ANNOUNCEMENTS

1. The lovely Azure Raindrops has written a fanfic about Mariko! I cannot even believe it, thank you thank you thank you, you are far too kind.

Go read it! It's called Allegro, and it's here: /s/8956671/1/

It's AMAZING, and PERFECT! I love it so much. Thank you, Azure, I shall shower you with my love.

2. Thanks so much for support and love, guys! This story has become just randomness with old Konoha, so I'm going to start up another story solely for Mariko and Tobirama, if you're interested. :) It'll be up soon, so keep an eye out!

Back to the story. With some tie ins to the other story, haha.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, because apparently, Orochima-chan is badass enough to revive all the Hokages...AGAIN!


Chapter 33: Memory of a Melody

It wasn't quite morning, yet, but already, the birds were singing in soft, gliding tones. Yet another day in the Hokage office, filing papers and stamping things that he had to check over twice because he had been too tired to read them the first time.

"Honey, what time is it?" muttered the lump in the covers, a woman curled up comfortably in the curve of his warmth.

"I think it's 4:00AM," he replied, clearing his throat groggily.

"Why?"

"Why what?"

"Why is someone playing the piano?"

He paused then, and listened. It had not been the birds, he realized, but the soft rings of their grand piano way over in the main room adjacent to the courtyard of their home.

"I don't really know."

"Mmm," she mumbled, tossing a pillow in his face.

"Ow."

"The Great Hashirama is defeated by Uzumaki Mito's pillow," she giggled, almost like a little girl having a pillow fight. Mito was known for her maturity, not for spontaneous giggling. "I'd like to see Madara's face upon hearing that his rival was defeated by a pillow to the face."

"That's enough nonsense, go to sleep."

Mito had no objections, easily slipping back into her dreams with the soft, flowing lullaby of the piano through the walls. Hashirama laid back, eyes shifting to the doorway when he heard someone shuffling down the hall. No, not shuffling exactly, but a careful, straight tread that belonged to Tobirama. One would think that the white-haired Senju tended to be lazy and tired in the morning, but Tobirama was alert, even at four in the morning.

He also claimed that Hashirama made the floorboards squeak on purpose.

"You and your Mokuton," he'd accused jokingly.

Hashirama, however, didn't get out of bed. For one, Mito had an arm draped around his chest, and if he dared move, she would slap him silly with the pillow. Secondly, Tobirama's activities were his own business; he would probably tell them what was going on with the piano later, anyway. Hashirama still recalled the time when his little brother had nightmares of the townspeople calling him a demon and holding him down to burn his hair in hopes of turning it black. Such a sad child, Tobirama had been. The combination of being shunned and the Senju-Uchiha conflicts sometimes haunted him, even as a teen. Guerilla warfare always made him nervous, especially when they hid among the trees and prepared to jump the enemy.

The first time, Hashirama had laid a reassuring hand on his brother's shoulder. The metal of his forehead protector, then labeled with the Senju's clan symbol, glinted in the evening moonlight.

It had been their first win in the series of many battles working inland.

"Hashi."

"Yes, Mito?"

"The piano stopped."

Hashirama sighed. Leave it to Mito to not actually fall asleep, but listen to the music instead. The Senju knew if his redhead, hot-tempered wife was prone to mood swings, but this was just strange. Mito usually liked her sleep.

"Mito, when we have a child, what would you name it?" he suddenly asked.

"Where did this come from?"

"You smacked it out of my head with that pillow."

Cue a gentle shove under the covers.

"I don't know."

"If it's a girl?"

"Tsunade."

"A boy?"

"I'd have to think."

Hashirama sighed then, knowing full well that Mito wanted a girl. Fate would play out so that they had a son, a beautiful son whose copper hair glinted in the summertime, and could grow golden birch trees from the ground with the ease of a bird taking flight. He would fall in love with a pretty, young kunoichi, a decent ninja rising in the ranks of Konoha's growing systems. She had golden curls to match his golden trees, and they lived together in a peaceful corner of the Senju complex. And, to Mito's delight, they would first have a daughter, and she would be named Tsunade.

"Do you think Tobi would ever have children?" Hashirama wondered out loud.

"I fear for his children, then," Mito snorted, laughing. Hashirama smiled and ran a hand through her impossibly red hair, marveling at its length. He cherished the times when Mito wasn't wrapped up in her usual hairstyle and clothing, rather formal and sometimes strict. Plus, her hot temper seemed to melt at times like this.

"I fear for them too," Hashirama agreed.

Mito closed her eyes and decided that she could finally go back to sleep, and Hashirama followed suit.


Years later, Tsunade would sit with her elderly grandmother in Konoha Memorial Cemetery, a checkerboard blanket laid out, and a bowl of fruits that needed protection from ants laid before them. After their lunch, Tsunade would take her grandmother gently by the elbow and lead her to see the Academy, where the children were growing into fine shinobi. The old woman pointed out Nawaki, who would wave proudly at them and point out the First Hokage's wife, his grandmother, to his friends.

And then, Mito's eyes would stray to the necklace that hung around Tsunade's neck, a happy, not sad, reminder of Hashirama's Will of Fire.

After Academy lessons were over, Nawaki would plunk himself down on the piano bench and play a song or two. He always preferred the books that his great-aunt had left from her time, and he happily ran his fingers through the notes with an ease and grace that nearly brought tears to Mito's eyes. When he began learning a new song, the notes plucked at her heart, for it wasn't a new song in her memory. Eventually, he learned the piece that she had listened to one early morning, a ghostly, melancholy tune that rang even through the thick walls of the Senju complex.

"Nawaki," she said gently. "Let me show you something."

To Tsunade, Mito left Hashirama's necklace.

To Nawaki, she left the Hurricane emerald that hid within the piano.

"Your great-aunt dropped this one day," she said. "At four in the morning, in this piano."

"Why was she playing at four in the morning?" the boy would ask, his cheeks pink and his grin wide.

"Sit down, and I'll tell you a story after you practice."


Of course, this story and its random contents will continue on!

But...Mariko's story coming soon! Again, bits and pieces in no particular order, a series of short stories! Whoooo.