Yay, a new story! I'm not promising that this will be another "Reincarnation", but I'll do my best.
Just to make things clear, this is an alternate universe story. I'm not exactly sure what kind of world it is, and because of that I'm going to make up some laws and traditions, but let's just say it's an older place with no electricity or cars or anything. I just think that's an easier time period to convert the Bleach world to. Oh, and both Karin and Hitsugaya are 17 at the start, which I hope will be made painfully obvious. Anyway, enough ramblings, and I hope you enjoy this new creation.
Disclaimer: I do not own bleach or any of its characters. I only own my own characters and ideas.
"NO! Absolutely not! I'm not ready to get married!"
"But Karin," Isshin whined, "you're turning eighteen in three days! If I don't marry you off soon, Yamamoto will recruit you!" It was the law in their land. Any person who turned eighteen without a pressing reason to stay home was immediately recruited into the imperial army. King Yamamoto had set that rule in place ages ago. And people that left for the army often did not return for years, and, if they returned at all, they had nothing good to say about it. It didn't matter that Karin was a woman. That was irrelevant to Yamamoto. And it was said that the women were treated even worse than the men.
"Can't you come up with another reason why I can't go!?" Karin protested desperately. "Like, I'm ill or something? Or, I've got to take care of you?" Isshin frowned.
"Karin, you know those excuses don't work. God knows people have tried. In your situation, marriage is really the only way out." It was unfortunately true. Karin's older brother, Ichigo, had married for the same reason ages ago, and her twin sister Yuzu had agreed to be married off last year to save her husband from going.
"But who on earth am I going to marry?" she cried furiously. "Ichi-nii knew Rukia forever, they wanted to get married! And Yuzu always had a crush on Jinta! But I don't have anyone like that!" Isshin sighed. He knew how hard this was on his daughter, but he also knew that he had no choice.
"You only have one option Karin. An arranged marriage."
"No!" Karin stated soundly. "No way am I having an arranged marriage. It's not fair!"
"If you can find another way for you to get married before your birthday, I would love to hear it!" He came over to Karin and placed a steady hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry. But I've found a nice boy for you. He's…"
"What?!" Karin screamed, slapping her father's arm away from her.
"Oh, Karin, don't abuse me so!" Isshin pouted, but Karin wasn't finished with him.
"This isn't the time for jokes oyaji!" she screeched. "When did you arrange this?!"
"This morning," Isshin replied. "The boy is rich…"
"Don't care even more!"
"And is the son of an old friend of your mother's. However, both his parents passed away a few years ago, so he lives alone." Karin pondered that. At least there wouldn't be any in-laws for her to take care of. That was a plus. And the fact that his parents had been friends with her mother meant that he couldn't be too bad. She still hated the thought of marrying some guy she had never met. But, considering her options, marriage did sound marginally better than conscription into the army. But only marginally.
"Fine," Karin spat. "When are we having this stupid wedding?" Isshin braced himself.
"Tomorrow," he said weakly, and Karin swelled with anger. Tomorrow! That was it?! This morning she had woken up carefree (well, as carefree as she could be with her eighteenth birthday coming up), and suddenly, it was her last day as a free woman! She hated this! But, she reasoned with herself, she should have been expecting it. There was absolutely no way her father was going to let her go to the army. None. She sighed.
"I'm going out!" she stated, and Isshin made no move to stop her. He knew better. There were few things more hazardous for your health than an angry Karin. And right now, she was more furious than he had ever seen her, and that was saying something.
Hitsugaya Toushiro was in a foul mood.
"I can't believe I'm resorting to an arranged marriage," he mumbled, shaking his head. "I never thought it would come to this." His cousin Momo, gazed at him with pity.
"Arranged marriages aren't so bad," she said encouragingly. "I'm perfectly happy." Hitsugaya glared at her.
"Yeah, but you've been smitten with Aizen since you first laid eyes on him." Momo blushed.
"Is there anything wrong with being in love with my husband?" she asked shyly. Hitsugaya sighed.
"No," he replied offhandedly, turning to glance out the window. He actually considered himself rather lucky that he was getting married. His eighteenth birthday was in two weeks and he had had absolutely no idea how he was going to get out of entering the army. The only unmarried women he knew were his servants' children, but he couldn't very well marry one of them. And although he had taken over his father's business after his death, and therefore had a decent number of work connections, none of them had been able to come up with a girl of marital age who wasn't already promised to someone else. Unmarried seventeen year-olds were a sought after commodity in this kingdom. He had just about given up hope, and had even begun his preparations to see that his estate would be in order when he returned from the army, when he had received a surprise visit from Kurosaki Isshin. Hitsugaya had met him only once before, but he had been three years old at the time and barely remembered him. But he did recognize the name Kurosaki Masaki, who had been the man's wife. His mother had grown up with her, and often spoke fondly of her. But his mother had lost contact with the Kurosakis after Masaki's death over thirteen years ago.
Apparently, Isshin had an unmarried daughter who was about to turn eighteen and, in his desperation to keep her out of the army, he remembered Hitsugaya. So he had paid him a visit that morning, and Hitsugaya had accepted the man's proposal of a union between the two of them. He really had no choice. But that didn't mean he was excited about the prospect of getting married to a complete stranger.
There was a knock on the door.
"Come in," Hitsugaya said and his head servant, Matsumoto, entered with tea.
"Thanks Matsumoto," he acknowledged as she placed the tea in front of them. "How are plans going for the wedding?"
"Just fine Hitsugaya-sama," she chimed, trying to be as cheery as possible. "We've set up the garden just like you asked, and the cooks are preparing the feast. The tailor has been contacted, and he's making an outfit for you. At some point today, you should probably go in and get yourself fitted." Hitsugaya sighed. He was not mentally prepared for this. He had only decided to get married a few hours ago, yet all of a sudden, everything was ready for the wedding. It was kind of surreal. And the fact that he knew absolutely nothing about his bride made it even more strange. He wasn't looking forward to this at all.
"Thanks Matsumoto. I'll go right now." He stood to leave.
"Do you want me to come with you Shiro-chan?" Momo asked gently. Hitsugaya shook his head.
"No, I'll go by myself thanks," he replied blandly. "I'd kind of like to be alone for a bit." He left the room and the two women exchanged pitying looks.
"He didn't even yell at me for calling him Shiro-chan," Momo noted sadly. "He must really be upset."
"I don't blame him," Matsumoto replied. "No one really wants to marry a stranger. I just hope they get along. Hitsugaya-sama's had enough hardships in his life. He doesn't need any more." Momo nodded her agreement.
Karin wandered aimlessly through the streets of Karakura, trying her best to enjoy her last moments of freedom. But it wasn't easy. Thoughts of her upcoming wedding consumed her, and she found herself thinking unwittingly about her husband-to-be. And they were none to pleasant thoughts.
"I bet he's a controlling little drunkard who lazes around all day getting fat," she thought furiously, endowing this imagined husband with the worst traits she could possibly imagine. "He's probably just a spoiled rich kid who's used to getting waited on hand and foot and will expect me to act just like one of his servants. I'm sure he doesn't do anything for himself, the bum! Oh, and no sense of adventure to speak of. He'd rather watch sports than play them and has never left his estate in his life, let alone traveled!" Karin knew she was being unfair to this person she had never met, but at the moment, she really couldn't bring herself to care. This was way more satisfying.
She walked past a very familiar candy shop and decided that some ice cream might serve her well. At least she could drown her sorrows in chocolate. She entered the shop and a man in a green and white striped hat and wooden sandals looked up at her.
"Ah, Karin, it's good to see you!" he said jovially, waving a white fan in his face. "And how are you doing this fine morning?"
"Not to good Urahara," Karin replied. He sighed and dropped his enthusiastic demeanor.
"Well, everyone feels like that before they enter the army. Ururu was the same way, and it didn't turn out so badly now did it?" That, Karin knew, was a bold faced lie. Urahara was an old friend of her father's, so she had known the man and his children her whole life. Her sister Yuzu had even married the man's son, Jinta. But his daughter Ururu hadn't been so lucky. She hadn't been able to find a husband, so she succumbed to her fate and went to the army. Karin remembered Ururu as a spunky, spirited girl, always laughing and playing. Karin had admired her. She left for the army when Karin was ten, and only returned last year. But she was broken. Her laughs, when they happened, were quiet and stopped abruptly. She was meek and shy and jumped at small noises. But she could be deadly serious if trouble arose, almost like a machine. That was what the army did to people. It destroyed them.
"Actually," Karin corrected him, "I'm not joining the army. I'm getting married."
"Oh?" he asked curiously. "When did this happen?"
"This morning," Karin replied grudgingly. "Oyaji arranged it."
"I'm actually surprised," Uruahra said thoughtfully. "I never thought you would be one to agree to such a thing." Karin smiled bravely.
"What choice do I have?" She examined the floor and Urahara didn't reply. There was no need.
"So who's the lucky boy?" he asked curiously? Karin glared at him.
"Don't know, don't care. Heck, I don't even know his name!" she realized suddenly. Her father hadn't told her before she stormed out of the house. Not that it mattered.
"Hey, let me get you something to cheer you up!" Urahara offered. "Does chocolate raspberry ice cream sound good? On the house." Karin smiled. It was her favorite.
"Thanks Uraraha," she said gratefully.
The ice cream did nothing to lighten Karin's mood. As she continued her wanderings and ate absentmindedly, she started developing new ways to hate this person who she still really knew nothing about.
"I bet he hates sweets," she thought vindictively, licking her ice cream. She rounded the corner and bashed headlong into someone, knocking her ice cream out of her hand.
"What the heck!" the person cried as he looked down at his chocolate and raspberry covered chest.
"Why don't you watch where you're going?" Karin yelled. She too was coated in ice cream, and it didn't feel particularly pleasant. She looked up at the person she had run into. He was slightly taller than her with white hair and startling green eyes. He was probably seventeen, she thought, since eighteen year olds were non-existent on the streets of Karakura. If she hadn't been so pissed, she might have found him attractive. But at the moment, Karin just wanted to scream.
"Oi, you think this is my fault?" the boy cried.
"That's what I said!"
"Damn it!" he swore, looking down at the package in his hands which, on closer inspection, Karin could see was a rather expensive looking outfit. Unfortunately, that too was dripping with melting ice cream. "These stains are never going to come out. I just spent the last hour getting this tailored, and now it's ruined."
"Well soooorry," Karin sneered. "Did I soil your precious outfit?" The boy glared at her.
"Yes you did! Are you going pay for it? It was expensive you know!" Karin scoffed.
"You hit me too. Don't blame me! Aren't you even going to apologize for running into me?"
"Aren't you?" he retorted. "You just cost me a lot of time and money."
"Not my problem!" she shouted, then turned on her heal and ran off. She was in serious need of a bath.
After walking a few blocks however, Karin realized how rude she had been. She had clearly destroyed something that was valuable to that person, yet she had been so absorbed in her own self-loathing, that she hadn't even apologized properly. She turned around and ran back to the scene of the crime, but by then the boy was gone. Feeling guilty, Karin headed home, deciding that if she ever saw the boy again, she would apologize.
"Hitsugaya-san!" the tailor gasped as he gazed at the stained outfit. "What happened?"
"Some girl crashed into me and spilled her ice cream," Hitsugaya explained. "Can you fix it?" The tailor shook his head sadly.
"I'm sorry, but it's permanently stained. I'll have to make another one. Don't worry, I can still have it ready by tomorrow!" Hitsugaya groaned. He did not want to spend today running back and forth to the tailor, but it seemed that he had no choice. He thought back on the girl he had bumped into. She was rather plain looking, not particularly attractive, but not ugly either. But he was intrigued by her nonetheless. He had met few girls who had a tongue like that. Most women he knew would simply apologize profusely upon bumping into a stranger, regardless of whose fault it was. Yes, she had been incredibly rude to him, and yes, she had ruined his wedding outfit, but for some reason, Hitsugaya couldn't be too mad at her. She had had a crazed look in her eyes, like whatever she was shouting about had been more of an excuse to vent some pent up anger than anything else. He almost pitied her. He wondered vaguely if he would ever see her again.
"I'm getting married," he thought to himself. "I shouldn't be getting involved with any other women." So he pushed the girl into the back of his mind and reluctantly stood still for the tailor.
I couldn't resist the spoiled rich kid reference. Anyway, please let me know what you think of this idea. It's a little odd, I know, but I hope I can make it work :)