Here we are at the end of Desert Winds of Change. Thank you to everyone who read and reviewed this, you mean so much to me! It's been a long path, but you all made it worth it.

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Anonymous - Chary, Cherry-san, lol, momo, timelord99

A huge huge huge thankyou to Echo Uchiha, freewolf17, hitsugayataichoda, and Kaiser969 for reviewing all the chapters! You guys were the biggest incentive of all to keep writing.

Kais and freewolf...this is dedicated to you. Without you two, this story wouldn't have been begun, and you gave me so many ideas when I was stuck. You're the best!

Disclaimer - I don't own any of Naruto.

Posted - 8/7/2011


Epilogue

Readers,

Here we are, ten years after that eventful year. The Sabaku Siblings certainly knew how to set things on their ear. Temari-sama would be reporting this normally, but she moved to Konohagakure four years ago to finally marry Nara Shikamaru. It took that lazy man three years to propose, and only Temari's threat to whack him awake at four in the morning every day for the rest of his life if he didn't get his act together spurred him on. Of course, they had Gaara-sama's blessing as the Kazekage.

Oh! You'll want to hear all about the Kazekage ceremony of course. I got to attend as Gaara-sama's student, and in the customs of Sunagakure it wasn't a very public affair, except for the Kazekage's speech at the end.

It took place inside the Kazekage residence where Gaara-sama, Kankurou-sama, and Temari-sama have lived all their lives. Gaara-sama insisted they do it in an old classroom the three used to use, although he wouldn't tell anybody why. I always got the feeling Temari-sama and Kankurou-sama knew his reasoning, but they haven't told anybody either. Not for lack of trying on my part though. Baki-san told me once it was where the three met for their mission debriefing of the Konoha Invasion, but I don't know why that would matter so.

Anyway, Temari-sama took charge of decorating the room, and conscripted me into helping her prepare. We draped the walls in posters with the kanji for peace, long life, and wisdom as is customary, and replaced the hard wooden bench with a series of chairs. The council members were going to stand anyway, so they were mainly for Temari-sama, Kankurou-sama and I.

The ceremony was quite simple, with Gaara-sama standing at the front of the room in the official Kazekage robes – white and blue – and the hat resting on a white-draped table behind him. Baki stood next to him, reciting off each line of the pledge of the Kazekage, and having Gaara-sama repeat them.

"I, as Kazekage of Sunagakure, do swear to uphold the safety of this village as my forefront duty, to protect and defend each and every citizen, adult or child, civilian or shinobi. I will lay down my life for them willingly, and am prepared to sacrifice my own personal desires for the greater good of the village. I accept the powers of Kazekage with the understanding I shall not abuse them, and acknowledge if I seem unfit for the duty, I may be removed by either popular vote or the council." There was a lot more, but I don't remember it because I was getting a bit bored. It was all technicalities anyway; we all knew Gaara-sama would do a great job.

Then there were a bunch of papers for Gaara-sama to sign to make everything official, and the council had to sign them too. There were still only fifteen members, so they really had no power. I remember that five of them disappeared for no reason anyone could discover, except that no foul play was involved. Rumors would come over a few years that this man or that was stationed in another country, so I suppose they just got tired of Suna. They weren't really happy about appointing Gaara-sama Kazekage, but even they saw he was the best person for the job.

Baki had been holding the spot for Gaara-sama until he earned the acceptance of the public and the council. It really didn't take too long after that incident where I was taken; that cemented Gaara-sama's standing with most of the village and shinobi.

Temari-sama and Kankurou-sama got up and said a few words about how well they thought Gaara-sama was prepared for the post, and how great a job he would do. They both picked up the hat on the table behind him and placed it on his head. It was slightly comical – although nobody laughed – because both were so much taller than him. No matter how much Gaara-sama hates to admit it, he'll never catch either of them in height. He still grumbles about it sometimes.

Then that ceremony was over and we all followed Gaara-sama to the balcony to listen to his speech to the village. Every person who lived in Suna was gathered in front of it, waiting with bated breath to hear his words. I'm sure if someone had dropped a pin I could have heard it clearly, even back inside as I was.

It took him a minute to speak, but when he did Gaara-sama kept it short and elegant. "I promise I will lay down my life to protect this village and her people. I will restore Sunagakure to her former glory. This I promise."

The crowd erupted with cheers, and Temari-sama hugged both Kankurou-sama and I in a completely unusual burst of emotion. She turned beet red right afterwards of course and threatened to hit us both with her fan if we ever mentioned it again. I'm pretty sure Kankurou-sama used to tease her about it, because I would hear him complaining about annoying sisters with short tempers who couldn't take a joke, and rubbing at his head. But it's just what they did.

Gaara-sama did restore Suna to her former glory, re-establishing very strong bonds with Konohagakure, and bringing back missions to our village so we could get more money back into the treasury. Kankurou-sama worked as his investor for foreign trades and agreements, and still does. He does amazing work, the amount of money Suna had in reserve tripled just in Gaara-sama's first year with Kankurou as financial advisor. Temari-sama was his liaison to allied villages, and both worked as his bodyguards of course. They wouldn't trust those posts to anyone else.

Temari-sama went back and forth between Konoha and Suna for years, and every time she came back she brought something with her. She swore for those first three years she wasn't courting anyone at all, but we knew better. Eventually she said she may be seeing Nara Shikamaru, and Gaara-sama told her he approved. She blushed at that, then yelled she hadn't asked for his approval and didn't need it. Gaara-sama just smirked – something he picked up from Kankurou-sama – and told her it didn't matter if she wanted it or not, he was Kazekage and he had to approve all foreign marriages. I don't think she spoke to him for a week after that.

But they did eventually become engaged and get married, and Temari-sama moved to Konoha, as I said before. Gaara-sama was sad to see her go, as was Kankurou-sama although he still won't admit it. I think he just misses being beaten up by his big sister. They still see each other a lot though, as Temari-sama and Shikamaru-san come for visits quite often, or Gaara-sama will go to Konoha to visit and talk with the Rokudaime Hokage there, Uzumaki Naruto. He told me once that boy was the reason his life changed, and when I remember the first time I saw them together, I can see that clearly.

Kankurou-sama is a renowned puppeteer now, having surpassed even Chiyo-baa-sama, who used to be Suna's greatest puppeteer, and Akasuna no Sasori. He makes all his own puppets now, and he's training a couple promising puppeteers as well. All of this is on top of acting as Gaara's financial advisor and arguing with the council on a regular basis, I don't know how he finds the time. But he seems to enjoy everything.

Gaara-sama still loves his job as Kazekage, and takes it seriously every day. He never once shirks off on his work, and citizens are never afraid to approach him with any problems they have. He can always solve them, it's amazing. He's come a long way from being a person all of Suna feared and distrusted – now he is the most revered person in the village.

As for me, I'm the official scribe of the Kazekage as well as recorder. After Gaara-sama finished training me, I decided while fieldwork was all well and good, I'd rather stay with my Kazekage and protect him. So here I am, stationed next to his office every day, making sure everything is as it should be.

I hope you come by Suna some time, we will welcome you with open arms.

Matsuri, scribe and recorder of the Kazekage.