed in his work, Neji was nearly surprised when Shikamaru's familiar knock sounded on the door. He had forgotten that he had called for his advisor. The door opened and Shikamaru stepped up to his desk.
"My Lord?" he asked.
"It has come to my attention that I know nearly nothing about Haruno Sakura and I would like to know what you know about her," he answered, though he felt foolish for asking his advisor instead of just asking Sakura herself or looking up the information himself.
If Shikamaru was surprised about the query he showed none of it. He began to talk, his voice sounding just as exasperated as always, "I don't know very much about Sakura-sama, because she does not come to any of the troublesome functions that we attend. I know that she stays mostly at home and takes care of her land through diplomacy and treaties at the moment."
"Why does Sakura-san do the treaties instead of her father?"
"Well Sakura-sama is the only heir to the throne. Her parents never had another kid after her, because her mother is a nymph so she is allowed to ascend to the throne. I've also heard that while Sakura-sama's parents do not hate each other, they just tolerate each other so after they fulfilled the requirement of having an heir they did not try for another," Shikamaru continued.
"So Sakura-san is free to rule her kingdom, rather than having to find someone suitable to marry and rule over her and her kingdom?" Neji asked, he knew that nymphs and part nymphs were allowed to rule regardless of gender he just hadn't known that Sakura was part nymph. Traditionally Harunos had always been a human clan, so he had just assumed that Sakura was human too, though her odd hair and eye colors should probably have given it away to him.
"Essentially, yes. She'll have to eventually pick a husband to have an heir," answered Shikamaru.
"She is probably already being pressured to take a spouse by her parents and maybe even their counsel," mused Neji.
"Why would you say that? She's part nymph and not currently in any sort of life-threatening trouble."
"If she is Hinata's age then she is at least twenty-one and that would be old enough, for any parent or council to try and get a woman to marry, even if she was a nymph. Speaking from experience, if she's the only heir there is no way the council isn't nervous about her producing another heir as quickly as possible," Neji commented.
Shikamaru conceded that point.
"Besides, she gave wise advice when I asked about my own situation. It sounded as if she had already experienced something similar," said Neji.
"That's probably true then," said Shikamaru. After a brief moment he continued, "This is troublesome, but have you considered that maybe you should set up a match with Sakura-sama? You just called her wise, something you've never said about any other woman before."
Neji interrupted countering with, "I said that she said something wise. Not that she was wise."
Shikamaru spoke again, "You are able to work well with her and she helps keep you calm with her music."
"There is nothing special about her. She works for me and any music would help relax me. Besides I doubt she would want to combine our kingdoms, the Haruno's have worked hard to keep independent for centuries," Neji said, beginning to become exasperated with this talk.
"You could just have two separate heirs then. Yes, that would make for some pretty close ties, but the Haruno's are already closely allied with us. And that's what they've been doing for centuries, having a myriad of others marry into their family so that they don't have any enemies," refuted Shikamaru.
"I'm not even contemplating this. It's asinine."
"It would be good for you and your kingdom in the short run, because it would be two strong allies joining together and with this underhanded war going on that would give you the support you needed. In addition to that it would satisfy both councils. In the long run she would be good for your kingdom too. She has some experience running one and would be able to help get this one back up to par. You know it's not back up to its original stature," Shikamaru sighed, his master was so troublesome and stubborn sometimes.
"No and that's final," Neji said sternly.
Shikamaru gave up. He tucked his hands into his pockets and slouched out of the room. Shikamaru was beginning to see that his master was adamantly against all marriages on principal. It wasn't that there weren't suitable candidates it was that he didn't want a marriage at all and that wasn't going to make either his council or his fellow peers happy at all. Well, when they figured it out, since he wasn't going to tell them.
A/N I'm so sorry I haven't written in ages and that nothing really important happens here. I'm hoping that since it's summer and I'm out of college I'll be able to write more. Also, I've lost my notebook with all my ideas for this story in it, so while I have a rough idea where I want this to go all the specifics are lost. Lastly, a special thanks to BlossomSakuraCherry for getting me into gear.
Anyways I would love if you reviewed.