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Arranged marriages were normal and hers had been just that, Haru had been betrothed from birth to a respectful family and grew up knowing that when she was of age she’d be married. A part of her was saddened at the idea of leaving her father all alone, but another part knew she had to get on with her own life as she couldn’t stay at home forever. Although she never knew her mother growing up her father had provided her with everything she could have needed or wanted, she grew up in a loving family and she couldn’t have asked for more but now her life had completely changed.

It was the day after the wedding and needless to say Haru felt incredibly awkward, she had never met him. Chunjiro was his name and the first time she had met him was at their wedding and even then, there had been little talk between them, barely any chance for her get to know him. Although she was awkward at making that kind of conversation in the first place.

Haru had awoken early that morning and was pacing in the kitchen, “Should I make breakfast for us? I… eh.” Feeling her cheeks flush in embarrassment as she didn’t really know what she should be doing. What he even liked. “What if he is allergic and I kill him. Or what if he hates certain food types.” Muttering to herself as she looked around the kitchen wondering on what she should even do.

Letting out a sigh as she tried calm herself she pushed down the fabric on her clothes neatening out any creases as she tried to keep herself presentable. Nerves started bubbling away in her stomach as she continued to pace in a circle in the kitchen. Pausing for a moment she looked towards the kettle smiling as an idea finally hit her. “Tea, I can make tea. That won’t cause any problems, right?” Even as she settled on the idea of making tea, she began to doubt herself and without realising her fingers began to fiddle with the sleeves of her simple pink kimono.

Biting her lip, she shook her head pushing back the doubts as she began to move around making some tea, it would at least settle the nerves in her stomach. Stop it, don’t overthink, you’ll drop and break something. Thinking to herself as she tried to focus on making the tea doubts already setting in on how she would be able to do a good job at being a wife.
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"The gods have spoken. May your marriage... Be blessed."


Before Chunjiro opened his eyes, everything was fine. It was simply another spring day. The trees were blossoming, sending their flowery sakura scent flowing through the open window. Chunjiro was above the clouds, peacefully dreaming of beautiful blue skies and a river full of sleek, fat fish. Once he woke, however, the entire night's memories came rushing back. The wedding ceremony, intensely traditional, the celebration that followed, and then...

"Ah!"

Chunjiro shoots forward in his bed, woken by his own bad memories. Yesterday was all sorts of surreal; from waking to sleeping, he was surrounded by people trying to prepare him for the married life--the rest of his life. He's never been the type to make a fuss; which is why the entire village attending his ceremony was so... uncomfortable. Everyone's eyes on him, and then an afterparty full of alcohol and raucous singing. Not the most suitable activities for someone not even 18 years of age. The most unpleasant memory, however, wasn't the embarrassment of being watched by other people. No, all of that was far outweighed by his own embarrassment at meeting his wife.

Chunjiro flops back down with a groan. Right, that did happen. And it was awful. Haru, his bride, was nothing but shy and innocent throughout the whole ceremony, and it made him all the more anxious. She's so delicate! So... so cute. And now she's his wife.

"What am I supposed to do now?" Chunjiro mumbles, looking around his room. The birds chirping, the tatami flooring, and the early morning light are all the same as yesterday, but now with one monumental change--he is now a married man, and his house is now the home of two people, not just one. For all his mother's teachings about loyalty and duty, there was nothing about this.

"Ha..." Well, he thinks, life goes on. He rises from his bed, busying himself with his usual morning rituals. At least the washing and dressing are the same. But, breakfast... He'll have to eat with Haru, won't he? Won't that be horribly awkward? Shuffling down the hall, Chunjiro stops outside of the kitchen door, steeling himself. Just the thought of seeing Haru makes him unbearably nervous, but his father always told him not to be a coward, so here he goes--!

Stepping into the kitchen, Chunjiro sees Haru, bending over the stove to boil water for tea. Oh god. There she is. What does he do. Come to think of it, even if he does greet her, how does he...? What does he even CALL her? Okusan? Haru-san? Haru? There are too many options and none of them sound good. Chunjiro gulps, for a moment considering just turning around and going back to bed, but the words come out before he can stop them--manners beaten into him from years of lectures.

"G-good morning..." he says softly, kneeling down in front of the table in the center of the room. He hesitates, cheeks darkening, but summons the courage to continue. These are his first real words to his wife. Haru is surely a nice and well-mannered girl; he does not want to be the one to insult her. "...K-ka-san. Unless there is something else you would like to be called," he adds, eyes focused on the floor as blood rushes to his cheeks and ears, painting them bright red. This is even worse than he thought it would be. He can't even look at her for fear his head will explode of embarrassment.
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Busying herself with the tea had helped, it stopped her thoughts from wandering and remembering every awkward moment so far from the wedding to now. It was continuously replaying in her mind repeating over and over and she knew it would drive her insane, so she had to make herself busy, but even that was hard as she didn’t know where everything was here. Maybe he won’t leave the bedroom, maybe he will stay there all day. Naive thoughts passed through her mind at the idea of not seeing him or talking to him because she didn’t know what to say.

“A-Ah”

Gasping at the sudden sound of a voice the china cup in her hand slipped through her fingers smashing against the floor as she jumped not expecting him to be there. Haru was clearly startled but her eyes widened at the smashed cup on the floor and she immediately bowed her head to Chunjiro, “S-Sorry… sorry, I… ah.. Let me clean this up.” Face heated up in embarrassment as she knelt down hurriedly trying to pick up the smashed china, but also being careful not to cut herself on any of the fragments.

Looking up from the floor she tried to smile but it came across as a little forced and she already started to berate herself for it. “Good morning.” Hesitating a little as she rose back to her feet with some of the china fragments in hand. I don’t even know where the bin is. Cringing to herself as she kept them in hand, she looked over at Chunjiro feeling herself blush at his next words, “O-Oh… well that’s fine. Or just Haru. I don’t mind, what would you prefer?”

OH. Wow I’m an idiot. He must think I’m such a klutz and… well stupid. I should address him traditional too? Why am I questioning everything? Biting her lip as she could still feel the heat in her cheeks from being embarrassed. “I.. would you like me to address you as Anata?” Glancing back at the broken china in her hands she looked for the bin in the kitchen to place them in, finally locating its whereabouts she dropped the fragments inside happy she had not harmed herself from the broken china but then she started to question how she must have looked like a fool in front of him for not knowing where it was initially.

“Tea?” Her voice was quite high at the offer of tea as she returned to making them, this time hopefully she would not break any more china in the process and cause further embarrassment. Grasping the cups, she placed his down onto the table and hers at the opposite end to him. Grasping at the kettle pale hands began to pour the liquid into his cup first, her hands trembled slightly because she was a ball of nerves but she served him first knowing it was the right thing to do before finally pouring out a cup of tea for herself. After Haru had returned the kettle she knelt down in front of the table opposite him hesitating before she spoke again, “I… will make breakfast of course, but I didn’t know what you liked and then I worried I’d serve you something horrible or you’d be allergic and I.. ah… sorry…” Mumbling out the last words as she realised, she had started to ramble in front of him and her cheeks began to darken at how embarrassed she was.

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"Ah, be careful...!" Did I frighten her? So much for not insulting her, somehow he's already managed to scare her by just walking into the room. What in his actions yesterday made her afraid of him? Chunjiro tries to remember, but most of the memories are too painfully embarrassing to revisit. Maybe it's just post-marriage ceremony jitters; he knows he's got them, but Haru? It's hard to tell with her, mostly because he's only known her for a day and a half. Was she always this... clumsy?

Watching Haru picks up the fragments one by one, though, makes Chunjiro's older brother instincts kick in. He barely suppresses the urge to jump up and grab the dustpan and hand broom from the corner of the room, the fear of Haru cutting herself compounded by similar incidents in his past. His younger sister, Maika, was an excellent cook, but had a bad habit of leaving dishes stacked precariously on the counter, just waiting for a stray elbow to topple them. Thank goodness her limbs are nowhere to be seen in Chunjiro's small house, or else she'd have broken every piece of his china by now.

..Though Haru seems to be on that track already. Chunjiro watches with confusion as Haru looks around the room, apparently looking for something... Oh.

"A-ah, you can put them in there," he says, pointing to a modest, large ceramic pot that sits near the stove. Of course. She doesn't know her way around the house. Anyone placed in a new environment would be anxious, not knowing where things are and being forced to interact with new people. At times like these, it's Chunjiro's duty to make sure Haru has everything, and can find everything, she needs to live here. But first...

"No, no, just Chunjiro is fine," Chunjiro says, flushing at the mere sound of Anata coming from Haru's lips. That is way--way too mature for him right now. That's like... mom and dad talking to each other! But then again, if he calls her Ka-san...!

"But i-if you'd like, you can call me by a nickname... Barely anyone calls me by my full name at the village, so..." Because nobody calls a stranger by their first name... but with the amount of siblings I have, calling everyone "Kato" just isn't viable... Thus, the idea of nicknames was born, and with it, a variety of silly names for Chunjiro. He's gotten used to everything from "Chu-kun" (his siblings) to "Kato-san" (his clients) and even "Chun-san."

“Tea?”



...Her hands tremble as they pour the tea, but Chunjiro doesn't even notice. His heart pounds in his ears, eyes drawn at once to the her small, pink lips, yet darting to her eyes, flashing like fish scales when they're hit by the sun, yet pulled her neck, her pale skin, her--

--The spout of the teapot clinks against the cup, dipping with Haru's shaky hands. Chunjiro breathes in, a tremendous, shaky breath that fills his lungs and makes his head dizzy, and realizes an important truth just before it slips out of reach again, forgotten. Haru's voice, rambling that Chunjiro catches onto five seconds too late, breaks through the daze. He blinks. Where was he, again? He looks down at his lap, and is surprised to find a cup of tea resting in his hands. Ah.

"Don't worry about breakfast, I'm not allergic to anything," he says, just a beat late. "I don't have time to eat anything elaborate, anyway... B-but, thank you for the tea."
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Just Chunjiro is fine, she felt herself relax at the idea of being able to call him by his name and not the traditional terms. She understood why people addressed each other as Ka-san, Anata. Her father had explained it to her before, of course she had never heard the words leave his lips as he always addressed her mother by first name. Wanting to make sure she knew her mothers name even though she grew up without one. Plus, it had been part of her lessons growing up, understanding the importance of respecting your husband and treating him well.

“Chunjiro…” Haru tried saying his name out loud, “Chun-san…” Pausing as she opted for the nickname version which felt friendlier, it felt like she knew him which she didn’t but at the same time it was better than addressing him traditionally.

He seems kind though. Her eyes looked over him, watching the cup of tea that rested in his hands. Cupping her own tea, she felt the warmth of the cup and it was a wonderful feeling, it gave her comfort especially when she had caused quite the commotion already. I hope he doesn’t think badly of me. I didn’t mean to drop the china. I didn’t mean to break something already. Well done… Biting her lip as she let her thoughts consume of how she had to have made a bad impression already. He probably thinks I’m stupid, I’ve already messed this up…

“O-Oh… you don’t want to eat anything?” Glancing up as she looked over at Chunjiro, a part of her already thinking that it was because he didn’t want to be with her. Or because she had already made a mess of the china so that meant she'd make a bigger mess cooking.

“I am so sorry. I should have had it all prepared before you woke… I just… didn’t think.” Bowing her head in respect to hide the shame she felt. Already she began to berate herself at not thinking, she should have had tea and some food prepared for him for when he woke up. That’s what she was supposed to do, how could I forget the fundamentals? Her pale hands had dropped from her cup of tea and had moved under the table, she was feeling incredibly conscious of herself and her actions around him.

Keeping her head bowed for a few minutes she fiddled with the hems of her sleeves on the pale pink kimono she was wearing under the table away from sight. The nerves were bubbling away as she tried not to be so nervous around him, but it was hard to forget that she had been such a klutz in the first few minutes of them actually being alone together. Bar the wedding of course, but they barely had time to talk at the event, not with all eyes on them at the ceremony.

Letting out a rather shaky breath she finally raised her head blonde hair falling behind her shoulders as she reached out for her tea, taking this moment to finally take a sip letting the hot liquid run down her throat. Distracting herself for a few moments as she tried to think of what to say, what to talk about but her mind kept drawing a blank which only made her feel worse. I wonder what he thinks of me… probably not good at this rate.

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"Mmpgh." Chunjiro almost chokes on his tea, heart leaping into his throat as Haru's shy, sweet voice repeats his name, then nickname, until he's red up to the ears. He's not sure why it makes him so nervous, just that he'd be okay with hearing that every morning--wait, no! Why is he thinking that!? Snap out of it, Chunjiro!

Sipping his tea, he can feel Haru's gaze on him for a moment, a moment that feels far too long as the hairs on the back of his neck stand up with hyper-consciousness. He hopes he looks alright. It would be awkward to fix his posture now, but he wants to be a man worthy of being her husband. Even if that means bearing through this awkward first meeting. Surely things will get better, get easier with each passing day, until they can function normally around each other...

...Why does it feel like that's not going to happen for a while?

"Oh, no, no!" Chunjiro speaks hastily, swallowing a mouthful of hot tea a bit too quickly and wincing as it burns his throat. "I just meant... It's alright if you cook something simple. I'm... easy to please." Which is true--when you grow up with so many siblings, a bowl of rice and a bit of meat is often the norm, and Chunjiro has gotten used to eating sparsely, to let the younger ones get the nutrients they need. This quiet morning routine, with tea already prepared, is far more than Chunjiro usually gets, and while he hopes it will continue, he's alright with subsisting on rice and egg for the rest of his life. "I mean, usually I have to make it all myself, so..."

Seeing Haru apologize, then hang her head low, Chunjiro fidgets nervously. He doesn't think she needs to apologize so much, but if he says that, will she just apologize more? And, um, he doesn't want to make her cry... As Haru searches for a conversation topic, so does Chunjiro, a minute passing in awkward silence.

"Ah! I know!" Chunjiro says, abruptly breaking the silence. "You know how to make rice, right?" It's a question he already knows the answer to. Who in Japan doesn't know how to make rice? "There's a bag in the cabinet under the sink. Ah, it's a bit heavy though." Standing up, he crosses the small dining room, and, with strength that seemingly comes from nowhere--Chunjiro, while a fine samurai, has not quite hit his growth spurt--pulls a large bag of rice out from under the sink. Before Haru came to his house, Chunjiro was living off of this one bag--three meals of rice a day, plus whatever vegetables, meat, or seasonings he bought at the market that morning. As a result, he's quite good at cooking it.

"I don't have any vegetables at the moment... I guess I should've saved some of the food from the afterparty, huh?" he says, attempting a joke to lighten the mood. Glancing at Haru, he can't tell if she's the type to take a joke, but hey, it's worth a try. She's been staring at her cup of tea for the last few minutes. He hopes she's okay.
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I hope this gets easier. It’s ever so awkward. Haru thought to herself blowing on her hot tea to take a few more sips of it in hopes to keep herself distracted. She could feel her heart beat away, nervous around him still as she tried to make herself feel a little comfortable in her new home.

“O-Oh!” Looking up at Chunjiro as he spoke about cooking something simple, she had done most of the cooking back home for her and her father. It was something she enjoyed, creating new dishes and recipes to try, new interesting flavours. Maybe we could cook together? Oh no. Don’t be stupid… what an idiot. Feeling her face heat up at thinking they could do something together as a couple.

“You… ah.. like to cook?” Tentatively asking him as she watched him stand up moving to one of the cupboards. “Y-Yeah. I know how to cook rice. Who doesn't?” Smiling at the thought of not being able too, it was one of the most common and favoured dishes of most in the village. Curious as she watched him pull out a huge bag of rice she paled, was that all he ate? Did he not consider other foods? “That’s… quite a big bag of rice.” Chuckling nervously as she looked from him to the big bag of rice he had pulled out, but somewhat impressed that he had managed to move it.

However, in the next moment she found herself smiling at the attempt of a joke to lighten the mood, “The food was really good.” Standing up herself she brushed down her Kimono before moving over to him and the huge amount of rice. “Should we make breakfast together? I quite enjoy cooking myself, I did all of it back home.” A bright smile crossed her face as she thought about cooking, it was clearly something she enjoyed, “Well I guess I like to bake more maybe? But even so I like to do both… ah sorry. I’m rambling again.”

Smiling at Chunjiro as she felt a little better for finding some common ground, but a little embarrassed she had started to ramble once more in front of him. “We should probably get some vegetables at some point though.” Grinning as she looked over at the bag of rice back to him, but then she felt her face heat up again as she started to over think herself and her actions so the embarrassment of hers began to settle in once more.

“Ah… so..”

Trying to fill the silence as she bit her bottom lip, fingers once more fiddling with the sleeves of her kimono. “Yeah…” Coughing slightly as she glanced away from him feeling the awkwardness settle in again between them.
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"...I wouldn't say I like to as much as I need to," Chunjiro says, smiling a bit. He initially doubted this was even going to work, but with each passing minute, Haru seems less nervous and the atmosphere less heavy. It's a weight off his shoulders, and he hopes this is a good sign of things to come. The sooner he can hold a conversation with her, the better.

Standing on his tiptoes to pull a bowl down from a cabinet above the stovetop, Chunjiro glances at Haru, and is delighted to see her smiling. Does she likes to cook? I bet her and Makia would be great friends. In fact, they really haven't met each other's families; maybe one day, they can all share a meal together... The mental image makes his cheeks warm, but it's a pleasant feeling, imagining them at the table, sitting next to each other--aaand now it's embarrassing. Geez, if even a thought makes him nervous, how will he ever get used to the real deal? Even if he does want to cook with her, he isn't sure his heart can handle it...

"It was good," he agrees, thinking back to the stews, the dumplings, the long, juicy noodles... "I didn't like being stared at, but I thought the ramen was... delicious."

Like any teenage boy, Chunjiro is immediately enthralled by the concept of good food. So, Haru cooking only adds more points to his list of my wife's charming features, a new and rapidly-growing mental checklist that is kind of making Chunjiro question his sanity.

"Ah, no, i-it's fine!" He didn't think she was rambling at all, but Haru seems to be very self-critical. He wishes he could just... tell her not to worry. But would that be too presumptuous of him? "Believe me," he says quietly, as an idea occurs to him. "M-my brother, Takeru, he never stops talking. Besides, I like... learning about what you... like." After that extremely embarrassing admission, Chunjiro avoids her eyes and hopes he doesn't look as ridiculous as he thinks he sounds. Silence quickly descends. Scratch that, it didn't work. They're both awkward, again.

"A-anyway," Chunjiro says after a minute or two, no longer able to bear the awful quiet, blushing but determined to make it out alive, "the well is out in the courtyard... Would you like to come along? We can make the rice together, if you wish. And, I can escort you to the market, after breakfast. I-I know this is all new to you, but please, don't ever feel like you have to bear it alone... I am your h-h-husband now, so you can tell me if there's anything you need."
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“Ah ha… yeah… all the looking was kind of awkward, and… well off putting. A little.” Haru smiled nervously agreeing with him about all the onlookers at the wedding, it just felt strange to her being the centre of attention and a part of her hated it. However, that was all done with now, there should be nothing else that demanded everyone look at them for the future and she was happy with that. No more attention.

“How many siblings do you have?” Haru couldn’t help but ask, her curious side getting the better of her as he mentioned his brother. However, Chunjiros next sentence made her flush a deep crimson and she couldn’t help but awkwardly look away her feet shuffling slightly.

It seemed like some sort of habit of theirs already, they’d stat to talk. Open up a little bit more to each other. Then someone would say something making the other embarrassed and it would be awkward once more, and then the silence would descend. I wonder how long, until we can stop this routine we’ve started. Thinking to herself as she looked up again as he broke the silence once more.

Thankful that he wanted to break the silence she was glad, smiling as she nodded listening to him how the well was located in the courtyard. “O-Oh, no. I’d like that. It would help me understand where everything is here… and more comfortable.” The idea of making rice together too was great, it was nice knowing he wanted to do that with her.

“I think that would be really nice, making rice together. Oh, I’d love to go the market, we can get some vegetables for the rice in future.” Clasping her hands together neatly as she started to feel a little less nervous around him.

“O-Oh…” Haru faltered, hesitating at the words of not having to bear it alone. That he was her husband now. “I… eh.. wow.” Whispering as she felt herself get even more flustered, cheeks darkening once more as the embarrassment rose. “That’s… ah. No. Very kind, I appreciate that and well… I am. Your w-wife. I would like to do the same.”

Rubbing her arm, she took a step forward, her hand now outstretching and placing it on his shoulder gently and she felt the warmth, it was a nice feeling. “I would like it if you talk to me… tell me how your day is. S-Share it with me.” Smiling through her embarrassment as she kept the gentle touch of her hand on his shoulder, trying not to cringe with how flustered she truly was.

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It kind of relieved him that she had the same thoughts about the wedding as him. It gave him all the more hope that she was just the shy type, rather than the repulsed by his very existence type. Like her, he had been surprised and embarrassed by the amount of attention; despite being betrothed since childhood, Chunjiro had always regarded his marriage as nothing more than a footnote, tucked away in the pages to come. Rather, as a young child, everything farther than 10 minutes in the future feels like a lifetime.

But, here they are, and Chunjiro mentally congratulates himself as Haru begins to loosen up. Hopefully, she takes his words to heart, and continues speaking her thoughts to him. It's refreshing to hear her chatter about the market--even if he is embarrassing the both of them, it's heartening to see her bounce back from it, and even ask him questions.

"Follow me, then," Chunjiro says, making a mental note to give her a full tour of the house later. Following a narrow hallway to the courtyard, he picks up a bucket from where it sits on the patio. The courtyard, half traditional Japanese garden, half functional for training and housekeeping, is modest, but well-kept. Not Chunjiro's doing, of course--his mother paid a "special visit" two weeks before the wedding to set the house in order. He can't say he's done a great job keeping it in order, though...

"That's good. I have some errands to run in the village, but we can meet up afterwards." For a moment, he's a little worried at the thought of Haru shopping alone--what if she gets lost? What if she hurts herself? What if somebody shady tries to...? No, no. She'll be fine, and besides, the errands won't take long... I'll do them as quickly as possible.

“I am. Your w-wife. I would like to do the same.”

Eh.
“I would like it if you talk to me… tell me how your day is. S-Share it with me.”

Chunjiro stares at the hand on his shoulder in confusion and slight uncomfort, due to the odd angle of his neck. Okay. Cool. She's touching him. She has really small hands. And her nose, too. Wait, that's creepy. She's blushing, though. Cute.

"O-o-of course!!" Chunjiro yells loudly, suddenly aware that he's been staring at her. "I mean, um, I'd love to... talk to you. S-since we're married, it's..." No. Calm down. Chunjiro breathes in, desperately trying to center himself, because he feels like he's floating. Seriously. He shouldn't be feeling this happy because of such simple words, but Haru... "...something I want to do."

Chunjiro tries for a smile, and pulls her hand off his shoulder to hold it in his. This is fine, right? Can she hear how fast his heart is beating right now!?

...That's right. He never answered her question.

"Ah, and I have six siblings," he tells her, hoping the subject will distract her--and him--from their intertwined hands. He doesn't even know why he's doing this, other than the weak logic of "Haru touched my shoulder," which isn't so much logic as it is teenage hormones going wild. That, though, is a secret to even Chunjiro himself. "It was hard growing up, but I love them all very much."
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Nodding to him as she followed like he had mentioned she took note of how the courtyard looked. It was modest, but also practical which was nice. It seemed well kept, but she didn’t know if that was his doing or not. Perhaps he did chores? Well… I think that will be my job, now right. Or… together? Regardless she liked the little courtyard they now shared together, a part of her hoped how he would show her around the house. It would certainly help for when she had to tend to things, she wanted to be able to look after him without needing too much help.

“Oh.. what kind of errands? Can I help?” Haru smiled hoping to help him, however she didn’t mind at the idea of doing a little shopping on her home. Maybe she could even get them a little housewarming gift to wish them well in their new journey together. No… that’s too much. Or? Maybe. Biting her lip as she began to question herself in her thoughts, but at his sudden yell it brought her attention back to him.

He wants too, that’s something he wants to do. Haru couldn’t help but smile as he confirmed that he would like to talk with her, share his thoughts not just because they were married but because he wanted too.

The smile however soon faltered, face heating up blushing as she felt the touch of his hand pulling it from his own shoulder and into his own. Feeling her heart race at the gentle touch, the warmth of his hand in her own she felt so embarrassed but in a good way. They were holding hands and sure to anyone that would be simple, but it wasn’t to her. It felt great, it felt like that he wanted to make this work just as much as she did, and she hoped this meant they could be happy together.

“Oh!” Enthusiastically latching onto the subject of his siblings, happy to distract herself from the soft warm hand of his. “Six? That’s impressive! I was an only child.” Smiling as she thought about how different growing up had to have been for them, “I’m sure it was all worth it though, no matter how hard you have a wonderful family who love you.” Looking over as he spoke about how it had been hard growing up, between six of them it had to be lively that was certain. A lot different to her own upbringing.

“I’d like to meet them… a-at some point. Of course!... no eh.. rush.”
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"Ah, well..." Chunjiro considers it, drawing water from the well. Most of his work consists of yardwork and chores for the elderly inhabitants of the village, usually the widows and the ones without children to take care of them. It is the samurai's duty to care for his lord and his lord's lieges, and in Chunjiro's case, he cares for the weak and the elderly. Many of them are friends he has known since childhood, and now that he is old enough to provide for them, they treat him like a son.

"It's a lot of hard labor, like yardwork for people who aren't strong enough to do it themselves. I'm sure the obasans ("grannies") would be happy to see, ah, um..."

Some of the old ladies have expressed their wishes to see Chunjiro find a good and upstanding wife to share his days with. He certainly thinks Haru fits the bill, but he fears she would get embarrassed by the nosy, if well-meaning, nature of some of the grandmothers. He's sure they would love to talk to another girl, but...

"...any visitors. I could introduce you to a few of them, since I need to deliver some groceries to their houses." The idea of Haru by his side is nerve-wracking, but at the same time, comforting. Provided he can keep his cool and not do, or say, anything weird, it might be really nice. Shopping together... did mom and dad do anything like that?

Pulling the bucket out of the well with one hand is difficult, but Chunjiro finds himself hesitant to let go of Haru's hand. He enjoys the touch, simple as it may be. It's hard to tell what she's thinking right now, not that Chunjiro has ever been good at that, but he hopes she isn't put off by it. He doesn't want to spill water everywhere and make a fool of himself, though, so he reluctantly lets go of her (tiny!) hand to lift the bucket out.

"Oof," he mumbles, staggering to the side slightly. It's always a bit too heavy... "Yeah, I shared a room with all my brothers ever since I was young, and not a big room either... I bet you got a lot more privacy." Come to think of it, Haru's mother died when she was young, right? So it was just her and her father... a very different and perhaps lonely childhood than Chunjiro's lively, chaotic household. If that's the way she was raised, he wonders if it would overwhelm her, to be the center of attention of six young ones and his slightly overbearing parents. He bets his mother would like her. His dad too. And the kids...

I want to be the one to like her the most, though.

Chunjiro blushes. What a bold thought. Haru wants to meet his family, therefore he shouldn't feel as if something special is getting taken away from him. There's nothing to be uneasy about.

"I'm sure they would love to meet you," Chunjiro answers, walking back to the kitchen to boil the water for rice. "Maika, my mom, my dad... Takeru too, he loves a pretty girl," he adds, then realizes he inadvertently called her pretty and falls silent. More importantly, this feeling in his chest, it won't go away. What's it called? When you want to keep someone to yourself?

...Jealousy?
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Watching as he got the water from the well, she listened to him talk about how the errands were that of hard labour, yardwork and she couldn’t help but smile. It was sweet of him to take the time to care for the elderly, the weak who might not be strong enough to do it themselves. “That’s so kind of you. I’m sure they are grateful for your help. I’d love to assist sometime too. I’m not really strong to do the hard parts, but I’d like to help! As your w-wife.”

Smiling as she nodded at the idea of visiting them, being introduced she felt her face flush slightly because she would be introduced as his wife. “A-Ah… I would like that. T-To visit…”

Moving alongside she glanced at the bucket in his hands, a part of her worried that it was too heavy. That holding her hand was making things worse, but she didn’t want him to let go. The feel of his warm hand in hers was enjoyable even though it made her blush. This is nice, I like this. Feeling the warmth leave her hand as he did finally let go, she clasped her hands together smiling as she followed him along.

“Oh wow, I mean. I suppose I did have my own space. It was always just me and my father.” Haru smiled as she realised how different growing up for them had to have been, “It could get quite lonely though. Father had to go to work. I had to find things to pass the time.” Thinking back on her growing up, she had been quite lonely at times, but she understood why. It was no one’s fault, and she was okay with that.

“You think so?” Haru brightened up at the idea that his parents would love to meet her, she wanted to make a good impression. She wanted them to like her. “I can’t wait to meet to them, I’m sure they are lovely… ahh.” Feeling herself blush even more as she came to the realisation, he had called her pretty. “A-Ah… you think I.. I-I.” Fiddling with her sleeves as she glanced over at him, her heart hammered away in her chest as she looked at him.

“You think I am pretty?” Haru felt her voice go incredibly high at the last part of the sentence, as she finally managed to get her words out after flustering. She felt her cheeks were still red, she felt ever so warm and slightly embarrassed but in a good way.
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"I'm sure you would be a good help, even if you can't do the hard parts. Most of them are without relatives and love to chat," Chunjiro tells her, putting the water on to boil. He was always taught to respect his elders, so it is sympathy and sadness that he approaches his job--he couldn't be more happy to serve them, but to see their lonely lives hurts his heart. Often, he wishes he could lend them a few of his siblings as live-in aides, but it's nothing more than a wish. They all have their own duties, just as he has his.

"Of course. I'll bring you along, alright?" he says, smiling at Haru. Working together. Before the wedding, an acquaintance had warned him of the possible problems that come along with marriage, but Chunjiro simply can't see where he's coming from. Having Haru by his side sounds like a dream. True, father and mother often work apart, but in this case, it's fine to keep her close to him, right?

…It's strange. Maybe it's because he's never had something all to himself that he's feeling this way?

"Lonely…" Chunjiro echoes, thinking yet again of his clients. Haru would probably fit right in. As for Chunjiro, his house was always full to the brim, so even if he wanted to be lonely, his siblings and duties wouldn't let him. There was always more work to do, more training in the dojo, more caring for the younger ones… Of course, as Yua and Maika got older, it got less difficult. The oldest sister, Yua is a beautiful, educated, and well-mannered girl, so much so that Chunjiro has begun to worry about the number of suitors vying for her hand. Maika still has much childness in her, but her and Yua are close, and Maika has begun to follow in her older sister's example.

Now that I'm here, you needn't be lonely ever again. If only Chunjiro had the courage to say those words! As always, he is too scared of offending her, of making things worse… But, even if he can't tell her, he will surely show her. Actions speak louder than words, as the saying goes. And Chunjiro has faith in his hands, if nothing else.

You think I am pretty? Chunjiro's first reaction is to stop, drop everything, and run away, but seeing as that isn't an option, he simply freezes up. Does he? Wait, of course he does! More than pretty, she's cute, but that's somehow more embarrassing. This is find, he's told ladies they were pretty before--yeah right, when he was like six--

"-es. Yes. You are. Very pretty." His words are stiff, but Chunjiro hates lying, so it had to be said. Plus, girls like compliments, right? If Haru is happy, then, well… perhaps the embarrassment is worth it… Turning his red face to the boiling pot, Chunjiro begins rationing out rice--doubled, this time, though Haru might not eat so much as him...?
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Haru watched as he put the water to the boil, and she couldn’t help but keep the bright smile on her face as he agreed to bring her along. It would be nice to get out and meet these elders he liked to help, she wanted to be a part of his world and she hoped he wanted the same with her. It was quite sad to hear about the fact they were without relatives and she could only assume that they could feel quite lonely and she knew what that felt like especially growing up as an only child.

However, the whole ordeal of him calling her pretty only furthered her embarrassment especially when he confirmed it. It feels nice… to be complimented. Called pretty by him… my husband. Thinking to herself as she fiddled with her hands finding herself watching him as he prepared the rice. It was strange, she always knew she was going to be married by him that her whole life had been planned out for her. A part of her had been worried, of course there had been stories of arranged marriages that didn’t work. Slightly darker tales that she didn’t want to think of but Chunjiro was different.

I could never picture him hurting me… he is sweet. Caring. Of course, this will work. Though as soon as she thought how it could work her face heated up, flush from embarrassment because a normal working relationship meant other things. Things that she was still embarrassed about.

Coughing slightly as she tried to distract herself her attention fell back onto the rice, “O-Oh! I think that might be a little much… well for me, I guess. Ah b-but we are cooking for two!” Although her eyes widened and she held her hands up shaking them, “N-Not like that! No no. I meant us. Gosh… I’m a little awkward… sorry. Ah…” Back peddling her words as she felt herself get flustered once more, she had never been so nervous, it was strange that she was now sharing her life with someone else.

“W-What I mean is… I don’t eat too much.” Haru stated trying to get her words out, biting the bottom of her lip hoping he wouldn’t think she was a complete and utter fool. I hope he doesn’t think I’m a fool…

“Can I… can I help with anything?” Feeling rather hot under the collar she wanted to help with something to distract herself from feeling so embarrassed. At least if she was doing something it would provide her with the perfect opportunity to focus her mind on whatever task it was.
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"A-ah! Is it!?" Startled, Chunjiro drops the cup measure into the boiling water, then frantically tries to grab it back, wincing when the water is too hot (of course it's too hot! It's boiling!). Thankfully, he manages to pull it out without too much injury, courtesy of the thick callouses on his palms. Looks like all that training was good for something after all. Thanks, dad.

"G-got it," he pants, and Haru flutters around per usual, running away with her words until they run away from her. Chunjiro watches, but whatever Haru was embarrassed by completely passes him by.

"Cooking for two? Yeah, aren't we?" he asks, confused, before replacing the measuring cup and the bag of rice to their proper places. "Well, if there's any extra, we can just make onigiri out of it, or something." In his house, any leftovers were regaled to the twins, who were in their growing phases and tended to always be hungry. Chunjiro got used to his siblings' hungry stares, even Reo's, which he always tried to hide... Chunjiro smiles fondly at the memory. He misses them, loud and chaotic as they were.

"I think that's it. While we wait for it to cook, why don't I give you the tour?" he suggests, putting out his hand and hoping Haru doesn't spontaneously combust. He doesn't get why she was flustered, but he's starting to get used to her funny way of fumbling and backtracking sentences. He doesn't mind it, since she always settles on the right thing in the end. And like he said, Takeru talks way more than Haru does.



After a short but nonetheless eventful house tour, the rice is cooked enough to eat and the two enjoy a good (if slightly bland) breakfast before heading out. On a normal day, Chunjiro would have already been out the door, but the addition of Haru completed flipped his daily routine. Surely, though, his clients won't mind the small delay--this is only the first day after the wedding, who is to say Chunjiro can't enjoy it with his new wife? They will understand.

--That's not to say everything went perfectly. But he can keep that part a secret. Setting his dishes in the sink, Chunjiro surveys his tiny home one more before grabbing his sword and sheath--more for appearance than anything else, but he never leaves the house without securing it to his belt. It makes him feel secure, and besides, civil service is also one of a samurai's duties. If there was to be a threat to the village, himself, or Haru, he would be ready.

"Shall we go? Ka-san?" he addresses her formally, holding his arm out for her. Haru, like him, is most likely familiar with the market, but as it's their first time appearing in public as a married couple, Chunjiro wants to show everyone all is well. Especially his father. He can be scary, and Chunjiro has never really gotten rid of wanting to please him. "I was thinking we would visit the stalls to get groceries for my clients, then drop them off and introduce you. I have some yard work after that, so if you'd like to shop for your--ourselves, please feel free."
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Thankfully she hadn’t made a complete fool of herself, not yet anyway. Of course, she had embarrassed herself, flustered over her words but somehow, she managed to get them all out in the end. It was nice for her though, cooking together and spending more time with him. It was already vastly different to how it would have been back home for her. Haru would usually do all the cooking, ensure the food was ready for her and her father. The food was always prepared alone, she had never cooked with another before and in fact she enjoyed it.

The house tour was much needed and also put Haru at ease because she now knew her way around the house. It would still take some time to get used too, but she could roughly remember were everything was. It did feel strange that this was now her home going forward, but she would get used to it. It had only been one day after all.

Breakfast had been simple; nothing had gone wrong and Haru was starting to feel much better in her new surroundings. The food was good, and she couldn’t help but smile to herself at the fact it had been made together, they had done something together and it hadn’t been a complete mess. In truth Haru was worried, she didn’t want to make a bad impression on her new husband, and she was always conscious of that. If she made a bad impression, he would no doubt tell his family, her father would find out and it would bring great shame and she didn’t want that.

Glancing over at her new husband when he addressed her formally, she smiled looking at the arm he held out for her. Wasting no time, she rose to her feet and took his arm holding onto him gently, cheeks warm as she walked beside him. It was exciting going to the market, she loved to browse and take a look at the new wares or items. “I would like that.” Smiling at the idea of gathering items for his clients, it meant she could help him with his work at least which was something she had wanted to do.

“O-Oh… yeah. Ourselves.” Giggling at the sound of it as she looked at the path ahead, “Did you want anything in particular? I’ll pick us up some vegetables! If that's okay?” Eyes were bright alongside the smile on her face as she looked over at Chunjiro seeking his approval for the shopping.
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"Yes, feel free," Chunjiro answers, enjoying the feeling of walking side-by-side with his new wife. He hopes this can continue, that Haru never feels like things must be rushed. Baby steps. They'll get to know each other like this, in a steady and laid-back fashion.

Walking down the dirt road to the market, Chunjiro makes sure to stand tall and watch his posture; even now, the curious gazes of the townspeople are upon them, although they are much less noticeable than the ones at the wedding. Rather than being the main attraction, this is mere curiosity, and Chunjiro can take comfort in knowing the novelty of being newly-married will pass with time. At most, Haru will have to deal with congratulations for a few days. And, with luck, no nosy questions.

"Chun-san! Nice to see you out and about!" calls Hiro, the shopkeeper of the vegetable stall, as they walk into the busy marketplace--here, the townspeople are too busy buying and selling to notice the new arrivals. Chunjiro bows respectfully, greeting him.

"Yeah! It's good to return to normal life," he says, accepting the baskets that Hiro prepares for him each week. Peeking inside, he confirms the contents: cabbage, daikon, and other fresh, green vegetables ready to be delivered to each of his clients. Despite having already eaten, he's already fantasizing about lunch, and what Haru might make for them; he's excited to see what she can do with ingredients other than rice, since she seemed so excited about cooking and buying vegetables.

"And this is your wife, eh?" Chunjiro looks up from the basket to see Hiro looking curiously at Haru. Chunjiro scrambles to introduce her.

"Y-yes! This is Haru. Haru-san, this is Hiro." It still feels weird to introduce her as his wife. He supposes it, too, will come with time. Perhaps they already know each other. Chunjiro wouldn't put it past Hiro; the shopkeeper is friendly, popular with the ladies, and good with his words. Chunjiro envies that freedom; his own words are getting jumbled quite often lately, whereas Hiro's never falter. They're been friends for a long time, despite Hiro being a few years older than him.

"Ah, well, it's nice to meet you, Oka-san," Hiro says, smiling. "I hope Chunjiro is treating you well, he's a bit of a simple guy, but I'm sure he's trying his best."

"H-Hiro!" Chunjiro blushes, hoping Haru doesn't take the words too seriously--well, he is a simple guy, but it's embarrassing to hear it said out loud! And besides, he knows she gets nervous when answering questions... Should he tell Hiro to stop? Will she be alright...? He's worrying too much, isn't he. She can take care of herself, probably.

"A-anyway, we should probably be going now," Chunjiro says cautiously, shifting the baskets around to give him a better view of his surroundings, and of Haru. "It was good talking to you, Hiro."

"You too. And Oka-san, don't forget to come back for your own groceries later~"
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Haru couldn’t help but smile as she walked alongside her new husband, she was glad he was happy with the idea of her buying more vegetables. It just felt nice the idea of her being able to go out and make some purchases, perhaps even cook for them later on when back home. Though thinking on it she was a little embarrassed at the idea of cooking for him because a part of her doubted herself, what if she did a bad job? Worse what if she somehow poisoned him food? Thoughts swirling around as she walked with him, her self-confidence taking a bit of a dive.

Thankfully they weren’t the centre of attention, not like at the wedding which had been awkward. Although she could feel the curious gaze on them walking, she knew it was miles better than when it had been all about them and being the centre of attention. Smiling as they approached the shopkeeper, she gave a small smile bowing and a little wave signalling her own hello. She had bought from Hiro before, often getting in supplies for her and her father, so she at least knew him somewhat at an acquaintance’s capacity.

Glancing over Chunjiros shoulder she could see the contents of the baskets that held a various amount of vegetables inside, it began to make her think on what kind of vegetables she would purchase for later. Maybe she could make a nice lunch for them, after all his hard work and helping the village she was certain he’d want to enjoy a good meal.

Chuckling softly at his introduction she smiled over at Chunjiro before nodding towards Hiro, “A-Ah o-of course he is, nothing but a... eh gentleman.” Even though she couldn’t help but laugh at his comment on him being a simple man as the reaction it spurred from Chunjiro was adorable. The way he would blush at the comments it made it hard to think that he was a Samurai because it felt like he was a big softie at heart. Not that she was complaining.

“Of course, I will return! You better save me the best-looking vegetables.” Haru grinned giving a small wave before looking over at Chunjiro happily following along. Keeping pace with him she felt herself relax a little, settling into her new life was a bit strange at first but she was happy and that’s all that truly mattered. “What are your favourite vegetables? I’d like to make something you will really enjoy later, to express my gratitude.” Finding her voice go a little high at the end as a tinge of pink graced her cheeks.
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