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An Unexpected Romance

By Ann Shannon

Romance

Chapter 9-What to Expect

She groaned. "Father use to tell me that girls were to be quiet and pretend they didn't have anything to say, even if they did. I wasn't very good at that, but I held back enough that he usually let me get away with it when I didn't."

Tobirama chuckled. "Like the night you demanded I court you before we got married?"

"Yes." She smiled. "I was terrified. I thought you were old, and your face is always so serious, I thought you didn't like me and would be mean. I always knew that my marriage would be arranged and used to make an alliance. I accepted it years ago. But when I saw you I thought father was marrying me to an old grumpy man. It was frightening."

"Instead you got a not-so-old grumpy man. I am old compared to you, does that bother you?"

"At first it scared me but you seem kind and you aren't really that old. And I don't think you're grumpy!"

"Just tell my brother that."

She sobered, "what will your family think of me? They don't even know about me, do they?"

"No. They don't. But I'm sure you'll love them and they'll love you."

"So, as I was saying."

He kissed her, "Yes?"

"Stop! I'm trying to have a serious conversation here."

"Ok. Speak woman." He laughed at her attempts to be serious while he teased her.

"Oh. Don't you take that tone with me." She was giggling. "Really. What do you expect out of this marriage?" She looked at him, searching his face for the answer.

He sighed. "What answer are you looking for, Chikako?"

"Your answer. There's no right or wrong one, I just want to know where I stand with you."

"I expect that we'll grow closer as time goes on. I like you, you're a strong young woman and I appreciate that. I don't know how your father's household produced you but I like you the way you are."

"Then you do want to.."

He smiled, he knew what she meant but he wasn't going to help her with it this time. "To what?"

She blushed and hid her face, "Be intimate with me." She looked up at him as soon as she had said it. The blush colored her cheeks but she looked him in the eye.

He held her tight against himself. "I do. But not here."

"Why? Why have you waited?"

"Not here because these walls are paper-thin and everyone in the Inn will know about it. Not during our trek, in front of my men, I respect you too much for that. And the night we married, you were terrified, I wanted to gain your trust. But I promise, it will happen."

She smiled. "That's all I wanted to know. You're very handsome, you know that?" She leaned her head on his shoulder and rested on him. "And strong."

"Thank you. Lets get some rest, huh?"

"Sure. But you are the one who should be thanked."

"Why?"

"Because, my father sold me to you for the peace between our villages. He didn't ask me, or even warn me. I know, I grew up knowing that would be the case, but the first I heard of it was at the dinner when you and he spoke of it. He didn't even demand that I get the chance to know you first, I had to do that. You've shown me more consideration and care in three days than he has my entire life." Her voice was sad. "One of the first things you said to me was that you wouldn't hurt me, that I was safe with you. He never promised me that."

Tobirama lay down beside her and pulled her into his arms. "I meant it. I'll never harm you intentionally. Or allow harm to come to you if it is within my power to stop it."

Chikako woke with Tobirama holding her closely again, his arm wrapped over her in a protective gesture. She shifted and he said "Good morning."

"Good morning. How long will it take us to get to Konoha today?"

"We should be there mid afternoon. Not a full day walk again."

She sighed in relief. "I hope I haven't slowed you and your men down too much. You said it would be a three day walk without the palaquin."

"Well yes, if it was us walking and we spent a lot of it moving quickly. You're still slowing us down but not as much as the palanquin would have." He was thankful that they would be done traveling today but wondered what Hashirama would have to say when he found out about the alliance he'd formed.

They met up with his men and ate a light breakfast before leaving to complete their journey. As the days had passed the scenery had gradually changed from the rocky mountainous terrain in Iwa to grassland and now they were traveling through forest. She looked around her, she'd never seen so many trees in one place and it amazed her. In some places she couldn't even see the sky because of the canopy above them and, if she was going to be truthful, it made her a little claustrophobic.

She liked traveling with Tobirama and his men though. They were polite to her but quiet allowing her to have her own thoughts as she prepared to meet the village that would be her home for the rest of her life. She wondered what the people would be like and if she would meet anyone she could be friends with like Momo and she had been friends. She knew that it would take time.

"Tobirama?" She looked up at him.

"Yes?"

"What's your brother like? Is he like you?"

"He and I are complete opposites. At least that's what I've been told all my life."

"Is he married?"

"He is. His wifes name is Mito Uzumaki. She's a kind but fierce woman, I like her."

"Was theirs an arranged marriage also?"

"No. There have always been close ties between the Senju's and the Uzumaki's. They married simply because they wanted to."

"Hmm." Chikako's eyes drifted to the trees around her wondering what it would be like to have that sort of freedom. "Do you live on their compound? Or do you have your own?"

Tobirama chuckled. "We don't have compounds, not like Iwa does. There are areas in the village that clans stick to but no compounds other than the Uchiha's. And my brother lives in the Hokage residence. I've been staying with them, mostly for convenience. I suppose he'll have to build me a house now." He smiled at the idea.

Chikako was confused. "I don't understand. Why would the Hokage build your house for you?"

Tobirama laughed. "My brother uses a wood release jutsu and so he built many of the structures in the village. I simply stayed with them when I was actually home rather than have him build me a house, allowing him to focus on village needs first."

"What's a wood release jutsu?"

Tobirama stopped and looked at her. "Have you had no fighting training at all?"

She shook her head, "No. I'm sorry."

He sighed, once again amazed at the fact that Hata's house had produced this amazing girl.

"I'm sorry if that's disappointing."

"No. Just surprising. In our world it pays to be able to at least defend yourself and it surprises me that your father didn't see to it." He stopped to think. "Do you know what chakra is?"

She nodded her head.

"Ok. That's a start. A ninja will use his or her chakra to form a jutsu that will strengthen them in battle. My brother uses wood release with which he can produce wooden objects and forms depending on what he visualizes. I don't think I can explain it better than that. I"m sorry."

"It's ok. Do you also use wood release?"

He smiled. "No I use water release."

She looked at him confused again.

"It's similar but I produce water." He wove a few handsigns, put his fingers to his lips and released a spray of water which flew away from him splattering on the ground. "Like that."

"Wow. I never knew that was even possible." She thought for a moment. "You said his or her, are there women ninja in your village?" She was curious, her father had been very traditional in his handling of women in the village.

"Of course there are. Aren't there in Iwa?" He thought back, he hadn't seen any now that he thought about it.

"No. My father was very old fashioned about women and their roles. In case you didn't notice." She laughed. "Almost as old fashioned as he was about my upbringing."

Tobirama chuckled. "I still have no idea how you managed to come out of that household."

His men had been walking in front of them but as they had been speaking the men had slowed to let them catch up.

Hideo spoke. "Tobirama-san, we can see the gates."

Tobirama looked up with relief as did Chikako. Sure enough the newly constructed gates to Konoha had come into view.

Chikako took a deep breath and steadied herself. Tobirama's arm brushed hers reassuringly, "It'll be fine. No one even knows to expect us."

But there had been men working on the gate and the surrounding wall and they had spotted them. And by the time they had made it to the gate there was a gathering of people waiting to greet them.

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