P.O.V. Naruto Uzumaki
Hinata stood in front of me, my head slightly lifted upward as she fixed my black tie; I could never seem to get them straight. I looked down at her and frowned, seeing the dreary expression reflexing inside her lavender eyes. I faked a smile as I cupped the side of her soft face, I wanted to make her happy but...today July 21st was my least favorite day of the year.
"It's going to be ok." These familiar words who haunted my nightmares tasted sour in my mouth as Hinata simply nodded, turning from me to finish getting herself ready.
I sighed feeling heavy as she walked into the bathroom without responding to my comment, I missed her flowering smile and bright eyes. I knew I wouldn't be seeing them today or even tomorrow, there was nothing I could do to cheer her up which made me feel even worse even though it was something that was out of my control.
I walked into the bathroom leaning against the wooden doorframe I watched her put on her favorite necklace. I stared at it's reflection for a long second, I remember the day Kakashi and I picked out that star necklace for Sakura to give to her on our first Christmas with her when she blew back into our village and hearts from being declared fallen.
Sakura's necklace charm was discovered during the village clean up after Malachite and his reapers attacked us and ever since then Hinata wares the same necklace every day.
Hinata caught my reflection in the mirror, I weakly smiled.
"I'm sorry." Hinata's light voice made me grimace.
"There is absolutely nothing to apologize for."
"I have been so distant lately..." Hinata sighed, "...I don't mean to be but-"
"I know." I nodded, wrapping my arms around her. "It's hard to believe it's been two years without Sakura."
"It feels like it's been forever since I have seen her." Hinata looked up at me, tears filling her eyes as she did so. I lightly sighed, pulling her into me as she began to cry on my shoulder.
Today, was the second-year anniversary of Sakura Haruno's death. She was the commander of the waterfall village, but she died protecting me and my villages hokage.
I pulled my lips together, feeling the familiar guilt picking at the back of my head, I was the reason she died.
"We are going to be late." I pulled away from Hinata who nodded, wiping away the tears from under her eyes.
"Right." She agreed.
A lot has changed since Sakura has been gone, Hinata and I lived together inside my apartment. She doesn't talk to her parent's much now, I had my parents back and I now knew how it felt to have them around. That's why I felt responsible and horrendous about her losing contact with them.
I wanted Hinata to try and make up with her father, but he disapproved of our relationship, he tried to forbid Hinata from seeing me. This was the event that pushed Hinata to move in.
It was a storming night. I was doing my normal nightly routine, halfway through bottle of rum when someone started to bang on my front door, when I opened it, I saw Hinata with large tears streaming down her face. The very next day I moved her into my home.
"Damnit Raiden!" Carver's voice vibrated through the walls of the apartment building, I smiled hearing they had finally returned home. "You left the fucking front door open again!"
"I did not!"
"You were the last one out." Carver said.
"So what?" Raiden sighed, "It isn't like anyone is going to walk in and steal-"
"I am not cooling the entire leaf village down!" Carver snapped making me chuckle to myself.
Those two come and go from the waterfall and the leaf village, I hated it, but I couldn't stop them. At first, they went to the waterfall village to help protect it, but after months passed and everything seemed to be fine, they kept on going back.
I didn't blame them, I really couldn't their team returned from the dead so naturally they would want to spend time with them, but that was two years ago, and they still return to the waterfall village almost every weekend.
I couldn't stop the feeling like I was losing my two friends and my team was on the brink of crumbling apart.
The Nine which was the team Sakura, Carver and Raiden were on before they all had thought to have been killed, returned from the dead. Sakura never got the chance to see her old team freed, she was killed the same day they returned.
After the Nine was able to keep the waterfall shinobi at bay and not raise Purgatory they then decided to remain inside the waterfall village despite Carver and Raiden protesting their decision.
"Are you ready?" Hinata asked walking into the living room.
"Yeah." I turned to her, "You?"
"Yes." Hinata's smile was small and forced but I took it extending my hand out for her to take. We left our apartment, I turned to quickly lock the front door.
"Hey!" Raiden called as he and Carver came into the hallway.
"Hey guys." I smiled at them. "Welcome home."
"Thanks." Carver nodded, I heard Sasuke's door open.
"When did you get back?" Sasuke questioned.
"Just now!" Raiden smiled.
"Pushing it a little close don't you think?" Sasuke questioned with a tight tone, I internally groaned feeling the fight gearing up.
Unlike me, Sasuke was vocal about Carver and Raiden always being gone inside a different village. Due to this Sasuke and I have been stuck on boarder patrol which has been tremendously painful.
"We are here on time, aren't we?" Carver countered, crossing his arms over his chest.
"Why are you even going?" Raiden turn to glare at Sasuke, "She didn't like you-"
"Alright!" I called trying to stop a fight from brewing today, "Let's go!"
"Where is Kakashi?" Raiden wondered turning to his closed apartment.
"I-I don't know." I sighed; I hadn't seen much of Kakashi in the past months, for a few weeks it was like he almost vanished, but I saw in walking in the street, so I knew he was at least alive. "Come on, we are going to be late." I lightly pulled on Hinata to follow me and luckily, she did.
Conversation was quiet between us as we made our way to the training grounds where Tsunade had set up a memorial service for Sakura. I wasn't sure if the silence was because we were all missing her and remembering the events that led to her death, or if we were all just growing apart.
"Hinata!" TenTen called with a wave of her hand, she had waved us a row of seats. The training grounds was converted with rows of chairs and tables, after the memorial was over there would be a nice dinner held inside the arena.
"Thank you." I smiled at her, taking a seat behind her. TenTen sat beside Neji, that was another change inside the village. Neji and TenTen were now officially a couple, it had only been a few months, but it was still odd to see Neji flirt or be affectionate to another living person.
"How are you guys holding up?" Neji asked over his shoulder.
"Just peachy." Carver answered.
"The Waterfall Village ok?" TenTen wondered,
"Yeah." Carver answered, I sighed feeling a little relieved.
For a few weeks right after Sakura was killed, Tsunade and the other villages were panicked that we would have to go to war against the waterfall village.
"Check out who's here." Carver nodded towards the left; I followed his eyes until I was looking at the side lines. I saw Kakashi standing beside Itachi, Diem and Dawn.
"I guess that is where Kakashi has been." Raiden said leaning back in his seat.
"Why didn't they come back with you guys?" I wondered.
"Don't know." Carver shrugged. "I hadn't seen much of Dawn."
"You're inside her village, she moved into Sakura's house and that is where you stay." Sasuke stated clean facts, "How don't you see her?"
"Dawn and Diem work their asses off to keep that village running." Carver answered, "They don't hang out on their couch watching Saturday cartoons like Naruto does-"
"Hey!" I defended myself, why was I being brought up into this?
"You know I say that with love."
"Do you?" I wondered.
"Of course." Carver flashed a smile.
"I want to start by thanking everyone for coming today-" Tsunade's voice ended our conversation, turning towards the stage where my hokage stood for once I gave her my full attention.
Out of all the new changes inside my home, I wasn't expecting Granny Tsunade to be one them. Dan, her boyfriend who had returned from under the Reapers control proposed to her, they have been married for one year now.
"Hey-" Carver whispered, leaning over Raiden getting closer to me.
"Shh." Voices shushed us from all directions, Carver rolled his dark colored eyes.
"-what are you doing after this?"
"What?" I questioned, scrunching my face up. "There's a dinner after this for-"
"You and I both know Sakura hated crap like this." Carver said,
"It's for her memory." I stated.
"If that was the case then we would all be cracking open a can of her favorite beer and drinking until we didn't know our names." Raiden muttered joining in on the conversation.
"Would Sakura really not like this?" Hinata whispered from my side, I groaned leaning my head back.
"No way in hell." Carver smiled, "I can almost feel her rolling her eyes at us right now."
"Kind of hard for her to do that when they were burnt-"
"Raiden." Carver snapped, his face draining from all amusement.
"What?" Raiden defended himself, "Why are we even here? This isn't for Sakura's 'memory' it's for the leaf village to feel better about themselves."
"It is not-"
"It really is." Carver cut me off.
"How do you even know she wouldn't like this?" I wondered. "Tsunade worked hard to put this all together."
"Um..." Raiden muttered, "...because we knew her?"
"So, did we!" I raised my voice earning a few looks, but I didn't care.
"This is not a competition." Carver sighed, "We know what she wanted should she die because we talked about it, did you and Sakura ever talk about what her or even your final wishes would be?"
"Exactly." Carver said.
"This would kind of..." I looked around at all the sad faces. "...bore her."
"Yeah." Carver laughed. "It really would."
"Then why are Dawn and Diem here?" I wondered,
"To get a break." Raiden answered.
"A break?" I asked, "A break from what?"
"A lot has changed Naruto." Carver said, "But the Waterfall Village isn't one of those changes. Those soldier's still go after Dawn, granted it's not half the army like it was before but Dawn is still a target inside her own village. That feeling gets tiring, it's why Sakura was here as much as she could be."
"For a break?"
"Yeah, this village gave her the room to breathe that she needed." Carver confirmed making me smile, knowing that Sakura came here willingly and not just because of Kakashi made me feel...relieved.
"Do you know what has been going on with Kakashi?" Raiden wondered out of the blue, I turned peeking through the crowd. I could see his silver hair as he stood beside Dawn and Itachi on the sidelines.
"I have no idea." I muttered, "Why?"
"No reason." Raiden shrugged, "He has just seemed a bit more...off, these past few weeks."
"He has been 'off' since the day Sakura died."
"Yeah, but it's different now." Raiden turned to Carver, "He doesn't seem like himself."
"He loved her." Carver sighed, leaning back against his chair. "He planned on marrying her, he regained his memory of her right as she died. I assume that would fuck anyone up."
"Maybe..." Raiden muttered but didn't sound convinced.
"What are you two going to do after this?" Hinata wondered, I turned to my two-teammates wondering the same thing.
"We are not going to that dinner." Raiden sounded determined to be any other place than a place where they would be giving out free food, I didn't understand.
"You two didn't go last year either." Hinata remembered.
"Nope." Raiden said, "The only reason we are here now is for you guys."
"But why?" Hinata went on, "This memorial service is to remember Sakura and everything she did for us, why wouldn't you want to be here?"
"She didn't want shit like this." Carver groaned sounding agitated,
"Sakura was the Commander of her village; she went to hundreds of these things and hated every single one of them. She never wanted anything like this held in her name because she knew how boring and painful these events were."
"What would you do then?" I asked,
"We are having a bonfire."
"A...bonfire?" I slowly asked, making sure I heard him correctly.
"Yup." Raiden smiled,
"I had to drag her to the one we had here!" I didn't understand, "Why would that be better than this!?"
"Because I can feel her there more than I can feel her here." Carver answered, looking into my eyes I saw his pain, I saw how much he missed her.
"Did you have a bonfire last year?" Hinata drew the conversation,
"Yeah." Raiden answered, "We tried talking to Tsunade about it, but she wouldn't hear of it. She is dead set on having this boring ass service every year."
"Sakura did save her life." TenTen muttered from up front, had she been listening this entire time!? Rude. She turned looking at us with large brown eyes, "It makes sense she would want to have a memorial every year for her."
"I get that." Raiden shrugged, "But she should have listened to us when we tried to explain these events suck."
"Lady Tsunade and listening doesn't sound right together." Neji added on, he had a point there. Granny does not listen to anyone expect herself.
"Can we come?" Hinata's voice broke me from my thoughts.
"Huh?" I asked turning to her.
"To the bonfire." Hinata clarified for me.
"Sure." Carver shrugged.
"Should we bring anything?" TenTen asked inviting herself and Neji.
"Whatever alcohol you want to lose your name to." Carver smirked making our small group giggle, getting us shushed by the surrounding crowd once again.
"Prudes." Raiden folded his arms over his chest and huffes.