Untitled 2

Sep. 3rd, 2011 11:55 pm
catriana_fiction: (momiji gaara sleeping)
[personal profile] catriana_fiction
Title: None
Series: Naruto
Genre: Romance
Pairing: SasuHina
Rating: M
Chapters: 2/? (I'm hoping between 5-10 chapters)
Summary: With Madara having all but wiped out most of the noble samurai clans of Konoha, the council have taken the last able bodied members of the remaining families to be placed into protective custody until matches can be made and new heirs are born. SasuHina, multiple side pairings.
Notes: This idea came to me in a dream. Some folks might find it similar to The Debut in concept, but it's got a lot of differences. For one, this isn't going to be some long drawn out drama. It's a romance story straight up. Hopefully, you all will like it. I'll upload it to FF once I feel I'm mostly through with the story altogether. Unbeta'd/WIP



2
 

"Hinata-sama?" Neji stretched out on the mat inside the estate's dojo, looking up at Sasuke curiously "You saw her, then?"

"Yeah, the other day." A few feet in front of the Hyuuga noble, Sasuke did his sit-ups. His dark blue kimono hung around his waist, leaving his chest bare. With the dojo full as the other men practiced, he was already beginning to sweat from all the body heat. He sat up, smoothing out his hakama to address Neji properly. "Aren't you worried about picking her during this?"

"No." The other man responded as he leaned to the far right to touch his toes. "The matrons tally up the scores, but even if I were to choose Hinata-sama's dishes, she would be removed from my list by default. Typically, a marriage between cousins would be fine, if not common, but the council is taking this opportunity to mix blood a little. It matters not to me either way."

"Hn." Sasuke did not continue his routine, watching Neji out of the corner of his eye while glancing over at the other men. Some were practicing kempo, some swordsmanship. Currently, Naruto and Kiba were exchanging blows at the far right corner of the Olympic-sized dojo, both fools grinning from ear to ear. They were already bruised and battered, but likely would not stop until someone broke them up or they beat each other into oblivion.

"Are you interested?"

The question came abruptly from Neji, catching Sasuke off guard. Cool white eyes stared back at him, Neji sitting up although his legs were still spread wide from his exercises. "Huh? You mean marrying her?" Sasuke asked.

He was given a look. "That is why we are here, Uchiha. Do you wish to marry my cousin? You two are of the same social standing, and she would make a good wife."

Instead of answering immediately, he followed his brother's advice for a change and actually thought about his answer. This was Hyuuga Neji, a verbal trap could be imminent. "It's too early for me to make a decision." Sasuke finally answered, pleased with his eventual response. No way to take that as an insult. "There's still a few days left before the week is up."

Neji nodded, appeased. Potential social crisis averted. "True. In any case, I know what Hinata-sama's cooking tastes like, so I'm not worried."

Grunts and battle cries cut through the silence that descended between them and Sasuke became lost in his thoughts. He had not seen another female since meeting Hinata, not that he wanted to. Another evening had arrived and with each meal Sasuke felt as if he were choosing his future, which he was in a way. Still, thinking on the subject only managed to stress him, and not even evening practice with the other men helped his growing moodiness.

Getting married, producing an heir, everything now felt so real to him, where upon his first arrival the situation had felt like a bad dream. Sasuke really did not want to be bound to someone right now, not when more important matters were at hand, like revenge.

"I have heard," Neji spoke up and Sasuke turned his attention over to the older nobleman "Haruno Sakura is one of the participating females."

"Hn."

"Didn't you -"

"No."  Irritated, Sasuke stood, straightening his hakama. Oh, he knew about Sakura being one of the candidates, just as he also remembered how she had approached him prior to the event to beseech him to finally marry her. "We're indebted to her family, but her clan is still in a much lower status than mine." The Haruno clan happened to be barely nobility, but ranking had nothing to do with why he refused to marry Itachi's old fiancée.

Neji's eyes raked over Sasuke critically, searching. Then he nodded once, also standing. "Good luck to you then, in any case." A slow grin spread and Neji turned, sweeping his hand along the empty space. "Would you mind indulging me with a spar, or did you already have a partner waiting?"

Sasuke immediately looked over toward Naruto, but the blond was still locked in combat with Kiba. Although Naruto was always a worthy challenge - something Sasuke wouldn't admit even under pain of death - Neji's skills were highly formidable. With all the stress of knowing in a few days he would have to decide his wife, a good workout to relieve some of the growing tension would be nice.

"Sure, let's spar."

At least one thing was assured, it would be impossible for Sakura to be placed on his list. The woman had the cooking skills of a demented hen, she could destroy even the most iron clad of stomachs. So far, most of the food he had partaken of had been exceptional, although he couldn't claim to know a specific style of taste like the Hyuuga could claim for his cousin. How could one tell one person's cooking from another if both dishes tasted good?

Once more, Sasuke wondered if Neji's cousin happened to be a good cook.
 
x x x x
 
As much as Hinata hated to admit having negative feelings toward anyone, she honestly disliked the matron of the estate.

The elderly woman, her face a field of wrinkles upon wrinkles, refused to be addressed by any other name but 'obaasan', so no one actually knew her real name. Despite her wisp of a frame, Obaasan carried herself in an almost militant manner, her beady eyes sharp and her tongue as biting as a razor. Obaasan kept her white hair pulled back in a severe bun, as if in doing so would smooth out some of the wrinkles sagging down her wizened face. She constantly scowled, which did little for her demeanor. When she yelled - which was often - Hinata had to agree with the other girls that the woman could probably scare away ghosts and demons.

Surprisingly enough, unlike most other elderly, Obaasan's back retained its ramrod straight length, and she constantly used herself as an example for good posture. Usually, she screamed this while slapping another girl across the bottom or the back of their head with a ruler as she walked by.

Ever since their arrival, the female candidates had been dealing with grueling lessons and tests. There were a startling amount of women who knew very little of the traditional ways of keeping a house, which Hinata could only blame on the times. The noble houses had been enjoying their luxury and peace time, servants were rapidly filling in all of the noblewoman's duties. Old traditions and skills weren't being passed down properly, and it had showed.

Still, Hinata didn't think Obaasan had to be so cruel to the women who were now just starting to learn. The fault, as far as her father and family would have been concerned, laid with the girls's mothers. Both she and Hanabi had been taught in all the arts, and while Hanabi had excelled in specific areas that had made her father proud, Hinata had excelled in all the other arts and was formidable with everything else.

But now her parents were dead. Neji, now the only male heir left for the Hyuuga clan, would be running things once he found a wife and produced his own heir. She missed her family and prayed for Madara's army to be stopped as soon as possible. No one else needed to die for a lone man's selfish ambitions.

"Hinata-chan!" Over near one of the islands, Sakura waved to her. "Hinata-chan, do you have a moment?"

Most of her dishes were completed for the night, Hinata having arrived early to beat the rush. She wiped her hands on her white apron and turned her stove dial down so her pan fried vegetables would simmer. A quick glance at the timer showed her chicken had another thirty minutes, good. Pleased with her results, Hinata left her area, giving a brief nod to two other contestants who gave her harried nods while they struggled to complete their dinners.

Sakura stood at one of the center islands, her soft pink kimono and black headscarf dusted with flour. Her apron fared little better heavy stains and clinging food bits showing need for a good scrubbing. The knife she held clopped dully against the wood of the cutting board as she tried to slice a thick carrot. Hinata's left brow twitched at the uneven pieces, some had been sliced too thick with others paper thin.

"Do you, um, need help?"

"Yes, please." Sakura blurted, shooting daggers at the mish-mashed orange pieces. "No matter what I try, I can't get these stupid things to slice evenly!"

Hinata smoothly pushed her way in, grabbing another carrot from a steel bowl container. She held the vegetable up for inspection briefly. Pleased, she pushed the chopped bits to the side with the knife and set to the task of slicing through the new one.

"Well, first of all," she began, making sure to go slow and make steady, even slices "you don't need to go as fast as some of the other girls do. You're a beginner, so it's better to take your time and make sure you're doing it correctly. Secondly..." Hinata smiled warmly. "Is to remember that good food comes from the heart. Even if I won't be marrying for love, all of the men here will be going out into the battlefield, fighting for our safety. Even if I won't be directly fighting, I want to make good, healthy food that will keep their spirits and energy up. To help ensure they all come back safe and sound."

Sakura glanced at the remaining ingredients with a sigh. "I never thought of it that way. All I've been thinking of was making the best food for Sasu...I mean, for my future husband. I want to make a good impression, so he'll pick me."

Before Hinata could reply, one of the girls cackled, pointing at Sakura. Ino's eyes glittered with amusement. "Forehead, you still going on about Sasuke-kun? You know he'll never in a million years pick you, even if you could compete with the elite!"

"Sasuke Uchiha?" Hinata blinked, surprised.

"Shut up, Pig!" Sakura shouted, livid. "Sasuke-kun would definitely pick me if he could taste my cooking! I'd pour all of my love into it and he'd have no choice!"

Oh, no wonder Sakura wasn't doing so great with her efforts. The Haruno clan was nobility, but their social ranking was too low for the Uchiha clan, so her friend couldn't even compete to win his affections. Hinata couldn't even imagine how she would feel if in the other woman's shoes.

"Hey, don't look like that, Hinata." Sakura gently took the knife from her with a fake smile. "I'm over it now, regardless of what that Pig thinks. Thanks for the advice! I think I can handle it from here."

Recognizing the dismissal, Hinata nodded, wished Sakura luck, and went back to her area. unfortunately, she could hear the too-loud whispers behind her back.

"...went to beg to the Uchiha to marry her..."

"But, he shot her down hard..."

"...her right, acting like a desperate tramp. Just because they're a vassal house..."

Hinata turned back to look at Sakura, whose shoulders were stiff. Still, she kept her back facing the other girls, focused on her cooking. Since Hinata had always tried to avoid the rumor mills, she didn't really know what the other girls were gossiping about, but could put the pieces together.

The Haruno clan was a lesser house to the Uchiha. Hinata knew that during one of their wars for land, the Haruno clan had been pivotal in helping to secure one of the takeovers. In gratitude, the Uchiha clan had offered the Haruno clan a boon, which had yet to be collected.

Had Sakura gone to Sasuke prior to this event to collect by marriage? An incredibly bold move, but in the end, even though Sakura was the only child of the main Haruno line, she was still a woman. She was lucky the Uchiha hadn't punished her. In the life of a noble, love had nothing to do with marriage and everything to do with bloodlines and social status. For that reason alone, Hinata had avoided all attempts to meet and court men as much as possible, not wanting to fall into the same trap Sakura had.

Still, Hinata envied her friend. No way could she had ever had the courage to face the one she loved for an appeal as Sakura had, she would have died on the spot. Although Sasuke didn't seem like a cruel person, Hinata wondered what type of man still held Sakura's love even after the rumored harsh rejection.
Her first impression of him had been something of a snapping turtle. A hard, impenetrable shell on the outside with a short temper. On the inside, however, she had seen a softer side to Sasuke, very miniscule, but there. Maybe it was that aspect of him Sakura loved.

Oh, Sakura. I hope you find your happiness.

x x x x

The first week finally drew to a close, with the last dinner being nothing short of an all out feast. Many of the other men dug right in, stuffing themselves with food and sake. Sasuke found his appetite lacking, for tonight the votes would be tallied and the men would receive their list of females to choose from for the next event, the one he dreaded the most.

Bathing.

He was no virgin, but that didn't mean he wanted to be pampered and fussed over by a naked woman. The event was for the woman to show how attentive she would be with her husband, and what better way to show this than with a bath? Intimate, but also informative for any man looking for the ideal woman.

All other statistics, cleanliness, ability to keep a house, recordkeeping skills, all of those had been observed and graded by the officials. The men would receive these stats so they could pick from their favorites based on their abilities as a chef. Bathing would also give the men a chance to 'sample the goods'. They would be able to look and see if their future wife had any undesirable physical traits underneath the kimonos. If the woman was willing, they could even be allowed to take them to bed, although only if the final choice had been made.

The competition wasn't designed to be some long, drawn out affair. The men would need to choose quickly and begin the process of producing heirs. This next week would be for that, although many already anticipated finalizing marriages as early as the second day.

For Sasuke, the whole ordeal of choosing the right wife felt akin to choosing a good bitch for breeding. He was mostly appalled by the casual way they were going about the event, what with the way the women were being treated. Not having a say in marriage arrangements was a common affair for a woman, but Sasuke felt this was taken a bit too far.

When his door finally slid open and the silver envelope dropped inside his room, Sasuke didn't get up immediately. He continued to stare up at the ceiling, hands underneath his head as he lay on his futon. He could hear the other men scrambling to see their results, ripping open the paper to get to the contents inside. A few minutes later had cheers and excited cries echoing along the halls, and Sasuke closed his eyes.

The door ripped open five minutes later with a cheerful Naruto barging in. A bright grin split his tanned face from ear to ear, papers in his left hand.

"I totally got lucky, Sasuke!" Naruto practically shouted - although, Sasuke could admit Naruto always shouted - "I got Ino-chan as first pick! Man, she's soooo hot! I'm such a lucky guy."

Sasuke flung an arm over his eyes and wished Naruto away. "Whatever."

No such luck. "Aw, you're such a kill-joy!" A step forward and Naruto let out a small grunt of surprise. "Hey, is this your letter? You haven't even opened it, bastard! Don'cha wanna know who your first pick was?"

"Not really." Which was a half-truth. He did care, just not at the moment. Running over like an idiot to read the results didn't seem worthwhile. They had a day to decide, and the envelope would still be there whether he grabbed it now or later.

"Well, I wanna know so..." Naruto began ripping open the envelope.

"Hey, you ever heard of respecting people's privacy?" Now Sasuke was sitting up, glaring at his nosey friend. "Put that back where you found it."

"Nuh-uh. Not until I know who ya got - oh shit." Blue eyes widened, Naruto's jaw dropping as he read the contents. "Wow. I guess I shoulda saw this one coming, with the way you were hogging those dishes and stuff."

Already on his feet, Sasuke closed the distance, snatching "Give me that." He snatched the papers out of Naruto's hand, ignoring the blond's protests. "Nosy idiot. Get out."

Naruto didn't leave, and Sasuke didn't repeat himself, too busy staring at the papers in his hand. The empty envelope dropped to the floor as he sorted through all the stats and recommendations before glancing back at the initial list.

Only two names were on his, because apparently, he had only eaten and voted on their cooking. The one at the top, however, was the one he had selected the most, the second girl had barely qualified according to the totals. Sasuke had only picked the dishes which had reminded him of his mother's cooking, he hadn't been aware they were all by the same person.

Still, he had no idea how to feel. On one hand, he didn't mind, since he had been - in the very back of his mind - been hoping for these results. On another, knowing he had held expectations alarmed him.
And now tomorrow they would be sharing a bath.

"Hinata Hyuuga..."
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