Shades of grey covered the sun. The sky appeared like a dead man's face, pale and colourless. The young officer returned to his small house, located at the suburbs, surrounded by rice paddy fields. In contrast to the vivid colours and sound of the capital, the fields are calm and peaceful. He patted his horse and took it to the stables. "Sir," his servant, a middle aged man greeted him. "Taro," he nodded in return.

The servant looked down and twisted the towel in his hands. "Sir, I was going to tell you before the war," Taro said sheepishly. "I wish to resign."

Neji looked at him, astounded by the man's words. He stared at him with his great violet eyes and waited for him to explain.

"You see, my old mother will not be around for long," he said. "And… and all she wanted was for me to go back to the village, settle down and find myself a wife." Neji nodded in response. He stood up and fished around his pocket. He took out a small sac of gold, and placed it into his servant's palm; his long slender fingers folding the stub- like fingers of the middle-aged servants around the sac.

"Taro, you had been serving me as long as I have remembered. You deserve this," he said. "Have a good life." The servant stared at the young man, his eyes teary. "Thank you, thank you," he said and knelt on the ground. Neji immediately helped the man up, and patted the servant on his shoulder.

"I wish you would tell me earlier," he said. "I can find someone else to take up your place." Taro shook his head, grinning ear to ear. "Don't worry sir, I have hired someone to come help out here." Neji looked at him for a second. "Thanks a lot Taro." Before the servant left to pack his belongings, he gave an invitation to Neji.

Neji glanced at the letter. "Before you leave," he said. "You'd better help me get ready for the banquet." He smiled at the puzzled man.

Meanwhile at the Nara Mansion, Nara Yoshino was tugging her son into his robes. "You would only get ready right before the banquet would you!" She was fuming, as the servants hurried themselves trying to get their young master ready for the banquet. "Its your wedding banquet!" His mother pouted. "And you could not possibly care less!" Shikamaru teased his mother. "One would think that you are the bride's mother." His mother rolled her eyes, as she shoved his arm into one of the sleeves of the robe.

After he had been dressed, the servants left with along his shouting mother. He took his time and looked out of the window. He saw guests coming into the mansion. His mother was in her finest kimono, greeting the guests with a wide grin. His father was strolling in the garden, casually sipping sake from his dainty china cup. Then suddenly he saw her.

Temari was with an old man, one of his father's colleagues in the royal court. She was holding his arm, smiling sweetly like her lips were painted with honey. He saw heads turning towards her and eyes following her wherever she goes. He walked to the banquet hall. There he met endless waves of guests all wanting to shake his hand and delivering their congratulations to this marriage of his, of which he had no say in it.

Then the old man greeted him, Shikamaru nodded, his eyes leering at his arm candy- Temari, who was smiling in a cheeky manor at him, her eyes alluring, the curves of her body revealing in the tightly-fitted black kimono. "Congratulations, Shikamaru." The old man squeezed his hand. "At last you have grown up!" He grinned embarrassedly. "Congratulations, Shikamaru-kun," she congratulated in a peculiar voice. He sensed mixed emotions from her voice – disdain, jealously, lust and adoration, it sounded like music to his ears, he could barely resist the thought of snatching her away from the branch-like arm of the old man and holding her tightly in his arms. The thought of kissing her cherry red lips seemed dangerously tempting; the thought of snatching her away and passionately making love to her in his nuptial chamber seemed deliciously attractive.

He took a gulp and smiled. "Thank you." Then he spotted the faces of his friends, and he walked towards them.

"Your Highness," he bowed at Naruto, who happily pulled him up. "Congratulations! I bet you have an awesome bride!" Naruto said with breath of sake from his mouth. Shikamaru shrugged and smiled. "I have heard from my father, Shikamaru. Your bride is the heir of the Hisajima fortune." Ino remarked while Chouji nodded, shoving food into his mouth. "And I heard she is pretty… virtuous and smart!" Chouji nodded again. "Yes Shikamaru! Just like what you wanted: a wife not too pretty nor too ugly!" The group laughed and Shikamaru laughed along. "How troublesome," he murmured.

In his mind, memories flashed back. In the past, that was his goal, to find a wife not too pretty nor ugly, to have two children, a girl then a boy, spend his life working for the court until his daughter is married and his son a worthy successor of his family then retire, spending his life playing shogi and finally die before his wife. Yet this is no longer the way he wanted to live his life. His plans were completely toppled by her. He longed for her presence in his life, he wanted to see the addition of such fiery spirit in his family, to have her bear him children, to grow old together.

Suddenly he felt saddened, he would now take another woman as his wife, this strange woman who would rob her of her rightful place. He understood, this was his duty of him as a son, and heir to the Nara clan. And this is what he would do.

"Gather round now, dear guests!" Yoshino announced happily. The priest stood on an altar before Shikamaru and the bride. The ceremony proceeded as the couple bowed to the memorial tablets of the Nara ancestors, then to their parents and at one another. Shikamaru glanced at his bride, dressed in a white kimono, her light blonde hair tied tightly into a bun, her small eyes glint behind the swirl glasses that hang atop of her nose. Her lips were curled into a tiny smile. She was plain, as plain as a piece of blank paper. As the couple took a sip of wine in each other's cup, their hands entwined together. Shikamaru took a glance around the crowd and saw Temari smiling, her eyes fixed upon him, and her lips moved. He read her lips.

"Come to me."

The couple regained their posture and received the cheers of the guests. The guests hurried the couple to each table, drinking with different guests. The crowd erupted into a cheerful chaos, people shouting happily, drowning themselves in sake and delicacies. Shikamaru managed to sneak out to the garden, and saw his father there. He was sipping from a bottle of sake. Shikamaru took a seat next to him. "Give me a sip, old man," he said. Shikaku looked at him and passed him the bottle. Shikamaru took a large gulp and sighed.

"Son," Shikaku said and looked at his son in a rather tipsy manner. "It appears to me that this is not what you wanted? What an idea your mother had, troublesome." Shikamaru sighed again. "There is nothing I can complain about this wife of mine, it is not like she would bring me any trouble." He said, then after a slight pause he smiled. "But lately I have found myself in a liking for trouble, which is pretty … troublesome." Shikaku laughed and slapped him on the back.

"You are definitely my son," he said and stood up. "She has been waiting for you over there at the back, I will distract the guests for a while." He smiled mischievously and walked back into his banquet hall.

He walked towards the bushes, and saw her sitting on a flat slab of stone. He sat down next to her and she scooted away from him. He smiled and murmured. "How troublesome," he lied down and placed his head onto her lap. She raised her hand and tried to slap him on his face. "Screw you," she said. "Aren't you supposed to be enjoying your night with your little wife?" He caught her hand and placed it onto his lips. "So troublesome, woman." He smiled and kissed her hand. "I thought we agreed on the idea that marriage is a troublesome idea."

She looked away, and he sat up, wrapping his arm around her. "It is troublesome to see you getting married, you annoying crybaby." She whispered, placing her head onto his chest. He looked at her and smiled. "Say that again?" He asked with a suggestive poke on her face. "Stop it!" She scowled, but smiled. "You will ruin my makeup." He laughed a little and leaned forward. "How about this?" He placed his lips onto hers, his tongue prying open her teeth and entwining with hers. Her eyes were wide open in amazement. To counter his attack, she bit his lip, forcing him to withdraw. He soothed his slightly swollen lip and laughed. "You are still as feisty as before." He looked at her fondly, slowly releasing her from his arms. She smiled and pulled open his robes, revealing his chest. She leaned forward and pressed a kiss onto his chest, before standing up and walking away.

Temari took a glimpse and saw him looking at her fondly. She smiled to herself. She had him wrapped tightly around her fingers. The chains of infatuation tightened her grip around him. She was amused and applauded herself for her efforts; she had reeled in a real catch, someone close to the core of Konoha; someone who would later free her from her cage and would allow her to fulfill her ultimate purpose.

Vengeance.

To be continued.

Author's note:

Enjoy. I will update soon. xoxo

V.S.V