Growing Admiration: Six times Haruno Sakura loved Uchiha Sasuke and one time she didn't.

I do not own any rights to Naruto.

When Sakura was five. She decided she was in love with Uchiha Sasuke.

If asked at the time, she probably could not have provided an explanation as to why she had suddenly developed a crush for her quiet, broody classmate. Maybe it was his sullen, mysterious demeanor. Maybe it was his position as an heir to one of the founding clans of Konoha. Maybe it was just because Ino had decided she had a crush on him, and Ino was always right about everything.

Whatever the case, Sakura was now finding herself a part of the large fangirl group that stood by and giggled ferociously whenever Sasuke-kun entered a room.

Painfully aware of the size of that particular group, Sakura sought advice from the wisest woman she knew for the key to Sasuke's heart.

Pulling carefully at her mother's pant leg as she was cooking dinner one night, Sakura waited patiently until she had her full attention before she voiced her question, "Okaa-san, how do I get a boy to like me?"

Haruno Mebuki chuckled quietly at the sound of her husband choking on his tea at their dinner table.

"My, my," she mused, mirth still lilting her entire voice, "is it time for such things already?" Kneeling at her daughter's yet-tiny frame, she reached for her chubby hands and asked, "Well, what makes your father happy?"

Confused, Sakura's bright emerald eyes glanced towards Haruno Kizashi, seated in his normal place at the head of their little family table, sneaking her mother's onigiri, despite the fact that dinner was on the way.

"Food! Otou-san loves Okaa-san's cooking!"

Eyes twinkling in delight, Mebuki nodded proudly. "If you like, I will help you make an extra bento box for your man in the morning, Sakura-chan!"

So, the very next day, Sakura woke up bright and early, and, as promised, her mother assisted her in preparing an extra bento just for Sasuke.

Struggling under the doubled weight of her bag, Sakura marched to school, proudly bearing the way to Sasuke's heart, practicing what she was planning on saying to him the whole way.

However, just as she walked through the front gate of the school, she was greeted with the sight of Sasuke standing and speaking to what she assumed was his brother, for he was the one that usually brought him to school, and was caught completely off guard.

Hurriedly divesting the bento box from her backpack, she rushed to his side while she had the chance and none of his other fangirls were in sight. Sakura carefully cleared her throat when she was but a few steps away from his side.

Sasuke turned and looked at her as if she was a rather unfortunate bug at the bottom of his shoe. Gulping in fear, she held the bento box out to him and blurted rather awkwardly, "Sasuke-kun! Please accept this bento box I made you for lunch!"

The sneer that had been on his face was replaced with full blown disgust. "I don't eat any bento but my mother's!" Just like that, he turned on his heel and stormed into the school, muttering something about crazy fangirls the whole way.

Sakura was mortified. Here she was holding her heart – and homemade bento – to her first crush, and she had been utterly and completely refused. As hard as she tried to avoid it, her lower lip began to tremble.

Then, her vision was obscured by a dark form just before her. Thinking it was Sasuke reconsidering her offer, she glanced up hopefully only to find herself face-to-face with his older brother.

Though Sakura had never formally met the older Uchiha sibling, she noticed at first glance that his eyes were much kinder than Sasuke's. Just meeting his warm gaze had immediately stifled any urge she had to cry.

His voice, she noted, was just as soft. "On behalf of Sasuke, I apologize. His manners could use a bit of work." He peered down at the large package still in her hands. "May I?"

Sakura nodded a bit uncertainly and dropped it in his waiting hands. He opened it carefully, almost as if it were a present, and examined the food closely.

"These are quite well-made," he remarked, a touch of admiration in his tone. He returned his gaze to her. "Did you cook this yourself?"

Sakura rubbed at her eye, making sure there were really no tears there. "My Okaa-san helped me."

"It must have taken you a lot of time."

Sakura nodded a bit bashfully, then found herself faced with the weight of his full attention. Squirming a bit under his scrutiny, she considered fleeing into the school when he seemed to come to some sort of decision. Returning the lid to the bento box, he held it between them once more.

"I would be honored if you would allow me to have this bento box that you have made."

He waited through her shocked silence with all of the patience in the world, merely holding the box between them, giving her a chance to take it back. Even when she nodded and was graced with a small smile in return as he thanked her and left the schoolyard, Sakura really hadn't absorbed what had occurred.

The next day, Sasuke gave her back her mother's bento box container. Just as churlish as the day before, he relayed a message from his brother about how delicious the food was, as well as an apology he had obviously been forced to give.

Then, he immediately demanded a homemade bento from her for the following day.

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