AN: Continuing from exactly where we left off in Chapter 2. Please forgive the choppiness and my general rusty writing with this one. It was hard to eek out enough time to work on it!
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Madara couldn't tear his eyes away from the children.
The spitting image of his own baby brothers peered back at him from their mother's side, calm and wary, yet trusting in her abilities completely. To love them, to protect them, to know what to do—and with the confidence to do it, no matter what 'it' entailed. This was their warrior mother and she needed no royal regalia to dominate her battles. Her presence alone would overwhelm a lesser foe. The children were all the motivation she needed to engage in any conflict, and they knew she would never falter or fail them. This was their space, and she the one true ruler of it.
This was their family home.
They felt unconditionally safe here.
Yet they innately understood that he was not safe. That he was changing that until-now unconquerable quality of their life.
It rushed through him. This was why he was only allowed to visit at scheduled times. This was why he had been escorted at all times in the village. This was—
With sudden clarity, Madara remembered the moment from several days' past when he first arrived in Leaf and faced off against Izuna in these same rooms.
"This is a family matter," replied Madara.
A strangled gasp escaped Sakura's lips.
Sakura's eyes shot to Kakashi and she paled so suddenly Madara nearly reached for her on instinct, but Kakashi was already there.
So, this was why she had panicked so visibly. This was what had struck her to her heart.
"Why was I not notified of their birth, for the registry?" repeated Madara calmly.
"They aren't Uchiha. They are Haruno," said Izuna.
"Where is Kakashi?" asked Sakura, her focus shifting. She shook her head slightly and raised her free hand, the one not holding the baby to her breast. "Find him," she said, turning her head slightly and speaking over her shoulder.
With barely a shift in air, a contingent of the invisible guard that protected Sakura at all times disappeared from the shadows.
It was then that Sakura turned her full glare on Madara.
"You are no longer welcome in Leaf," she said with cold, even patience. "A messenger has already been dispatched to your guard to advise them to leave within the hour." She held his calculating gaze. "You will never return to Leaf. Unless you are prepared to be received as an enemy."
"You can't separate me from my clan," said Madara.
Sakura ignored him as she walked to the crib on the far side of the room, shifted the curtains and lifted out the dark-haired child from within to balance the toddler on her hip. Surrounded by her children, she barely glanced at him as she left, the oldest, the twins, following her footsteps obediently.
At the very last moment the pair looked at each other, then back between Izuna and Madara, before disappearing from the room behind Sakura.
"You live in her house," began Madara, choosing his words carefully. "You eat at her table. You raise her children. You…" He couldn't bring himself to say, 'fathered her child or possibly children'. But it was obvious to him that at least the little one in the cradle was Izuna's. The dark-haired toddler was the perfect image of a main-branch Uchiha, and Izuna was the only Uchiha who'd been in contact with Sakura within the last five years. The one tucked at Sakura's breast hadn't been visible enough for him to see the colour of their hair, so he couldn't be sure, but…
"Why did she not heal you, Izuna," asked Madara. This was it. This was why Sakura didn't trust him. This is what wasn't adding up. "It wasn't a training accident. You… To hold such a position in her personal life, she wouldn't risk you being put in a vulnerable position. It doesn't make sense. She would want you at full health at all times to be able to protect the children."
A heartbeat, then two. Then it came to Madara.
"She's punishing you."
Izuna looked away.
And she was concerned about Kakashi.
"What happened between you and Kakashi?" asked Madara. "She thinks you summoned me here to kill Kakashi. That's why she is leaving you to heal naturally. She thinks we would take the opportunity to partner together and kill him."
It clicked with such basic clarity that Madara wasn't sure whether to laugh or yell at his brother.
"The baby is Kakashi's. You're jealous of Kakashi. What did you do?..."