|Princess Without Her Castle
Author: dance of isis PM
The things you are, the things you love, the things you never want to lose ... it's all in the memory. [sasusaku]Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Sakura H. & Sasuke U. - Chapters: 3 - Words: 9,210 - Reviews: 16 - Favs: 19 - Follows: 24 - Updated: 05-11-08 - Published: 11-02-07 - id: 3870767
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
PRINCESS WITHOUT HER CASTLE.
the things you are, the things you love, the things you never want to lose...
The word resounded in her head like a garbled instrumental, all saxophones and trumpets and the occasional off-tune violin.
Haruno Sakura remembered Konoha in the same way that she remembered how to breathe. She had seen Konoha from the other side of steel walls, through darkness and through a haze of blazing infernos, drifting, falling, fading—
(Sasuke-kun, what are you doing?)
The night had been black. Then the dark figure on the hill, red eyes glinting—Sasuke there beside her—
(Sasuke-kun, is that—?)
—and then there was a flash, electricity, and she found herself running and—
Sakura remembered. She remembered the feeling of rain against her skin, remembered the screaming and the fear—
But it remained in the darkest part of her mind, locked away, chained, forgotten.
It was there but she refused to relive it, to see it again, vivid colours and the blur of static and then crimson soaking through her shirt. Sakura refused to remember anything about that time, and it replayed in her sub-conscious over and over, soaking up through her dreams—
Haruno Sakura finally stepped outside the hospital, into the harsh light of day.
The ninja princess of Konoha is back, it seemed to scream, though she didn't hear it.
"Sakura-chan's getting out today," Naruto commented offhandedly as he parried a chakra attack from the opposite end of the field.
"Hn," responded his training partner, launching another attack towards the blonde boy. He sighed, and then paused. "…what of it?"
"Well," Naruto ceased parrying and scratched his head sheepishly, trying to reason his way out of the suddenly awkward situation. He drew a blank. "Aren't you gonna go see her? I mean, almost a year of treatment and—"
Sasuke stared blankly. Although Naruto knew that the Uchiha comprehended every single insinuation he made, because Sasuke was Sasuke and he was above confusion. He just preferred to ignore certain conversation topics entirely. Especially when they centred around her. The forbidden subject. The pain. The memories.
"Look," the blonde attempted. "Just go say hi or something, will you?"
"No point," Sasuke responded gruffly, making swift movements with his hands to begin the training session over again.
He pretended that the comment didn't bother him as much as it did, although Naruto could easily see the beads of sweat forming on his brow. The way his jutsu seemed fractionally slower than normal, and the way the Sharingan flashed briefly behind his eyes.
"Teme," Naruto enunciated slowly. "I know what happened, okay? Everyone does. Well, except for—"
"Shut it, dobe," the Uchiha snapped, regarding him coldly. "Let's just train."
Sometimes Naruto wished that he had an access key to the boy's mind, so he could at least gain a general understanding of how he thought; Sasuke thought in so many layers and with such a complexity that it was simply frustrating.
Just drop it.
The Hokage, Sakura decided, was an influential woman. She tried to remember her name, tried to remember the way her lips moved. The plague on the desk read 'Tsunade' and she was smirking but Sakura was trying, just trying, to bring up something, anything—
(Sakura, I don't want you getting involved. I know, as a medic, you––)
"Now, Sakura," the well-endowed (Sakura was slightly envious) woman raised an eyebrow at her. "How are you feeling?"
"I'm … I'm fine," said Sakura.
What am I supposed to say? raged the inner side of herself, something which she had grown accustomed to all over again. That everything's perfectly okay, that I'm just peachy? Right.
Her inner self seemed to be debating something. How would it ever be okay?
Sakura sighed to herself, picking at the hem of her dress. It was her 'favourite' dress apparently, an unflattering shade of red, and slightly too small for her. Her mother had beamed, insisting—oh Sakura dear, it looks lovely, you'll wear it, won't you?—and the smile on her face had been too strained, too broken, for Sakura to ignore it.
She tightened her grip on the worn fabric. Did I really used to be that predictable…?
"Of course, you're our best medic, to be blunt," Tsunade frowned. "You were our best medic. It has been discussed between council members whether you should be reintegrated into the Chunin program for a trial period to see if you can … get the hang of it again, so to speak," Tsunade paused, tapping elongated fingernails against the oak of the desk. "Only if you're willing. And apparently you told your parents that—"
"—I don't know if I can be a ninja," Sakura interjected quickly. "It's just that—"
It's so surreal. How could I ever be that strong?
Cha! Just kick ass, you idiot! screamed the voluptuous and rowdy voice, raising to new and exciting decibels in her mind. Sakura involuntarily winced, staring down at ivory hands. There were calluses and scars from past missions, a past life that seemed to almost exist in a different reality.
"In my opinion, I think you'd be able to pick things up rather quickly. We would have a special training program, specifically focusing on medical jutsus and the basics you'll need for everyday use. It's a good opportunity, one that shouldn't be turned down because of fear," Tsunade tried to assess, to evaluate, but Sakura was hard to read. The girl seemed to exist in her own world. Perhaps she'd have to ask Kakashi to talk with her.
"I just … everyone told me that I had been," Sakura pondered slowly. "But I can't really imagine myself … y'know, being one. I don't have the…"
She'd reverted, noted the Hokage. The psychiatrists had mentioned it would be possible for her to revert back to what she'd been before she'd graduated from the academy; on the sidelines, with all that potential and no proper training to back it. No knowledge, no power, no confidence. Weak.
Sakura squeezed her eyes shut, willing herself to recall anything, anything at all from training she'd once endured.
(C'mon, Sakura-chan, use genjutsu! It'll throw him off! Go! Go!)
"Sorry," apologised the girl quickly. "Can I … can I think about it, maybe? I dunno. It sounds sort of unrealistic. It sounds like—"
A fantasy. Make-believe. The fairytale princess girl fighting evil and saving the world from big bad monsters. Could I really…?
Tsunade sighed, feeling a familiar ache somewhere around her abdomen; regret. At one point, it had been everything Sakura had, everything she knew. Her only weapon with which to prove herself. And as soon as the erratic hilarity of Sakura's words died down, it was replaced with the sort of self-destructive sadness that she was more accustomed to.
"Is that so?" she asked slowly.
Sakura took in a deep breath, exhaling noisily as she wrung her hands. It was as though she was moving in a trance, meeting with people who knew her but who stuck to her memory and then slipped away again. Forgotten. Tsunade, Tsunade, Tsunade, she chanted in her mind, but it probably wouldn't do much good. She could memorise the name, but it didn't memorise the person.
"I'm sorry?" she hazarded.
"Why should you be? What happened isn't your fault," Tsunade said pleasantly.
Sakura bit her lip. Her parents had skirted around the issue, claiming that it was not worth remembering, that it was what made her forget, that it wasn't important. Some of the doctors had mentioned an 'ordeal', a trauma-induced coma from certain 'experiences' yet she hadn't ever heard anyone directly talk about what happened.
Not to her face.
"…what… did happen?" Sakura made sure to sound feeble and pleading.
"I wasn't there," the Hokage pretended to be busily inspecting some files, and then looked up. Sakura was donning her infamous 'bug-eyed' expression, which she fondly remembered from training sessions just before she had pounded the poor girl with concrete or perhaps a tree trunk.
"You should ask someone who was," Tsunade added. Hint, hint.
Sakura did know the insinuation here, and frowned.
Her parents had explained to her that she had befriended two boys; Uzumaki Naruto and Uchiha Sasuke. They had offered she see them, but Sakura had refused. I don't know them, but they know me, was her defence. She did know them, but she didn't remember them, said the doctors. There's a difference.
(Sasuke-kun, is that—?)
"H-hai," Sakura nodded, standing and transferring her gaze to the floorboards. "I'm sorry, Hokage-sama, but my parents are expecting me for lunch and I promised them that I would—"
After a year of her parents helping her through her therapy, she's come to love and regard them as though she's known them all her life, Tsunade mused. Would she do the same for lost friends?
"You're free to go, Sakura."
Naruto pouted. He had tried, for the umpteenth time, to convince Sasuke that visiting their pink-haired ex-teammate who neither of them had seen in a year was a good idea. Of course, Naruto was aware that Sakura's parents would probably not allow them to, as were 'their daughter's wishes'. But Sasuke was an Uchiha. Everyone in the village adored him.
Sasuke was the only one who would be able to get through Sakura's wide forehead.
"Why not? You're just making it worse for yourself!" protested the blonde. "You're thinking that, okay, I'll just live in sin. But teme, it doesn't work like that. You gotta work for happiness, sure, but seriously, you ain't doing a thing! Believe it!"
Sasuke stared at him, cautiously blank. "…whatever, dobe." This isn't my problem anymore. It's out of my control.
Naruto sighed. Why couldn't it just—?
"I won't ask you for ramen for the next year?" he tried.
"…I said no."
Sakura looked around her bedroom in distaste. Every inch of it had that vile red colour plastered somewhere, and all the photos lining one wall depicted two boys and herself, and she didn't want to know––
(Sasuke-kun! Naruto! What are you guys doing? Hurry up!)
Why can't they just leave me alone? her inner self growled. She sunk into her bed, hugging her knees to her chest and shivering. Her parents were downstairs, preparing her 'favourite' lunch and tonight they would take her to her 'favourite' performance. She wanted to yell and scream; you don't know me! I'm not the Sakura you love! but that wasn't exactly the truth.
She had stayed the same, but everyone else had changed. Everything else she found she delighted in as much as her parents professed she would, and she hated them for it.
I don't want you to know me. I don't want people to know me!
…I just want to be able to know myself.
She glanced at the pictures. On the back of one that was lying on the mantel, in hastily scrawled handwriting, was 'Team Seven! Sakura, Sasuke and Naruto! Friends forever!'. It was her own handwriting.
She threw the picture as far away from her as she could, and watched it flop feebly unto the wooden floor.
Her hometown. She had never lived anywhere else. And yet she couldn't even fathom one memory of it, one time of happiness she'd spent—
(No! Stop tickling! Stop it! Aagh, mercy, mercy!)
The doctors had termed it bluntly. Move on, and start a new life.
How the hell can I when everyone wants me to be ME?
Tsunade had sent her a pass into the ninja medical facility, in the hopes that she'd come and try to 'spread her magic'. Sakura flung the pass into the trashcan, hoping that emphasised the point that she didn't want to be a ninja. Mastering jutsu, performing works of splendour, fighting off enemy intruders; none of it fitted with her perception of herself. It was a jigsaw puzzle that had lost its pieces.
She knew that, somewhere, she was thrilled by the possibility that maybe she could remember. Maybe, maybe—maybe one day she would wake up, and be Haruno Sakura again. The medic. The teammate. The ninja.
"Sakura, honey," her mother poked her head around the door, frowning a little. "Would you go into town and get me some vegetables? I've run out of a few ingredients for the stir-fry."
"Go … into town?" Sakura was blank.
"It's only at the end of the street," assured her mother. "You'll be fine, dear. Just get these items, please?" Sakura still looked unsure, so she appealed to her guilty side with, "For me?"
Sakura sighed, reaching for her shoes. "Sure, whatever." At least it'll take my mind off things.
(Sakura, can you go to the shops, please? Thanks!)
Sasuke trudged down the street, eyes glued to the ground. The heat of Konoha had always annoyed him. However, the wind did not understand the concept of 'cease and desist'. It fluttered past him, blowing petals off of the cherry blossom trees and causing them to nest in his spikes of raven hair. He groaned.
Stop it, he commanded the higher powers, hoping they would listen.
He shook his head. Why should he worry about her? She had chosen to separate herself from Naruto and him, and he had accepted it. After all, what had happened was—
He stopped himself. No. I won't. I can't.
It had been a year since thoughts of what had happened had crossed his mind, and in that year he had promised to forget about Sakura and everything else. He found it ironic, though, that he had the choice to forget and that was what was making it hardest of all—
End of the street, huh?
Sakura looked around her at the assortment and jumble of different stores, none of them seeming to stock the items she needed. Her grip tightened around the paper that was balled up in her fist, and she pleaded mentally that someone, anyone, would point her in the right direction without her having to ask.
Just go FIND it, ya big wuss! Cha!
Inner-Sakura, as she had officially dubbed 'the voice', clanged around in her head like a badly played drum set. She looked down at her white sandals, feigning interest, before someone who was similarly staring down at his shoes walked straight into her.
"Oh—!" she almost tripped, but a hand snaked around to grab her wrist as she toppled forwards, and when she looked up, she was staring straight into the onyx eyes of those pictures in her room.
"Th—" she paused, stopped, and choked on the air around her. Sasuke. She knew the name to the person, but not the person. She shivered in his grip. It was familiar, tantalising, but—
(Sasuke-kun! What are you doing?)
"…Sakura," he addressed curtly.
Haruno Sakura remembered things, but they lay forgotten in depths that had been submerged. Her world was a lost dream, her life a mess of everything that had been and that could've been. Sakura was a girl who had possibilities that had been lost in transit. Sakura was broken, missing pieces of herself, the girl who was once whole.
The 'ninja princess' of Konoha; she had been the doe-eyed, pink-haired girl who had risen through the ranks with intellect and a mastering of genjutsu. Amazing chakra control. Sakura did not want to be that princess, that person, did not want to have that life.
But that life chased her through her dreams, through reality, and right now she wished that she could just remember.
...it's all in the memory.
A/N: Don't own Naruto. (Yes, I edited this chapter slightly.)--I like it much better now.