Summary: Unlike most teenage girls, Uzumaki Mito is not easily charmed, even if she is engaged to the charismatic Hashirama. For him, she is a delicious conquest definitely worthy of his efforts. For Konoha and Uzu, they are a political blessing.
Rating: T + ; M later for some lemon (maybe)
Chapter 1: Tough Flower
A red fox sped out of bushes, crisscrossing about the feet of the oxen tethered to a chariot, probably chasing a rodent. The oxen, spooked and annoyed by the commotion, swayed this way and that, causing the chariot to shake violently as Uzumaki Mito was climbing out of it. Being a kunoichi all her life, Mito knew herself to have great balance and grace, but coupling swaying chariot with the long, silk kimono she was wearing spelled certain disaster. If it weren't for Senju Hashirama who managed to catch her before she fell face flat onto the ground like a character in some sort of slapstick routine, she would have deeply embarrassed herself in front of the Senju elders who, even at a distance, would have definitely seen everything.
"Careful now," laughed Hashirama as he gently pushed her back onto her feet.
Upon regaining her composure, Mito looked up at Hashirama not with gratitude or flushed cheeks of girlish embarrassment, but with a cold glare. Underneath, however, she bristled with embarrassment: appearing even a little inept in front of him was the last thing she ever wanted. Hashirama only kept on smiling. Mito let out a loud, short breath to tell Hashirama to get on with it. He seemed to understand and led her towards the great house from which the retired leader of the Senju clan, her future father in law, was waiting for her surrounded by a small group of important looking adults. He sat in the front garden on an elaborate chair, smiling serenely as she approached. She forced herself to smile a bit when she came before them.
"My my, you're gorgeous," her father in law said with that ridiculous, adorable old man smile, "My son is quite lucky to have you." If she met this man in any other situation, she would have never believed that he was the famous Senju Kuroki, a frighteningly skilled shinobi who fathered two of the current generation's most powerful men, one of them soon to be her husband. He was a skinny man, and she didn't know if he was inherently small or if the robe he wore just made him look it. She could definitely see the wear and tear of the shinobi life on him—the layered, healed scars, rough, sinewy skin and a nose that looked like it had been broken multiple times—but the expression of calm and sweetness on his face made her think for a civilian grandfather than a world famous hardened shinobi leader.
"You are too kind, Senju Kuroki-sama," she managed to croak after hours of keeping her mouth stubbornly clamped, refusing to say as little as possible to Hashirama. She refused to add 'I am the one who is fortunate' as her mother had insisted she say if something like this ever came up. No way in hell and all its level will she admit she is the one who was lucky, even if dozens of heartbroken girls came whining to her that she was incredibly fortunate to marry the most wanted and eligible bachelor in the shinobi world.
"But you are," insisted the old man with a jovial chuckle, "Doesn't she look just like a doll?" The others smiled and murmured in agreement, and Mito could see Hashirama wearing a satisfied smile from the corner of her eyes. She fought the urge to roll her eyes.
"Come now," the old Senju said, standing up, "Let us have some tea in the garden. You must be tired from your journey."
Mito's eyes twitched slightly at the comment, but she merely nodded. Hashirama smiled courteously at her and led her up after his father and the other elders.
"Be careful on your way up," he warned as they arrived at the steps.
She scowled at Hashirama and whispered coldly, "I may look like a doll, but I assure you I am not, so you don't have to act like I'll break any moment." She wanted to add 'I'm a damn kunoichi!' but held her tongue before it would launch her into an angry diatribe about how she would rather kiss a snake than to marry him.
"I certainly know that," he said coolly, an oddly pleasant grin on his lips, "As no doll can put on such a scowl as ugly as yours, so don't worry. I just don't want you cracking your head open before you reach the garden. I mean, it was quite a close call back there, don't you think?"
She felt her face getting hot at the comment, and if she was a few years young and a little more stupid, she would have stalked off in the opposite direction and melodramatically brood. For now, she just clenched her teeth. She had plenty of time to brood afterward, she decided. In the heat of anger, she forgot give a witty comeback.
However, she forgot all of that when they stepped into the garden. She found herself struck with awe at the sheer beauty of the scene before her. With a little gasp, she stopped momentarily, surprising Hashirama. She observed the bright white pebbles of the path on which round aging stepping stones were placed a few inches from each other. The path led to a deep red wooden bridge that crossed over a placid pond, and to three gazebos of the same of the same brick color beyond it. The path was complemented on each side by a beautifully wild and lush fauna. She spotted a small stream just behind an aging willow which dipped its long, whip like branches into the running water, which, she presumed, collected into the pond. Old and young sakura trees boasted vibrant gold and yellow leaves, competing with the orange-leaved scarlet maples and the golden leaves of the maidenhairs. She spied tree peonies with the last of its flowers, azalea bushes, and numerous rebellious sweet flags giving the garden a sense of exciting wildness, contrasting quite starkly with the impeccable walking path.
With a small tug at her kimono, Hashirama led her along the steps. She mindlessly followed, her eyes traveling all over the garden, noting a grand, aging clay water bowl strategically placed amongst the bushes, several old sculptures, altars and moss covered stones. It wasn't like it was the first time she had ever stepped into well kept garden, but the vastness and the offhand natural beauty of this one was something she hadn't really quite seen before.
"It's much more beautiful in spring," she heard Hashirama say, "Though autumn has its unique charm." Mito glanced up at him. He appeared very pleased, and looked around the garden like a proud father.
"I can imagine," she said, and she certainly could. How breathtaking would the garden be when everything was happily green and the flowers bloomed! When they crossed the bridge, Mito looked down in the pond to find, with much delight, a dozen or so large, gold-red kois, congregating at the surface under them, their mouths opening and closing hungrily. A small smile crept on her lips as she watched them, and she wished she had some food to throw down to them.
"We'll get to feeding them after tea," said Hashirama, sounding pursed her lips, not ling at all that he could read her so easily.
They finally arrived at the gazebo, where she was made to sit besides Hashirama, across from his father and his two uncles after a quick introduction. On the other side of her sat one of his aunts. She noticed the seat beside Hashirama was empty. It was for Tobirama, Hashirama had explained when she was looking at the spot with a quizzical expression. She really hated that he read her so easily.
"How do you like the garden, little one?" asked the old Senju when they were comfortably settled. Teapots and cups were already set on low table, and decorated dishes were filled with dainty mochi of various colors.
"It's breathtaking!" she answered earnestly. The others chuckled at her enthusiasm. Hashirama proceeded in pouring tea for everyone, which struck her as a bit odd. Why was the leader of the clan pouring tea for everyone else? If anyone it should be her job, not that she wanted it.
"Yes, we are very proud of this garden," said the old man, "Especially Hashirama, as he tends to it. It is his garden."
Mito looked at Hashirama in surprise, and he grinned back at her. The fatherly pride he was exhibited made sense to her now.
"Quite the green thumb," she said, sounding impressed.
"You have no idea," Hashirama said with a laugh. The others grinned and chuckled at this, and Mito realized how stupid of a statement she made. Of course Hashirama was good at growing plants, especially when he was famous for being able to grow a forest in a matter of hours. Her face felt hot and she quickly sipped her tea to hide her embarrassment. Her insides kicked and screamed.
"Well, my dear," said the old man, "I do believe your relatives will be arriving starting tomorrow for the engagement ceremony." She nodded.
"I'm quite looking for your inclusion in our clan," the aunt said on her right, "My daughter is a year younger than you are, and I hope you two will get along."
She smiled and nodded.
"We're excited to finally getting Hashirama a wife," one of the uncles said, chortling, "And such a pretty one at that too. I wish you two a long, happy marriage."
"Yes, the bond between the Uzumakis and the Senjus will be strengthened…"
There was a war between logic and will in mind—at least that's how she imagined the inner workings of her psyche as she fought to limit her actions to just smiling, nodding and uttering an occasional 'thank you'. What a doll indeed!
The old Senju smiled and said, "While you are here, dear, please treat this place like your home, since it will be yours very soon."
"Thank you, sir."
From that point on, the conversation that carried on was incredibly baffling for the poor girl. She ate mochi and drank tea and listened in amazement as Hashirama spearheaded a conversation about pruning bonsai trees. Then they talked about the peach trees, the rose bushes in another part of the garden and argued over whether or not they should plant more magnolia trees. She was silent for most of the time, mind a buzzing blank and feeling utterly out of place. When there was a short pause in the conversation, Mito cleared her throat. She made an excuse about her legs' circulation being cut off and needing to take a walk, and flinched inwardly when Hashirama offered to accompany her. If she were not in the company of the elders, she would have refused, and he knew it.
"I can find my way around," she said curtly when they were out of earshot of the elders, "So you don't need to escort me." She walked faster so that he was a few feet behind her.
"I'm just tagging along to make sure you don't trip on something again and fall to your death," he said with a concern that wasn't entirely serious.
"Look," she sighed, "I'm not clumsy. That was a one time thing! I don't usually trip on my feet, and I'm not some sort of princess who can't protect herself either so I don't need a bodyguard either!"
"Of course you're not," he agreed, nodding solemnly, "Princesses are taught to have more poise and balance, little flower."
She stopped walking at the nick name. He did not just call her a flower! Letting out a sharp sigh, she wheeled around and glared up at him. He returned her a most charming smile, and that she found it charming infuriated her even more.
"My name is Uzumaki Mito," she declared in a quiet, strained, and slightly trembling voice, "I am a kunoichi of the great Uzumaki clan."
"Yes, I know that." His nonchalant comment destroyed the dramatic mood of Mito's declaration, which seemed to incense her even more.
"Then treat me like one! Don't patronize me! And don't you ever treat me like I'm one of your fragile flowers!"
"Fragile?" he parroted rather airily, "None of my flowers are particularly fragile."
She wasn't listening. Mito had already turned around and was walking towards the bridge, grumbling, "I'm tired and I retiring!" Hashirama, chuckling amusedly at her reaction, followed her. When they arrived at the bridge, they met with Senju Tobirama who graciously greeted the lady Uzumaki.
"Don't you start too!" she snapped, brushing past him, startling him. Tobirama stared after her, looking stunned as she stalked off towards the house.
"Didn't you want to feed the kois, Mito-chan?" Hashirama called after her, but she ignored him.
"It doesn't do well to make your fiancée angry, Hashirama," Tobirama chided jokingly as his brother approached him.
"She's incredible," said Hashirama, grinning broadly, "I called her a flower and she gets infuriated. Most girls would swoon so terribly in her place."
"Are you so surprised?" asked Tobirama, rolling his eyes, "Although I must say you're not seeing her best side. Kyoko tells me she can be quite graceful and mature, and not hot headed, rude and stubborn as we are seeing her."
"Isn't that her best side?" Hashirama asked cheekily.
"My dear brother, your taste is odd," sighed Tobirama, shaking his head. He cleared his throat and handed the scroll he was holding to Hashirama. The latter unrolled the parchment and took a couple of seconds to read it.
"I see," Hashirama said, a grim smile on his lips, "Tobirama, let's enjoy some tea for now and we'll deal with the Fuuma clan a little later, shall we?"
Comment: Ohmygod I can just smell the coming of clichéd plot points and sugary sappiness, can't you? This would be my first romance in a LONG time.
I am not 100% liking this version (I have so many different version of their relationship in my head) so I might even scratch this version one day and put on a new one. I'm constantly editing
I'm constantly editing, so things might change. If any big changes happen, I will say something suppose. Thanks for reading! Very much!
You know I'm gonna write a Naruto soap opera (as if the series isn't soap opera-ish by itself)…cause…it's just soooo possible….