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Call of the Matriarch

Chapter 2: Vows

The entire village was buzzing with activity as excitement and anticipation filled the air: Naruto and Hinata’s wedding date had arrived.

Beautiful flowers were placed everywhere, and a sweet aroma settled over the village. Vibrant colors blended nicely with the numerous trees and their green leaves Konoha was famed for.

It was a happy day, and the villagers were determined to have no disturbances.

Sakura, Ino and Tenten were currently preparing Hinata before she would meet with her soon-to-be-husband.

The women laughed and enjoyed themselves as they applied the last touches to the glowing bride.

They admired Hinata with pride as the woman looked at her reflection in the mirror. She was a stunning sight.

The shiromuku[1] clung to her slender body, her long dark hair was neatly combed and hung loosely down her back, decorated with a simple, yet beautiful white amaryllis flower pinned on the left side of her head. Her make-up was sparse, only her plump lips were painted a vibrant shade of red.

The raven-haired kunoichi smiled widely at her friends, who in turn hugged her tight.

“Just because you’re about to get married, doesn’t mean you can forget about us!” Ino warned teasingly.

Hinata chuckled. “I believe I’ll always need your company, especially when Naruto-kun pushes my patience to its limits.”

Tenten laughed. “You’ve got the patience of a saint, Hinata. If anyone’s impatient here, it’s me.” She patted her swollen abdomen.

Sakura smiled. “You’re only in your second trimester. You’ve still got some time to go before you’ll meet your little bundle of joy.”

Tenten rolled her eyes and smiled back. “Soon enough, it’ll be you walking out through those doors as you start a new chapter in your life.”

Sakura’s smile softened as she glanced down at her engagement ring. The precious gem shined shamelessly under the sunlight.

Ino playfully shoved the brunette. “You would have as well if you hadn’t gotten knocked up again. Guess Lee’s youth burns bright even in the bedroom.”

The women laughed as Tenten’s face reddened like a tomato.

Sakura grinned at Ino. “You never know, Ino, you could finish up the trend with Akio.”

The blonde blushed, yet a shy smile graced her face. “There’s no need to rush. Akio and I have only started a relationship two months ago.”

“And yet it’s as clear as day that he’s in love with you. Have you guys slept together yet?” Tenten asked.

Ino’s blush deepened, and Sakura gently elbowed the pregnant woman. “Have some tact, Tenten. If Ino doesn’t want to tell us, then she shouldn’t be pressured.”

The woman in question shook her head. “It’s fine, Sakura.” She looked up at Tenten. “Yes, we’ve slept together.”

Her friends gaped at her, and they crowded around the blonde. “Details, girl!”

Ino laughed. “Well, I was extremely nervous at first, but Akio was so sweet and gentle with me.” She closed her eyes and clasped her hands together. “He’s the one for me.”

The women laughed and hugged their love-struck friend.

A knock on the door interrupted their fun, and Hinata’s father peeked into the room. “Are you ready?”

The bride nodded and straightened her posture.

The Hyuga patriarch opened the door completely and stepped aside.

Confidently, Hinata walked out of the room into the open area outside where her fiancé waited.

Naruto was dashingly handsome dressed in a black crested haori jacket and a loose, skirt-like hakama with a vertical stripe down the middle.

He managed to not fidget, yet his eyes widened at the sight of his beautiful bride walking towards him.

Sakura and her other friends stayed back, and the men who helped Naruto did the same on their side.

The marrying couple stood in front of each other and clasped their hands together.

Sakura caught her fiancé’s eye and smiled at him.

The Uchiha responded in kind and eyed Sakura up and down as he stared at her in appreciation.

Sakura wore a turquoise party dress that made her emerald eyes pop out. The dress flared out just below her knee, and her shapely legs were still a pleasant sight to see. Her hair was up in a simple, yet elegant bun, and she had light make-up applied.

She admired Sasuke in return.

He was sinfully attractive in a tight black suit complemented with a red tie.

The man noticed her staring and smirked at her.

Naruto’s parents came up behind him, and Hiashi stood behind his only daughter.

Tears poured down Kushina’s face as she stared emotionally at her only son. Minato held her hand and smiled proudly at Naruto.

The marrying couple grasped their hands and walked down the courtyard towards the shrine. A large procession of their close friends, parents and Hinata’s clan members followed them.

Once they reached the shrine, a middle-aged priest performed the ritual purification for the couple. He announced their marriage to kami and asked for blessings upon Naruto and Hinata.

The sansankudo ritual took place next, where the couple took three sips each from three cups of sake. Naruto read his words of commitment, and adoration glowed in his blue eyes as he stared at his bride.

Once Naruto finished speaking, the priest offered symbolic offerings to kami, and the ceremony was concluded.

To everyone’s surprise, Naruto grabbed Hinata by her waist, and swung her down to kiss her.

The witnesses clapped and some of the men whistled as Naruto set Hinata on her feet again.

Traditionally, only the closest family members of the couple could attend, but to the Naruto and Hinata, their friends were family.

Congratulations once again were offered to the couple, and the entourage made their way outside to present themselves to the rest of the villagers who were eagerly waiting.

Once they caught sight of the newly-wed couple, they cheered loud and offered more congratulations and best wishes. The young Phoenix kunoichi were especially enthusiastic.

The large group made their way to the center of Konoha were the reception was prepared.

Once the guests were settled, Naruto’s parents formally introduced the couple and stated how honored they were to have Hinata as their daughter-in-law, as well as how lucky their son was to have won over her heart.

Hiashi also gave his blessings to the marriage and offered the couple his best wishes on behalf of the Hyuga clan.

Shortly afterwards, servers began to set down the appetizers to begin the full meal course.

Laughter rang loudly as alcohol was served freely and prompted loose tongues to speak whatever came to mind.

The main course finally arrived, and the guests enjoyed themselves as they ate and drank to their hearts’ content and socialized among friends.

Once they finished and the tables were cleared, a live band performed. Many people danced while holding drinks in their hands.

Sasuke lifted Sakura to her feet and led her over.

He placed one hand on her waist, and held one of hers, whereas Sakura’s free hand was placed on his shoulder.

A slow love song played, and several couples danced together, including the newly-wed.

The engaged couple couldn’t take their eyes off each other.

Sakura wrapped both of her arms around Sasuke’s neck, and in turn the Uchiha placed his unoccupied hand on her waist. They shared a tender kiss, before Sakura rested her head on the man’s shoulder.

She glanced at the other dancing couples, and felt a peace settle within her.

Sasuke’s body was warm, and she felt completely safe in his arms. She never imagined she’d ever find happiness with a man, but she was glad that she was wrong.

She grinned happily when she saw Ino dance with a tall man with warm brown eyes.

The song stopped, and Sakura hugged her fiancé tightly.

“Excuse me, may I have your attention.”

The loud chatter quieted down to a low murmur as Gaara stood in front of a microphone.

He began to speak about how Naruto was his first true friend and saved him from himself during the darkest moments of his life. The Kazekage recounted Naruto’s brave actions during the last battle with the Akuma, and then offered a toast to the newly-wed for prosperity and happiness.

Everyone took a long sip, and one by one more people began to line up behind the microphone.

Throughout the speeches, Sakura and Sasuke held each other’s hands. They shared a glance and small smiles, before Sakura rested her head on the Uchiha’s broad shoulder.

After Kakashi spoke, Sasuke decided to go up and add in his two cents.

Sakura watched on proudly as the Uchiha spoke about his admiration for Naruto and well wishes for the newly-wed couple.

The Uchiha glanced at said couple. “More important, I’ve come to see Naruto as a brother. I’ll always have his back, just like I know he’ll have mine.”

Naruto looked extremely touched by Sasuke’s speech, and an enthusiastic applause passed through the guests.

Kushina and Mikoto embraced each other at the sight of their sons’ loyalty to each other.

Sakura greeted her fiancé with a gentle kiss and smiled at him. “That was a beautiful speech.”

Sasuke smirked. “Naruto still has to name his first-born after me.”

Sakura playfully rolled her eyes, and chuckled. “I’ll end up confusing the two of you. I should probably start calling you ‘Sasuke-kun’ for differentiation.”

The man’s eyes darkened as emotions swirled through them.

He pulled the rosette towards him and kissed her hard.

By the time they pulled away, Sakura was breathless. “What was that for?”

“From now on, I want you to call me that.”

The rosette blinked in surprise, but a soft smile graced her face. “Okay, Sasuke-kun.”

Friends of the bride began to give their speeches, and before she knew it, Sakura found herself standing in front of a crowd that appeared even bigger with the spotlight on her.

She swallowed down her nerves and spoke. “Hinata and I have been friends since we’ve joined the Phoenix army. We’ve trained together, thrived in each other’s success and comforted one another during the dark times, but most importantly, we were family. I see Hinata as a sister, and I wish her all the best in life. Her happiness is my happiness.” She raised her glass as she looked at the couple. “Please treasure her, Naruto, otherwise I’ll beat you up.” She gave the blond man a toothed grin.

The guests laughed and raised their glasses up for a shared toast, before they downed a generous amount of alcohol.

Sakura drank from her glass and walked back to her fiancé who wrapped his arm around her slender waist.

After the last speeches were given, Naruto and Hinata stood up from their seats, and addressed the guests.

“Hinata and I would like to thank you all for celebrating this special day with us. We view the village as our home and all the villagers as part of our big family.” The man raised his glass. “To the future.”

“To the future!”

More alcohol was ingested, and the music and dancing came back.

With the lively music, more people joined the dance floor, although most were drunkenly swirling around, and some even collapsed to the ground laughing their hearts out.

Sasuke went to join his clan members, while Sakura, Tenten and Ino danced around Hinata as they playfully kept the bride away from her husband who mockingly glared at the trio.

“What’s this? Can’t get around some women, Naruto?”

The Kazekage’s sister stood before them with an amused gleam in her green eyes.

Naruto grinned. “Hey, Temari! Enjoying yourself?”

The woman nodded. “It’s a nice wedding, although my date’s been less than pleasant.”

The women cocked their eyebrows. “Your date?”

Temari huffed in both exasperation and affection. “Shikamaru’s a lazy ass and hates being dragged to events, even if it’s the wedding of the Hokage’s son and the Hyuga clan leader’s daughter.”

“Oh, I hear you. “Ino replied. “Our fathers decided to have us train together in the Ino-Shika-Cho combination and he complained the entire time.” Remorse passed through her face. “Well, the Ino-Shika combination anyways.”

Tenten coughed to dismiss the awkward silence. “Is there anything that Shikamaru’s not lazy at?”

Temari’s eyes darkened. “He’s amazing in bed.”

The women chuckled between themselves, and Naruto took advantage of their distraction to grab Hinata.

The women pretended to not notice and engaged in conversation.

“So, are you three accounted for?” Temari asked.

Tenten answered for them. “I’m currently pregnant with mine and Lee’s second child. Ino’s in a steady relationship, and Sakura’s engaged to Sasuke Uchiha.”

Temari cocked an eyebrow in interest. “An Uchiha, huh? You’ve certainly hit the jackpot.”

Sakura smiled. “Yes, I have. In more ways than one.”

Temari grinned and barked at Shikamaru to come to her.

The Nara man grumbled in his breath. “I’m not a damn dog.”

Temari ignored his complaint and formally introduced him to the women.

Shikaramaru nodded at Ino and Sakura in recognition. “I already know these two. Troublesome.”

Ino glared at him, whereas Sakura rolled her eyes.

“You haven’t changed a bit.” The rosette commented.

The man shrugged. “Better to stay the same than worsen.” His sharp eyes studied Sakura more intensely. “You’ve changed, Sakura.”

Said woman cocked an eyebrow. “Is that supposed to be a compliment?”

Temari sighed. “You’ll get used to it. Shikamaru has absolutely no sense of romance, yet he makes up for it with his intellect.” She pecked his cheek.

The man grumbled, yet a small blush colored his cheeks.

The women chuckled at his expense.

“By the way, Sakura, there’s something I want you to check out whenever you have time.” Shikamaru commented.

The rosette blinked, and curiosity bloomed within her. “What is it?”

The man grinned. “Sorry, I can’t tell you here. You’ll just have to wait to find out.”

Ino and Temari rolled their eyes, Tenten was focused on her pregnant belly, and Sakura looked pensive.

She nodded. “Alright. How about next week? This weekend is Kakashi-san’s birthday, and the Uchiha clan are planning a surprise party.”

Shikamaru nodded. “Meet me at the public library on Monday.”

Another lively song started, and Temari grabbed hold of her boyfriend’s hands. “You’re so dancing with me this time.”

Shikamaru grumbled as he was dragged to the dance floor.

The women were lead to the dancefloor by their partners, and Sakura focused on enjoying the rest of the evening.

Whatever Shikamaru wanted to show her could wait until Monday.

[1] Japanese for “pure white dress”

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