The Senju children rushed forward as Hagoromo entered the dance hall. He laughed and greeted each one by name. He headed over to the tree and placed his large, red bag down next to an armchair, which he then sat in.
“Calm down children, I’ve brought something for each of you,” he laughed, “Let’s go youngest to oldest, hm?”
The children cheered and sat in a semi-circle around him.
“First to Kawarama,” Hagoromo said, pulling a wrapped square box out of his bag and handing it to the ten year old, who tore into it gleefully, “A mechanical toy bird, you wind it up and it can fly short distances.”
“This is amazing! Thank you so much!” Kawarama beamed at Hagoromo, already fiddling with it.
“Next is Itama,” Hagoromo handed the twelve year old a rectangular box, “The sketchbook is bound in goatskin, and the pages are 80lbs paper.”
“Wow! Thanks!” Itama ran his hand over the book.
“Now for Tobirama,” the rectangular box was thinner, but deeper than Itama’s, and the sixteen year old slowly opened it, “It’s completely hand made.”
Tobirama carefully pulled out the nutcracker, it had long dark hair, and was wearing red armor.
“Thank you,” Tobirama said, staring down at the nutcracker.
“Hashirama, this one’s yours,” Hagoromo gave the eighteen year old a hatbox shaped present, “The teas are ones that I’ve collected in my travels.”
“They look great! Thank you!”
That night, Tobirama awoke just before midnight and snuck down to the dance hall to look at her nutcracker. Suddenly the room was filled with human sized rats and moving man-sized gingerbread men, fighting each other in battle. Tobirama spun around, trying to find a way out of the battle.
The gingerbread men noticed her first and started to converge on her, none attacking, but rather trying to get her off the battlefield. This was a distraction for them, and the rats began to eat the gingerbread men.
Tobirama grew distressed, she didn’t want any deaths on her conscious. She picked up one of the swords belonging to a fallen soldier and began to fight the rats. The still living gingerbread men started to call out advice to her.
Suddenly, tin soldiers and dolls, also human-sized, rushed forward and started to push back the rats, led by her nutcracker. The dolls pulled the injured off of the field and began to treat them.
Her nutcracker dueled the leader of the rats, who was wearing a crown. Her nutcracker’s movements were stiff, and restricted. It was because of this that he began to lose.
Enraged, Tobirama tugged her slipper off and threw it at the rat king. This knocked him off balance enough that her nutcracker was able to land a devastating blow on him, wounding him.
With a cry the remaining rats retreated, carrying off their king.
Tobirama shared savage grin with one of the tin soldiers, before turning to her nutcracker.
Instead of a nutcracker, there stood a man, the same age as Hashirama. Tobirama could only stare at him in shock.
“Lady Tobirama, my deepest thanks for breaking the curse on me, done by Kaguya, the Rat Queen,” he bowed to her, kissing the hand he had taken.
“Who are you?” Tobirama asked, bewildered.
“I am Prince Madara, as I said I was cursed by Kaguya. It was only by your act of attacking the Rat King Zetsu in my defense that the Curse was broken,” he told her, slipping her hand into the crock of his arm and leading her away from the battlefield, “Your skill with a sword is impressive, how long have you studied?”
“Never, I just couldn’t let anyone else die without trying to help. But, how did I break the Curse?” she asked, her brow furrowed.
“The Curse was that I would take the form that would be undesirable enough that none would selflessly defend me. And yet, you did. You had no idea who I was, or if I deserved your defense, and yet you did. Lady Tobirama, I know that we have not known each other for long, but would you be willing to let me court you? Hagoromo is a member of my court and can introduce me properly to your family,” Madara asked, turning to face Tobirama.
“I, that is, yes, I think that would be...nice,” Tobirama answered him. She was rewarded with a blinding grin before he swooped in and gave her a gentle kiss.