A/N: Owing to a fabulous fan theory developed by Googala2 and myself (it involves yaoi, adultery, scandal and epicness, need I say more), I wanted to find out what Hashirama's wife Mito was like. Dear exposition-lacking Kishimoto hasn't provided any details, and I am an insane generator of Naruto character psychology, so there you are.
In summary, I am writing this fic to find out who Mito might have been. I want to sum up the whole character's story all at once, but am too lazy, so I feel bad about the brevity (I plan to have three chapters, so this should be finished soon). But the postulated theory entertained me, and I hope it shall entertain you. To begin, Mito's words to Kushina in chapter 500 gave me a fascinating central point…
Chapter 1: Senju's Bride
The girl is terrified; Mito can see that. Young Kushina has a pretty face; round and sweet, framed by long red hair; or it would be pretty usually. At the moment her cheeks are flushed and her eyes are filled with tears. The child is visibly trembling.
Mito, who is old now, older than the village, but not as old as the demon who resides inside her head, reaches out a hand to the frightened girl.
"Kushina," she says softly, "Come here."
This young, talented daughter of Mito's clan, chosen for a task she does not understand and does not want to undertake, falls to her knees before the old woman and begins to sob.
"Please, grandmother, don't let them do it! Don't let them! I didn't know what they were planning; I don't want to do it, please!"
Once, Mito would have felt contempt for the way this child shirks her duty out of terror. But the years- and the people she has loved- have taught her compassion for those who cannot bear to obey orders.
She places a wrinkled hand on the deep scarlet of Kushina's hair, and another on the girl's clasped hands.
The affection of the gesture calms Kushina, Mito can see.
"Why are you afraid to be the second jinchuriki of the fox-demon, child?" Mito asks calmly.
"Because I don't want to do it! I'll be a monster, I'll be unhappy; nobody will ever want to be my friend! I can't bear to be a freak all my life. At least you chose to do it. At least you wanted to!"
Mito laughs, a dry, creaking sound wry in its amusement.
"It was my duty, Kushina. My duty. Just as it is now yours. But… there are ways to make a duty bearable. You too, in the end, may choose to suffer a little for the sake of what is necessary…"
Mito's eyes, framed with the fine lines of time, crinkle a little with the reach of memory. She was not like this girl, when she was young. She was nothing but a dutiful daughter of her clan.
She smiles to herself, stroking the hair of the now silent child looking up into her face.
Mito was only her duty, then. Nothing but a vessel which moved as it was told. And she would have been only that, maybe, her whole life long, if it had not been for the man she married, and the one area in which he disregarded what the world wanted of him…
Mito Uzumaki first hears the rumors on the night before her wedding.
She is a young bride, although not young enough to be ignorant of what she is doing and why. She knows that her clan wants the support and protection of the powerful Senju; knows that her marriage to a man such as Lord Hashirama is both a great honor and a solemn duty. She knows that her future husband's ambition is peace, and that her role in life from the next day onward is helping him achieve it.
Mito also knows, although she is barely nineteen, that this marriage is one of convenience and politics. Whether she can learn to love Hashirama, whom she has never met, is entirely a matter of fate.
Her mother, brushing Mito's long red hair in the dim candlelight of her room, talks of trivial things at first; of her daughter's childhood, of Uzumaki social affairs, of how pretty Mito will look tomorrow, dressed as a bride.
"You are lucky, you know," her mother murmurs, the brush moving in rhythmic strokes, slow and gentle. "To be marrying a handsome man, I mean. I know he's a little older than you, but that can have its advantages as well…"
The woman chuckles and Mito smiles slightly. She has been hearing such comments from the women of her clan for some time now. They faze her little. Duty is duty, after all.
Then her mother's voice grows a little more serious, and Mito's smile fades.
"Now, you're a fine-looking girl, my daughter; not some painted beauty, but good and solid. I'm sure I don't need to tell you how to deal with a man. But, while your father drinks with his cronies and celebrates a match well made, I've been doing some asking around."
The brush slides its way a little more slowly, and her mother seems to pause.
"Everyone says Lord Hashirama is handsome, all right, and as I said you're lucky for it, but a man like that can be trouble. You'll be the wife of a clan leader, and maybe more than a clan leader, some day. You'll have to watch your back, and his eyes. Make sure his gaze doesn't wander."
Mito smiles again, serene.
"You worry too much, mother. The Senju leader is by all accounts an honorable man, and other women don't concern me. The family's reputation will be safe."
The elder Uzumaki makes a slight hmmm noise in the back of her throat, an indication that she is not entirely pleased.
"It's not women I'm concerned about," she mutters.
Hashirama Senju, as it turns out, is a very handsome man. He is tall, much taller than Mito is, with pleasant dark eyes and hair longer than hers. His smile, while not easily won, is kind.
He is, from her careful observation over the first month of their marriage, honest, persuasive and extremely devoted to his ideals.
His life, as both a military commander and a clan head, is hectic, but he never loses his calm or forgets his goals.
Hashirama is both attentive and intelligent; he understands her position as the young wife of a powerful man and denies her no information or aid in making her more comfortable. She suspects, although she cannot confirm it, that his strength can be ruthless as well as benevolent, but he displays nothing but compassion towards her.
Mito has more than she has ever hoped for in a husband; or nearly. She avoids the more personal of her clan's questions with a suitable blush, and eventually the queries fade. All seems to be going well, and Mito cannot deny that she and Hashirama are fairly well suited to each other.
There is only one problem. He will not sleep with her.
He shakes his head on their wedding night, a silent gesture of refusal, and she is too unsure to ask him questions.
At first, her youth might have explained his reluctance. But that excuse, which he offers and she, somewhat discomfited by the conversation, accepts, falls apart after a while. He is only six years older than her, and other lords married girls of half their age with scarcely a qualm.
She does not tell her mother about this strange discrepancy in her arranged relationship. It is too embarrassing, too likely to cause trouble. And Mito, who must now manage a new household filled with people who worship her husband and are only distantly welcoming towards her, does not want to cause trouble.
Mito does not tell her mother. In fact she tells no one; she explains it away by reminding herself how busy Hashirama is, how hard he is working to forge his alliances, to achieve his peace. He comes home to their room at night bloodstained and exhausted, and tells her of constant fights between himself and other clan leaders, leaders who want to be in charge of the future in his place.
She comforts him as best she can, accepts his quiet gratitude with equanimity, and falls asleep beside him telling herself that, in a few months, when the last alliances are made and the village he wants to create is being constructed, her husband will look at her as more than a political ally.
Sometimes, Mito wonders what exactly her mother meant, on the night before her wedding. But then she rejects the thoughts. This is her duty, after all. She, like Hashirama, is very busy, and an old woman's cryptic gossip is not important enough to worry over.
Mito hears the girls whispering as she walks briskly along the corridor to the kitchens, intending to begin the dinner preparations. She nearly ignores them, dismissing the silly pastimes of maidservants who should be cleaning rather than hiding out in empty rooms, but a word or two reaches Mito's ears, and she stops abruptly.
"Lord Hashirama… That young Uchiha… they say…"
The only hint of her sudden suspicion a slight widening of her eyes, Mito leans her head against the door, silent as only an eavesdropping kunoichi can be.
"I heard that last time he went to negotiate with the Uchiha, Lord Senju disappeared from the camp at night!" one voice whispers. "The men say he goes to visit Madara."
The low reply is giggly with scandal and excitement.
"Madara? That's the clan leader! They say he's so frightening one of our envoys wet himself when Madara glared at him! And his skill in battle is so great that they call him a war god. But I heard he's handsome, too, and although everyone tries no woman ever gets near him!"
"Yes! He's scary all right. But as for his looks, I've heard beautiful is a better description than handsome. All the high born Uchiha men look like women and defend themselves by fighting like demons! And at least half of them are-" The voice drops too low to hear on the last word.
There are titters. Mito is pressed close to the door now, ignoring the squashing of her carefully arranged hair against the wood.
"Madara's young, too. Younger than Lord Hashirama. And Lord Hashirama likes to duel him a little too much, the men say. He comes back from their fights scratched, but never very badly injured, and if he bathes afterward nobody is allowed near."
"Ooooh," says the other girl, "Those Uchihas are always causing trouble. You know, I heard that at one of Lord Hashirama's meetings Izuna-"
Mito pulls her head away. She has heard enough.
For a moment, Hashirama's wife stands in the corridor, frozen, considering what she has heard. Mito may be only nineteen, but she is cool-headed and well trained for the position she is now in. She does not panic. She does not fly into a rage. She merely thinks for a long moment, mulling over all the possible information.
Then she walks off to organize dinner. A clan leader's house must stay well fed.
But, of course, there is a point where the duties of the Senju's bride are outweighed by her worry for her marriage. A few days later, Mito knocks quietly on the door of her husband's brother, Tobirama. She has no evidence, as yet; only suspicions; but in a battle not acting on one's suspicions can kill you, and she is still a kunoichi, despite her domestic position. Mito needs information; she needs an advisor; as much as she regrets admitting it, she needs help.
She does not know her brother-in-law very well, although what Mito has seen of him she likes. He is not overly talkative, but what he does say is never foolish or unnecessary, and his sardonic sense of humor is one of the few things which can make Hashirama laugh. Mito met Tobirama at her wedding, and although his cold, fierce appearance intimidated her, she felt that she could trust him.
Now, she is about to act on that feeling. Her worries are shocking in their content, but he is the one person who, if the rumors are true, has no possible reason to betray her husband or her new clan.
Mito knocks again, slightly louder, and the door opens. He stands in the doorway before her; taller than she is, although not as tall as her husband.
"Lady Uzumaki," Tobirama says, smiling. "To what do I owe the pleasure of your company?"
Mito, despite herself, is offset by the formality, but she continues to meet his eyes. She is not a woman who bows her head to anyone.
"Lord Senju, just Mito is perfectly acceptable. I came on personal business.
"In that case, call me Tobirama, Mito, and please come inside."
She follows him in, and as soon as the door closes, she turns to face him, serious and somewhat urgent.
"It's about Hashirama that I wanted to talk."
Tobirama's angular face becomes a little more grave.
"You look very solemn. Is something the matter with him?"
Mito glances at the floor, briefly, and then decides to simply be honest. Something about this man tells her that he does not like sycophants or tolerate dilution of the truth.
"I have been hearing rumors about him and Madara Uchiha."
"What kind of rumors?"
He scrutinizes her expression with slanted scarlet eyes, and she answers plainly.
"That they're sleeping together, for a start."
Tobirama turns his head away and sighs deeply. One hand runs through his hair in an absentminded fashion.
"I can't deny that I'd heard something similar. And Hashirama acts strange around Madara, that's certain, although he might merely be worried about the man trying to kill him. Whatever other activities they engage in, my brother and Madara certainly like to fight."
"So you aren't sure if the rumors are true?" Mito asks quietly.
"No, I'm not. But can't you ask Hashi yourself? You are his wife; there are questions a brother shouldn't try to get answers about, and this is one of them."
For the second time in this man's company, Mito is unsettled. She is not accustomed to embarrassment, but Tobirama seems to provoke it easily. She cannot help but stutter a little when she speaks.
"I… I'm his wife only in name, at this point. He's never laid a finger on me."
Tobirama, for the first time, looks blatantly shocked. His eyes grow wide, and the hand stops its path through his spikes of silver hair.
"Why?" he says, seemingly unable to comprehend the statement.
"I don't know, Tobirama!" Mito says sharply. "I am endeavoring to find out!"
The sound of his name seems to steady him. Those strange magenta eyes focus on her, appraising her for a moment.
"I think the best course of action for now," he says, almost musingly, "Is to wait. This is a difficult time; Hashi's under a ridiculous amount of pressure, as are we all. There is no room for dealing with this, as much as I would like to help you. Tell me if anything else happens; if you hear anything else, and I too will keep my ears open. The whole mess may work itself out. After all, Hashi is certainly not in love with Madara. The Uchiha leader is a demon with an angel's face; the only one alive who could love him is his little brother."
He smiles wryly, and Mito is somewhat comforted.
She dips her head in gratitude.
"Thank you, Tobirama. I will wait and see."
She exits his room and goes about her duties, no hint of discomposure visible. Mito Uzumaki, who is now one of the Senju, is above all else a kunoichi. She knows how to wait, how to let conditions change before she acts. And she is not alone, now; there is an ally in the form of her husband's brother, a formidable man with a pleasant manner and more intelligence, she thinks, than he is given credit for.
That night, Mito discusses with her husband how the new, planned village should be structured, making a formal system for its serving shinobi. She is happy, or happy enough. Hashirama, whatever the maidservants and foot soldiers say, is a good man, who values her advice. And, as Tobirama asserted, it isn't as if he can be in love with Uchiha Madara. That would be ridiculous.