Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

A/N: The idea of the Yondaime Kazekage's name being Sunamaru belongs to Oreithyia and is used with her permission.

Shifting Sands

1. Karura's paternal grandmother was a merchant's daughter from the Land of Lightning but all her other relatives were born and raised in the Land of Wind. In Suna, this is enough to have her labelled a newly-arrived foreigner.
She remembers sitting on her grandmother's lap, listening to stories of tall mountains shrouded in fog and covered with snow.
(She was the first shinobi in her family.)

2. By contrast, Sunamaru can trace his ancestors' presence in the Land of Wind to before the founding of Suna. This is one of the reasons he became Kazekage. The council would have not trusted someone of a lesser pedigree to understand how to properly rule the village.
(All his family have been shinobi.)

3. Karura managed to succeed in applying to be considered a candidate for shinobi training when she was seven. The process was sped up after she was tested for her primary elemental affinity which was found to be wind. Wind affinities have always been highly prized in Suna and she became apprenticed to the legendary mistress of tessen-jutsu, Fumiya, shortly afterwards.

4. Sunamaru was tutored privately by a variety of skilled jounin as befitted the heir to one of Suna's founding families.
He still envies the individual attention Karura got and the chance to be taught by such a talented shinobi. His attempts to learn from Fumiya's husband, the blade-master Kouhei, were politely rejected.

5. Karura got her headband at eleven. She received her first full-size fan from her teacher as a present. Two days later, Fumiya went on the mission that led to the death of her and her husband at the hands of Konoha's White Fang. Karura's subsequent hatred of Konoha shinobi is second only to Chiyo's.
It took Sunamaru until he was twelve to acquire his. This is something he would never forgive her for managing before him if he knew.

6. Their first meeting is at the Chunin Exam when she is thirteen and he is fifteen. It is her first try and his second. She loses to him in the finals but they both become chunin.

7. The Third Great Shinobi War breaks out a year later. Suna is short on shinobi so they both are sent to the front line six months into the war.

8. Karura remembers those early months as the worst days of her life. As the last surviving student of Fumiya, she was simultaneously pushed and coddled. Everyone expected her to fight harder and longer than the rest but also thought she was spoiled and only her teacher's name had gotten her this far.

9. On the other hand, Sunamaru relishes the simplicity of that time. The kill-or-be-killed mentality has always suited him well. He may be talented at politics and subterfuge but he has never particularly enjoyed it.

10. A year into the war, he becomes a jounin at seventeen. By this point, he is one of Suna's rising stars and leads squads of much older ninja.
His first and only genin squad last out the war, only to lose two members the day after. Baki is the only survivor and will never mention his sensei to his own students.

11. Karura's path to jounin status is slower. A serious injury at sixteen lands her in hospital for weeks and when she recovers, she's assigned to teach a handful of genin the basics of tessen-jutsu.
At eighteen, watching the four genin she'd trained being cut down ranked as the most horrifying experience she'd ever had. Her strong dislike of working with much younger people is a result of that mission.
She was given a field promotion to jounin a week afterwards.

12. Half a year later, Sunamaru tells her that she will marry him. Her first reaction is to ask him if he's been poisoned lately because there's obviously something wrong with him. Naturally, their courtship is the stuff of legend in Suna.
Yashamaru just thinks his sister really could have done better.

13. When Karura was very young, she didn't check her shoes before putting them on and was stung by a scorpion. It would take more than that to prevent herself being stung by Sasori, she thinks.

14. Sunamaru acknowledges Sasori as one of the best puppeteers ever produced by Suna and isn't foolish enough to attempt to take him in a fight. He knows that not all of Sasori's puppets are made of wood and metal but likes to think he controls his own destiny all the same.

15. They got married shortly before the disappearance of the Third Kazekage. It was one of the last times they would be happy and possibly only one of three that they would feel that way for the same reasons.

16. Sunamaru sees being named Kazekage as the culmination of a short but illustrious career.
Karura regards it as losing her husband to the village.

17. It is a terrible thing to hate your child, she knows, but she cannot bring herself to love the baby growing inside her. Temari and Kankuro's births had been happy occasions but this one will not be. She became estranged from Sunamaru soon after Kankuro's arrival and started heavily relying on Yashamaru to help take care of her children.

18. Suna has never been the strongest village and Sunamaru hopes to change that. There are rumours that even Taki has a jinchuuriki so why should Suna be any different?
The previous vessels of Shukaku were weak and prone to killing randomly but a child of his would be strong and under his control.
His wife is a necessary sacrifice to ensure future prosperity and he knows she would understand if she thought about it logically.

19. She didn't really want Gaara to avenge her death but extreme pain produces irrationality at the best of times. It would be pointless, she thinks later, killing one parent in revenge for the death of the other.
All the same, she will never forgive Sunamaru.

20. It is strange because he had always imagined that his death would be at one of his children's hands (probably Kankuro). He would have told whichever one managed it that he expected them to become the next Kazekage. (He might have even said he was proud of them.) But this never was how he had pictured his end.
He thinks he can see Karura and he smiles.

Fumiya and Kouhei are my names for Sasori's parents.

This is sort of backstory to a fic I want to write which involves Gaara talking to his parents before he's revived. I realized that I needed to get them clear in my head first though and I'd been thinking about writing something like this for a while anyway.

Sunamaru and Karura are possibly the most hated parents in Naruto (probably with good reason) and I'm not trying to say that they are nice people. (I personally think that Sunamaru is a sorry excuse for a human being.) But they are people and thus are prone to making mistakes just like anybody else.

I'm actually quite proud of this. I actually had trouble sticking to twenty; normally I don't make it that far.