There are not many women with chivalrous spirits matching those of men…"

-Chiyo to Sakura Chapter 279 page 10 of "Naruto"

A/N: The final chapter is up! As to a query about writing the chapters ahead... I do not. I write them, look them over the best that I can and post them. I'd be smart to write a few ahead but I don't like waiting to post very much. I am very happy that you all have enjoyed this story the way that you have. I cannot even begin to express the entertainment that I had just writing it. Oh and as to the query about pregnancy, although Sakura and Neji have been together alot, Sakura is so very athletic, has a high percentage of muscle and little fat. She wouldn't necessarily be regular on her menstrual cycle. Once Sakura is able to settle down and take life a bit easier, then things may change but then again I can see this persona not wanting err uhh... drakelings for awhile yet! Which the elf doctor will help her with once the reality of her actions finally hit her, with his herbal remedies! Birth control Elf Style no Jutsu! Shannaro!

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or any of the characters there in. I just borrow them to torture them for my own amusement from time to time.

Summery: There once was a pink haired woman who was nothing more than a simple blacksmith's daughter. Yet none could match the ferocity of her spirit once the hilt of a blade was held within her grasp. An arrogant, cocky, self-assured dragon prince was certainly no exception.

- Sakura/Neji - -AU –

Rated -M- Because there will be lots of blood, violence, gore, and swearing. Ect. Ect. And possibly some erotic scenes here and there.

You come on like a bloodstained hurricane

-Disturbed

Chapter 19

The chill in the air bit at her skin as she marched between the armed guards. The streets were lined with the citizenry who wanted a first hand look at the pink haired servant of the prince. A human woman of humble birth and unknown lineage and a female of all things, was to stand in for their king's champion. Of course this had brought allot of speculation, and had brought curiosity to flaring life. They were amazed by her small size and her choice of plain, unassuming clothing. Only a few inches over five feet, and armed with two swords she did not make a very impressive sight in their opinion. Sakura could feel the eyes of the populace on her but still she held her shoulders erect and her back straight.

Green orbs widened when she got her first real look of the arena. It was massive. Built with drab gray stone and mortar, the banners of Konoha flapped in the wind at the top of the parapets. The pink haired warrior felt relief filter through her when they entered the tunnel entrance that would lead her to the heart of the arena. She had dressed today in nothing but her loose black leather armor, and in honor of the kingdom she represented she wore a tabard that matched the nation's flags flapping in the wind outside and a pair of serviceable scuffed up obsidian boots. Her hair was braided in the way of the tribal warriors, the beaded tips snapping against her oiled skin as she walked. Their small precession stopped at the heavy metal door that lead to her destiny.

The elite guard all turned to look at her a moment, admiring the calm visage she wore on her face. There was not any visible indication of fear or panic. The dragons all faced her, and the captain of them finally spoke to her, "We wish you well Haruno."

Politely she dipped her head accepting his words gracefully, "Thank you captain."

The two males that had marched at her flanks went before her and opened the metal double doors. Her eyes went half closed as the sunlight filtered into the dim corridor. She could hear the announcement of the combatants being made and as soon as she heard her name she strode past the guards and out into the open. The whole arena was flat and open, which Sakura was grateful. The raucous cheers and booing was nearly deafening as she went to take her place in the center. Turning her head, she ignored the audience and instead looked to the area where the royalty sat. She could see the Hyuuga's, Gaara and his siblings, the elders of the Grasslands, and finally King Orochimaru sitting in their plush seats surrounded by the royal guard.

The dark smile threatening to come into existence on her face was quelled. She was glad that King Hiashi had honored her request and had invited the loathe-some snake. Her eyes spanned and she caught sight of the two Uchiha siblings sitting next to a very stern faced and irritated looking Fugaku. He was looking at her like she was a bug who had just crawled in and she was somewhat amused that he was still bitter about this whole ordeal even after so many months. She felt a surge of happiness spiral in her when her eyes stopped on Kakashi and Rin, who was joined by Naruto. Her green eyes went back to the royal's corner and fastened on her mate for a few moments. She could feel the strength of his gaze on her, and through their bond, she could feel his nervousness and she forced herself to pay it no heed.

The announcer, a thin bodied gray haired elf, announced Lord Lucied, and immediately her vision snapped onto the snake yokai. His armor was fancy, the bits of strategically placed platemail and navy blue leather armor gleamed with its fresh polish beneath the sun. He was also wearing a tabard, the vivid red symbols on the material a strange contrast against the blue. His dark cobalt hair was tied back and as he walked he reached into his pockets and pulled out a pair of gloves and slowly he slipped them on, his silvery eyes grabbing ahold of her narrowed green orbs and holding them.

He stopped six feet away from her, and his lips were already quirking into a self-satisfied smirk. Sakura's face went completely blank. She refused to allow him to get to her. Lord Lucied ran his tongue along his lower lip before saying, "My yes... this is wonderful... you are radiating the most delicious killing intent... I'm already getting excited..."

The old elf looked between the two of them, his light blue eyes widening at the vicious intent on the small woman's face. He cleared his throat, "Are you both ready?"

"Yes old elf get on with it," Lord Lucied waved his hand irritably at the announcer in a shooing motion.

The elf grimaced at the dismissal but then turned to the human woman who nodded politely but uttered not a word. Turning he raised his hands in the air, indicating the combatants were prepared and with that he strode away, kicking up dust as he went. For a solid minute, Sakura held her enemy's eyes, and she forced her body posture to remain loose. When the gong sounded, she unsheathed her swords and instead of rushing the yokai she moved into a defensive stance. He was an unknown enemy, she could not to be foolish or over zealous.

Her eyes narrowed as he took his sweet time wrapping his hands around his hilt, and pulling the thick blade from its massive sheathe. The make reminded her much of Naruto's except the blade was probably one foot wider and longer. Sakura could tell that it was forged by a very talented blacksmith if not a master. She'd have to watch it or else he might break her weapons of she wasn't careful. His long tongue snaked out and ran up the length of the sword in an achingly slow manner.

"You do know little girl I intend to kill you and feast on your blood?" Lord Lucied said as he finally got into position.

"It's good then," Sakura responded slowly ignoring his attempts of messing with her mind, "that we are in agreement of our goals. That will make this that much simpler."

The chuckle that left his throat was harsh. When he came at her, Sakura danced aside instead of letting their swords clash. At the last moment she could see green liquid oozing from his claws. Now the young woman couldn't say she knew anything about snake yokai, but she'd bet almost anything that was poison. Temari had said she should have some resistance to it, but she wasn't about to test that theory if she could help it. The male turned so fast it was nearly blur to the naked eye, and she followed the instincts she had tempered over the last month crossing her swords and blocking the blow. He smirked at her from across their weapons, and with a great force of strength he shoved her back.

Tucking slightly, she allowed the force to send her skidding back, easily maintaining her balance. She knew he was merely testing her, so she remained defensive, keeping the abilities she was showing him as simple as possible. The lord began to circle her like she was a cornered prey animal and the pink haired female's eyes just followed his movement with hard as flint, assessing eyes, a look she picked up from the Uchiha siblings. The crowds in the stands began to grow restless at the lack of activity between the two combatants.

When Lord Lucied charged her again, Sakura moved and spun like a miniature whirlwind her blades out, effectively forcing him back. She knew he was holding back, and just as she was waiting for him, he was waiting for her. Gripping her hilts tightly, with a flick of her wrist she went at him this time, in a flurry of swipes, slashes, and stabs. He parried each one and easily lead her into a deadly dance. They moved and when he suddenly swiped his massive weapon at her head, she immediately dropped to the ground her, legs kicking out in a ground sweep in an attempt to knock him off of his feet.

He stumbled slightly but didn't lose his footing and instead brought his blade down to cleave her in half. She was well away before the sword was half way down. Lord Lucied stopped to lick his sword again, before saying, "Hmm... you are rather fast for a human... I suppose I should really start trying..."

"You talk way too much," Sakura responded dryly, already having more than enough of his babbling.

"Oh," he tilted his head to the side at an odd angle.

Lifting his hand after letting go of his hilt, he flicked his claws outwards, and Sakura was pressed to move as whips of poison arced in deadly strand straight for her. When the liquid it the ground, the human warrior could see how it sizzled against the ground. Her eyes widened slightly.

He chuckled, "You've already met my poisons up close and personal once. I'll make certain your next dose is... much larger..."

Sakura took advantage of his gift of gab, and streaked towards him, jumping into the air swinging her blades down forcing him to block this time. She used the momentum to press down on the metal of his great weapon, and flipped up into the air her swords still against his, her legs kicking out like a break-dancer's as she kicked in the direction of his face. The verdant-eyed woman felt her boot connect with his chin and heard him gasp as he reeled back. When she landed, she didn't let up on the assault and went at him again, swiping at his knees with the tips of her blades. She knew he wouldn't expect her to go for a non vital spot.

His eyes widened slightly at her strategic attack and moved just in time to avoid the strike to his legs. While she was low, the woman had taken the chance of leaving an opening, and the snake yokai used it. His hand snaked out and he back handed her, his strength sending her flying back. He blazed after her before she hit the ground, Sakura forced her body to spin and she caught his deadly swing and swiped it aside just enough to avoid being struck.

As soon as she was on her feet, the snake yokai used his massive weapon like a bat and swung hard with the flat edge of the blade aimed for her left ribcage. She blocked and was immensely grateful that even though he was a yokai, and powerfully strong, there was not nearly the power behind his strike as there was a dragon's. Sakura slid several feet to the side, keeping upright the best she could. He blurred as he came at her before she stopped, and the woman ducked his swing, sending a sharp snap kick. Her booted heel struck him in the chest forcing him to put space between them.

She heard the audience gasp as her blow connected. There were boos, taunts, and a few cheers scattered through out. Her ears perked slightly when she heard a familiar child's voice, "You can do it lady! KICK HIS ASS!"

Glancing to the side, she spotted Aki, the boy she'd saved from the half giants standing on top of his seat next to a very embarrassed and red faced Lady Yamanaka, and surprisingly enough Lord Kiba was sitting beside her grinning down at Sakura like his usual idiot self.

A gasp left her when she felt the jarring sensation of a shoulder slam into her breast bone, she stumbled and fell but her hands kept a hold on the hilts of her weapons. Tasting a blood in her mouth, she brought twisted the blades above her face criss-crossed catching his sword point when Lord Lucied brought the weapon down in a powerfully crushing blow, "It'd be wise of you to pay attention..."

Her response was to twist slightly forcing him to move the sword back, and kicking up into between his legs her pointed boot toe connecting with tender flesh. Jeers and hoots followed the action and Sakura had to admit that though it was juvenile of her to feel that way, it was satisfying to see him go completely cross eyed for a moment. It allowed her to put distance between them and she couldn't help the sneer that twisted her lips, "So I suppose I'm lucky that there's actually something there... I was finding myself a little hard pressed to aim correctly..."

At the fierce angry narrowing of his silvery eyes, Sakura realized that all males across the board were the same when it came to insults about that. If the situation wasn't so serious, she might have laughed in his face. A smirk still found its way to her lips, and she heard him hiss his displeasure like the serpent he was. Lord Lucied came at her again, but when he was five feet from her, he jumped into the air, bringing his massive sword above his head and brought it down. The pink haired woman jumped back, her eyes widening when he still went through with the blow, the blade hitting the ground. The surface of the dirt fissured and exploded in a mass of clay and dust.

Coughing and eyes watering, she gasped when a hand came through the screen of dirt and grabbed her by the collar. He lifted her off the ground shaking her as he did so violently. She dropped her weapons no longer able to hold on to the hilts. Her mouth opened but she didn't allow sound to escape when he slammed her against the arena wall. Sakura ignored the stinging of her mating mark and the sound of the jeering crowd. She noticed that even some of the Konoha residents were cheering the snake on. Her lips thinned, if they only knew what her defeat would bring.

"You are one tough little girl. I'll give you that," he hissed, his pink tongue slipping out and licking his lips.

"And you don't know when to shut up," Sakura replied coldly.

Silver eyes went half lidded, hiding his thoughts from her view. He murmured, "I will take my time with you..."

Forcing her eyes blank, she only stared at him like she thought him an imbecile. Then he did exactly as she hoped he would and began to lean in towards her, his tongue reaching for the blood that had dripped from the corner of her mouth. With her right hand, she reached over and up into her left sleeve, grabbing the dagger hidden there, and with every intention of stabbing him between the eyes, she grasped the hilt and swung out viciously. He released her immediately moving nearly out of the radius of her swing, the tip of the blade scraped the skin of his nose. Blood squirted out and began to run down his face.

Sakura dropped in a crouch, and her green orbs were almost feral as she met stunned silver. Behind him, her swords lay scattered in opposite directions. Eyes narrowing she could see the knowing on his face but she didn't let him see that it bothered her. Her breathing was coming in small pants, a fine sheen of sweat beaded her forehead. The snake yokai slammed the point of his sword into the ground and bringing his hands together, her smirked at her as he splayed his hands out and snakes of every hue began to slither off of his body until there was at least three dozen serpents on the ground. They slithered across the ground and Sakura felt her heart sink when they placed themselves bodily over her swords.

Lord Lucied flexed his fingers a few times, the bones popping while he gave her a deadly smile full of promise. Whips of poison formed and he lashed out at her. Trapped against the wall, Sakura had no choice but to run to the side and away from the venomous pile of serpents that were coiled and ready to spring. Avoiding the whips, she swung her dagger out when a lime green snake sprung for her, aiming for the bare skin of her hand. She sliced the creature right down the center, her eyes widening when she seen Lord Lucied's blurred form running along with her. Narrowing her eyes, she crouched low when he swung for her, her heels skidding in the hard dirt. Grabbing a handful of the sand, she rose and avoiding his clawed hands she rubbed the sand right into his smug face.

He howled in fury a hand going up to cover his burning eyes, his poison claws swinging blindly for her. Unfortanately it made it impossible for her to get close enough to send her dagger through his throat. Sakura sent a snap kick to his plated chest and when he stumbled back she made a mad dash for her fallen swords. She went for the blade forged by her father first. With a furious war cry, she kicked the pile of snakes off of her precious sword, and with lightning quick precision she grasped the hilt and went to go for the other.

Green eyes widened with shock, when she lifted her head only to find that Lord Lucied was holding the sword in his hand and the poison from his claws were sizzling down the expanse of the blade leaving blisters in the metal. The male smirked darkly at her, the maniacal look in his eyes caused her heart to squeeze tightly. He grabbed the center of the blade and Sakura watched with horror as he snapped it in half. Blood from the metal cutting his skin dripped off of his hand, and he lifted his palm and licked at the crimson liquid pooling with with the poison from his claws.

"You are insane," Sakura murmured more to herself than to him as she found herself in the line of the blood lust swirling in the depths of the empty silver pools.

"I will make certain that you taste true fear before I slowly and extract your life," he laughed at her, "Although I assure you my dear, that I am perfectly sane..."

Not responding to his taunt, Sakura sheathed the dagger back onto the strap on her arm, and then grabbed the hilt of her blade, the black metal glinting in the sun she pointed the blade at him, "Let's finish this..."

Lord Lucied merely smirked at her issued challenge, "My pleasure my lady. Shall we dance?"

Sakura merely waited as he went to retrieve the large sword and grasping the handle he turned to face her once more. A war cry left her lips, and the crowd grew silent for several moments as they went at each other, the tension spiralling ever higher. Their swords clashed and Sakura snarled angrily when one of his hands snaked around and grabbed her hair to hold her in place so he could slit her throat, before he could do such a thing however, she flipped her blade back and sliced off her hair. Ducking down she backed away, watching the incredialty on his face as he held her hair in his hands. The gasp of the audience was audible as the woman didn't even look remorseful at such a loss as he released the pink tresses, allowing them to flutter to the ground.

Gritting her teeth and running over snakes she charged him again viciously, swiping her blade out at him. He merely flipped the thick sword using it as a shield and the point of her sword, deflecting her blow. She'd put so much momentum behind the attack, that she stumbled as the weapon glanced off and he back handed her viciously. The pain in her jaw was a dull throb as she spun through the air, hitting the ground so hard she was winded. He was on her within seconds. The crowd was jeering as he stood over her, as he brought his sword up to finish her off. Desperation and fear clawed at her throat not for herself but for the safety of her mate. She felt the answering throb in her neck and instinctively she rolled to the side, blindly thrusting her sword up her eyes closed.

When nothing happened, she opened her eyes to see Lord Lucied looking down at her in glazed shock, his sword still hovering over her. Her blade had gone through his unguarded stomach. He wrapped his hand around the metal, but the poison did nothing to harm the blade and Sakura found herself infinitely grateful that her father had created such a sword for her. He was trying to hold her in place, she realized. And just as he went to bring his sword down she released the hilt and rolled to the side.

Both combatants were panting, bloody and bruised as they faced each other. Sakura went for her dagger again as Lord Lucied staggered, pulling her sword from his flesh and tossing it aside. The green eyed warrior froze when she could see blue scales forming on the epidermis on his cheek. Within moments his human form melted away and the young woman found herself looking up at a twenty foot tall snake. The serpents still left in the arena slithered towards him and merged back with him. Lord Lucied's forked tongue snaked out and the girl stupidly thought to herself that he was a cheater.

In a flash, Sakura found herself caught between his jaws and up in the air. At first her head spun with a bit of vertigo, and then she was looking into his serpentine orbs and she could feel his mouth slowly beginning to crush her. He meant to extract every bit of pain and suffering from her that he could, the young woman realized. Grateful that she had managed to keep a hold on her dagger, she threw the blade with all that she had, and was thankful when it struck him in his left eye. His mouth opened as blood began to spill from the severely injured orb. Sakura found herself free falling through the air, and she twisted just so, landing on her feet painfully.

Running for her sword as the mammoth serpent's head swung back and forth doused in the pain she'd caused him, she grabbed the hilt, and facing the large creature, she was struck dumb at how to deal with such an opponent. Sakura felt small and insignificant against the champion. She was down a sword, and injured. The only thing that came to her head was the simple prayer that her ancestors watch over her. When his eye focused on her, the loathing and hatred in them was intense. She knew that now, if he got ahold of her again, he would waste no time in killing her. The time for play was done.

He coiled, and his head swayed back and forth ready to strike in an instant. The only thing the pink haired female could think to do was somehow strike at his tender belly. The crowd was on their feet now, but silent watching with wonder as the two faced one another. The breeze around them picked up, and Sakura felt her blood stained backs dance against the skin of her forehead. She felt calm filter into her and her body relaxed as she waited for him to strike. There was no room for defeat. She fought for honor, and for the life of her mate. Sakura came to the resolve that no matter what Lord Lucied threw at her, she would be the one to bring this to an end.

Yelling at the top of her lungs, "What are you waiting for you over grown snake! The time is done!"

At the same time they went for each other, the poison dripping from his fangs hitting the ground sizzling. That instant Neji was on his feet ready to intercept if necessary, the fear for Sakura that had been rising ever higher since the start of the battle nearly choking him. The arms of his chair already had such deep grooves in it from his claws that his two cousins had looked at him with concern at his odd behavior. Haruno was just a servant wasn't she? Their eyes widened with shock and realization at the intensity on his face.

Sakura mimicked the zig zag that Itachi had used on her a month ago, and by a mere few inches the snake yokai's face hit the ground, and the warrior howled her fury as she slammed the sword tip into his throat, blood gushing all over her. She sliced down, following through, his pained scream filling her ears. Yanking her blade out she watched grimly as he fell to the side, his body writhing in agony, his fanged mouth panting. As soon as his body went back into human form, she could see the blood drizzling from the open wound on his throat. As ruthless and brutal as it was, she was on him in moments, slicing his head from his neck.

The disbelief from the audience was tangibly palatable. The dragons and elves could not believe that the human woman that they had mocked throughout the entirety of the fight was victorious. Sakura bent and grasped the hair of the severed head, and lifted it turning to face the box of the royals. Her eyes met King Orochimaru's with a clear warning in them.

Temari and Kankuro glanced from the bloody debacle as their brother murmured dazily, "Where am I? What's going on?"

King Orochimaru's eyes narrowed on the small girl that had effectively gotten in his way so many times. This was the reason why Sakura had insisted the bastard be invited. She wanted him to see the defeat of his agent. Neji was hyperventilating for several moments, the adrenaline of almost having lost his mate and his own life running like quicksilver through his veins. Once that wore off, he was filled with pride for her. King Hiashi glanced at his nephew his chin laying on his fist, "Life is going to become very interesting with such a female in the family."

Neji suddenly felt all the shocked eyes of the other royals on him. The look on his aunt's face was humorous. He only smiled in response to the disbelief in her eyes. Chief Jiro was gazing at the dragon prince with a good dose of humor in his eyes.

Then the crowd on all sides of them burst into raucous cheering. The residents attending from Suna and Konoha alike, the Chiefs of the Grasslands were on their feet, though silent were gazing down at their young woman with obvious pride. Sakura stood victorious beneath the eyes of three nations. Bloody fingers released their hold on the navy blue hair, letting it hit the ground. The sword of her father pierced the ground and her knees wobbled and she went to her knees her head bending. Shutting her eyes, she felt the wind caressing her cheek, the chill feeling wonderful to her over heated flesh. The sounds of the audience washing over her senses.

It was at this exact moment in time, that a legend was born.

-o-

One Week Later

The sound of her new ankle high black polished boots squeaked against the cobblestone floors. The servants watching noticed there was a bounce in the young woman's step. This time, as she strode through the halls, there was respect in the servant's and castle guard's eyes. Sakura wore a pair of nice soft green pants that flowed with her movement with a matching top. She had adorned herself with an open onyx duster coat, the hem of the garment ending at her knees. Her sword bounced merrily against her hip, a clipboard clutched in her fingers. Her choice of clothing and the fact that she still remained armed even after he elevated status had been a bone of contention between her and the queen. She had agreed that she couldn't dress so plainly anymore and so had the tailor make her clothing that, even though it wasn't a dress, it lent her a regal air and allowed her the freedom all the same.

The sword was something Sakura put her foot down on and would not give any ground on, and had told Kumiko that she would not relent whatsoever. It was all that she had left of her father, and she wasn't about to allow anyone to take the right from her. King Hiashi had only looked on in amusement as the two women had it out, while Hinata and Hinabi gaped at the way the Sakura had spoken back to their mother, the queen, without a blink of an eye. Her uneven, self hair cut grazed against her shoulders as she turned her head, the mating mark that showed all whose mate she was gleamed against her pale skin, now easily visible to all as she dipped her head at the guards standing in front of the rose wood double doors.

"We have been waiting for you my lady," one of the guards said as they both bowed.

"Thank you gentlemen," was her response as they stepped aside and allowed her entrance.

Audible gasps met her arrival and she was amused by Neji's dumbfounded look at seeing her walking so boldly into the council meetings. King Hiashi only smiled and dipped his head in acknowledgement of her arrival. Sasuke who was standing behind Neji, like she had once done blinked at her thrice while his brother Itachi only looked at her with deep amusement in his eyes.

The elderly council members began to mumble amongst themselves. One of them had the gall to say, "They are indulging her far too much! Allowing a woman here... she's no longer a personal servant... and..."

Sakura responded by hitting him in the back of the head with her clipboard, her sharp green eyes meeting his. He was on his feet in seconds after the assault on his person. She only smirked at him as she said loudly, "You are dismissed for your disrespect. If you had something on the agenda for today... you will have to wait until next week to bring it up here."

"What? How dare you! I..." the riled old man bared his teeth at her. Sakura was completely unimpressed.

King Hiashi announced, "Gentlemen, I would like you to meet my new daughter in law, Lady Sakura. She has requested to conduct the meeting today, and I agreed, so unfortunately Lord Takahasi, you will have to do as she says." He ignored the sideways glance that his nephew sent his way.

The Lord in question stiffened, but held his head high as he strode from the room, his robes swirling as he muttered his indignities under his breath. The door slammed shut behind him, and the smile on Sakura's face only widened. She addressed the lords in the council room, "Good afternoon gentlemen. I have here in my hands a copy of the agenda for today. We are going to try something new for this meeting."

They all just looked at her in stunned silence.

"Now the first topic of discussion. Now Lord Kikuchi has requested here to raise the taxes in his province by three percent," She looked up over the rim of the board in her hands, "Are you in possession of the proper documentation to present your claim properly? The war is long over and it says you are in charge of the Kaji District to the south. From what I understand, there is heavy trade in that area and it is well off..."

Her eyes skimmed over the lords and she found the one that was probably the male in question opening and closing his mouth a few times. He felt all the eyes of the other lords upon him, "Well... um... err..." His mind was obviously drawing a complete blank.

"As you are unprepared today my lord, we will skip this topic until next week. If you still wish to put in a request then you will need to submit the proper documentation to give reason for such a hike. His majesty will look it over and give you a response after investigating the situation to make sure that you aren't just going to line your pockets," Sakura's voice was crisp, cool and clipped. She watched as his cheeks colored and it looked like he was about to protest but he snapped his mouth shut and nodded his head.

"Next on the agenda it states that there is a drop in descrepency in the trade of potatoes this season, the prices have soared due to them being scarce due to the weather this season. The two suggestions are, to cut the trade deal entirely to cut on expense. Or to look elsewhere to open up trade. The northern kingdom has offered to start trading in sweet potatoes to help balance the prices to make it easier on the residents," as soon as she looked up, the lords started to argue their points heatedly.

Calmly the young woman turned to face the king and inquired politely, ignoring the struck look on her mate's face as she said in a soft voice, "May I borrow this...?"

The king merely nodded. Grasping the handle of the hammer and bringing it down on the gavel the loud echo piercing through their chattering. She raised her voice, the sound cold, "Silence!"

They all stopped and looked at her warily. One lord protested, "This is the way things are done and.."

"Oh do shut up," Sakura interrupted him with a fierce glare, "Don't subject me to such stupidity," and with a deep breath she said, "Now if you all can manage to pay attention for three seconds, those in favor of cutting trade raise your hand."

Tentatively a few hands went into the air, and she counted them and then writing down the number, "Alright, now those in favor of exporting sweet potatoes along with the continuation of the usual crop raise your hand."

After counting the raised hands she informed them, "It's three to nine, so I'm certain the king will take this into consideration when he makes the final decision." She marked the results on the board. It was like this that Sakura conducted the meeting, not allowing any of the members the chance to argue for more than two seconds.

There were many sullen looks sent her way but they didn't protest. They had all glimpsed the amusement on the king's face at their expense. The woman was making them look like nothing more than petulant children and it rankled when they realized it wasn't too far off the mark. In half an hour, Sakura had the meeting dismissed and done. She handed the clipboard to King Hiashi as the council members filed out. He looked at her with a thoughtful look in his eyes as she said, "I wrote down the results for your perusal, although I figure that you go ahead and decide whether they like it or not."

Itachi had his arms folded across his chest, eyeing her with a pleased gleam in those inky black depths. He said curtly, "Well I just learned today that we've wasted allot of unnecessary time allowing these old men to entertain themselves with their pathetic arguments."

Neji laughed at that, "Those old dragons and elves are pretty miffed. I think they look forward to being able to argue for a few hours. It's their indoor sport."

"Thank you for humoring my request your majesty," Sakura smiled at the king.

"It was my pleasure daughter," he leaned forward resting his chin on his head as his silvery eyes into her own, "I see your point and I have decided that such a method is definitely much more conducive to avoiding a migraine. I will integrate your methods into dealing with these meetings from here on."

Sasuke murmured while leaning against the wall, "Thank kami that I wasn't forced to endure them before today. What kind of requests were half of those anyway? Idiots."

Finally the King and his champion left the room. Sasuke followed in their wake after Neji dismissed him. Once everyone was gone, his clawed hand snaked out grasping his mate's wrist and pulled her onto his lap. His lips pressed themselves to her neck sending shivers of pleasure through her. He murmured against the silk of her skin, "That was very sneaky of you love. You didn't inform me that you'd be crashing today's meeting."

"Mmm," she murmured as one of his hands found their way beneath her tunic to rest on her hip. She smirked at him, "I just enjoy that dumbfounded look on your face a little too much."

"I do not make any such a look," he bristled pridefully.

"Oh yes you do," she smiled at him, her eyes shining with amusement, "I find it adorable."

"I am a full grown male dragon woman," Neji nipped at her playfully, snapping his canines, "You are not allowed to describe me with such a word."

"Oh I'm not allowed am I?" Sakura teased him, her fingers running a path down his face. He opened his mouth to retort again but she covered his lips with her own for several mind drugging seconds and then she asked throatily, taunting him, "So what were you about to say mate?"

A playful snarl was her response before she found herself the subject of a very amorous dragon's affections.

-o-

A/N: And this is where we leave our happy couple. Now the board meeting, was something I was thinking about doing as a fun epilogue but being the rebel that I am, I decided to add it along with the final battle and leave this story ending on an odd chapter number. I would really like reviews as this is the last chapter if you can manage it. I will love you forever! Oh and yes before I forget... the stupid maid that gossiped and her buddies were all fired by Sakura personally with a "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!" And now you all see why I created Lord Lucied. Think of him as merely one of Orochimaru's minions just... in yokai form and uh insane. I know a few of you mentioned that you'd love for other characters to have been in his place but now that you read Lord Lucied's bloody and dire fate, I bet you're happy that I didn't do that! Hehe! Thanks everyone and goodnight!