Ok, this has been in the making for quite awhile, but I've just been so busy! I had to take tests, do summer school, and I went to anime expo, which admittedly, wasn't as fun as I thought it'd be. Of course, it did have its moments; I got to hang out there with one of my best friends for FOUR whole days, in a very, very, disgusting hotel... Haha, well back to the story.

Disclaimer: I don't own the characters, of course not... XD, and I don't totally own the plot (more about this at the end...)

"Naruto, the princess is looking for you." I looked up from my bowl of ramen at the young maid, Hinata, as she peeked slightly into the dining room. "Ok, thank you Hinata," I smiled at her, and she immediately blushed before rushing away. She was a funny girl.

My name: Naruto Uzumaki. Royal messenger for Kohona's beautiful, pink princess, Sakura Haruno, daughter of niece of queen Tsunade and king Jiriaya Sannin, who had no children of their own. It was those two who had picked me off the street as a peasant playmate for Sakura's enjoyment. The memory brought a slight smile on my face, but I shook my head wildly, trying to focus on the task at hand.

Slurping the remaining noodles, I quickly put my bowl into the kitchen sink for one of the kitchen attendants to clean and rushed to the throne room. I nodded my greetings to servants as I passed them in the large, highly decorated halls. I stopped outside of the throne rooms' large extravagant doors, and tentatively, I knocked. Waiting a few moments, I heard the small, feminine voice of Sakura, "enter."

I pushed the door open and walked in; going down on a knee to bow once I reached her throne. "You may stand Naruto." I rise, and wait for her to continue speaking. "As I know you are already aware, since the passing of our recent queen and king, I am next in line for the throne." I nod; saddened at the reminder that queen Tsunade and king Jiriaya had died. "Good. Now in order for me to qualify, I must be betrothed. This is why I've called you here."

I watched as she rose from her throne, and to one of her guards. He handed her something, and she made her way to me. "I have a quest for you. I need this delivered to the Sound Kingdom, to the youngest prince." I stared at the envelope she gave me, no name whatsoever on it. I opened my mouth to reply, but she held up her hand. "The young prince isn't very well known, as he keeps his identity and royal activity to a minimum, that is why I cannot tell you his name."

Nodding in understanding, I begin to speak before she interrupted me again, "now listen up. This isn't going to be easy. On the way, there are three trials in which you'll need to be strong, intelligent, and brave. If you do so, deliver the letter to the young prince, and return here with his response. I shall make you my honorary knight."

My eyes widened at her words. A knight? I had always wanted to become one, but was told at a young age that only nobles could become them. "Dear princess, I'm at your service, please allow me to prove to you that I am more than capable for this job." I say, bowing once more. "I knew I could count on you, now go. And one last thing, under no circumstances may you reveal your identity to anyone, for it is dangerous. You're dismissed." I nod, before hurrying to pack for the long journey ahead for me.

Tucking the letter in my coat, I couldn't help the thought that Sakura had seemed a bit… odd. I wasn't supposed to reveal my identity? What did it matter? I wasn't important enough to be known and get myself in trouble. Shaking off the thought, I continued on my way to my room, though it kept nagging in the back of my head. .

This palace was huge, and if I hadn't been living here since I was six years old, I swear I'd be getting lost everyday. That isn't to say that I didn't get lost anymore, because I had my days where each corridor looked like the last. Chuckling silently at the thought, I reached my room and pushed the door open, immediately spotting a figure on my bed.

"Kiba?" I was surprised to see him here during the day, and not out at the royal stables. "Hey Naruto, I heard you're going out on a quest for princess Sakura, and I just wanted to wish you luck and bid you farewell." He said, giving me a fanged smile. Kiba was, along with the rest of his family, the caretakers for not only the royal horses, but any animal found on the palace grounds.

"Thanks Kiba and yea. I'm going to deliver a letter to the youngest prince of the Sound Kingdom." He nodded, "sounds rough, but actually I'm here for another reason." His goofy smile had turned serious, and I became alert, waiting for him to continue. "I know you always wanted to be a knight, but… to risk your life on the three trails on the way to the Sound Kingdom. It's madness." He paused, leaning closer to me. "And I mean no disrespect, but hasn't the princess seemed a bit off lately?"

I sighed, "Kiba, I'm sure I can handle those trials well. I know that they won't be a cakewalk, but I'll manage somehow. And as for Sakura, I'm not quite sure." And I didn't. As was my previous thought, something wasn't right, something I couldn't place my finger on. Refocusing on the brunette, I moved away and began to pack. "Maybe it'd be best not to say this about Sakura out loud. You know how short tempered she has become." I added.

He silently agreed, but I knew he wanted to say more. "What?" I asked. His frown twitched slightly, "it's nothing, really. But… I just have a bad feeling, like you won't return." A vulpine smile spread across my face, "aw, just admit it. You're going to miss me!" A blush immediately appears on his face as he sputters, "o-of course n-not. I'm just worried for you."

I continue to smile hugging him slightly, "everything is going to be Ok Kiba. I promise. I'll return soon." His arms hang awkwardly down his sides, and he only nods. I remove myself from him, and grabbed my supplies. "Well, I'll be seeing you." I mock salute him and he salutes back, smiling finally. "Yea, yea."

Sighing, I make my way out of the halls and into the castle garden that surrounded entrance. The garden had once consisted of flowers of every variety, and every color. The yellow roses had been a favorite of Queen Tsunade, and the purple tulips a favorite of King Jiriaya. Since their deaths, Princess Sakura wasted no time in replacing the garden with flowers and plants that were pink, much like the décor of the castle.

"Naruto! Hey, wait!" Snapping out of my thoughts, I looked to where the voice had come from. I looked at the panting woman, tired from her run. "You f-forgot this-s." I took the items from Ino, the lady in waiting for Princess Sakura. "Thank you Ino," I tell her, looking over the items. I now had a map and food to add to my supplies, being my sword and some back up clothing.

She straightened up, smiling, "no problem. Just thought that these items would come in handy during your quest." I nodded, "they definitely will." "Ok, now go. You don't want to be traveling when it is night." She warned pushing me towards the gate. Laughing, I complied, "alright Ino, I get it." I waved to her goodbye as I nodded to the gate keeper to open the gate for me.

"Good luck!" She called as I walked through, entering the outside of the castle. I hadn't been out of the castle in I don't know how long, but if my memory served correct, and if the map was valid, the first place I was headed towards was the Forest of Death. There were rumors that beasts and bandits lived there, terrorizing all who entered unprepared.

That would be the first trail, testing my strength. Since Sakura was the princess of the East, and the letter receiver was the prince of the West, that was the direction I would be heading in. I began my trek, waving and shouting greetings to the villagers as I passed them. The smiling faces of villagers always brought up my spirits, and the realization that I'd be heading towards stranger territory kind of left me feeling alone. But I would make friends with the Sound Kingdom's villagers, I was sure of it.

Feeling better, I continued on, a smile on my face. "Do you always look so idiotic?" I stopped in my tracks, staring at the speaker. "Excuse me?" "You heard me, or are you deaf too dobe?" The man smirked, and I felt my face burning with anger. "What's your problem, huh? And don't call me dobe, teme!"

He leaned against a tree, crossing his arms, "is that the best you can do?" I could feel myself shaking with rage, but I knew it wasn't wise to get in a fight. I had a mission to do, and I wouldn't fail the princess! "You're not worth it, stupid jerk." I muttered under my breath, resuming my walk, the forest coming into view. I could hear his steps, following me. "You're going into the Forest of Death?"

"And what if I am?" I snap, not giving him my full attention. "No, it's nothing. I'm just wondering why, and if you had a death wish." He said smoothly. With clenched teeth, I say, "if you really must know, I'm on a quest for the princess to deliver a letter to the Sound Kingdom." I hear him whistle, "impressive. That's a big job for a dobe. Is it safe to assume that it's for the youngest prince?" "You'd be correct," I say, ignoring the dobe comment.

I hear him still following me, and I'm beginning to get a bit wary. What if he was a bandit? "Well, if you wouldn't mind, I will accompany you for awhile." I turn to look at him, eyebrow raised, "and why would you do that teme?" He shrugs, "well I have nothing better to do." I'm about to reject his suggestion, but then realize that the companionship wouldn't be half bad, even if he was an asshole. I just hoped he wasn't a bandit, and if needed, I could just use him as a bait to get myself out of trouble if the occasion arose. The thought made me snicker, causing him to give me a look. "What's so funny?" I shake my head, "nothing. I'm Naruto Uzumaki." Immediately I'm mentally beating myself, realizing I wasn't supposed to say my name. Well, what's done is done. "Hn. Sasuke." He replies, not saying his last name. I don't bother to ask, not really caring.

Refocusing on the dense forest, I notice that it will be dark soon. "Damn. I need to find shelter soon." I mutter, quickening my pace. Sasuke follows silently. I felt as if we had walked for hours until a small clearing appeared. "This will be good," I sigh, pulling off my pack and placing it at the trunk of a tree before settling down beside it.

"You know, it's probably not wise to sleep on the ground. You're more exposed that way," Sasuke muses, climbing into a tree. "Do what you want; I'm sure the floor is fine." I growl, laying my head on my pack. Day one, and I was already exhausted, I would sleep here for the night and start again tomorrow.

~Time Skip~

One moment, I was sleeping good, the next, a loud squawk in my ear caused me to jump up in fright, causing a very, manly mind you, screech to come from my mouth. I glared daggers at the bird, still making noise and picking at the food in my pack. "Shoo, bird," I groaned, swiping at it and scaring it away. I got up from the ground and stretched, looking for Sasuke. Seeing no sign of him, I shrugged. I couldn't wait for him, so I would just go on without him. Taking out my compass, I gathered up my things and walked.

So far, I hadn't run into any dangerous beings, that is if Sasuke didn't count, but I knew that would change soon by the growling filling the silent air. Cautiously, I pulled my sword from its sheath and held it close to my body. If something wanted to fight, then I'd be ready.

Despite the growls and snarls, nothing was coming out to fight. They were probably waiting for the right time to ambush me. Up ahead, a source of light could be seen. I heard a bush rustle to my right, and I stabbed the sword into the head of a beast as it launched at me. It connects, and I thrust it hard, making sure to kill it with the blow. Pulling it out in time to counter another beast, I slashed at its chest, but only scraped its left front paw.

The beast howled in pain, its injured paw raised in the air. We both eyed each other in scrutiny, and I noticed just how strange it looked. It was almost like a wolf, but larger and with much less fur. The one I had killed was covered in thin black fur, but this one was gray.

With a snarl, it launched itself again, but I was prepared. I sliced at its other, unharmed paw, and watched as it landed on its face, unable to stand on either front paw. Quickly, I stabbed the sword into its chest, watching as the life left its eyes.

Glad that was over with, I rushed towards the light, sure it was the exit from the forest. I sighed in relief when I confirmed that it was the end of the forest. "Hey, look who survived." A voice monotones. I glare at the obsidian eyed man, "that's my line, where did you go?" "Something came up that needed my immediate attention." Is his only response, but I don't pursue it further.

"Whatever," I say, resheathing my sword and pulling back out the map and compass. The next trial was close, and would test my intelligence. My stomach growls, reminding me that I hadn't yet eaten. I pull out a piece of bread and cheese, and offer some to Sasuke, but he declines. Oh well, more for me. I eat it while we travel, and the smell and sound of waters crashing against land reach my ears.

After traveling further, the waters come into view and so does a large bridge. It was so long, that I could barely see the end of it, and rickety old bridge did not look safe to cross. One false move and we could fall into the angry waters miles below us. "What's wrong? You afraid?" Sasuke teases and I scoff. "As if."

Despite my words, I swallow hard before beginning to cross the bridge. It creaked loud from both our weights, but ignoring my fear, I moved forward. We continued onwards, and I was beginning to feel slightly queasy. I thanked the heavens when the bridge floor began to become sturdier.

As we reached the middle of the bridge, someone came into view. He looked male, dressed all in blue robes, and he was sitting on the edge of the bridge ledge. He had been staring up into the clouds, and when we got closer he looked at us with a bored expression. "Congratulations on making it to the second trial, where I, Shikamaru Nara, will test your intelligence."

"Like he has any." Sasuke muttered lowly, and I shot him a glare. "Are you prepared?" Shikamaru asked, jumping off the ledge and giving each of is the once over, his eyes lingering on Sasuke for a minute before going back on me. I nod, "I am."

"Good. In order to cross this bridge, you must answer a riddle: 'with teeth so terrible I eat you whole, with claws so sharp I tear you to shreds, with eyes so bright I see into your soul. I am mighty, I am just. Who am I?" I stared blankly at him, unsure of what the hell he was talking about. "Uh.." Is my only response. "Well?" Shikamaru asked, becoming even more bored, if that was possible. "I, um, I don't know." I shrugged.

"Then you are unable to pass." He says, and with a wave of his hand, a shadowlike wall goes up, blocking the path. "Ch, I knew an idiot like you wouldn't know the answer." The asshole said, breaking me out of my awe. "Well if you're so smart, why don't you answer it, huh?" I retort. He shakes his head, "if you want to be rewarded by your precious princess, then it wouldn't make sense for me to help you."

"Right, right…" I grudgingly agree, racking my brain for the answer to the riddle. Terrible teeth, sharp claws, eyes that could see into your soul. The description sounded like a damn child's fairytale… Wait! That was it! A fairytale, that's what it had to be! I think hard trying to remember every story I had heard as a child.

"There had been a great terror that once roamed this land. He was the mightiest beast that anyone had ever seen. Day by day, he'd eat child and adult alike with a great gulp, gnashing teeth and unsheathing claws to anyone who oppose him. No one dared to resist the beast, until one day a warrior stood up against this beast.

The beast laughed at the man, 'you, a human, will defy me? The greatest force to settle on this plain? The warrior was frightened yes, but he had seen too many of his friends fall victim the beast. 'Beast,' he said, 'I challenge you to a battle. If you win, you may eat me, but if I win, you shall serve me.' The beast eagerly agreed, 'I accept your challenge, but be warned human. No one has been able to lay a scratch on me.' The battle lasted days, then weeks, and raged on until three years had passed.

The beast struggled against the human, when finally the warrior had managed to tamed him. 'How could a mere human defeat me?' The beast roared, and the human revealed his secret. A sword and shield, gifts from a neighboring witch. The beast cried in fury, but alas, he had made a deal and lost. He would keep his word, for he was an honorable beast. Today, this beast can be found a cave deep into the unknown territory, going by the name-

"Kyuubi." I mutter the name, and both males look up at me. "That was his name right? Kyuubi?" I ask, unsure of the looks they were giving me. Finally Shikamaru nods, "yes. You've passed the second trial, and have learned of what the third trail has in store for you." The wall disappears, but I feel my heart beating fast. "The third trial is Kyuubi?" Shikamaru nods, and I want to ask more, but Sasuke begins pushing me. "Come on, let's keep moving."

Sighing, I let him drag me along, waving goodbye to the lazy wizard as he begins staring at clouds again. When we get off the bridge, a sort of liberation fills me. "See, I told you I'd be able to get through that trial, guess I'm not an idiot after all," I tell Sasuke, my happiness from being off the bridge pouring out of me. "I suppose you're not that much of an idiot." A smile graces his lips, and I already know that this is a rarity in itself.

"Let's find shelter, it'll get dark soon." He says, and I can only nod, still stunned. Hours later, were sitting under the shade of a tree, staring at the sky as it turns into a reddish orange. I give Sasuke some of my food, who once again rejects it. I sigh, eating an orange and feeling sleepy. Just one more trial. One more, and I would be at the Sound Kingdom. My dream of being a knight is so close; I've almost reached it! With that thought in my head, I fall into a content sleep.

~Time Skip~

The sunlight shining into my face woke me, and the first thing I see is Sasuke looking at my map. "What are you doing?" I yawn, stretching my arms out. "Just seeing how much farther you'll have to go." I nod, still tired, when I remember what the last trial consists of. Kyuubi. "Come on, let us go." He says, tossing me my map.

Reluctantly, I grab my things and follow suit, uncertainty filling me. Each step we take, the more anxious I feel. The third trial was Kyuubi? The great fox from the fairytales? Impossible, right? I couldn't seem to convince myself. I allow myself to be led by Sasuke, who seems to know where he's going. The thought of who the hell was it fills my mind again, but I shake it out of my mind.

A smell of blood fills the air, and I feel fear creep up my spine. A large cave comes into our view, and I know that this is where Kyuubi will reside. I pull out my sword, and stare hard into the mouth of the cave. "Well, I wish you the best of luck dobe." Sasuke says, waving as he walked away. "Wait, you're not coming?" I ask, a twinge of desperation in my voice. "Nah, I've lost interest in hanging around you. See ya around."

I stare at his retreating back, and when he's out of sight, I turn back to the cave. Well, standing here wouldn't get me closer to the goal. Taking a deep breath, I clutch my sword tightly and begin my trek in. The smell of animal musk is strong, and I want to gag in disgust. The cave only went one way, and as I walked on, I could see light up ahead.

A loud growl fills my ears, and I freeze. Where had that come from? Was the fox near? I inch more and more until something large and red fills my vision. My breath hitches in my throat as I spotted it, and I feel more fear than ever, until I realize it's asleep. It truly looked like a fox, but with nine tails curled around its form. 'Deep breath Naruto, deep breath. You can do this,' I rooted myself. I stepped closer, and raising my sword to strike, a thought hits me. To kill this fox in his sleep? That was wrong.

What kind of person would I be if I did that? I take a deep breath, nearing closer to the fox. Poking it with the butt of the sword, I yell, "wake up fox!" It twitches somewhat, before opening its eyes, revealing yellow pupils filled with confusion. It growls, rising before me, "human, why did you not kill me as I slumbered?" Its growl makes me flinch, but I muster up the strength to speak, "to kill a sleeping opponent, that is not what bravery is. It would have been cowardly, and I, Naruto Uzumaki, am not a coward."

The fox cocks his head at me before throwing it back, a loud rumbling laugh coming from his mouth. Was he making fun of me? "Human, I can see deep inside your soul. You are a kind human, truly worthy to cross me without a fight." I look at him, unsure of what he meant. One of his tails went to his mouth, and I watched in amazement as he yanked out one of his fangs. "Take this, and with it, you will always be able to cross from your kingdom to the Sound safely."

I took the bloodied fang, staring up at him, "is this a trap?" He shakes his head, "no trap. I am an honorable fox, and will never go back on my word. Now go! Behind me is the exit. If you go straight, you shall come upon the Sound Kingdom." I nod, "thank you mighty Kyuubi." I rush past him, still in a daze, biding him farewell, and in moments I see the kingdom coming up.

"You there!" I jump at the voice, and see a knight riding on a horse towards me. "You are not of this Kingdom, who are you and what is your business?" I clear my throat, "I come from the Kingdom in the East, with a letter from the princess for the youngest prince." The man smiles, "ah yes. Follow me." He dismounts from his horse, handing it to a servant and goes towards the grand golden gates and as we cross through the garden and into the castle, I am amazed at how rich and lush the whole place was. The Sound Kingdom must have been quite prosperous. I pull out the letter and hold it against my chest, staring around me in awe. How different the two kingdoms were!

We enter a large room, the throne room I guess, and I see it is empty besides a few servants. "Please wait until the prince arrives." I nod and thank him, standing awkwardly in the middle of the room. Some of the servants are staring at me, and I feel a bit exposed. Finally, a horn blares, and the words, 'now presenting the youngest prince of the Sound Kingdom.' I bow, along with the rest of the servants. I wait to be told to rise, and I hear steps walking towards me. My heart beats frantically, nervous about meeting the prince.

It's silent, until finally the prince speaks, "dobe." My head snaps up, and I'm met face to face with Sasuke. I am speechless, and unable to do anything else, I hand him the letter. He takes it, but doesn't open it. "Stand up, quit being so formal," he reprimands. I comply, but still, I stay silent. "Dobe, are you too much of an idiot to respond?" Without thinking, I shout, "Teme, don't call me that!" I immediately flinch, and the servants begin whispering in disapproval. "That's better," Sasuke, or the prince, says. I slightly relax, realizing he isn't going to punish me.

"Well, aren't you going to read it?" I ask him, indicating the letter. He looks at it, and there is almost disgust on his face. "No, I'd rather burn it." "After all it took to bring it, the least you could do is read it," I whine. Sighing and rolling his eyes, he opens the letter. Skimming it for a brief second, he tears it to pieces. "There, happy now?" I stare at the pieces, unsure of what to make of it. "Well? It was a marriage proposal, wasn't it? What's your response that you want me to give to princess Sakura?"

He shook his head, "forget about giving the princess a response." "W-what?" I stutter. He ignores me, "I want to ask you something very important Naruto." My eyes widen as he used my name for the first time, "wh-what is it?" "I want to know if you'd be willing to stay here by my side and become my knight." I'm shocked, and I don't know what to say.

The prince stares at me expectantly, and I sigh, shaking my head. "It is an honor, really it is, but I'll have to decline prince." His eyes narrow dangerously, "why?" I wince at the look he's giving me, but taking a deep breath I say, "because not only has Sakura offered me the same thing, but my whole life is in that kingdom. I was raised there. I couldn't just leave them like that."

"She's ordered your death." I stare hard at him, "what?" He calmly repeats himself, "she's ordered your death." I feel my head spinning, but I can't fully comprehend what I was hearing. "What are you talking about? Why would she-" "You don't remember, do you?" I look at him, confused, "remember what?" "Think back Naruto, to when we were children." "We?" As soon as it leaves my mouth, a slight memory sparks in my mind. I remember the Queen, reading to us the Kyuubi fairytale. It was me, princess Sakura, and another boy.

Was that prince Sasuke? "Sakura has sent many marriage proposals before, and I've rejected all of them. Why do you think she sent you this time? She figured you wouldn't make it here." I shake my head saying numbly, "that's not true. We're friends." "Naruto, look at the letter." I give him one last look, and pick up the pieces. "They're…" "Blank. Nothing was ever written on them from the start." "But… why? I don't understand." I stiffen when he puts his arm around me, "Naruto, you're not remembering everything."

"I don't know what I'm supposed to be remembering." I say, and he sighs. "The queen and the king's will, have you ever seen it?" I shake my head. "They left something in their will for you, they left you Sakura." My eyes widen, "what?" "The will read that if Sakura was not wed by her eighteenth birthday, then she was going to wed you, making you king. That was why she tried to get rid of you." I was dazed, I was lost. How had this all happened?

"Stay here, be my Knight. I'll protect you." He whispered in my ear. "But, my friends, I can't leave them. And Sakura, she'll find out. She'll be angry." He shakes his head, "I'll bring your friends here to my kingdom, Sakura would give me anything, even a few of her servants. And she'll never be none the wiser, trust me. Say you'll be my knight." And suddenly, I filled with emotions that I haven't felt for a long time. Comfort, bliss, and content. I was hurt by the sudden betrayal of the princess, yes, but here was someone offering me a alternative. "Ok, I'll be your knight."

Was it ok? I had this in my head for awhile, and finally it's finished.

So about the plot not being totally mine. Well, I was watching a cartoon on the kid channel, and I saw a certain show that made this pop into my head one day. And now, here is my challenge to you, my fantastic lovelies! If you can guess the show, I'll dedicate a chapter in any of my stories, or you can request any story you like for me to write. Here's the hint you get, it's for ages 3 and up haha, good luck!

Well that's all for now, Ja Ne!