The war had ended, peace had been established.
Team Seven was once again whole, with the addition of Yamato and Sai.
The Hidden Villages were no longer against one another, Naruto had accomplished his ambition of becoming Hokage, Sasuke had become the Otokage of the newly established Sound Village and Sakura?
Well, she had finally surpassed her mentor and gained epithet The World's Strongest Woman. She had restored the Land of Whirlpools from scratch before being picked for the position of Uzushiogakure's leader.
Even with Team Seven being apart more often than not, they managed to follow the rules to the letter and break them at the same time with their combined efforts, allowing them to meet up often and switch their leaderships roles often. The three had surpassed the Sannin, earning them a whole new tittle. The Exalted Three.
They had shared a good laugh at the name. But that wasn't all, they were even known as "Team Kage" due to all three of them being a Kage.
Naruto had settled down with Hinata, which led to Sakura and Shikamaru winning a huge amount of money for being the only two to correctly predict when they'd become official. The other members of the Rookie nine had all settled down as well, but it would be obvious as to who each one had settled down with.
Sakura and Sasuke were engaged after Sakura had finally got over the fact that Sasuke had tried to kill her twice. She would finally be able to realize her childhood dream of marrying the Sasuke Uchiha and settling down. She had earned her happy ending.
Sadly, fate wasn't so generous.
For on the day of their wedding Sakura Haruno had died. Ironically, it was a heart attack.
Only, she had never died. She had never gotten her happy ending, because all along it was an illusion. The happiest moment of her life had never happened, it was a very cruel illusion. Almost making her wish she had stayed asleep. Because she didn't want to see the broken world she had awakened to.
Green eyes that were drained of life stared at the red moon above her, feeling empty.
She didn't want to accept that after so much efforts the war had been lost.
That she would be all alone.
Maybe she knew from the moment Sasuke had asked her hand in marriage that it was all an illusion. Because, why would Sasuke choose her? She wasn't anything special really. Sure, she was strong as hell, but he had said it himself. She was an annoyance to him.
Besides what part of her had actually believed that Sasuke would let go of revenge and join Naruto?
Well, she couldn't say anything after all. Because her memories of the war was hazy at best.
"Y-you're..." Sakura stared wide eyed at the legendary entity standing in front of her. "The Sage of the Six paths..." she breathed out in amazement.
After almost six months of hiding from the Rabbit Goddess and avoiding any enemies she had finally find something.
Something that could help.
"Correct, that was one of my many tittles," the Sage gently smiled at her.
Amazement was soon replaced with anger once the pink-haired shinobi realized that the being before her was the one responsible for everything that had happened to her and her friends.
"This is all your fault!" she accused in a hiss, she wouldn't want to alert the enemies of her presence after all. "If you hadn't invented Ninjutsu, none of this would've-"
"Not ninjutsu, Ninshū! My Ninshū was created to inspire hope. Do not confuse it with ninjutsu, which was made to create war!" Hagoromo cut the kunoichi off sternly.
Sakura glared. "It doesn't matter, because Ninjutsu was derived from Ninshu, so ultimately your supposed creation to bring peace had ended the world you sough to save!"
To prove her words, she motioned around them to the eerie trees surrounding them.
"It was never my-"
Sakura had to resist the urge to just pummel the entity down with her fists. She didn't want anyone to find her.
"Even if it wasn't your intention, this is the result of your creation. Do you know how many lives your creation has ruined? The Uchiha clan, the Senju clan, Obito, Kakashi-sensei, Sasuke-kun, mine...and Naruto's. So stop denying the fact that you didn't have a hand in ruining countless of people's lives and man up!"
"I pride myself in creating Ninshu," Hagoromo finally stated. "You are right, child. Regardless of my intentions I created Ninshu and taught it to others believing in the ideal of peace, however my creation had been turned into Ninjutsu."
"Hmph. So what are you here for? To finish your mother's deed?" Sakura asked, mildly hoping that it was the case.
She was tired of living in solitude, the only reason she hadn't taken her own life was because she couldn't face her friends and family if she did so.
"No, I am here to make a proposition."
Sakura raised an eyebrow, "Well, if it isn't something like giving me an opportunity to prevent this situation, then I refuse."
"Luckily, it is."
Hagoromo sighed. "I have always believed that somewhere along the lines my sons' reincarnations would find a solution to bring peace. I had high hopes for both Naruto Uzumaki and Sasuke Uchiha, but alas my mother's will Zetsu had meddled and now the two have let me down. I was prepared to give up one my ideal, but then I saw a cherry blossom tree."
Sakura raised an eyebrow at the statement. What did cherry blossoms have to do with anything?
"I recalled a kunoichi by the name of Sakura Haruno that stood by both Sasuke Uchiha and Naruto Uzumaki's side without any personal interests beyond the fact that she loved them and cared for them enough to throw away anything just to help them realize their dreams."
Sakura frowned, "I don't remember ever-"
"For example when you were going to raise your hand during the written exams of your Chunin exams just so Naruto Uzumaki's dream wouldn't be crushed or when you were ready to betray your friends and family to follow Sasuke Uchiha."
Sakura's eyes widened, those two memories seemed like a lifetime ago to her. A lifetime ago when she was a little girl who had no idea what she was doing in a world meant for those that were ready to do what it takes to live.
Hagoromo smiled gently. "You truly live up to your namesake."
"B-but I'm weak!" Sakura protested.
"Oh? Haven't you surpassed Tsunade Senju and become the leader of Uzushiogakure?"
"B-but that was part of the Genjutsu!"
"The thing about this Genjutsu is that the illusions has to be realistic, so by extent it would have been possible for you to accomplish both feats had the war had not been lost."
"Regardless, I'm the weakest link."
"Weak? You might seem weak compared to super strong ninjas like Naruto, but have you forgotten that you could take on most inhabits of your Village? You're strong, however you're often compared to stronger ninjas that make you fade in the background."
"Still, Naruto or Sasuke would have been the perfect choice."
"I'm afraid not. The two are the current reincarnations of my sons, imagine what would happen if they go back in the past where the other two reincarnations are? It would have dangerous drawbacks. Also, Naruto is an Uzumaki while Sasuke is an Uchiha. You however have no clan. The perfect third party to ensure that peace will be achieved."
"...I..don't think I'm strong enough," Sakura finally murmured.
"Then travel to the Hidden Villages, you have three years. Learn as much as you can in order to help your wards from an era before yours. After three years I shall bestow upon you a gift of sorts and ensure that you will not be easily beaten by anyone."
"W-wait, this is happening too fast!" Sakura finally protested letting her insecurity show, "What if I mess up? What if Naruto isn't born?"
Hagoromo paused, "I assure you that all your loved ones will be born again eventually. They might not go under the same name, but they will be able to live in the world you create. Whether it be a peaceful one or one worse than this one."
Well, that wasn't pressuring at all.
"No pressure, eh?" Sakura joked a bit.
"What is your choice?" Hagoromo questioned.
Sakura let out a small laugh.
(It was the most bitter sound Hagoromo had ever heard.)
"I wouldn't exactly call the only option I have to choose a choice," the shinobi wryly said.