Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto

"Time after time, history demonstrates that when people don't want to believe something, they have enormous skills of ignoring it altogether."
Jim Butcher, Dead Beat

Ino stood on a hill overlooking the graveyard, her blonde hair whipping in the breeze. Holding her step-children's hands, the trio watched Naruto cry as he talked to Temari's tombstone. Over the years since Temari's death it had become a family ritual for Ino to stand here with the children from Naruto's first marriage while he visited their mother.

Looking down, she saw Minato and Karura crying and pulled the two into her arms to comfort them. They might not be her children by birth, but she loved them like they were and they knew no other mother. Humming a tune to calm them she reflected on the past.

After Temari's tragic death in the Fourth Great Shinobi War, Naruto had drawn away from everyone other then his children and thrown himself into his work as the Rokudaime Hokage. Most of the village had been concerned, outwardly he still seemed the open and friendly young man everyone knew but his eyes were dark and everyone could see the pain her carried.

Ino had made it her mission to draw him from his pain and had planned thoroughly. With Naruto, it was never about him, it would always be about what he held precious so she had volunteered her services as a permanent babysitter for his twins. When he had eventually accepted, her plans could proceed but she needed to be careful. Naruto would never accept someone just replacing Temari so Ino had filled her stories to the twins with heroic descriptions of their mother.

It hadn't taken long for Minato and Karura to grow attached to the woman that cared for them while their father was at work. It was during this time that Ino had also fallen in love with the two energetic children, not something she had planned on but not a distressing event for her.

Naruto had noticed the closeness between his children and Ino but when he asked the two about it, he'd been relieved to hear that Ino was telling them stories about their mother. It was something that he couldn't do without a great deal of pain so he was grateful to Ino for doing it.

Over time, this had led to Naruto spending more and more of his time with Ino and his children and slowly the pain of Temari's death had receded. It still hurt, especially when he saw flashes of her in their children but eventually he'd decided that Temari wouldn't have wanted him to stop his life simply because she had died.

As the only woman that interacted with Naruto in any way other then business, Ino had a great advantage over the others that wanted a life with the young Hokage. Sensing the change in his attitude, she'd played the advantage ruthlessly and over time, Naruto found himself spending less time with Ino and his children and more with just Ino with his children's enthusiastic support.

For nearly a year, Ino and Naruto had dated but eventually little Minato had asked his father when Ino would be their new mommy. The simple question had thrown Naruto into a short-lived panic but he'd recovered and decided his son had a point.

Always a prankster at heart, Naruto had called a village meeting and standing on the Hokage's balcony, he'd proposed to Ino to thunderous applause. Even Gaara had given his quiet blessing for the new marriage. His sister's death had scarred him almost as much as Naruto but on his infrequent visits he'd seen how his niece and nephew adored the blonde and her stories of Temari had even caused him an occasional tear.

The wedding was a village holiday, presided over by Tsunade and attended by all of Naruto's fellow Kage. Ino knew she'd looked simply stunning in the white dress, Naruto's dropped jaw had been evidence enough.

Breaking back to the present, she found Naruto walking up the hill towards her and she smiled. Her life was pretty good, she was married to the Hokage, she had two step-children that she simply adored that loved her back and she was now carrying a child of her own.

Patting her children gently, she stood and let herself be swept into a crushing embrace by her husband. These days were hard on the family but for her happiness she could afford one day of remembrance. Her eyes darkened slightly, not that Naruto or the children could see. Yes, her life was good but on this day, she sometimes regretted sliding the kunai into Temari's back. When the children joined in the hug, she smiled, she didn't regret it that much. She was a kunoichi, honor was for samurai.

"You know how confusing the whole good-evil concept is for me."

Jim Butcher, Proven Guilty


So, little future what-if based in the Council's Folly universe. I'm working on the next chapter but last week was hell and I've just got things sorted out. Expect an update sometime in the next few days.