A/N: I'm aliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiive! I'm writing again, slowly but surely. Yup folks, we've got another arranged marriage fic by yours truly, but I'm going to take a different spin on things in this one. Let's see how it goes. Please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their upright and locked positions. And here we go...
Sasuke's betrothed (oh how he hated that word) was a strange one. Sure she was pretty enough- if she wasn't his... you know... he'd go as far as to say she was actually beautiful, but even ugly people could take good pictures he supposed- but she did things that were downright bizarre. Well, they were bizarre to him. She insisted that it was all perfectly normal. Or most of it was anyways.
She sure didn't act like any woman he knew.
For starters she was from a different country, so had he been in a gracious and forgiving mood he would have cut her some slack. Unfortunately he was pissed off about the whole thing and was happy to think she was odd. Maybe then he could convince his "political advisors" (quotations needed as he was seriously reconsidering their importance) that he didn't need a wife.
Sasuke was also told that she was feisty. He didn't know why he was told that or what that meant exactly. He wasn't exactly sure he wanted to know. Although he did have it from a good source that she at least had the ability to hold an intelligent conversation. Not that she had really spoken to him yet. Once she actually got into the country though, it would be a plus. In Sasuke's limited experience, the prettier the woman, the dumber she was. Inversely proportional those creatures.
Naruto thought she was pretty cool. Apparently she had talked to him.
"We were crammed in that damn carriage for three days. Of course we talked!"
Her eyes were a little unsettling. Sasuke didn't know why, and it was rare he didn't know the why of situations so it threw him off. He was pissed that it threw him off. Add that onto the fact that he hadn't been able to sleep the previous night- which had nothing to do with the fact that she was arriving today. At all- Sasuke concluded that he wasn't going to be able to smile at the woman no matter what.
Neji must have noticed his Kage lost in thought. He promptly drove his elbow sharply into the side of the man next to him. Sasuke growled at him, but turned to focus on the approaching carriage.
"This is stupid," Sasuke lamented for the hundredth time that day.
"Not your call," Neji said flatly.
"Don't remind me."
Naruto jumped out of the carriage almost before it stopped. He had a huge grin on his face, which Sasuke had learned long ago was usually a bad thing. The last time Naruto had grinned like that, he had come home to his oven on fire. The time before that it had been his study. The time before that Naruto had managed to set himself on fire. Though the last one was at least amusing.
Sasuke was expecting a dainty hand to appear out of the carriage as she was helped out. He was almost positive that she would be wearing some kind of expensive and impossible to move in outfit. She'd wear lots of her most impressive jewelry and enough perfume to knock him over. She'd have an annoying laugh. She'd wear too much make up. Her hair would be perfectly done in a complicated updo. All the women he knew, minus a select few, were like that. Why would she be any different?
Naruto did offer a hand, but it was just to grab the bag that had been tossed to the ground. "I'll get it," a voice said from the depths of the carriage.
And then Haruno Sakura stepped into the sunlight and shattered each and every one of Sasuke's illusions.
She was wearing dark boots, dark pants, and a simple white shirt. She wore her hair in a ponytail. Sasuke took note of her hands as she hauled her bag over her shoulder. They were small but not dainty, and covered in calluses.
"Not what you expected?" Neji asked knowingly. He sounded too smug for his own damn good. Sasuke just glared at him.
Sakura gave them both a smile and stuck out one of her definitely not dainty hands. "Haruno Sakura."
Neji took the offered hand. "Hyuuga Neji. A pleasure to meet you."
The twinkle in Sakura's eye told them she highly doubted it but she appreciated the lie.
"That means you're Sasuke, Naruto's man-crush."
"He is not!" Naruto screeched from the carriage. "I'm going to drop all of your suitcases if you don't stop saying that! I'm a man on the edge!" He dangled a medium sized suitcase precariously from his fingers.
Sasuke waited for the outraged shriek and the demand that all her precious things remain in pristine condition or something along those lines. But Sakura just raised a slim brow and watched as Naruto took a firmer grip on the suitcase. She chuckled lightly and turned back to Sasuke, amused eyes still on Naruto.
"That trunk is all that's left," she said over her shoulder. "Just leave it, I'll get it in a minute."
Sensible traveling clothes and willing to do labor. Sasuke was starting to think he had misjudged her. A little. She seemed pretty down-to-earth, but only time would be able to tell.
Sasuke took the suitcase from Naruto. "This way," he said gruffly.
Sakura didn't look the least bit offended. She hauled her bag higher up on her shoulder and followed him into the house.
There was no way they would share a room- not until they were married (even the thought of the word left a bad taste in his mouth), so Sasuke bypassed the master bedroom, pausing only long enough to point it out.
"My room," he said, jerking his chin towards the door in case she had missed it. He actually doubted she was missing much, her eyes were darting around but he had the impression she was memorizing everything. "Door's usually open," he added. Then, as an afterthought and thinking of Naruto barging in several times, "Knock first."
They reached the last door in the hallway. Sasuke used to use it as a second study, but once he realized he only really used it when Naruto managed to trash his other one, he didn't have much of a qualm about transforming it into another bedroom. It was bigger than his spare rooms anyways, so he figured she'd be more comfortable. Not that he was thinking of her comfort. He just didn't want to hear her complain.
"Nice," Sakura said, glancing around. "I think this one room is the size of my whole apartment."
Neji sent the trunk down with a thunk. He eyed it briefly before turning to take a suitcase out of Naruto's hands before he dropped all of them. Sheepishly Naruto allowed Sakura to take one as well before dumping the remaining three unceremoniously on the floor. He winced, expected a reprimand.
Sasuke rolled his eyes and waited for a shriek, a demand of punishment, anything, but Sakura, apart from shifting the cases so she didn't step on them, didn't react.
"Sorry about the trunk," she said to Neji. "It's full of shoes and other heavy things."
"If I wasn't married, I would have thought bricks," Neji admitted. "My wife has a fondness for weapons. Our trunks usually weigh twice that."
Sakura didn't exactly laugh, but an amused huff did escape her. Then she turned so that she could see all of them and pasted a smile on her face. "Thanks for lugging my stuff." She slid her gaze to Naruto. "And thanks for the... interesting ride. You guys should go do your normal stuff. It'll take me a while to unpack."
Sasuke didn't need to be told twice. With a nod he strode out of the room. He didn't wait on Neji or Naruto. He knew they'd follow him. He went back down the hallway and into his- now only- study. Neji appeared a few seconds behind him, Naruto a minute after that.
"Just cause we're ninja doesn't mean you can vanish all the time," the blonde groused, kicking the door shut behind him.
Sasuke didn't waste any time. "What do you think?"
Naruto stared blankly at him for a minute before blinking and turning serious. "Ah, teme. I knew you'd turn this into a big deal."
"Naruto, I have to marry her. She will be ruling this country with me. It is a big deal. Not only will she be living here, in my house, but she will be learning several duties that the three of us know."
Naruto rubbed the back of his neck. "Well, yeah, when you put it like that... but, seriously, I talked to Sakura for like three days straight. She's not stupid or weak or anything. She'll be good at this. You'll see."
"That's not his concern," Neji informed him. "Sasuke is concerned about her loyalties. She isn't from this country, she knows nothing of it. Why would she be loyal to a place that isn't her home?"
Sasuke nodded. One of the reasons he had placed Neji so high on the power chain is the man seemed to always understand what was left unsaid. Sasuke usually left him to explain things to Naruto while he went on with what needed to be done. However, Naruto needed to start picking up on these things if he was going to be the next Kage of Konoha.
"Naruto, would you say you've befriended her?"
"Her name is Sakura, and yeah, I'd say that. Why?"
Sasuke wasn't surprised. Naruto had never met a stranger. "Then I'm going to leave it to you to show her around."
Naruto narrowed his eyes. "You mean as long as you're not around, right?"
Sasuke grunted, neither a confirmation or a denial, but they both knew what he meant. Neji, who was quickly learning how Sasuke spoke, smirked. Since Sakura didn't seem to be a total simpering idiot, Sasuke was, very carefully, going to give her the benefit of the doubt. Neji wasn't really surprised. Naruto was usually good at reading people and if he liked Sakura, Sasuke would trust that.
What their Hokage thought of her, however, was uncertain.
"Did you see much of Sound while you were there?"
Naruto shook his head. "Not really. Went to get Sakura, saw their Kage- who was really sad to see her go- and then left. What I saw didn't look too different from the other villages though."
Sasuke nodded. "The people?"
"Nothing special. Lots of them were saying goodbye to Sakura." Naruto abruptly remembered. "She's a ninja. A medical one."
"That's what it said in her file." Sasuke rummaged through a drawer for a second before handing a thin file to Neji. "She's jonin level, and her medical skills are very advanced."
"It says here that she trained under Tsunade for years." Neji said. Naruto peered over his shoulder to get a better look. "Tsunade is Sound's Kage, correct?"
Sasuke nodded. "Konoha was asking for her to be the Hokage here but she turned them down."
"And you got the job instead," Naruto muttered. His voice was teasing, not bitter, and Sasuke marveled at that for a split second. How his best friend could be honestly happy that he had been shunted to the side was beyond him. It was probably why he kept the idiot around. Anyone that loyal was worth having by your side at all times.
"Yes, and now her apprentice is here and set to be my wife by the end of the year." Sasuke didn't think it was a conspiracy or a takeover attempt. Sound and Konoha were allies after all. It was shaky, but the treaty was holding, which was part of the reason Sakura was here in the first place. As the Kage's apprentice she had diplomat experience and would serve as Sound's delegate.
And Hokage's wife.
It still made Sasuke shudder. Him, married.
He slanted a gaze at Neji, the only married man in the room, wondering why he had done it. However, Neji wasn't Hokage and he married for love. Sasuke had doubted he would ever fall in love, but the idea had been nice. "Go home," he ordered. "Both of you. It's been a long day."
Tomorrow would probably be an even longer one, but Sasuke allowed his right hand men- his friends- to go home and rest as he worked into the night and ignored the woman down the hall.