Note: YEAH YEAAAH I know I can really suck when it comes to multichap things, but I have the next chapter of this one almost done and future chapters partly done soooo don't worry too much. Anyhow, don't worry, this isn't a total angst-fest. I just wanted to give my own take on the typical Sasuke-marries-Sakura-to-restore-clan cliché. Enjoy!
Warnings: post-canon
Summary: Sasuke and Sakura get married and have babies, but it's not as simple as it sounds.

i. proposal

Sasuke marries Sakura out of obligation.

They're young. They're very young.

At twenty-three, despite the easy acceptance that's come with his return, there's still the looming fear among the other villages they're so loosely aligned with that Uchiha Sasuke will, once again, go rogue.

For the most part, Sasuke's a shadow, working solely as the Hokage's hand on missions that aren't even listed, moving in and out of the village silently and swiftly. But when Kakashi points out to him one day that a masked ninja capable of the chidori was spotted on the outskirts of Lightening Country – which, of course, comes with the implication that if said masked ninja is ever spotted there again, he'll be eliminated on sight – Kakashi suggests improving the other Kages' ideas of him.

Kakashi isn't trying to retire Sasuke's image so much as soften it up, he can understand.

But Sasuke is, technically, an (ex) international criminal, and he is, sort of, the last member of a once highly renowned clan, and more importantly, he is, really, the last chance of the Sharingan being passed on to future generations, so Sasuke's smart enough to know what's expected of him when Kakashi proposes that he "settle down."

So Sasuke agrees. He nods and leaves and doesn't think too much about the matter because, logically, there's only one woman he's ever really considered for the role.

I need a wife, he tells her.

I see, she replies.

It's simple and quick and only two days after Kakashi's suggestion, Sasuke asks Sakura to meet him at the Hokage's office when she finishes work.

I'll be a good husband, he silently says with the brush of his fingers over her tightened, whitened knuckles. Her hand is clenched tightly around the pen in her hand as she signs the marriage contract in Kakashi's office. Her boots are specked with what he's quite certain is blood and her hair is pulled back into the sloppiest of buns. There's a pen tucked into the knot, but Sasuke's sure she's forgotten about it. But of course, how could she not be distracted, considering what she was leaving work to get to?

Kakashi smiles while the ink is still wet. "Congratulations," he says wryly.

Sasuke nods and Sakura smiles. The grin – bright and seemingly happy – unnerves him.

"There will be a wedding, of course," Sakura says, looking every bit like the perfect little actress Sasuke knows she can be. Her smile is soft enough that it looks genuine, and the ease in her posture makes her appear pleased with the situation – as though she's relieved that she's finally snagged her darling Sasuke-kun – but Sasuke knows better.

Sakura will make a perfect wife, but more important to his situation, she'll make a perfect partner, skilled little liar that she is.

She's smart. She understands his situation. He doesn't love her and Sasuke is sure she knows it. He cares about her, of course, and he's sure she knows that as well, but the notion of him needing a wife as opposed to wanting one seemed to speak volumes to her. She gets it.

This isn't a marriage, she seems to realize before he does.

It's an act.

"Oh?" Kakashi replies, Sakura's falseness mirrored on his face.

Sakura giggles girlishly. "Of course, sensei," she tells him, "and what perfect timing!" She walks to the window and looks at the setting sun over the number of trees that hide their village in the leaves. "I've always wanted a spring wedding." Her voice trails off and she sighs heavily, dreamily, before striding over to his side and lacing her fingers through Sasuke's.

It takes every fibre in his being to keep him recoiling on principle, but he stills and stiffens and cradles her hand firmly enough that the gesture seems something akin to loving.

This is your wife, he reminds himself.

And she reminds him too with the steely glint in her eyes and the tight smile on her face. "I suppose we'll be having a large wedding, ne, Sasuke-kun?"

He only nods. "With everything I inherited, we can certainly afford it."

Sakura tilts her head ever so slightly, her grin softens a touch, and she giggles lightly. "That's great. Oh, I'm so excited!"

She looks anything but.