Chapter 7- Leaving Iwa
"Well that was quite easily the most exhausting event I have ever engaged in, including the day long battle against the Uchiha clan that I led a few years ago." Tobirama sighed and leaned against the wall of her room.
Chikako didn't know what to say. "I know." Here she was, in her room with her new husband and she had no idea what to do. So she sat there and stared at the floor. "Would you like some tea?"
Tobirama walked over to her and sat next to her. "No." He reached out to touch her hand. "Why do you look like you're heading to your execution?"
"I don't." She looked up at him and then looked back at the floor. "I'm sorry Tobirama. I'm just nervous, that's all. Please forgive me. I promise not.."
"Chikako. I won't hurt you." He took her hand reassuringly.
She blushed. "I know." She looked up at him, her eyes shining with unshed tears.
"Chikako. Have you never been touched by a man?"
"No, I mean because he was attracted to you. Kissed?" He shook his head at this young girl that her father had traded for peace. The whole event seemed unfair but he also knew that peace was necessary if there was going to be any progress.
Her blush said it all, but she shook her head no anyway.
"Come here" He took her hand and pulled her closer to him. "Look up." He guided her head with his fingers. She looked up at him and his hand cupped her head. He pulled her a little closer and allowed his lips to just lightly touch hers.
She gasped but she didn't pull away.
He leaned in a little more allowing his lips to settle on hers and press, requesting her return to the kiss. She leaned in a little and kissed back. Then he pulled away, releasing her head.
"Was that terrible?"
"No. It was nice actually. Thank you." She smiled up at him, pink still flushing her face. Maybe this wouldn't be so hard after all.
"Look. I know your scared. Please trust me. You're safe with me." He leaned over to her. "Let's just sleep tonight, huh? We have a long journey ahead of us."
"Then you don't want to..." Her voice trailed off.
"I do. But not here, not like this. I want you to be comfortable with me, and not afraid. I can wait."
She smiled. "Thank you Tobirama."
"That's not true." She looked at him earnestly. "To you it may be nothing. But to me it's the first time in this arrangement that someone has considered my feelings. For that, I am very thankful and it's everything to me." She smiled up at him with tears in her eyes.
"I will need to sleep in here though. Or people will wonder." He chuckled to himself, maybe he was going soft but there was something about this girl, who was now his wife, that he liked. She had spirit and he didn't want to ruin that.
Her futon had been replaced with a larger one during the day. He sat outside while she changed and then they lay down in bed. He looked at her, this was the woman he would be sharing a bed with for a long time. He kind of liked her, she had spirit and strength that hadn't been apparent at their first meeting. He was looking forward to getting to know her. She had rolled on her side, facing away from him so he rolled close to her, wrapped his arm around her and held her. He felt her stiffen and then relax.
When Chikako woke he was gone. She remembered his arms holding her last night. He was so strong, and she remembered his body pressing up behind hers. She blushed at the memory knowing full well that she'd enjoyed it a little. He'd been warm and firm, his strength made her feel secure. She was beginning to feel more sure of this move. She rose and readied the last of her things for the trip. She had purposely packed lightly, because she had a plan.
She heard him coming down the walkway, and then the door slid open. "Are you ready?" He looked at her.
She nodded and stood. If you don't mind, I'd like to stop and say goodbye to my mother."
"Of course." He approached her and took her hand in his, leaning down he let his lips lightly brush hers. "Thank you for the sacrifice you are making for our villages."
"I don't consider it a sacrifice, Tobirama. I'm glad you're the one my father chose. I was nervous at first but I believe you'll try to show me a good life." She smiled.
"Lets go then." He smiled at her.
The palaquin rocked with the rhythm of the men who carried it. She was tired of being closed off from the world. The curtains held the heat in and she felt stifled and claustrophobic in it. She leaned forward and spread the curtains to see where Tobirama was. He was just ahead of her and to the side, walking as if he had walked this road forever and would continue walking it until time itself had ended. She was awed by his determination.
She watched him for a moment. He was very handsome. She noticed that the strength she'd felt in him last night was apparent in his build. He walked as if he was sure he'd never meet anyone who could harm him, but without swagger or arrogance. "Tobirama?"
He turned. "Yes Chikako?"
"How long have we been traveling?"
"It's almost midday. Do you need to stop?"
"If you don't mind?"
"Certainly." He signaled for the men carrying her palanquin to stop and put her down and then waited for her to step down. He'd tried offering her his hand the last time they'd stopped and been swatted away so he didn't this time.
She took a deep breath. "Is there a place I can..?" She looked at him.
He got the hint, "Yes. Follow me." And he led her into an outcropping of rocks at the edge of the road where she could relieve herself, standing guard with his back to her in order to give her privacy.
She finished and then reached for his hand. "I have an idea."
He looked at her wondering what she could be thinking about.
"It's midday. If we send the palanquin back and keep moving my father won't be able to do anything about it. I'll do the sending, so you can't be blamed. I really hate that thing." She looked up at him with pleading in her eyes. "Also, I know you and your men want to be home quickly, I don't want to be the reason you aren't."
He smiled at her. "Are you sure you're up to walking that far? None of us would fault you for not being able to. And you'll have to sleep on the ground with me? With the palanquin you could sleep in that."
"I'm sure. I won't slow your men down just because father thinks I'm a china doll. But if you don't want me to send it back I'll abide by your wishes."
"I'll let you make this decision. But I'll have to oppose it, for your fathers men."
"I understand" She was still holding his hand and she looked up at him. She stood on her tiptoes and brushed a kiss against his lips, noting the surprise on his face as she did. "Thank you."
When they emerged from the rocks she turned to her fathers men. "I want you to return to Iwa with the palanquin. I'll be walking the rest of the trip."
They looked shocked. "We have orders."
She shot them a look. "And now you have new orders, from me. If my father asks tell him I say thank you for the consideration."
They looked to Tobirama for help who spoke up. "Chikako, it is a long walk."
"And I will walk every step that is left." She looked at the men carrying her palanquin, "goodbye. And thank you for your service to me." She grabbed the pack she had put together and walked up to stand beside Tobirama. "Shall we go?"
"Would you like me to carry your bag?" He was smiling but only she could see it and he was impressed by her strength yet again.
"Maybe later when I am tired. Because I know I'll tire before you and your men but for now I can carry it." She smiled at him. "Thank you for trusting me to do this."
They walked the rest of the day and made camp that night in a clearing. She lay back on the bedroll that Tobirama was sharing with her and looked up at the stars. Tobirama stood next to it removing his armor so that he could lay comfortably. Then he lay down next to her, she lifted her head so that his arm slid under it and she rolled into him a little.
He groaned quietly at her closeness, she felt so good next to him. This made her pull away. "No, Chikako. It's ok. Stay close, then I know you're safe." His arm pulled her closer to him and she drifted off to sleep.
Her head was on his shoulder and he tilted his head until it touched hers a little. She smelled like lavender and moonlight. This girl that he had essentially been forced to marry was charming her way into his heart very quickly with her strength and character in ways that he hadn't expected her to. He stared up at the stars wondering, not for the first time, what he'd gotten himself into.
When she woke he was pressed closely behind her. She blushed at the feel of him pressing into her and went to move away but he pulled her closer. "Good morning Chikako. Did you sleep well?" His tone was sleepy, sensual and teasing all at once.
"I did, thank you. Did you?" She was sure she was blushing and was glad that it was still dark and no one would see it. His men were also stirring from their bedrolls in the early dawn preparing for a long days walk again.
"Mmm, as well as can be expected." He sat up. We have another long day of walking today and again tomorrow but you'll have a surprise tomorrow, you can look forward to it."
They had risen, eaten a simple breakfast and then set off for the day.
Chikako groaned. She hadn't known feet could hurt so much! And her legs! She ached from head to toe. She didn't think she would ever walk anywhere again for as long as she lived and right now she was wondering what she'd been thinking when she'd sent the palanquin away. She'd sent it away the day before yesterday, walked the rest of that day, all day yesterday and now today as well. She knew she was still slowing them down but not as much as the palanquin would have.
"Are you ok?" Tobirama asked. It was apparent that she wasn't but he wouldn't insult her by assuming that she needed help. She had made it apparent that she would ask for help if she needed it. He was impressed by the strength she was showing.
"I'm fine." She replied quietly her face clearly showing that she wasn't. Her body was screaming for her to stop walking but there was no way she was going to complain. She had chosen this. If she hadn't sent the palanquin back she would be sitting right now. She knew however that if she hadn't they wouldn't be so far along either. "How close are we to Konoha?"
He squinted at the horizon. We should be there tomorrow. But look where we are now."
She was confused. She looked where his finger was pointing. There was a small village in front of them. "Is this Konoha?"
He put his arm around her. "No. This is your treat. Come on."
He led her and their small group into town and to the door of an Inn, taking her hand he drew her inside. As they passed through the door a bell tinkled and an old woman came out from behind some curtains. "May I help you?"
He smiled at her. "Yes. My wife and I are traveling home to Konoha, I also have three men with me. We require rooms for the night."
She smiled at them, "Certainly. The hot spring will also be open until sundown Senju-sama." she turned to get keys and hand them to him. "Congratulations Senju-sama. May you have many beautiful and healthy children."